Review: The Maid

Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Genre: Mystery, Contemporary
Publisher: Viking
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 4, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by.

Since Gran died a few months ago, twenty-five-year-old Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. She delights in donning her crisp uniform each morning, stocking her cart with miniature soaps and bottles, and returning guest rooms at the Regency Grand Hotel to a state of perfection.

But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

Review:

Molly Gray is a twenty-five-year-old maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. She often struggles to read social cues, but she is meticulous about cleaning. One morning, she walks into a suite to find the wealthy Charles Black dead. Because of the unusual way that Molly behaves, misreading social cues and taking everything to have a literal meaning, she is targeted as the main suspect in the murder of Mr. Black. Molly must find support in some surprising friends to untangle the mystery that she has become involved in.

I knew this story was going to be great before I read it, and it didn’t disappoint! It is told in an unusual style. Molly is an unreliable narrator because she misunderstands a lot. She doesn’t recognize when other people are sarcastic or lying to her, though it was obvious most of the time. The narrative would go back and forth throughout time, depending on what needed to be told in the moment. This was an unconventional style, but it left clues for the reader and filled in gaps in time where they were needed.

The story was fast paced and very difficult to put down. I was certain that I knew what had happened, but I was still excited to read the story. However, I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong. This story had a great ending that was surprising yet made sense.

The Maid is an amazing debut mystery!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book.

Lucky by Marissa Stapley

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey

Have you read The Maid? What did you think of it?

Review: Amal Unbound

Title: Amal Unbound
Author: Aisha Saeed
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Review:

Amal had dreams of becoming a teacher in her small village in Pakistan. Her life changes when her mother has her fifth baby. Amal suddenly has to take responsibility for her younger sisters. She’s under a lot of stress, giving up her future and looking after her family. This leads to an incident with the son of the village’s landlord. As punishment for talking back to him, Amal is taken from her family to work as a servant. Amal has many enemies when she arrives at their home, separated from her family and friends. Then, Amal discovers some dangerous business that the family is involved in. Amal has to figure out how to save her village and her own future.

This was a tragic story with an uplifting ending. Amal was treated unfairly in many ways. Since she was the oldest child, she was expected to look after her younger sisters. She was also expected to stay home because she was a girl. When she had an incident with the son of a wealthy man, she was sent to work for them because she was lower class and required to pay off the debt for insulting him in public. Amal’s position in society set her up to fail at achieving her dreams.

Though Amal was treated unfairly, her story was not as tragic as it could have been. She ended up making friends at the home where she worked and being treated well by most of the people there. In reality, this probably wouldn’t have been the case. Even without a tragic ending, this story shows a life that many children in Western countries are probably not familiar with, so it is an important read.

Amal Unbound is a great middle grade story! I’m excited for the sequel to be published next month!

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Once Upon an Eid edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed

Have you read Amal Unbound? What did you think of it?

Review: Ace of Spades

Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Usborne
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. 

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. 

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. 

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

Review:

Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are chosen to be school prefects at Niveus Private Academy. It isn’t a surprise for overachieving Chiamaka, but Devon is surprised at being chosen. Soon after they’re chosen, anonymous texts are sent to everyone in the school, revealing secrets about Chiamaka and Devon. These texts, from the anonymous Aces, threaten to ruin their futures. As more texts are sent, the stakes of secrets become more dangerous. Chiamaka and Devon have to work together to figure out who Aces is, before their lives are completely destroyed.

This was a disturbing story. The best comparison titles for this book would be Gossip Girl meets Get Out. It was fast paced and suspenseful. I truly couldn’t figure out what was happening, and I couldn’t put the book down for the last 200 pages.

This story addressed some serious issues. There was homophobia and racism, as well as sexual assault and violence. Many of the disturbing scenes seemed exaggerated for the story, yet it also felt like it could happen in real life. I don’t want to give away what happens, but this story had a creepy, realistic quality, which made it even more disturbing.

Ace of Spades is a disturbing look at racism and homophobia that everyone should read.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Have you read Ace of Spades? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – January 20

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Six friends. 
One college reunion. 
One unsolved murder.

A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love. 

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

Told in racing dual timelines, with a dark campus setting and a darker look at friendship, love, obsession, and ambition, In My Dreams I Hold A Knife is an addictive, propulsive read you won’t be able to put down.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: Compass to Vinland

Title: Compass to Vinland
Author: Dani Resh
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Warren Publishing Inc.
Source: Author
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Wren Larkin has a lot of things working against him-too tall, too thin, and living in a house that looks like an old boot. His only friends are a group of noisy crows that are always bringing him random trinkets. Needless to say, he’s not the most popular kid in town.

But things change when a girl named Maria moves to town and instantly befriends Wren. She continues to do the unexpected when she defends Rusty, the resident bad boy, who might not be as rebellious as Wren thought. Wren learns that it isn’t just coincidence that brought the three of them together when he discovers a shoe workshop under the heel of his house that’s holding-or hiding–three pairs of magical shoes intended for each of them.

When strangers arrive on Wren’s doorstep looking for the shoes, Wren and his new companions have no choice but to flee to Underfoot, an underground settlement full of magical creatures. In just a matter of days, Wren is immersed into a whole new reality that’ll take him on an incredible journey and reveal a lineage that might be better left secret.

Review:

Wren Larkin has never understood why he lives in a house shaped like a shoe. It was his mother’s childhood home, but he now lives there with his father while his mother is in a coma. His father is distant and never has time for Wren. One day, a new girl, Maria, arrives at school and they instantly become friends. She makes a scene when she defends Rusty, the bad boy in class. An accident brings Wren, Maria, and Rusty to Wren’s home, where they discover a mysterious and magical shoe workshop hidden beneath it. However, dangerous people have been searching for this workshop, and are willing to do anything to get to it. The three friends have to use the pairs of magic shoes to flee to a magical world called Underfoot. Wren has to figure out how much of his life was a lie, and how many of the fantasy stories he heard growing up were actually true.

This was a fun fantasy story. Wren had to discover that the secret magic that his family had was hiding in his house the whole time. There were hints of magic in their family, since his aunt would tell him stories of Vinland, but he never guessed that the stories were real. This classic storyline of discovering secret magical family history never gets old.

I would have liked the beginning to be more fast paced. There was a lot of description of Wren’s life at home and his time at school for the first few chapters. It took a while for the real action to begin. Once the magical aspects began, it was a really exciting story!

Compass to Vinland is a great start to a new series!

Thank you Dani Resh for providing a copy of this book.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

The Revenge of Magic by James Riley

Have you read Compass to Vinland? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – January 19

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is League of Liars by Astrid Scholte. The expected publication date is February 22, 2022.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this fantasy thriller, four teens charged with murder and the illegal use of magic band together to devise the ultimate jailbreak. Perfect for fans of Six of Crows and How to Get Away with Murder. 

Ever since his mother was killed, seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck has had one goal–to see illegal users of magic brought to justice. People who carelessly use extradimensional magic for their own self-interest, without a care to the damage it does to society or those around them, deserve to be punished as far as Cayder is concerned. Because magic always has a price. So when Cayder lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apprentice under a premier public defender, he takes it. If he can learn all the tricks of public defense, the better he’ll be able to dismantle defense arguments when he’s a prosecutor. Then he’ll finally be able to make sure justice is served.

But when he meets the three criminals he’s supposed to defend, it no longer seems so black and white. They’re teenagers, like him, and their stories are . . . complicated, like his. Vardean, the prison where Cayder’s new clients are incarcerated, also happens to be at the very heart of the horrible tear in the veil between their world and another dimension–where all magic comes from.

League of Liars is a dark and twisty mystery set in a richly-drawn world where nothing is as it seems, rife with magic, villains and danger.

What books are you waiting on this week?

Happy Pub Day – January 18

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton

The Runaway Duchess by Joanna Lowell

The Lock-Eater by Zack Loran Clark

Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton

Coming Back by Jessi Zabarsky

Forever Birchwood by Danielle Daniel

The Mirror Man by Lars Kepler

Bound by Firelight by Dana Swift

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner

Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

Game On edited by Laura Silverman

Deep House by Thomas King

Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover

Lawless Spaces by Corey Ann Haydu

Icebreaker by A.L. Graziadei

Beyond the End of the World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Akata Woman by Nnedi Okorafor

What books are you most excited for this week?

Top Ten Tuesday – 2021 Releases I Was Excited To Read But Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is 2021 Releases I Was Excited To Read But Didn’t Get To. Here’s my list:

1. Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas

2. The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

3. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

4. The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

5. Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

6. Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

7. Gilded by Marissa Meyer

8. Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

9. Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

10. Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

(All book covers from Goodreads)

What’s your list of books on your Top Ten Tuesday?

Review: The 4% Fix

Title: The 4% Fix
Author: Karma Brown
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: December 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

How to find guilt-free time for what you really want to do, and why it matters

Do you feel like you’re always busy, even as your to-do list continues to grow?

Do you think you can’t keep up as it is, let alone add another thing to your plate?

An award-winning journalist, avid reader and new mom, Karma Brown dreamed of writing her first novel. But between diapers and tight deadlines, how could she? Like so many of us, she felt stretched taut and hyper-scheduled, her time a commodity over which she had lost control. For Brown, the answer to this problem was to rise earlier every day and use that time to write. Although she experienced missteps along the way, after committing to her alarm clock and an online community of early risers, she completed a debut novel that became a national bestseller.

In The 4% Fix, Karma Brown reveals the latest research about time management and goal-setting and shares strategies that have worked for her as well as for others. Refreshingly, her jargon-free approach doesn’t include time-tracking spreadsheets, tips on how to squeeze in yoga exercises while cooking dinner, or methods that add bulk to those never-ending lists.

How will you use this one hour—only 4% of your day—to change your life?

Review:

In the 4% Fix, bestselling author Karma Brown tells her secret to success. She gets up early in the morning and uses that early hour to write. An hour of your day is 4%, so if you get up an hour earlier every day, you can use that hour to write or complete any hobby or task that you want to get done, but can’t find time during your regular day. That hour can be used for any project or skill, not just writing.

The arguments against the 4% fix were also described in this book. Some people say “I don’t have time,” so that’s why you get up an hour early and use that time for your task or project. I’m guilty of arguing, “I’ll be too tired.” The solution to that is to go to sleep an hour earlier. I’m a night owl, so it’s difficult for me to get to sleep earlier, however I do notice an increase in my productivity when I do get up earlier in the morning.

I listened to the audiobook edition of this book. The conversational style made it feel like a friend was telling me her tips and tricks to success. There were interesting anecdotes about Karma’s life and examples of other successful people, which proved how these strategies can turn you into a success.

The 4% Fix is a great read for anyone who wants to find some “extra” time in their day!

Thank you HarperAudio for providing a copy of this book.

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Have you read The 4% Fix? What did you think of it?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? – January 17

This blog meme is hosted by Book Date. It is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile!

What I just finished:

This weekend I finished The 4% Fix by Karma Brown.

What I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé.

What I’m reading next:

Next I will be reading The Maid by Nita Prose.

What are you guys reading this week? Have you read any of these books?