~ by Nazli Hardy, founder of Woman Empowered, as published in the Lancaster Newspapers
“Time of Departure,” by Douglas Schofield, is a mystery that I finished last month, but I am still thinking about it. It is set in Florida, and it will leave you breathless.
“A Rising Man,” by Abir Mukherjee, is set in Calcutta in 1919 when the Indian subcontinent was simmering with resentment against colonial rule. The Bengali culture is prominent in Calcutta, so I felt I was reading about a time my great-grandparents must have lived through.
“A Very Pukka Murder,” by Arjun Raj Gaind, is set in British-ruled India in 1909, and the “investigator” is a maharajah called Sikander Singh. I was looking for strong South Asian characters, especially during British colonial rule, and this one did not disappoint.
“Rest You Merry,” by Charlotte MacLeod, is a fun Christmas caper in a college town filled with eccentric professors. Just my cup of tea!
“The Frangipani Tree Mystery,” by Ovidia Yu, is set in 1936 Singapore during British rule — yes, there is a theme to these book choices — and the main character is an intelligent young local Chinese woman. It was a light and interesting read that portrays the culture and times of the place and people.
“The Seagull,” by Ann Cleeves: I read at least one Vera Stanhope mystery every year and it is always a top-notch affair — deep, seemingly complex, yet surprisingly simple. Our sleuth Vera Stanhope is a no-nonsense, brilliant woman we would all want on our side.
“The House of Unexpected Sisters,” by Alexander McCall Smith, is one of a series of light but heartfelt mysteries set in Botswana. The author, who was born and raised in southern Africa, captures Africa with authentic warmth. I always feel like I am back “home” because the culture and tradition of Zimbabwe, where I spent my childhood, are very similar to that of Botswana.
“The Expats,” by Chris Pavone, will have you Europe-trotting at the speed of heartbeats. The novel features a married couple who don’t know everything about each other — just the mystery for a pandemic
“Becoming,” by Michelle Obama — I am rereading this book about a smart, strong woman who became an international superstar by being herself.
“The Woman on the Orient Express,” by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, took me on a journey with Agatha Christie on the Orient Express in 1928, to Mesopotamia. Naturally, there is a mystery on board.
“The Tightrope Walker,” by Dorothy Gilman — I found this charming book in a used book sale at Penn Manor High School. Both haunting and lovely, it is about a young woman who finds a note in an antique barrel organ that reads, “They’re going to kill me soon.” This shy, young sleuth decides to find the owner, and in the process finds herself, too.
“The Invention of Wings,” by Sue Monk Kidd, is set in the U.S. in the 1800s. It’s a beautifully written book about Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an enslaved girl “given” to Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a wealthy family. This book is inspiring, heart-breaking and thought-provoking.
I love authentic stories about people who rise to the occasion during difficult circumstances, and find out who they really are. They empower the reader to do the same