Author: Heena Rathore P.

10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing During Corona Virus Or COVID-19

I was born in the year 1990 and since then I do not remember a single instance in my life where I have been in quarantine. Although it can get tiring and frustrating sometimes, I still feel that this is something that we might never get to see again. In this time of self-quarantine or social-isolation, you can either be negative about it and sit and crib or you can simply roll along with it and try to stay positive and make the best out of it.

I am simply reading a lot and writing a lot so I am basically catching up with all the reading and writing I missed out on in the last few months. So here I am with a list of 10 books that I recommend reading in this time of social-distancing during the outbreak of Corona Virus or COVID-19.

Please note – All these books belong to dark fiction, mostly apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic or horror with an odd psychological thriller and a non-fiction true-crime book. I will be doing another list of books in which I will be listing lighter reads.

10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing During Corona Virus Or COVID-19

  1. Duma Key by Stephen King
  2. Swan Song by Robert McCammon
  3. The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn
  4. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
  5. The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
  6. The Monster Of Florence by Douglas Preston
  7. Haunting Of The Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  8. Strange Weather by Joe Hill
  9. 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
  10. World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks + The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

So these are my picks based on the dark writing style and the overall gloomy tone of the books with resonates a lot with the current situation. What are your picks?

You can also check out my video of 10 Books To Read While Social-Distancing on my YouTube Channel:


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Recovery

So I was living my life normally and started doing some functional training in the month of December (hard-core workouts targeting the core muscles that include crazy-ass cardio, step-ups, weigh-training and kettle-bell lifting along with a lot of burpees and hopping and stuff like that.) So even though I was doing it under the guidance and supervision of a personal trainer, it backfired. My back started hurting followed by a weird pain in my knee, thigh and then feet. I consulted with a spine surgeon and when I got the MRI done (which is an entire horror-story in itself), we came to know that I had spinal disc bulge (a kind of degeneration of the spine.) Now it was multi-factorial so the doctor doesn’t particularly blame my rigorous training though we all knew why it happened so suddenly. Anyway, I learnt my first lesson about being patient and not rushing into things without first considering them and thinking them through.

As the pain started migrating to my leg and my entire left leg started paining, it kind of got unbearable as I wasn’t able to either sit not lie down for any longer than 15-20 minutes and bending was entirely out of question. So it’s not far-fetched to say that my entire life turned upside down when I came across the fact that I could be labelled disabled for life.

Upon consulting another 3 doctors, we decided to go through an entire month of physiotherapy. For that, Vishal took me to a very big Spine Clinic (QI Spine Clinic, KP) but sadly, in spite of my super amazing spine-specialist, it gave me very less relief. The pain subsided sometimes only to return with a vengeance. So, having no other option, we had to go for the other option we had – laser-assisted annuloplasty. The problem was, this procedure was so new in India that rarely any of the doctors I had consulted knew about it (not even the best ones!) So I had to trust my doctor, who is one of the best spine surgeons in our city and went ahead with it. All my other doctors were against it, even my spine expert at the spine clinic, but what option did I have? The problem was, Vishal and I had, kind of stupidly, booked tickets for Egypt for late February and if we didn’t do anything, that trip would either have to be cancelled (in which case we’d lose a lot of money as all the bookings had already been paid for) or we’ll have to just go there and sit in the hotel room taking painkillers. So ultimately, we went ahead with the surgery as our doctor assured us that I can travel after 15 days of the surgery. I was operated on 12th February so 27th seemed okay enough for travelling and sitting in a 6 hr flight.

I was very scared, obviously, as this was my first surgery and my first hospitalisation ever! And I am so phobic to the hospital environment and everything related to it that I cried for an hour before the surgery. I have no idea why doctors say once the anaesthesia is given you can’t feel a thing. I felt quite a lot of things when I had got my root canal done last year and then I felt quite a lot of poking and prodding while getting this surgery done. Though there was no incision, there were a lot of big needles involved along with a laser beam and an HD camera. And I felt them all touching my L4 and L5 spine sections through my lower waist, so it wasn’t pleasant and nor was it entirely painless. But maybe that’s how surgeries are, who knows. Anyway, it’s all in the past now, and, for what it’s worth, I did not keep quiet about the pain, I hollered and cursed at the doctor while he was doing the surgery. *Smirking* That’s about all I remember.

Post-surgery in my room at Grant Medical Foundation – Ruby Hall, Wanowrie

Anyway, it’s been 5 days since the surgery and I can feel very little pain in the nerves and muscles surrounding the area where the needles were inserted, but apart from that, there is no pain that I can feel. Though I am still on painkillers and will be visiting the doctor day after tomorrow to consult and for further course of action (he’s asked me to do some more physiotherapy in order to regain full movement of my back and leg.) Though he had already told me that it will be 6 weeks before I could start walking more than 0.5 km or bending so I’m still going to be on restrictions while I’ll be exploring Egypt. Isn’t that just lovely? But at least I’ll be able to walk and roam around seeing all the beautiful places and pieces.

I’ve had a harrowing month and especially since I’ve been working with an amazing psychiatrist on my mental health as well, I’ve learned a lot in the last two months. I just hope that this year, will be the end of all my health problems and that I can get back to losing weight (which is why I started functional training in the first place.)

While I’m at it, I’d like to share this beautiful quote before ending the post:

The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself.

Douglas Coupland

Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Author: Ray Bradbury
Release Date: 1949
Genre: Classic, Science-Fiction, Short Story Collection
Series:
Edition: E-book
Pages: 303
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Blurb:
The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.

REVIEW

★★★★

This is my first book by author Ray Bradbury and needless to say it was a compelling read.
I felt the same sense of a constant hovering of foreboding while reading this book as I felt while reading Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. Though the writing styles are very different I think the tones of their works are similar to each other.

Even though this book was written ages ago, the arrogance of humans, sadly, still feels precisely fitting. The need to constantly want more, the urge to explore while being completely oblivious and ignorant to how it affects others and the need to be celebrated for doing something that is important to them and them alone is reflected very aptly in this book. The lingering feel of melancholy is something that greatly appealed to my taste.

I’d recommend this book to everyone as this has a lot more to offer than classy sci-fi entertainment. Though, let me give you a heads-up – if you are not into the classic writing styles, you might have to remind yourself constantly throughout reading this book to be patient as, in the end, I assure you that this book is totally worth it.

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So this is how I'm spending my time till we finalise about my spine surgery as till then (and for sometime after that also) I can't do anything that puts pressure on my lumbar spine or lower back like working out, yoga, stretches or even walking. Even sitting in car for longer than half an hour is hurting my spine badly, so my doctor has asked me to take rest. Vishal has warned me that if I do anything even mildly strenuous he'll be the death of me, so I have finally given up fighting against it and stopped feeling guilty about having to stop my training after only a month. Now I have embraced the fact that I need to chill out for this month so obviously the only thing on my list right now is – reading! So catching up with the books I had palnned on reading earlier and it feels like living in a dream… so bring on more coffee as I have loads to read 🥰 #authorlife #writerlife #amreading #catmom

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You can also read this review on Goodreads

RMFAO 2020 Reading Challenges

Hello, dear readers. Happy New Year to you, and your families, and I hope that this new year, and the beginning of this new decade, turns out amazingly joyous and fulfilling for you all.

2020 is very special, most of all because it marks the beginning of the 6th year of my online Goodreads book club RMFAO – Reading My Frigging A** Off. While I’m at it, I would like to grab this opportunity to thank my wonderful and ever-helpful (and very, very knowledgeable co-moderators – Dagny and Cheryl. RMFAO wouldn’t have been even nearly as fun as it is today had it not been for you both, so a big THANK YOU to you guys.

For those of you who might not know, at RMFAO we host a bunch of year-long reading challenges that not only motivate the hell out of all of us members but also help us plan and organise our reads in a much simpler and fun way. It also incites us to pick random books based on recommendations and explore new authors, eras and writing-styles. Honestly, guys, it is a big fat slice of heaven and I love it to bits! ❤

As a lot of readers are not registered on Goodreads, I’ve created a trial page for RMFAO on Facebook as well. So if you are on Facebook (which I am sure you are) then do check it out – RMFAO on Facebook.

Back to the point, we just announced the 6th instalment of our most popular challenge on RMFAO – RMFAO 2020 Genre Challenge. In this challenge, we read as per the list of chosen genres. This year we’re doing it our old way by having 1 unique mainstream genre per month. The participants will just have to refer their TBRs and pick up the books of that genre for that month. This way you get to read 12 genres (some might be new to you some might be your dear old friends) in one year while finishing off your TBR – isn’t it simply amazing!
Anyway, in case if you guys want to participate, just join the group (if you haven’t already) and announce your participation on the main challenge thread: RMFAO 2020 Genre Challenge

Note: We have separate threads for separate months which can all be found here as the year progress (new thread for the next month is added a couple of days before the running month ends): RMFAO 2020 Genre Challenge Discussion Board

Here is the link tot he January thread: January 2020 – Science Fiction

The second most popular challenge at RMFAO is the Classics Catchup challenge. Hosted by RMFAO’s own Classics’ Professor, Dagny, this challenge gives you a chance to read the Classics. But the best part for me about this challenge is Dagny’s classic recommendations! I’ve read so many different classics (so much more than I’d have ever read on my own) since I started joining this challenge. She and the other classic literature aficionados have helped me explore so many great classic authors and stories that have greatly satiated my reading appetite. So if you’re a classic lover then this place is definitely for you, but in case if you’re like me who is not a lot into classics and hate the famous known classic authors then this is the best place to discover authors that are new to you!

You can participate in the Classics Catchup challenge here: RMFAO 2020 Classics Catchup

Apart from these two widely popular challenges, the third challenge that is really starting to pick up and is becoming the new favourite of a lot of members is the Audiobook Challenge. OMG, you guys we have a member, Fran, who read 100+ audiobooks last year! How totally awesome is that! I am telling you, this challenge is really crazy and the participants are totally insane. But that doesn’t mean you have to be listening to so many audiobooks to participate. No. We have readers who listened to only one or two audiobooks last year. So it is open for all. The main thing is these challenges are for you to challenge yourself and not to compete with others. If you completed 1 book last year then you will be motivated to complete 2 books this year. That’s the main thing about these challenges. They encourage you to read more and break your own limitations.

You can participate in the Audiobook Challenge here: RMFAO 2020 Audiobook Challenge

And lastly, we have the Series Challenge, which is for the utterly dedicated reads focusing on completing book series. You can either complete a series your started earlier and never got around to finishing it somehow, or you can start a new one and try to finish it within the year.

You can participate in the Series Challenge here: RMFAO 2020 Series Challenge

New members are always welcome to join any time of the year, so don’t forget to drop by and have a look around! Also, feel free to share information and graphics related to these challenges with your friends and reading buddies on your social media channels. And if you do participate then give me a shoutout at CrazyCatWriter (I’m there on all the major platforms.) Remember, the more, the merrier.

Ciao ❤

A Winter Morning

I am a hopeless winter-person – you know, when a person goes overboard in hauling around shawls everywhere, wearing cardigans even when it’s barely cold, wearing socks while sleeping and using a heater or a hot water bag at night to warm the cold feet. I know I am not the only one so I decided to write this piece in order to give a shout out to all those beautiful people who love and adore and cherish winters as much as I do.

***

A Winter Morning

I wake up, suddenly from a dream, and feel the need to get some fresh air. Slowly I get out of bed, not wanting to wake him up as I know he had trouble sleeping early last night. But as soon as I set my feet on the wooden floor of our bedroom, I feel a sharp sting of cold and before I know it, it makes its way stealthily snaking and spreading through my toes and ankles, tickling the bare skin of my feet. I stand up quickly trying to find my slippers when a gust of cold breeze hits my face from the window beside my bed, suddenly my heart swells with happiness – winter is here!

Forgetting what I was about to do next, I quickly make way to the wardrobe, pulling it open frantically, taking out one of my favourite shawls – a pale blue one, oversized and thick. I slip into my slippers pulling the shawl over my shoulders and rush to the study room, which sits next to our bedroom. I open the curtains of the enormous window on the other side of the room overlooking the front garden of our home and the giant of a Gulmohar tree which happily covers half of the view. My hands tremble just a tiny bit with excitement and what I see fills my heart with such an enormous amount of content that  I haven’t known in a long time. It’s still somewhat dark outside, but I can see the faint orange-purplish glow of the rising sun slowly and steadily coming in view. I stand there in awe as the chirping of the birds gets louder and the leaves of the trees start rustling with their activity. The sun keeps rising ever so slowly as the world around me wakes up from their lazy dreams and cosy beds.

Both my cats come to me and rub against my legs purring with as much content as I feel from being a part of this beautiful morning. I sit down in front of the big window on the shag carpet and so does my little beauties. I scratch their backs as one of them settles in the crook of my folded legs and the other one curls right next to me on my shawl, her warm back resting against my thigh. They both start purring in a familiar rhythm, the younger one kneading on my legs looking lazily at me, while the elder one looking out the window considering if she should chase the birds off or sit in the warmth of my shawl.

The birds’ singing is louder now and it feels like they are calling out to the sun. Right then I smell heaven – the aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen downstairs, not the instant one, but of strong espresso. I can also smell the faint undertones of hazelnut and smile that he has opened the new packet I bought 2 weeks ago. He was asleep when I woke up, but I think my shuffling through the cupboard woke him up and while I was enjoying the view with my furry-little girls, he went down and started the coffee machine. I think I fall in love with him a little more in that moment.

I look around me, then at my girls purring and sleeping and cuddling around me and when, at last, I hear the gentle footsteps of him coming upstairs, the smell of coffee leading ahead of him, I look at the sun that is almost risen completely now, showering me and the girls in its beautiful bright yellow rays that are filtering through the Gulmohar tree, I say a silent thank you to the Universe for all my blessings because at that moment I have everything that I have ever wanted, and will ever need, right there in that room with me.


 

Please note- This material is subject to copyright.

ARC Review: Peerless Minds: An Arc of Achievement by Pritish Nandy And Tapan Chaki

Author: Pritish Nandy Tapan Chaki
Release Date: 21 January 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Motivational, Self-Help
Series: 
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 500
Publisher: Harper India
Blurb:
‘Peerless Minds brings together the finest minds that sustain India as a riveting and relentless idea. The exceptional life stories featured in this book reaffirm the truth that the luckiest of nations are the ones that continue to be rebuilt and reimagined by peerless minds.’ S. PRASANNARAJAN, Editor, Open magazine Three Nobel Prize winners. Two Bharat Ratnas. Three Knights of the British Empire. A Pulitzer Prize winner. A two-time Best of the Bookers winner. An Abel Prize winner. A Pritzker Prize winner. A Fields Medallist. Two Fukuoka Prize winners. A Turner Prize winner. Two Praemium Imperiale recipients. A double Academy Award winner. Many Padma Vibhushans and Padma Bhushans. But that is not why these people are really here. They are here because they, as Indians and people of Indian origin, have had extraordinary achievements and have inspired, each in their own way, a generation of Indians. Here you will find, among others, economist Amartya Sen; authors V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie; mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik; philanthropist Azim Premji; mathematician Manjul Bhargava; from the world of music, Annapurna Devi, Lata Mangeshkar and Zubin Mehta; industrialist Ratan Tata; sculptor Anish Kapoor; architect Balkrishna Doshi; spymaster A.S. Dulat; historian Irfan Habib; Michelin-starred chef Vikas Khanna; poet Javed Akhtar; and stand-up comic Hasan Minhaj. In conversation with them are authors and journalists such as James Astill, Prannoy Roy, Vir Sanghvi, Aatish Taseer, Shereen Bhan, Karan Mahajan, Rajdeep Sardesai, Khalid Mohamed, Priya Khanchandani, Indu Bhan and Anil Dharker. A fascinating collection of long-form interviews with some of the greatest minds and biggest achievers of our time, Peerless Minds is a book to be cherished and preserved.

REVIEW

★★★★

Peerless Minds by Pritish Nandy is a motivational non-fiction book that is a brilliant and inspiring book especially when one needs a little ‘pick-me-up.’ This book is full of interviews with various brightest minds of India and is full of their individual journeys, struggles, dilemmas, etc throughout their lives and careers.

A must-read for everyone.

You can also read this review on Goodreads

Book Review: The Fog Ladies by Susan McCormick

Author: Susan McCormick
Release Date: 9th June 2019
Genre: Cosy Mystery
SeriesA San Francisco Cozy Murder Mystery (Book #1)
Edition: E-bok
Pages: 332
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Blurb:
Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the spunky Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. When, one by one, old ladies die in their elegant apartment building in San Francisco, Sarah assumes it is the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.

Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin hits her head in the bathtub and drowns. Suddenly, the Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in on a cool San Francisco evening.

Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

REVIEW

★★★★

The Fog Ladies by Susan McCormick is a delightful cosy mystery that turned out to be a really pleasant read. This is my first book by the author, so obviously I had no idea what to expect from the book, though the blurb totally compelled me to pick this one up. So I dove in this book unknowing and, to be honest, it felt good for a change. Thankfully, the story turned out to be an absolute delight and I enjoyed it every bit.

The delightful bickering of the old ladies, the delicious references to some favourite foods and an unsuspecting and likeable protagonist made for a really enjoyable read. The plot was engaging and managed to hook me from the beginning till the end. And the end, well, it was perfect in its own right, albeit a bit predictable.

Overall I joyed this book more than I was expecting and would highly recommend it to cosy mystery readers.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Author: Tessa Bailey
Release Date: 11th June 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance Fiction
SeriesHot & Hammered (Book #1)
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Blurb:
A brand new romantic comedy from New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey!
Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World… whatever that means.
Phase one: new framework for her business (a website from this decade, perhaps?)
Phase two: a gut-reno on her wardrobe (fyi, leggings are pants.)
Phase three: updates to her exterior (do people still wax?)
Phase four: put herself on the market (and stop crushing on Travis Ford!)
Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite?
Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme—that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job—he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

REVIEW

★★★+1/2

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey is a quirky and fun read that was a rather quick read and also pretty enjoyable. Even though the story was full of over-used romance tropes and cliche moments, the characterisation felt vibrant and fresh which totally made up for both these flaws.

The writing was good and it was one of the things I liked the most about the book. The pacing was great as the things moved quickly and made this book a quick 1-2 day read which seems reasonable to me.

I’d recommend this book to all the romance genre lovers and to those who are looking for a light, fun read to take a break from their normal reading lists.

This review is also available on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Those Days In Delhi by Yashodhara Lal

Author: Yashodhara Lal
Release Date: 10th August 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Series:
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 304
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Blurb:
Delhi in the Nineties. And this time, it’s going to be Gudia’s summer. So what if she’s the quintessential awkward middle child? So what if it seems like everything – from the hair sprouting on her legs to teachers making her life miserable – is conspiring against her? She’s taking matters into her own hands, and there’s no way that she’s going to fail. After all, there are three things Gudia is obsessed with – Basketball, the Boy with the American accent…and Winning. But in her desire to win this campaign of middle-school one-upmanship and conceal her plummeting grades, Gudia might just lose all that’s important to her – including herself. Best-selling author Yashodhara Lal is back with this funny, bittersweet and entirely relatable story about growing up; of that summer of innocence, when the world was simpler, and even our problems seemed sweeter.

REVIEW

★★★★

To sum it up in a single sentence, Those Days In Delhi by Yashodhara Lal is a feel-good contemporary read with an interesting story and an equally interesting cast of characters. It was a pretty quick read, mostly because of the well-written prose and also due to the fact that the book was so darn engaging. A really good book that shouldn’t be missed by anyone, especially those who belong to the legendary era of the ’80s and ’90s.

You can also read this review on Goodreads and Amazon

Book Review: Sidney Sheldon’s The Phoenix by Tilly Bragshawe

Author: Tilly Bagshawe
Release Date: 13th June 2019
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Speculative Fiction, Mystery
Series:
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 432
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Blurb:
Thrilling and nail-biting, The Phoenix has all the trademark glamour, suspense and unexpected twists of a classic Sidney Sheldon novel.
A deadly enemy will rise again….
Ella Praeger has always felt like an outsider. So when she is called to join the ranks of The Group, a force for good operating in the shadows, her world shifts. She is gifted a purpose – and a dangerous legacy.
Years ago, The Group rid the world of one of its most powerful criminal masterminds. Yet when a child washes up on a beach in Greece, a mysterious symbol tattooed on its heel, it is a clear warning: impossibly, Athena Petridis has returned to reclaim her empire.
Ella’s connection to Athena is deeply personal. Thrown into an underworld of treachery and corruption, and haunted by the tragedies of her own past, Ella is reborn as an agent, chasing a villain risen from the ashes. But only one of them can fulfil their destiny….

REVIEW

★★

Sidney Sheldon’s The Phoenix by Tilly Bragshawe is the latest int he long line of books that have been written by Bragshwae in the vein of Sidney Sheldon’s novels. I’ve always enjoyed reading these novels as Sidney Sheldon is one of my all-time favourite authors but this time sadly it wasn’t the case.

I tried to really enjoy this book but a lot of elements prevented me from doing so – under-developed characterisation, weak plot-line, bad pacing, the overall predictability of the plot and the bad ending. There was too much going on and the protagonist felt too weak to be able to drive the plot by herself.

Overall, this book was a miss for me and therefore I won’t be able to recommend it to anyone. Hopefully, the author’s next book would be better than this one.

You can also read this review on Goodreads