THE NEW NEIGHBOR by KAREN CLEVELAND

Beth Bradford and her husband Mike have just dropped their last child off at college. They have a buyer for the large home they raised their children in and are downsizing. The cul-de-sac they have lived in will be getting a new neighbor and Beth is feeling sad.

But wait, things can always get worse! Turns out Mike is not moving in with Beth. He has a place of his own and wants a divorce. PIle on top of that her demotion as she calls it at the CIA. For fifteen years she has been chasing a terrorist who is known as The Neighbor. Recruiting in the states now. But she is nowhere close to solving this case and when she goes to work she is told she is being transferred to a teaching facility.

But Beth has had way too much piled on her this week. She begins spying on the couple that bought their house after she sees a message from The neighbor saying they have moved to a new cul-de-sac. There is something suspicious about the woman. Her story doesn’t check out. And the more she digs the more secrets she finds among the neighbors she once called friends.

Madeline has moved into Beth’s old house. She knows way too much about Beth and the neighbors. Beth thinks she may be the link to the neighbor.

Is she being paranoid? Almost all of the neighbors work for Langley, so secrets are the norm.

Beth isn’t a quitter and she isn’t giving up on this case. Even after she’s told to let it go and people are hinting she is unstable. But she isn’t letting it go. And neither is Madeline.

The ending was shocking and unexpected. I will be looking at my neighbors in a new light now.

NetGalley/July 26th, 2022 by Ballantine Books


SONG of a CAPTIVE BIRD By Jasmin Darznik

Song of a Captive Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing poet Forugh Farrokhzhad, who defied Iranian society to find her voice and her destiny

“Remember the flight, for the bird is mortal.”—Forugh Farrokhzad

All through her childhood in Tehran, Forugh is told that Iranian daughters should be quiet and modest. She is taught only to obey, but she always finds ways to rebel—gossiping with her sister among the fragrant roses of her mother’s walled garden, venturing to the forbidden rooftop to roughhouse with her three brothers, writing poems to impress her strict, disapproving father, and sneaking out to flirt with a teenage paramour over cafĂ© glacĂ©. It’s during the summer of 1950 that Forugh’s passion for poetry really takes flight—and that tradition seeks to clip her wings.

Forced into a suffocating marriage, Forugh runs away and falls into an affair that fuels her desire to write and to achieve freedom and independence. Forugh’s poems are considered both scandalous and brilliant; she is heralded by some as a national treasure, vilified by others as a demon influenced by the West. She perseveres, finding love with a notorious filmmaker and living by her own rules—at enormous cost. But the power of her writing grows only stronger amid the upheaval of the Iranian revolution.

Inspired by Forugh Farrokhzad’s verse, letters, films, and interviews—and including original translations of her poems—Jasmin Darznik has written a haunting novel, using the lens of fiction to capture the tenacity, spirit, and conflicting desires of a brave woman who represents the birth of feminism in Iran—and who continues to inspire generations of women around the world.

Told in the first person, one would think they were reading a memoir. Facts mix with Fiction to flesh out the story and the life of Forugh Farrokhzad. A woman born in Iran in the 1930’s and dying much too young at the age of 32. She was an Iranian poet and film director at a time when women were most definitely not doing those types of things.

Her poetry was controversial and pointed out the injustices and inequality women suffered. She was a true feminist. But the things she wanted cost her dearly. Her only son, prison, and even a mental institution. But none of that stopped her from publishing her poetry and fighting to be her own person.

Her writing was banned for over 10 years after the Islamic Revolution. There have been a few documentaries of her life.

The author, who fled to America from Iran with her family when she was five, has a voice of authenticity which gives the book the feel of a memoir.

This is one of the most painful and beautiful books I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Well Done!

Netgalley/Ballentine/Random House   February 13, 2018

Monday Reading Plan

    A spellbinding debut novel about the trailblazing poet Forugh Farrokhzhad, who defied Iranian society to find her voice and her destiny

“Remember the flight, for the bird is mortal.”—Forugh Farrokhzad

 Bestselling, beloved author of The Charm Bracelet spins a tale about a lost young woman and the family recipe box that changes her life.

A task a day to cure a broken heart.

EsmĂ© Peel is approaching thirty with some trepidation, but hope in her heart. If she can just get her long-term boyfriend Andrew to propose, she will have ticked everything off her ‘things to do by the time you’re 30’ list.

Books for the week. I was thrilled when I was contacted about doing  The Recipe Box. I adore this author!

What’s everyone else reading this week?

xx Patricia    Read a book.

 

Children of Paradise The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor

 

Laura Secor has written about Iran for many major publications and has worked at The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The American Prospect and Lingua Franca. She has been a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin and has taught journalism at NYU and Princeton.

To say she is well versed in the subject matter would be an understatement. She tells this story of individuals, some famous, some not, caught up in the times, seizing and wielding ideas powerful enough to shift its course as they wrestle with Iran’s apparatus of violent repression in addition to its rich and often tragic history.

In 1979, almost overnight, Iran became the first revolutionary theocracy in modern times. Since that time, the country has largely been to the West, a sinister presence looming over the horizon.But inside the country, religious thinkers, poets, journalists, political activists have re-imagined what Iran is or is not.

Told in 4 parts: Revolution, Rebirth, Reform and Resistance

Ms. Secor has done her research and has been to Iran numerous times beginning in 2004. Her relationships with the people she interviews and write about are genuine and informative.

Our relationship with Iran is complicated and can be very hard to understand. I felt she did a wonderful job of telling this story so that everyone can understand the country, it’s religions and it’s politics.

This is a book I will read again and highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to be more informed and not just opinionated.