WOULD I LIE TO YOU? by Aliya Ali-Afzal


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Published: February 22, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


In this “total page-turner,” wife and mother Faiza is about to find what happens when you have your dream life and are about to lose it… but only if you’re caught (Sarah Pearse, New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium).

At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish white mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. She’s learned to crack their subtle codes, speak their language of fashion and vacations and haircuts. You’d never guess, seeing her at the trendy kids’ parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that her childhood was spent being bullied and being embarrassed of her poor Pakistani immigrant parents.
When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Creating the perfect life and raising the perfect family comes at a cost – and the money Tom put aside has gone. Faiza will have to tell him she spent it all.

Unless she doesn’t…

It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has mere weeks to find $100,000. If anyone can do it, Faiza can. She’s had to fight for what she has, and she’ll fight to keep it. But as the clock ticks down and Faiza desperately tries to put things right, she has to ask herself: how much more should she sacrifice to live someone else’s idea of the dream life?


Would I lie to you? Umm, yes, she did. Faiza’s plight in this book was so nerve-racking!

After her husband Tom is laid off from his job in banking, Faiza finds herself in a terrible predicament. Their £75,000 savings account is empty, all of it secretly spent by Faiza to keep up with their affluent friends and neighbors. Instead of confessing her financial infidelity, she tries to find ways to cover up what she’s done, but the hole she’s in just gets deeper.

As a British Pakistani woman married to a white man, Faiza feels immense pressure to fit in with the white moms in their social circle. She wants to protect her children from the racism she faced as the child of poor immigrant parents as much as possible. Does that excuse her lying and secret spending? I was rooting for her as she attempted to make things right.

Though this book is billed as women’s contemporary fiction, it had the page-turning suspense of a thriller — fast-paced and great tension throughout. I could NOT put it down! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY by Cliff Burke


Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 18, 2021

Bittersweet & funny. AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY is about two teens and their father dealing with loss, and just because one member is ready to move on, the others might not be.

Can a disastrous road trip help the Ripley family face their grief after the loss of their mom? Not only is camping at Big Bend National Park the last place Theo and his sister Laura want to spend their summer vacation, their dad has a doozy of a surprise: meeting his new girlfriend.

This book made me teary eyed, and kept me laughing out loud at the witty dialogue. The characters were realistic and I could empathize with each one. The humorous banter and misadventures helped balance the seriousness in the story. Enjoyed! (Borrowed from the library.)

RULE OF THREES by Marcy Campbell


Publisher: Chronicle Books
Release Date: May 11, 2021

RULE OF THREES is an absorbing middle grade family drama that tackles some serious issues, including drug addiction, Alzheimer’s, and infidelity. While these heavy subjects are presented realistically, the ending will leave readers hopeful.

Maggie is a sixth grader, just starting middle school, and she’s already feeling stress from an uneasy shift in her friend group from elementary. It’s a time when relationships change, and new people come into your life, but Maggie never dreamed one of them would be a half-brother she knew nothing about!

Tony is a year older than Maggie, and with his mother struggling with drug addiction, he has no choice but to live with his father who may as well be a stranger. I adored Tony and Maggie, and my heart went out to them. Their reactions to this situation beyond their control were so genuine, and I loved seeing the growth in their characters over time.

This is a thoughtful coming of age story with compelling, imperfect characters dealing with relatable struggles, and it was a delight to read. Highly recommended! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND by Colleen Oakley


Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 25, 2021

This book was so charming and uplifting. Anders is a journalist working for a small newspaper when he gets assigned to cover the annual cake walk on remote Frick Island. It’s a place without internet and without cell phones, but what it does have is a curious story about a young widow named Piper who acts as though her husband Tom is still alive, and an entire town that goes along with it.

I did question the town’s decision to pretend that Tom was really there (helpful or harmful?), but I decided to suspend disbelief and go with it too!

Anders’s real dream is to be a famous podcaster, and Piper’s peculiarity could be just the hook to reel in thousands of listeners — but at what cost? I liked Anders. He was soooo not what you’d picture as a romantic hero. Awkward. Kind of goofy, though not really meaning to be. A good heart, but not perfect by a long shot.

THE INVISIBLE HUSBAND OF FRICK ISLAND takes a unique premise and adds a little mystery and romance to create a sweet story of love, loss, and loyalty. I wish it had been more emotional like the author’s last book, YOU WERE THERE TOO, but I still enjoyed it and recommend as the perfect summer read! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

OF WOMEN AND SALT by Gabriela Garcia


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: March 30, 2021

I’m torn over this book. I feel like OF WOMEN AND SALT paints a distressing and realistic picture of immigration to the US, particularly what it’s like for women from Latin America entering the country illegally. I would call it a timely novel, though detention centers, family separation, and deportation have been going on for many years.

My issue with this book was its lack of a strong plot. This has been mentioned in other reviews, but it’s more a collection of short stories, some very compelling and others not so much. The novel alternates between several different time periods (not chronologically) and POVs from different generations of women from a Cuban/Cuban American family. It also includes the story of a mother and daughter from El Salvador, whom I loved the most.

This was a short novel, and with the choppy nature of the chapters I felt like the story was missing something that would have tied everything together. There were also characters I wish had been fleshed out more, like Maria Isabel who worked in a cigar factory in 1860s Cuba. I wanted to know more about her life.

OF WOMEN AND SALT is a heartbreaking book that explores mother/daughter bonds, loss, survival, and desperate choices. I just wish it had been more cohesive. — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book (ARC) from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.