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By September 9, 2021 May 13th, 2022 No Comments

The high-tech world, a Texas mystery and a home on the range

By Mary Rogers

I read The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam because I thought the premise original. What happens when people who reject traditional religions discover that they crave ritual in their lives after all?

In this author’s world, there’s an app for that, but nothing is really free, as gifted coder Asha Ray must learn.

Asha has been accepted into a prestigious doctorate program at MIT. Her Bengali parents couldn’t be more pleased, but when she runs into Cyrus Jones, an old high school flame, they quickly marry. Cyrus is happy living in her parents’ basement, studying what interests him and writing rituals for people who want to commemorate important events, but not in a traditional way. Asha wants something more.

With help from a longtime friend, the three create a new algorithm that pairs with Asha’s innovative AI work. Almost immediately, Asha drops out of MIT, and she and Cyrus go to work for Utopia, an exclusive tech incubator. Their new social media platform quickly attracts millions of people asking for personalized rituals built around the things that matter to them.

Asha, Cyrus and the friend work around the clock. As the company’s success skyrockets, the three hire more and more people, hoping to keep up with customers’ hunger for meaningful connections.

And then, one fine day, something dreadful happens.

I liked the author’s voice and found the story an easy read with interesting insight into the tech world and a bit of wisdom about the workings of the human heart. This would be a great choice for a book club, too.

Mystery Fans Nightstand

Everyone knows I’m not a mystery fan, although I do read a few with my ears. However, I used my eyes to take in We Are All the Same in the Dark, just out in paperback by Grapevine author Julia Heaberlin.

I’m glad I did. By Chapter 10, I was highlighting top-notch phrases such as “One stubborn dandelion seed is left, like a holdout juror in a trial.” Or “I’ve been whittling away at my Oklahoma accent, too, even though it’s always there, a worm wanting out of a hole.”

This is the story of a one-eyed girl, a one-legged cop, a man with a precarious grip on reality, an unsolved mystery — make that two — and a Texas town with buried secrets.

With this book, I think the author, who was once my editor at the Star-Telegram, has become a first-rate storyteller and a darned fine wordsmith who has four other novels to her credit.

It’s no wonder that the Writers’ League of Texas has just named this title tops in its 2020 general fiction category or that Sister Pictures, an independent studio, has optioned this USA Today bestseller for television.

Congrats, Julia.

I never tire of true stories of Texas pioneers who bet their lives that they can gouge out a place for themselves on the unforgiving frontier and then, against all odds, do it.

In October, I’ll add another of these histories to my Texana library. It’ll Rain Someday… Always Does is written by my friend and retired art dealer Carol Durham Henderson and published by TCU Press; the fall release date is pending.

It’ll Rain Someday is the story of her great-grandfather, Thomas Henry Cherryhomes, who was born in 1860 and left home at 16 with a Colt .45-caliber revolver, a horse, a saddle, $12 and a steely determination to make his own way.

By the time he was 30, Cherryhomes was acquiring land, driving hard bargains, shaping — and, yes, being shaped — by frontier Texas.

When he died in 1943, he owned more than 30,000 acres near Jacksboro, Texas. Carol inherited her mother’s portion of that ranch and now shares ownership with her two children.

“I’ve been thinking about this book for 30 years,” she says. “I thought my great-grandfather’s story was so remarkable, it needed to be out there.”

And so, she set about gathering old letters and forgotten photographs. She stitched together bits of family lore and allowed T.H. Cherryhomes to breathe again.

I can’t wait to see the man who has emerged from her research.

Mary Rogers is a Fort Worth-based freelance writer. Have a book or book club recommendation? Contact her at