Hum if You don’t Know the Words

Hum If You Don’t Know the WordsHum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Perfect for readers of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum if You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While this book is based on tragic events, the author did a good job of making it beautiful, too. The novel has more than one main story line to follow, although one is focused on more than the other. If you are familiar with any of the events that this book is centered around in South Africa, then you will probably go into this knowing that some parts of it will be difficult to read. That said, this is an engaging, interesting book with a lot to recommend it.

I felt horrible for what the characters had to go through, but the author was also good at helping the reader retain hope that something might change for them in the future. This book prompted me to learn more about the actual events the book mentions and I found there was a lot that I didn’t know. It’s great when a fiction novel can be so realistic that it makes you feel things on the deepest level, and this book certainly did that for me.

Emotionally moving and thought provoking, this is a book that will stay with you once you finish reading it. I believe this is the kind of book that you will want others to read and would be a great choice to share with reading groups and book clubs. You won’t run out of things to discuss once you finish reading this.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Little Cottage in the Country

The Little Cottage in the CountryThe Little Cottage in the Country by Lottie Phillips

Escape to the country!

Anna Compton thought that moving to the countryside, leaving London and her past firmly behind her was the perfect solution. Goodbye life of thirty-something, crazed single mum of two, hello country glamour queen, domestic goddess and yummy-mummy extraordinaire.

But her new life at Primrose Cottage isn’t quite what she expected! Very soon she’s chasing pork pies down hills, disguising her shop-bought cakes at the school bake sale – and trying to resist oh-so-handsome Horatio Spencerville, who just so happens to be the Lord of the Manor…

Could moving to the country be the biggest mistake she’s ever made?

A delightfully uplifting romantic comedy to get you in the mood for summer! Perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Holly Martin and Tilly Tennant.

-from goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book started out a bit on the slow side in my opinion and I wasn’t sure what to think at first, but soon it picks up and the comedy ensues as the main character, her children and her friend try to adjust to life in the country.

I liked the boisterous characters in this book because you never really knew what to expect with them next. The main character’s internal thoughts are good for a laugh and a head nod of agreement. I think any woman that has children will be able to easily relate to the struggles depicted in this book. The romance is creative and fun and the side characters really bring the story to life.

If you are looking for a book that has a setting you can really get into where you can use your five senses to explore the worldview of the characters, this is a good book to choose.

Recommended for those who like their romances to be fun and lighthearted.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Free on Amazon – Brute by Eve Adams

Free romance novel Saturday and Sunday

Julian Froment's Blog

Eve Adams first full length Romance novel is available free on Amazon Saturday 1st July and Sunday 2nd July. This is the first book in the ‘Pine Point’ series. Also available in paperback.

Brute cover

Description:

“Brute,” by Eve Adams is the first steamy romance novel in the “Pine Point” series.

Welcome to Pine Point, North Carolina, where the summers aren’t the only thing that are too hot to handle.

Heathe Campbell is a sexy, hardworking mountain man. Good with his hands, bad with his manners—at least in the beginning.

Bianca Stone is a big city girl from Los Angeles, with a quick tongue and a no-nonsense attitude.

When she comes to Pine Point to help her very pregnant sister get ready for the baby’s arrival, she will get more than she bargained for. Surely this thing she has for Heathe is just a passing attraction, they’re like night and day. How…

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That Crazy Perfect Someday

That Crazy Perfect SomedayThat Crazy Perfect Someday by Michael Mazza

The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world’s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she’s intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri’s personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.

Michael Mazza is a San Francisco-area fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA. He is also an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. That Crazy Perfect Someday is his first novel.–from goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m usually not much for books that are set in the future, but this one was different. First of all, it was believable and there wasn’t a tremendous amount of boring tech descriptions so that worked for me and second, I loved the big wave surfing descriptions.

The characters in this novel are unique and kept me interested throughout the story, particularly what was going on with the main character’s father. I liked the plot and pacing of this story and thought the author did a really good job of coming up with interesting new ideas. This book made me wonder what’s in the future and if things will be like he described them–thought provoking.

The way he combined the future and the past as well as the way the characters reacted to the situations they found themselves in made this an exciting read from the first page to the last. You should give this book a try, it was worth the time to read. What I liked most, was the level of creativity the author used. This book makes you dream.

This review based on a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Child by Fiona Barton

The ChildThe Child by Fiona Barton

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…–goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a phenomenal book if you enjoy mysteries. I love it when I can’t figure out the mystery in a book until the very end, and this is like that. Throughout reading this I guessed a lot, was wrong quite often on what I thought was going on, and then was satisfied at the ending when I found out there was even more to it than I had originally thought. So…it’s a great book.

Right away when you begin reading this, you know that there is something strange going on, but it isn’t immediately clear what is at the heart of it all. I liked the way the author combined many different story lines to create a complex book with a lot going on in it. Her characters are strong and memorable and the past meets with the present in just the right way to make the book work.

Fiona Barton takes a strong plot and makes it that much stronger by using well-designed characters and a descriptive setting that makes it easy to imagine being there, right alongside the action. The relationships she creates are believable and last in the memory of the reader long after the last page has been read.

Highly recommended for those who love mysteries.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Suffering Tree

The Suffering TreeThe Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano

“It’s dark magic brings him back.”

Tori Burns and her family left D.C. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family—it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events—including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin—that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth—and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel—she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the centuries-old curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried… at any cost.

From award-winning author Elle Cosimano comes a haunting, atmospheric thriller perfect to hand to readers of the Mara Dyer trilogy and Bone Gap.–Goodreads

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I realise that a lot of people have taken issue with this book for the graphic descriptions of self harm involved in the story, and I can understand why to some extent. Still, this is a fictional book, and that is what I’m keeping in mind when writing this review. I did not judge fiction books on their ability to make people so things they ordinarily would not do. If a fictional character can fly after jumping off a ten story building, I’m not going to try it just because I read about it. I thought this was a very well-written, unique and wonderful story and that is why it earned five stars in my opinion.

If you like YA books that have outstanding and memorable characters, this is one that you want to get your hands on. From the very first few pages this book hooked me into the story and refused to let go. I found myself walking around with my kindle because I didn’t want to put it down to do menial life tasks without reading the next paragraph.

I liked Tori right away and found her family’s situation interesting. The chapters often began with things that happened in the past and that was just as interesting as the current story. Although Emmeline was not a character in the present portion of the book, she was integral to the plot and I liked her character a lot as well. There were a lot of surprises and unexpected events in this book and it thrilled me to uncover them a page at a time.

This book has stayed with me since I finished reading it a few weeks ago, and I would happily recommend it to those that like a bit of magic and mystery with their historical YA. The romance was sweet and the ending was great.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Reported Missing by Sarah Wray

Reported MissingReported Missing by Sarah Wray

Four months ago, Rebecca Pendle’s husband disappeared. So did 14-year-old Kayleigh Jackson.

Just a coincidence? Rebecca wants to believe so… But as the police start to draw parallels between Chris and Kayleigh, it’s getting harder for her to trust his innocence.

Faced with an angry town that believes Chris has abducted the teenager, Rebecca tries to discover the truth.

But what she finds shocks her more than she ever thought. How well does she really know the man she loves?

A completely gripping, suspenseful thriller, with a shocking twist. Fans of Louise Jensen, K.L Slater and and The Girl on the Train will be hooked until the very last page. –goodreads

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this book had a really interesting premise, but I was never sure that it lived up to the potential of the idea.

Whilst I didn’t expect the tone of this book to be light and happy based on the subject matter, I wasn’t prepared for it to be as dark and gloomy as it was. The main character wasn’t the type that I felt close to throughout the story, and I felt like the author took this too slow. I kept wanting something major to happen that would keep me hooked and turning pages, but it never happened. Even when the truth was revealed toward the end, I kind of just shrugged. It felt like effort to get there, so it wasn’t all that enjoyable.

This wasn’t a bad book, but I certainly wouldn’t say it was one of the better psychological thrillers that I’ve read, either. The story moved from one event to another, but without much excitement and at a relatively slow pace. Perhaps if I could have felt more connected to the main character I would have enjoyed it more. I was hoping for a better turnout at the ending, perhaps a surprise that I didn’t see coming, but that didn’t happen either.

It is a thought provoking book, but one that I wouldn’t read again.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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The Spring Cleaning Murders

The Spring Cleaning Murders (Ellie Haskell Mystery, #7)The Spring Cleaning Murders by Dorothy Cannell

Ellie Haskell swaps scrubbing for sleuthing when yet another member of the Chitterton Fells Charwomen’s Association bites the dust. Someone has more than dust bunnies and dirty dishes to hide. Ellie is helped by handsome husband Bentley, feckless cousin Freddy, and caustic home helper Mrs Malloy.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of these books that I have had the pleasure of reading, and I found it to be delightful. If you are a lover of cosy mystery as I am, then you will undoubtedly get a kick out of this novel. The author is witty and her characters are both believable and charming. I really like Mrs. Malloy in particular, she has a certain way about her that makes her rather difficult to forget.

The mysteries in this book pile up just as quick as the body count and I loved that the main character didn’t spend her time freaking out over every little thing, but kept her head about her throughout most of the book. There weren’t a lot of ridiculous situations that forced me to suspend belief, so I was able to read right along, satisfied without stopping to roll my eyes as I do with a lot of mystery books.

The family atmosphere and the descriptions of the twins and their antics made me happy, having twins of my own I could relate. I didn’t guess the culprit until they were revealed either, which made me happy.

This book was a lot of fun and I look forward to catching up on this series. Recommended for mystery lovers.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief

The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief (The Curious Affair Of, #1)The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist & the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle

Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .

Should you find yourself in need of a discreet investigation into any sort of mystery, crime or puzzling circumstances, think of Jesperson and Lane . . .

For several years Miss Lane was companion, amanuensis, collaborator and friend to the lady known to the Psychical Societs only as Miss X – until she discovered that Miss X was actually a fraud.

Now she works with Mr Jasper Jesperson as a consulting detective, but the cases are not as plentiful as they might be and money is getting tight – until a case that reaches across the entirety of London lands in their laps.

It concerns a somnambulist, the disappearance of several mediums, and a cat stuck up a tree . . . the links with the cat are negligible, but there is only one team that can investigate the seemingly supernatural disappearances of the psychics and defy the nefarious purpose behind them.

Jesperson and Lane, at your service.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love books set in the age of spiritualism and this novel was perfect to satisfy that kind of reader craving. The plot works with an interesting idea that the author took to the next level, providing the reader with a richly detailed atmosphere and a story that won’t let go of you once it grabs your attention. If you like literature set in Victorian times, this will be one that you don’t want to miss.

This book takes you on a perilous journey, slowly building up the mystery with the introduction of new characters and impossible to figure out situations. I liked that the author took the time to create a good, solid background for her characters before she set out to solve the mystery. I felt like these characters were old friends and there is a certain sly humour to her work that keeps you smiling even at the most intense points in the novel.

Overall, this was a great book that kept me fascinated from the first page to the last and I look forward to hearing the thoughts and opinions of others who have read it. Definitely recommended for the amateur sleuths out there.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

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Toward a Secret Sky

Toward a Secret SkyToward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean

Shortly after 17-year-old Maren Hamilton is orphaned and sent to live with grandparents she’s never met in Scotland, she receives an encrypted journal from her dead mother that makes her and everyone around her a target. It confirms that her parents were employed by a secret, international organization that’s now intent on recruiting her. As Maren works to unravel the clues left behind by her mother, a murderous madness sweeps through the local population, terrorizing her small town. Maren must decide if she’ll continue her parents’ fight or stay behind to save her friends.

With the help of Gavin, an otherworldly mercenary she’s not supposed to fall in love with, and Graham, a charming aristocrat who is entranced with her, Maren races against the clock and around the country from palatial estates with twisted labyrinths to famous cathedrals with booby-trapped subterranean crypts to stay ahead of the enemy and find a cure. Along the way, she discovers the great truth of love: that laying down your life for another isn’t as hard as watching them sacrifice everything for you.–Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by what a great book with an intriguing story line this turned out to be. Sometimes I pick up a YA novel and just struggle the whole time to connect to the characters and get into it, but this one was different. I liked Maren, the main character right away and feeling close to her led me to enjoy the rest of the book. There is a bit of a Twilight feel to this–especially when one considers how Maren feels during the absence of her love interest, but it was different enough that it didn’t feel like a copy.

There is plenty of action in this novel to keep you going and the romance is sweet, but not overdone–as in it doesn’t take centre focus on every page of the book. I liked the way the author portrayed the secondary characters as well. No one felt like useless padding and everyone served a clearly defines purpose within the story.

I am looking forward to seeing where she goes with this series, and to reading the next book. If you want a book that will keep you busy for hours and make you feel things–this is a good one to choose. The descriptions were lovely, the story was exciting and the ending made me want more.

This review is based on a complementary copy from the publisher, provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.