When We Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor

when-dancedAbout the Book

Brighton 1930: Maureen O’Connell is a carefree girl, but her family is on the brink of tragedy, war is looming and life will never be the same again. 

Jack and Nelson have always been dear friends to Maureen. Despite their different backgrounds, they’ve seen each other through thick and thin. 

As Maureen blossoms from a little girl into a young woman, the candle she’s always held for Jack burns bright. But just as she’s found love, war wrenches them apart.

When the bombs start to fall, Maureen and her family find themselves living in the most dangerous of times. Can she look to a brighter future? And will she find the true happiness she’s dreamt of? 

Review

I read this book last weekend and haven’t stopped thinking about it. Without a doubt, this is my favorite book so far this year and I just know that it will remain in my list of favorites for all-time.

When we Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor begins with Maureen and Brenda moving into a new home with their mum and dad. I was immediately drawn to this family and especially little Brenda. She used to say the most random yet beautiful things. It took a while for me to realize that something wasn’t quite right with some members of the family. Nevertheless, I really liked this family. The story had me hooked from the first page. I think that I was already crying by the third chapter.

Maureen met Jack after this move. She was still quite young but she fell in love from that moment. Through Jack, we got to meet Nelson who stole my own heart. I really liked this boy. He was in the background most of the time but was still a key part of the story. I liked his gentle spirit and just wanted things to work out for him. This kid both broke and warmed my heart. The last person to join this group of friends was Monica. A feisty little girl.

The story takes us through the MCs childhood years all through to their adulthood. The author narrates the story in a way that makes you feel like you really know the MCs. Maureen, Brenda, Nelson, Jack and Monica felt familiar and I liked seeing them go through life through the years. Characterization in this book is so strong that even the support characters stood out. For instance, Peter and Mrs. Bentley only feature in a number of chapters but they are part of the story throughout. I felt like I knew each one of the characters in the mood. I grew attached to them and my heart broke when each one of them went through a difficult time.

The writing of this book is beautiful, poignant and flawless. I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry so much. Not just at the end but I cried thrice while reading this book. The imagery was so good that I could visualize the characters and the setting. I loved the description of the sea and the small towns and when they danced at the end of the pier, I was just right there with them.

When we Danced at the End of the Pier by Sandy Taylor reminded me of my favorite book, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The setting and time period had a number of similarities. Both books gave me characters that I still think of. Characters who I grew attached to. Characters whose stories broke my heart and made me cry. Part of the story was set in Ireland and I found myself thinking of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. However, although the book reminded me of my favourite books, it was unique in its own ways. The writing and characterization made it different and the story was one of the most beautiful ones that I have ever read.

I have found a new favorite book. This is a book that I will not stop recommending to everyone. It is the most beautiful, heart-breaking story that I have read in a while and I want everyone to read it.

 

 

 

 

The Lost Children (Detective Lucy Harwin #1) by Helen Phifer

Lost ChildrenFor decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney…

Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs.

What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.

As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose?

Review

The Lost Children by Helen Phifer begins with a scene at an asylum in 1975. The setting is atmospheric and dark and you can just tell that something sinister is about to occur. This asylum is a place where kids are taken if they are deemed to be unfit to be in general society. There are kids who have committed horrible crimes who have been locked up there. However, there are others with illnesses and disabilities that are also locked up.  The doctors and nurses at the asylum are portrayed as being very cruel.

We soon get back to the present with a murder at the asylum. Just from this murder, it becomes clear that the setting is the key to unlocking the mystery behind the crime. In addition, the killer’s MO is bizarre hence providing another clue to the mystery. The chapters shift between present and past explaining what happened in the asylum in the 70s. It then takes us back to the investigation as we follow Detective Lucy Harwin as she tries to understand what happened then and its connection to the present. The pressure to solve the case escalates when the bodies start to pile up.

I think what I liked most about this book was the protagonist, DI Lucy. I liked how she was intuitive and determined to solve the case despite her own demons. She had a family that had fallen apart and a previous case that continued to haunt her. She is a fighter though. I also really liked her relationship with her colleague Mattie. The two had a great relationship. The kind of friendship that I admire. They had each other’s back and it was nice watching them work together. The characters in this book felt real and relatable.

This book is fast-paced with well-developed characters which made it an interesting read. However, I don’t think that there were any twists that surprised me. We got to know the villain pretty early in the case and I guess I kept hoping that there was a twist. Maybe the obvious villain would end up being innocent? However, there were no surprises in that regard. I did like the final chapters though with the heightened tension. It felt like we were running out of time and I kept turning the pages quickly to find out how it would all end. The book had alternating POVs with a few dark chapters narrated by the killer. The narration style and shifting timelines worked well in this book.

I think that this book will appeal to fans of cop procedural or crime thrillers. This detective series is off to a promising start. I can’t wait to see how it goes and I hope to see Mattie and Lucy Harwin again soon.

The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten

MoroccoIndependent-minded Sibylla Spencer feels trapped in nineteenth-century London, where her strong will and progressive views have rendered her unmarriageable. Still single at twenty-three, she is treated like a child and feels stifled in her controlling father’s house.

When Benjamin Hopkins, an ambitious employee of her father’s trading company, shows an interest in her, she realizes marriage is her only chance to escape. As Benjamin’s rising career whisks them both away to exotic Morocco, Sibylla is at last a citizen of the world, reveling in her newfound freedom by striking her first business deals, befriending locals…and falling in love for the first time with a charismatic and handsome Frenchman.

But Benjamin’s lust for money and influence draws him into dark dealings, pulling him ever further from Sibylla and their two young sons. When he’s arrested on horrible charges, the fate of Sibylla’s family rests on her shoulders, as she must decide whether she’ll leave him to his fate or help him fight for his life.

Review

Morocco.  I am so happy that I finally got to read a book set in Northern Africa, Morocco! This has to be one of the most exotic countries in our continent. Even the name sounds striking. Having only been to countries in East Africa, I have always been intrigued by the Western and Northern countries especially and the Southern..okay, all of Africa intrigues me and I want to travel everywhere. I remember my friend visiting Morocco in 2013 and telling about the food and culture. It sounded like quite a beautiful place. Morocco makes me think about veiled belly dancers, the desert and spiced tea. The setting of this book is the first thing that I saw and it’s the reason why I decided to read The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten . I have never read any books set in Morocco and I couldn’t miss the chance to read about the country and especially the culture.

I didn’t know that this was historical fiction until I read the first page and saw that the story was set in the 1800s. It begins with Sibylla in England. Right from the first chapter, she is portrayed as a conspicuous woman. Not just in the looks department but also due to her strong personality. The world at that time was male dominated but SIbylla still found a way to make her voice heard. Soon after her marriage, she finds a way to convince her father to let her move to Morocco with her husband to oversee his business interests in the country.

Morocco portrayed in this book is just as I imagined. The rich culture of the Arabic and Berber people came alive in the story. I liked the descriptions of the ethnic groups and their dressing. Especially the veiled Arab women who only revealed their faces behind closed doors or in company of other women. I liked the idea of harems. A house where the Muslim women spent time together. Islam is the main faith in the country and the religion was at the backdrop of the story. For instance, Muezzin calling Muslim faithful for prayers was constantly mentioned.  Then there was the tea and even shisha. And to my delight, the belly dancers were also mentioned. I really liked the setting of this book. The authors did an amazing job with describing it so vividly that I was transported there.  The only thing that I didn’t like was the slavery. I understand that slaves were part of history  but I still cringed whenever the word was used.

 

I have seen images of Eassaouira(Mogador in this book). I didn’t know about the Moroccan town until reading this book.Interesting, my imagination was almost on point this town. The town is as I imagined it as I read the book. Especially in the first image.

The book covers a longtime frame. It spans over a period of almost 25 years. This means that we get to meet different generations and also get to see the setting change over time. The characters were well developed and memorable. I especially liked the female characters. Sibylla is a one to admire. Her strength and wisdom earned her the title lioness of Morocco. That and plus the fact that she had blonde hair which the locals compared with a lion’s mane. Different women in the book were portrayed as being quite brave. For instance; when mixed religion marriages were forbidden, it took the strength of women to fight against this ‘taboo’. I liked this portrayal of women especially given the setting of the book where male dominance was revered. However, these ladies showed bravery and were able to change things whenever change was needed.

The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten is a book that I recommend to everyone. The setting is amazing and the authors did a fantastic job with developing the story against this exotic backdrop. In addition, they had carried out a lot of research hence making the setting quite realistic. For instance; the characters live at Magador which is a modern day, Coastal town known as Essaouira. Some of the historic events that took place in the town are part of this story. The storytelling is impeccable. The events are vividly described, characters well developed; there is conflict, an unforgiving desert, a little romance (and tea and dancers). I just loved everything about this book.

Read this book. In the meantime, let me have some spiced tea and practice belly dancing as I dream of traveling to Morocco. A girl can dream.

Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newbound

dilemmaBook Description

Local vets Victoria and Jonathan Lyons seem to have everything—a perfect marriage, a beautiful five-year-old daughter, Emily, and a successful business. Until they discover Emily has a rare and fatal illness.

Early trials show that a temporary fix would be to transplant a hormone from a living donor. However in the trials; the donors had died within twenty four hours. They have no choice but to accept their daughter is going to die.

A series of events present the characters with a situation that, although illegal, could help save Emily.

Will they take it?

Review

I can’t remember the last time that I screamed at a book. Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newbound had me screaming. Some of the twists were so good that I  couldn’t believe what I had  read. This book got me excited due to the captivating plot although in the end, it also gave me nightmares. I think it’s a book that I won’t forget anytime soon.

The story begins with a regular couple, Vic and Jon, who seems to have everything going for them until their little girl, Emily, is diagnosed with a terminal illness.  I have edited the blurb a little bit since it gives away one of the first major occurrences in the story.   After the first twist which happens early in the story, things got crazy. I remember when the first reveal occurred, I thought to myself…no way, I mean why did that happen? Turns out that there was more to come and it just got crazier with each new chapter. The twists are many and the author did a great job at making each one of them a surprise.

As you can tell, I truly liked this book. Unfortunately, it is not a book that I can talk much about without spoiling. I can’t even tell you about the characters without ruining the experience for you. What I will say though is that the book is full of surprises. The characters changed so much as the story progressed. It was like reading a book about a nun who turns into a pimp or a Chemistry high school teacher who starts cooking meth (What’s up Walt?). However, the changes are gradual so in a way, they sort of make sense. The author takes you through the characters thought processes and makes you see the justification behind their actions.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking about suspension of disbelief. I remember messaging my friend, Annie and asking her about the phrase( I have never used it before then so had to be sure its correct). I think it applies to this book.  There are things that occurred that seemed a bit unrealistic. However, once you accept the ‘bizarreness’ and just go with the flow then this won’t be an issue.

When the book started out, I thought it was more of a psychological thriller. However, at some point, it appeared like a cross-genre of thriller and horror. There were some really disturbing, gory scenes. Like way more disturbing than the serial killer next door in most thrillers. The squirmy kind of disturbing. This book took twisted to a whole new level. I am still thinking about some of the scenes and I don’t think I will be eating any pork products anytime soon. OMG! There is something wrong with pigs, maybe just the ones in this book but you never know. You have to read the book and find out more about this though. Disturbing but such a thrilling read.

The Many by Nathan Field

The ManyBook Description

Karl notices something odd about his sister the morning after a blind date. A coldness in her manner; nothing anyone else would notice. Suspicious, he confronts her about the date but she turns nasty, accusing him of taking a perverse interest in her sex life.

When he next sees her, months later, she seems back to normal, until a harmless comment provokes a sudden, violent response. As her mental state fluctuates, Karl seeks out the man she dated just before her personality began to change; convinced she is suppressing a painful memory from that night. But what he discovers is something far more sinister, and pervasive, than he’d ever imagined.

Strictly for adult readers, THE MANY is the first book of a trilogy that explores the dark side of the world we live in, and exposes an evil that is both disturbing and eerily familiar.

Review

It took me a while to read this book. I received the eARC in January but the copy that I got had very tiny fonts. It also didn’t have a cover so it just started from Chapter 1 which didn’t appeal to me. I usually struggle with tiny fonts and have to rotate my tablet so as to read such books which bothers me. Anyway, this is why it took me a while to read the book but once I got started, it took only took one Saturday morning to get through it.

The story begins with Stacey’s date with a certain handsome, successful doctor. The date seems to go well until the two decide to go home. Something happened on the way but as readers, we don’t get to know what it was as this is part of the book’s mystery. The only thing that is evident is that Stacey was a changed woman when she went home the next day. Her behavior was so bizarre especially the things she said to/about her brother. Her actions  towards her family made me uncomfortable. On the other hand, there is Karl, Stacey’s younger brother, who lives with her. He is confused by his sister’s sudden change and is determined to find answers.

There are other characters that go through  similar experiences like Stacey/Karl after going on dates with people that they met from online dating sites. It is evident that the date nights are changing the singles. Throughout the book I kept trying to guess what happened to them. I felt sorry for the loved ones who were left baffled. I mean, one day your loved one goes out on a date and then comes back a completely different person?  What was even more intriguing was the fact that the singles don’t remember what happened to them so nobody has the answers (or so it seems).

I don’t know how to categorize this book. At first I thought it was a thriller but it does border on being a horror story too. Perhaps a mixed-genre. I feel like it will appeal more to fans of horror  though. The themes are a bit too dark. The book ends with a cliffhanger so there maybe a second book. I found this to be an unsettling read but I am curious enough to read the second book in the series.

 

The Escape by C. L. Taylor

The EscapeBook Description

The Sunday Times bestseller and No.1 Kindle bestseller returns…

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger.

But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

Review

The Escape by C. L Taylor had an eerie atmosphere right from the start. A stranger gets into Jo’s car and starts telling her about herself and her family. She even has Jo daughter’s glove. There is something really creepy about this stranger. Well apart from this encounter. This is not the kind of person who fits the usual villain’s profile. However, you need to read this book to know  what I mean. The uniqueness of the creepy stranger added to the spookiness of the encounter. After the weird incident, things start happening around Jo and they get creepier with each chapter.

Jo is an unreliable narrator. I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t as far as she was concerned. There were certain things that made me doubt her but I still  liked her as a character. She was portrayed as a bit weak at first but her love for her daughter proved that she was stronger than she appeared. Her issues with agoraphobia made me sympathize with her and its part of the reason  why I was so drawn to her. She was brilliant despite everything.  I can’t say much about the other characters without spoiling the book. However, I’ll just mention that the characterization is one of the best aspects of this book.

The story is narrated through alternating perspectives. Jo is the main narrator. Other narrators include Max and another character who readers meet later on in the story and whose identity I won’t reveal for now. In addition, there are shorter narrations by the villain throughout the book. As I have mentioned before, I have always liked the darker narrations in thrillers and this wasn’t any different. It was scary yet fascinating at the same time. The pacing of the story remains the same from the first to the last page hence mystery and eeriness is maintained throughout.

The ending of the story was satisfactory. The last chapters were very tense but in the end I was happy with the conflict resolution. This story had everything that I like in thrillers. It has secrets and lies, dark narrations, twists and memorable characters.. I also like how the author builtin the main story-line with other little connected story-line hence making it a complex yet addictive narrative. And I like the cover, I don’t know if it’s the ghostly, cloudy vibe going on with the deserted boat and the birds but I really like it. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys fast-paced, suspenseful thrillers.

 

Nigeria: On Becoming by Toke Makinwa

On BecomingAbout the Book (goodreads)

Toke never envisaged that she would be a successful media personality. She began her journey as a bubbly child but grew into a lonely teenager after the devastating loss of both her parents. For so long after, it seemed as though she would never find herself.

On Becoming is the real Toke Makinwa telling us what it is like to be one of the most talked about celebrities in Nigeria. She reveals the truth behind her 14-year relationship with the man she finally married. A marriage that ended in an atrocious scandal that nearly brought her to her knees.

In the wake of the peaks and troughs that characterize Toke’s experiences, she now shares her struggle with blinding betrayal, finding forgiveness and drawing strength from her faith in God.

Nigeria: On Becoming by Toke Makinwa

Review

On Becoming by Toke Makinwa tells the story of the author’s struggles with her marriage.  I didn’t know Toke before reading this book. She is a celebrity in Nigeria and by the look of things; she is a successful media personality in the country. Having this information is critical in understanding some of the events that took place in this book.

The book has a few chapters that focus on Toke’s childhood. The death of her parents is sudden and hence more tragic. They both perished in a gas explosion at their home. However, the book doesn’t dwell much on Toke’s early years. Instead, the main focus is her relationship with her ex-husband, Maje.

I  don’t even know how to explain this relationship. If this was fiction then it would have been easier to explain my feelings about the three people in the triangle. However, this is really life so who am I to really criticize these people? Nevertheless, Toke and Maje had such a terrible, tumultuous seven year relationship. He constantly cheated on her with his ex, Anita. Some of the things that occurred in that relationship were jaw-dropping. What shocked me the most is the reason given as to why Toke bleached her skin. The relationship was emotionally abusive and the couple was on and off more times that I can count. To fix the relationship, they decided to get married. Yeah, they actually did. The short marriage ended up in a scandal that caused a media storm in Nigeria. Maje had impregnated his ex-girlfriend, Anita. As a matter of fact, that is the second woman he had impregnated while still with Toke.

Unlike regular people, Toke didn’t have the opportunity to deal with the loss of her marriage in private. The tabloids, celebrity columns and social media were awash with news of the scandal. It is in this chaos that Toke’s strength was really tested. One thing that stood out to me was that author kept mentioning how the society made things even worse. She says that it is Nigeria but I think it is not just her country but also other parts of Africa and perhaps the world. Women are expected to put up with a lot of crap in their marriages. Maje’s infidelity was interpreted as a weakness of Toke’s part. Why couldn’t she keep her man? Why is she leaving him just because he cheated yet ‘all’ men cheat? The pressure was insurmountable but Toke still pushed through in the end.

The final few chapters deal with lessons that she learned from her failed marriage. I  like the fact that she gave details on how she overcame the pain. The aspect of spirituality features through the chapters becomes more prominent towards the end.

 

 

On becoming by Toke Makinwa is a bit hard to define. It is not really a memoir because it mainly focuses on her relationship and the public scandal that followed. The book’s tagline is ‘A-Must Tell’ so I feel like this was Toke’s way to tell her side of the story. Her marriage issues became a public affair and she had been criticized for her role in her husband’s infidelity. She remained quiet during the media storm and so this was her chance to set things straight. At the end, she does share tips on how to get through a failed marriage/public scandal. If you are looking for a memoir set in Nigeria, look elsewhere. If you know Toke and want to understand how she dealt with everything then this is the book for you. If you are going through something similar or just want a better understanding of what it is like going through these issues; failed marriage/relationship, abuse, public scandal then this book is for you.

The Follower by Koethi Zan

FollowerAbout the Book

SHE’D DO ANYTHING FOR HER HUSBAND.

Julie has the perfect life.

A kind boyfriend, loving parents and good grades. She has everything ahead of her.

Cora’s life is a nightmare.

A psychopath for a husband, a violent father and a terrible secret. There’s no way out.

But one night, their worlds collide.

Locked in an isolated house together, they must work out what has happened – and who they can trust to set them free.

 

Review

The Follower by Koethi Zan is a fast-paced thriller about two women brought together by a leader of a cult. One woman was a willing follower while the other one had been abducted. The story begins with this abduction. Julie is a regular girl enjoying her life when she is suddenly kidnapped and locked in a room by a sort of religious, demented couple.

The story focuses more on the two women than on the  leader. Julie’s narrations are heart-wrenching. Her life as a prisoner is devastating and sometimes tough to read about. She goes through phases of acceptance and again the resolve to escape. Her narrations had my heart racing a couple of times wondering whether she would make it out alive or lose the fight in that cursed house. On the other hand, Cora’s narrations are given through two timelines. We get to see her life before the cult and after it.  Through alternating chapters, the two women tell of the horrors of being in the cult especially with the leader. However, one is struggling while the other shifts between moments of doubts and content. A few chapters are narrated by the cultic leader.

Apart from the two women and the leader, there is a fourth narrator, Adam. He is a former police officer with lots of personal demons. Although, he doesn’t have badge anymore, Adam is carrying out his own investigation which brings him close to the two women. However, it is evident that something is not quite right with him. He is a bit obsessed with the case and not for the reasons that you would guess.

The four main characters are as different as can be. Adam has determination and the drive to solve the case. However, he is obsessed with it and it is heartbreaking to see the lengths that he went to solve it. His frustrations at every dead end made me share in his disappointments. I felt bad for him and really wanted him to succeed. I wasn’t so sure about his mental status though. Nevertheless, unhinged or not, he was brilliant. Julie is easily the most sympathetic character in the book. I can’t imagine what she went through in that cell. Being pulled away from her life and forced into the harrowing experience was tough on her. Cora is the most complex character of the four. I sympathized with her, hated her, pitied her and then went back to disliking her. Her background story and current circumstances make it hard to label her as either good or bad. As for the cultic leader, I just didn’t like him.

The story is mainly set in the house where Julie is being held captive. Only chapters with Adam and the flashbacks take place elsewhere. However, so much take places in that house. The relationship between the two women was so intense and full of drama. There are sections where I had to flip through the pages very fast to see if they would survive each other. The scenes in the house reminded me of an old movie, Panic Room. One house but so much craziness.

The Follower by Koethi Zan is a fast-paced psychological thriller. If you like this genre then this one may be for you. Although, the cult was mentioned, I didn’t feel like it was a major part of the story. However, it still provided a chilling background to the story hence adding to the tension through the chapters. The ending was definitely memorable and unpredictable. The cliffhanger makes me wonder if the author has plans for a second book or if she just decided to end it that way. Either way, the book is definitely worth checking out.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

trophy-childAbout the Book

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

Review

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly tells the story of one very complicated family. I will try and break it down for you. Karen and Noel are married. Karen has a son from a past relationship, Ewan and Noel has a daughter from his last marriage, Verity. Karen and Noel have a daughter together, Bronte. Some members of this family like each other which others totally dislike each other. From the beginning, it is evident that Karen is a bit of an overbearing mother. She puts all her attention on Bronte who she believes is very talented and intelligent.

Karen is a character who is easy to dislike. I maybe in the minority here but I didn’t dislike her enough to abandon her on a desert with no food or water. I mean, she is not the best mother but she could have been worse. She was overbearing and expected way too much from her kid. As the story progressed, I sympathized with her especially after the second mystery in the book. I feel like the other characters judged her a bit too harshly. I really didn’t like Noel. He seemed selfish and weak. Although he was one of the MCs, he felt more like a support character. I did like the detective in the story though. Joanne was different from the usual hard-core, no-nonsense detectives. As a matter of fact, readers are introduced to her during a blind date. She felt real and easily likeable.  I really can’t say much about the other characters because I feel like I  didn’t get to know them.

I have always seen other bloggers use this term, slow-burn. I have never used it to describe any book until now. This book is slow but it is not boring. The suspense builds slowly until everything falls apart. There were stories and mysteries with the main story. One of the main mysteries was sort of solved only for a bigger one to occur although in the end, they were all connected. I don’t know if there was much of a twist in the book. I didn’t have any OMG moments and the reveals didn’t feel shocking but that really wasn’t an issue. I would have wanted a different ending though. I just felt like a lot was left hanging. In addition, I didn’t like how two of the characters, one who I disliked and one who I liked, ended up together.

This book has many good reviews on goodreads but it wasn’t for me. I felt like it took me two years to get through it though it was just a week. The pacing was a bit slow for my liking. In addition, I didn’t like most of the characters especially Noel. However, if you like domestic noirs, a bit of mystery and books that can be described using fancy words like slow-burn (I hope that I am using it correctly) then I think that you will enjoy this one.

Showers of ARCs

At the end of February, I finally got to 80% feedback ratio on NetGalley. To celebrate, I decided to request a few more books. Yes, that is exactly how you are supposed to celebrate. By reducing your ratio once again. Anyway, I have received a 7 ARCs which I am so excited to read. So here goes:

dilemmaAn Impossible Dilemma by Netta Newband

Local vets Victoria and Jonathan Lyons seem to have everything—a perfect marriage, a beautiful five-year-old daughter, Emily, and a successful business. Until they discover Emily has a rare and fatal illness.

Early trials show that a temporary fix would be to transplant a hormone from a living donor. However in the trials; the donors had died within twenty four hours. They have no choice but to accept their daughter is going to die.

When Jonathan is suddenly killed in a farming accident, Victoria turns to her sick father-in-law, Frank, for help. A series of events present Victoria and Frank with a situation that, although illegal, could help save Emily.

 

The EscapeThe Escape by C. L Taylor

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

 

Beneath Copper Falls.jpgBeneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff’s dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams “He’s going to kill me too” before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it’s too late. Allyson’s death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn’t believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson’s cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana’s ex-fiance locates her, she’s caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.

 

Bad Girl GoneBad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews

Sixteen year-old Echo Stone awakens in a cold sweat in a dark room, having no idea where she is or how she got there. But she soon finds out she is in Middle House, an orphanage filled with mysteriously troubled kids.

There is just one problem: she is not an orphan. Her parents are very much alive.

She explains this to everyone, but no one will listen. After befriending a sympathetic (and handsome) boy, Echo is able to escape Middle House and rush home, only to discover it sealed off by crime scene tape and covered in the evidence of a terrible and violent crime. As Echo grapples with this world-shattering information, she spots her parents driving by and rushes to flag them down. Standing in the middle of street, waving her arms to get their attention, her parents car drives right through her.

She was right. Her parents are alive but she Is not.She is a ghost, just like all the other denizens of Middle House. Desperate to somehow get her life back and reconnect with her still-alive boyfriend, Echo embarks on a quest to solve her own murder.

 

break-donwThe Breakdown by B. Paris

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby. The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

 

Lost ChildrenThe Lost Children (Detective Lucy Harwin #1) by Helen Phifer

Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…

For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney…

Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs.

What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.

As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose?

 

And then this happened…

A few weeks ago, my friend Annie (The Misstery), who is totally awesome, told me about a book on NetGalley that she thought I would like. I remember reading the book description and I am not even kidding right now, I almost cried. The book is set in KENYA! Do you know how rare it is to find ARCs set in my country? In addition, it is historical fiction. The time period is in the 50-60s during our struggle for independence. The secret society, MauMau is a group that I respect. I believe that they gave us the freedom that we have today. So, I almost wept because of how awesome the book seemed and also because I wasn’t sure that I would get it.

Then I looked at the publisher’s name and my heart totally sank. I have never been approved by them. I still requested the book knowing that the rejection would hurt. I didn’t want to wait for months for the book. Anyway, in the end I got approved. I can’t even explain it. Maybe the ARCs gods intervened or perhaps the publisher just decided to be good to me. Perhaps this is my repayment for that nice thing I once did for someone in 92; anyway, I am so happy. The book will be out in July but I know that I won’t be able to wait that long.

 

 

The Leopard at the DoorLeopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

After six years in England, Rachel has returned to Kenya and the farm where she spent her childhood, but the beloved home she’d longed for is much changed. Her father’s new companion—a strange, intolerant woman—has taken over the household. The political climate in the country grows more unsettled by the day and is approaching the boiling point. And looming over them all is the threat of the Mau Mau, a secret society intent on uniting the native Kenyans and overthrowing the whites.

As Rachel struggles to find her place in her home and her country, she initiates a covert relationship, one that will demand from her a gross act of betrayal. One man knows her secret, and he has made it clear how she can buy his silence. But she knows something of her own, something she has never told anyone. And her knowledge brings her power.

 

Have you read any of these ARCs? Are you tempted to add any of them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful weekend!

African Drum