Hum if you don’t know the words by Bianca Marais

Hum if you don't knowLife 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.


I found out about this book through Renee (Its book talk) and Annie (The Misstery). I was intrigued by the setting and the comparison with The Secret Life of Bees and The Help. I also loved the title.

Hum if you don’t know the words by Bianca Marais is set in South Africa during the apartheid. The story mainly covers events that took place during the Soweto uprising. I have read a lot about the uprising and watched movies such as Sarafina. However, the author still managed to tug on my heartstrings with the description of the uprising. The first scene with the demonstrations was quite moving such that I had to take a break before continuing with the book.

The story is narrated through two main POVs. Beauty is a black woman in search of her daughter, Nomsa who went missing during the uprising. On the other hand, Robin is a little white girl whose parents were murdered during the uprising. I liked these two narrators. Robin’s story broke my heart. She was so young but the world had turned against her. She didn’t even understand half of what was going on. There are many moving scenes involving her. I think one that stands out the most is her parent’s funeral. Robin reminded me exactly where I was two weeks ago when my friend was murdered. Robin’s grief was hard to read about. However, I think the author did a great job in portraying her emotions.

Beauty reminded me of my own mom. I admired her strength and determination to find her daughter. As Robin described her, Beauty had a big heart and she was easy to like. I thought that the two narrations were interspersed brilliantly. At the end, I liked both of them equally.

This book tackles the main theme of racism. I liked the questions that the author posed through the characters. One character asked why white people in South Africa hated the blacks.  I think it’s a question that we all ask about hate. Why did Nazis hate Jews? Why do white supremacists hate blacks? Generally, why do humans hate? Is there any justifiable reason to hate someone because they are different? Honestly, all excuses for prejudice sound really silly to me. I liked the discussions are hate and felt that they were thought-provoking.

I did enjoy this book but I still think that there was a lot going on. I feel like the author tried to tackle so many prejudices in one story.There were characters that seemed to only came in to the story to portray certain prejudices.  The prejudices sort of pushed other themes to the background. There were also events especially towards the end that felt unrealistic. I won’t lie; a certain scene in a club involving dancing, a t-shirt and a language had me rolling my eyes. I also struggled to get a feel of Robin’s exact age. There are times that she did things that didn’t match her age. I didn’t like the ending since it felt like a certain ‘savior’ trope. This could be a personal issue because of who I am. Honestly though, I am tired of certain narratives despite the fact that they are quite popular in movies and books.

Nevertheless, this is still an important book.  I think it still managed to tackle the key themes well and also provide information about the uprising and apartheid. There are aspects such as Pass Laws, Immorality Act and relations between races that I felt accurately portrayed the period. I also felt like the author did a great job in tackling grief and loss. In addition, this title is just brilliant. So despite the issues that I mentioned, this is still a book that I recommend to all readers.

Throwback Thursday: First Book Love-Fairy Tales Storybooks

This weekly feature is hosted by Renee,(Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well  as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.

once upon a time


This week, I saw a post by Kim (By Hook or By Book)on bookish cakes. One of the cakes had a fairy tales theme. Just seeing that cake brought back so many wonderful memories of the first books that I ever read.

They were fairy tales.


Beauty and the beast cake

Fairy Tales Bookish Cake

Let me confess, I was super mean with my books. I never liked giving them out because I was afraid that other kids would ruin them or fail to return them. I read and reread them so many times. Then watched the disney movies and reread the books. Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened to my books since I no longer have any storybooks. If I ever have kids though, I will definitely get them the books.

Here are some of my favorites:


Beauty and the Beast – I just loved Bella, the books and the talking teapots

Cinderella – I think what I admired most was the gown that the fairy godmother gave Cinderella for the ball

Goldilocks and the three bears

Aladdin and his magic lamp

Alibaba and the forty thieves

Alice and Wonderland – I loved Alice’s adventures




The Little Mermaid

Little Red Riding Hood

Puss in Boots

Jack and the BeanStalk

Pinocchio- This book made me afraid of telling lies lol


Snow white and the seven dwarfs

Sleeping Beauty

The Empror’s New Clothes

The Little Mermaid



 Lion King – A fairy tale set in Africa with lots of Swahili. The book and movie were definitely childhood favorites. There was something extra special about Lion King.

I also love the fact that it taught the world a few Swahili words such as Hakuna Matata and Simba.


As an adult, I have read and heard a lot of criticism about fairy-tales, their portrayals and messages. Right now at is age,I can understand the basis for the criticism. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that I discovered the joy of reading through my childhood fairy-tales storybooks. These books opened up my mind to a new world of imagination and at that time, talking lions, flying mats and princesses all made sense to me.

Fairytales taught me lessons about good and evil; they broadened my thinking and I believe they also helped in making me more creative and hence influenced my becoming a storyteller.And for that, I choose to celebrate them.

So, what are some of your favorite fairy tales?

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Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft

Silent LiesMia Hamilton lived the perfect life with her husband, university teacher Zach, and their two-year-old daughter, Freya. But everything changed when Zach committed suicide on the same night one of his students, Josie Carpenter, vanished.

Five years later, and Josie is still missing but Mia has finally found some happiness with new boyfriend Will.

Until one day when stranger Alison walks into her life and tells Mia that her husband didn’t kill himself.

Desperate to find out what really happened to Zach, Mia is forced to put her trust in Alison. But she soon discovers that Alison has her own agenda behind exposing the details of Zach’s death. Can Mia really believe anything Alison says?

Mia must decide how far she is willing to go to uncover the truth – even if she risks losing everything she loves.


Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft is narrated through two POVs and timelines. One timeline follows Josie’s story and the events that took place five years ago. At the time, Josie was a student until one night when she disappeared. In the present timeline, Mia is trying to rebuild her life after her husband committed suicide on the night that Josie disappeared.  All seems well until Alison walks into her life bringing up the past.

This was a suspenseful read and right from the start, I couldn’t guess what had happened to Mia and Zach. Alison who seemed to have the answers was an unreliable narrator hence making it hard to fully trust her. What is interesting though, I didn’t have any suspects. I just couldn’t guess what happened that night leading to Zach’s suicide.

The characters in the story are well crafted though I didn’t like most of them. Interestingly, my opinion of different characters changed as the story progressed. I liked most of them at first but their actions soon turned me against them. One I disliked and ended up liking towards the end. I struggled to connect with any of them although I did find Josie’s narration to be quiet addictive. Perhaps this is because I knew that it was going to end with her disappearance and Zach’s death.  So I kept turning pages to find answers.

Kathryn’s writing is great and the story has an interesting premise but I took longer than expected with this book. I can’t say for sure if it’s my lack of connection with the characters or perhaps the fact that the middle section felt slower for me or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood. However, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I liked turning pages trying to find answers but something felt amiss.

If you are interested in this title, I suggest that you read other reviews especially on goodreads. Most readers enjoyed the book so I am in the minority here. As I said, it could be a personal issue and not the book so don’t let this review deter you from checking it out.

Request Declined! When NetGalley says no!

I have been a member of Netgalley for over a year now. Since I joined the site, I have received over a hundred ARCs (167 to be exact). I have read many amazing books through the site and discovered new authors. I have also been auto-approved by publishers which still feels surreal.

However, not all my requests have been approved. Quite a high number have been rejected for various reasons. So I got the idea for this post from Zuky, the Book Bum and decided to do a post about the rejections that I am saddest about.

Book Rejections that I am saddest About

Declined requests elicit different reactions. Sometime, I don’t feel too bad because I can’t even recall why I had requested a title in the first place. Other times, a declined request brings some relief because of the overwhelming number of pending ARCs. However, there are declined requests that totally sting.


ITS MEUnderstandably, publisher can’t approve all requests due to various reasons such as copyright restrictions, sometimes it is because they have reached their maximum number of approvals or as some say, ‘It’s not personal at all, it’s only because we have to be selective about sending out these advances.’

Nevertheless, declines don’t always feel great (who am I kidding, lol). Below are my top ten recent (hard to accept), saddest declined requests:





Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

I have read all previous titles by Kubica. I love her books especially Pretty Baby. I really wanted this ARC but I guess I will have to wait just a bit longer until it is locally available for purchase.





The Treatment by C. L Taylor

I loved The Escape by C.L Taylor. Unfortunately, my request for this book was rejected…TWICE! I am now waiting to read a few reviews before deciding whether or not to get the book.



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Copy Cat by Alex Lake

I wanted to read this book because I enjoyed the author’s previous title, After Anna. Unfortunately, the ARC didn’t come through.




The following are books that I wanted to read after reading great reviews about them. I tried to get Marsh King’s Daughter twice and failed… twice.



marsh kingThe Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne


I first saw this book on NetGalley and immediately requested it. They said No. Then after a while, I saw it again under a different publisher and again, my request was declined.

After reading a couple of reviews, its one book that I am keen on reading and definitely plan on grabbing a copy as soon as I can.



Becoming Bonnie by Jenni Walsh

My blogging friend, Annie, wrote a superb review about this book. You know that excitement that you get when your friend loves a book so much and you know for sure that you will love it too? Yeah, I got that feeling but NetGalley said no.



The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

This is one book that I feel like everyone got apart from me.  I just wasn’t so lucky.



The following three books are also recent rejections. They are all popular books that I am still keen on reading someday.

Best Intentions by Erika Raskin

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

I See You by Claire Mackintosh





So these are my saddest, recent rejections. Have you read any of these books? Would you recommend them?

Which are your saddest NetGalley rejections? Do you buy the titles that you are declined immediately(pre-order) or wait until you read some reviews?

Review: Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite@bookouture

Her Last SecretThere are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?


 Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite is the second book that I have read by this author. The first one was The Darkest Lies which I absolutely loved. Her Last Secret proved to be even better than the previous title.

The story has a chilling opening. It begins with police responding to reports of shots fired in the Thomas’ house on Christmas morning and thereafter, making a shocking discovery. This opening and the blurb set the stage for what turned out to be a nerve-wrecking, fast-paced thriller.

The plot revolves around the members of the Thomas family. After the opening,it goes back to the days before Christmas. Through the chapters, secrets and lies are revealed. What I loved most about this book is how each revelation introduced a new suspect and motive. I had reasons to suspect all the characters including the youngest member of the family. I spotted motives everywhere. However, each time that I made up my mind, the author threw the suspicion on someone else hence making me come up with new theories. Interestingly, I was wrong with each guess.

The tension escalates through the pages. I couldn’t wait to get to Christmas day to find out what had happened. At the same time, I was nervous about the discovery. Who fired the shot? Who died? Who survived? Why? My thoughts were racing and so was my heart. In addition, the author heightens the suspense by counting down to Christmas. By the time we got to one day to Christmas, I was practically on the edge of my seat. Needless to say, the final twist was unpredictable. It wasn’t simple or straight forward which made it even more memorable. It is the kind of ending that you read and think about long after you have turned the last page. I want everyone to read this book so that we can discuss how crazy and brilliant the final twist is.

This book has everything that makes a thriller addictive. Themes of lies and secrets heightened the tension with each new chapter. I also enjoyed the character development. I disliked some of the characters and but also had some favorites. They all made this an engrossing read. There were also themes of family and relationships which made this more of a domestic noir than a psychological thriller (or perhaps a combination of both). In addition, there were also aspects of bullying. All in all, the author brought together different themes and characters to create the masterpiece that this book is. I cannot recommend Her Last Secret enough to fans of these genres. If you haven’t read any books by Barbara Copperthwaite, you need to rectify that soon because you are missing out on a great reading experience.

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite was published on 13th October 2017. You can buy a copy from Amazon.


Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng


Fires.jpgIn Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.


Shaker Heights is one of my new favorite book settings. This was the perfect setting for Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. It’s the kind of place where nothing bad ever happens. Most of the residents never want to leave the town. They take pride in the town and all the little traditions that are part of life there. Of course, life in the town drastically changed when the new tenants arrived.

Mia and Pearl are the new residents of the town. They move in quietly to an apartment owned by the Richardson. They don’t really belong to Shakers Height and don’t have the money or status like other residents but Elena Richardson has an apartment that is perfect for Mia and Pearl. Soon, the two families’ lives start integrating and this lends is disastrous results.

This book had a wonderful narrative style. The author pulls you into the story and you soon get lost in Shaker Heights. I like how seamlessly the different POVs shifted from one character t the other. As readers, we get to meet each one of the characters and flow with their stories. There are a few flashbacks but this didn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative. I think it was pure genius how this author managed to interweave the stories this way.

Little Fires Everywhere is an addictive read. The character development is so great that it becomes easy to get lost in the lives of the MCs. I also liked the tension in the book. As secrets were revealed, I was eager to find out the events that happened in the past. I also couldn’t wait to see the chaos that was threatening the present calm as the story progressed. I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping read. I am actually going to miss the characters in the story. That is how memorable and realistic they were.

Throwback Thursday: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne


This weekly feature is hosted by Renee, (Its Book Talk). Throwback Thursday offers a way to share some of our old favorites as well  as sharing books that we are finally getting around to reading that were published over a year ago.

My pick for today is actually my book club’s read for this month.

the-boy-in-the-striped-pyjamas-37-IRELANDThe Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


I just finished reading The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne an hour ago and I am still feeling dazed. The story begins when nine year old Bruno receives news that his family is moving from their big house in Berlin to a new home in a place he later calls ‘Out-With’. Like any other nine year old, Bruno is worried about the move because he doesn’t want to leave his three best friends behind. Getting to the new house and realizing that there are no neighbors hence no new friends, Bruno is more convinced that he won’t like his new home. This changed when he meets the boy in stripped pajamas who lives on the other side of the fence.

This story is narrated through Bruno’s POV and so we get to see everything through his eyes. In his mind, things are all muddled up. Throughout the book, I knew that the boy that Bruno was seeing was a Jew in a concentration camp and Bruno’s father was a Nazi commandant. However, I got lost in Bruno’s world a couple times and things took time to click. For instance, he referred to his home as ‘Out-With’. Halfway through the book is when it clicked that all along, he had been saying, Auschwitz. Seeing the atrocities of the Nazi regime through a boy’s eyes gave me a fresh, new perspective. I know that the book has been criticized for being historically inaccurate but as a work of fiction, I think the author created a thought-provoking narrative that in my case made me think about the different ways that kids were affected by the holocaust. The author brings readers down to Bruno’s level and enables us to see the world as he saw it. It was interesting to witness the child’s innocence.

This book is fairly short at 190 pages. I was so engrossed in Bruno’s narration that I got through the book in just a seating. The narrations are difficult to read about and my heart was melted by the friendship between Bruno and the boy in stripped pajama, Shmuel. I loved reading about this friendship and how it grew amidst all the hatred that was going on.

I have to mention the ending. I never saw it coming until it was happening. It left with a headache. I don’t think any other book has ever given me a headache. I was chocking up, throat burning, struggling not to cry because I was reading the book in a restaurant. I couldn’t even speak for a while. Interestingly, this is exactly what happened when I read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I got to the end while in a bus and had to keep the tears from falling. I need to stop reading these books in public. I can’t wait to watch The Boy in Striped Pajamas movie.

Do I recommend this book? I definitely do! Let me warn you though, it will make you cry so keep the tissues close and don’t go reading the book in public unless you don’t mind staring strangers.

striped pajamas movie

Until We Meet Again My Friend…

On Wednesday evening, my world was crushed. I signed in to facebook only to get a message from an old friend. A good friend of mine was dead. At first, I thought it was a mistake. Part of me knew that it was true but another part rejected the news. I wept like I have never done before. I cried not only because my friend is gone but also because of the many regrets that I have. On the same evening, I finally got more details. He was found murdered in his house.

Yesterday, he was laid to rest. Everything happened so fast. I found out that he was killed; saw him in the coffin (he didn’t look like him though it was him) before burial and watched as his grave was covered. All within 24 hours. The shock and confusion and unimaginable pain are hard to describe.

I think what I regret most was what I didn’t do when he was still alive. I wish I had spent more time with him. I hope that he knows that I truly cared for him and loved him in my own way. For 12 years, he was very expressive with me but for my own personal reasons, I wasn’t that way with him. Reasons that seem so silly right now. If he was around right now, I’d make sure that he knows just how much I care for him and it really sucks and hurts that I don’t have a chance to tell him all that now.

There are so many questions running through my mind. I wonder about his last moments. I hope he didn’t suffer. I keep wondering why and who killed him. Yesterday, I asked a friend whether killers still do normal stuff like eating and sleeping after they murder someone. I can’t believe that my friend is gone.

What do I do with all the texts and chats? There are some that are not so nice because we had disagreements. Some words that I wish I could take back. I don’t want to see them but at the same time, I can’t stop rereading everything that we said to each other.

I don’t know how to handle this? Wondering whether to visit his grave and tell him what is in my heart and mind????? I am just so lost right now.

I can’t think of him as being gone. In my mind, he is alive somewhere. Death and his name just don’t belong in the same sentence.

Death is so cruel. Rest in Peace John. I wish I had done more for you. We should have spent more time together. In one of your last texts, you said that you know that I do things for you from my heart. I hope that means that you knew that I cared for you even if I didn’t say those words. How silly was I not to tell you though?


I thought writing this post would make me feel better but honestly, it hasn’t. I don’t know how to make this right since it just feels like it is too late. Good bye my dear friend.

If I could get another chance

Another walk

Another dance with him

I’d play a song that would never ever end

How I’d love love love

To dance with my friend again.

ps:If you would like to comment, please do so but don’t share my post. Thank you.

Review: The Mistake by K. L Slater@bookouture

The Mistake

Eight-year-old Billy goes missing one day, out flying his kite with his sister Rose. Two days later, he is found dead.

Sixteen years on, Rose still blames herself for Billy’s death. How could she have failed to protect her little brother?

Rose has never fully recovered from the trauma, and one of the few people she trusts is her neighbour Ronnie, who she has known all her life. But one day Ronnie falls ill, and Rose goes next door to help him… and what she finds in his attic room turns her world upside down.

Rose thought she knew the truth about what happened to Billy. She thought she knew her neighbour. Now the only thing she knows is that she is in danger…


Happy publication day!

I have read previous titles by K. L Slater that I really enjoyed.  Needless to say, I was elated to I find out that the author had written a new book.

The Mistake by K. L Slater is narrated through two timelines through Rose’s POV. In one of the timelines, we go back sixteen years to a time when her life drastically changed. In the second timeline,readers get to catch up with Rose in the present. In the sixteen years period, She has changed a lot. However, the past still haunts her.

Sixteen years ago, her kid brother, Billy, went missing before his body was later discovered. I was curious to know what happened back then. The past narrations were addictive and so tense. They began before Billy’s disappearance and so we get to see the tension build up. Knowing that something bad will happen to Billy filled me with apprehension. I needed to know the why, when and how. In the present narrations, the secrets from the past emerge as the truth is revealed.

The characters in this book had such strong personalities. The author crafted them in such a way that they get into your mind and occupy your thoughts even when you are not reading the book. I liked some of them like Cassie. I was torn about Rose. I loved Billy and really disliked some of the other characters. This book elicited different emotions  hence making me more invested in the unfolding drama.

The Mistake by K. L Slater is a fast-paced, addictive read. I was surprised by some of the themes that came up especially in the past narration. However, they were masterfully tackled and helped in making this book as suspenseful as it was. I couldn’t have predicted the final twist. I thought I had figured out the direction that the story was taking but I was pleasantly surprised by how wrong I was. This book Is the perfect whodunit. If you enjoy psychological thrillers then you should definitely check out K.L Slater books.