Review: The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips @soho_press

Darkest ChildPakersfield, Georgia, 1958: Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn is the sixth of ten fatherless siblings. She is the darkest-skinned among them and therefore the ugliest in her mother, Rozelle’s, estimation, but she’s also the brightest. Rozelle–beautiful, charismatic, and light-skinned–exercises a violent hold over her children. Fearing abandonment, she pulls them from school at the age of twelve and sends them to earn their keep for the household, whether in domestic service, in the fields, or at “the farmhouse” on the edge of town, where Rozelle beds local men for money.

But Tangy Mae has been selected to be part of the first integrated class at a nearby white high school. She has a chance to change her life, but can she break from Rozelle’s grasp without ruinous–even fatal–consequences?

Review

I knew that The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips would be a special book from the minute I turned the first page. The writing drew me in to the last page. The book took me to 1958 and into the lives of the Quinn’s family. The story is set in a small town, at a time when racial tensions were high although change was looming. Naturally, there was resistance especially from the white supremacists. Readers get to meet the Quinns, a black family struggling to survive the drama at home and prejudice in the town.

Although racism is one of the main themes in this story, it is not the only one. The Quinn family consists of single mother Rozelle and her ten children. Rozelle has never been married and her children all have different fathers. She is the cause of most of the drama and tension in her home. This lady is mean as hell and I disliked her. However, there are other sides to this woman which made it hard to completely judge her. I really sympathized with her children, especially Tangy Mae, her darkest child. You see, Rozie is a black woman but she is light skinned. She considers her light-skinned children beautiful but not Tangy Mae. It was easy to sympathize with Tangy Mae and also root for her especially in her quest to get educated and escape the crazy hold of her mother. My heart broke so many times because of her.

Prostitution is one of the themes in this book.  The blurb hints at this but I still wasn’t prepared for its portrayal in the book. Don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t graphic. The author just drops hints that let you know what is happening without painting the picture. However, just knowing what was going on really turned my stomach. You need to read this book to understand why this theme was the most-heart wrenching part of the book despite all the prejudice that was going on.

I fell in love with this book and ended up getting through it in two sittings. It’s a powerful read with characters that forced their way into my mind and heart and claimed their spot. I can’t stop thinking about them. Some I really liked but others I totally disliked. The story was so moving and beautifully written. It reminded me of some of my favourite reads such as The Help and The Secret Lives of Bees. I do hope that this one too would be made into a movie.

The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips is a book that I recommend to everyone. I can’t remember the last time a book affected me this much. I was so angry at some point that I even wished death upon one of the characters. Yeah I know it is fictional but still… On the other hand, I wanted to take Tangy Mae from the story and just shield her. The ending was beautiful although it left me yearning for more. As you can probably tell by now, I really liked this book!

The Darkest Child is being released today by Soho Press so you can now buy your copy of this remarkable book.

 

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

the wife between usWhen you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

Assume nothing.

 

Review

The Wife between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen has to be one of the most hyped books this year. I feel like everyone has read this book already and all I have seen are amazing, positive reviews full of high praise. The hype got to me and I had to get a copy of the book.

The book begins with the story of Nellie and Vanessa. Nellie is the wife to be and Vanessa is the ex-wife. The two women are going through very different phases in their lives. One is barely standing and the other one is getting ready for a new exciting life. I won’t lie. I immediately picked a side because I assumed I knew what was happening. However, I should have taken heed of the warning in the blurb, assume nothing!

The first major twist messed with my mind big time! I was confused at first, wondering how I had missed all the signs. I had to fight the temptation to go back and look for the clues. In the end, I decided to move forward and find out what else the authors were going to unleash.

What I liked and also didn’t like about this book was the subtle twists. These are the little, unpredictable ways in which my assumptions were proven wrong. I liked this because I couldn’t guess anything. Honestly, the first twist literally smacked me in the face and left my head spinning. There were other twists and turns along the way that crept up on me.

So you may be wondering what I didn’t like about the book. Well, in this case, the rave reviews in a way set me up. I was reading the story looking out for huge twists. I expected shocking stuff to start happening from the first chapter. My expectations were so high and my focus was too much on the twists. I was practically reading the book to discover the twists that had thrilled so many other readers whose reviews I had read. In the end, this affected my enjoyment of the book because I couldn’t just sit back and enjoy the narrative.

Nevertheless, this book turned out to be a great thriller and I love how wrong my assumptions were. I just wish I had stayed away from all the hype and rave reviews until I read the book. Seriously, the lesser you know about the story, the better.

Review: Liars by Frances Vick

LiarsHe loves you. He’d do anything for you. But you don’t even know him.

Jenny hasn’t had an easy life – no job and no money, with a sick mother and an abusive ex-stepfather. Not that anybody cares, she’s from the wrong side of town.

David has taken care of Jenny ever since they were at school together. He knows how special she is, how much she needs his support. David has a lot of love to give.

Jenny and David aren’t in a relationship. They aren’t even friends.

Jenny thinks she’s free to do what she wants, see who she likes. What does David think? Well, you’ll have to find out.

Review

There’s something wrong with David. That much is clear from the minute he comes into the scene. Before then, readers are introduced to Jenny and her best friend, Freddie. The two are close with Freddie helping Jenny deal with some difficulties in her life. Through the opening chapters, we also find out that Jenny is a blogger.  She uses her personal blog to share her challenges with the online community.

The tension in the story escalated the minute David entered into their lives. I knew there was something dark about him. However, I couldn’t have predicted just how dark and twisted. As far as the characters go, I really like Freddie. He is the kind of friend that everyone should have. I enjoyed his narrations and he made me smile a couple of times especially with his irritating ringtone.

At first, the story is narrated through alternating POVs mainly between Jenny and Freddie and we get to know David through the two. I enjoyed these narrations. However, I found myself struggling a little bit when the entire timeline and narrators shifted to the past. I know this was important in order for the character’s background stories to be provided. However, it almost felt like the beginning of an entirely new story. This threw me off a bit and I struggled to remember where we had left off in the previous narrative set in the present. I usually don’t mind alternating timelines but I guess I prefer when the two run concurrently(alternating chapters) so that it doesn’t feel like two different stories.

I wouldn’t describe the reveals/twists in the book as shocking because I was able to predict the twist just from title and the blurb. Vick’s previous title, Bad Little Girl shocked me but in this case, I was expecting the twist. Nonetheless, I like how the author built the tension heading into the twist. He crafted unlikable, twisted characters and with the escalating tension, the train wreck was inevitable. I knew what was coming but I still couldn’t stop turning the pages.

Despite the few issues that I had especially with the shifting timelines, I liked this book and  will definitely look out for Vick’s next title.

Review: The Daughter by Lucy Dawson

the daughterYou lost your daughter. You will never forgive yourself. And now someone’s determined to make you pay…
Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire… but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt.

To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years.

Review

Let me start by saying that I was wrong about this book. I read the first sentence in the blurb and immediately made an assumption on what the book would be about. The first chapters caught me by surprise. I didn’t expect to feel such heartbreak. I was fighting back tears as I turned the pages. However, the story gradually changes as it progresses.

So 17 years ago, Jess lost her daughter and this is where the story begins. Readers are taken back to that day. The author shares details of the day right from when it started. Some of these details later prove to be key in the story. After the first chapters, the story moves to 17 years after the tragedy when weird things start happening.

Jess is the MC in the story and the story is narrated from her POV. She is easily likeable and relatable. Still, there are events that took place that made me want to yell at her. However, her character was so well crafted that it was easy to understand even her ‘crazy’ actions.

I loved the suspense in the story. I was able to guess part of the mystery a bit early. I knew who the perpetrator was and guessed their backstory. However, I wasn’t one hundred percent certain. The author brilliantly managed to throw me off and I ended up changing my mind a couple of times. In the end, my guess was right but I was still surprised by the reveal. I think the author handled this aspect really well.

As you can probably tell already, I enjoyed this book. I liked the premise and the twists and turns along the way. I enjoyed reading  about the characters and I admit, I absolutely fell in love with one, little gentleman called James. This is an entertaining, gripping read perfect for fans of psychological thrillers.

Cover Reveal: Deadly Secrets (Detective Erika Foster Book 6) by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @Bookouture

I am very excited to be taking part in the cover reveal for my favorite series. It is no secret that I absolutely love the Detective Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza. I can’t think of another series that I have diligently read/followed like this one. Needless to say, I am over the moon about the next installment in the series.

Here is the blurb:

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover.
On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

 

Sounds like a gripping read, right? I suspect that this will be one of Erika’s toughest cases. The Unsub sounds so creepy. I mean, a killer dressed in black and wearing a gas mask and that MO, yikes! And it sounds like the stakes are higher this time because Erika’s is personally involved with the case.

Well, let us now take a look at the cover.

Deadly Secrets

Simply, stunning and chilling. I really can’t wait to get my hands on this book.

Deadly Secrets will be released on April 13, 2018 by Bookouture. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon. If you haven’t yet start reading this series, you should start now. I promise that you will love it and you won’t be able to resist DCI Erika Foster.

About the Author

BryndzaRobert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice, which is the first in his Detective Erika Foster series.

The Night Stalker, Dark Water and Last Breath are the second, third, and fourth books in the series, and the fifth book, Cold Blood has just been published.

Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

You can find out more about the author at www.robertbryndza.com and on Twitter and Instagram @RobertBryndza.

 

Cover Reveal: The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland @bookouture @ShaliniBoland

Shalini Boland is one of my favorite authors. I fell in love with her writing after reading two of her previous titles, The Secret Mother and The Girl from the Sea which were both brilliant. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find out that she has another book coming out and I promise you, this one sounds even more amazing.

Now before we get to the cover, let’s find out what the book is about:

‘Don’t take my baby.’

Kirstie Rawlings is jolted awake by a child crying. Racing up the stairs to check on her new-born, she is plunged into every parents’ worst nightmare.

She hears an unknown male voice in the baby monitor. Is someone trying to steal her little girl?

In the bedroom, her daughter is safe asleep in her cot. But the voice must be coming from a nearby house. And there aren’t any other children living on her quiet country road…

The police don’t believe her. And neither does her husband.

Kirstie knows something isn’t right. She thought she could trust her neighbours, now she isn’t sure. As she unravels the secrets of the people living on her street, Kirstie’s perfect life begins to fall apart.

Because someone is hiding a terrible lie. And they will do anything to stop Kirstie uncovering the truth. But is the danger closer to home than she thinks?

And now, I am pleased to present to you the cover for The Child Next Door by Shalini Boland.

The Child Nex Door

What an intriguing cover. I am already curious to know what’s on the other side of the door especially after reading the blurb. What will Kristie find out about her neighbors? Is someone really trying to steal her baby? If so, why and who? So many questions already!

The book sounds suspenseful, right? I know I can’t wait for this one to be released.

This promising psychological thriller will be released by Bookouture on March 29th 2018. You can pre-order it on Amazon.

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman

Watch MeKate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except one.

Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.

As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?

Review

The idea of being stalked has always scared me. Can you imagine what it would be like to have someone watch your every move, obsess over you and wrap their minds on some crazy fantasy about you? Scary thought! This is the world that Kate found herself in. She is an author and a college professor. Sam is a student in her writing class and he is totally obsessed with her.

The story is narrated through the two POVs. Sam’s narration, for the most part, is written almost like diary entries or letters addressed to Kate. His thoughts are dark and obsessive. Kate’s narration is also interesting. Readers get to see how an innocent attraction soon turns deadly.

I liked the premise of this book. The first chapters were captivating as the stalking escalated. I looked forward to the inevitable explosion when the characters, especially Kate, wisen up to who Sam really was. At the same time, I wanted to see what Sam would do. There were a couple of tense moments as Sam’s obsession escalated. However, I felt like the pace really slowed down towards the end. Sam’s obsession became the main focus of the narrative and not much else was going on. My interest started waning off towards the end and I ended up not enjoying the final 100 pages as much as the rest of the book.

In the end, I am still undecided about this book. I liked the premise and the writing. There are phrases that I really liked such as this one, ‘to be seen, to be savored, is a gift’. It took me two evenings to read the book. I couldn’t wait to get home from work on both evenings to get back to the book. However, there a few things that nagged me about the story. I didn’t like the two main characters and feel like I didn’t understand the motives behind their actions. Kate especially did a lot of things that made it hard to connect with her. I guess what I am trying to say is that I liked the book but not as much as I expected.Watch Me by Jody Gehrman is still an interesting, stalker novel that I’d recommend to fans of this genre.

 

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

If I Die before I wakeHow Do You Solve Your Own Murder?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

Review

Can you imagine what it would be like to hear people talking around/about you while assuming that you can’t hear them? The idea scares and intrigues me at the same time. I guess I would like to know what people say about me when they think I can’t hear them. At the same time, I am terrified because I don’t know what I’d find out. What if the people that I consider friends say mean things about me? I know they probably do but I would rather pretend that they don’t.

Well, this is Alex’s story. He is in a coma and can hear everything around him. His sense of touch and smell are also still active. However, people around him don’t know this. They think that he can’t hear or feel anything. Alex ended up in a coma after a rock climbing accident. While in the hospital, he overhears something that makes him realize that his accident was actually an attempted murder.

The whole story is narrated through Alex’s POV which is interesting. It is crazy just how freely people talked around him including the nurses. At some point, I started wondering why people were having so many conversations around him. Honestly, it seemed like his friends and relatives couldn’t wait to get to his bedside to discuss him and the accident/investigation. I guess it makes sense in a way although it was a bit convenient. Don’t get me wrong though, I did like the concept. Sometimes, it is easier to unburden ourselves to people who aren’t really there. That is why people keep journals, write letters they don’t intend to send and make graveside confession. So the idea was definitely thought-provoking and in a way, realistic.

What I liked most about this book was the suspense. I had no idea who the villain was. It was hard to guess especially since there were no clear motives and the victim had a head injury and couldn’t remember the accident. The book also had a creepy vibe. The idea of Alex being the only one who knew that his senses were alive added a tense, creepy feel to the story. I knew that the killer was probably one of the visitors but couldn’t guess who it was. Needless to say, the reveal was unexpected and I definitely enjoy all the twists and turns.

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch is a slow-burner. The premise is original and interesting. However, all current events take place in the hospital ward and the narrator is in a coma hence slowing down the pace.  Nevertheless, as I have already mentioned, this was a riveting read. I liked Alex’s character and I think the author did a brilliant job crafting his persona. I was able to connect and sympathize with him. There were moments when his situation got so tense that I could feel my heart racing as I turned the pages. Alex really was a compelling narrator.

If you enjoy a good mystery with an interesting premise then this is definitely for you.

Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker @bookouture

Keep Her SafeHow far would you go to protect your child?

Maggie’s daughter Penny is her whole world… and she’d do anything to protect her. So when Maggie wakes one night to find a strange woman in her home, she runs to lock herself in her bedroom with her child. But Maggie knows why she’s come…

Someone has been targeting mothers and offering them a choice: do as he says or their child disappears. This stranger in her home has until dawn to follow his orders… but Maggie too has the ‘choice’ to make. Can she put the pieces together to stop the cycle before her time is up?

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page. Perfect for fans of Adam Croft and Tess Gerritsen.

Review

Wow, what a crazy ride this book turned out to be!

The story begins with one of my worst fears…home invasion. Maggie is asleep when she is woken by the sound of an intruder in her house. This introduced tension to the narrative right from the first page. It turns out that Maggie knows why the intruder is in her house. Naturally, this made me question everything. I needed answers and so I started turning the pages fast trying to find them.

Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker is a suspenseful, fast-paced thriller. It’s the kind of book that has no dull moments as the suspense just keeps building by the minute. The story is narrated by the two MCs. One is Maggie and the other one, who I shall not name, is the intruder. The two narrations are interspersed brilliantly heightening the tension with each new chapter. The two MCs are both in a tight situation and the stakes are high. Needless to say, they are both  willing to do whatever it takes to survive. There is more to the plot that I cannot reveal for now but let me just say again that this was one, twisted, crazy ride.

I liked the entire premise of the story. The concept reminded me a little of the ‘Saw’ movies. The setting is also interesting. Events take place on one night and sunlight presents a dreaded end/deadline. At some point, I felt like too much was happening. A night has only 12 hours after all. However, this wasn’t really an issue as the author still managed to keep me entertained with the twists and turns and so I lost track of the hours. Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker is a well-written, addictive, page-turner perfect for fans of fast-paced thrillers.

WWW Wednesday #January 10th

This meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. To take part all you need to do is answer the following questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I have been away blogosphere for the past one month. Life got really busy in December because of graduation but I thank God that all went well and I got my Masters Degree on December 22nd.

During my break, I read the following five books:

Recently Finished

Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker Well-written, page-turner.

Last Cry by Anna-Lou Weatherley This is the first book in the Detective Dan Riley series and I am excited to see where the author will take this.

The Daughter by Lucy Dawsonentertaining and gripping read .

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily KochIf you enjoy a good mystery with an interesting premise then this is definitely for you.

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman I liked the book but not as much as I expected. It is still an interesting, stalker novel though.

Reviews for the above titles will be published this month closer to the publication dates for each book.

Currently Reading

The TasterThe Taster by V.S Alexander

In early 1943, Magda Ritter’s parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty—working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the Führer’s food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.

Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation—though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS, and her growing awareness of the Reich’s atrocities, draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and ultimately, vengeance. 

I saw this book on Holly’s Blog (Dressed to Read). You can read her review here.  I was intrigued by the premise and luckily, I managed to get the ARC from NetGalley.

Reading Next

Darkest ChildThe Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

Pakersfield, Georgia, 1958: Thirteen-year-old Tangy Mae Quinn is the sixth of ten fatherless siblings. She is the darkest-skinned among them and therefore the ugliest in her mother, Rozelle’s, estimation, but she’s also the brightest. Rozelle—beautiful, charismatic, and light-skinned—exercises a violent hold over her children. Fearing abandonment, she pulls them from school at the age of twelve and sends them to earn their keep for the household, whether in domestic service, in the fields, or at “the farmhouse” on the edge of town, where Rozelle beds local men for money.

But Tangy Mae has been selected to be part of the first integrated class at a nearby white high school. She has a chance to change her life, but can she break from Rozelle’s grasp without ruinous—even fatal—consequences?

I stumbled upon this book on NetGalley . I knew that I had to get it from the moment that I saw the title, cover and blurb. I can’t wait to read it.

So, what are you reading? Let me know in the comments section.

Happy Reading!