Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don’t Know the WordsWhen you think of South Africa, how many of you think of a land where black people are repressed by whites and subject to slave-like conditions?

Set in Apartheid South Africa, this book does a beautiful job reminding the reader that these atrocities happened in the near past as it follows two main characters Beauty, a black woman searching for her daughter and Robin, a privileged white girl of 11.  The stark contrast between their experiences sheds an amazing light on the racial divide in a land where most people think is simply inhabited by blacks.

Bianca does a wonderful job weaving the stories together and sprinkling in other social issues on her way.  I highly recommend this book, it stole my sleep on so many levels.

I am grateful to the author, publisher and for the chance to preview this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

Thank you to Sara Gruen and Spiegel and Grau Publishing and Netgalley for the Advanced copy of this novel.

In the tradition of "Water for Elephants", Gruen spins a wonderful period tale of wealthy Americans during the war chasing their fortunes in Scotland.  Yes, they are looking for the Loch Ness Monster but don't let that premise detract you from picking up this novel.  There is quite a bit of whimsy threaded through the book but none of it is overbearing or distracting from the underlying story.

The characters are drawn beautifully and remind me vividly of F Scott Fitzgerald in the attitudes and story structure.  Maddie's revelations about her life unfold very realistically and the subplot of romance does not feel forced.  I especially enjoyed the interaction between Maddie and the innkeepers.  It is so lovely to watch women become friends and reminds me of how lucky I am to have the ladies in my life.

This was definitely a "stay up until the last page is turned" kind of novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Girl On the Train by Paula Hawkins

A big thanks to my book club for picking The Girl on the Train.  Fair warning dear readers, you are either going to really like this book or you are really not going to like this book, in scrolling through the other goodreads reviews, there is not a whole lot of in between on that one.  While I understand the comparisons to "Gone Girl" Paula Hawkins definitely occupies a different space in the dark and twisty genre than does Gillian Flynn.

I kind of hated how much I identified with the different characters in different ways.  I feel like I have spent time in each of their shoes at some point (feeling stuck, getting dumped, being envious, being controlled) and it makes me grateful for the ending that my life is writing for itself.  This is one of those books that I finished at 1AM and didn't feel bad about it in the morning.

I can't wait for our book club discussion next week.  It should be interesting to see how my fellow bookies felt about this novel.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Flick by Abigail Tarttelin

Thank you to Netgalley, Atria Books and Abigail Tarttelin for allowing me an advanced reader copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

It pains me to say this after I adored last year's reading of Abigail Tarttelin's Golden Boy but this book was just not for me.  This may be because I am not a teenage boy but I found the language hard to follow, the sheer amount of characters unnecessary, and the love story not very lovely at all.  I understand from the background information that this was actually Tarttelin's first book and it does show.  This would be a skip for me, but definitely pick up a copy of Golden Boy if you can - it is well worth the read - even if Flick fell short for me.

Goodreads Rating: 2 stars

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes

Many thanks to Netgalley, Penguin Publishing, and Jojo Moyes to the advanced reader copy of Silver Bay in exchange from an honest review.

Jojo Moyes catapulted into "must read status" after Me Before You, The Girl You Left Behind, and One Plus One but I have to admit, that the novelty of Silver Bay left me a little bit cold.  The characters in this book were characteristically realistic as I have come to expect from Moyes work but it took me a LONG time to get into the book and then, once I was in, i found myself skimming heavily as it drew a bit long for what the story demanded.

This was a re=release for the american audience, and, for those familiar with her work, it is obvious that this was one of her earlier efforts and lacked the substance that is found in her later works.  I retain my position in the court of Jojo Moyes and look forward to further offerings from the author in the future.

Goodreads Rating: 3 stars

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

I want to begin this review by thanking Netgalley, Random House Publishing and Rachel Joyce for sharing an advance copy of The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy with me.

I was introduced to these characters almost two years ago through "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" and instantly fell in love with not only Harold and Queenie but also the author, Rachel Joyce.  Her ability to weave a story with memorable characters that are both real and surreal.  In this companion novel to Harold Fry, Joyce tells us the other side of the story of the woman that Harold is walking the entire length of England to see.  We see Harold through Queenie's eyes, the love that she has to keep secret from him until her death and her fight to stay alive to tell him the story she never could before.

The last chapter, "The third letter" will break your heart and have you wiping tears from your eyes.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Thank you so much to Netgalley St Martin's Press and Kristin Hannah for allowing me an advanced reader copy of "The Nightingale" in exchange for an honest review.  World War II France provides an elegant and tragic backdrop for an elegant and tragic story.  Viann and Isabelle's story of resilience and survival under extreme circumstances is such an inspiration for how strength and faith in love can overcome the worst odds.  Although the sisters were separated for a good deal of the novel, their stories and experiences run parallel yet divergent paths through the book.  I loved seeing how the women used their gender invisibility to their advantage to help as many people as possible survive the atrocities of the Nazi occupation.  I want to believe that I would be able to be that strong under the same settings, I pray that this is true.

The beautiful ending destroyed me in the best possible way.  I had never read Kristin Hannah in the past, but it will certainly not be the last time I pick up her novels.
Goodreads Rating: 5 stars.