Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

stayYejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.


In Stay With Me, Adébáyọ̀ introduces us to Yejide and Akin, a Nigerian couple who have been trying to have a baby for many years.

In their culture, it is expected that married couples have children, and when that is not possible, the men are expected to take another wife to produce an heir and carry on the bloodline. When Akin takes on a second wife, it initiates a series of tragic events.

Adébáyọ̀’s prose is both lyrical and fluid. The story is told in alternating POVs, which allows you to get to know the well-developed characters.

Stay With Me is a poignant novel that may leave you with very mixed feelings.

 
 
 
 
 

Format: Kindle edition, 288 pages
Published: August 1st 2017 by Knopf  (first published March 2nd, 2017)
ASIN:B01MTJQK9M
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fiction

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

KindredDana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.


This is a story of a woman, Dana, from 1976 who is transported back and forth in time to the 1800s during the slavery era. This is an interesting and important look at slavery in America. In particular, the look without rose-colored glasses.
One of the things that I appreciated about this book is that Butler does not shy away from the brutality of those times. In reality, she marvelously weaves those themes to make it into a compelling story. It is a great story, albeit not without its flaws.
Several things did not work for me in this book. The concept of time travel, although interesting in theory, is always tricky to put into actual practice. The plot from that stance is flawed–no doubt about it.
Much of the book is spent describing the pain of slavery in America, but very little time is put into developing characters and dialogues.
Kindred is a novel that begins and ends with a mystery, and that might be a good or a bad thing depending on who’s reading it.

Format: Kindle edition
Published: February 1st 2004 by Beacon Press (first published June 1979)
ASIN: B009U9S540
Source: Library loan
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Historical fiction

Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews

Murder by page 1Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange…and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.

After one of her friends becomes a suspect, Marvey sets out to solve the murder mystery. She even convinces Spence, the wealthy and charming newspaper owner, to help. With his ties to the community, her talents for research, and her fellow librarians’ knowledge, Marvey pursues the truth. But as she gets closer to it, could she be facing a deadly plot twist?


Murder By Page One is the first book in the Peach Coast Mystery series. This is a nice, light-hearted cozy mystery. As with most first books in a series, there are a lot of characters introduced and not enough time to explore each character in depth.
We have Marcella Harris, aka “Marvey” who has recently moved from Brooklyn to a small town in Georgia to work as a book promoter at a local library. She soon stumbles into a dead body and when her bestie gets incriminated, Marvey sets out to solve the murder.
This book has all the great elements of a cozy mystery featuring the love of books/library, cats, jewelry making, and small-town drama. Fans of the genre will certainly enjoy it.
Murder by Page One is scheduled to be published on March 23, 2021. I want to thank Hallmark Publishing and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Format: Kindle edition
Published: March 23, 2021 by Hallmark Publishing
ASIN:1952210135
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Hallmark Publishing, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery, Cozy-mystery

The Nesting by C. J. Cooke

The nesting Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it. Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…
Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.


The Nesting is a novel that at first resembles Ruth Ware’s The Turn of The Key, but if you stick to it you’ll soon be in for a big surprise.  Some of the highlights of this book include Cooke’s ability to build a suspenseful, gothic novel. The Nordic folklore sprinkled in the story was certainly a plus. The themes of ecology and preservation were also extremely appealing to me, as well as the descriptions of Norway’s nature and landscape.

Unfortunately, this novel was the case of too many story lines that just were not well put together at the end. The story is told by an unreliable narrator, Sophie (aka Lexi), alternating with Aurelia’s pov and diary entries. Halfway through the book, the story takes a turn and slows down significantly.

Although this book started somewhat interesting, the excessive number of plot holes and the slow pace of the book had me struggling to finish it. I found the ending rushed and too convenient.

I want to thank HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: September 29, 2020 by HarperCollins
ASIN: B0818ZX2NY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, thriller

The Little Bookshop of MURDER by Maggie Blackburn

Summer Merriweather’s career as a Shakespeare professor hangs by a bookbinder’s thread. Academic life at her Virginia university is a viper’s pit, so Summer spends her summer in England, researching a scholarly paper that, with any luck, will finally get her published, impress the Dean, and save her job. But her English idyll ends when her mother, Hildy, shuffles off her mortal coil from an apparent heart attack. Returning to Brigid’s Island, NC, for the funeral, Summer is impatient to settle the estate, sell her mom’s embarrassingly romance-themed bookstore, Beach Reads, and go home. But as she drops by Beach Reads, Summer finds threatening notes addressed to Hildy: “Sell the bookstore or die.” Clearly, something is rotten on Brigid’s Island. What method is behind the madness? Was Hildy murdered?


Little Bookshop of Murder is the first book in a new series by Maggie Blackburn. The story follows Summer Merriweather (no kidding!) as she returns to a small island off the coast of North Carolina after the death of her estranged mother. Upon arriving at Brigid’s Island, Summer finds her mother’s sudden death a little suspicious, so with the help of her aunt Agatha, they start an investigation of their own.

I like to start my reviews by pointing out the positives in a book. This book has all the right elements for a sweet cozy mystery. An excellent (although not novel) premise, a lovely cover, and who can resist books about cute bookstores? So, you are probably wondering why I gave such a dismal rating?

The first issue I had with this book was the fact that I could not relate to nor like Summer. It could be because this is book number one, and the author is rushing to introduce all the main players and somehow forgot to elaborate on her main character. But Summer is just simply put the flattest and most unsympathetic character in this book. Here we have a woman whose mother just died. She spends the entire book reminding us of how hard it is that her mother is dead, however, very little–if any, emotion is elicited from the pages. The reader does not get a feeling that this character is missing her dead mother, nor that she even truly cared about her mother. To make matters worse in the likeability rating, we get information early on in the story that Summer left some poor chap standing in the altar, but very little explanation as to why.

So, after you decide you are just going to ignore the poorly written main character and plow through the rest of the book, what you end up with is a very so-so mystery and a complete feeling of disappointment.

On a more optimistic note, this book is number one in a series, and the author has plenty of chances to make it up in the subsequent installments.

Little Bookshop of Murder is scheduled to be published on July 7th, 2020. I want to thank Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: July 7th, 2020 by Crooked Lane Books
ASIN: B0818ZX2NY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, Cozy-mystery

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

THE FAMILIARS: Halls, Stacey

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance, she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft. Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.


The Familiars by Stacey Hall was an interesting work of fiction based on events and people from the real Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. The story is told by Fleetwood Shuttleworth’s point of view. Fleetwood is a noblewoman who is anxious to have a baby after having had several miscarriages.

Fleetwood soon meets Alice Gray, a midwife who assures Fleetwood she can help her carry her pregnancy to term. They start a friendship in the midst of the Witch Trials and Alice is accused of being a witch and practicing witchcraft.

This book had several very good points from a feminist point of view. It elicited issues of female powerlessness in a society that expected women to behave in a certain way and the power that a patriarchal society exerted over them. I also really enjoyed Fleetwood and Alice’s friendship.

Where the book fell short for me was in the slow pace of the narrative. Divided into four parts, I struggled with the pace until the middle of part two. Also, Fleetwood’s alienation and naivete got on my nerves at times.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone interested in witch trials, and the oppressive rules women in 17th century England were subjected to.

She is a midwife, like her mother before her. Are you like the king now, thinking all wise women and poor women and midwives are carrying out the Devil’s work? Why, he must be the largest employer in Lancashire.


Format: Paperback, 420 pages
Published: February 4th, 2019 by Zaffre Publishing
ISBN: 1785766139
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction

The Outsider by Stephen King

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When a hideous crime happens to 11-year-old Frank Peterson in the fictitious town of Flint City, police immediately suspects the town’s little league coach Terry Maitland. Maitland is an upstanding citizen of Flint City, and his public arrest causes a significant amount of commotion. On the surface, it seems like a straight forward case and detective Ralph Anderson is confident of his arrest and Maitland’s guilt. But when Maitland comes up with an irrefutable alibi, detective Anderson will have to expand his investigation and face horrifying answers.

I initially struggled with starting The Outsider. I don’t particularly gravitate toward books with themes of sexual violence and rape, especially regarding children. But I couldn’t pass on the opportunity of reading one of Stephen King’s latest books. I love Stephen King’s seemingly easy way he tells his stories, his dark creativity, his wild imagination, and vivid scenes. The Outsider at times reads like an episode of Law and Order, but being Stephen King, you know that is not going to last very long, and pretty soon an element of the supernatural will rear its ugly head.

Although The Outsider is a hefty 560 pages novel, the amount of suspense and horror keeps you well engaged for a good ¾ of the book. The topic of the book, although dark, does not dwell too much on sexual abuse as it does in the investigation process. I didn’t feel the end was necessarily rushed; quite the opposite–he could have shaved off a few pages as it felt like it dragged a bit.

Overall The Outsider does not disappoint one bit, and if anything it solidifies my admiration for an author I’ve been reading for nearly 25 years, and which continues to be in my humble opinion the master of horror. I highly recommend this book to both fans of this genre as well as fans of well-written fiction.


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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In 1920s Mexico, Caseopea lived a very unhappy life cleaning floors of her wealthy grandfather and dreaming of a better life away from her chores. One day she comes across a mysterious wooden box and accidently frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death who takes her on a journey in hopes of regaining back his throne from his treacherous brother.

Part Jane Eyre and part Cinderella story, Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow is a beautiful fantasy tale based on Mayan mythology. In a time with so much negative emphasis on Mexico, it’s easy to forget that Mexico is a country with a very rich heritage, mythology and folklore. Moreno-Garcia successfully retells this myth with a beautiful prose and description of a Mexico of the 1920s.

I highly recommend this novel which is scheduled to be published in August 2019.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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The Island Villa by Lily Graham

 

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When Charlotte’s husband James tragically dies, he leaves her an unexpected gift – her grandmother’s beautiful villa, Marisal, on the Spanish island of Formentera. As she begins to explore her new home and heal her broken heart in the warm golden sunshine, Charlotte discovers that her grandmother Alba has been keeping secrets about her life on the island. Intrigued by her family’s hidden history, Charlotte uncovers a devastating love affair that put many lives at risk and two sisters torn apart by loss. Can the heartbreaking truth of the island’s dark history finally be laid to rest? Or will the secrets of the past shake the new life and love that Charlotte is close to finding? 

Review

The book starts with Charlotte grieving her husband’s death and finding out that she has inherited a villa in the beautiful Spanish island of Formentera. The first part of the book started out slow and I thought the story was going to revolve around her grieving until she finds out that her grandmother Alba had some secrets Charlotte was about to discover. What attracted me to this book was the cover and the idea of reading a “feel-good summer read” and although the book was quite enjoyable, at times the narrative felt repetitive and stereotypical of what one thinks a Mediterranean island should look and smell like. Having lived in the Balearic Islands I thought a book about Formentera was going to transport me back to that time in my life, but it really didn’t. The historical part was very interesting, but overall I felt that the characters landed a bit flat on the pages and the middle of the story dragged a bit.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Stacking The Shelves

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Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

This was my first week on full blogging mode. After years of WordPress, I have finally started using the scheduling option for posts and it has been really easy to organize and schedule my reviews. Having splurged on books last week, I decided to take it slow and only acquired a few titles.

ARCs for Review

Our House by Louise Candlish (NetGalley)

Dead Pretty by David Mark (First to Read)

Tin Man by Sarah Winman (First to Read)

Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron (NetGalley)

The Circle Game by Tanya Nichols (NetGalley)

Purchased

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 

Death Comes for the Archbishop

Library Loan

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Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

What about you? Leave me a comment and let me know what you’ve added to your shelves. Happy reading! 🙂