book review · books · crime · diversity · mystery · own voices review · reading · suspense

The Missing American by Kwei Quartey

Blurb:

When her dreams of rising through the police ranks like her late father crash around her, 26-year-old Emma Djan is unsure what will become of her life in Accra. Through a sympathetic former colleague, Emma gets an interview with a private detective agency tracking down missing persons, thefts, and marital infidelities. It’s not the future she imagined, but it’s her best option.

Meanwhile, Gordon Tilson, a middle-aged widower in Washington, DC, has found solace in an online community after his wife’s passing. Through the support group, he’s even met a young Ghanaian widow he really cares about, and when her sister gets into a car accident, he sends her thousands of dollars to cover the hospital bill—to the horror of his only son, Derek. When Gordon runs off to Ghana to surprise his new love and disappears, Derek chases after him, fearing for his father’s life.

The case of the missing American man will drag both Emma and Derek into a world of sakawa scams, fetish priests, and those willing to keep things secret through death.

 

Review:

I want to start off this review by saying that I usually try to steer clear of series, but I allowed myself to get sucked into this story and I am not mad about it. I am only mad that I have to wait for the next one to come out.

I loved the different perspectives that you see throughout the story. Quartey writes most of the story from Emma’s point of view. Even though he is a male writer, I feel that he did an excellent job. He was able to write about her feelings and insecurities without making her seem whiney or needy. He was also able to write her as a strong-willed woman without making her seem too aggressive. Most male writers are not able to do that with a main female character. That is always something that I am hesitant about when reading a story told from a woman’s perspective but written by a man.

The mystery that surrounds the story of the sakawa and the involvement of Gordon was engrossing. You immediately find yourself trying to protect the innocent involved while also wanting to shake some sense into them. This story showed how Americans can easily find themselves in false security. That is what put Gordon in his situation. The sakawa are trained enough to be able to spot this in their victims.

While this is happening, Emma has her own conflict to deal with and own decisions to make about what is going to happen in her life and with her career. She doesn’t let an inconvenient detour lead her from her dream. She just begins a new road to get there. And while doing so, she discovers even more strengths about herself.

This story takes you on such a ride and introduces so much culture at the same time. You’re trying to solve a crime and at the same time you are learning.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a good mystery that will keep you thinking and engaged. Everything is not what it seems in this story. I am too excited about the next installment but until then, I am hoping to get my hands on Kwei Quartey’s previous works.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in hardcover and ebook

 

I would like to send a special thank you to Kwei Quartey for sending me a gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

book review · books · crime · Literary Fiction · own voices review · reading · social media

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a page-turner; it is a literary achievement; it is filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Review:

This was the perfect book to end my reading year of 2019. Such a compelling and heart-wrenching story about a mother and her son fleeing from the home they know and love in order to survive, to a place that won’t openly welcome them but advertises freedom and safety.

This is felt like a non-fiction read although it is fiction. The author puts you in Lydia’s and Luca’s shoes as they trek across Mexico into unknown territory with strangers because that is safer than what awaits them at home. They have lost their entire family and basically have nothing else to lose.  The people they meet along this journey will make you realize that people trying to make their way into this country aren’t always what the media makes them out to be. You begin to question yourself about what you would do or risk in order to find solace and safety. The risk of losing your life while trying to save it. Losing it physically, emotionally, and mentally. They don’t know who to trust and they really don’t know where they are going. They only know that they don’t want to go back to where they were.

I think this was an important story to be told. You can tell the author took great care in researching and presenting this story. This is one of the few books that I actually read the author’s note after finishing the and I highly recommend others doing so.

Rating:

5 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook January 21, 2020

 

A very special thank you to Flatiron Books for my gifted copy.

adventure · Blog Tour · book review · crime · mystery · reading

White Knight by John H. Cunningham {Suzy’s Approved Book Tour Review}

Blurb:

Buck Reilly’s vacation in the Virgin Islands goes downhill fast when he witnesses a helicopter crash over the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Buck races to the rescue, but the lone survivor—a beautiful woman—has amnesia. When Buck learns the woman is Giselle Huibert, the First Lady of France, who fled her husband while at the G8 Summit on St. Thomas for reasons she cannot remember, Buck has no choice but to try and help her. However, Giselle refuses to let him call the police—even when it becomes clear that men intending to kill them are hot on their trail. 

When Giselle remembers the horrifying assault she witnessed her husband and his head of security commit, and the events that led to her helicopter crashing, she and Buck are forced to flee throughout the Virgin Islands, with no one to trust but a group of unlikely heroes. 

Fueled by their mutual passion, revenge against her husband, and their quest for the truth, Buck and Giselle turn the tables on their pursuers, but the final showdown rocks them to their core and challenges everything they believed to be true. 

Review:

When I was first given the option of reading and reviewing this story, I was a bit hesitant because I thought it was part of a series. The author does have a series with this main character but this particular book is more of a standalone. Once I started reading it, I knew I’d be okay because of the background information the author feeds in throughout the story.

I liked Buck’s character even if he was a bit naive when it came to Giselle at times. I could see why he was so smitten with her. Beautiful, smart, determined Giselle.

The situation that Buck finds himself in with Giselle is the perfectwhen vacations go wrong” scenario. Helicopter crashes, running for your life, hiding in plain sight. The prime set up for an action packed adventure. And throw in a dash of mystery.

The way the story is written makes you visualize it as an action movie. The plot doesn’t require a lot of thought and concentration so it’s easy to either breeze thru or either pick up where you left off if you have to put it down.

Having read and enjoyed this story, I will say that I’ll probably check out the main series that features Buck Reilly.

Rating:

3 Stars

Availability:

Available now in ebook

A special thank you to Suzy’s Approved Book Tours for having me along on this blog tour and for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

abuse · book review · books · civil rights · crime · diversity

One Night in Georgia by Celeste O. Norfleet {ARC Review}

Blurb:

Set in the summer of 1968, a provocative and devastating novel of individual lives caught in the grips of violent history—a timely and poignant story that reverberates with the power of Alice Walker’s Meridian and Ntozake Shange’s Betsey Browne.

At the end of a sweltering summer shaped by the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, race riots, political protests, and the birth of Black power, three coeds from New York City—Zelda Livingston, Veronica Cook, and Daphne Brooks—pack into Veronica’s new Ford Fairlane convertible, bound for Atlanta and their last year at Spelman College. It is the beginning a journey that will change their lives irrevocably.

Unlikely friends from vastly different backgrounds, the trio has been inseparable since freshman year. Zelda, serious and unyielding, the heir of rebellious slaves and freedom riders, sees the world in black versus white. Veronica, the privileged daughter of a refined, wealthy family, strongly believes in integration and racial uplift. Daphne lives with a legacy of loss—when she was five years old, her black mother committed suicide and her white father abandoned her.

Because they will be going their separate ways after graduation, Zelda, Veronica, and Daphne intend to make lasting memories on this special trip. Though they are young and carefree, they aren’t foolish. Joined by Veronica’s family friend Daniel, they rely on the Motorist Green Book to find racially friendly locations for gas, rest, and food. Still, with the sun on their cheeks, the wind in their hair, and Motown on the radio, the girls revel in their freedom. Yet as the miles fly by, taking them closer to the Mason-Dixon line, tension begins to rise and the conversation turns serious when Daphne shares a horrifying secret about her life.

When they hit Washington, D.C., the joyous trip turns dark. In Virginia they barely escape a desperate situation when prison guards mistake Daniel for an escapee. Further south they barely make it through a sundown town. When the car breaks down in Georgia they are caught up in a racially hostile situation that leaves a white person dead and one of the girls holding the gun.

Review:

This was such a deep book. It wasn’t too complex as far as the writing or story is concern but the content was complex. When you are first introduced to Zelda, you immediately feel her strength and determination bouncing off the page and that is a good thing that will come in handy for her as the story progresses.

As the girls and Daniel travel, they are thrown into situations that will both test their mental strength, friendships, and self-esteem at the same time. They are quickly reminded that although the world is changing, it is a slow change and they still have to be careful. They cannot take anything for granted.

Although this is a historical fiction, there are so many instances that reflect today’s society and what is going on in so many ways. It shows that although things aren’t completely as they were in the 60s, there are some things that have yet to change.

I love how this story plays out even if there were times it made me so angry that I wanted to cry. I think that is what the author was maybe trying to go for with this story. Take us out of our comfort zone. Open our eyes to how things were, still are at times, and can be at any given time.

Rating:

4.5 Stars

Availability:

Available now in paperback, ebook and audiobook

 

A special thank you to Amistad Books for my review copy

 

 

book review · books · crime · reading

A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell {ARC Review}

Blurb:

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

Review:

I want to start this review off by stating that thrillers are not my favorite genre and I find myself critiqueing them the hardest. I don’t know why that is but it just is.

Anyway, this story started off strong. The potential was there for a fairly decent thrill. I knew that Caroline was going to have some personality issues but not anything I couldn’t overlook. I felt some anger for her when her husband showed up to the party with the Russian bombshell and then kind of fell off the grid. I’ll also admit that I thought Aiden was going to be trouble from the moment he entered the story. Like I said, the bricks were laid out nicely….then….

Unreliable narration kicked in, not only from one character, but two!!! I could see where the author was going but things were not lining up properly for me. There were some gaps and there were also some unnecessary incidents that did not have any real purpose to the plot.

With all that being said, I am sure there are plenty of people who will in fact enjoy this story and I hope that there are. But for me, it missed it’s mark. It’s an easy and fast read. Won’t take much time to fly thru or much concentration. I believe those are both good things for a “beach read.” As far as substance though, if that is what you are seeking, I can’t sit here and say that this story has any.

I was so happy to receive the big marketing box that it came in, but now I realize that it was like seeing a big souped up truck with a hot guy driving it and the hot guy turns out to be only 5 ft tall.

This is my first book by this author and I do have her other two books. I plan on reading them to see if this was just a book that missed the mark for me.

Rating:

2.5 Stars

Availability:

Available July 23, 2019 in hardcover, ebook and audio.

abuse · book review · books · crime · diversity · Historical fiction · mystery · own voices review · reading

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins {Review}

Blurb:

A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this astonishing historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London—a remarkable literary debut with echoes of Alias Grace, The Underground Railroad, and The Paying Guests.

All of London is abuzz with the scandalous case of Frannie Langton, accused of the brutal double murder of her employers, renowned scientist George Benham and his eccentric French wife, Marguerite. Crowds pack the courtroom, eagerly following every twist, while the newspapers print lurid theories about the killings and the mysterious woman being held in the Old Bailey.

The testimonies against Frannie are damning. She is a seductress, a witch, a master manipulator, a whore.

But Frannie claims she cannot recall what happened that fateful evening, even if remembering could save her life. She doesn’t know how she came to be covered in the victims’ blood. But she does have a tale to tell: a story of her childhood on a Jamaican plantation, her apprenticeship under a debauched scientist who stretched all bounds of ethics, and the events that brought her into the Benhams’ London home—and into a passionate and forbidden relationship.

Though her testimony may seal her conviction, the truth will unmask the perpetrators of crimes far beyond murder and indict the whole of English society itself.

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a breathtaking debut: a murder mystery that travels across the Atlantic and through the darkest channels of history. A brilliant, searing depiction of race, class, and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul, it is the story of a woman of her own making in a world that would see her unmade.

Review:

What attracted me initially to this story was that it put me in the mindframe of one of my all time favorite books, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Conde. It takes during slavery, but not American slavery.

Frannie is writing her story, not to dispute her guilt of the horrendous crimes she may or may not have committed but to clear her conscience of the things she has done in her life. Things that were done by force and by choice.

Frannie is born into a life that she has no control over what happens to her but at the same time is given the slight freedom of having a bit of education. Being taught how to read has both its advantages and its setbacks for her as she grows up with the Langton’s but is later practically thrown to the Benham’s.

As I progressed thru this story, I quickly realized how different it was from my favorite novel and I loved the differences. Frannie’s story made me feel sorry for her while at the same time infuriating me. There were things I felt that she could have had more control over even if she were a slave and later a servant as intelligent as she was, but these flaws showed her vulnerability. At the same time she faced issues that not even a free person could have avoided.

Although this isn’t your typical summer read, if given the chance it will tick off more boxes on your list than you can think to imagine. Along with being a historical fiction, there is also the element of mystery and the hint of romance regardless of how socially unacceptable it was for its time period.

This is a beautifully written debut that will hold your attention not only with the storyline but with the lyrical writing style. I look forward to seeing what else Sara Collins will write in the future.

Rating:

4 Stars

Availability:

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook

*A special thank you to Harper Books for my review copy in exchange for my honest review*

Blog Tour · book review · books · child abduction · crime · missing person · secrets · suspense

Have You Seen Her by Lisa Hall {ARC Review}

HaveYouSeenHer_BlogTour_2

Blurb:

Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second. She thought Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.
Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna, their nanny. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows.
Someone knows what happened to Laurel. And they’re not telling.

Review:

This book contained a whole pack of liars. I mean that in a good way too. When it comes to a missing child story you can’t trust anyone who is close to the child. Is Anna the caring, doting nanny she that she is trying to portray? Is Fran the high-strung frantic mother she shows to the world or have her acting skills kicked in? Is Dominic just a good-looking, highly skilled, ultra busy surgeon? All these questions went thru my head when poor Laurel comes up missing. Who did it and why?

As the story develops, you find out that Anna has a secret that she is desperately trying to keep hidden. Something has happened to her before that is causing her to have anxiety about Laurel missing. She frequently alludes to an event in her that she was involved in and made such an impact on her that she had to move. You also find out that Fran and Dominic aren’t the picture perfect couple(or parents for that matter) that everyone sees. It could be just the stress and pressure of having to deal with a missing child or there could be some underlying secrets that are trying to come to head. As Anna tries to help as much as she can to help find Laurel, while keeping her own secret hidden, she has to decide who she can trust. Can she trust those trying to help? Can she even trust her own employers?

Lisa develops the plot in such a way that you find yourself questioning everything and everyone. As you try to figure out what is going on, Hall throws in past events that make you doubt what you thought you had figured out. The pace of the book makes it an easy and fast read.

Rating:

3.75 Stars

Availability:

Available in ebook May 1, 2019 and in paperback June 27, 2019

Thank you to HQ Stories for the opportunity to read and review this book for their blog tour. I received this free book in exchange for my honest review.