Review: HUM IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE WORDS by Bianca Marais

Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais
G.P. Putnam’s Sons | ISBN: 9780735218260 | July 11, 2017 | 420 pages 

I am trying to expand my reading into new genres, locations, and voices. When I received an ARC of Hum If You Don't Know the Words, I thought "whoa". This is exactly what I didn't know I was looking for. Told from the point of view of 10-year-old, white, Robin Conrad and Xhosa widow and mother, Beauty Mbali, I alternately wanted to throttle and hug little Robin, while my heart ached for Beauty. After Robin's parents are killed she is sent to live with her aunt (who's loveably conflicted herself), and Beauty is hired to care for Robin while she searches for her daughter. Set in apartheid-era 1970s South Africa, I will admit I knew close to nothing about the politics or geography of this story (Soweto Uprising, Bantu, Transkei) but  Hum If You Don't Know the Words had me thinking of The Poisonwood Bible and To Kill a Mockingbird. This is one of the best books I've read in a while, making me glad I've expanded my reading selections. 

Have you read anything lately that was outside your comfort zone? 

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

Review: Marlena by Julie Buntin

Marlena by Julie Buntin
Henry Holt | ISBN: 9781627797641 | April 4, 2017 | 288 pages 

Sometimes I read a book and think "I'm going to wait to write my review because I really liked this one." The problem is that life goes on and sometimes I don't get to writing my review for quite a while. That is the case with Marlena. I saw the book popping up on lots of my fellow book bloggers' pages and social media a few months ago, but wasn't initially drawn to the story. I rarely find that authors can adequately capture the unique inner world of teenage girls. When other bloggers and critics were praising Dare Me and The Fever by Megan Abbott, I was let down. There was something forced, but I think a lot of adult women wanted to love it. They wanted a verification that those early teen years weren't all boy bands and braces. They want someone to show the intensity of those friendships and the pain of those first betrayals, the sleepovers that weren't all pillow fights and popcorn. Those are the years we learned about our friends' families and inner lives. We learned of abuses, addictions, and affairs but we also learned who we could and could not trust to talk to about them. 

When a copy arrived in my mail, I decided to give it a shot and was pleasantly surprised! 

After relocating to rural Michigan with her mom and brother, Cat befriends her neighbor, Marlena. While Cat has the typical teenage "firsts" (smoke, kiss, etc.), Marlena is living in a much darker world. Like a million small towns, the drug abuse is rampant, and Cat and Marlena are touched by it in several ways. After a year of friendship, Marlena is dead and Cat is forever changed. Flashing between this pivotal year and alcoholic 30-something Cat, a reader can identify with how young relationships affect us and how they shape our adult selves.

***Disclaimer:: I was given a copy of this release in exchange for an honest review. I received no additional compensation. ***

My Best Summer Reads Selections Featured in 3 Atlanta Area Magazines

Page Turners July 2017 for Buckhaven Lifestyle, Perimeter North Lifestyle, and Alpharetta Lifestyle magazines

Before heading off to Book Expo last month, I submitted my list of Best Summer Reads 2017 for publication in several Atlanta area magazines (Buckhaven, Perimeter North, and Alpharetta Lifestyle). The issues have all been released and can be found through the links above or I've added the text below for easier reading 👇

After you’ve packed the cooler and the sunscreen, you’re probably looking for a great summer read to add to your beach bag. Whether you want lighthearted humor, heart racing thrills, or Old Hollywood glamour, we’ve got the perfect book for you. Here are six new releases that everyone will be talking about this season.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
From the bestselling author who brought you Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, Rich People Problems is a wickedly fun novel about the privileged Shang-Young family. As relatives descends from all corners of the globe to stake a claim on the family’s great fortune, their unique personal problems complicate matters.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Born to Cuban immigrants in Hell’s Kitchen, Evelyn Elena Herrera became Hollywood film star Evelyn Hugo through a series of gambles. Now nearing the end of her life, major publishers and media outlets beg her to share her life story. Instead, Evelyn chooses unknown magazine writer, Monique Grant. She gives every juicy detail of her ruthless ambition and, of course, about her seven husbands. She also divulges her great forbidden love and a long-held secret that reveals why Evelyn really chose Monique for the coveted job.

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder
The People We Hate at the Wedding is funny family drama at its finest. In the Chicago suburbs, widowed matriarch Donna spends her evenings drinking wine and watching her favorite television shows. Two of her children, Paul and Alice, are struggling with relationship and career issues, while her eldest daughter from a previous marriage, Eloise, lives the pampered life in London. When the dysfunctional clan gathers for Eloise’s spectacularly fancy wedding, small details like embroidered napkins stir up a handful of underlying resentments.

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
Identical twin sisters, Harper and Tabitha Frost look alike, but lead wildly different lives. Laid-back and easygoing Harper can’t hold down a job or a relationship on Martha’s Vineyard. On Nantucket, Tabitha has a taste for fine wine, owns a fashion boutique, and is mother to a rebellious daughter. After more than a decade apart, in an attempt to end their sibling rivalry, Harper and Tabitha swap islands and identities for an unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.

It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell
Twenty years after three women become college friends, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge while someone urges her to jump. With a storyline alternating between the women’s college and adult lives, the layers are peeled back on their complex relationship. Filled with lies, betrayal, bribery, infidelity, and murder, this page turner will have you on the edge of your seat right up to the finger pointing finale.

Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman
Between expensive IVF treatments and a child’s therapy, best friends Annie and Sarah are both in desperate need of some fast cash. Teaming up, the two decide to sell a “luxury” anti-aging face cream to the members of Annie’s wealthy La Jolla book club. The scheme goes off without a hitch, until Annie adds an illegal ingredient.

Be sure to grab an icy drink before you escape into one of these sizzling summer reads, because the only thing hotter than these novels is an Atlanta summer!