Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes so passionately about love and culture in Americanah.  Ifemulu and Obinze meet as teens in Nigeria, both full of optimism for their future and love for each other. Trying to attend an university within a country under military rule becomes too difficult, Ifemulu is able to travel to America to complete her education. Obinze isn’t as lucky and tries to illegally live in Britain. Both travel roads of immigrants everywhere with varying degrees of success. They both find success, but feel that they aren’t living the life they wanted.

Years after their break-up, they reach out to one another from afar. During this love story, both have to deal with racism and being the other in another country. Adichie dives into race relations and differences from both perspectives. I feel like I learned a lot especially from Ifemulu’s time in American and her views  on American culture and racism.

Interesting, educational read. Read March 2019


Follow Her Home

Steph Cha’s Follow Her Home is a mystery steeped on Noir style. Our heroine, Juniper Song, is obsessed with Philip Marlowe, a Raymond Chandler crime fighting character. I felt the comparison was heavy handed at the beginning, but grew as Song’s crime fighting skills grew.

This ended up being quite enjoyable to read, (spoiler) although it was the 2nd book in a row that I read that had a teenage girl commit suicide to protect her pedophilic-teacher from exposure. So creepy and wrong, and worrisome that its becoming a trend in crime novels.

Read June 2018.

Red Ribbons

Red Ribbons describes a key piece of evidence the killer of young girls leaves behind after placing the dead with braided hair and red ribbons. Louise Phillips leads the reader on a chase with time getting shorter and shorter between possible victims. Kate Pearson, criminal psychologist, helps the police identify traits that might cause the killer to behave a certain way.

The psychological background intertwined with the killer’s own thoughts and actions makes this an exciting read!

Read June 2018

The Carrier

Sophie Hannah’s The Carrier tells the story of a man who confesses to a murder that none of the investigating officers think he committed. The murder undoubtably took place in the comatosed victims bedroom, and all the evidence backs up the confession. But why would the victim’s husband, a man who had left his wife until she went into the coma, confess to a murder that would send him to jail. The husband’s mistress-of-sorts from years ago gets mixed up when she meets the victims caretaker.

The novel is very detailed about all the different relationships the victim had and how the husband could have so many legitimate reasons to kill her, but yet nothing makes sense.

This wasn’t a quick read for me. I think the detail is very dense and required time in between readings to think about the plot. I can’t tell if this was a good thing or not. Overall, the book was enjoyable to read.

Read June 2017

Bitter River

Small West Virginian Prosecutor Bell Elkins is called out to the investigation into the murder of Lucinda Trimble, a pregnant teenage girl, in Julia Keller’s Bitter River. The poor teenager is found strangled in her car that was found mostly underwater in the Bitter River. Bell needs to look into her wealthy boyfriend’s family, her eclectic mother, and any one else in the small town of Acker’s Gap that might have a motive to kill.

This novel also provided a glimpse into rural West Virginian politics and life. A world has moved past them when jobs and hope left. Kids growing up in this area either are resigned to their fate or make plans or dreams to get out. Learning what motivated the teens in the town, shows how hope can spring up in even the least hopeful places.

As the investigation trudges along, a random shooting almost hits Bell’s secretary and the local diner explodes in a possible gas leak. With all this happening, its hard for Bell and the Sheriff Nick Fogelsong to not miss the important clues that will lead to the killer.

The murder mystery was well written and kept the clues so hidden as to have a real surprise at the ending. The other crimes, the shooting at the secretary and the explosion, I felt were too obvious. I read this book over a couple of weeks and I still pieced it together before Elkins and Fogelsong. But I still really enjoyed the characterization of many of the characters as well as the feeling of place in the novel.

Read November 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Katarina Bivald’s The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a sweet tale of a Swedish bookworm, Sara, and her penpal Amy from Broken Wheel, Iowa. When Amy invites Sara to spend a holiday at her home in her small-town, she described a once thriving town on decline. When Sara arrives, not only is the small town at deaths door, but Amy has passed through. Unaware of Amy’s death, Sara now finds herself the guest of the whole town, not that there’s much to see.

Trying to repay all the kindness, Sara starts a store with all Amy’s books. She cannot officially work and does it all for free. This seems to start a rivalry with the next, more lively town over, and Broken Wheel starts to come back to life. Sara’s visa will be ending soon, so the town comes up with a plan to keep Sara there.

A cute, fun read.

Read October 2016.

The Book of Souls

What happens when a convicted serial killer is murdered in prison and then victims murdered with the same MO are found? But instead of one a year, now the victims are killed within weeks of each other?

That’s the premise of James Oswald’s The Book of Souls, but with the added complication that the convicted killer’s last victim was Detective Inspector McLean’s fiancé. Its a pretty dark, cold novel with lots of layers to the story. The police are separately investigating a drug ring, an arson, and now the new serial killer. With limited resources to be shared, there’s a lot of volatility within the department that lead to some great police interactions.

Good read. Really liked to setting of Scotland since I don’t think I’ve read anything set there before.

Read May 2016.