Mini Book Reviews: Home Stretch | Perfect Tunes | Dear Justyce | Hush Little Baby

Today I’m sharing another selection of mini reviews of books that I’ve read over the last week or so. I got all of these books from NetGalley and am now slowly catching up on my review books. This selection were all great reads and I recommend them!

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

This is such a stunning novel – I read it all in one sitting because I just didn’t want to put it down for a second. Home Stretch follows a small community in rural Ireland who are reeling from an horrific car crash that has killed three young people and seriously injured a fourth. Two young men escaped with no injuries. The ramifications are huge for the town as parents and siblings and friends try to come to terms with what happened. The novel starts in 1987 but goes back and forth in time up to 2019. We mainly follow Connor, a young gay man who was driving the car, and we see how much this has affected him and his family. The snippets we get from the other families affected by the accident are so moving. Norton really captures people’s thoughts in such a real way – there is a moment at one of the funeral’s when one mother is relieved that the wedding didn’t happen when she see’s what the bride’s mother is wearing at her daughter’s funeral and this felt so true to life. We all know these people in our own lives. There are twists and turns, and things that I didn’t see coming, but more than that this is a beautiful novel about finding your way in the world, and about how you find home again when the absolute worst thing has happened to you. I adored this book; it will absolutely be in my top books of this year! I highly recommend it!

Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould

This novel follows Laura as she moves to New York at the start of the new millenium. She dreams of making it as a singer/song writer but she is quite shy and always seems to be in her best friend’s shadow. One night she goes to see a band and meets the singer, Dylan, and her life begins to change in so many ways. She is besotted with Dylan, wanting to spend every second with him but life has other plans for her. The novel then moves quickly forward in time as we see Laura trying to navigate life with her teenage daughter. She still yearns to be a song writer but never seems to have time to sit and be creative. She’s not inspired anymore and is instead fully focused on her daughter and making ends meet. This is a novel about falling madly in love when you’re young, of having big dreams and feeling like they really might come true but then the reality of life and how we cope when we end up on a different path. Laura is a very passive character but I couldn’t help but root for her, I know what it is like to let life sweep you along because it’s easier than pushing forward for what you want. The end left me with mixed feelings but at the same time it was a perfect ending to Laura’s story. I really enjoyed this novel and I recommend it.

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

This is the companion novel to Dear Martin, which I read and loved last year. Each can be read as a standalone but I recommend reading them both in order. In Dear Justyce we follow Quan, who is in juvenile detention and we slowly get his back story. He knew Justyce when he was younger but their lives have taken very different roads. Justyce is doing well at college and Quan is imprisoned with no idea when he’ll ever see freedom again. He begins writing letters to Justyce and we gradually see how he ended up here. I found this such a moving novel, it’s really hard hitting at times with just how unjust the criminal justice system is and how rigged it is against non-white people. You can see as you read that Quan is a good person who just wanted better for his siblings but he had such a tough start in life and got caught up in things he couldn’t get out of. I loved how Justyce rallied support for Quan and how his group of friends are determined to make things right for him. This is a book that I know will stay with me. It’s such a powerful and stunning novel, it’s one that everyone should read.

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

This novel follows DC Beth Chamberlain as she investigates the murder of a young baby whose body has been found on a building site. It is believed the baby could be Alicia Owens who has been missing for fifteen years so Beth has to go back through the case and to re-investigate everything. This is a mysterious novel which has you wondering where the baby had been kept for all the intervening years and who could have killed her, and why. Alicia’s mother, Marie, is quite a closed book but has re-married and had another child whereas her ex-husband hasn’t moved on at all and still isn’t coping too well. The wider family all seem like they might have secrets to hide and as the novel goes on things start to unravel. I enjoyed this book, it was the third in a series but the first one I’ve read and it works perfectly well as a standalone. I found the central mystery intriguing and was shocked when the reveal of who and how and why comes. I’d recommend this one if you like British crime fiction!

WWW Wednesdays (23 Sep 20)! What are you reading this week?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Reads

I’m still struggling to pick up books so I’m sticking to one Kindle book and one audio book and this seems to be working for me at the moment. The Stolen Sisters is really good and I’m intrigued to see where this book is going. I’ve only just started listening to Summer but am enjoying it so far and am looking forward to listening to more.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Summer by Ali Smith

Recent Reads

Four of the books I finished this week were audiobooks and this is definitely the way for me to read just now. I enjoyed all five of these books and would recommend them. My review of In Black and White will be posted on my blog on Friday so please look out for it then.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Writers and Lovers by Lily King

What I Might Read Next

I’m still reading by whim just now but would like to read through some of my NetGalley books this week so these are the three that are jumping out to me the most at the moment. I’ve also Tales from the Cafe on audio so will be able to listen to that one as I read.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

The Split by Sharon Bolton

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

What are you reading at the moment? I’d love to chat about your current read in the comments. If you’ve posted a WWW Wednesdays post please feel free to share your link before and I’ll read your post. 🙂

Stacking the Shelves with a new Book Haul (1 Aug 2020)!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

Purchased eBooks

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay

I’ve had my eye on this book for a little while now and decided to buy it this week. I’m keen to get to this one soon.

From the moment when, as a little girl, she realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad, to the tracing and finding of her birth parents, her Highland mother and Nigerian father, Jackie Kay’s journey in Red Dust Road is one of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions. In a book remarkable for its warmth and candour, she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love…

Just Before I Died by S. K. Tremayne

I’ve read most of S. K. Tremayne’s novels to date but somehow missed this one being published. I spotted it on Kindle for 99p this week and so snapped it up!

Why did you do that to me Mummy, don’t you love me? Kath lives with her husband Adam and daughter Lyla in a desolate stone longhouse deep in Dartmoor National Park. She likes her life the moors are beautiful, if bleak and she counts herself as happy, even if they struggle with money, and work, and her daughter’s shyness. But one day Kath wakes up from a coma, with a vague memory of a near-fatal car accident. She hugs her daughter close, likewise her husband Adam. But there’s something wrong. Adam seems furious with her and Lyla is acting evermore strangely. They should be delighted to see her alive, snatched from certain death. But they won’t meet her gaze. Then Kath learns that the car crash wasn’t an accident, and her whole life collapses into a world of panic, and danger.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I downloaded this one on a whim when I spotted it on a daily deal this week!

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams. Lydia Quixano Pérez 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 a few 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. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to.

Review Books

The Searcher by Tana French

I love Tana French’s writing so was beyond thrilled when I got sent a NetGalley widget for her forthcoming new novel this week. I’m so happy to have a copy of this one and can’t wait to read it!

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever. Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch. Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door. 

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

I also love Louise Jensen’s writing so when I heard she had a new one coming out and it was on NetGalley I immediately requested it. I’m so pleased to have this one on my kindle and plan on reading it soon.

Three little girls missing. One family torn apart… Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe. Twenty years ago these three sisters were taken. What came after they disappeared was far worse. It should have brought them together, but how can a family ever recover? Especially when not everyone is telling the truth . . . 

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi

I requested this one on a whim when I spotted it on NetGalley. I love reading novels in verse, and I’m trying to read more diversely too so this one just jumped out at me. I’ll definitely read this one soon.

The story that I thought was my life didn’t start on the day I was born . Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.  The story that I think will be my life starts today. Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? 

Home Stretch by Graham Norton

I love A Keeper when I read it last year so am delighted to have a copy of his latest novel on my Kindle. This one sounds really good so I’m keen to get to it.

It is 1987 and a small Irish community is preparing for the wedding of two of its young inhabitants. They’re barely adults, not so long out of school and still part of the same set of friends they’ve grown up with. As the friends head home from the beach that last night before the wedding, there is a car accident. Three survive the crash but three are killed. And the reverberations are felt throughout the small town. Connor, the young driver of the car, lives. But staying among the angry and the mourning is almost as hard as living with the shame, and so he leaves the only place he knows for another life. Travelling first to Liverpool, then London, by the noughties he has made a home – of sorts – for himself in New York. The city provides shelter and possibility for the displaced, somewhere Connor can forget his past and forge a new life. But the secrets, the unspoken longings and regrets that have come to haunt those left behind will not be silenced. And before long, Connor will have to meet his past. 

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

I read and enjoyed the author’s previous novel The Escape Room but have heard this new one is even better. The premise sounds like my kind of read so I can’t wait to pick this up, I may even make it my next read!

After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help. The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places. Someone is following her, and she won’t stop until Rachel finds out what happened to her sister twenty-five years ago. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned, but the letters insists she was murdered―and when Rachel starts asking questions, nobody seems to want to answer. The past and present start to collide as Rachel uncovers startling connections between the two cases that will change the course of the trial and the lives of everyone involved.

The Summer of Madness by Alexander Raphael

The author offered me a copy of this short story and the premise sounded really good so I accepted. I’ve already read this one and really enjoyed it. I hope to get my review written and posted soon.

In the summer of love, or rather of madness, a whole set of stories are emerging. But there is one that has got everyone talking. When Kurt decides to win back his ex-girlfriend with the help of a literary classic, he sets off a string of events that will build to a dramatic finale.

Pigeonhole App

Keep Her Quiet by Emma Curtis

I got this book on Pigeonhole and am already a couple of days behind in joining in on the read. I plan on starting this today though and can’t wait!

Jenny has just given birth to the baby she’s always wanted. She’s never been this happy. Her husband, Leo, knows this baby girl can’t be his. He’s never felt so betrayed. The same night, a vulnerable young woman, Hannah, wakes to find her newborn lifeless beside her. She’s crazed with grief. When chance throws Hannah into Leo’s path, they make a plan that will have shattering consequences for all of them. Years later, a sixteen-year-old girl reads an article in a newspaper, and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about herself. But what she learns will put everything she has ever known – and her own life – in grave danger. Because some people will go to desperate lengths to protect the secrets their lives are built on . . .

Have you acquired any new books this week? I’d love to know what you got. Or have you read any of my new books and recommend I get to any of them sooner rather than later? If you’ve shared a book haul post this week then please feel free to share you link below and I’ll make sure to visit your post! 🙂