Title: The Push
Author: Ashley Audrain
Page Count: 307
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 5, 2021 by Pamela Dorman Books
Review: This was a unique sort of thriller, and I almost don’t want to label it as such. There is some amount of suspense, but it is of the creeping “glance over your shoulder” variety. What makes this novel stand out in my mind is the narration style. Blythe, who is a writer by trade, is telling her story to her ex-husband, who has lived the same path of events, but has experienced them entirely differently. Blythe is a character I felt myself feeling deep sympathy for as she struggles to settle into motherhood. She does not connect with her first child in the way she hoped for and when she starts observing disturbing behavior, she is immediately dismissed by her husband. This is a woman who has virtually no support network. No friends or family she can turn to. No one to validate her feelings and help her process her trauma. As readers we watch the slow dissolution of her marriage and the unraveling of her sanity. She questions her own words and actions, and develops a deep sense of paranoia that permeates the story. But are her fears valid? Is her daughter really a little sociopath? Or is she imagining things? What makes this story so enthralling is that it is difficult to say. It is clear that Blythe is an unreliable narrator and as an outsider, it’s painful to see the fallout of generational trauma, untreated post-partum depression, and crippling grief. If I were to rate this book on the writing alone, I would give it 4+ stars. I rate it lower because the truth is I really did not enjoy it. Blythe is living a mother’s worst nightmare, and quite frankly, it left me feeling anxious and deeply unsettled.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Title: The Bone Spindle
Author: Leslie Vedder
Page Count: 416
Series: The Bone Spindle, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 11, 2022 by Razorbill
Review: This book fits comfortably in the category of “liked it but didn’t love it.” Things I liked: genderbent retelling, treasure hunting, a ghostly prince who isn’t really a ghost. Things I didn’t like: Fi never really grew on me as a character, the relationships between characters just didn’t vibe for me, the “villain” was easy to identify.
Rating: 3 Stars
Title: Cast in Firelight
Author: Dana Swift
Performers: Priya Aayar & Assaf Cohen
Length: 11 hr, 54 min
Series: Wickery, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 4, 2022 by Listening Library
Review: The imaginative world that was introduced in this series was a real joy to immerse myself in. So rich in color (literally) and built upon a fascinating magic system. We see many of the stereotypical things associated with wizardry & witchcraft, but they are modified with their own creative spin. For example, the flying brooms….loved what Swift did there. There were certain aspects of the story that seemed a little far fetched, (i.e. why would her future father-in-law be ok with Aadra putting herself in dangerous situations on the reg??), but I was willing to overlook those little details because I enjoyed the rest of the story so much. The “enemies” to lovers and mistaken identity tropes are executed well and the spark between the two characters is fun to watch ignite (can’t help the puns).
The two readers were excellent for the eAudiobook. Priya in particular I could listen to all day. I was eager to start the second book in the duology.
Rating: 4 Stars
Title: Bound by Firelight
Author: Dana Swift
Performers: Priya Ayyar & Assaf Cohen
Length: 11 hr, 14 min
Series: Wickery, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 18, 2022 by Listening Library
Review: This sequel did not quite carry the momentum of the first book, but I still enjoyed it. Aadra and Jatin get almost no page time together, and a new character is introduced in Jatin’s POV that I don’t feel was particularly well-written. In fact, I don’t even really understand why the addition of this character was necessary. She added almost nothing of value to the story and the relationships between her and the other characters were confusing.
Aadra’s storyline had potential that I don’t think was fully realized. Her friendship with her cell mate was interesting, and I loved the incorporation of sign language. I don’t think I have ever seen signing described in a fantasy novel like this before, or ever really.
This book wasn’t as tightly written or fast paced as the first in the duology, but it wrapped up nicely and I was satisfied with the ending.
Rating: 3.5 Stars