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
Author: Bram Stoker
Performer: Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, plus cast
Length: 15hrs 28 mins
Publishing Date/Publisher: February 20th, 2012/Audible Studios
Review: This was a fun listen and the cast brought the characters to life (with the exception of Lucy’s, which was just very annoying, to be honest). The classic was enhanced by an all-star cast and unique storytelling method Stoker used was perfect for an audiobook.
Dracula is a classic for a reason, but I wasn’t completely blown away by it. I think that might be because I’ve watched too many film and tv adaptations that the original just felt a bit ‘been there, done that’. I still recommend it for a fun way to escape for a bit, or to have on in the background while working or cooking.
Title: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Performer: Helen Duff
Length: 10 hr, 13 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Dreamscape Media
Review: Stylistically, this book was very similar to a Liane Moriarty book (one of my all-time favorite writers). In fact, even the reader of this book had a very similar voice to the woman who performs most (if not all) of Liane Moriarty’s audiobooks. The major difference between these two authors, however, is I think Jewell reveals too much too early in her story. A huge part of what makes Liane Moriarty’s books so fantastic is her perfect timing in making big reveals. She also usually hangs onto a big plot twist to blow your mind at the end. Jewell does not quite have the same finesse with her plot twists, and for the most part I was able to predict each plot twist well before it was actually revealed. I think perhaps this could have been avoided if Jewell had arranged her content differently. I was also not a big fan of the ending. It bothers me when endings are tied up in a way that feels inauthentic, and unfortunately this book had one of those endings.
Despite the ways this book fell short for me as a reader, I still enjoyed it and would consider reading other books by this author.
Title: The Psychology of Time Travel
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Page Count: 372
Publishing Date/Publisher: 12 February 2019 by Crooked Lane Books (originally published August 9th 2018 by Head of Zeus)
I don’t think I can accurately describe just how much I love this book, but I will try.
It had me hooked from the start, grabbing me instantly with the strong, smart, vulnerable women, and kept me hooked through the entire story. The relative lack of men was an added, welcome, and refreshing change of pace from most books I’ve read. I’ve also noticed that most books and movies/television shows involving time travel make the reader/viewer do some mental gymnastics in order to wrap their head around the whole concept, however Mascarenhas does all that for you, leaving your brain free to try to dissect the murder mystery.
I also loved how the story is woven together and how organized it is, despite it being about a very disorganized subject. This made it easy to read and impossible to put down.
I have already started telling all my friends about this book and will continue to bother them until each and everyone of them reads it. I was utterly blown away and loved every minute of it.
Review: This book thoroughly boggled my brain. The concept of time travel makes absolutely zero sense to me. This book is technically a murder mystery, but oddly it didn’t feel to me like a murder mystery at all. The mystery itself became more of a subplot as I struggled to wrap my head around the various concepts detailed in the book pertaining to time chronology, “genies”, and other time travel concepts. I liked the book, but I was honestly too confused by it to love it.
Title: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Performer: Caroline Lee
Length: 16 hr, 18 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by MacMillan Audio
Review: I wouldn’t say this was my favorite of Moriarty’s book, but in true Moriarty fashion, she didn’t disappoint. There is a lot of depth to each of the characters and even though the story takes place over the course of a few days, SO much happens. To be honest I myself felt a bit transformed by the end of the “week”.
I feel the ending of this book was particularly satisfying and it was illuminating on so many levels. I can’t say much more than that about this book without giving away any spoilers, but I assure you it is worth the read.
I waited months for this eAudiobook to become available at the library, and it was so worth the wait. Caroline Lee is a master of her craft, and she adds so much pizazz to the story with her excellent character voices.
Title: The Butterfly Garden
Author: Dot Hutchison
Page Count: 288
Series: The Collector, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: June 1, 2016 by Thomas & Mercer
Review: Holy. Freaking. Wow…..There are some books that really stick with you, and this is one of them. From page one I was so completely engrossed that I would find myself staring longingly at the book during work, anxiously waiting for my next break. I so desperately wanted to know what would happen to the women in the story that I would be thinking about it constantly, even as I drifted off to sleep at night. The narrative is very well written, and the narrator of the story is so easy to trust and to like. The only reason I am not giving this story five stars is because there were a couple elements of the story that bothered me. For one, the FBI agents that were questioning the narrator kept insisting that she was not being forthcoming and that she was keeping secrets. I did not get this feeling at all from the narrator, and I think in a situation such as this, the victim would need to be allowed to tell the story in the way that is most comfortable to them. Secondly, they kept alluding to the fact that the narrator was hiding something, but when they had the big “reveal” at the end, it did not truly seem to fit with the rest of the narrative. To be honest I am not entirely sure why it was included in the story at all, as it didn’t really seem to add anything revelatory to the plot.
This book is what I like to call a “thinker” because it makes you reflect upon yourself and how you would respond if you were trapped in this type of situation. I would like to think that I would have the compassion of nurturing Lyonette and the strength of straightforward Maya, but to be honest I really don’t know who I would be. What really made this story intriguing was the women, and how each of them coped with the extreme trauma while still managing to carve out meaningful relationships with one another. In this sense, the story was as beautiful as it was terrifying. I highly recommend reading it.