Review: Reproduction by Ian Williams

Reproduction by Ian Williams

Published: May 5, 2020 by Europa Editions

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Rating:

Synopsis: A hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented, told with the savvy of a Zadie Smith and with an inventiveness all Ian Williams’ own, Reproduction bangs lives together in a polyglot suburb of Toronto.

Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. When Felicia’s mother dies and Edgar’s “Mutter” does not, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as Mutter’s caregiver. While Felicia and Edgar don’t quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son Felicia calls Armistice. Or Army, for short.

Some years later, Felicia and Army (now 14) are living in the basement of a home owned by Oliver, a divorced man of Portuguese descent who has two kids—the teenaged Heather and the odd little Hendrix. Along with Felicia and Army, they form an unconventional family, except that Army wants to sleep with Heather, and Oliver wants to kill Army. Then Army’s fascination with his absent father—and his absent father’s money—begins to grow as odd gifts from Edgar begin to show up. And Felicia feels Edgar’s unwelcome shadow looming over them. A brutal assault, a mortal disease, a death, and a birth reshuffle this group of people again to form another version of the family.

Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn’t a matter of blood.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Europa Editions!***

There is only one word that I can come up with for this book. It was bizarre. From what I understand the author is a poet. This makes a lot of sense to me as much of this narrative reads more like prose. And I got the sense that the author was doing a lot of exploring of the bounds of fiction. I appreciate that too but it didn’t work for me.

Parts of this read like a poem, others like diary entries, others like bullet points. And then occasionally the author would throw in what can only be described as rap lyrics. It made it very difficult for me to connect with the story in any way because the story kept changing. I also hated that the author insisted on typing out everyone’s accents. That made this so hard to follow in addition to everything else. Whenever anyone spoke I would not be able to determine what was happening without reading it twice. It was incredibly bizarre and I still don’t know quite what to make of it.

Outside of the writing style, I wasn’t invested in the plot or characters either. The plot was fine (nothing special), but the characters were awful. Felicia alternately comes across as a naive little girl or a crazy person. One second she’s finally realizing that she was deceived and taken advantage of and the next second she’s trying to stab people. And Edgar was just horrible. Selfish, persistent liar, abusive son, abusive lover, borderline rapist, takes advantage of young and naive women. He was a real gem. I haven’t hated a character as much as him in quite a long time.

Some people will undoubtedly love this book and the way it explores how we write fiction. But, it didn’t work for me.

Review: Providence by Max Barry

Providence by Max Barry

Published: March 31, 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

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Rating:

Synopsis: A dazzling, inventive, and thought-provoking new novel from the ingenious author of Jennifer Government and Lexicon.

Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson are astronauts captaining a new and supposedly indestructible ship in humanity’s war against an alien race. Confined to the ship for years, each of them holding their own secrets, they are about to learn there are threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity–and that the true nature of reality might be the universe’s greatest mystery.

In this near future, our world is at war with another, and humanity is haunted by its one catastrophic loss–a nightmarish engagement that left a handful of survivors drifting home through space, wracked with PTSD. Public support for the war plummeted, and the military-industrial complex set its sights on a new goal: zero-casualty warfare, made possible by gleaming new ships called Providences, powered by AI.

But when the latest-launched Providence suffers a surprising attack and contact with home is severed, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they’re fighting, the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and G.P Putnam’s Sons!!***

This is my second book by Max Barry and I officially just love him! The way he uses words is just extraordinary. His plots seem so simple on the surface but the nuance and depth that they uncover is astounding. I want to talk to him about how his mind works and how he has so many gorgeous ideas. I may have gotten a copy of this for free, but I now own a paid copy of everything of his I can get my hands on.

On the surface, this book is about a war in space with aliens. Four people have been selected to “pilot” an AI controlled warship that is being sent to the far reaches of space to kill the enemy “salamanders”. No one is clear why the salamanders started killing everyone, they just attacked and so humans attacked back. During an engagement the ship makes the crew nervous and they start to wonder if maybe it is fallible after all or perhaps it might turn on them at some point.

The more I read, the more I realized that ultimately that is not what this story is about. This story is about the psychology of warfare. It doesn’t matter who the enemy is. It doesn’t matter why there’s a conflict. It doesn’t matter who is fighting on the front lines except if they can sell it to the public. So put on a smile and make some wartime diaries for the folks back home. And, in the end, it doesn’t even matter that you won it’s all just part of the game of warfare.

I didn’t feel an emotional connection to any of the characters, they seem incidental to the plot and frankly I think that was intentional. They didn’t matter. They were just a vehicle to the story. That was the point. But the ending got me. It made me tear up a bit. Because I finally got the point. It was a beautifully written book. I absolutely loved it.

Review: The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Published: February 18, 2020 by Park Row

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Rating:

Synopsis: Propulsive and addictive, The Other Mrs. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs….

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

Review: I put down an ultimatum when I started this book. If I didn’t enjoy it, then I am giving up on thrillers for awhile (except ARCs that I have obviously). Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the current world of thrillers but it’s not doing it for me.

This one started off well, despite the fact that I found our main narrator (Sadie) incredibly dull. She was so boring. And despite her insistence on reminding everyone that she is a doctor, we never actually see her performing duties as a doctor. Mostly she just navel gazes and complains. We learn very quickly that she is damaged and so is the rest of her family. They have fled to Maine after her husband’s sister commits suicide and they adopt another damaged person into the family. Sadie is not a nice person. She’s judgmental, arrogant, and a really bad mother. The only interactions we ever see her have with her children are when she’s telling them to leave her alone or suspecting one of them of doing something awful with no real evidence.

Despite Sadie, the story drew me in. We were also narrated by Camille, the woman who Will had an affair with. Camille is fantastic. I loved her narration and wish we had gotten more of it. We also hear from Mouse, a 6 year old little girl who is dealing with an abusive stepmother and a father who travel frequently for business. The way these three narratives were woven together was actually very good. Even though the ending was terrible, I thought the weaving of the narrations was masterful.

Unfortunately, it became abundantly clear to me what the ending was going to be about halfway through. One of the twists I predicted was accurate. It wasn’t great but it made sense to the story. The second twist was so ridiculous that I actually laughed out loud. I wonder if that’s the landscape of thrillers these days, come up with an outlandish twist that no one could possible guess. I am not a fan. Usually this means that it is absolutely out of character for the people in the book and makes literally no sense with the rest of the plot. That was the case here. Having a standard thriller ending that everyone knows is coming is not a bad thing. Deciding to throw in twists just for the sake of shocking your audience is a bad thing, and I wish authors would stop doing it.

Review: The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Published: April 14, 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

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Rating:

Synopsis: Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.

She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.

A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing!***

I was not sure that I was going to like this one when I first started it. I liked Tessa as the narrating character but the story just didn’t grab me at first. Tessa was so real. She had flaws and had made mistakes, she was open with these things and wanted to escape from it. I like characters that feel like real people and Tessa did. This book weaves three different stories that all center on the idea of justice, family and the damage that the past can do to the present.

The first storyline is of Oliver Barlowe. Tessa did a documentary about his conviction for rape and murder. She didn’t go into the project with any particular agenda but along the way she began to believe that Oliver was innocent. And so the documentary ended up leading to a new trial where he was released. But then, a year or so later, he kidnaps and murders the daughter of the police chief. There’s no doubt he did it this time because he made a video admitting it. This throws Tessa into an unwelcome spotlight as she has to examine whether or not she was wrong the first time. And even if she wasn’t wrong about his innocence then, she can’t deny that he’s a murderer now.

Then we have the story of Tessa and her sister Margo. Something really terrible happened when they were newly college-aged that yanked Tessa out of her sister’s life. The death of their mother forces the two of them to confront that past and the reasons why neither one reached out to bridge the gap.

Finally, we have the story of the forgotten family homestead. Again it is a place where awful things have happened. Things that just about everyone would love to forget. But when Tessa runs there to hide from public pressure about Oliver, she can’t resist pressing into the history and trying to find out the truth.

At first, I wasn’t in love with the story about Fallbrook. I kept hoping we’d hear more about Oliver instead, but in the end that story won me over. It chilled me, it touched me, and then it shocked me. Similarly the story of Tessa and her sister. At first I didn’t really care and thought it didn’t belong in the book at all. But as the book went on I was drawn into the tale and it took on a much greater significance to the overall story.

I read the last 140 pages of this book in one sitting. I was so entranced by it that I simply couldn’t put it down. I loved how the three storylines ended up coming together and each one was given more gravity and significance together than it did on its own. I loved it.

Review: Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Published: February 4, 2020 by William Morrow

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Rating:

Synopsis: All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows her ex-best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora for twelve years. She doesn’t want to see her today, or ever again.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside the open gates of Newnham House, watches from across the road as Flora and her children Thomas and Emily step out of the car. Except… There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older. As Beth would have expected. It’s the children. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then.

They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older… Why haven’t they grown?

Review: I had quite the journey with this book. Through the first two hours of the audiobook I felt like I was being tortured and interrogated. The entire portion was almost entirely a repeat of “I definitely know what I saw, but it’s impossible, I couldn’t have seen that. But I know I did!” For two hours. I felt like crying in exasperation. At a certain point you just have to accept that you saw something that doesn’t make sense!

Then things started to pick up and I was glad that I hadn’t given up on it. Beth was investigating and running into more things that didn’t make sense. Pieces started falling into place in her head and in mine. I also loved her daughter Zannah. She was so sarcastic and ruthlessly logical. I was so happy when Beth enlisted her help in investigating the mystery because she was amazing. I also enjoyed learning little tidbits about their past relationship with Flora and Louis. What had it been like being their friend all those years ago? Did it shed any light on the situation occurring now? I was fascinated.

I didn’t like how Beth acted like her husband was trying to “mansplain” to her and treating her like she was a hysterical woman though. I mean, Beth was literally stalking two strangers. Following them to their children’s school. Getting into their unlocked car when they stepped away. Going to their home to interrogate their neighbors. Interrogate the school receptionist about their children. He wasn’t wrong (or sexist) to treat her like she was behaving hysterically, she was!

But ultimately, like any book, it comes down to the ending.

SPOILER ALERT!! Spoilers for the ending.

The ending literally made no sense. I had come up with all kinds of options in my head. Obviously since this book had no shades of the paranormal, the children were not the same two children. They were two different children, with the same names and approximate ages of the children Beth had known.

But all of my theories were wrong, instead it was so stupid that I still can’t believe it went there. Louis and Flora had a third child, Georgina, which we learn early on. Louis didn’t like Georgina because she had an eye problem. So he became horribly abusive to Flora, deeming the medical condition to be her fault because she had gotten pregnant after he told her that he didn’t want more children. Louis drugs Flora and then kills Georgina and convinces Flora that she had gotten drunk and rolled over on the baby and smothered her. In order for him not to turn her in for murder, she agrees to cut off all contact with the children and pretend to go away forever. But he occasionally visits to rape and impregnate her against her will and insist that she name the children the same names as their existing children. He’s even hired someone to pretend to be her new husband and keep her in line.

I mean, really? It was all an abusive husband, trying to make his wife miserably because she gave birth to a cross-eyed baby? That was so incredibly stupid that I just couldn’t get past it. It didn’t matter how compelling the middle of the book was because it flubbed it when it matter.

Review: The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

Published on: May 19, 2020 by Harper Collins

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Rating:

Synopsis: Breezing into the tony seaside paradise of Westport, Connecticut, gorgeous thirtysomething Piper Reynard sets down roots, opening a rehab and wellness space and joining a local yacht club. When she meets Leo Drakos, a handsome, successful lawyer, the wedding ring on his finger is the only thing she doesn’t like about him. Yet as Piper well knows, no marriage is permanent.

Meanwhile, Joanna has been waiting patiently for Leo, the charismatic man she fell in love with all those years ago, to re-emerge from the severe depression that has engulfed him. Though she’s thankful when Leo returns to his charming, energetic self, paying attention again to Evie and Stelli, the children they both love beyond measure, Joanna is shocked to discover that it’s not her loving support that’s sparked his renewed happiness—it’s something else.

Piper. Leo has fallen head over heels for the flaky, New Age-y newcomer, and unrepentant and resolute, he’s more than willing to leave Joanna behind, along with everything they’ve built. Of course, he assures her, she can still see the children.

Joanna is devastated—and determined to find something, anything, to use against this woman who has stolen her life and her true love. As she digs deeper into Piper’s past, Joanna begins to unearth disturbing secrets . . . but when she confides to her therapist that she fears for the lives of her ex-husband and children, her concerns are dismissed as paranoia. Can she find the proof she needs in time to save them?

Review: This book was such a disappointment. I breezed through the first half of the book in a single sitting because I found it entrancing. True, the characters were incredibly one dimensional. But I loved the drama and the sheer obviousness of the plot that I couldn’t stop listening. Things slowed down a lot in the middle and I was getting bored but I had been promised a fantastic twist by other reviews so I stuck through. The twist was not good, it literally made no sense at all and was confusing more than anything else.

Warning: Alright, that was the broad strokes, from here on out there will be spoilers.

I will focus mostly on the ending in this, but a few thoughts about the behavior of everyone in this book. People don’t do the things they do in this book. We are led to believe that Joanna is Leo’s wife (in the process of a divorce), yet she has a therapist who is so condescending that I would have fired her after one session. She constantly tells Joanna that she’s being obsessive and it doesn’t matter if her fears that Piper is a murderer are legitimate or not. That’s an odd stance. Also you’ve failed as a therapist when you have a client who is stalking another person and you tell your client that you are concerned they might have dangerous intentions, but don’t report that to the person being threatened. That’s a professional responsibility there.

Or like when Leo files for a restraining order and Joanna is arrested and all custody rights taken away because of a single swat on the butt to one of the children and no history of abuse. Even though at the police station they didn’t seem to find her much of a threat and allowed the children to stay in the room with her until their father arrives. Even when we know the whole story it makes no sense.

We discover in the end that Joanna was never married to Leo. She was his business assistant and that after the death of the children’s mother he decided to let her move in to help with the children. Then he met Piper and decided to marry and that arrangement had to change and Joanna went nutty and became obsessed with Piper and getting rid of her. Nobody’s behavior towards her makes any sense, even given all the facts. If this woman basically kidnapped the children and then physically struck one of them, why did the police allow the children to remain with her while waiting for their father? Surely when they called Leo he would have explained what was going on? Why did the children act like she was their mother through the whole book except at the end?

And while Joanna might have been crazy, she also wasn’t wrong about Piper. She is a murderer. She will kill the children and her husband if they disappoint her. So, everyone is an asshole is the message here apparently.

Speaking of the children, they read as being very young. I would have imagined Stelli being around five and Evie being around seven. But apparently they are 11 and 13, so their juvenile dialogue and inability to understand things made no sense at all.

It just gets more confusing when you have all the facts. Confusing behavior turns to nonsensical behavior. It was a terrible, terrible ending.

New Releases Wednesday

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Published: June 2, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Set on a remote island off the Irish coast, this is one guest list no one would want to be on, just as no one would have wanted an invitation to the New Year’s Eve party in Foley’s previous novel, The Hunting Party . Lives unravel amid the revelry on an eerie and remote island as family and friends assemble for a glam wedding in an updated Murder on the Orient Express. Each of the principal characters has a reason to want one of their number dead, there are old secrets, and one of them is murdered.

My Thoughts: This sounds like a twisty turny adventure. A bunch of people invited to a glitzy party and one of them is a murderer. But who? I love a good whodunit and this sounds like it fits the bill.

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

Published: June 2, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie). When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

My Thoughts: I feel like I say this all the time but it’s true here too, I LOVE retellings. And Les Miserables is probably one of my favorite pieces of all time. I have memorized the entire musical and seen every iteration of it. I am practically drooling over this one.

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Published: June 2, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Two women. Two Flights. One last chance to disappear.

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he’s not above using his staff to track Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards. But what he doesn’t know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. They believe the swap will give each of them the head start they need to begin again somewhere far away. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it’s no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva’s identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.

The Last Flight is the story of two women ― both alone, both scared ― and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

My Thoughts: This is my pick for the June Book of the Month. I am excited to receive it. It sounds like a good thriller. On woman trying to escape an awful husband, who realizes that perhaps he might be willing to go farther than she thought to be rid of her. But, what is her new identity isn’t any safer? That’s what I am hoping this book is.

Review: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Published: February 4, 2020 by Tor

Buy this novella at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: In Upright Women Wanted, award-winning author Sarah Gailey reinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Review: ***I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a free review. Thank you NetGalley and Tor!***

This was a fun little novella and certainly a lot better than the one I reviewed from Sarah Gailey last month, River of Teeth. The biggest issue is that it was just so short. The hardcover is 176 pages and it came out to 99 pages on my Nook. There was almost no world or character building as a result. I liked the characters and I liked the premise but it had zero depth.

This dystopian world is one that is intolerant of lesbian or non-binary women. Some of these women choose to work as “Librarians” and deliver “approved” media materials for the masses. And they occasionally lead insurgencies and smuggle people to safer areas. But because of the lack of world building I have no idea why the world is this way. Is it just non-straight women that society objects to? What about gay men? What about transgender individuals? Are there racial issues there too? Usually intolerance is not limited to just one thing. Because we don’t touch on anything except that one aspect at all and since they haven’t explained the world to me then I can’t even make an educated guess.

Esther was a good character and I found her to be very sympathetic. Though it was a bit undermining to my sympathies that within a few months of watching her first love hang for the crime of having unapproved materials Esther is making starry eyes at the Assistant Librarian Cye. I felt a lot of deep emotion for Esther and her story initially. But then we immediately start mooning over Cye and I felt that sympathy fading because apparently she had gotten over it, so why shouldn’t I?

This was a good little story but I really wish it had been given more time and more pages. It would have been less tropey and been able to explore this world in a lot more depth. That would have only improved it for me.

Review: The Holdout by Graham Moore

The Holdout by Graham Moore

Published: February 18, 2020 by Random House

Buy this book at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: In this twisty tale from Moore, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of The Imitation Game, young juror Maya Seale is convinced that African American high school teacher Bobby Nock is innocent of killing the wealthy white female student with whom he appears to have been involved and persuades her fellow jurors likewise. Ten years later, a true-crime docuseries reassembles the jurors, and Maya, now a defense attorney, must prove her own innocence when one of them is found dead in Maya’s room.

Review: This book was both very good and also very average. The author is clearly a skilled screenwriter, this comes through in the depth of the dialogue and characterizations throughout the book. I had zero complaints with either of these aspects. The characters were all unique and likeable/unlikeable in entirely different ways. The dialogue between them painted the picture of their relationships in a real and meaningful way.

The plot was well structured and I enjoyed the pacing too. We alternate between the present, where Maya is being accused of the murder of one of her fellow jury members, and flashbacks of the original trial from each of the jury members POV in turn. This gave a really good view on how each of the different people had viewed the case and the individual reasons why they ended up being swayed to vote not guilty. It was also interesting to hear the snippets of testimony from the Bobby Nock trial and I could not help coming to my own conclusions. Obviously the plot touches on racism and classism a bit, but it was well balanced and not heavy handed.

I have two complaints with this book that kept me from rating it higher than three stars. First, I don’t understand why the not guilty vote was so hard to convince everyone of. From what we were presented about the testimony there was multiple reasons for reasonable doubt. All of the jury members were intelligent people, how exactly did only one of them come to the conclusion that the prosecution hadn’t made a compelling case? The defense thought they had made their case so thoroughly they didn’t even call a witness. That was the right call because they shredded the prosecution’s case every time we heard testimony. I found it hard to believe that Maya was the only one with doubts and that she had to convince everyone else.

The other part I was thrown off by was the ending. I knew that there would be a twist from the fact that the author wrote about admiration of Agatha Christie plot twists (so much admiration that he spoiled the twist to three different Christie novels). But this one came out of left field. There wasn’t even a tiny hint that this person could have been the killer of the juror. There were several very good suspects so I am not sure why we went that route except for the “twist”. The resolution to where Bobby Nock was actually guilty was not surprising, I knew it would be something to that effect early on.

Overall this book was very compelling, I found that I couldn’t stop listening to it. I wanted to know what came next and listened to the whole audiobook in about 27 hours. But I wasn’t completely satisfied with the answers I got.

Take My Money! Sunday

Burn by Patrick Ness

Expected Publication: June 2, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957, Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm…

Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to.

The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul, but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe.

Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself. 

Why I’m Excited: I love anything to do with dragons and I am intrigued by this idea of the poor in the community using dragons are forced servants. There is something very appealing about this synopsis and I want to read it so much.

Size Zero by Abigail Mangin

Expected Publication: July 12, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Condom dresses and space helmets have debuted on fashion runways.

A dead body becomes the trend when a coat made of human skin saunters down fashion’s biggest stage. The body is identified as Annabelle Leigh, the teenager who famously disappeared over a decade ago from her boyfriend’s New York City mansion.

This new evidence casts suspicion back on the former boyfriend, Cecil LeClaire. Now a monk, he is forced to return to his dark and absurd childhood home to clear his name. He teams up with Ava Germaine, a renegade ex-model. And together, they investigate the depraved and lawless modeling industry behind Cecil’s family fortune.

They find erotic canes, pet rats living in crystal castles, and dresses made of crushed butterfly wings. But Cecil finds more truth in the luxury goods than in the people themselves. Everyone he meets seems to be wearing a person-suit. Terrified of showing their true selves, the glitterati put on flamboyant public personas to make money and friends. Can Cecil find truth in a world built on lies?

In high fashion modeling, selling bodies is organized crime.

Why I’m Excited: This one is getting a lot of mixed early reviews, but I cannot wait to read it. It sounds so out there and on the very fringes of what horror is meant to be. I am hoping for a skincrawling adventure into the world of horror fashion.