Review: The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea

Published: September 3, 2019 by Harper

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Rating:

Synopsis: Rósa has always dreamed of living a simple life alongside her Mamma in their remote village in Iceland, where she prays to the Christian God aloud during the day, whispering enchantments to the old gods alone at night. But after her father dies abruptly and her Mamma becomes ill, Rósa marries herself off to a visiting trader in exchange for a dowry, despite rumors of mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death.

Rósa follows her new husband, Jón, across the treacherous countryside to his remote home near the sea. There Jón works the field during the day, expecting Rósa to maintain their house in his absence with the deference of a good Christian wife. What Rósa did not anticipate was the fierce loneliness she would feel in her new home, where Jón forbids her from interacting with the locals in the nearby settlement and barely speaks to her himself.

Seclusion from the outside world isn’t the only troubling aspect of her new life — Rósa is also forbidden from going into Jón’s. When Rósa begins to hear strange noises from upstairs, she turns to the local woman in an attempt to find solace. But the villager’s words are even more troubling—confirming many of the rumors about Jón’s first wife, Anna, including that he buried her body alone in the middle of the night.

Rósa’s isolation begins to play tricks on her mind: What — or who — is in the attic? What happened to Anna? Was she mad, a witch, or just a victim of Jón’s ruthless nature? And when Jón is brutally maimed in an accident a series of events are set in motion that will force Rósa to choose between obedience and defiance — with her own survival and the safety of the ones she loves hanging in the balance.

Review: I picked up this book on a whim. I found the cover spectacular and the synopsis piqued my interest. In all my years I don’t believe that I have read too many books set in Iceland. 1600’s, newly Christianized, Iceland to boot. This caught my attention and made me want to read it.

I loved the premise of this story. Iceland as a whole is caught in this transitional period of being newly Christianized but a lot of the community are finding it difficult to give up the old pagan ways. So while they know that their local pastor will accuse them of witchcraft for it, they can’t seem to let it to entirely. That makes for a very interesting scenario. Rosa is one of those people. She has embraced the new Christian faith but still finds a lot of comfort in the runes and sagas from her youth. Her father has passed away and in an effort to ensure that her mother doesn’t follow him to the grave she makes an advantageous marriage to Jon.

Jon was an all around interesting character. He doesn’t say much but toward the end of the book we get a few snippets of his narration of the story. He was also caught. He grew up poor. He scraped and scrabbled his way to being the leader of his village. Unfortunately that means he is that the heart of every rumor and his name is on the lips of every troublemaker. And the local pastor doesn’t like him too much and so is very eager to find something he can pin on him.

These two were not my favorite however, that honor is reserved for Petur. He is Jon’s right hand man. No one is quite clear on why he’s so committed to protecting Jon but he is an unstoppable force. Rumors have abounded about him since he first stumbled out of the frozen woods as a child. Everyone seems to want to hate him. He was so funny and witty. And tough as nails. I loved him endlessly.

The actual plot was a good one. A young woman suddenly finds herself living with her new husband, whom she doesn’t really know, and quickly finds herself often alone. Jon is often traveling or out in the fields, leaving her alone in the house for extended periods. She thinks she hears noises. Scrabbling, scraping, sometimes whispering from the attic. But she can’t investigate because Jon keeps it locked and has forbidden her to go up there. It quickly sparks her paranoia about the rumors regarding the fate of Jon’s first wife. Could it be her in the attic? Her ghost perhaps? Some spectre coming to haunt Rosa for stupidly agreeing to this marriage? It was wonderful.

My biggest complaint was Rosa’s character. While I understood her fear initially, eventually it started to wear on me. She kept flinching away from Jon like a beaten animal and didn’t dare speak in his presence. She took every single thing that he said in a threatening manner, even when it wasn’t clear that there was any threatening intent. And he had never even been physically intimidating to her and never actually hurt her in any way. So initially the fear of an unknown husband with a ferocious reputation made sense. But as time went on I couldn’t felt thinking “Wtf are you flinching from woman? He has never done a thing to you. Grow some ovaries, gods.”

The other thing that brings this book down for me was the author’s note at the end. I was curious to read it because I wondered where the author got her inspiration from for this story. It was so wonderfully rich and unique. I know there are some who will find it unfair for me to add a judgment of the book on the author’s note but it aggravated me too much to overlook. The author signs off on her author’s note saying that she identifies with Rosa….and experiences similar struggles. That she has had the experience of quaking in fear because of the presence of a man, felt powerless to his authority. She hoped that her sons wouldn’t grow up to feel entitled to the world because they are men. And hopes for a day when her nieces don’t have to “put on their armor just to leave the house.” What the actual fuck is this woman talking about? Is she legitimately comparing the power dynamics in gender between the United States in 2020 and 1686 Iceland? She feels it’s an apt comparison between her irrational fear of a man’s very presence and a society where the mark of a good husband is that he doesn’t beat you? I have never had to put on armor to leave the house, not once in all my life. And hopefully she’s not raising her sons to be jerks, or else they’ll inevitably end up as jerks. I found it so tiresome. It detracted from the book and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Review: The Swap by Robyn Harding

The Swap by Robyn Harding

Published: June 23, 2020 by Gallery

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Rating:

Synopsis: Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

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

This was the first book I have read by Robyn Harding but it will not be the last. This book was such a deliciously dark guilty pleasure. If you need to have a likeable character in your books then this one might not be the one for you. A LOT of people really hated everyone. I kind of liked Low but I think it was because I empathized with her from my own experiences at that age.

Low is a girl who is searching for something to call her own. She has a polyamorous family, both of her parents have other partners on a regular basis and occasionally on a short term basis. She doesn’t have many friends in school because the other kids look down on her because of her weird family and because she is rather strange herself. She goes by Low because her hippy dippy parents named her Swallow (after the bird) because….well they are idiots. They prove how idiotic they are over and over again. Low finds herself attracted to Freya and she struggles to try and figure out why. Is it a friend thing? A romantic thing? A sex thing? She isn’t sure and wants desperately to just have a friend that is all hers so she can figure that out. I empathized with that coming of age struggle. As a result, she got a lot of leeway from me for some of the terrible thing she did. Yes, she did those things. Yes they were wrong. But she is a dumb kid that got taken advantage of and betrayed by the adults around her.

Freya was just delightfully devious. I could never really get a read on her. Was she evil? Or just rather self absorbed and selfish? It was hard to tell and her character made me feel constantly off balance. She utilizes both Jamie and Low as weapons against each other, ruthlessly pitting them against each other in a competition for her affection.

Jamie took me by surprise. Her character was largely boring. Then suddenly when her friendship with Freya was threatened she exploded into action and it was wonderful! Her husband though was as boring as watching paint dry.

The twists and turns kept me wondering what was going to happen the entire book. But looking back none of the things that happened come out of nowhere. They were the logical journey of the story but I didn’t see it. I could not put this book down. It was delicious.

New Releases Wednesday

A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers

Published: August 18, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: A young woman in Belle Epoque France is cursed to relive a doomed love affair through many lifetimes, as both troubled muse and frustrated artist.

In 1895, sixteen-year-old Juliet LaCompte has a passionate, doomed romance with the married Parisian painter Auguste Marchant. When her mother — a witch — botches a curse on Marchant, she unwittingly binds Juliet to the artist through time, damning her to re-live her affair and die tragically young lifetime after lifetime as the star-crossed lovers reincarnate through history.

Luke Varner, the worldly demon tasked with maintaining this badly crafted curse, has been helplessly in love with his charge, in all her reincarnations, since 19th century France. He’s in love with Nora, a silver screen starlet in 1930s Hollywood. He’s in love with Sandra, a struggling musician in 1970s Los Angeles. And he’s in love with Helen, a magazine exec in present-day DC who has the power to “suggest” others do her bidding.

In this life, Helen starts to recall the curse and her tragic previous lives. But this time, she might have the power to break the cycle…

My Thoughts: So this one is kind of a cheat. It was officially published in February, but it didn’t hit my radar until today when I saw the paperback is being published next week. But I loved it so much I am cheating. This idea sounds intriguing, the cover makes my heart pitter patter. I love the idea of this book!

Fire in the Blood by Perry O’Brien

Published: August 11, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: When Coop—a U.S. Army paratrooper serving in Afghanistan—is called urgently to his Captain’s office, he fears he’s headed for a court martial. Coop has been keeping a terrible secret from his fellow soldiers, and worries he’s been discovered. Instead, his life is devastated in a different way: his wife, Kay, has been killed in a hit-and-run.

Given a brief leave to fly back to New York and attend to Kay’s affairs, Coop is increasingly disturbed by the suspicious circumstances of his wife’s death. He decides to go AWOL, using his military training to uncover the real story behind Kay’s fatal accident. As he circles in on the truth, Coop must distinguish ally from enemy among a cast of players in the Bronx underworld: Albanian heroin smugglers, shady cops, corrupt rehab doctors, and his wife’s family, a powerful clan of financial elites. Navigating this new battlefield, he’ll have to find justice for Kay while also seeking his own redemption.

My Thoughts: This book sounds absolutely heartbreaking. It’s a situation that no deployed soldier probably gives much thought because they are in a warfare mindset, but sometimes accidents happen. I am interested to learn what Coop’s secrets are and if they are connected to the tragic death of his wife.

Audiobook Review: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Published: May 13, 2014 by Ecco

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

Rating:

Synopsis: Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse of it, and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remains, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now that the boy and girl are four, it’s time to go, but the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. Something is following them all the while, but is it man, animal, or monster?

Interweaving past and present, Bird Box is a snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page. 

Review: WARNING: The best way I can review this book is with a good/bad/ugly comparison, which will almost certainly include major spoilers for this book. Consider yourself warned.

Good: I really love the way Josh Malerman writes. He is very adept at creating suspense. Some parts of this book made me feel like I would crawl out of my skin with the anxiety of the moment. He is a very good writer.

I loved Malorie. She is a strong, kick ass woman. She starts off the book pregnant, scared, and with no idea of how she is going to cope in this new world. But she does. Not perfectly. Sometimes not even competently. But she moves forward all the same, trying to protect herself and her children.

I really loved the uniqueness of this world. I can honestly say that I have never read a book that portrayed the apocalypse this way. An unknown…something, that has a devastating effect on humanity. No one knows why. No one knows how to stop it. No one even knows what it is. It’s a terrifying concept, and I loved it.

Bad: The audiobook narrator was a really bad fit. Every time she did Malorie’s part the narrator made her sound timid and scared. There were undoubtedly moments when that was appropriate. But like I mentioned, Malorie is a tough, kick ass woman. When she stands up in her boat and says “Get away from me!” it is not a trembling, quavering plea. It is a command to GET THE F*** AWAY! In fact, it says it in the text for that line, it is a command, it is angry. So that was really annoying throughout the audiobook.

I didn’t like the villain. It felt really cheap and out of place. I still can’t quite remember why everyone thought he was such a horrible guy originally. The whole plot felt like the author thought he needed a villain apart from the “creatures” so he scrambled to add in this side plot. It wasn’t necessary. It detracted from the overall plot.

Ugly: There were a few things that bugged me the entire way through the book.

Why didn’t Malorie name the children? It was so incredibly weird that she just calls them Boy and Girl. And then says at the end that names are a luxury for safer times. Okay…..that literally makes no sense. Every human calls other humans by a name or nickname to identify them. Even if she called them a cutsie nickname it would have made sense but Boy and Girl? Wtf! It made it impossible for me to relate to them as characters at all.

There were some serious physics problems with how Olympia died. She dies shortly after giving birth to a child. First off, I won’t get into the logic problems of two pregnant women going into labor at exactly the same moment. Or the logic of a whole group of adults leaving the two laboring women all alone in the attic to go argue. But Olympia jumps out a window after giving birth and they mention in graphic detail the umbilical cord getting caught on the window sill and her body being suspended by it. Um, this was very obviously written by a man who has no idea how childbirth works. The purpose of the umbilical cord is to be detach itself from the uterus after birth and then come out. Even if it remains attached if pressure is put on it then it will tear away. There is just no possible way that scene is happening. It was completely bizarre. I had no idea what the point of that scene was except for a gross factor but it was weird.

The “creatures” were also really inconsistent. Most of the time they don’t even seem to be interacting with humans at all. They are simply present and it drives the humans insane. Then, later on, they seem to be physically stalking the humans but only enough to scare them. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere, a creature is trying to forcibly remove someone’s blindfold. This particular scenario never happens again. So, which is it? Are they simply inadvertently having this effect or malevolent? Because they display both traits.

So, in the end I enjoyed the story but it was also pretty deeply flawed. I am interested enough to read the next book and see what happens next.

Reading Progress Updates

I have a lot of in progress reading going on, so thought I would put out some of my thoughts.

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor

Goodreads

Progress: Page 46 of 310

Synopsis: 1878- The Lyceum Theatre, London. Three extraordinary people begin their life together, a life that will be full of drama, transformation, passionate and painful devotion to art and to one another. Henry Irving, the Chief, is the volcanic leading man and impresario; Ellen Terry is the most lauded and desired actress of her generation, outspoken and generous of heart; and ever following along behind them in the shadows is the unremarkable theatre manager, Bram Stoker. Fresh from life in Dublin as a clerk, Bram may seem the least colourful of the trio but he is wrestling with dark demons in a new city, in a new marriage, and with his own literary aspirations. As he walks the London streets at night, streets haunted by the Ripper and the gossip which swirls around his friend Oscar Wilde, he finds new inspiration. But the Chief is determined that nothing will get in the way of his manager?s devotion to the Lyceum and to himself. And both men are enchanted by the beauty and boldness of the elusive Ellen. This exceptional novel explores the complexities of love that stands dangerously outside social convention, the restlessness of creativity, and the experiences that led to Dracula, the most iconic supernatural tale of all time.

Thoughts so far: It took me awhile to get on board with this story. I didn’t really enjoy the writing style and had a hard time figuring out what I was being told. But once I got past that I am quite enjoying the look at a young Bram Stoker.

Pride’s Children: Purgatory by Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

Goodreads

Progress: Page 52 of 490

Synopsis: WHAT YOU DO WITH AN OBSESSION COUNTS

“I, KARENNA ELIZABETH Ashe, being of sound mind, do… But that’s it, isn’t it? Being here proves I am not of sound mind…

So begins Book 1 of the Pride’s Children trilogy: Kary immediately regrets the misplaced sense of noblesse oblige which compels her to appear, live on national television—at exorbitant personal cost.

What she cannot anticipate is an entanglement with Hollywood that may destroy her carefully-constructed solitudinarian life.

A contemporary mainstream love story, in the epic tradition of Jane Eyre, and Dorothy L. Sayers’ four-novel bond between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Pride’s Children starts with a very public chance encounter, and will eventually stretch over three separate continents.

Thoughts so far: This was another one that the writing style took me a little while to jump into to and I was a bit concerned that maybe the story just wasn’t for me. It didn’t take long though for me to catch up and really start to enjoy myself. I adore Andrew. He is quirky, funny, smarmy and just so much fun.

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

Goodreads

Progress: Page 78 of 340 pages

Synopsis: Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

The can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

Thoughts so far: This story seems strange to me so far. A double suicide, an abandoned baby, missing house residents and then suddenly it all comes together for an inheritance at the house where it all went down. It’s been okay so far, but nothing is blowing my socks off yet.

Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Published: December 30, 2019 by Graydon House

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

Rating:

Synopsis: Imagine that your husband has two other wives. You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.

But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.

You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.

Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life?

And who is his mysterious third wife? 

Review: I really loved this book at first. I thought it was stupid that the “Thursday” wife’s name was actually Thursday but after a short laugh at the idiocy of it I moved on and had a good time. The plot was engaging. I enjoyed unraveling the mystery.

Thursday was an alright character. A bit naive and jealous but she told us a very concise and interesting story. I liked hearing about her marriage as she scrapped together details of the other wives. Seth was rather useless though. Since we’re seeing him through either the rose-colored glasses on Thursday in the beginning or the “OMG he’s evil!” glasses of later in the book. As a result I never got a good read on who his character actually was supposed to be. He could have been a cardboard cutout with “Husband” written on it and it would have made no difference.

WARNING: Spoiler alert for the ending!!

What brought me down on this book was the ending. Again. Once again we ended up with an unreliable narrator. Thursday is crazy and making it all up. Well, she is crazy but they were also setting her up. It was very convoluted. To be frank, I am sick and tired of endings that go “Ha, see, they are mentally ill and not telling you the truth dear reader, or are they…” It’s cheap, it’s boring and I am really weary of reading it. It cheapens mental illness and it’s become nothing more than a thriller trope.

Just once, can I get a thriller where the character actually uncovers the truth about what’s going on? Couldn’t we have actually had two other wives? The ultimate twist still would have worked! Pointless. Annoying.

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Published: July 17, 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

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

Rating:

Synopsis:

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Review: This is one of those books that as soon as you read the synopsis, you know exactly what book this is. You will have an evil child that is trying to kill her mother. You will have a useless father who lets it go on. And it will end in a violent mess. You know it, I know it and we read to see how depraved it can get.

WARNING: Potential mild spoilers. Nothing directly plot related, but some character descriptions might give you some hints.

This book was a mixture of both good and bad. That narrative was quite engaging. I found that the pages seemed to fly through my fingers and I was very entertained by the story. But, I didn’t actually like anyone in this book and only felt sympathy for Hanna. Suzette was annoying and frankly, I never got the sense that she actually loved Hanna at all. This was confirmed for me at the end, she loved the idea of having a child but when her child ended up troubled then she disconnected entirely. Alex was the most useless excuse for a spouse or father that I’ve ever seen. Not only did he completely cater to his child’s every whim but he blatantly refused to believe from ANYONE that his child was exhibiting troubling behavior. Not his wife, not the school, not the therapist. If my husband blatantly refused to believe me when I commented on our child’s behavior while he was gone, I wouldn’t stick around for long.

I felt really bad for Hanna in the end. Her troubles weren’t her fault. They weren’t even anything she was aware of for the most part. And since she’d spent her entire life being pampered and told how perfect she is then no wonder she indulged her violent whims. I also don’t understand how her parents weren’t more troubled by the fact that she refused to speak at 7 years old? They determined long before then that it wasn’t a medical problem, which leaves a psychological one. Why was this child not seeing a child therapist to deal with the reasons she was choosing not to speak? Why were her parents content to just let her behavior spiral out of control without intervention? It was really frustrating and broke my heart for Hanna.

The ending was not quite the blood bath I had been expecting based on how the novel was proceeding. I also felt like it wasn’t much of a resolution. We leave the characters almost exactly where we started with them. It felt a little bit pointless. I liked the plot and enjoyed myself all the way through but only to be left without any concrete resolution. But maybe that was the point. That this situation is not fixable and eventually there’s the likelihood that the whole cycle will repeat itself. I would definitely read more by this author, even though I wasn’t crazy about this book. I do like the way she writes.

New Releases Wednesday

Dare to Speak by Suzanne Nossel

Published: July 28th, 2020 by Harper Collins

Goodreads

Synopsis: A vital, necessary playbook for navigating and defending free speech today by the CEO of PEN America, Dare To Speak provides a pathway for promoting free expression while also cultivating a more inclusive public culture.

Online trolls and fascist chat groups. Controversies over campus lectures. Cancel culture versus censorship. The daily hazards and debates surrounding free speech dominate headlines and fuel social media storms. In an era where one tweet can launch–or end–your career, and where free speech is often invoked as a principle but rarely understood, learning to maneuver the fast-changing, treacherous landscape of public discourse has never been more urgent.

In Dare To Speak, Suzanne Nossel, a leading voice in support of free expression, delivers a vital, necessary guide to maintaining democratic debate that is open, free-wheeling but at the same time respectful of the rich diversity of backgrounds and opinions in a changing country. Centered on practical principles, Nossel’s primer equips readers with the tools needed to speak one’s mind in today’s diverse, digitized, and highly-divided society without resorting to curbs on free expression.

At a time when free speech is often pitted against other progressive axioms–namely diversity and equality–Dare To Speak presents a clear-eyed argument that the drive to create a more inclusive society need not, and must not, compromise robust protections for free speech. Nossel provides concrete guidance on how to reconcile these two sets of core values within universities, on social media, and in daily life. She advises readers how to:

Use language conscientiously without self-censoring ideas;Defend the right to express unpopular views; And protest without silencing speech.Nossel warns against the increasingly fashionable embrace of expanded government and corporate controls over speech, warning that such strictures can reinforce the marginalization of lesser-heard voices. She argues that creating an open market of ideas demands aggressive steps to remedy exclusion and ensure equal participation.

Replete with insightful arguments, colorful examples, and salient advice, Dare To Speak brings much-needed clarity and guidance to this pressing–and often misunderstood–debate.

My Thoughts: Anyone who knows me in person knows that I am an absolute Libertarian on almost everything, including speech. I am an absolutist when it comes to free speech. In my neighborhood I am that weirdo person advocating for why hate speech should be allowed, why I should be able to have a grenade launcher, legalizing all drugs, and legalizing prostitution too. Yep, that’s me. So I am interested in this “guidebook” to free speech.

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

Published: July 28, 2020 by St Martin’s Press

Goodreads

Synopsis: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor—and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her. 

My Thoughts: I know what you’re thinking. “Stefani, it’s another of those lackluster domestic thrillers with a great cover, how many of those have to disappoint before you don’t pick it up!?” I know. Really I do. And you’re right. But I am addicted. I cannot say no.

Audiobook Review: His & Hers by Alice Feeney

His & Hers by Alice Fenney

Published: July 28, 2020 by Macmillan Audio

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

Rating:

Synopsis: There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

Anna Andrews finally has what she wants. Almost. She’s worked hard to become the main TV presenter of the BBC’s lunchtime news, putting work before friends, family, and her now ex-husband. So, when someone threatens to take her dream job away, she’ll do almost anything to keep it.

When asked to cover a murder in Blackdown–the sleepy countryside village where she grew up–Anna is reluctant to go. But when the victim turns out to be one of her childhood friends, she can’t leave. It soon becomes clear that Anna isn’t just covering the story, she’s at the heart of it.

DCI Jack Harper left London for a reason, but never thought he’d end up working in a place like Blackdown. When the body of a young woman is discovered, Jack decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realise he is a suspect in his own murder investigation.

One of them knows more than they are letting on. Someone isn’t telling the truth. Alternating between Anna’s and Jack’s points of view, His & Hers is a fast-paced, complex, and dark puzzle that will keep listeners guessing until the very end.

Review: ***I received a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan Audio!!***

This audiobook was just another in a long line of underwhelming thrillers for me this year. It had a lot of promise but it was just never realized. At least the audio of it was well done otherwise I probably would have stopped halfway through.

Both narrators did a wonderful job. I thoroughly enjoyed their reading and felt that they did the book as much justice as they could. I have no problem with anything related to the audio. The problem this book had was a plot problem and a disappointing twist.

So the synopsis lays out that Jack becomes a suspect in his own investigation. Unfortunately for everyone that didn’t actually happen until about 80% of the way through. Anna was also supposed to be a suspect, but that comes up very late in the story too. The lead up to the finale was alright. There was nothing earth shattering about it but nothing overtly bad either. I found the characters lack luster and I had a hard time connecting with any of them.

The ending of this book is where the wheels really fall off. The entire last two hours of the audiobook were an equivalent of a ping pong match. Ten minutes on giving us reason to suspect Jack, then explaining that and giving us reason to suspect Ann, then switching to Priya, then switching to Kathleen, then back to Jack, then back to Priya. And then at the end it’s a whole chapter of the killer breaking the 4th wall to explain to us (the readers) who they are and why they did it. It didn’t work for me. It was such a bizarre explanation that I just kind of sat there listening to it with a very puzzled expression before exclaiming “WTF, that doesn’t even make sense!”

Review: What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

Published: May 15, 2020 by Thomas & Mercer

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

Rating:

Synopsis: Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

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

I could not get enough of this book. It was similar to seeing a horrifying car crash on the side of the highway. You know that you don’t want to look. You don’t want to see the potentially mangled bodies or the severed head rolling down the shoulder. But you have to be sure that those things aren’t there too. You have to keep looking.

That comparison got rather dark, not nearly as dark as this book though. But this book in a less gruesome way. This was a psychological kind of dark. And just about every page had me sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what secrets I would discover next.

This is a story of a mother and daughter. Both of them have secrets. Both of them have a boatload of resentment and anger. And the two of them are trapped in a house together, punishing each other for their respective secrets and past history.

I really loved this book. I can’t really say too much more about it without giving anything away. This book is deep and layered. The title has layers and nuances. The layers have layers. Just read it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.