Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

This story is slow to start with an almost voyeuristic depiction of Thursday’s life. There are clues all over the place but, as is so often the case, those clues only make sense in hindsight. The ending justifies the feelings of unease that you feel while watching Thursday’s growing obsession. This is not a happy novel by any means, and one could make the argument that it serves to portray mental illness in a negative light. In fact, the ending ruined the story for me, which I was enjoying until then.

The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson

While I tend to avoid overtly religious novels, I specifically chose this one because I do enjoy the torture that is Scandanavian novels and I was curious about what the mystery of the nun’s past could be. I was not disappointed, and the story only confirmed my antipathy towards the Catholic Church. As dark as this one is, I would highly recommend it to others and can see it spurring some fascinating discussions.

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

I am not a fan of essay collections, but I always make an exception for Lindy West. It is as if she is inside my mind, knowing exactly how I am struggling in this era of Nazism and rampant racism. She gets the struggle and confirms that it is okay to feel such strong emotions. She also inspires, giving you the fuel to keep fighting the good fight. In this collection, she specifically uses the term witch hunt as a rallying cry, and I am here for it.

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates

I wasn’t certain what to expect with this one, but it definitely wasn’t what I got. This story of monster mosquitoes is part horror story, part climate change cautionary tale, part coming of age story. I never became immersed in the story but rather found myself reading it from a distance. It is entertaining with an intriguing twist but one I will forget within a few months.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

Another satisfying sequel that takes the story in some very surprising directions. Ms. Legrand does not sacrifice character development while continuing to build her two worlds and provide more context for the upcoming final clash. In fact, she does a great job of doing both without causing any lag in the story. I am particularly excited about the major twist and cannot wait to see how it all ends.

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

The beginning of this story left me feeling rather dubious, as it appears so one-dimensional and predictable. Somewhere along the way, I found myself drawn into this post-revolutionary story that just happens to contain dragons. I love the characters and their inner conflicts to do the right thing for the greater good, their compromises along the way, and the strength of character they display. What started slowly ended impressively, and this is another series I am excited to see continue.

Stretched Too Thin by Jessica N. Turner

A fitting self-help novel to round out my hellish year. I can’t say I learned much, as it is very much geared towards working mothers of younger children, and I am not that. It did confirm some things about my work situation about which I was already taking action. I found most of what Ms. Turner has to say as nothing more than common sense, but sometimes you need to hear it from someone else. Being a working mother is difficult, and if this is a book that can help you, then I suggest you read it for the chance to assess your values and goals and find ways to make motherhood a bit easier.

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