January was a great reading month for me. I had a couple of surprises with books I didn’t expect to love, and I did, and with ones, I expected to love but didn’t. This month I took a closer look at some things that interest me about the books I read and recorded them in this post.
What I loved
We Spread by Iain Reid
After elderly Penny cannot safely care for herself, she is moved to a small private assisted living home with four other residents. At first, it feels like Penny is given a second chance to be the person she is without outside influences. Then Penny starts to question the care she is receiving, and things begin to feel too good to be true.
Iain Reid takes the idea of individuality and humanity in a world where conformity is the norm and explores it cleverly and thoughtfully. He weaves in themes of aging, loneliness, isolation/freedom, loss of identity, regrets, and the way we connect with people to drive this idea forward. Through Penny’s first-person narrator, her perception becomes unreliable, and we are not sure if it’s Penny’s deteriorating mind or if something sinister is going on.
The writing is sparse, clear, and uncluttered, and the text is broken up, all adding to the fragile and blurring sense of Penny’s reality.
Published Sept 2022
Genre: philosophical suspense, blending of literary fiction, psychological suspense and horror
Tags: A book to shift your perspective and think about something you haven’t before while amplifying an aging voice, seriously good writing, something different
Iain Reid is a Canadian author
The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton
The Light Pirate is a story of survival and resilience. We follow Wanda, born in a devastating hurricane, as she navigates a changing world due to climate change. As the world crumbles, Wanda experiences loss, friendship, and disaster after disaster. Lily Brooks-Dalton gives a different, more hopeful vision of a post-apocalypse world while exploring hardship, danger, love, and relationships.
A truly unique and unforgettable read! This is a coming-of-age story as much as it is a story of climate crisis. So much to consider within these pages. The endearing characters will touch your heart and challenge your thoughts. I did find that the last quarter of the novel lost a bit of intensity however it still had me fully connected and invested.~Lindsay
Traveled to a fictional small town in Rudder, Florida
Published Dec 2022 by Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Literary Fiction, Science fiction,magical realism
Tags: A book to shift your perspective while exploring how our world could change, something different,
Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
Glendy Vanderah gives us something special while exploring themes of grief, love, relationships, and the power of connections. The story follows Jo after the loss of her mother and her battle with breast cancer, she meets an unusual young girl Ursula who claims she is from the stars in search of miracles. With the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabe, they try to solve the mystery of who Ursula is. The story’s heart is the relationship heartwarming, touching, and memorable relationship Jo and Gabe develop with Ursula.
Traveled to Rural Illinois
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, magical realism, mystery
Challenge/tags: memorable read, quirky, something different, shape shifter
For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt
It was all in the delicious, dark pleasurable revenge story that appealed to that vigilantism while playing on our fear as parents. After someone harms her son, Natalie’s protective claws come out, and she cooly and calmly decides the person who abused her son must die. Revenge thrillers are a guilty pleasure for me, and I love to ponder those moral questions and just get lost in the nonsense of imagining getting revenge against someone who has harmed a child. Is that dark?
Tags: Thrilling, unexpected
Tropes: revenge against someone who harmed a child,
Genre: revenge thriller
Source: NetGalley backlistb
What I liked
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver focuses on topics such as social change/justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. In Demon Copperhead, she tackled the opioid epidemic in Appalachia with a strong focus on the injustices and prejudged against the people and region. She takes a defensive and protective tone as she explores prejudice towards the area and the people through Demon’s voice. At times it felt a bit like the war on Hillbillies as she tried to evoke empathy and compassion for an area and people who have been stereotyped as Hillbillies. While I felt sympathy and understanding, it didn’t change any of the stereotypes.
This is one long-winded story as Barbara Kingsolver puts Demon through the wringer, and Demon has no filters. He tells us everything he is thinking and doing, throwing off the story’s pacing, and parts of the story dragged, and I wanted things to move faster. This should have been a memorable read for me, but it felt like so little happens, because Demon does too much talking. I can’t remember the things that did happen.
Published in October 2022 by Harper
Genre: Literature for social change/justice
Traveled to Appalachia (United States)
Tags: social justice, long-winded, own voice
Dark Corners by Megan Goldin
Rachel Krall, the true crime podcaster from Night Swim, returns to search for a famous social media influencer who disappeared after visiting a jailed serial killer. The FBI asks Rachel for help after she is linked to the serial killer putting her in danger. The story explores the world of influencers as Rachel searches for clues to the disappearance, which made for some good eye-rolling moments.
Megan Goldin led us down a few red herring paths while creating suspense and tension, and I clicked the pages as fast as possible. Plenty of twists and turns kept me on my toes, trying to figure out who was involved and with whom. At times it felt like a few too many red herrings, and I wasn’t a bit fan of that; however, Megan pulls it all together with a satisfying ending that wraps up well.
Expected to be published: August 8, 2023 by St. Martin’s Press
Tropes: Missing woman, social influencers
Tags: some eye rolling, misleading red herrings
What I didn’t like as much
Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea
The story begins intriguing when we meet Alexandra Quinlan, accused of killing her family, and later won a highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the nation’s attention. Ten years after her family’s murder, Alex begins working for Garrett, the attorney who represented her while searching for answers as to what happened the night her family was murdered. From there, many storylines are added and repeated. It felt like the wheels were spinning but couldn’t get off the ground. Things do pick up with the story’s climax to a rewarding ending.
It really pains me to say anything by Charlie Donlea was not the best; however, anyone can have an off one, and this is it for Charlie Donlea. It’s no secret that the Traveling Sisters love him and his writing, and while this is not his best, all his other books are winners.
Expected to be published: March 28, 2023 by Kensington Books
Tags:not the authors best,
What I DNF but I did like
Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah
I didn’t time this one right and it disappeared from overdrive at about 70%. Now there is a big wait to get it again.
Genre: Historical fiction
From Around the world: Tanzania, East Africa
Author: Lives in England, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2021
Tags: Somewhat complicated to follow, eye-opening,
Book Stats for month
- Arcs read: 2/2023, 3 backlist
- Own: 3
- Library: 2
- Female author: 5
- Male author: 4
- Non Canadian and US authors: 1
- Author of color: 1
- Own voice:0
- Diverse Book: 2
- Books for social change: 2
- Thriller/suspense: 3
- From around the world outside Canada and US: 1