What We Both Know by Fawn Parker

What We Both Know explores the MeToo movement and how power imbalances can shift.

Synopsis

With her father’s health condition deteriorating, Hillary Greene recently moved in to help care for him. During his career, he was a celebrated author. Now, with the help of his daughter, he wants to write a memoir documenting his life.

However, since her father’s memory is declining, Hillary is the one writing the memoir. While he watches his old interviews and writes disjointed notes, Hillary intimates to the publisher that it is solely her father’s work.

The more she writes and delves into her memories, the more she learns about the heinous truth of her father’s past.

Being back in her family home and delving into research brings up a shore of memories for Hillary, not all of them good. On top of everything, Hillary is still grieving the recent passing of her sister Pauline.

With all these thoughts churning, Hillary must decide whether to reveal her father for the revolting man he is or preserve the last of his reputation.

Review of What We Both Know

This novel shares similar themes with My Dark Vanessa, but I’d say this is the more literary version. The writing style is easy to read, but it is also very distant and, at times, disturbing.

There’s this overarching sense of gloominess and uneasiness throughout the book. I was expecting a big reveal, but it never came.

I wonder if I missed something too. Hillary constantly calls her father baby, both in her own narrative and when speaking to him. I am sure his name is Marcus, but the baby thing threw me off every time. Maybe calling him baby made it easier for her to disassociate his present and past selves. In any case, it was strange.

I did find the story compelling, hence the three stars, but I was expecting more.

If you enjoy slow, literary, slice-of-life books where not much happens, then this is the book for you.

CW: SA, animal harm (disturbing).

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 03 May 2022

Thank you to McClelland & Stewart for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel is a retelling of the life of the eponymous queen from the Ramayana, an Indian epic poem.

Synopsis

In the kingdom of Kekaya, Kaikeyi is the only daughter among seven brothers. Out of all her brothers, she is the closest to Yudhajit, her twin. Although not particularly close to either of her parents, it still comes as a shock when Kaikeyi’s father announces that her mother has left the kingdom with no explanation.

Seeking comfort in the library’s scrolls, Kaikeyi learns she carries a power that will aid her throughout her life, despite her gods forsaken status.

While she is still testing out the boundaries of this power, Kaikeyi’s father informs her that she is to be married in short order. To gain some semblance of control of the situation, Kaikeyi agrees to the marriage on one condition, which her soon-to-be husband swears to uphold.

Upon their marriage, the story follows Kaikeyi as she finds her place in a new kingdom. And as she tries to ease the constraints that dictate women’s lives during these times.

Review of Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

This beautifully written debut is told entirely from Kaikeyi’s perspective. The tone effortlessly shifts from the voice of a young girl to one of a mature adult as Kaikeyi grows.

Initially, I found Kaikeyi to be a bit bland and stubborn, but as she came into her own, she became a much more likeable character. Not that all characters need to be likeable.

I love learning mythology, so learning some Indian mythology was just what I was looking for.

By the end, my heart was pounding, and tears were streaming. I don’t know if this is the last I’ll see of Kaikeyi, but I hope not.

I recommend this to those interested in mythology with a fresh feminist perspective.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 26 April 2022

Thank you to Redhook Books for providing an arc via Netgalley and a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon

The Children on the Hill caught me off guard with one big twist.

Synopsis

It’s 1978, and when Vi and Eric complete their homeschool assignments, they spend their free time obsessing over monsters. They love the topic so much, they even began writing a book about it called “The Book of Monsters.”

The two siblings live with their grandmother, Dr. Helen Hildreth, a renowned psychiatrist, on the grounds of the Hillside Inn. Dr. Hildreth is well-respected for her compassionate approach to treating people with various mental health symptoms.

One day, Dr. Hildreth introduces a young girl named Iris to her grandchildren, informing them that she will be living with them for the foreseeable future. Though she’s somewhat odd, the kids accept her, even inviting her to join their monster club.

2019: Lizzy, a popular podcaster, begins searching for a monster called Rattling Jane. She suspects that Rattling Jane is responsible for the disappearance of a young girl. Lizzy is fairly certain that she knows who is masquerading as Rattling Jane.

Review of The Children on the Hill

If like me, you haven’t read Frankenstein but understand the gist, you’ll still probably enjoy this without any background knowledge.

It took a while for me to become invested in this story because monsters like Sasquatch and Big Foot do not hold much interest to me. But once the story started rolling, I couldn’t put this down and was even frightened at certain points. The author nailed creating a creepy, anxious atmosphere with both timelines.

Without getting into it too much, I liked that the author explored such a dark subject. It’s wild to think that people vouch for it even today.

So, I recommend The Children on the Hill to those looking for an eerie story ripe with monsters.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 26 April 2022

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher

An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher is a tense and addictive psychological thriller.

Synopsis

A year ago, Rainy moved to Tiger Mountain with her boyfriend Grant. She spends her time working on her art and getting to know Grant’s childhood friends. After countless happy hours, dinners, and the like, the close circle of friends invites Rainy on their girls’ weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Reluctantly, she agrees to go, even though Nevada is where all her troubles began. Upon arrival in Vegas, Rainy senses strange vibes from her friends and things only get worse from there. Her friend, Braithe, goes missing, and Rainy receives a text threatening Braithe’s life if Rainy doesn’t follow the kidnapper’s instructions. And just like that, Rainy’s past and present collide in ways she’s spent years trying to avoid.

Review of An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher

This wild thriller alternates between two timelines.

In my opinion, suspension of disbelief is a requirement because the plot is pretty over the top in many places. Although some parts were OTT, they didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the novel.

This is the second cult-themed thriller I’ve read this year, and I much preferred this one. This one had the appropriate tension and character development that makes it a compelling and high-stakes thriller. I liked that Rainy was a strong female character. Sure, she made some unwise moves, but I still rooted for her. Rainy isn’t the type to watch and despair as things fall apart; she makes active choices and forges her way.

So, yes, I would recommend this thriller if you don’t mind plots that get a touch unbelievable and outlandish. Indeed, I am excited to read Tarryn Fisher’s backlist.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 26 April 2022

Thank you to Graydon House for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

An Unthinkable Thing by Nicole Lundrigan

An Unthinkable Thing held my rapt attention from start to finish.

Synopsis

In 1958, after someone brutally murders his aunt, eleven-year-old Tommie moves in with his mother at the Henneberry estate, where she works as a live-in housekeeper. Soon, Thomas finds himself trying to balance his mother’s instructions of keeping a low-profile while also entertaining the mercurial Henneberrys.

By the summer’s end, someone murders the wealthy family in their backyard by the pool. Tommie is the prime suspect. Is Tommie an innocent child, or is he a cold-blooded killer?

Review of An Unthinkable Thing

The story alternates between Tommie’s perspective and news clippings, radio transcripts, and court testimony.

The author did an excellent job with Tommie’s voice and maintaining just the right amount of tension. She also deftly explores wealth, privilege, and power imbalances.

This historical thriller has so many great twists and turns. It kept me constantly pointing the finger at someone else. I eventually correctly guessed the killer, but I also thought everyone was suspicious, so there’s that.

I will definitely go back and read Nicole Lundrigan’s previous books if they’re anything like this one.

CW: SA.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 12 April 2022

Thank you to Viking for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek

Little Foxes Took Up Matches by Katya Kazbek is a sometimes dark, sometimes sweet coming-of-age tale.

Synopsis

When he was just a toddler, Mitya swallowed his grandmother’s sewing needle. His family believes that it will eventually harm him irreparably. But Mitya thinks it will keep him safe.

Mitya is too young to remember what his country was like before the Soviet Union collapsed. His family often misses the Soviet Union, stating that they were better times for their family. But Mitya couldn’t say for sure because his world is limited to his family’s apartment in the middle of Moscow. As he grows older, he dabbles in his mother’s cosmetics when no one is around and explores his own gender identity.

After suffering horrific abuse from his older cousin, Mitya decides to see more of the outside world. He befriends an unhoused man who has ravens as his constant companions. He wanders underground Moscow and sees the brutal effects that war has had on its citizens.

Mitya endeavours to make sense of everything and find his place in a country trying to rebuild itself while still dealing with corruption and violence.

Review of Little Foxes Took Up Matches

Little Foxes Took Up Matches is a beautiful but grim story about gender identity, and one that I took my time reading. I could read about Mitya for days and days. It was a bit odd reading this, given the current situation.

Mitya is a character that will stick with this reader for sometime to come. I look forward to reading more from this author. Also, can we have a moment for that absolutely stunning cover?

CW: sexual and physical abuse of a child.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 5 April 2022

Thank you to Tin House for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger Wife drips with domestic suspense and manipulation tactics.

Synopsis

Thirty-somethings, Tully and Rachel feel floored when their father Stephen announces his intention of remarrying. He plans to divorce their mother, who has Alzheimer’s and marry his new fiancé, Heather, who just happens to be younger than his two daughters.

Rachel unearths a surprising discovery amongst her mother’s possessions that sets all three women on an odyssey of questioning what they thought they knew or didn’t know.

The prologue reveals that not everyone will get their happy ever after.

Review of The Younger Wife

This domestic suspense has three main POVs and short, snappy chapters that make this a great book to binge read. It held my attention for its entirety, even with that open-ended epilogue. There were obvious Easter eggs hidden early on that quickly allow the reader to figure out what’s the actual crux of the issue. The thrill is in observing how everything pans out.

This novel was my first time reading Sally Hepworth, but it won’t be my last.

CW: disordered eating, SA.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 5 April 2022

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for an arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Sea of Tranquility will transport the reader throughout time.

Synopsis

Emily St. John Mandel’s latest release loosely connects to her previous books Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel.

This story follows several characters in the past, present, and future. It begins in 1912 when Edwin St. Andrew, exiled from his family for his views on colonialism, experiences something so inexplicable he believes he imagined it.

About a century later, Mirella wants to reconnect with her old friend Vincent and learn more about her possible knowledge of a Ponzi scheme that left many in financial ruin.

In 2203, the story follows a well-known author who previously wrote a dystopian book about a pandemic. A book that is gaining popularity again since the population is currently in the clutches of a real pandemic. Sound familiar?

Two centuries later, Gaspery is bored working as a Hotel Detective and thus takes on a riskier but more enlightening job.

A singular moment ties all of these characters together in a way that is difficult for them to comprehend.

Review of Sea of Tranquility

It sounds complicated, but Mandel’s writing is so clear and crisp that it’s relatively easy to keep all the timelines and characters in order.

Even though this has ties to her two previous books, they can all be read as standalones. I’ve read The Glass Hotel but haven’t got around to Station Eleven yet.

In some ways, this book reminded me of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. They both cover a broad timeline.

This novel has themes of death, illness, loneliness, and hope for humanity.

This is a relatively short novel, but it leaves a huge impact.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 5 April 2022

Thank you to HarperCollins Canada for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones

Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones has quickly made it to one of my top books of the year.

Synopsis

This memoir is about Chloé Cooper Jones’ life as a disabled woman, a mother, an academic, and her journey to finding herself. Jones discusses her experience living with sacral agenesis and its side effects, such as chronic pain.

She tells of an awful conversation with two men that led to her impulsively travelling to Italy. A place where she reflected on the Ancient Roman’s beauty standards and their constant desire for symmetry. Jones discusses her other travel experiences after Italy, from journalist trips around the US to Cambodia.

She describes her relationship with her parents, partner, son, friends, and past romantic encounters. Jones shares many examples of how ableism is so inherent in society and how it can come from friends or strangers.

Review of Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones

Chloé Cooper Jones’ writing is impeccable. At first, I tried to read this slowly, but after a while, I found it completely unputdownable. Her writing style is so engaging. Her storytelling made me laugh, fume, and even a bit emotional at times. There is a philosophical side to much of this narrative, and I’ll be honest, a lot of that went over my head.

I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. How much I related to it. Although my disability is different, I’ve shared many similar experiences. It always blows my mind how many people can be so casually and audaciously ableist. When Jones recounted past conversations with people on eugenics, my blood started boiling at their sheer callousness.

I am so happy this book exists, and I hope to see more like it in the future.

I recommend this book to everyone. I’m sure other disabled people will find something to relate to here. And able-bodied people will get some insight into what it’s like living as a disabled person in an able-bodied world.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 5 April 2022

Many thanks to Avid Reader Press for a finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.

Reputation by Lex Croucher

If Mean Girls and Emma had a baby, it would be Reputation by Lex Croucher.

Synopsis

After being forced to move in with her aunt and uncle, Georgiana Ellers is desperate to get out of the house, to do anything like the heroines in her favourite books. At a dreadfully dull dinner party, Georgiana meets the breathtaking Frances Campbell, daughter of Lord and Lady Campbell.

Georgiana gets swept up in the extravagant and debauched lifestyle of Frances and her wealthy friends. And, of course, there’s this brooding man, Mr. Hawksley, who is always in the right place at the right time to catch Georgiana whenever she stumbles over her own two feet.

Review of Reputation by Lex Croucher

This book was exactly what I was looking for: something light, fun, and quick to get through. It does have some darker content, but on the whole, it was an amusing read.

The writing style was great too. The author did a superb job of embodying the language of this time, while keeping it fresh.

Reputation is also fairly diverse. I don’t know much about the period, but the author has stated that this era is currently being whitewashed, and she wanted to have racial diversity that represented this time. There’s also queer representation.

My favourite line from the book has to be, “Get in, Georgiana. We’re going shopping.” Iconic.

This was an excellent debut, and I cannot wait to see what else the author comes up with next. I don’t think it’ll be a long wait, since I just saw that they have another one coming out this year.

CW: SA, drug and alcohol abuse.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 5 April 2022

Thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

For regular reading updates, see my Goodreads profile.

For past reviews, click here.