Womb: A Novel in Utero

I was given a copy of this book for an honest review*Please note I very rarely review unsolicited manuscripts*

Womb: A Novel in Utero by Eric D. Goodman is an adult fiction book told from the perspective of an unborn child. Penny wasn’t ready to be a mother. Her life wasn’t where she expected it to be and the circumstances of her pregnancy were also unplanned and completely unexpected. Ignoring the life growing inside her and terrified of confessing the truth of her pregnancy to her husband Jack, Penny’s guilt and anxiety writhe inside her as does the fetus within.

Our narrator feels every bump in the road, every twist and turn. He can feel his mother’s emotions and intuit the world around her. Memories are passed between mother and son and access to the collective unconsciousness allows our narrator to ruminate about life and all it’s hurdles.

Will Jack and Penny be able to overcome their differences and embrace an unexpected future? And what can a fetus do when it’s very existence is threatened?

This is the second book I’ve read by Goodman,  Tracks: A Novel in Stories being the first. Goodman has a knack for pace and writing that is readable and relatable. His books are a breeze to get through and something about the writing just sucks you in.

When I first picked up Womb, I was a bit skeptical because where can a story go when it’s narrator is literally in a void–unable to communicate, let alone act upon the world it inhabits. But the way Goodman sets up our narrator, he can do just that. Yes, he is an outside observer but sometimes those are the best narrators. Through the baby’s eyes we get to see an everyday couple go through ups and downs.

I just happen to be pregnant while reading this book, which I think gave me a whole different perspective on it. I know how my baby is growing and what is happening, so it was interesting to see the narrator grow in these same stages throughout. It also makes you think about the bond a mother and child form, even before the baby is born.

I will say, that I was more wrapped into the story itself rather than the narrators musings about life. At times our fetus was a little too philosophical for me, which was a little hard to believe. Don’t get me wrong, some very poignant thoughts and ideas but from the perspective of a fetus is was sometimes hard to get my head around.

Overall, this was a quick read with a unique narration that kept me interested throughout. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Spindle Fire

Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer is a YA re-imagining of sleeping beauty and is the first book in a new series. Half sisters Aurora and Isabelle are best friends and total opposites. Aurora is beautiful, sweet, heir to the Deluce throne and unable to speak or feel; Isabelle is the kings illegitimate daughter, head strong and without sight. They are closer than anyone and would do anything for each other.

One day a terrible curse separates the sisters and leaves Deluce at the mercy of an evil fairy with unimaginable powers. Aurora falls into a deep sleep and awakens in a magical world with a terrible mystery and a boy she feels a deep connection to. Isabelle is in a race against time to save her sister by finding her true love and true loves kiss, but Isabelle is unexpectedly drawn to Aurora’s arranged husband and the path they travel is dangerous.

Now Isabelle and Aurora must find their way back to each other and save their kingdom. Can they battle a sleeping curse and solve a mystery decades in the making? Can the bonds of sisterhood survive this separation and the changes bound to occur?

OK, so this book had a really interesting premise. I was really into this idea of half-sisters paralleling twin fairy sisters and having to sort out their story in order to save their own. There was magic and mystery and it was totally up my ally. But I just wasn’t wowed by the tale. I didn’t have to read it. It was interesting and unique but it was missing something that I can’t quite put my finger on.

One thing I did really like about Spindle Fire was the fairy tithes. This isn’t anything new with fairy stories but the way the tithes worked was really intriguing. I like how each of the fairies had their own specialized tithes and how it played into their characters. I also think these fairy tithes are going to play into the series moving forward and if so, I like the way it’s heading.

Holy abrupt ending batman! Seriously, here I am listening along and all of a sudden I hear Fiona Hardingham say that this has been a audio production by… Wahhh! That’s one way to get someone to read the sequel, even if they weren’t really into it.

Overall, this one gets three stars from me. I think the sequel might have more potential but this was was just OK for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Million Worlds With You

A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray is the final book in the Firebird trilogy. The fate of the multiverse rests in the hands of an eighteen-year-old artist, Marguerite Caine. Marguerite has been hunted by the Triad for her one-of-a-kind ability to be a perfect traveler and she has finally learned their endgame.

The Triad will stop at nothing to get back their version of Josie, even if it means destroying hundreds of universes to do so. Now Marguerite must hunt down Wicked, her evil Triad self, and stop her from killing every version of Marguerite and the worlds she inhabits.

With the help of her family and her broken soulmate, Paul, Marguerite must race across the multiverse to save her loved ones in every dimension. Can Marguerite keep her sanity when every jump puts her at deaths door? And throughout it all will Marguerite and Paul be able to keep each other safe and find their way back to each other when all is said and done?

This was a surprising end to a pretty good series. This book had twist after twist. I am not sure what I expected but I did not expect the intertwining threads that twisted together to form a book with so much more depth than I anticipated.  It’s nice when the final book in a series lives up to it’s story.

We also get some closer with the worlds that Marguerite visited and left… well a mess. We get to revisit some of our favorite universes and we get to see what happened after Marguerite left. This was a real treat because we really begin to feel for those universe’s characters and it was nice to see them again.

All of our characters develop more in this final book, not just Paul and Marguerite. We see Theo at his best and worst and the Kane’s even have their chance to shine. We also see good sides to some of our bad guys and this was an interesting parallel.

This book left me satisfied with the story as a whole. I listened to this whole series in audio and didn’t have a hard time following along at all. If you need a good long audiobook series, this would be a good one to go to. This book gets four stars from me and I think the series as a whole deserves four stars as well.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Spindle

Spindle by E.K. Johnston is the sequel to A Thousand Nights. Generations after the the Storyteller Queen drove the demon from her husband and saved the land by imbuing it with good magic, evil has once again reared it’s head and prepares to strike. The mountain prison holding the demons at bay is weakening and the kingdoms on either side are at risk.

When a princess, Little Rose, is born a powerful she-demon places a curse upon her and her people. For more than a decade the demon bides her time, waiting for Little Rose to mature and her body ripen for the taking. No one dares try to break the curse until a boy, one of the spinners exiled because of the curse, and his companions steal the princess away from the castle.

Now the curse is coming to a head and all may be lost if the curse is not broken and the demons sent back to their iron prison. Without the storyteller queen, will her heirs be able to follow in her footsteps and set their people free?

Spindle is ultimately a retelling of sleeping beauty–spindle, curse, thorns, kiss and all. This retelling is told from the perspective of the “prince” a poor boy, torn from his home by the deadly affects the curse has on anyone who risks spinning. Yashaa is his mother’s son and he was meant to be a royal spinner in his lords household. But the curse took that away from him and anger drives him to return to his lost kingdom no matter the price. But the princess isn’t what he expects and his path changes forever.

This was no A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights was magical and intriguing, it held an air of mystery and the language was flowy and beautiful. Spindle wasn’t quite that. It was a fine tale but doesn’t live up to the writing and story of it’s predecessor. I think if this was a book on it’s own, not connected at all to A Thousand Nights, I would have expected less and liked it more.

The ending came close the the feel of A Thousand Nights but it was also sort of a let down because it didn’t really feel like it belonged with the narrative we’d spent 300+ pages reading. I also thought there were a lot of loose ends with the ending being what it was.

This wasn’t a bad read but I expected more. This one gets a lean three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray is the second book in the Firebird series. In this one we pick up a few months after Marguerite chased, who she thought was her father’s murder, through the multiverse and fell in love with her soul mate. Ever since first using the Firebird, Marguerite–a perfect traveler, has caught the eye of the Triad, an evil organisation who wants to use her and the Firebird technology for their own corrupt gains.

Now Marguerite is forced to play the Triad’s game in order to get back the love of her life, Paul, whose soul has been splintered into four pieces across multiple dimensions. Marguerite must complete several tasks before the Triad will reveal the locations of Paul’s soul.

With every world she visits, Marguerite is one step closer to saving her Paul and one step closer to losing him forever. Will Marguerite be able to put Paul back together again? And what will she do when she learns the Triad’s endgame?

This was a pretty good sequel for a three book series. We still get to see multiple dimensions and we get a lot more information on the Triad, which will be a big part of the final book. The series basically goes like this: Book 1 – set the stage, introduce us to the Firebird and the characters, and hint at conflict to come. Book 2 – our character relationships develop and we get that conflict that will lead up to a bigger event in the third book. Book 3 – I am hoping will be a final battle and a tie up of loose ends.

Once again, I enjoyed seeing the different possibilities; the different lives that the Kane family might have lived if they’d made different choices. From the drastic to the not so drastic, it makes you wonder how even the tiniest decisions could alter our lives completely.

Just like the first book this one does the science right. I have no idea if any of it is true but the book uses science to make the technology sound, sound and yet it is not overwhelming for the reader. It’s actually kind of interesting to hear some of the theories, which is a nice way to get non-science-y types into the science.

Marguerite seems a bit naive to me. She understands the the multiverse is an infinite number of worlds, alternate to their own, that might have little difference or might have big ones. And yet she is honestly shocked to find darker versions of Paul. She believes that the soul is the same in every world, regardless of the different upbringing and circumstances. But she seems distraught to learn that Paul’s goodness doesn’t shine through in every universe. This just seems a little silly to me because in infinite possibilities, of course there will be those you don’t like. She comes around at the end but after all her “we’re meant to be in any universe,” sudden doubts that lead her to run away doesn’t seem completely in character for her.

Overall this one gets 3 stars from me. It was middle of the road for me but still a series I am enjoying.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Motion of Puppets

The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue is an adult fiction novel with just a little bit of magic coloring it’s pages. Newlyweds Kay and Theo are spending their summer in Québec; Theo working on his translations and Kay working as a background acrobat in the circus.

While walking the streets of Québec, Kay falls in love with an old puppet in an abandoned toy store. Almost every day she would stop and admire the puppet, wishing he was hers. While walking home from work one night Kay fears she is being followed and surprisingly, the lights are on in the toy store. Kay ducks in and her life is changed forever.

When Kay doesn’t come home, Theo looks for her everywhere and finally calls the police. With no clues and no suspects, Kay is truly missing without a trace. Theo begins to question their relationship and wonders if he ever truly knew his young wife. Regardless of his misgivings, Theo is unable to give Kay up and his search almost becomes obsession.

What happened to Kay? Will Theo be able to look past the ordinary and search for clues in unlikely places? Will there be an happily ever after for this separated couple?

I originally picked this one up because I’d read Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters and although it wasn’t one of my favorite reads, it was one that stayed with me for a long time.

The Motion of Puppets hit me in the same way as Donohue’s other novels. This book had a pretty slow start… and a pretty slow middle if I am being honest. This 250+ page book took me almost two weeks to read, which should tell you something. I was really intrigued by this world of puppets and was really looking forward to getting a peak behind the curtain. But until the end, I was sort of disappointed.

I felt the same way about Theo’s side of the story. His search for Kay, while heartfelt, was colored by his obsession with Muybridge. Yes, this probably has some deeper meaning/parallel to the life of a puppet, what with the focus on motion, but it just didn’t do much for me.

That being said the last 75 pages of this book was fantastic. Just like The Boy Who Drew Monsters the ending was a shock and extremely well done. The world of the puppets at the end was exactly what I wanted to see throughout the book. This dark, chaotic secret world was a feast for the mind.

Overall, this was a boring read with an interesting ending. This one gets a grudging three stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Traitor to the Throne

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton is the second book in the Rebel of the Sands series. This book picks up a handful of months after the last book. Amani now wields her powers with ease and the rebellion seems to be gaining ground. She feels at home with the rebels and their bonds go deep. Even so, Amani is uncertain about her future with Jin, who disappeared after she was shot and almost died during the gap between books. Now Jin is back and Amani doesn’t know how to feel.

She doesn’t get long to think before the rebel camp is attacked and she is kidnapped. Now Amani is in a den of vipers, powerless and at the mercy of the very man she has been fighting to overthrow. Amani must walk a fine line between staying true to the rebellion and staying alive.

What secrets will Amani uncover in a palace of lies? With her powers gone, how will she ever escape? And what will happen to the rebellion without the blue-eyed bandit?

I was really looking forward to this one and it did not disappointed. At first I was hesitant with how quickly Amani was separated from the rebels and left to fight for herself. I wasn’t sure how the story would progress with her captive and enthralled to the whims of the sultan, but it worked. We were introduced to new characters and we learn more about the Djinni and their origins and place in the world.

There’s more intrigue in this one and the plot thickens. There is more going on then just a father and son fighting for power and the Djinni are at the center of it. We learn more about the sultan’s plans and the dynamic of the rebellion changes. Whereas the first book was action packed, this second one has action and depth–it sets the stage for more.

I also liked that this book addresses some of the loose ends left in Rebel of the Sands. We find out what happened to Tamid and Shira, we also find out more about Amani’s parents and foreshadowing of the future. I also loved that Hamilton kept Amani as the sole narrator. A lot of series these days have a single narrator in the first book and then add narratives in subsequent books. This has been driving me crazy lately, so it was refreshing to have one consistent narrator throughout.

Oh man guys, that ending! This book ended with a massive bang. The twist was both expected and totally out of left field. You knew something was up but Hamilton sets everything up really well. This book was worth reading just for the last 100 pages.

Overall, a great read. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-