Mini-Reviews: What I’ve Been Reading

As you’ve probably noticed if you come around here often, I’ve been a little inactive the last couple months. This is largely because I started working with a small press earlier this year and most of my reading has been work related. Still, I want to get back into it, so I thought I’d start with some mini-reviews of what I’ve been reading.

The Rule of Stephens by Timothy Taylor

Cover depicts a swarm of black birds with yellow text reading "The Rule of Stephens"This is a small thriller book about a woman named Catherine who survives a plane crash after founding a tech start-up. When she goes back to work, she finds herself haunted by elements of the crash, ultimately challenging her faith in the material and quantifiable rules of reality (Stephen Hawking vs Stephen King). When another survivor tells her about a kind of doppelgänger, the ion dubh, that he thinks is following him, Catherine becomes increasingly paranoid. As she grows more skeptical of her business partners, she struggles to keep hold of her sanity and business plan.

I was really intrigued by the ideas in this book – the Hawking vs King themes especially. Yet, I had a very difficult time getting into the plot. Mostly, I think I just wasn’t in the head space for a book that revolves around tech start-ups and business conflicts. Part of me wanted more of the fantastic, more of the King elements, rather than just paranoia. But I’m sure other people would enjoy reading this book more than me.

Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailot

Cover shows three illustrated strawberries in red on a black backgroundA book titled “Heart Berries” might give the impression of romance or softness, but as the New York Times said, this memoir is a “sledgehammer.”

Heart Berries deals with Mailot’s life from childhood struggles with parents, to losing custody of her own child, to relationships and creative writing. It has a wide scope that allows her to address the connections between events and intergenerational trauma. The novel is at times difficult to read, but there’s also a raw honesty and fierceness to it.

Mailot is Nlaka’pamux (First Nations), and her writing deals with the injustices Indigenous Peoples face in North America. As someone who doesn’t have that experience, I feel there was a lot to learn from Mailot’s writing. In fact, I think I will have to reread Heart Berries to better understand some of these topics and emotions. Even so, I enjoyed her writing style and I recommend reading Heart Berries if you have the chance. It’s fairly short, so it doesn’t take too long.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Cover shows four portraits with faces cut out with red handwritten text written over themIn One of Us Is Lying, four teenagers find themselves at the centre of an investigation into the death of their classmate, a boy who kept a gossip app. Each fits a certain high school stereotype – Bronwyn is the brain, Addy is a homecoming queen, Cooper is the athlete, and Nate is a criminal – and each has a secret.

Told in alternating perspectives, this novel is a quick read, since you’re trying to find out what really happened. As the novel progresses, you find out that these teens aren’t quite what they initially seem. None of them are perfect, but none of them are entirely unlikeable either. I can’t say too much without ruining it, but I will note that I found it a bit predictable (and I’m not usually very good at figuring out what’s going to happen in mysteries).

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