Book Review: Vox

Vox and coffee cupVox by Christina Dalcher

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

Review:
I’ve been hearing about this book for awhile, but have finally got the chance to read it (for a book club that is now cancelled!).
The concept for Vox is interesting: a dystopian future where women are limited to speaking only 100 words a day. The premise is set up as something that could happen in the US (the book takes place in the US) in a realistic way, with the erosion of rights for women, with distraction techniques, with people who are too busy to vote and protest.
There were definitely parts of this book that I liked. I enjoy taking a concept and pushing it to the extreme, as this author did. I loved how she also used her own knowledge of linguistics to fuel much of the book.
However, I didn’t like the main character, Jean. Usually that’s OK, I don’t need to like the characters. Still, I found, even in this book billing itself as a feminist exploration, that she kept waiting for someone to safe her. She was remarkably passive for much of the time. Perhaps this is to highlight how important it is for everyone to vote and stand up to injustice.
I also found Jean’s attitude toward her male children problematic. I know that her daughter was in more danger than her sons, but I found it hard to buy into a mother who would so easily, potentially leave some of her children behind.
This book is a mixed bag for me — interesting concept, great research, but the main character acts in ways sometimes that I have a hard time buying into.
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Book Review: Things in Jars

Things in Jars with bookmark and catThings in Jars by Jess Kidd

Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Review:
I really enjoyed this unique historical fantasy book. The writing is absolutely gorgeous and the author has an amazing vocabulary, often creating sentences that I stopped to re-read.
Bridie is a fantastic character. I love her no nonsense attitude. She’s smart and unconventional and the kind of character I enjoy. She does things on her own terms. I also especially liked her housemaid. The supporting characters added so much to this book.
The author also does an interesting job in weaving in myth and the paranormal into Victorian life. She has clearly done her research on early medicine, which I found it fascinating.
The pacing of the book did suffer a little in the middle, but all of the wonderful characters amply made up for that.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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Book Review: Finna

FinnaFinna by Nino Cipri

When an elderly customer at a big box furniture store slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but our two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.

Can friendship blossom from the ashes of a relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.

Review:
I enjoyed this novella — it was different from what I normally read. It takes place in a store called LitenVäld, a loosely veiled Ikea, complete with confusing and generic layouts. An elderly woman goes missing into another dimension and 2 workers, Ava and Jules (who have recently broken up) are tasked with finding her. Amazing concept!
The relationship between Ava and Jules is really well done — the reader feels the awkwardness between this newly broken up couple and how there are still tender feelings beneath the upset. The homogeneous Idea backdrop was a perfect foil for the non-binary character and young people questioning their lives.
Then there was the whole traveling to parallel universes, populated by person eating chairs, drones, or swashbuckling grandmother types.
This is a great read if you are looking for something different and fast that will hook you with adventure, social questions, and interesting characters.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryThe Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

Review:
This is a gorgeous book — starting with the enticing cover and finishing with beautiful, luxurious writing and an engaging, imaginative story. I love it when publishers put a lot of thought into a cover and this one is stunning!
I was captured by the story, the mystique of January and her life with Mr Locke, the way the doors open into different worlds, her notebook, and the sinister overtones and mystery to what is going on.
The different story lines and points of view really drew me in and kept me wanting more, eager to find out how they all came together. I was so invested in January and her desire for self discovery, her courage, and her plight. However, one of the most memorable things for me is her dog! I keep thinking about him.
This is a wonderful portal fantasy that weaves together past, present, and even different worlds in a beautiful way. It was a book I luxuriated in and was sad when it was over.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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