The Cat Reviews: Secrets My Mother Kept

This book is also a fine example of the “secretly adopted” trope without it being… weird.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m part of an Indie book club over on twitter – run by Jodie Renee – and have been since November of 2020. This is one of the books the group read.

Title: Secrets My Mother Kept
Author: Rebecca Tucker
Genre: Contemporary
Quick Summary: An identity crisis of a different sort…

A lot of times, the secret adoption plotlines I’ve read are too far-fetched for me to buy and enjoy. This is not one of those times.

Secrets My Mother Kept is the tale of a Jewish woman who discovers she was secretly adopted after she gets sent the wrong copy of her birth certificate. What comes from this is a heartfelt unspooling of emotions regarding one’s heritage, sexuality, and faith. This is a journey many of us go through in our own lives, and that makes this book deeply relatable. Sure, not all of us are adoptees, or come from Jewish backgrounds, but there’s enough elements that something will be relatable to everyone who reads it.

This book is also a fine example of the “secretly adopted” trope without it being… weird. Sometimes, this trope is used to pair up characters in… interesting ways (see: The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, all the “we’re dating, oh no we’re siblings, oh no we’re really not” stuff). Here, the trope is just used for good ole fashion family drama, and it’s done so well. Well enough, in fact, I whipped through this book quite quickly. It’s short, sweet, and quite relevant to the times we find ourselves in. And most importantly, it leaves you with a sort of cozy feeling by the end.

If you would like to read it for yourself, Secrets My Mother Kept can be purchased here.

Half A Year in Review – Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

For the most part, I’ve wanted to keep this a writing blog, but reading is a massive part of writing and I’ve been reading a LOT already this year. On YouTube, I’ve been watching a lot of authors participating in the “Mid-Year Freak Out Tag” and the prompts interested me, so I want to try it out.

But before I do, let’s wrap up what I’ve read so far with some stats!

The first six months of 2020, I’ve read 27 books and averaged a 3.4 rating amongst them. For comparison, last year I averaged 3.29 so… right now I’m liking books more (which is surprising, considering how many got 1 stars so far). I’m also mildly surprised I’ve read this much already considering the kind of year it’s been. Already, I’ve read more than all of last year. Wow.

Question 1 – Best Book You’ve Read So Far?

I’m tied between Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri and Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner. Both of them have fantastic relationships I loved reading about and gushing over – which is weird because normally, relationships are not what I put the most stock into. And yet, I think the relationships are part of why I loved them so much.

Question 2 – Best Sequel You’ve Read so Far?

I think I’m going to go with The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. The entire series itself is phenomenal and I was invested the entire way through. I almost wanted to say The Dream Thieves instead, but…. there’s a reason every other book in the series got 4 stars and Raven King got 5. It is heartbreaking and fulfilling and ties up all of its bows in ways expected and unexpected and… yeah. I loved this series a whole lot and I didn’t expect to.

Question 3 – New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To?

I’m going to go with Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer. I’m still really excited to read this because I love witches and especially queer ones.

Question 4 – Most Anticipated Release For the Second Half of the Year?

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Full stop. I’ve debated preordering it (I probably will when I have the money to) and it sounds like it’s full of all of the sorts of tropes and content that I’m a massive fan of. I am so, so excited. Both for this and for Witches of Ash and Ruin.

Question 5 – Biggest Disappointment?

I wasn’t sure which book to go with at first, but honestly I think I will go with These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. I really wanted to like this one considering it was gay and about witches and it seemed like it would be all of the things I wanted. But… it wasn’t. I wish I could say it was, but it wasn’t. I don’t know if it was the writing style or some of the aspects of the plot but I just could not vibe with this, which sucks!

Question 6 – Biggest Surprise?

I’ll go with Heroes Wanted: A Fantasy Anthology for this. I’ve been burned before by anthologies. Of course, they’re done by different authors (commonly) so your mileage will vary. You’ll like different authors included than someone else will. Some entries will make you wonder why the author was included at all. But, to be honest? I liked or loved almost every single entry in this anthology, which I was not expecting. I’ve even went and picked up a couple of novels from the authors included.

Question 7 – Favorite New Author?

New for me? Tasha Suri. I don’t know if Meryl Wilsner is a new author, but I love her as well.

Question 8 – Newest Fictional Crush?

I don’t really do fictional crushes but… if I was forced to pick one, I’d probably go with Jo from Something to Talk About. She’s a lot of things I love in women (assertive, powerful, knows what she wants, etc.). I mean, if I met her in real life I would probably melt and be a disaster, but…

Question 9 – Newest Favorite Character?

This is a really difficult question. I don’t normally do “favorite characters” because I tend to like different people for different reasons. For example, thanks to The Dream Thieves I am especially partial to Ronan. I also really like Sera, the main character of Seventh Born by Monica Sanz, and I like almost everyone in Empire of Sand. Too many choices!

Question 10 – Book that Made You Cry?

Not going to lie, I don’t tend to get (negative) emotions while reading? I suppose the ending of The Raven King made me sad – especially regarding Noah, but I didn’t actually cry? I tend to either feel “this was good”, “this was great”, or “this was meh” or “this was fucking garbage” about a book. I can’t recall the last time a book tore out my heart and stomped on it. Maybe The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold, but that was years ago.

Question 11 – Book that Made You Happy?

Something to Talk About. Honestly, this book was veering towards 4 stars, maybe 3.5 cause I was feeling kinda… eh? But then we got towards the end and I absolutely melted. I’m a sucker for romance, and especially if it’s gay.

Question 12 – Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought this Year?

I think I’ll go with Nocturna by Maya Motayne. I buy a lot of ebooks (or rent them) so I don’t get a whole lot of special edition books or anything. But I think the cover for Nocturna is lovely. I just hope the book inside is, too.

Question 13 – What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year?

This is hard to answer, because I’ve recently decided to completely change how I’m reading books. I’ve been suffering a lot from “too many options” syndrome, so I’ve taken to listing out every book I have (that I can) and throwing it into a random selector to choose books for me. Right now, my “to read” list I’ve generated is…

  • The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (I’m almost done!)
  • Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes (I’ve started this one)
  • Tips for Living by Renée Shafransky
  • Embassytown by China Mieville
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
  • Temper: Difference by Lila Mina
  • Life by Lu Yao
  • War Orphan by Sally Mason
  • Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

Plus, I have several books on hold on Libby to check out once they’re available to me, which are…

  • Fresh Off the Boat by Eddie Huang
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  • And Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

So… I have a full list ahead of me.