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…
Thoughts:

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.

The Cat Reviews: Shadow City

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. Now I have a backlog of reviews to write. It starts with this book, Shadow City by Anna Mocikat. What better way to christen my new reviews section than this!

Title: Shadow City
Author: Anna Mocikat
Genre: Apocalyptic/Cyberpunk
Quick Summary: An interesting concept
Thoughts:

Nowadays, technology has advanced far enough that anyone, virtually, can become a published writer. While many still attempt traditional routes – with the querying and the pitching and the praying fervently to fickle gods for a shot at “making it” – there is now the potential for publishing completely by yourself. The biggest downside to this, of course, is you don’t get the same mass-market appeal. That’s part of the aim of the indie book club I’m in; to give indie authors a chance at being recognized.

So, that said, we started with this book, Shadow City, in which survivors of nuclear warfare hide out in Los Angeles and try to fight off the new threats such a catastrophe have brought.

This was by no means a perfect book – as if such a thing could exist. I think, by far, my biggest issue was with the POV. It felt way too fluid, it shifted a lot, and we never stuck around long enough to really feel connected to any single character. There are cool characters, but even they feel a little too flat due to the lack of development to them. They’re more like archetypes than people, and some of these archetypes were so similar to each other picking them apart was difficult.

This issue is also deeply connected to the secondary issue I have, the pacing. Because the scenes we have with any given character are quite short, not only was it hard to connect with characters, but the book itself moved at such a whippish pace that it was hard to keep up. Reading this kind of felt like being on rocket powered roller skates. It was a quick book to get through, but difficult to absorb any single instance.

On a related note, I found myself struggling with the worldbuilding at times. I greatly appreciated we didn’t stop any time some piece of worldbuilding was introduced just to infodump on it. I really do. That said, the things that did get introduced didn’t get much time to shine or be explained at all. I know the Glitch is regarded as a catastrophic event, for example, but it’s never really touched on as to what actually happened during it and how it led to the current conditions existing in the work.

The book isn’t all cons, though. Anna as an author is good at setting up questions and then answering them – for the most part. There is a certain level of faith we are required to put into any author. Any good book makes a promise to us from the very beginning and we have to trust them to keep it by the end. Or, if it isn’t fully fulfilled, that it will be in the future.. There’s a sequel to Shadow City, after all.

On the whole, this isn’t a bad book. It definitely feels like an author debut, and definitely could have been revised a time or two more – but in the end, all books probably could. In the end, I still have hope for this author and any future projects she produces, and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading and reviewing her works again.

If you would like to read it for yourself, Shadow City can be purchased here.