Reviewing: A Mother Would Know
Author: Amber Garza
Author Contact: @ambergarzaauthor on Instagram
Length of book: 315 pages
Genre of book: Women’s Fiction/Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Harlequin Trade Publishing
Release Date: Dec 12, 2022
Purchase link: A Mother Would Know
Overall impression: ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌟(Strong 4+)
Good afternoon lovelies! It's been a while since I gave you a review of anyone’s work, so today I’m giving you my two cents on the, recently published women’s fiction/Mystery novel A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza.
Why did I read Amber’s book?
I received an advance copy of Amber’s book on NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion of her work, and let me say THANKS SO MUCH!
Honestly, I received almost a half dozen books on NetGalley around the same time as Amber’s. Each one more disappointing than the last. I planned to write a review on this blog for half the month of November and the entire month of December, but if you’ve read my blog about My Two Cents on Honest Reviews, you know that I had a real problem writing the bad reviews I wanted to write. (Actually, when I went to add the link to this blog post, I realized that it had gotten so ranty about my hatred for a couple of these books, I decided not to post even my post about honest reviews 😬 But you can take something from that too...) Anyway, I was looking for NetGalley redemption, and this is the first book that did it for me. As an author myself, I know how much work goes into writing, and I can’t bring myself to write a scathingly bad review on my blog. Though I did leave them not favorable (⭐️) reviews on NetGalley, and I disliked one enough to post it to Kindle too… But I digress.
The point is this was the first book in far too long that I opened, read the first paragraph and didn’t want to immediately put down. And honestly, that felt like a victory to me! But as I continued I only got more and more impressed. Amber is clearly a talented writer. The amount of detail in simple sentences makes you feel like you’re there with the characters from the first page.
“…It was like a plunge into icy water that stole my breath. Took the wind out of me…”
“His dark hair is bushy, unkempt…His mouth is obscured by a thick beard… he smells like wood, pine needles, faintly of cloves…it’s foreign…yet somewhere hiding beneath that unfamiliar scent and all that hair is my little boy…”
“Just because something’s cute doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous…” (chills when it’s used again to describe a person after it’s used to explain why the kid couldn’t touch a tiger 🥶)
What is A Mother Would Know? (the following is jacket blurb)
A mother questions everything she knows about her son when a local woman is found dead.
Valerie has been forgetting things. Her daughter worries about her being on her own in her big Victorian house—one rumored to be haunted after a tragedy decades earlier—and truth be told, she is a little lonely. With few options, she asks her adult son to move home, but it’s not quite the reunion she hoped for. Hudson is taciturn, moody and frequently gone.
The neighbors already hold a grudge against Hudson, and they aren’t happy about his return. When a young woman is found murdered a block away, suspicion falls on him immediately, without a shred of evidence. While Valerie fights to defend her son, she begins to wonder who she really invited into her home.
It’s a horrible thing for a mother to even think…but is it possible she’s enabled a monster? A monster she is living with, alone.
More details about why I gave a 4+-star review:
I honestly can't be sure if the fact that I liked this book so much has more to do with how disappointed I've been as a reader lately, or how good the book is, so use your judgement based on the following explanation. The book wasn't perfect. But it had an excellent plot and was a definite page turner for me.
✔️Main characters you love, relate to, and/or want to root for.
Ok, I didn’t ‘love’ the characters or even ‘relate to’ them, but I surely was intrigued by them and felt like I understood what they were experiencing.
Amber does an amazing job not letting you know who to trust, and isn’t that exactly what you want from a mystery? The characters ALL have so many levels and the amount of suspicion I had for everyone might’ve been unwarranted, but I really loved how she made them all come to life.
There are two main characters—Valerie (the narrator) and her son Hudson. Valerie’s memory issues make her not the most reliable narrator and it nearly instantly becomes clear that Hudson might not be exactly what he seems. These two have you guessing from the beginning to the VERY end and I ❤️❤️ed the intrigue!
There’s also Valerie’s daughter (Kendra) that plays a semi-large role (though I’m sure she’d be considered a ‘secondary’ main character) and Valerie’s dead husband (Darren) comes up a lot. Other integral characters are the neighbor (Leslie) and her daughter (Heather) who Amber does a great job keeping you guessing about. Plus there’s a spooky presence in the house (Gracie—a child from the family who lived in Valerie’s house before her, who died as a child). And flashback scenes told from an unidentified (until the end) child’s perspective, who adds an additional storyline that kept me equally intrigued and confused throughout the story.
There was also a dominant side character (Mac) a former band mate if Valerie's that I felt was slightly unnecessary. And his subplot, while intriguing, felt unnecessary and thrown in to add more confusion.
Overall, I liked all the characters, but he was the one that felt slightly out of place. I ultimately understood why he was there, but I didn't think it was 100% necessary and his story turned out somewhat predictably.
*FYI* If you’re the kind of person who has trouble keeping track of names (like me) you might want to keep a venn diagram of all the side characters 😂😂 Just kidding, but be warned there are quite a few you have to keep track of, so if you get easily distracted, maybe choose to read this story when you have the time to really focus on it (my 5–yo son’s distractions, for example, made me have to backtrack a few times).
✔️Conflict that makes sense and moves the story forward
Ok this book literally kept me on my toes the ENTIRE time. I could not keep track of who my mind suspected and even when I thought I had it all figured out, she went and surprised me. I couldn’t put it down and dang you Amber Garza for making me stay up to almost 3am with a burning need to finish!
✔️Storyline that kept me guessing until the bitter end
Seriously, until the very last line. I was shocked by the revelations in the last two chapters and wasn’t sure I had enough pages left to reach a conclusion. Honestly, I’m not sure I completely loved the ending, but more on that in a second.
✔️An easy-to-read style that stays consistent
The writing style was impeccable. I found her voice so easy to read and relate to, and I didn't find myself bogged down by too many or too few descriptions. She did an excellent job helping me experience the setting and emotions of the characters. She’s a gifted writer with the ability to draw you in and propel you forward. Every chapter made me want to keep reading.
✔️Writing that is well done and doesn't have me editing in my head along the way
Ok, I’ve talked about this in recent blogs. I am a writer, so it’s not every day I read a book that doesn’t need some editing. I am of the opinion that there is always more work to be done, so I don't think my brain will ever not edit. This one had very few issues (a missing word here or there and a couple misspelled words) but other than that, it was very well done. I felt like there were a couple things that could've been edited a bit differently for my taste, but overall, it wasn't enough to make me put it down or to have been disappointed if I did pay for this book. And again, that’s saying a lot, because it’s been a WHILE since I felt that way.
✔️A (semi-)satisfying ending
Ok, admittedly, this isn’t 100% true. I’d determined the ending about 50% of the way through, then that ‘ending’ happened, and Amber went and flipped the script. I wasn’t 100% happy with the actual ending, because it felt a little rushed. I wish I’d had a little more closure, but she did surprise me, and that’s saying something with how much I read. I think most mystery/thriller readers will be satisfied with the ending, but for me the last chapter needed more. I can't say what exactly, but the last chapter was my least favorite and I was sorta sad about that. It felt like a great lead up and kind of a let down (which is the main reason why this review is a solid 4+ and not a 5).
Ok, so what does it all boil down to?
Really, really well done. I was about to write off NetGalley as a place I would never have luck with, but thankfully, A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza redeemed it for me. Ultimately, my bad experiences may have affected my overall impression of this book (I hated the others so much I may have loved this one more than I would've otherwise) but I really liked it, and I will 💯 recommend it (and actually already have). Plus, I ended up purchasing it to gift to someone else on audiobook, so, take from that what you will 😉
Plus, I will definitely be going to look for her other books:Where I left Her and When I was You in the near future and I hope to be as pleasantly thrilled by them too.
So that's all I have! If you read A Mother Would Know let me know what you think (comment below or shoot me an email).
Thanks for reading! Have a great week my lovelies!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
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