Review: Mother Ocean Father Nation

Mother Ocean Father Nation by Nishant Batsha
Publisher: Ecco Books
Pub Date: 6/7/2022

Thank you to Ecco Books for the free advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: A riveting, tender debut novel, following a brother and sister whose paths diverge–one forced to leave, one left behind–in the wake of a nationalist coup in the South Pacific

On a small Pacific island, a brother and sister tune in to a breaking news radio bulletin. It is 1985, and an Indian grocer has just been attacked by nativists aligned with the recent military coup. Now, fear and shock are rippling through the island’s deeply-rooted Indian community as racial tensions rise to the brink.

Bhumi hears this news from her locked-down dorm room in the capital city. She is the ambitious, intellectual standout of the family–the one destined for success. But when her friendship with the daughter of a prominent government official becomes a liability, she must flee her unstable home for California.

Jaipal feels like the unnoticed, unremarkable sibling, always left to fend for himself. He is stuck working in the family store, avoiding their father’s wrath, with nothing but his hidden desires to distract him. Desperate for money and connection, he seizes a sudden opportunity to take his life into his own hands for the first time. But his decision may leave him vulnerable to the island’s escalating volatility.

Spanning from the lush terrain of the South Pacific to the golden hills of San Francisco, Mother Ocean Father Nation is an entrancing debut about how one family, at the mercy of a nation broken by legacies of power and oppression, forges a path to find a home once again.

Review: Mother Ocean Father Nation is a literary, historical fiction, LBTQ+ debut novel from Nishant Batsha. Mother Ocean Father Nation explores themes of strained relationships, power, oppression, self discovery, and the meaning of home. The author alternates perspectives from sister and brother, Bhumi and Jaipal. I loved that their perspectives were different and their stories were separate yet interwoven. I also liked how the author touched suppression, immigration, and the feeling of belonging. The plot is intriguing, but the pacing of the story felt either way too show or everything happens at once. The author touches upon some heavy themes in here, but I felt there was too much to dive into and some things were unexplained. It was a good start to a debut that was heartbreaking yet filled with hope. I’d recommend reading this one if you love character/driven stories.

Review: Vladimir

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Pub Date: 2/1/2022

Thank you to Avid Reader Press for the free advanced copy on NetGalley and Simon Audio for the advanced listening copy on LibroFM in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

GoodReads Synopsis: “When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”

And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.

With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.

Review: Vladimir is Julia May Jonas’s debut. This dark academia literary fiction explores desire, obsession, feminism, and society expectations. I initially heard of this book through Book of the Month and was intrigued by the premise and the interesting cover.

Before I go into my review, I say the cover is interesting and not “unfortunate” as others have mentioned because it’s not what we typically see on covers. It kind of reminds me of those historical fiction or smut romances back in the ‘90s when they had people on covers. Do I agree with the cover choice? Maybe not, but because of the conversation around it, it did make me more interested in the book which I have to say was a clever and powerful move from the publisher from a marketing perspective. If you want to learn why the U.S. cover was picked, go check out the video “our CEO explains how a book cover is made” on @simonandschuster. I found this video to be extremely fascinating and loved learning more on what their vision for the book was.

Now onto the review, I actually really liked this book! When I was reading the first chapter in the ebook, I was intrigued by the story, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it. I started listening to the audio and absolutely loved the audiobook narrator, Rebecca Lowman. She really brought out the narrator’s perspective for me. In terms of the storyline, this is a very character driven story and liked the pace of it. I also really enjoyed the writing style as well. The perspective is from a late 50s college English professor where her professor husband is under investigation for inappropriate relations with his students. In the midst of that, she starts becoming infatuated over a new celebrated married novelist in his 30s, Vladimir. The narrator explains her open relationship with her husband, her desires, and her innermost thoughts and reflections. Though the unnamed narrator is unlikable, her perspective is fresh, bold, pushes boundaries, and explores the gray area between desire and power. I definitely recommend this to readers who love dark academia! I would recommend reading a sample of the first few pages to see if it’s right for you.