Cover Image: Mothered


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In the time of the pandemic, Grace's recently widowed mother asks to stay with her for awhile. The two have always had a rocky relationship, but Grace is hoping that maybe this will bring them closer, plus help to pay the bills since Grace lost her job. But she soon regrets it since Jackie is just as judgmental and critical as ever. To make matters worse Grace begins to have dreams of her deceased twin sister and as the dreams become stronger, Grace begins to descend to madness.
This book had such a creepy vibe throughout with the isolation of the characters, the flashbacks of her twin, and the unreliable thoughts of the narrator Grace. This is the craziest psychological thriller I've read in a long time.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Grace's first home purchase couldn't come at a worse time. She is laid off due to the pandemic shut downs, and finds herself with little choice but to allow her estranged, recently widowed mother to move in with her.
Initially, it seems like they might do okay. There is a little thawing of the cool relationship they've had since Grace's twin sister's death when they were children, due to complications from CP and pneumonia.
But... maybe it's the lockdown.. maybe it's her mother... maybe it's something else... Grace is suffering from increasingly vivid and disturbing nightmares that begin to take over her waking life.

I have enjoyed several of Stage's previous books, but this one.. left me a little disappointed. It never really took off for me, or felt resolved in the end.
There were some very creepy scenes, and I really enjoyed Grace's relationship with her best friend, and his sweet little cat. Overall, it felt very slow moving.

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Enjoyed this book by Zoje Stage. First time reading her, and will need to read more. I enjoyed the characters, the plot, and the pacing with this book. #Mothered #NetGalley

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Wow! This read really quickly and was super intense! I devoured it in a day! The covid/pandemic stuff a lot for me and all the dream sequences! But I really enjoyed the twist at the end! Will be recommending as a super tense thriller! (I'm also glad nothing bad happened to the cat in this one ) 3.5 stars rounded up to 4

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💉✂️Book Review:
Title: Mothered
Author: Zoje Stage
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/3 stars

I wanted to love this book so badly! I loved "Baby Teeth," and I was hoping this one would give me the heebie jeebies too! Sadly, it did not. I was confused, lol! I couldn't keep up with all of the main characters' visions/dreams/whatever the heck they were! Bummer.

These two are riding out the quarantine from the pandemic together. Times are difficult, especially financially, so Grace allows her mother to come live with her. They already struggle with their relationship, but Grace is hoping that this new living situation will help to mend bad feelings. It, in fact, does the opposite.

Thank you to @netgalley and #thomasandmercerbooks #thomasandmercer for this ARC in exchange for my honest review

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Were you, too, terrified of Zelda, Rachel’s sister who suffered from spinal meningitis in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary? Well, this book is for you! Grace remembered playing paper dolls with Hope- “Take the scissors. Cut off an earlobe. It will be soft, the perfect clutch. Do it now." Grace remembers the night Hope died. She was left alone by Jackie to watch Hope, and Hope’s games became too much. As Grace and Jackie weather the pandemic, nightmares plague Grace and she begins to wonder what role her mother played during their childhood and why she was left alone with Hope so often. Loved this book-we don’t often associate kids with such childhood disorders as capable of being “bad” so this was an interesting storyline. With the issue of Cerebral Palsy, I could see others labeling this book as being "ableist." It's a sensitive subject to paint a child with a congenital disorder in a negative light because you don't want people to assume that ALL children with that disorder are that way. I don't think we often hear enough of the family members' journeys with taking care of those children, and that's what this story is more about-the emotional toll it takes on a parent, and how harrowing it can be for siblings of the child with a neurological condition. So this is more Grace and Jackie's history-Grace should have never been left alone with Hope. In this, Jackie is complacent in everything that unfolded afterwards whether she cops to it or not. All in all-Great book. Zoje Stage does a chilling job of making readers uncomfortable with children, and I'm here for it! Will definitely await further books from them. Thanks NetGalley and Publisher for the ARC!

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*eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review

🔪Claustrophobic Thriller
🔪Set During a Pandemic
🔪Tense Mother/Daughter Relationship
🔪Fever Dream Feels

Mothered is a bleak look at a woman’s slow descent into madness during a pandemic. This book was like one long fever dream. The main character, Grace, is a thirty something woman whose life is turned upside down when her widowed mother comes to live with her. Grace has a rocky relationship with her mother, and she’s not really excited to have to share the house with her. Soon, Grace starts having strange dreams and it becomes hard for her to tell what’s real and what’s not.

This is the first book I’ve read by Zoje Stage and I really liked her writing. Stage really develops a sense of dread and unease throughout the story. Reading from Grace’s perspective made me anxious as I kept waiting for something horrible to happen. The tense relationship she had with her mother was not fun to read about, and they were both pretty horrible people. Mothered was a slow build of a story with more happening towards the end of the book, and I did become bored at times. I wanted more from this story and I was let down by the ending. I still look forward to reading Stage’s other books.

3/5 stars

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This isn’t my favorite Zoje Stage book but dang she is such an amazing author and story teller!

Great book! Thank you!

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Zoje Stage is a vital part of the fiction community. Her books contain seemingly domestic mysteries, but contain just enough delicious weirdness to fit comfortably into the horror category. Mothered, Stage’s pandemic novel, is her most disorientating yet, and captures the uncertainty and strangeness of the period that many would rather forget.

Hairstylist Grace finds herself indefinitely unemployed when COVID-19 brings the world grinding to a halt. Struggling to pay her mortgage, Grace reluctantly welcomes her widowed mother, Jackie, into her home. Things quickly go awry, and Grace is reminded of her traumatic childhood, and her dead sister, Hope. And the lack of peace in her house means Grace can no longer commit much time to her strange hobby; catfishing women online.

So many things happen in this book, and the reader is never fully on safe ground. Grace had a difficult childhood, caring for her unwell sister, and navigating a life with a physically and emotionally absent mother. So her uneasy reunion with Jackie brings up a lot of unresolved issues, and it is unclear what is real and what is not. A lot of the novel recounts Grace’s nightmares, and the whole book has an erratic, dreamlike feel.

I think the reader will decide within the first chapter whether they will enjoy this book or not. This was not an easy read, it made me feel very claustrophobic, which is a testament to Stage’s writing. Mothered is intriguing, and offers no easy conclusions or answers.

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Mothered - Zoje Stage

“If the pandemic had taught her nothing else, she knew that life—a life, or even normal existence—could disappear with little warning.”

A claustrophobic psychological thriller about one woman’s nightmarish spiral while quarantined with her mother.

Grace isn’t exactly thrilled when her newly widowed mother, Jackie, asks to move in with her. They’ve never had a great relationship, and Grace likes her space—especially now that she’s stuck at home during a pandemic. Then again, she needs help with the mortgage after losing her job. And maybe it’ll be a chance for them to bond—or at least give each other a hand.

When Jackie makes an earth-shattering accusation against her, Grace sees it as an act of revenge, and it sends her spiralling into a sleep-deprived madness. As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom.

Right, there’s unreliable narrators, then there’s bat sh*t crazy, psychotic unreliable narrators as is evident in Mothered. Off the back, this is not going to be a book for many. Those of you, that (like me) like messy, terrifying, disturbing and twisted, this one is it!

“I had to do it. She was contagious.”—her greeting as she’d opened the door to let the police in. A miasma of decay had wafted out like a poisonous cloud, making the uniformed officers gag. How had she lived with the stench? And why?

Ultimately this is the story of a Mother and daughter’s complicated relationship and traumatic past, pushed to its limits during the (a) pandemic. Chaotic scenes blur the lines between nightmares and reality, ending in horrific violence.

I really, really liked it - love it? It’s a hard one to love due to the subject matter - I couldn’t put it down and will be reaching out for Baby Teeth to read - if that’s an indicator.

A glimpse into Stages’s writing - Grace is playing paper dolls with her twin sister Hope, who says her doll needs a handbag - something small and soft. “Cut off your earlobe,” she tells Grace. “It will be perfect.”

TW’s - Mental health trauma.

My mind is still spinning 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Many thanks to @netgalley #thomasandmercer @zojestage for a #gifted advanced reading copy. Pub date 1 March 2023 🔥

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Rating: 🌟🌟💫 (2.5/5)

Quote: “It’s hard to know what to do when the thing you’re afraid of is invisible. And you never saw it arrive, so how do you know when it’s gone?”

Unfortunately this one didn’t hit the mark for me. It took me months to finish. I was so excited to get an early copy because I loved her novel Baby Teeth. I’ll definitely give this author another try in the future though.

This one sort of felt disjointed and a bit all over the place. When reading the acknowledgments it made more sense. The author was dealing with a lot while writing this book. She would write and take a break for a a few weeks at a time and then come back and write again.

The pandemic is a big part of this book too. I generally try to avoid pandemic books (talk about Covid exhausted) but went into this one blind because I loved Baby Teeth so much. As much as I dislike books that mention the COVID pandemic, that aspect of the book wasn’t too much and didn’t irk me as much as I thought it would.

But, overall this book wasn’t for me. I reread several pages over and over again without realizing it because I just didn’t connect with the story or any of the characters. I’d say the premise was cool but I didn’t really get that entirely either. I will say there were certain aspects of the story that were cool…just didn’t feel…cohesive.

Some people might like this one but I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll definitely really something else by this author though just based on how awesome Baby Teeth was.

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Gaaawd noooo why the dream sequence? That was my biggest irk with this one. I can't do unreliable narrators, and apparently, I can't do the whole "are they awake or dreaming?" This was also an issue in a book Stay Awake by Megan Goldin. I didn't realize this one would have that aspect, or else I might have passed on requesting this.

I actually don't mind the COVID stuff. It's not too soon for me at all, so that was completely fine. I understand if it might be for others. so heads up on that.

I LOVED Baby Teeth, so this might have just been a miss for me. I'll still give this author a shot in the future.

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Many thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with an eARC of Mothered in exchange for my honest review!

Mothered is one of the more unnerving and disorienting thrillers that I've dived into as of late. It takes this dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship and pulls us into all the anxieties, fears, and resentment that are seething within it. They're only exacerbated by the COVID pandemic that's unfolding around them and trapping them in a claustrophobic environment, followed by the numerous grisly and surreal nightmares that Grace suffers throughout the course of the book. Those nightmares were especially intriguing to read about, because even though most of them were obviously dreams right off the bat (which I believe is intentional on the book's part), that didn't make them any less disturbing to follow. I do think the plot could get repetitive at times, though, and I would have preferred it if those extraneous segments could have been trimmed away in order to tighten up the narrative.

All in all, my final rating is 3.75 out of 5 stars, which I'm rounding up to 4 stars. I'll be interested to check out more of Zoje Stage's thrillers.

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I love everything Zoje writes and this one was no different! I loved reading it and the messed-up-ness that is Zoje Stage. She keeps me coming back for more every single time.

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Hmm I was extremely excited when I got this book because I absolutely loved Zoje Stage's "Baby Teeth", so probably my expectations for this one were too high.

I reslly enjoyed it but I needed a but more of creepiness. I'm in the wrong because I was expecting this one to be as creepy as other of her books. That's my bad. Not the author's fault, at all.

The book is good!! There's moments where you wonder wtf is happening and I love when a book creates doubts and make me wonder everything. I had a problem with the dreaming part, as I hate to be reading and not knowing if the character is dreaming or it's actually happening. Makes me feel confused. And, in my case, makes me feel like I'm not drawn to the story as much as I wish I was.

Overall, I actually recommend it if you like creepy stories with stories where you wonder what's happening all the time. Ita a good thriller that will keep you guessing.

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I really liked Baby Teeth but struggled with this one. I appreciate the ARC. The pandemic is still too fresh and I want to read about other things instead.

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Mothered centers on Grace and her mother Jackie. Jackie moves in with Grace at the beginning of the pandemic which Grace only agrees to reluctantly because her childhood with Jackie was less than ideal. Growing up all the focus was on her now deceased twin sister Hope who had cerebral palsy. After Jackie moves in Grace begins to see things that aren't really there and have increasingly dark nightmares. The book just keeps getting more bizarre as it goes along and you are left wondering is Grace going crazy? Is there something more sinister at play? Is the childhood she remembers what actually happened? If you like psychological thrillers with a healthy dose of weird this might be your thing. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

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Mothered ~ Zoje Stage

When Grace’s mother, Jackie, asks to move in with her, she’s not thrilled. But with the pandemic leaving her jobless and stuck at home, she figures it won’t be so bad to have the help and companionship.

Almost immediately, Grace and Jackie start to butt heads and new wounds are opened. Grace starts to suffer from nightmares and loses sleep over her mother’s behavior and accusations - “As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom.”

“Compelling.…This disturbing yet addictive read will keep you wondering what is real and what is madness.”

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In the author’s note, Zoje Stage thanks her early readers for reading this “bat shot crazy” book she wrote. When I read that, I thought, at least she knows what the book is! I started with high hopes, but as I read it just got more and more odd, confusing, and hard to read. I am sure there are people that will enjoy this crazy book and will delve into the dreams and notions presents, but for me it was just a little too out there. I would recommend it to the right reader though.

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Grace isn’t exactly thrilled when her newly widowed mother, Jackie, asks to move in with her. . She is not thrilled about her mom moving in and she does need her moms help with mortgage . Grace thinks she may have more bonding time and have better relationship with her mom. "But living with Mother isn’t for everyone. Good intentions turn bad soon after Jackie moves in. Old wounds fester; new ones open. Grace starts having nightmares about her disabled twin sister, who died when they were kids. And Jackie discovers that Grace secretly catfishes people online—a hobby Jackie thinks is unforgivable.
When Jackie makes an earth-shattering accusation against her, Grace sees it as an act of revenge, and it sends her spiraling into a sleep-deprived madness. As the walls close in, the ghosts of Grace’s past collide with a new but familiar threat: Mom'.
It started off good then it got little slow did like where this story was going.. I am not really fan of stories with the setting of the pandemic. Although I did like baby teeth from this author a little bit more than I did with this story.
Thanks to Thomas & Mercer, Netgalley, and the author in exchange for a review..
Published March 1st 2023.

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