All posts tagged: book review

Why I’m on the fence about the critically-acclaimed INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE, plus a writing prompt

By Leslie Lindsay A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget. ~ALWAYS WITH A BOOK | Leslie Lindsay~ Spotlight: Historical Fiction I  might be an outlier on this one. It seems everyone either loves ADDIE LARUE, or they could do without. I’m in the ‘without’ category, and I don’t say that to be lightly. Really, I wanted to love this story, it just didn’t strike like I hoped.  Quick Take: France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world. New York City, 2014: But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name. Quick Thoughts: I was all-in with …

Debut author Julie Carrick dalton talks about WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG, the environment, how THE TRUTH WILL ALWAYS RISE–even the parts we don’t want to remember, the magic of childhood, her spry late grandmother

By Leslie Lindsay  Sweeping novel of epic portions about friendship, the environment, migrant workers, and secrets. ~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS Cadie Kessler has spent years–decades–keeping secrets. A moment, really, from her past. That’s what I think the title, WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG (Forge, January 12 2021) seems to convey in this coming-of-age story set in New England about a two estranged adult friends, ‘that summer,’ and the truth they tried to keep hidden.Daniela Garcia calls her friend, Cadie Kessler– now a forestry researcher/entomologist in an urgent plea to return home.Told in an alternating style, between the ‘now’ and ‘that summer,’ we get a sense of the friendship forged between Cadie and Daniela, the secret, and those nostalgic summer days, a warm balm in the middle of winter. The language is lush and thoughtful, with many details of the natural world: blueberries on the vine, creeks, books and boats and piers, too. WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG is a complex tale of friendship, ecology, hidden truths, climate change, racism, immigration, and so much more. WAITING FOR NIGHT SONG …

THE PULL OF THE STARS A historical novel that is strikingly similar to our current pandemic, set in 1918 Dublin, by the bestselling author of ROOM

By Leslie Lindsay  Pregnant women quarantined in a Dublin hospital during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Historical Fiction Spotlight Barnes & Noble Book Club choice for August Reader’s Digest Book Club Pick Australian Women’s Weekly Book Club Pick  Oprah Magazine Best Book of Summer 2020 Chapters Indigo Best Book of 2020 AudioFile Earphones award for the unabridged edition I’m always alert to the work of the the lovely and talented Emma Donoghue, especially since I fell in love with her disturbingly good, ROOM. The Pull of the Stars (New York: Little Brown; July 2020), seemed to be vying for my attention, whispering, “Read me, read me,” when I came across this historical fiction set in 1918 Dublin. For three days, we are midwives in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. There’s work, and risk and a claustrophobic sense of the world browning at the edges; and yes, it has so many parallels with today’s pandemic. In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse …

A powerful and harrowing story of homeless youth, a dysfunctional family of origin, mental illness, & success of physician Sheryl Recinos in HINDSIGHT, plus a timely and topical reading list, activism, more

By Leslie Lindsay  A powerful and almost unbelievably true account of one woman’s dysfunctional family, her experiences in detention, foster care, the streets of Hollywood, and how she made it through. ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ HINDSIGHT (2018) by Sheryl Recinos, is one of those stories that will absolutely stay with you. Sheryl is a your typical eight-year old when her mother has a psychotic break. Along with her next-closest-in-age brother, she takes them to a trailer home to stay warm, leaving them with nothing but uncooked pasta and raisins. And then she vanishes, but returns. The family struggles. Eventually, the parents divorce, but the father receives custody. When Sheryl is eleven, he remarries a woman who wants nothing to do with kids, who struggles with her own mental health issues. To summarize this harrowing story in a succinct manner almost discredits the author’s pain and struggles. Here, we delve into a deeply dysfunctional family of origin, involving children sent away to foster care, the ones that remain, and the frank abuse that follows. HINDSIGHT …

Janine Urbaniak Reid talks about her medical mother-son memoir, THE OPPOSITE OF CERTAINTY, how love & goodness show up at the right time, her fascination with what’s left when everything has been stripped from us, faith, more

By Leslie Lindsay  Life is turned upside-down in this self-proclaimed perfectionist mother’s memoir about her son’s brain tumor.  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ What happens when life is turned upside-down due to a challenging, mysterious illness of one’s child?  That’s what happens in Janine Urbaniak Reed’s astonishing memoir, THE OPPOSITE OF CERTAINTY (May 12: Thomas Nelson). Janine just wanted everything to be perfect. She thought if she did everything ‘right,’ they would be fine, everyone would be happy and no one would experience the pain she felt growing up. Married with three children, a husband who travels for work, she took time out to raise her children…and then, her son, Mason, experienced strange tremors and other symptoms. What was wrong and why were some doctors discounting it? Infusing faith with medicine, Janine takes readers—and herself—on a somewhat reluctant journey. THE OPPOSITE OF CERTAINTY is most definitely a memoir for our times, as the world faces so many uncertainties, as we all must fortify ourselves against the potential of chaos and fissures at our feet. …

OMG! This book–y’all have GOT to read SUCH A FUN AGE, about race, class, and how everything can be misconstrued

By Leslie Lindsay  A striking, surprising debut from from an exhilarating new voice, SUCH A FUN AGE is a compulsive page-turner.  AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A REESE’S BOOK CLUB x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK PICK “The most provocative page-turner of the year.” –Entertainment Weekly “A great way to kick off 2020.” –Washington Post   ~FICTION FRIDAY: SPOTLIGHT!~ You guys! I cannot stop thinking about–or talking about–this book! It’s a bit like Jennifer Weiner meets the pacing of a psychological thriller meets Kim Brooks’ SMALL ANIMALS, but there’s so much more, too. SUCH A FUN AGE (Putnam, December 30 2019) is compulsively readable; it’s like a bad car accident you just can’t take your eyes from. And I am so grateful to G.P. Putnam’s Sons for this review copy. Emira Tucker is a 25-year-old attractive black babysitter trying to make ends meet between her part-time jobs. She out at a friend’s 26th birthday party when the mother of her young charge calls–it’s nearly eleven p.m.–requesting her babysitting services–NOW. She doesn’t look like a babysitter at the moment. She’s …

Absolutely delightful, funny, and quirky tale, featuring the English countryside, a harp, and pet pheasant, ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER will warm your heart

By Leslie Lindsay  Surprisingly heartwarming and delightful read about a harpmaker and lonely, somewhat dissatisfied woman dreaming of rewriting her own life, full of big dreams and an even bigger heart. I absolutely loved ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER (Berkley, August 6). It’s beautifully, delightfully written, and so full of irresistible, fully formed characters–I fell in love with Ellie and Dan. I’ll admit to being a little skeptical of this book at first–a harpmaker, really?! A love story? I don’t really ‘do’ romance…but trust me, READ THIS BOOK!  This heart-warming, funny and quirky love story features . . . 86 plums 69 sandwiches 27 birch trees a 17-step staircase a pair of cherry-coloured socks and a pheasant named Phineas  These characters simply jump right off the page. I was enamored with both Ellie and Dan almost immediately. Dan is a happy, simple guy living his barn in the countryside of Exmoor (England). This is where he can be himself–surrounded by his orchard and moors, a sparkling creek, and strange little pet pheasant. He doesn’t always ‘get’ social situations, but he has a …

Julie Kibler talks about her new historical fiction, HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS set in the early 1900s, how family–humans in general–will always disappoint, why second books are challenging, and a fabulous reading list

By Leslie Lindsay  Resonate story of love, loss, and friendship, inspired by historical events and connected by the Berachah Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls. In the early 1900s, on a dusky speck of land just outside Arlington, Texas, a home is built and curated by Reverend J.T. Upchurch and his wife, Maggie May for the protection and redemption of ‘erring girls,’ whether by life circumstance, prostitution, rape, birth, poverty, addiction, widowhood, or more. At the time, the home is progressive, and perhaps shunned by townspeople. Who would want to do what the Upchurches are doing? Who would take that on? That’s the premise of Julie Kibler’s second book, HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS (Crown, July 20 2019). The main difference with the Berachah Home is that it offers faith/religion, a safe haven for these women (and their infants/children), training/work, and they don’t force women to give their children up for adoption. Told by three vibrant narrators, spanning decades, we ‘meet’ present-day Cate, a university librarian working in the archive section, along with her mentee/work-study student, Laurel. …

Dave Patterson talks about his sublime coming-of-age, which reads like a memoir, his wavering faith, brotherhood, and so much more in SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT

By Leslie Lindsay Two brothers struggle to survive a traumatic summer in rural Vermont is as haunting as poignant.  Buzzfeed included Soon the Light Will be Perfect on their list of 37 Amazing New Books this Spring SOON THE LIGHT WILL BE PERFECT (Hanover Square Press/HarperCollins, April 2 2019) is one of those books that’s just so gorgeous and authentic, you forget you’re reading–and then you question if it’s truly fiction because the author does such a fantastic job of pulling the reader right into the story with tiny observations that feel very accurate. Our unnamed narrator is a 12-year old boy on the cusp of young adulthood. He lives with his family in a poverty-stricken area in Vermont. But the family has done well enough that they are able to move away from the trailer park. His mother is a homemaker and his father works at a weapons manufacturing plant. The date is never specified, but we glean the story is set in the late 1980s or early 1990s because 1) it’s a coming-of-age novel and 2) The Gulf War is just beginning. …

NYT Bestselling author Lisa Unger is here chatting about dreams, sleep, Jungian psychology & so much more in her gorgeously written UNDER MY SKIN

By Leslie Lindsay A twisty, captivating labyrinthine of grief, love, and murder in Lisa Unger’s newest psychological thriller, UNDER MY SKIN (Park Row, October 2).  She’s a New York Times and International bestselling, award-winning author. Her books have been published in twenty-six languages worldwide, have sold million of copies, and have been named “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, and the Sun-Sentinel, among others. *Named one of The Best Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in Fall 2018 by PopSugar* *Named a Best New Book by Booklist* *Named one of The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2018 by CrimeReads* *Named one of Fall 2018’s Most Exciting New Mysteries & Thrillers by Bookish* *Named one of The Biggest, Most Anticipated Thrillers of the Season, Fall 2018 Best Mystery Book Pick and Editors’ Pick by BookBub* *Library Journal 2018 Killer Thriller* It comes as no surprise when I say Lisa Unger has been a go-to thriller/psych suspense writer of mine for some time now. Her books always engage and keep me guessing; plus her creativity and imagination, as well as her psychologically astute observations draw me …