All posts tagged: book reviews

Sylvia True talks about her astonishing novel-based-on-a-true story, WHERE MADNESS LIES, combining elements of historical fiction, medicine, mental illness, motherhood, secrets, more

By Leslie Lindsay Such a beautifully tragic and heart-wrenching tale of hope and redemption, a lesser-known slice of WWII, combining intergenerational trauma, mental illness, secrets, more. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Spotlight: Women’s Historical Fiction I was absolutely struck by the themes and ideas—and writing—in WHERE MADNESS LIES (Top Hat Books, February 1 2021) by Sylvia True, which is a gorgeous and devastating voyage into the madness of madness, tracing the Nazis’ view of the morally disgusting idea of racial hygiene, but also eradicating ‘any life not worth living,’ such as those deemed feebleminded, mentally ill, sexually degenerate, more. Alternating between the 1980s Massachusetts, and 1930s Germany, with a brief stint in Switzerland, WHERE MADNESS LIES is so beautifully rendered. I was in awe at the breadth of this book–in terms of historical accuracy, emotional intelligence, compelling voice/characters, how it’s based on a true story, and so much more. This story is hauntingly compelling, devastating, and horrifying, yet there’s a glimmer of hope dangling from a pearl. WHERE MADNESS LIES is achingly honest and masterful, a page-turner with fully developed characters and timelines, each …

lyrical and hauntinly sublime literary fiction from yaa gyasi about race in america, but also about depression, anxiety, addiction, spirtuality & science in transcendent kingdom

By Leslie Lindsay  One woman’s reckoning with her family of origin, its dysfunctional aspects, a suicidal mother, a tragic event with a brother, science, and so much more.   ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ FEBRUARY SPOTLIGHT: WOMEN WRITERS OF COLOR A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK! INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER I had a feeling I would like TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM (Knopf, September 2020), I had no idea how much I would *LOVE* TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM. Yaa Gyasi is animmensely talented writer who tells a dark story with such luminous grace and compassion. Quick take: Gifty is a sixth-year neuroscience PhD candidate at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She’s studying the reward-seeking behavior of mice and the neural circuits in depression and anxiety and addiction, and with good reason. As often the case, many scientists study what they study because they have somehow been touched by the issues personally. In Gifty’s case, it’s her family members who have. Gifty’s brother, Nana, was a talented athlete with much promise, but before all of that, the family immigrated from Ghana to Alabama(and …

Edgy & LUMINOUS, a twisted tale of love, friendship, art, & so much more in this hot debut–luster–by Raven Leliani

By Leslie Lindsay  Luminous and edgy, LUSTER is a raw examination of friendship, sex, intimacy, art, and more. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ February Spotlight: Women Writers of Color A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEARA BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: NPR, O Magazine, Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Shondaland, The New York Times Book Review, Boston Globe, Buzzfeed, Kirkus, Time, Good Housekeeping, InStyle, The Guardian, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Self, The New York Public Library, Town & Country, Wired, Boston.com, Happy Mag, New Statesman, Vox, Shelf Awareness, Chatelaine, The Undefeated, Apartment Therapy, Brooklyn Based, The End of the World Review, Exile in Bookville, Lit Reactor, BookPage, i-DA FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Barack ObamaA BEST BOOK FOR HOLIDAY GIFTS: AV Club, Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine/The Strategist, The Rumpus WINNER of the Kirkus Prize and the Center for Fiction First Novel PrizeAN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERNATIONAL INDIE BESTSELLER * LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER * WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER I’ll admit to *not* wanting to read LUSTER (FSG, September 2020) because, well…it was on so many lists and so frequently talked about in literary circles. But then I wrote to the biblioracle at the Chicago Tribune, where I offered the last five books I’d read …

WHAT IF YOU WERE DRIVEN BY REVENGE but also trauma? ANDROMEDA ROMANO-lax talks about this, the early days of psychoanalysis, & so much more in a genre-bending new book, ANNIE AND THE WOLVES

By Leslie Lindsay A modern-day historian finds herself enmeshed with the life of Annie Oakley, in a dual-timeline novel exploring the concept of revenge and changing one’s past/path. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ “2020 Best & Most Anticipated Historical Fiction” Oprah Magazine “Most Anticipated Books of 2021” by Buzzfeed  Several years ago, I read and loved Andromeda Romano-Lax’s BEHAVE, about Behaviorist John Watson and his wife, Rosalie Raynor Watson, their inhumane ‘experiments’ on children and parenting, done in what they believed was what was ‘best’ for the children (withholding affection, etc.). When I discovered her forthcoming ANNIE AND THE WOLVES (Soho Press, Feb 2, 2021), I knew I had to get my hands on it. Ruth McClintock is a historian in her early thirties and completely obsessed with Annie Oakley. For nearly a decade, she has been studying the show-stopping sharpshooter, convinced a tragic past is what elevated her status as one of the best shots in the land. But Ruth sort of loses it all–her book deal, her finance, her dissertation because her own mental health gets in …

2020 FICTION FAVORITES As CURATED BY YOUR HOST, LESLIE LINDSAY

By Leslie Lindsay  My top fiction reads for 2020. Agree or disagree. Give them. Gift them. Keep one for yourself. Photo by Claire Morgan on Pexels.com ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ 2020 FICTION ROUND-UP 2020 has been an unprecedented year. A pandemic. A very charged election year. Equality and violence. Natural disaster. Personal ones, too. I am beyond grateful to be by your side every week, sharing these fabulous books with you. Because I think reading is healing. It helps us cross bridges and become more sympathetic. We can live another person’s life or experiences for a short period of time. That, in turn, makes us more multidimensional, more relatable. Reading is not just about words on a page. It’s not just about the story we ingest at that moment, but the residue, the residual it leaves in its wake. A year ago, I had no idea COVID-19 would upend our lives as we knew it. I had no idea bookstores would close. I had no sense that debut authors and bestseller authors would …

MEMOIR MONDAY: 2020 FAVORITES curated by leslie lindsay

By Leslie Lindsay Great list of memoirs that really hit home, in this year-end round-up as curated by your host, Leslie Lindsay.  ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ 2020 YEAR-END ROUND-UP Memoir is one of my very favorite genres. I think it’s because I love inhabiting someone else’s world, even if just briefly. I learn a lot about myself, and the world around me. Plus, there’s always resilience and strength and a new lens in which one gazes from the world. I am often moved to write when I read a memoir–but not always. There’s something about digesting someone else’s words and stories to help the reader excavate her own. Also, there’s learning, at least for me, that goes on ‘behind-the-scenes’ when I read a memoir. I look at pacing, structure, and character. I notice things like imagery and word use.  It takes an incredible amount of guts write a memoir. It’s cathartic, sure. I think therapy is a lot cheaper and faster than say, the years and blood, tears, and sweat  from revisiting (often) traumatic …

Serpentine Literary Historical suspense inspired by the classic ‘rebecca,’ THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES is about the bond between women, but also manipulation

By Leslie Lindsay A twisty literary thriller set in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. ~Wednesdays with Writers|Always with a Book~ Historical Fiction Spotlight San Francisco, 1906. Violet is one of three people grateful for the destruction of the big earthquake. It leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy — if the secret that binds them together stays buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and orphaned, wallflower Violet reinvents herself. When a whirlwind romance with the city’s most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history. “If you loved Rindell’s THE OTHER TYPIST, if you adored Jane Eyre, if you were riveted by Rebecca, you will be enthralled by THE TWO …

Debut thriller DARLING ROSE GOLD dives into the after-effects of a girl raised by a mother who poisoned her, plus Stephanie Wrobel talks about what’s next, her dog, and what she did ‘right’

By Leslie Lindsay  Chillingly unpleasant tale of a highly dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship inspired by the true story of Dee Dee Blanchard and Gypsy Rose. ~Wednesdays with Writers| Always with a Book~ A most anticipated book by Newsweek ∙ Marie Claire ∙ Bustle ∙ Shondaland ∙ PopSugar ∙ Woman’s Day ∙ Goodhousekeeping ∙ She Reads ∙ BookRiot Stephanie Wrobel’s debut DARLING ROSE GOLD. (Berkley, March 18 2020) explores the horrific and ultimately highly dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship and psychiatric issues of Munchausen syndrome by proxy; an adult knowingly abusing (injuring, starving, poisoning) a minor child in order to receive medical care/attention and other gains. DARLING ROSE GOLD is a must-read for those who enjoy Jessica Knoll, Megan Miranda, and Elizabeth Little. This story was the talk of the London Book Fair and rights have been sold in 15 countries. Informed by real-life cases like that of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, and Julie Gregory’s story, SICKENED, DARLING ROSE GOLD, as Wrobel puts it, “Begins where most novels about Munchausen syndrome by proxy end–with the reveal upfront.” Patty Watts is in prison serving a 5-year sentence for …

Leslie’s 2019 Reading Round-Up: From memoir to speculative fiction, you’ll find all of my favorite reads right here

By Leslie Lindsay It’s that time of year again–I start reflecting on my favorite reads. For the last several years, I’ve set pretty ambitious reading goals for myself. Fifty books? Sure. Seventy-five? Bring it! Eighty? Okay. Eighty-five? Yep. Once I thought I could eek out ninety books in one year, and no. That cannot be done. Not with a busy writing and reviewing schedule. I’m so very grateful for all of the wonderful books I’ve had the opportunity–the privilege–to read, review, and often, host their authors right here on my Wednesdays with Writers Author Interview Series. I could list every book I read this year here–because they ALL have merit. But a few absolutely stand out, for various reasons. Here are those reasons:  It makes me want to talk about it with someone who is not reading it. My husband knows it’s an ‘it’ book when I say, “Babe, I gotta tell you about this book I’m reading.” It makes me *want* to write. It makes me fly through the pages at lightening speed. Because, …

Deceitful, Dark, & Twisted THE NANNY is about villians, the art world, the slippery nature of memory; plus Gilly Macmillan talks about her ideal writing day, her next book, and more

By Leslie Lindsay NYT Bestselling author, Gilly Macmillan is back with this dark, original, and diabolically clever tale of family secrets, set in a U.K. manor home. I’ve read all of Gilly Macmillan’s books and I think THE NANNY (September 10 William Morrow) must be her darkest, most sinister tale yet. Each one just gets better and better. Years ago, in 1988, 7-year old Jo’s (Jocelyn) nanny, Hannah, left without a trace. Jo was devastated. No one spoke of her again. Jo grew up bitter and distanced from her family; there was very little relationship between she and her mother Virginia (Ginny). Eventually, Jo leaves her aristocratic family and home–Lake Hall–behind for California. She marries and works in the art world–until her husband unexpectedly dies. It’s been thirty years, and Jo must return home to Lake Hall. She’s dreading this. She and her mother are estranged and there’s a stuffiness to this upper class life she desperately wishes to avoid. While she and her daughter, Ruby, are kayaking in the lake, they discover a human skull. This couldn’t be her long-lost nanny, could it? And then there’s …