All posts tagged: book reviews

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 …

John McCarthy talks about the power of poetry, emotional response, the intuitive process of writing, the haunting landscape of the Midwest, an amazing reading list, and so much more in SCARED VIOLENT LIKE HORSES

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously stark and stunning collection of prose poetry that is at once mysterious, raw, and evocative.  Selected by Victoria Chang (Pushcart Prize among many other accolades), as winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, John McCarthy’s SCARED VIOLENT LIKE HORSES is an examination of growing up–of masculinity–but there’s more. Buried beneath these complicated, yet tender words is a yearning. Maybe it’s to be seen, to be heard, for greater compassion. SCARED VIOLENT LIKE HORSES takes place in the Midwest–mostly Illinois–and this is something I completely ‘got.’ There’s a working-class grit, but also a sentimentality, a deep attention to detail, a nostalgia for simpler things. This work, I am guessing, is deeply personal about drunk fathers and unwell mothers, it’s about instability, and resilience, and isolation. And yet, it’s inspiring. I read SCARED VIOLET LIKE HORSES fairly quickly–a day or two–but it’s not meant to be rushed. I want to go back and savor the pages, fall into the folds of these glimmering metaphors, revel in the observations. This work deserves that. McCarthy’s tendency is storytelling–a narrative approach to …

The storied–and haunted–history of one of NYC’s iconic hotels, THE CHELSEA GIRLS by Fiona Davis is about friendship, theater, and McCarthyism

By Leslie Lindsay  Spanning the 1940s thru 1960s, THE CHELSEA GIRLS pulls back the curtain (literally) on the political pressures of McCarthyism, complex bonds of female friendships, and the creative call of the NYC Chelsea Hotel.  I’ve been a fan of Fiona Davis since her debut, THE DOLLHOUSE (2016), about The Barbizon Hotel, home of girls in secretarial school in the 1950s, and was thrilled to receive a copy of her forthcoming THE CHELSEA GIRLS, about another iconic NYC hotel. It’s elegantly shabby–there’s glam and glitz and danger in the 1950s Manhattan, following WWII. Many great artists, playwrights, musicians, actors, and poets call the Chelsea home, but something else stalks these halls. Hazel Ripley has spent her life on the sidelines–always an understudy, never a lead. And she’s still reeling from the death of her beloved brother. She and Maxine strike up a friendship while on a USO tour and it’s through Maxine that she learns of the Chelsea Hotel as a mecca for creative types. When she returns to NYC after the war, she finds herself at the …