All posts tagged: fiction

Deborah Shepherd on unearthing a 30-year old manuscript, re-writing it, character development, mental health, gardening, first loves, being creative at all ages and more in SO HAPPY TOGETHER

By Leslie Lindsay  Completely engaging and totally immersive read about a woman’s journey to find her long-lost love, but what she finds is completely different from what she imagined. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ May Spotlight: Mothers & Mental Health/Illness  When Carolyn Tanner flees her unhappy marriage for a cross-country trip to find her long-lost ‘true love’ Peter, she’s in for a bumpy ride. I loved SO HAPPY TOGETHER (published by SWP April 20 2021). I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one–would it be sappy? Sad? Mysterious? Too light? I was completely gobsmacked with SO HAPPY TOGETHER, which is told from the POV of a smart, feisty, and instantly likable wife/mother/writer. Carolyn Mills-Tanner’s stultifying marriage and life as a harried mother is wearing thin. Her three children–ranging in ages from 8 to 14, are heading to summer camp and Carolyn now has the opportunity to travel cross-country to find her first love, Peter MacKinley, from her days as a drama major at the University of Arizona. She leaves a ‘Dear John’ note for her …

Laird Hunt talks about how ZORRIE was inspired by his grandmother, her ties to Indiana, plus memory, being a literary citizen, the transformative, multifaceted aspects of the color green, more

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeously and sparsely told tale of one woman’s life from her hardscrabble days on an Indiana farm and everything in-between. ~Writers Interiewing Writers|Always with a Book~ March Spotlight: Historical Fiction O Magazine’s Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Novels of 2021   This stunning and luminously told story is so affecting, and transformative, too. Set against the harsh, quintessential Midwestern landscape, ZORRIE (Bloomsbury, Feb 9, 2021) is at once a historical fiction of a one woman’s life, but also a study in Americana, grit, and the transformative events of the 20th century. Zorrie is an orphaned child who goes to live with her aunt on a farm in Indiana. She’s twenty-one when she decides to set off on her own, and it just so happens to be in the midst of the Great Depression. She ends up in Illinois working odd jobs and then at the radium plant, sleeping in abandoned barns and under the stars. At the end of the day, the girls from the factory glowed from the radioactive material. Here she meets several young women who become friends–those …

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 …

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 …

MEREDITH HALL talks about her luminescent novel, BENEFICIENCE, about one Maine FARM family’s experience with a terrible loss, the way we absorb grief, and the subconscious way of art + thinking about characters long after

By Leslie Lindsay  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS  A deep, ravishing, quiet tale of a family upended by grief, a timely and topical exploration of what it means to be a family, and yet divided. Years ago, I read and loved Meredith Hall’s sweeping memoir, WITHOUT A MAP, and knew I had to get my hands on her first fiction, which is every bit as luminous and perceptive. When they met in the 1930s, Doris and Tup’s love was deep and visceral and immediate. Doris leaves behind her mercantile-minded family, where a life running her father’s shop was in the works, for Tup’s family farm, where his parents and grandparents and great-grandparents worked the land and are buried underneath the pines on farm cemetery. Their lives follow the calming–predictable–cycles of the seasons, the land. Cows are milked, calves are birthed, hay is rolled. There’s the garden and the canning, the laundry, the children–all three of them. Each day, they are grateful. But then the unthinkable happens. Faith is shattered. Grief permeates the walls, …

Madeleine Ryan talks about her stunning debut, about a sharp autistic woman, how nature is very revealing, plus the collective expression of home, how we are mirrors to that doorway, and more in A ROOM CALLED EARTH

By Leslie Lindsay  A charming and delightful read about a neuroatypical woman at a party, the man she meets, and her magical, slightly quirky view of the world.  ~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ A ROOM CALLED EARTH (Penguin Original, August 18 2020) by debut author Madeleine Ryan is at once hilarious and heartwarming. The plot is fairly straightforward:  A young autistic woman in Melbourne, Australia attends a house party. She navigates the festivities, has brief exchanges with others, and meets an intriguing man in line for the bathroom. Just like this man, we are invited back to the narrator’s unique and magical home. This premise, however, belies what a gift this book is, for what appears to be an ordinary night out is, through the prism of her mind, extraordinary.  This is such a delightful and charming read, a glittering glimpse into the sparkling and strikingly intense and unique mind. Please join me in welcoming the lovely and talented Madeleine Ryan to the author interview series.  Leslie Lindsay: Madeleine, welcome! You trained as an actor …

A murder? An accident? A cold-case or more? Megan Goldin’s deliciously dark and creepy follow-up to last summer’s explosive debut thriller THE NIGHT SWIM featuring a podcast, a small town, and secrets

By Leslie Lindsay  Deliciously dark and creepy mystery featuring a true crime podcast–a brutal cold case, and so much more.  ~WEEKEND READING SPOTLIGHT| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Last summer, Megan Goldin’s explosive debut thriller, THE ESCAPE ROOM was called ‘addictive’ by Time Magazine; Louise Penny called it, “Simply revienting” and Harlan Coben said, “Gripping and unforgettable.” This August, Goldin is back with her brilliant follow-up, THE NIGHT SWIM (St. Martin’s Press, August 4th). Quick Take: Twenty years ago, a young woman was assaulted and found dead. Her terrified sister never revealed what she witnessed that night. Today, in the same town, another woman is brutally attached and the town’s golden boy is accused. Rachel Krall is covering the trail for her hit podcast, “Guilty or Not Guilty,” which became an overnight sensation making Rachel a household name. Officially, Jenny Stills tragically drowned all those years ago. But letters that are resurfacing suggest she was murdered–and when Rachel starts asking questions, no one wants to answer. Past and present start to collide as Rachel begins to …

Can you sense what animals are feeling? Maybe. R.L. Maizes discusses this, plus abandonment, father-daughter relationships, how pets inspire, reading jags, and so much more in OTHER PEOPLE’S PETS

By Leslie Lindsay  Highly inventive, charming tale about a young woman, her criminal father, a love for animals and how animals are sometimes part of our destiny. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Charmingly off-beat and slightly quirky, OTHER PEOPLE’S PETS by R.L. Maizes, a Pushcart Prize-nominated author, (Celadon, July 14 2020) is told with such wonder, such sparse–yet focused–details, I couldn’t help by empathize with the situations Maizes constructs in her story. La La (Louise) Fine is a fourth year vet student and she relates to four-legged creatures more than the human ones–the only exception being perhaps her father, Zev. Having been abandoned by her mother as a young child, La La grew up with a single dad who was a locksmith turned thief. She went along with him on his “jobs,” and tended to the animals, stood as the watch-out, and often left treats for the animals. But that’s all in her past. Now, she has a promising career as a vet, an adoring fiancé, and she’s mostly come to terms with her mother. …

Anna Solomon talks about her ravishing and darkly sexy The Book of V., about female friendships, Biblical Esther, the imbalance of power, the structure of writing and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  Bold, elegant, blisteringly raw and delicately complex reimagining of the biblical Queen Esther, interwoven with contemporary characters, about being a strong, passionate woman in a male-dominated world. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Recommended by: People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, The New York Post, CNN, The Skimm, and more… plus… A Good Morning America & An Emma Roberts’ Belletrist Book Club Pick Bold, elegant, blisteringly raw and delicately complex reimagining of the biblical Queen Esther, interwoven with contemporary characters, about being a strong, passionate woman in a male-dominated world. I just finished THE BOOK OF V. (Henry Holt, May 2020) by Anna Solomon, and this book…oh this book! I cannot rave about it enough. I scrambled to order everything else she has ever written and am anxiously awaiting their arrival. This book made me think, it made me talk, it made me write. “The Book of V. asks complicated questions about power, desire, and the evolution of women’s roles.” —Real Simple, Top Picks for Every Taste THE BOOK OF …

Inspired by true events and the lush land of Hawaii, Sara Ackerman’s RED SKY OVER HAWAII will transport you to another time and place

Leslie Lindsay  Inspired by real places and events of WWII, RED SKY OVER HAWAII immerses the reader in a time of American history full of suspicion and peril in this lush and poignant novel. ~WEDNESDAY SPOTLIGHT|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ USA Today Bestselling and Hawaiin powerhouse author Sara Ackerman returns with a fabulous new work of historical fiction… Continue reading →