All posts tagged: secrets

COMING SOON IN PAPERBACK–THE SUNDOWN MOTEL, set in the 1980s and today, a run-down roadside motel teeming with ghosts, mysteries of the past, more

By Leslie Lindsay  An atmospheric and troubling mystery set in upstate New York at a run-down roadside motel teeming with ghosts–both literal and figurative.  NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!  ~WEEKEND READING | ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ THRILLER SPOTLIGHT Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of THE BROKEN GIRLS.  New York Times Bestseller USA Today Bestseller  NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY. But something isn’t right at the motel, something haunting and scary. Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and to visit the motel, where she …

Julia Heaberlin on how obsessions start early and never leave, the horrific experience of a woman’s found body parts, ‘evil passing through,’ her mother’s box of terrifying nature, reading poetry to unlock flat descriptions, plus prosthetics in WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK

By Leslie Lindsay  Portrait of modern Texas, in which tradition, family, secrets, and redemption run wild, this is a slow-burn mystery rooted in gorgeous writing. It’s been a decade since Trumanell Branson vanished from her family farm, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. She was the town’s beauty queen, beloved daughter, but now she’s gone. Was it a serial killer? Her brother? Her disappearance and murder haunts the town. Now, in WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK (Ballantine/PRH, August 11 2020), another girl has turned up. She’s not dead, but badly injured. She’s missing an eye, she’s mute. Odette Tucker, the town’s youngest cop (and hiding a perceived disability herself) is the one to find this injured girl amidst a field of dandelions. She believes the two instances may somehow be linked. The writing in WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK is delicately charged and searing, exploding with atmosphere. But it is a slow-burning literary thriller told from the POV of several traumatized characters carrying plenty of their own baggage. WE ARE ALL THE SAME IN THE DARK is …

Alexandra Burt begins Shadow Garden as a ‘thought experiement’: Does wealth and privilege sway moral corruption? Do we risk more if there’s more to lose, plus gorgeous prose, houses and homes, plus memory and tragedy

By Leslie Lindsay  A dark, haunting and atmospheric read about memory and twisted family dynamics set amidst luxury. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ I’ve read all of Alexandra Burt’s stunning books and when SHADOW GARDEN (Berkley, July 2020) came to my attention, I knew I had to get my hands on it. This is such a haunting read that feels claustrophobic and uncomfortable at every turn. Burt is absolutely gifted at atmospheric prose, psychological detail, gorgeous turns-of-phrase, and generally giving readers dark intrigue. Here’s the quick take: Donna Pryor has lived a life of luxury, being a ‘lady of leisure.’ Her husband is a successful plastic surgeon. Her only daughter is grown, she has a housekeeper who caters to every whim. She lives in a gated complex, her home is beautifully decorated. But. Something’s off. Donna is recovering from a recent hip surgery. Her memory isn’t what it used to be. Her daughter never calls. She and her husband are estranged. Her only companions seem to be the caregivers and housekeepers who manage her luxury neighborhood. What’s going on? Immediately, I …

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 …

Maya Shanbhag Lang talks about her sublime memoir, WHAT WE CARRY, how it’s really about negotiating adulthood, but also about traditional family roles, estrangement, how her daughter is such a gift, plus living with compassion.

By Leslie Lindsay  If family shapes us, how can we break free from the myths and injustices? What if those stories were never true in the first place? ~MEMOIR MONDAY|ALWAYS WITH BOOK~ A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK PICK Featured on GOOD MORNING AMERICA Starred Review LIBRARY JOURNAL “What if we aren’t really mothers at all, but daughters, reaching back to be mothered?” This is a paraphrased section from Maya Lang’s exquisite memoir, WHAT WE CARRY (Dial Press, April 2020), which I absolutely loved. This story shimmers with precision and perception; it’s at once raw and graceful, a tender exploration of family and fraught mother-daughter relationships. Maya Shanbhag Lang grew up idolizing her ‘can do’ physician mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from India to complete her residency in psychiatry, while raising her children and keeping a traditional Indian home. Maya’s mother had always been caring and supportive, but then…something shifted, something Maya didn’t understand. Now, in Seattle, 3,000 miles from her mother, Maya is married and expecting her first baby. She’s alone in a new city and a husband who travels for work. And …

Period debut by Gretchen Berg delves into the 1950s in small-town Wooster, Ohio, telephone operators, gossip, class, and more in THE OPERATOR

By Leslie Lindsay  A light, satisfying read about two women, a small town, and piles of gossip. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Nobody knows the people of small-town Wooster, Ohio better than Vivian Dalton,and she’ll be the first to tell you so. She calls it ‘intuition,’ her teenaged daughter, Charlotte calls it, what it is: eavesdropping. Vivian and her colleagues work at Ohio Bell, connecting lines and lives. No one is supposed to listen in on calls, but they do. THE OPERATOR (William Morrow, March 10 2020) a debut by Gretchen Berg is about rumors, stories, class structure, education, gender inequality, and more. It is often humorous, relatable in most, and though it’s set in the early 1950s, it’s timely and topical, too. Plus, can we say, > “cover crush?! ” We want to believe the 1950s was simpler, easier, but there were true concerns and worries then, too. There’s jealousy, bigotry, infidelity, and even embezzlement. THE OPERATOR is told primarily through Vivian Dalton, who is a bit insecure about her place in the world. She’s bright was asked to give …

Searingly Sharp Novel-in-short-stories about scandal, secrets, relationships, a teen pregnancy, IF THE ICE HAD HELD Wendy J. Fox talks about exposing motivations, artful intimacy, writing contests, more

By Leslie Lindsay  A web of intersecting lives–often dysfunctional and unusual–told in a hauntingly intimate prose with insight and empathy. ~FICTION FRIDAY|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ When this book came to my attention, I knew I had to read it. IF THE ICE HAD HELD (April 2019, winner of the Santa Fe Literary Press Award), is a gorgeously told web of intersecting lives told in a taut, lyrical prose about disillusionments, deceptions, relationships, motherhood, and so much more. Melanie Henderson is a 35-year old professional living and working in Denver. She dabbles in affairs with married men, but still hasn’t learned that the woman who raised her is actually her aunt. But that’s only the tip of the ice berg. Told from seven different POVs over three decades, and thirty-seven chapters, Melanie only receives sixteen of them. So who are these other people and how do they fit into Melanie’s narrative? I really enjoyed this structure, but can see how others might find it frustrating and confusing–there are a good deal of threads to maintain and …

Carol Goodman’s newest THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS about deception, moody teens, a mysterious death, and so much more, set against the backdrop of an elite prep school

By Leslie Lindsay  ~Weekend Reading Spotlight|Always with a Book~ CAROL GOODMAN is the 2018 recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award from the Mystery Writers of America for The Widow’s House.  She’s nominated for the award again in 2020 for her most recent novel, The Night Visitors. And years ago, I was completely enamored with boarding schools thanks to THE LAKE OF DEAD LANGUAGES. Now, THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS (WilliamMorrow, March 3, 2020; Trade Paperback Original) Goodman uses her adroit storytelling to bring a simmering new work of psychological suspense, in which one woman’s carefully hidden past might destroy her future—all set against the backdrop of a prestigious prep school with its own dark secrets hidden among the ivy.     “Carol Goodman is a superb writer, and she explores family and small-town dynamics in a way that’s both suspenseful and touchingly real. THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS features a fascinating cast of characters, intriguing setting—and enough shocking twists to leave you breathless. I loved it.” — Alison Gaylin, Edgar Award-winning author of Never Look Back Tess has worked hard to keep her …

Stunning literary fiction about race, class, family, secrets, injustice, more in Anissa Gray’s gorgeously rendered debut, THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS, now in paperback

By Leslie Lindsay Everybody’s hungry in THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS…daughters who yearn for mothers, sisters who need sisters… ~FICTION SPOTLIGHT|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~  NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK!  One of the most anticipated reads of 2019 Vogue, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Essence, Bustle, HelloGiggles and Cosmo! The poignant and emotionally affecting debut novel by CNN journalist Anissa Gray, THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS (Berkley Trade Paperback, January 2020) is such an exquisite read about class, family, love, and more. Embraced by booksellers and librarians and endorsed by authors like Terry McMillan and Delia Owens, the novel is a powerful exploration of what it means to be middle class in today’s America—and what it feels like to be an outsider in your family and community. “If you enjoyed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, read The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls…an absorbing commentary on love, family and forgiveness.” —The Washington Post  Gray grew up a pastor’s daughter in a small western Michigan town and drew from her experiences to create the intimately familiar world of the Butler family. Told from the alternating perspectives of sisters Althea,Viola, and Lillian, THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY …

Marriages in the 1950s–and before–might have been more about the wedding, not the relationship, plus drawing inspiration from Reno, an abandoned house, Sofia Grant talks about LIES IN WHITE DRESSES

By Leslie Lindsay  Historical women’s fiction set in the early 1950s when women were expected to fall in love, slip into a white dress and live happily-ever-after…but what if they don’t? I’ve heard of the ‘Reno Cure’ before–that is, back in the 1940s and 1950s, women requiring a speedy divorce headed to ‘ranches’ where they were await the six-week residency requirement to file for a divorce. That’s exactly what transpires in Sofia Grant’s LIES IN WHITE DRESSES (William Morrow, September 2019). It’s 1952 and San Francisco society matrons, Vi Carothers and Francine Meeker board a train for Reno, NV, where they will spend six weeks at the plush Holiday Ranch to contemplate their future. On the train, the bump into another woman, June Samples, traveling with her 4 year old daughter, Patty, also en route to Reno. “More than a skillfully woven novel, Lies in White Dresses reads like a black-and-white film that pulls you in from the very first scene…A memorable, atmospheric tale to savor with a friend and a rum-ginger fizz.” – Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge …