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A LIE SOMEONE TOLD YOU ABOUT YOURSELF by Peter Ho Davies

Peter Ho Davies’ book A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself is a book about the giant leap into anxiety and uncertainty known as parenthood. And it’s the rare book about parenthood – and abortion – written by a man. The main characters, an unnamed husband and wife, choose to abort a pregnancy when they learned that there was a significant chance that their child would be born with mosaicism, a rare but serious genetic condition. Yet, when they get pregnant again and have a son, they experience more uncertainty, including a potential autism diagnosis. Davies’ novel, intensely personal, is

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THE ENSEMBLE by Aja Gabel

I was drawn to Aja Gabel’s novel The Ensemble because I liked the premise: four people spend decades together as members of a string quartet, bridging San Francisco and New York and back to San Francisco, spanning life events like marriages and parenthood, knowing each other more intimately than spouses thanks to the intensity caused by proximity and interdependence. And for the most part, that’s what I got from it, though it was not quite

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WHAT COMES AFTER by Joanne Tompkins

What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins is a propulsive character-driven novel that also includes a murder-suicide mystery. When this debut novel opens, we learn that two high school boys – Daniel and Jonah – are dead, and that Jonah killed Daniel in an uncharacteristic fit of violence. Daniel’s father Isaac and Jonah’s mother Lorrie, next door neighbors, are trying to navigate their own painful interactions and move on from the tragedy. A pregnant teenager, Evangeline,

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GOOD NEIGHBORS by Sarah Langan

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan is a suburban gothic, vaguely apocalyptic novel set in the near future in Long Island. During a blazing hot summer, a sinkhole opens up in a park across a crescent-shaped street with 20 or so families. The sinkhole’s appearance coincides with rising neighborhood tensions and the leveling of accusations of sexual assault against the husband of one family on the block. Over the course of the summer, the sinkhole will

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OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN by R. J. Hoffmann

You know how with some books, when you open the first page, you have an immediate sense of dread? Like you just know that you’re in for a tortured ride that may or, more importantly, may not end well? That’s what happened to me with Other People’s Children, a debut novel by R. J. Hoffman. It’s about three women – Carli, a pregnant teenager; Marla, her abusive mother; and Gail, an infertile wife – all

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WHO GETS IN AND WHY by Jeffrey Selingo

I don’t usually read horror books, but I made an exception for this one: Who Gets In And Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo. I have two high school juniors and am already mired in the fun process of watching my daughters try to get into college. Who Gets In And Why is an in-depth look at how we got to this point in time, where the most selective schools in the

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TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE by Carola Lovering

When Too Good To Be True by Carola Lovering opens, we learn that a couple, Burke and Skye, have just gotten engaged. They haven’t known each other that long, but Skye is head over heels for Burke and is sure that he’s the guy for her, even if her friends and family are a little wary of him. Soon after, we are introduced to Burke’s diary entries, where he chronicles meeting Skye and getting involved

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DO STAND SO CLOSE TO ME by Jeffrey Lee Campbell

The memoir Do Stand So Close To Me by Jeffrey Lee Campbell may have a narrower audience than most books I review on this blog, but here goes. In 1987, while in his early 20s, Campbell moved to New York City from North Carolina to try to make it as a guitarist. Through a series of lucky breaks, Campbell landed a coveted gig as the guitarist for Sting’s band for the Nothing Like The Sun

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RECIPE FOR A PERFECT WIFE by Karma Brown

Is a book set half in the present and half in the 50s historical fiction? The 50s don’t seem long enough ago to be considered “historical”, right? I am going to call Recipe For A Perfect Wife by Karma Brown contemporary fiction. It’s about two women who live in the same house in a Westchester suburb: Nellie, a housewife in the 50’s trapped in a marriage to a difficult, volatile man, and Alice, a young

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CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 by Lisa Unger

After my very slow reading March, I decided to kickstart April with a thriller to get myself back in the reading game. I’ve had Confessions On The 7:45 by Lisa Unger on my nightstand since Christmas, tempted by this irresistible plot: a woman takes a train home from the city one night, confessing to a stranger that she saw her husband having sex with their nanny on their webcam. A few days later, the nanny

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WE RUN THE TIDES by Vendela Vida

We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida has many things I like in a novel. Coming-of-age story? Check. Elusive friendships? Definitely. 80s setting? In San Francisco? Even better. In the end, though, it wasn’t quite what I expected. I liked it, but it was sort of a strange book. Why I picked it up: We Run The Tides has been on my radar since I picked it for our Winter Preview show on the podcast.

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BETWEEN TWO KINGDOMS by Suleika Jaouad

Part of my reading slowdown in March was due to Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad, which is a very good book that happened to take me a long time to get through. It’s a memoir about Jaouad’s diagnosis of leukemia in her early 20s, the years of intense treatment she endured, and her life post-treatment. The titular “two kingdoms” comes from Susan Sontag, who coined it to represent the kingdom of the well and

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THE BAD MUSLIM DISCOUNT by Syed Masood

Ok, I finished a book in March. Finally. My first read of the month (yes, it’s March 20) was The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed Masood. A recent release that’s gotten a lot of buzz, it’s the story of two Muslims – one traditional and devout, one modern and non-devout – whose lives cross paths in San Francisco. I am not sure what I was expecting, but The Bad Muslim Discount turned out to be

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Reading Slump

I haven’t posted for two weeks. Crazy! It’s the 18th! What is going on??? I am in a reading slump. I have no idea why. I am surrounded – literally – by books that I am excited to read. I am in fact in the middle of three books that I am really enjoying! For whatever reason, I am having trouble reading. Pandemic fatigue, new rescue dog in the house, kids back in school, TikTok

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MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russell

It has taken me a few days to get my thoughts together about My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Written over the course of 20 years starting when Russell was 16, it’s the story of the sexual relationship between Vanessa and her English teacher, Mr. Strane, and the hold that relationship had on the rest of Vanessa’s life. My Dark Vanessa was written long before #MeToo, but its publication was certainly timely, as it

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LANDSLIDE by Susan Conley

Reading Landslide by Susan Conley is like walking into someone else’s very stressful life, which you may or may not want to experience. Jill is a middle-aged woman living with her husband Kit and two teenage sons in Maine, where Kit is a commercial fisherman and Jill makes documentary films. When the book opens, Kit has been seriously injured in an accident on his boat, and he is in a Nova Scotia hospital several hours

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