Welcome to my new world. By that I mean, I'm officially past my busiest editing season and on my way to having plenty of reading time. In fact I spent most of Saturday afternoon on my deck reading. What heaven!
I finished three books last week and am starting this week completely fresh. Tonight (meaning last night -- Sunday) I get to start a new audiobook, a new print book, and a new ebook. I don't know about you, but I always love the thrill of deciding what to read next.
My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry (Pamela Dorman Books, 2017): This thriller, set in London, revolves around Lily, a lawyer, and Ed, her artist husband. The foundation of the story is built around Lily's first major criminal case, the early months of the couple's marriage, and their brief involvement with the mother and child in the apartment down the hall. The action takes place 16 years later, when Lily has established a solid reputation but Ed is struggling to find lasting success. It is at this point, that Carla, the neighbor girl from all those years ago, reappears in their life, disrupting the fragile bonds that tie Lily and Ed together. I had mixed feelings about the book. The good is that it held my attention enough that I wanted to keep listening. Unfortunately, the plot was fairly predictable, if not in the details, then certainly in general. In addition, there seemed to be an abnormally large percentage of characters on the autism spectrum, all of whom seemed to display fairly stereotypical behavior. The epilogue promised the revelation of a couple of dark secrets, but didn't deliver in terms of surprise or shock. The unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 13 hr, 54 min) was read by Rosalyn Landor, who held my attention throughout. Her Italian accent was believable, her characterizations were consistent, and her pacing was well done. Although the audiobook production was a winner, the book itself was not. (Review copies were courtesy of Pamela Dorman books for the hardcover and Penguin Audio for the audiobook.)
Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Bahar (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2017): I accepted a review copy of this book because I was attracted to the immigration story. This novel, however, was not the book I was expecting. Based on the author's own life, the book is not so much an immigration tale, as the story of how a young girl heals after a terrible accident that leaves her in a body cast for most a year, just months after her family leaves Castro's Cuba for New York (Queens) in the 1960s. Many of Ruthie's new neighbors are also recent immigrants, from places as far-flung as India, Belgium, and Mexico. While Ruthie is confined to bed, suffering the indignities of being an invalid, life continues in the outside world, and she is left to contemplate her fate and her future, finding comfort in visitors, reading, and her newfound love of painting. I especially loved the way spiritual beliefs and cultural differences are explored from young Ruthie's perspective. Other important themes are forgiveness, grief, and friendship, all of which are presented in unique ways. Finally, this is one of the few books to show Jewish families in a more normal light than I'm used to seeing. Even if you don't normally read middle grade books, you really need to read this one. It would make a good book club pick for adults or kids and is important in light of today's immigration tensions. (Thanks to Penguin Young Readers for the review copy.)
Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata (St. Martin's Press, 2017): This well-researched book was written by an investigative journalist who introduces us to a South Carolina family who carries a rare but deadly genetic mutation. The fatal prion disease that affects this family in middle age is related to several other neurological diseases (including kuru, Alzheimer's, and mad-cow)--none of which has a known cure. The book reads like a medical thriller and focuses on the complex emotional and ethical issues that the Baxley family and others like them must struggle with as a group and individually. If your family carried a deadly genetic mutation, would you want to be tested for it? Should you have children? How would you live your life? Besides the Baxleys, we also meet the researchers who were instrumental in discovering prions and identifying the diseases that are caused by these proteins. The unabridged audiobook (Recorded Books, 8 hr, 20 min) was skillfully read by Andrea Gallo. Gallo highlighted both the emotional impact of this true story and the drama of the background of medical research. (My full audiobook review will be available through AudioFile magazine.) A recommended read for those interested in medical history and diseases.
- On the Beth Fish Reads: I have a fun giveaway tomorrow -- two books for your middle grade readers or you!
- Helping Kids in Need: Penguin Random House is hosting #ProjectReadathon this week (starting today). According to their promotional material, "For each minute of reading, Penguin Random House will make donations to put books into the hands of children in need." So all you have to do to participate is to check out the Project Readathon web page and read, read, read from today through April 24. It looks like a great program. For more, watch this video: