Books to Read in April & March Madness Final 4
In this week’s episode, Nicole and Gayle share their last and current reads. They also have a small discussion on the newly released series Inventing Anna, a Netflix adaptation of the book with a homonym name.
They also present the four final books that you can vote to move only two to the big final. Please, send here your vote.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas
At The Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deeshaw Philyaw
As usual, you’ll find below a list of the relevant books mentioned during the episode:
*Books linked above are our affiliate links through Amazon. There’s no additional expense to you, but if you make a purchase through us a small portion of that contributes to the costs associated with making our podcast. Thanks so much for listening and for your support.
[00:00:00] Nicole: Welcome to another edition of the readerly report today. Gail and I are down to our final four in a sense. We have one book that is going to be the, getting the buy in our March Madness. Well, we call it a challenge tournament, tournament contest. So we’ll also be sharing a couple of books that we’re looking forward to that are coming out in April.
And I think we’re both looking forward to updating you on what we’ve been reading. I’ve actually read a couple of things. So I’m excited to say that Gail, I think I’m only four books behind on my good reads challenge.
[00:00:41] Gayle: Well, that’s very doable.
[00:00:43] Nicole: I feel like I’ve caught up a little bit six when it had slipped to six and seven, I was feeling like, you know, I might not, I might not be able to pull through, but now that I’m in within four, I feel like that’s just one vacation away from being on target.
[00:01:00] Gayle: Yes.
[00:01:01] Nicole: So, what have you been reading? How did your vacation reading go? We didn’t get a chance to talk about which books you were going to take. Yeah. Oh,
well, it’s a good thing. We didn’t spend too much time talking about it because I ended up getting mired in a book that was, I found kind of slow. And so I only really made it through that one book.
Oh, and also, did I tell you that our vacation got canceled?
I don’t know if I said something like that. There was a chain. Yeah, we were
supposed to get, yeah, right. We went to North Carolina, so I didn’t quite have the like beach reading that I wanted to, my daughter got COVID right before we were going to go.
So we had to cancel. So I read this book called groundskeeping by Lee Cole that has gotten lots of, lots of buzz and great reviews and
the books that people voted on for the book. Oh
[00:01:52] Gayle: good. Well then if that’s the case, I don’t think I’ll get too deep into it. It didn’t
[00:01:58] Nicole: win. So. Oh,
[00:02:00] Gayle: okay. Well, but didn’t when I could talk about it.
So I liked it, but it was slow. It was like dense and slow and it just took me a long time to get through. So, whereas I thought maybe I’d get through like two or three books. I didn’t, I just basically read that book the whole time. Did you like it? I, there are things I liked about it. I appreciate it.
It’s a story about a guy who grows up in Kentucky and kind of, you know, very red state family kind of, you know, Trumpy Republican family, but he feels like a bit of a black sheep in his family and he moves out to Colorado and then has some kind of addiction issues and ends up moving back home with very little prospects and, you know, Have any money and he moves in with his grandfather and gets a job at an university doing tree work, you know, groundskeeping work.
And it’s basically just about him. He meets a girl, he develops a relationship and it’s just about his identity. He wants to be a writer. So if he takes a writing course, not a whole lot happens. And there’s lots of amazing character development and it’s very well-written, but it’s just slow and long. And it’s felt very like masculine to me.
Like there’s just, you know, he’s very restrained and not very emotional or does not, not very expressive. It’s not that he’s not emotional. It’s not expressive. So I enjoyed that. But it was not my favorite book. And I think that there are others who have enjoyed it more than
[00:03:28] Nicole: I did. It sounds like tortured enjoyment having it.
[00:03:32] Gayle: Wouldn’t say it’s tortured enjoyment. I just, I just kind of wanted to finish, you know, I just like, I wanted to get through it and I don’t it’s torture to me. Yeah. Maybe I’m. Underselling it, I, I liked it. I’m glad I read it. It just wasn’t my favorite. And then I read like another book afterwards that I really, really liked.
And so the contrast between the two was very like mark in my mind. Yeah. So I read a book by Rebecca Kaufman called chorus and that book is so different. It’s about a family living in Virginia and the. Mostly the twenties and thirties, but it does stretch a little bit into the forties and fifties. And it’s about these seven kids growing up in this house with a very depressed mother who ends up killing herself.
And that’s not a spoiler that’s revealed very, very early on. And that’s the story of this family. That’s told through the perspective of these seven kids and she jumps around and chapters and terms of perspective. And in terms of time, And, you know, there’s little vignettes and things that happen in each chapter, you can kind of catch up and some of the other siblings and you see the perspective of this family through all these different eyes.
And I just, I loved it. It was my first five-star book of the year. Oh yeah. I really liked it. I’ve read another book by her called the gunners. And I think I like this one better in the title. Yeah. The gunners. She read a book called the house on Fripp island, which I have not read. Oh, did you like that book?
I did. So I feel
[00:05:06] Nicole: like it’s quiet. It’s not one of those books that you yell out and you’re just like, oh my gosh, I enjoyed it because it was just about these fam it’s like an intricate story about these, this family who goes on vacation with. Neighbors who aren’t as affluent as they are. And I think one of the husbands wins this trip.
So finally one of the friends is able to offer her friend this trip with her family without, you know, it being about money and they accept. So it’s just kind of all about these simmering differences that go on while they’re on vacation together. And of course, something tragic happens on the vacation that.
Is the framework of, I guess, the novel and you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen. And yeah, it was, it was a really quiet story. I think that maybe you’re thinking, I mean, what does happen is really, really impactful or whatever, but I think there’s a certain amount of app ambiguity, or I don’t know that a lot of people would be satisfied with the ending.
You know what I mean?
[00:06:06] Gayle: Yeah. But
[00:06:07] Nicole: I really
[00:06:07] Gayle: liked her writing. Yeah, I would say that chorus is pretty quiet too. It’s just a quiet book. I don’t know. I just like, it wasn’t that long and I just couldn’t get enough of it. Like it just, it was good. And then the third one that I read, and I wonder if this was picked for our book club, was mercy street, did that get picked or was it it was worse.
Oh, it was mercy street. Okay.
[00:06:32] Nicole: Breaker in that I have to admit and groundskeeping just sounded like, I don’t know. I was looking for excerpts of it online and I couldn’t find any. And I saw that it was on the Jenna show and I just went back and forth. So I let the tie breaker be the fact that Jennifer Hague fits in with my reading.
Authors that I’ve already read. Okay. So I kind of took the decision out of my own hands, even though I could have picked either, but I don’t know. There was just some, it’s just like, I don’t want to like be in Trump land or wherever I was like, I just can’t right now.
[00:07:07] Gayle: Well, if you don’t want to be in Trump land, it’s a parts of mercy street that are firmly in Trump land.
But I did read that one too, but I, I will withhold talking about it until we have a book club.
[00:07:18] Nicole: I just felt like there was a more variety of characters. And I guess that book just what it was about was just emanating a difficult character that maybe I just didn’t want to be in his head. He sounded kind of depressing.
[00:07:30] Gayle: Yeah. I think I also think mercy street will lend itself better to a discussion. So I think that was the right pick. Okay, good.
[00:07:37] Nicole: Yeah. But everyone was split on it. I think. Yeah, it was an even split. Well, yeah, that’s why it was the breaker.
[00:07:43] Gayle: I’m surprised. That Opal inev didn’t win. I thought it would,
[00:07:46] Nicole: I think a lot of people have probably read it or have probably heard it, heard a lot more about it.
I think aren’t these books a little bit newer. Cause I think Oakland nev is probably about ready to hit paperback. I think
[00:07:57] Gayle: that’s right. Okay. So how about you?
[00:08:02] Nicole: I have been zipping along. I finished this book called the power couple, and it is about this couple who have they’ve been married a long time and it seems like they’re on the verge of kind of like losing this marriage.
They’ve drifted way far apart. You know, some things happen in the marriage. They decide to recommit to it and they go on a 20th anniversary trip and they take their children with them. And then while they are missing or while they are on the trip, it just gave it away. Their daughter goes missing, she’s kidnapped.
And you know, we find out that the parents do not have normal lives. Like he works for the NSA and he’s like a coder and she. Works for the FBI. So she’s in counter-intelligence and the FBI. So when their daughter goes missing and they have gone on vacation overseas I think they start out in Paris and end up in Barcelona.
And so they don’t know like, is it because of his life? Is it because of her life? Is this just a random thing? And then two there’s like other secrets that they have from each other. So it’s all about trying to figure out their daughter, it goes back and forth in time. You know, you look at how they met and how their relationship has developed, but I really, I really liked it.
Yeah. It was kind of like. You know, fast paced, but still thoughtful, still a thoughtful examination. I would say of these two characters, you know, the husband and the wife being from different backgrounds, you know, he’s, he’s from a family that’s not as well off as hers and just kind of how the dynamics change, because I think when they meet each other, they’re just kind of really enthralled in ways that, you know, maybe it’s because of.
You know, like dealing with someone who is not from the same background and you know, just how that wears throughout the marriage. So there’s like lots of stuff too, about like money and class and. You know, their personalities, which make it an interesting read. I also read this book called or I listened to like a sister by Kelly Garrett.
And it is about this young woman who is estranged from her sister when she goes missing shortly after her birthday. And she’s found by the side of the road, she, it looks like a drug overdose or maybe a suicide, but even though her sister was kind of into drugs, this woman does not believe. She believes that there’s something more to this story.
So they’re half sisters. Lena is the sister who is looking for her, looking into the disappearance and the death of her half sister. And. I don’t know, their father grew up in the music business. You know, she, her sister Deseret had kind of been in reality shows she’s estranged from her father because once he marries Deseret his mother, she doesn’t feel like she’s as part of the family.
And she had like some problems with Deseret just because of her drug use. But, you know, it’s just kind of. The things that your family hides from you and just how there can be secrets that you don’t even know, like the full dynamics of what goes on into a family. So she discovers a lot about her sister and her relationship with her father while she is on this search.
And I really enjoyed that. Both characters and the author are black and it kind of too just approaches how The coverage of these cases can be different because of race, you know, even when money is involved. And so it was interesting to look at that.
I like the narrator, Bonnie Turpin is the narrator. How do
[00:11:40] Gayle: I know that name?
[00:11:41] Nicole: She might have? I feel like she’s probably narrated some things that you might’ve listened to. What she narrowed. It just did a profile on her. In Leebro FM. Oh, okay.
[00:11:56] Gayle: Maybe. Hmm. I don’t know if the name is definitely familiar.
[00:11:59] Nicole: yeah. I mean, she’s narrated, let’s see, like the life of sister, the hate you give the immortal life of Henrietta lacks bad feminists. Yeah. She has the underground railroad. She’s not ready to quite a bit. The sun is also a star. She’s actually narrating this book. That’s on my list. Recitative by. Toni Morrison.
I think that’s one of her latest ones. So she narrowed it, the yellow house. Did you read the yellow house? No,
[00:12:25] Gayle: I don’t think so.
[00:12:27] Nicole: Okay. But she’s narrated a fair amount. So maybe, I mean, when you look up her name to see what she’s attached to so many results come up, like that was just the tip of the iceberg.
So you may have listened to her at some point. So tell us what you’re reading now. She did you listen to transcendent kingdom by yogic?
[00:12:46] Gayle: Yes, I did get that. Okay. Yes, I definitely did. So that would ring a bell then. So what am I reading now? I am reading. Well, one of the books I’m reading is actually one of the books we’re going to talk about on the show.
It’s an April release. So why don’t I hold on that one. And then I, you know, I walked into the library the other day to return a book and I just, I can’t ever leave the library without passing the new releases section. And there was a book it’s not even, yeah. It’s like a kid. It just calls. It’s like a moth to the flame.
And there’s a book on there that wasn’t even that new. I think it came out last year or the year before, but called the fortunate ones by ed Tarkington and I grabbed it and then I just started it on audio and I’m already completely sucked in. So yeah. So I’m reading that, I’m listening to that one.
And then I also started. The new Rosie Walsh book, the love of my life, which yeah, that was my book of the month pick. And that just showed up.
[00:13:41] Nicole: So, so my list of things that I was looking forward to, and she’s an author that I read. Oh, good. Okay. Well,
[00:13:49] Gayle: yeah, I’m like maybe 30 or 40 pages in it. You know, I didn’t the narration.
I started that one on audio and I, the narration was like heavy British accent and it just was like, it was becoming too much work to listen. And so I switched that one over to print and that’s when I grabbed the the fortunate. So I, that’s why I have three books going. Cause then I’ve also got a book that I was previously reading in print, so, and that’s one of the ones I’m going to talk about for our April releases.
[00:14:20] Nicole: Okay. All right. So moving right along. Cause I know we have a bunch of stuff to get to. I will just mention briefly that I’m reading Patricia Highsmith strange. Strangers on the train. I just felt like that was a classic that kept popping up and that I wanted to read because so many books are inspired by that, you know, the two strangers who meet and decide that they are going to carry out crimes for each other.
That I’ve just felt like. The source material. So I’m at the very beginning of that. This guy is he’s on his way to go and visit his mother and to see his wife who he is not in love with anymore. He’s already met someone else, but he’s left his wife back in Texas while he’s in New York. And the story is that, you know, he’s going to send for her as soon as he gets.
Money to send for her, but, you know, he seems pretty miserable and wants out of the marriage and he meets this strange guy and they, there, they are striking up a conversation. I’m guessing. I will find out, you know, who this other dude wants dead and it looks like that they will probably, I mean, that’s the premise of it.
And I’ve read, I feel like I’ve read so many books based on that. And everyone talks about like, you know, her, the talented Mr. Ripley and this one. So I was like, I just need to read, you know, the book that the book itself, as opposed to like all of the adaptations. So that’s what I’m reading right now. And that’s pretty much it I’m reading it on my Kindle.
I just started it today. The only other thing I’m reading is a, some of us by Heather Mickey, which I’m kind of slowly getting through. And that one is the tagline is what racism costs everyone and how we can prosper together. It’s really good, but it’s also heavy. So like I read a chapter and then I’m just like, all right.
We’re going to take a break from that for now. Understandably. So last week or a couple of weeks ago, when we were on the show, I had told you that I had started watching inventing Ana. And I had thoughts about that. So I know that you also read the book that was by. What was her name? Reach? No, Rachel Williams.
Yes. Rachel Deloche Williams. And I, it’s not totally based on that in this, in inventing Anna, Rachel is, it’s not like she’s not a big character. She’s definitely someone that they want to talk to and like, try to figure out. What her part of the story is, but I just had such issues with the way they cha they characterize parts of Rachel’s story.
You know, I mean, of course this is like a fictional, heavily fictionalized version of that whole story. So, what I want to ask you is what do you remember of the book and reading Rachel’s book? What do you remember happening when she talks to her boss about what has happened with Anna? Oh, her
[00:17:12] Gayle: boss.
That’s a great question. Well, who does she work for again? What kind of company?
[00:17:16] Nicole: She works at a publishing company. Like magazines
[00:17:19] Gayle: is talking to the boss. What leads her to end up writing?
[00:17:23] Nicole: No. I mean, I just felt her boss was pretty sympathetic to like, remember her boss was kind of counseling her and helping her and
[00:17:30] Gayle: right.
And she had ended up using like her company credit cards for some of the debt and like, they were pretty understanding about it. That’s that’s what, that’s all I remember. Okay.
[00:17:41] Nicole: I just wanted to confirm that I was not crazy. Why, what happens in the show in the show and, okay. So we’re clearly getting into spoilers people.
So. You know, if you have not watched the show and you want to watch the show, you shouldn’t listen to like for the next minute, because in the show they have the boss be like, oh, you really need to like tell whoever that this money is missing. And they haul her in, in front of this committee and they’re just like, oh, you’ve like, suborned fraud.
And you know, you let this woman just use your credit card and they threatened her with jail. And I just thought, look. This is the perfect teachable moment about privilege and how some people like this was terrible. What happened to her? Like I don’t condone what happened to her, but this was a woman who had resources.
Like her boss was sympathetic. They were trying to help her work it out. They were trying to help her with a repayment plan. So to act like. She was ever in the danger. I mean, she had her own personal feelings about it because of course, who wants to owe $60,000 to anyone, even if you have friends who can help you pay it or whatever, but they just had it.
Like this company was just going to go after her. And I was like, why would you make that change? Instead of showing her
[00:19:03] Gayle: is
[00:19:05] Nicole: maybe that’s more dramatic. And I was like, yeah, but you’re acting. Anyone in this situation is playing by the same rules as anyone else. And that’s just not true.
[00:19:17] Gayle: I mean, I guess they’re just trying to show just like the permeation of her life by this woman and how it, you know, affected every aspect of her life.
[00:19:27] Nicole: But that’s clear. I mean, you can still, her stress. That’s a stressful thing. If I had put 60 grand on my credit card, but I doubt if I would have a boss, who’s just like, look, Nicole, no big deal. We’re going to figure this out. Right. Right. I probably would have been in front of, you know, the board with them talking about this is fraud.
You’re going to be fired. You did that. You lent her, you gave her the card. So that was just a very interesting variation that. Did not appreciate you. They could have done better with that. I feel like
I also watch the second Bridger, the whole
[00:20:04] Gayle: series
[00:20:04] Nicole: I did. Okay. I thought the first couple of episodes were a little boring, but I did really like the the side storylines, like, you know, there’s the storyline of who is miss whistled down the relationship with the sisters. I thought there was interesting stuff.
I mean, even with the main character, like I said, I didn’t think I was going to watch it. Cause I really did really did not like the brother. And of course they are giving him, you know, this is about getting to know him and we realize why he’s like such an awful person. Is this the older brother? Yes. Okay.
I was just like, he’s not even acute.
[00:20:40] Gayle: I was so turned off by the first season. I don’t think I would watch the second.
[00:20:44] Nicole: Yeah. Like I said, I do think, I don’t know. And I think in some ways maybe the second season is much better, I think, or maybe I paid attention more or whatever. I think the duke was very distracting in the first season.
He says, keep watching, because it’s just like, all right. I guess I’ll just watch one more episode more to keep watching him then. I didn’t think the first season was that great. I mean, I don’t know. Yeah.
[00:21:12] Gayle: It just seems sort of silly.
[00:21:15] Nicole: But I thought that this one had a little bit more weight and a little bit more meat just in terms of, you know, the sisters being in love with the same guy.
So yeah. They took that to unexpected places.
[00:21:30] Gayle: Wait, the sisters being who did that, is that, that season two or season one. Oh, okay. All right. That’s some, that’s some intrigue I didn’t know about.
[00:21:40] Nicole: It’s definitely with something like this. I always feel like when two family members like the same person, I feel like there’s always going to be a character introduced that one sister likes more.
So it’s no big deal, but that did not happen. I’m was like, how are they going to do this?
[00:21:58] Gayle: Let me ask you a bookish related a bookish adjacent question. Okay. So we adopted a dog about a month and a half ago. No foster you just straight out adopted. Well, we did foster him and that lasted for 24 hours and we were just like, we have to keep him because he’s so great.
So, and this, thankfully we did because my other dog passed away about two weeks later. Yeah. My other dog died in The middle of March. So, yeah, so but it, it was certainly helpful that we had, you know, a new dog in the house just to sort of like ease it a little bit. And so he’s been great and we love him and the name that he came with, his Hobart and none of us is crazy about the name.
Like it, at this point, it’s a little hard to rename him because he has turned, he is Hobart in the, you know, his personality fits the name, but one name that I want to name him as Mr. Darcy. And then just call him Darcy for girl for short. But some people are saying it’s two girls. But Darcy. Yeah, that calling him Darcy is
[00:23:04] Nicole: too girly.
She would agree with that. I don’t, I mean, I don’t know any Darcy’s that are female. It’s all. It’s like Mr. Darcy. I mean
[00:23:13] Gayle: right here, the greater compliment to pay a dog then to
[00:23:17] Nicole: name him. Mr. Darcy, literary minded. Who are these people? Gail,
[00:23:23] Gayle: my husband from one, both of my parents seem to agree on this one. I don’t know.
It’s like, I feel like it’s, as long as you said, well, his name is Mr. Darcy. We call them Darcy people be like, oh yeah, I get it. Yeah, because he’s
[00:23:34] Nicole: Mr. Darcy. And then you all, you always have nicknames. My cat’s name is Walter and he came with that name and I tried, I wanted, he’s a black and white cat, so I wanted to call him Tom.
But that just, is it never stuck and doesn’t stick. Yeah, it didn’t stick. So he’s, Walty you know his name?
[00:23:53] Gayle: Yeah. All right. Well, we’ll see. He is now on my Instagram feed. So lucky the lucky dog pics are no more because lucky is no more. So I have switched over to Hobart. He’s not as easy to photograph because lucky would mostly sit still.
Yeah, he was. Just kind of sit there with the book, he sort of just tolerated it. Whereas Hubbard, I have a hard time getting him to sit still long enough to get a picture. You have to train them. Yeah. And he’s very, his face is mostly black. He’s got those brown, like those sort of fake eyes that dogs have, which are meant to deceive other dogs into thinking they’re awake even when they’re asleep.
So it’s a defense thing, but it’s those little brown patches right above the eye. Sort of from a distance look like eyes so interesting. Yeah. So he’s just not as easy. It’s not as easy to see his face. Lucky, you know, he was like, try color white and brown. So you could kind of see his eyes better. Nope.
He’s somewhere between three and four. Okay. Well, yeah, still young. He’s still young. Yeah. He’s great.
[00:24:57] Nicole: Well, Gail, I am so sorry to hear about lucky. I mean, Thank you might have passed. I could not, I just couldn’t tell anyone for a while, because like to mention her was to cry. Yeah,
[00:25:09] Gayle: I know. I know. I mean, we have a lot of warning with lucky.
He had got cancer last summer. Then he was on chemo all during the fall. Then I thought he was in remission, but the cancer came back really fast. So we tried this other chemo and you know, I thought he was doing okay. And then. At the beginning of March, she just took a big turn. Yeah. It just new. And like it w you know, I had brought him in for chemo and they said, well, his numbers are a little high.
Let’s see what happens next week. And by the following week, he just he’d really, really gone downhill. So I’ve had a lot of warning that it was coming, but it’s, you know, it’s never easy at all to it didn’t
[00:25:45] Nicole: matter. Yeah. I know. Yeah.
[00:25:49] Gayle: All right. So anyway, okay. So we have a lot more to cover. Let’s do the March madness.
We have two match-ups and you know, we’ve talked about these books a lot already, so we don’t need to do too much. Yeah. Really brief. Okay. So our first matchup is the paper palace versus the nine lives of Rosa Positano. And we’re giving the cliff notes version, the cliff notes version. We’re giving the idea of you a buy because it scored the most out of these five.
[00:26:15] Nicole: It was number one, seated. So
[00:26:17] Gayle: number one, seated. So it gets to cruise ahead to the
[00:26:20] Nicole: next rest on
[00:26:21] Gayle: its laurels. Right? I was at my son’s baseball game yesterday. Someone, one of the moms said to me, you know, I went through your blog and I was going really deep. And you know what book I decided to read? And I’m like, what?
She goes, it’s that one about the woman and the one direction type guy. And I was like, oh yes, the idea of you. She goes, I had no idea. I was going to like it as much as I did. I said,
[00:26:43] Nicole: yep, it’s you and everyone, women all over the place. And it’s an old. So the
[00:26:50] Gayle: paper palace, we’ve talked about that before.
This is the book about the woman with the ramshackle house on the Cape who has this she’s sort of torn between two men, her husband, and then her best friend from growing up. Who’s somebody who. Went through a lot of different traumas with, and really understands her and her history. Whereas her husband also a good guy.
But wasn’t kind of there for lots and lots of family trauma. And there is a lot of trauma in this book, just lots and lots of really bad things happen over and over again. But it’s a very atmospheric well-told told story takes place in the summertime. So you really dig into that, like, you know, Cape Cod summer with the ponds and the bugs and the.
You know, the heat. So just a good, like kind of love story. And also it’s one of those books where you really don’t know up until the very end, what she’s going to decide to do. And I’m not even sure that at the end, you’re even sure what she does. I think it’s a slightly ambiguous ending. So if you’re down for that type of book and can deal with a little ambiguity, then it’s a very addictive and grossing read what
[00:27:59] Nicole: will make it have staying power.
[00:28:04] Gayle: What will make it have staying power? Would we read this in
[00:28:06] Nicole: three years? Five,
[00:28:08] Gayle: because it’s a good story. I don’t think it has like a big meaningful message to it. I just think it’s a good story. And I think it’s the type of book it’s kind of like crawdads, like cry doesn’t really have like a strong message to it, but it’s, it’s, you know, it’s a very.
Engrossing story that you want to read. And when you, when I think back on the paper palace, like I can definitely conjure up lots of images from the book and things that have stuck in mind. Okay, so Rosa Peloton. Yeah. So Rosa Positano, I would say is different in that it has more to say nine lives of Rosemont Neapolitana it was a sliding doors, esque story about a woman whose husband wants to have a baby.
She does not. They had agreed before they got married. They weren’t going to have kids. Then he changes his mind. The book is nine different scenarios of how that can play out either they stay together and have a kid. They stay together and don’t have a kid. They have a kid and don’t stay together. On and on there’s all these different permutations of what happens.
This is a more complex Lee constructed book because you’ve got these nine different lives and they parallel each other. Sometimes there’s little snippets of some stories that get picked up in other chapters. But it’s a much more, I think, a deeper story because it’s a story about agency and control and women and motherhood and non motherhood and how much, you know, freedom.
Women should have from societal pressure and pressure from a partner about parenthood. And then, you know, there are people who don’t want to be parents, but become parents and end up very happy. And some people who do want to be parents are and are still not happy. So it’s about the kind of shades of gray in parenthood and how to live a life that feels faithful to what you believe and what you.
And to answer your question about what would give it staying power. I think these are issues that don’t go away. So, and as certainly as we get to a place in society where, you know, reproductive freedom and is being curtailed and all the right to choose gets narrower and narrower, I think these issues become more and more.
So that is the matchup paper palace versus nine lives of rose Neapolitana.
[00:30:35] Nicole: Okay. So then we have the Wolf table versus the secret lives of church league. So at the Wolf’s table, it is set in world war II. It is about these women who come together or who are forced to come together because Hitler needs someone who is able to taste his food to make sure that he isn’t being poisoned and.
You know, some of these women are local to the town. Some of them like one of the main characters, she is actually from a big city. I think maybe Berlin, her husband is off fighting in the war and she is chosen to be one of the taste testers because she has gone to live with his family in this small town.
So. Novel is all about the relationships between the woman, women, and how they develop as they are brought together in this very fraught time. When basically you just don’t know if the next bite is going to kill you or not. And in the beginning, they are allowed to go back home and to stay with their families, but they progressed to the point where they no longer are allowed to have that kind of freedom.
And they are like, They’re in the facility all of the time, like they are placed in these dormitories and just different allegiances and things come to light. So it really is all about the hard choices that you have to make and are forced into when you’re a women woman, when you can’t necessarily decide, make decisions, these decisions aren’t voluntary.
They are being paid. And I think some of them, a lot of them are grateful for the money and need the money for different reasons, but you just really get to know their personalities and you get to see what’s going on in their lives. Like, some of them are very, are sympathetic to the cause. You know, this is, this is their Homeland and some of them agree, but there are other people who don’t and it’s just kind of like the whole novel is about teasing out.
Where people’s allegiance lies and sometimes like the gray areas that they come up against. So it was really interesting to get to know these women just definitely stories in there that were heartbreaking. And I think that this novel just really said something about kind of having these choices in life, you know, that are not black and white, that are difficult, that you have to make a decision, or you’re forced to make a decision that you don’t necessarily want to make.
And how you. May not necessarily be able to view anyone in terms of black and white. So it is not. None of the women have easy lives or easy choices. And I think that’s just like something that women come up against in terms of who you want to protect and who you owe allegiance to. Is it your family? Is it your husband?
Is it whoever the person is that you’re trying to be? Is that your children? So I think that those are universal questions and this is just a novel that you always be able to pick up and it will always be just like these heartrending decisions will always be.
[00:33:35] Gayle: Okay. So that’s going up against the secret lives of church ladies, which is a collection of short stories about black women.
And interesting. You said something. I thought there was a parallel between at the Wolf’s table and this one, it’s about the weight of expectation and living an honest life. It’s interesting themes from Rosedale, Positano and themes from at the Wolf’s table. These stories kind of pic, they explore women at different junctures of their lives.
Usually. Making decisions that are going contrary to what’s expected of them by their society, by their church, by their family, by themselves and them trying to sort of figure out how to live in a way that lets them. Pursue who they are and what they want without guilt. Beautifully, beautifully written stories.
Some stick out a little bit more than other ones, but I don’t think there was a weak story in the group and just very evocative and like short, successful, short stories have always some thing buried to some twist in there that sort of brings the whole thing into relief. So. You know, little harder, I think, to make the case.
I think for short stories sometimes just because the limitations of short stories, but I thought this was an excellent collection.
[00:35:01] Nicole: Okay. So we will have links up in the show notes and in the blog post for you to take a listen and to. And remembering our criteria that it is like, will this book stand the test of time?
What did the author set out to do? And were they successful with it? What else was there, Gale?
[00:35:23] Gayle: Well, let’s stand the test of time. I think that will it stand the test of time? What was the other trying to do? And did they succeed?
[00:35:30] Nicole: Right. Okay. So I had them. Yeah. So let us know and. Then we’ll be down to the final tooth.
This was the final four next week, whatever wins we will briefly discuss. And then that book, whatever comes out on top, we’ll go up against the juggernaut. That idea, the idea
[00:35:54] Gayle: of you. All right. So let’s really quickly talk about a couple of books coming out this month. I just have a couple to share. And we haven’t discussed this and we may even have some overlap.
okay. I’ll start with the book that I’m reading right now. It’s called take my hand by Dolan Perkins, Valdez. It is a book about, and I’m just early on. So I, I don’t know. It’s one of those ones that’s going to unfold a little bit like a mystery, but it’s about a, an African-American nurse in. Alabama, I think it’s Alabama in the seventies and it is, I believe it’s going to be about the forced sterilization of poor black girls as a way to use.
Ostensibly for birth control purposes, but obviously deeply rooted in racism. And she is looking back now much later in life, like in 2016 or something back on her experience as a very young nurse in her early twenties and about two girls in particular that she was a nurse too. And that she. So apparently administering birth control too, even though they were like ages 11 and 13, but I, I believe that these two girls, it hasn’t been fully enrolled yet, but I believe that these two girls were sterilized and there’s some connection between her kind of adult daughter and this time in her life.
And I don’t know, I think that her adult daughter is adopted and I don’t know. How the adult daughter came into existence and how it’s all connected, but it’s just an early days on this one, but I like it a lot. I’ve read other books by Dylan Perkins Valdez before I’d read wench. Yeah. I read wench as well.
And this one comes out on April 12th. She always
[00:37:51] Nicole: has these really interesting premises. Like one for winch was. These, they were black women, they were enslaved women, but they were mistresses like the plantation owners and every year they wanted to vacation to like this lodge and kind of openly together and just kind of how each woman viewed their situation.
So just like fascinating premise.
[00:38:15] Gayle: Yes. She’s local too. I didn’t realize that I was reading an article in the Washington post about meal planning, boxes, you know, like HelloFresh and she was interviewed because I guess she was using it a lot during the pandemic. I said, oh, she’s local.
[00:38:32] Nicole: Okay. So my tech, what I’m looking forward to. Is insomnia by Sarah Penn borough. So Sarah Penn borough wrote a novel called behind her eyes, which I really enjoy the twistedness of it. And the twist at the end, which I think shocked a lot of people. And I think some people were just. It just divided people on this book either.
You’d like, you were really into it and you really loved it, or you did not. And that went on to become a Netflix adaptation, I think, which was similarly polarizing for the same reasons. So, but I really liked it. She has a book that’s coming out called insomnia. And so she always writes these twisty thrillers.
And this one is about a woman. She is like, You know, she’s a lawyer. She has a high powered career. She has everything. She has the two beautiful children. Her husband stays at home and she’s haunted by like this memory. I think of something that happened when she was very young surrounding her sisters. I don’t know if it’s like a tragic incident that happened in their family that sent them both to foster care.
And she is haunted by that. So her mom, I guess, did not have very good mental, like she has some sort of mental illness this woman, Emma, she does not want to be like her mother and she starts having insomnia. So she feels like, you know, she’s losing time. She has this trauma that. Has not been very forthcoming about, and she feels like she’s not able to sleep, so she might be starting to lose her mind.
So of course she has to get to like the bottom of what’s going on. So yeah, it is coming out April 12th also. So I’m really looking forward to that
[00:40:17] Gayle: seems like there are a lot of thrillers. I was waiting through and I was like, thriller, thriller,
[00:40:22] Nicole: thriller. And then I was just looking at some of the reviews and it’s interesting that this one too, it seems like the hangup is going to be on that.
[00:40:34] Gayle: Okay. All right. So my next book is called the life cards by Amanda EIR award. I read a book by her years and years ago. Very, very long time ago, but she’s got some other books that have come out since then that I haven’t read. This is about some women in Austin who have raised their kids together. And they are very, very good friends.
They have three teenage sons and about to begin a carefree summer as lifeguards. And they have this sort of safe little neighborhood where they’ve raised their kids. And then one night the women are out together and their sons come back from. Swim and they have some secrets, some very awful news. So it’s about how this terrible thing that happens, shatters the safe world that the women have created for their sons and about the secrets that they then keep as a group, as they try to protect this.
[00:41:30] Nicole: Hmm, that sounds good. Lots of secrets in April. Yeah. Someone who’s written a lot of books that we have both read and I’ll see if we have any overlap is Sally Hepworth and at your recommendation, I had just read one of her books I read. Oh my gosh. What’s the name of that? Sally Hepworth book?
Mother-in-law no, you read the mother-in-law. I read the other, is it the other sister? It’s something like that. Did I read that? I don’t I not sure who did it was about the twin sisters. And one, one decides to have the baby that her other sister can’t have. Oh, no, I
[00:42:09] Gayle: didn’t read that one.
[00:42:11] Nicole: But I looked and she has a lot of other books.
So this one is called the younger wife. It’s about a heart surgeon, who’s at the top of his field. And he’s about to get married again. The only complication is he is still married to his former wife and she can no longer speak for herself. The daughters that he has telly and Rachel are very. Like wary of their father marrying this new woman and, you know, with their mom being in this unnamed condition that she’s in, they’re just like really suspicious of what it is that he is trying to do.
And so they’re trying to figure out all the family secrets and trying to figure out who their father is and what he’s up to as like, he has this impending marriage that he seems to want to go through with this younger woman. And then she has secrets of her own. So. It says, well, getting to the truth, unleashed the most dangerous impulses in all of them.
So I really did like the other Sally Hepworth book that I read. So you’ve got me hooked now. Now I’m interested in because that one was that one was pretty good and I still might read the mother-in-law. The other one that, that I was talking about was called the good sister.
[00:43:14] Gayle: Oh, the good sister.
Okay. I’m Susie from novel, novel visits. Just read the one that you just mentioned. And she said it was pretty good, but she didn’t. Th she had hoped for, I guess, a little more suspense or something. I don’t know. There was something about it. She didn’t love, but she didn’t, she liked it. She didn’t that just wasn’t there’s just like a
[00:43:34] Nicole: little bit disciplined.
I think it wasn’t, it was not like a, if you’re looking for something that’s super twisty, this was not it I’ll, I’ll definitely say that you do know like pretty soon what’s up and it’s just a matter of how they’re going to handle it more opposed to, there’s going to be some secret that pops out at you.
[00:43:53] Gayle: Okay. So this one, I, like, I kept thinking I might feature it. Then I was like, no, I don’t know. But then I kept reading more reviews of it. And then, so I went back and forth and back and forth. And then I decided just to include it because obviously I’m intrigued enough that I can’t seem to say no to it.
It’s called search. And it’s by Michelle Huna. VIN. I don’t know if I’m saying that. Right. H U N E V E N. I
[00:44:18] Nicole: collect books by her. They always seem to. Right. Yeah. I haven’t read that one yet. So this
[00:44:24] Gayle: one has a strange premise and one that I would ordinarily not be interested in. It’s about a woman who is a member of a Unitarian Universalist church in Southern California.
And she’s a restaurant critic and a food writer. And because she’s a member of this congregation, she finds herself on the search committee for a new minister for this congregation. So apparently the cast of characters on this search committee. This very diverse group of people. And she decides that she’s going to.
And as a memoir style about the search for this new minister and the refuse I’ve read of, it said the same thing that people are like, I can’t believe how much I liked this book. Like they think it’s very funny and you get this great insight into these different people and all the politics and the backstabbing and all the behind the scenes stuff that go into the search.
And everyone’s like, I just never expected. I would like this book as much as I did, but everyone seems to really. So it’s in the genres are satire, humorous fiction, autobiographical novel. So even though it’s, you know about religion, it’s not like a heavy book about religion. So I don’t know. I just kept looking.
I kept coming back to it and I decided that it was intriguing enough that I wanted to include it here.
[00:45:40] Nicole: Okay. So. My last book is I’ll be you by Janell brown. It’s about an identical twin sisters and they’re former child actors and they had grown apart and then one disappears and the other one’s.
Forced to, I guess, I don’t know, look into the secrets and the trauma and all the stuff that they’re hiding. I don’t, I’ve read so many books about twins. Just found this a little bit irresistible, just because Jenelle brown is an author that I have like a 50, 50 relationship with her. The first book that I read by her, I wasn’t crazy about, I think it was a DNF for me.
And then the second book that I read, I listened to on audio and I really liked it. So it’s kind of one of those things where I’m not sure if it was the audio experience that made the the one that I enjoyed really enjoyable. It was pretty things. And then I didn’t like, watch me disappear. So. I dunno.
I’m just curious to see where she’s going to go with this, you know, since I was 50 50 and it’s twins, I’m just like, I’m just going to read it and add it to my twin collection. Okay.
[00:46:48] Gayle: Sounds good. All right. Well, there are some April picks and that’s our show. Yeah, that’s
[00:46:56] Nicole: our show. So remember the criteria.
Our book club pick is going to be mercy street by Jennifer. Hey, that was what one, it was split between that and groundskeeping. And I think Opal inev only got a couple of votes, so, okay. So that book and, you know, in a month or so we’ll probably announce the date. We’ll have a better idea of what the date will be on the next show, but remember to vote for our next book and until next.
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