Intro: [00:02] Welcome to The Readerly Report. Your hosts are Gayle Weiswasser and Nicole Bonia. We hope you enjoy our candid book conversations, recommendations and observations on the reading life. Thanks so much for joining us.
Nicole: [00:19] Welcome to another edition of The Readerly Report. Today, Gayle and I are going to share a few October new releases that we’re looking forward to reading at some point, letting you know what’s coming out. We also have a little bit of book news. I have a trailer I want to talk about which brought me to some interesting thoughts on the book. And then we’re going to get back to our backlist books. Each week we used to share a backlist book that we really felt like people should read if they haven’t read already, so I want to get back to that. So Gayle, why don’t you kick us off with your– You said you had some book news?
Gayle: [00:58] Sure. Yeah, so first of all, the very iconic teenage or preteen novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret., by Judy Blume just turned 50 years old.
Nicole: [01:11] I haven’t read that book.
Gayle: [01:12] Yeah, I definitely read that a lot when I was young. I learned a lot of stuff from that book probably earlier than I should have learned it.
Nicole: [01:22] Wait, what did you learn?
Gayle: [01:24] Oh, I learned about that time of month. I don’t think I had any concept of what that was. I mean, I was probably like, eight when I read it, and I did not understand what that was, and there’s lots about that. It’s about like, there’s a lot of rites of passage in that book. It’s about getting your period and boys and friends and picking up religion. It’s about a girl who’s probably 12. And I was, you know, those four years between eight and 12 are big at that age. It’s a big difference. And I just learned a lot of things from Judy Blume that I probably should have learned from my mom.
Nicole: [02:02] That is so funny because you just kind of proved the point that we read up.
Gayle: [02:08] Yes.
Nicole: [02:09] You know, like 17 year olds are not reading about 17 year olds, they’re reading about people in college. If you’re 14, you’re reading about 18 year olds.
Gayle: [02:17] Yeah.
Nicole: [02:18] So even back at the tender age of eight.
Gayle: [02:22] Yeah, exactly. So anyway, that is big book news. Reese’s book club, what does she called it, the Hello Sunshine book club or something? She picked His Only Wife, which is a book I read over the summer, by Peace Medie about the woman in Ghana, who has been married to this man who’s already involved with someone else. So I was excited to see that she picked that book because I’m glad it’s going to get more attention.
Nicole: [02:50] I wanted to read that book for us to discuss. And also, our March Madness reads are predicated on the books that we have read in common the year before, so we’ve got to get cracking on 2020. I don’t feel like we read that many books in common this year. Of course, we didn’t do March Madness last–
Gayle: [03:13] Last March, right.
Nicole: [03:15] Yeah, last March. We didn’t do it last March so maybe we can roll over some of those pics. And we haven’t been doing book clubs consistently, we can usually get in 12 that way. So I intend to read that one, and there is also the other one that I wanted to discuss because you’ve read a mystery thriller writer that I really liked. So maybe we can get those two discussions in by the end of this year, so that we’ll have a few books for our 2021 March Madness.
Gayle: [03:41] And I think you wanted to read Saving Ruby King, which I’m also in the middle of.
Nicole: [03:44] Yes, yes.
Gayle: [03:46] Yep. Okay. I also saw that Underground Railroad, which is a book that I have not read but you have, is being made into a TV adaptation by the director who did Moonlight. Yeah. And then I also saw another book that I have not read that you have, News of the World by Paulette Jiles is also being made into a movie with Tom Hanks.
Nicole: [04:13] That’s interesting. That seems like something kind of right up his alley in terms of playing. I think that he can play an old curmudgeonly kind of character pretty well. And that book is about an older gentleman who goes to escort a white girl who had been– I think she has been kidnapped from her family during a skirmish with an Indian tribe. And so she’s raised as a native for I think, the first 10 to 12 years of her life, so she doesn’t really have any language skills or anything, but they locate her. And it’s this kind of weird buddy movie about him transporting her back to her family.
Gayle: [05:00] You always recommend that book to me when I need to fit in books by the end of the year because I haven’t–
Nicole: [05:05] They’re really short?
Gayle: [05:06] Yeah, because they’re really short. And I still haven’t read it, but it’s on my shelf, like to read it. So maybe the movie will get me to read it.
Nicole: [05:13] And you won’t need it this year because you won’t be in a pinch. I can’t recommend books for Gayle to get her over the hump, but it’ll be interesting this year because I think that you’re going to double my reading count, which…
Gayle: [05:24] That’s crazy.
Nicole: [05:25] …Is amazing. I looked, I’ve read 35 books this year, which is, you know, nothing [inaudible 05:31]
Gayle: [05:31] Oh, you’ll read more than that. No, you’re going to get more in. I don’t think I’m going to go over 70. Well, yeah, I don’t think so.
Nicole: [05:40] I saw the trailer in book news for Hillbilly Elegy, which Ron Howard produced and is directing and has a hand in, and I was struck by how little of that book I’ve retained. I think it was coming at a time where there were just so many– It was described as the “look at how we got into this situation with Donald Trump” as if people who lived in hollers all around the world were the reason that Donald Trump was elected and not other people. So, it was kind of one of those books, and I feel like educated, was a little bit in that category of why people would vote for him. I don’t think it’s that but just looking at it, or looking at the trailer, I was like, “Wow, I really don’t remember a lot of what happened.”
Gayle: [06:36] So, my question for you is, are they turning it into a plot-driven movie? I mean, Hillbilly Elegy is not a plot-driven book.
Nicole: [06:49] Well, I think that they are trying to make it that way. I mean, the trailer is just kind of very dramatic about, I guess, his mother’s drug abuse, the fierceness of his grandmother, and it’s like, you’ve got to promise us you’re going to make it out and be better. So I think it’s kind of in the vein of all of those movies that you would have seen like, I don’t know the– What’s that Michelle Pfeiffer movie where she goes in to turn around the school because she believes in all of the inner city kids?
Gayle: [07:20] Oh, Dangerous Minds?
Nicole: [07:22] Dangerous Minds. I feel like it had heavy vibes of just the drama of someone believing in you, and how it can really change your life. And of course, that is how lives are changed, but I think that it is trying to play up all of the dramatic aspects of that because, as you said, it’s not like it’s tantalizing fear, but I think that they’re going to be emphasizing the opioid use and anything that they can I guess, to make it more easily translatable to the big screen.
Gayle: [07:57] And it’s Amy Adams and, is it Glenn Close that I saw?
Nicole: [08:01] I think, yeah.
Gayle: [08:02] The older woman.
Nicole: [08:04] Who’s the mother, I mean, his grandmother who makes him promise to get out of there. We’ll link to the trailer. But like I said, it was just so interesting to me, and I don’t know if it’s because we’ve had so many stories. I mean, I guess his was kind of the original one in terms of right after the election, capitalizing on, “Oh, this is why this has happened.” But at the same time, I feel like that story isn’t as distinct as I would have thought it was.
Gayle: [08:35] Yeah. And I agree with you, I barely remember anything from that book. I remember that he moved from like, Kentucky to Ohio, and I remember him going to law school, but I just don’t remember much else.
Nicole: [08:50] Right. I remember the one big question I had with him with the book is that I feel like his wife, and I don’t know, I feel like she’s Indian. And I felt like he was being cagey about sharing what her ethnicity was, like it was kind of skirted around. I just felt that was weird because he’s so open on everything else but then his wife is just sort of like this vague presence that “Oh, yes, I met her and we got married” but you don’t know anything about her. And maybe that’s just because she didn’t want to participate. Maybe she just doesn’t want to be in it.
Gayle: [09:26] Or doesn’t fit the mold of who you expect him to marry.
Nicole: [09:29] Right. And I thought– I’m so glad you said that because I think I thought that that was the reason that it was omitted. I think that he made such a leap and I don’t know why he wouldn’t want to share that when he had shared so much other stuff. But that was the feeling that I got, that it was just kind of like, “Yeah, and then I got married and we moved on.”
Gayle: [09:50] Yeah. Interesting. I’m going to be really curious to see how they adapt this.
Nicole: [09:56] Right. Did you have anything else?
Gayle: [09:59] Let’s see, as far as what I’m reading right now, I’m about maybe 40 to 50% of the way through the new Rumaan Alam book Leave the World Behind. and I feel like–
Nicole: [10:12] So you’re listening to that on audio then.
Gayle: [10:14] No, I’m not. I’m actually reading it.
Nicole: [10:16] Okay, because you said 40 to 50%.
Gayle: [10:20] Eyeballing the book where the bookmark is, yeah. Now, it’s weird, I’m reading it a bit in fits and starts and I feel like it’s the type of book that is probably better to read all at once because there’s this impending sense of dread and doom. And if you like, wait a day between reading, it’s like that sense of dread and doom dissipates a little bit. So I mean, I’ve read all these reviews of people like, “Oh, I read it in a night. I couldn’t put it down”, and I’ve seemed to be a bit distracted, but I am liking it. And I’m getting close to the end of Saving Ruby King, and that’s the one I’m doing on audio.
Nicole: [10:56] So, do you like that narration for Saving Ruby King?
Gayle: [11:01] I do like it. There’s five narrators.
Nicole: [11:04] Oh, wow. It’s a movie.
Gayle: [11:06] Yeah, it’s a performance. There’s three male narrators and two female narrators. And there is one male narrator who is a complete standout, he’s amazing. The other two male narrators I think are pretty good, and the two female narratives I actually think are kind of weak. So I don’t love– Because they’re playing daughters. There’s two daughters, two fathers, and then the narration of a building, which is a church. And I think one of the fathers is fantastic, and the other father is pretty good, and the church is pretty good. And the two daughters, maybe they really needed to emphasize that they’re young, but they sound very girlish and I don’t like that because it’s almost too– It doesn’t seem a match for the subject matter because the voices sound young and very innocent. And so to me, I’m not loving those two voices but in general, the performance is really good.
Nicole: [12:01] Okay,
Gayle: [12:02] How about you?
Nicole: [12:04] So I started reading The Searcher by a Tana French and I’m liking it. I’m literally like 15 pages in. I think he’s just now getting settled into his new life in Ireland because this book is about a retired Chicago police officer who has decided that he just wants to live the slow life, he wants it to be calm so he’s doing lots of work around his house. But of course, he is going to get pulled into the disappearance of a young local boy, and it’s going to turn his very calm and peaceful retirement topsy turvy. The interesting thing about Tana French books is that she always– I think police officers is her domain, and they usually are flawed or have been damaged in some way by either the world before they came to police work, or they’re facing some kind of crisis of conscience in what they do. So I mean, with the exception of The Witch Elm which was her only standalone and– This is a standalone, but I guess it’s a standalone where she actually branched away from being inside the mind of a detective. So I’m looking forward to seeing where it’s going, so I’m kind of settling into that. And I don’t know, I tried to read part of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, but I’m going to do my best for my book club but I’m not optimistic.
Gayle: [12:42] You aren’t feeling it.
Nicole: [12:44] Not really. I’m not feeling a lot these days.
Gayle: [12:48] Yeah, it’s easy to start and stop.
Nicole: [12:52] Which makes me really excited about all October books that I picked because they are all just mysteries, I think, like really bringing me back to my base. The first books that I was reading were either Sherlock Holmes mysteries, or I don’t know, just the basic kind of mystery, generic mystery thriller novels where the author’s coming out with two or three of them a year. Hello, Mary Higgins Clark, or whoever, like those novels. I’m in my comfort zone with those and it feels like there are a lot of those types of books out in October.
Gayle: [14:35] Yeah, I was going to say it’s like comfort food.
Nicole: [14:38] Yes.
Gayle: [14:38] It goes down easily. All right. Well, why don’t we start with our October reads then? What’s on the top of your list?
Nicole: [14:44] Well, let’s just get Leave the World Behind out of the way. It came out October 6, I believe.
Gayle: [14:51] Yep.
Nicole: [14:51] And I have a copy of it. It’s behind the Tana French. Gayle is working her way through it now.
Gayle: [14:59] Yeah, if you need help quick synopsis, it’s about – I know we probably talked about this on our fall book preview. It’s about a family from Brooklyn who is renting a house in the outer reaches of Long Island as a vacation for a week. And like their third night there, it’s this beautiful house, the third night there, a couple shows up at like 10 o’clock at night knocking on the door. It’s an older African American couple. And turns out they’re the owners of the house and they have shown up in Long Island because there’s a blackout in New York – it’s in the city where they live. And all of a sudden, everyone’s cell phones aren’t getting any coverage and the cable has been shut down, so they’re isolated in this house. And both family units are sort of trying to A) figure out how to deal with the other family unit that now has shown up unexpectedly, and secondly, trying to figure out what happened. And so that’s where I am right now.
Nicole: [15:58] So this is the novel that has also been optioned to be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. They’re teaming up for the first time in I believe, 20 years or more from when they did The Pelican Brief, which was a John Grisham adaptation and they’re both teaming up for producer responsibilities for this book.
Gayle: [16:22] Do you think you’re going to read this?
Nicole: [16:24] Yeah, yeah. I have it.
Gayle: [16:26] Okay. So this will be another one of our tournament of books.
Nicole: [16:31] So also The Searcher by Tana French is out this month, and that’s about that lovely Chicago PD retiree who is kind of shaken up while he’s just trying to restore his old house and gets drawn into a mystery. Which, like I said, all of her police officers seem to be in the middle of unraveling when they confront the case where you read their books, so I fear for this man, but I’ll report back. All right, so what was the first one? I guess I’m just trying to look and see if there’s anything else that we had mentioned for October that we want to mention, but I don’t think so. So what’s your first book?
Gayle: [17:13] Well, there’s actually one on my list here that I did bring up in our memoir episode and it is called Rough House. And I’m sorry, I’m just looking up the author right now.
Nicole: [17:23] Oh, the memoir episode is the lost episode so–
Gayle: [17:26] Oh, that’s right. It’s the lost episode. Okay. So, should I just talk about it as if we’ve never talked about it?
Nicole: [17:31] Yes.
Gayle: [17:32] Okay. All right, then scratch that whole thing. I don’t have anything on here that we’ve talked about before. So why don’t you go ahead and start?
Nicole: [17:39] All right, so my first one is called Dear Child by Romy Hausmann. I thought of you Gayle because it says that it’s Gone Girl meets Room.
Gayle: [17:49] Yes. This is on my list, of course.
Nicole: [17:51] Is it? Of course.
Gayle: [17:52] Yes.
Nicole: [17:53] So it’s about a father. Well, I guess it’s told from three perspectives. First, there’s the father of a missing girl. Second, there’s a girl who’s now a woman who had gone missing. And when she finally makes a break from her captor, no one, like her family does not believe that she’s the one who has gone missing. And then third is her child that has gone missing. Or her child hasn’t gone missing. She’s the child that she’s had in captivity, I believe and they say that she has a photographic memory and she has secrets that she might be hiding as well. So I guess the father has become a little unraveled too like, he’s determined to find his daughter and is a little bit– I guess that has taken a toll on him a little bit. Do you have anything to add since this is on your list as well?
Gayle: [18:51] No, I just thought it sounded like an interesting premise. You know, Room with a bit of a mystery element added to it also. So yeah, I have it on my list.
Nicole: [19:01] Right. And because she doesn’t stay captive, I can actually read this one.
Gayle: [19:06] Yes, exactly. Okay, so my first book for October, this book is getting tons and tons of attention is The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
Nicole: [19:19] Oh, that’s on my list. I’m surprised because this is sort of fantastical.
Gayle: [19:23] Yeah. I mean, I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of this and trying to figure out like, is it something I would ever really read. And it’s about a woman living in 1714 in France, and she is going to be married off to somebody she doesn’t want to marry. So in desperation, she kind of makes a deal with the devil, or I don’t know who the person is that she makes this deal with. But the deal is, she can live forever, and she doesn’t have to marry this person, but she’s going to go through life and nobody’s going to remember who she is. So no one will have memories of her and she’ll make no impact on anybody.
Nicole: [20:00] Now, I have a question about this because this is the question that I had when reading the synopsis. Do you feel like each day they don’t remember her? Or is this like a cumulative we’ve reached the end of the world, or we’ve reached the end of that person’s life, and they don’t remember her?
Gayle: [20:19] Yeah, that’s a good question. I don’t know the answer to that. I was wondering that too. Like, when her parents like, did they just disown her immediately? Like she just disconnected immediately from everyone she knows? I don’t know.
Nicole: [20:32] Right. Or it’s just like, are you just wandering around and you meet people, and you feel like you forge a connection and next they don’t remember you? Or do you get to the end of your relationship, but no one ever mentions you in any kind of capacity?
Gayle: [20:46] Well, here is from Goodreads. It says, “Addy didn’t count on the immediate heartbreak of her family instantly forgetting her leaving her without a home and forced to find loopholes to make minor impressions upon the world for the next 300 years.”
Nicole: [21:00] Oh, so it sounds like it’s like you’re just in the world and no one interacts with you.
Gayle: [21:08] Right.
Nicole: [21:09] That’s terrible.
Gayle: [21:10] So one day, she walks into a bookstore and meets somebody, and then she is remembered by that person. So it says, “A standalone fantasy love story that is sweeping, epic and intensely personal. It covers the gamut of emotion from the hope that Addy and Henry feel upon meeting each other…” that’s the man she meets “…and the despair that the cards are stacked against them at multiple points in their lives.” I don’t know, this is giving me like, Time Traveler’s Wife vibes.
Nicole: [21:38] Right. That’s the comp that’s mentioned. I’ve written as a note that it says he’s a young man hidden in a bookstore. So obviously, he has something going on as well.
Gayle: [21:52] Yeah.
Nicole: [21:53] He’s not some regular man browsing in the bookstore and she runs into him and she and he remembers her. He is hidden in the bookstore. So it’s like ooh, intrigue.
Gayle: [22:03] So this has got fantasy, and it’s 450 pages. So both of those make it less likely I will actually read this book. And instead of that, I will–
Nicole: [22:12] But just think of it as The Time Traveler’s Wife, which you loved.
Gayle: [22:15] Yeah. And that’s actually a long book that I loved. Right. I think it’s more likely that I’ll continue to read reviews of it and then pump for information, anyone I find who’s actually read it, but you never know. Maybe you’ll read it and then I’ll want to read it.
Nicole: [22:27] I just want to say I think I want to read it. So another note that I have on this is that I remembered the book that we were supposed to read that you bailed on because it was too fantastical, and it was Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, which was about this woman who wakes up in the hospital where she has been beaten, obviously gone through some kind of trauma, and someone shows up and gives her the opportunity to just attend Harvard. So of course she wants to go and see what is in the mystery of this gift that has bestowed upon her and finds herself in over her head in a world that is not rooted in realism, but is rooted in magic.
Gayle: [23:13] Okay, what do you got?
Nicole: [23:14] I don’t know. We’re just striking each other out here.
Gayle: [23:19] Let’s see if what you have next is on my list.
Nicole: [23:22] This is going to be a much shorter show than we anticipated.
Gayle: [23:25] Yeah.
Nicole: [23:26] All right. So next on my list is Good Night Beautiful by Aimee Molloy.
Gayle: [23:31] Not on my list, but I’m really intrigued by this book.
Nicole: [23:33] So you’ve seen it?
Gayle: [23:35] I’ve seen it. Sarah from Sarah’s Bookshelves DNF’d it. Or no, no, maybe she read it all the way through but didn’t like it. She was disappointed, but I think it sounds really good, so why don’t you go ahead and explain it?
Nicole: [23:49] It does sound really good. I feel like it’s one of our catnip kind of books in a sense because it is about a couple who is living in New York City and they decide to move away and get away from everything. So, they go Upstate New York to where he has grown up, and this couple is Sam and Annie. So they go to this small, uptown New York state that Sam grew up in. And I guess apparently, she spends lots of time alone. He’s a therapist working inside their home in the basement. And there is supposed to be like, you can hear through the vents in this house, so she’s hearing the details of all of his therapy sessions and she knows who his regulars are, she knows what their stories are. And then one day this woman, this young French woman shows up and they say she’s in a green Mini Cooper. I don’t know why that’s relevant, but she shows up in this green Mini Cooper and Sam disappears. So it’s all about her like what has happened to her marriage as they have moved to this state. Where’s Sam? What’s the story?
Gayle: [25:03] Yeah, sounds good.
Nicole: [25:05] Yeah. I feel like that is one of those kinds of books that we make fun of, but gravitate towards. Like so many books are based on somebody returning home for whatever reason, whether they return home triumphant, to help with some challenge that’s going on in the town, whether they’re running from something and return home or if you’re just newly married and you return to the town where you grew up in, and then something happens. So I think there’s a little bit of a twist because he works from home – hello, work from home – in his basement, and then the description is he goes to work and he disappears, which you’re just like, “He’s in his house”, but so very intriguing.
Gayle: [25:52] I agree. Okay, so my next book is The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe. And this is a book about a woman who is a wealthy art collector in one side of her life. She is smart and savvy and good at buying and selling art. On the other side, she is like a bookkeeper for a small town, and she’s the town’s treasurer. And it turns out that she’s using money from the town to finance her art auction habit. So it’s about this double life that she’s leading, and how she is able to pull that off. And the question is, can she continue to pull it off as she gets involved in bigger and bigger art deals? Can she A) continue to finance it using this money from the town? And will she get caught? So I thought this sounded kind of cool.
Nicole: [26:59] Yeah, I’ve heard of this author before, but I’ve never read anything by her.
Gayle: [27:03] I think this was one of the five Book of the Month picks this month.
Nicole: [27:07] So you got it?
Gayle: [27:08] No, I got Leave the World Behind instead.
Nicole: [27:11] Oh, okay.
Gayle: [27:11] But you know, kind of giving this one the eye.
Nicole: [27:14] Oh, the good old eye. All right, so my next book is The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle and this is catnip for me. I feel like you’re kind of interested in twin books, but I feel like I read more mysterious relationship between twin books. And so this is about twins, where I think they go on a yacht, they go on this trip, and something happens and one of the twins is suddenly mysteriously alone on this boat. We don’t know why, whether something happened to her sister, maybe did she kill her sister, which is what my mystery mind expects. So anyway, I think the twin who survives is Stella. I don’t know Stella is one of the sisters. Anyway, so there’s a dark sister who’s envied the life of her sister, who of course, is married to a great man and has this wonderful relationship and she’s always been a little bit jealous. So it’s the dark twin who comes back in place of the light twin, and of course, the husband mistakes her for his wife, and she doesn’t bother correcting him. So it’s all about the intrigue of will she be able to claim the family fortune, which I think it’s like the first twin who has a child inherits a large fortune. And also, what happened to her twin sister. So that’s called The Girl in the Mirror.
Gayle: [28:41] Yeah, I’m interested in this one, too. I think this was also a book of the month pick.
Nicole: [28:46] Wow.
Gayle: [28:47] Yeah.
Nicole: [28:47] I’m just hitting it out of the park with you.
Gayle: [28:49] Well, yeah, they picked some good ones. So it was they picked Alice Hoffman’s new book, Leave the World Behind, Girl in the Mirror, Ties That Tether and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I’m sorry, it wasn’t Miss Farwell after all, so I had that wrong. So my next one, and this may be on your list because this sounds like it might be up your alley is Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger.
Nicole: [29:13] I haven’t even heard of that.
Gayle: [29:15] Oh, really?
Nicole: [29:15] I’m really intrigued. Yeah.
Gayle: [29:17] Oh, wow. Okay. And I’ve got this one on hold on the library because I want to read this one. Okay, so this is a thriller, and the premise is that there’s two women on a train and I guess the train is delayed, and they get to talking. And one of the women tells the other one that, and they’ve never met before, that she thinks her husband is having an affair with the nanny. And then the other woman confesses that she is having an affair with her married boss or a married man, somebody, I don’t know if it was her boss or not. And then the train starts up again and they get to their destination and they separate never to see each other again. And then like a week later, the nanny turns up dead. So who was that woman? What’s the story? And then, how does this all come about? And all the reviews I’ve read of this say it’s very good. And you know me and thrillers, but this one seems really irresistible. So I kind of want to read this one.
Nicole: [30:14] Yeah, that sounds good.
Gayle: [30:15] Yeah. I’m surprised it wasn’t on your list because it seems like it would be up your alley.
Nicole: [30:20] Yeah, I haven’t heard of it all. All right, so the last book on my list, which would not have been the last book on my list had we not overlapped on two picks, is called the House of Correction by Nicci French, which they are an English husband and wife team who write novels together. So they have right written a bunch of novels over the years that I’ve been intrigued and interesting to read. I think they wrote about, you know, they had a kind of long-standing mystery series. And I don’t think that they have written more than a couple of standalones. And this is one of their standalones which I’m always so curious about how they come up with their name. So I guess she’s Nicci Girard and he’s Sean French, and I guess that’s how they came up with their book name. House of Correction. All right, so House of Correction – It’s interesting because earlier, I was talking about that trope of people returning home.
So Tabitha returns home and she’s in the middle of restoring her house in her childhood hometown, and I believe a body is found in the garden shed or somewhere. She feels like she’s just going to be taken in. They take her in, in handcuffs, she feels like it’s something that she and her lawyer will be able to straighten out right away. She does not think that she is going to be accused or– Not accused of the crime because obviously if she’s arrested, but she doesn’t think that this is going to stick, she feels like it’s a misunderstanding. But she’s in jail, and no one is helpful in getting her out, so she starts to try to think about solving this mystery on her own. And the more she investigates, and she’s investigating from prison, the more she becomes less sure of if she was involved or not. So, in the beginning, she doesn’t think she’s a killer, then certainly as time goes on, she questions herself a little bit more. And so it’s all about what part of Tabitha’s history has played into that. She has a history of shrugs and mental illness so you have to read it and see. So and Jason read it. He’s still around and blurbing books.
Gayle: [33:03] Oh, my God.
Nicole: [33:04] And it says, “The House of Correction is booby-trapped with twists, the floors paved with trap doors, quicksand turning in the garden. Enter if you dare.” So, of course, there’s this huge article that either The New Yorker did, or New York Magazine did on AJ Finn, and all of his peccadilloes and his–
Gayle: [33:26] Lies
Nicole: [33:28] Yeah. Checkered history in the publishing industry and he’s probably still at work on his next book and he’s still around blurbing books. So
Gayle: [33:29] Interesting.
Nicole: [33:41] You fail up and you just move right along.
Gayle: [33:45] Wow. Okay, my next book is called Bright in Dangerous Objects by Anneliese Mackintosh. And this is not really my type of book, usually, but I thought it sounded good. So the main character is a commercial deep-sea diver but she wants to be one of the first human beings to go to Mars, and she’s shortlisted on a list of 100 people to do that. But if she does that, she has to leave behind her real life. And in her real life, she is involved with someone and they’re thinking about having a kid together. And she’s got a lot of ambivalence about whether she wants to be a mother or not, but she has to make this decision. So she’s forced to define who she really is. Does she want to go to Mars or turn her back on the project and commit to her life on Earth? It says, according to Goodreads, “This book explores the space between ambition and obligation grappling with questions women have faced for centuries. So it sounded kind of good.
Nicole: [34:50] Let’s see. So I think that’s it for me because you stole some books for me so– I’m a little bit interested, though, one that I found intriguing, it would not have made my list except for now I have–
Gayle: [35:10] You’ve got to be–
Nicole: [35:12] I’m short a book. So I’ll mention Emily Danforth’s plain bad heroines, which I believe would have fit in very well with the conversation that we had last week on campus novels because it is a ghost story set– I’m not quite sure if it’s high school, or if it’s college that these women attend school. And, of course, something happens, students die mysterious deaths. It starts with two students who I think are in a relationship and they die a mysterious death and mysterious things continue to happen in the school. So it’s like a gothic novel and it’s about figuring out what happened. It’s one of those things happened in the past, way back in 1902. It’s following the current students and kind of tracking What happened then and how it affects now and if that mystery can be solved. So that’s kind of been I think I had it in mind when we had our fall preview show, and I didn’t use it. And it was kind of on my long list for today.
Gayle: [36:27] You’ve hit the long list.
Nicole: [36:29] Yes, I’ve hit the long list. I didn’t think that you were going to take my fantasy.
Gayle: [36:36] It’s a crazy year here, Nicole.
Nicole: [36:39] It is.
Gayle: [36:39] Anything is possible funny in 2020.
Nicole: [36:41] All bets are off.
Gayle: [36:42] Yeah. All right. Well, I have one last one that I’ll put in then and I have no idea how to pronounce this author’s name. The book is called Three Little Truths, and it’s one of those Irish names that seems to be a random collection of letters that has nothing to do with the way it actually sounds. How would you say the same E-I-T-H-N-E?
Nicole: [37:03] I don’t know.
Gayle: [37:04] It’s probably like Edith or something.
Nicole: [37:06] Probably, maybe.
Gayle: [37:07] Yeah. This is a book about three women who are living in Dublin and they all have a mysterious story behind them. One was the it-girl in school and now she’s back living with her parents with her four-year-old daughter. Then there’s another one Edie has the perfect life, but she longs for a baby, the acceptance of her neighbors, and to find out why her dream husband is avoiding their dream future. And then there’s another woman who has moved back to Dublin under mysterious circumstances. So they said that this is Liam Moriarty meets Maeve Binchy meets Marian Keyes. So, I don’t know, it sounds kind of like Jojo Moyes to me, like kind of dramatic, involving, but ultimately kind of light reading, but I thought that sounded kind of good. Comes out October 13.
Nicole: [38:03] Okay. All right, so that is what we’re looking forward to reading in October I think a few of those we will actually read because like I said, Gayle, we need March Madness books, so I think a few of them we will overlap on. What was your backlist book?
Gayle: [38:25] Oh. So my backlist book is a book that I reviewed in, God, 2014. And it’s nonfiction; it’s called The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier. And I remember I had met Debbie Stier at a conference, and I learned about this book, and then I read it and I interviewed her on my blog. I was really interested in it and it’s about a woman who basically decides at the age of, I don’t know, she’s mid-40s or something, to take the SAT again. Her son is a sophomore in high school. She’s sort of getting into that period of time when she has to start thinking about test prep for him and she has kind of these shadowy memories of the SAT. So she decides she’s going to take all these different types of test prep. She’s going to take class, she’s going to have a tutor, she’s going to do online, she’s going to do all these different things, and then retake the test, like every time it’s offered and see how she does. And I just thought it was a really interesting book when I read it. And now I have two high school juniors in my house, who are going through their process of thinking about applying to college and standardized testing, which of course is completely up in the air this year because they can’t administer these tests because of COVID.
[39:41] So unclear if they’re going to even be able to sit for the test at some point when they’re supposed to take them but I would actually like to go back and reread this book now and see what insights I can glean from it that I could maybe in part down to them. But I just remember it was like well written, very detailed kind of reporterly writing, and it was also very funny and she’s just a good storyteller and I like this one a lot. So again, it’s called The Perfect Score Project by Debbie Stier, and here’s what I wrote, “I will definitely return to The Perfect Score Project when my daughters are ready to start studying. There’s a lot of good information about how the test prep companies differ, and the various tutoring styles available.” So I guess it’s more than just random that I picked this one today, but it must be in the back of my mind, so I like this one.
Nicole: [40:38] Okay, so my backlist book is similarly, I think it’s even older than yours. It came out in 2011, so nine years ago. The Jewel Trader of Pegu by Jeffrey Hantover and it is about– It’s an epistolary novel. It’s told about a young jeweler, Abraham, and I think his wife and his newborn child have died and he is tasked with traveling the world and sending back stones to sell. I mean, that’s their trade so he’s the one who is sourcing the jewels. His last stop that he makes on this journey is in this country of Pegu, which is located in Burma. So there, he kind of faces a crisis of conscience because he is faced with people who have very different religious background than he does, and they have different customs than he observes, and it’s a little bit of, you know, he feels like these people have treated him well so he would like to participate because they expect him to participate in their customs, but they’re not things that he’s comfortable with doing. So the book is a lot about the things that we have in common, the things that we have that are different, and how he’s able to navigate that when he is intrigued and just involved in this new culture, but it conflicts with what he’s always believed. And now that he’s thinking about things differently, it just causes him to think about his religion, his life, and his circumstances much differently than he did before. So it’s not like a fast-moving novel by any means. There’s lots of just descriptions of the culture, of his travels, the things that he’s learning as he is, I guess, growing into himself and who he’s going to be after such a traumatic start to his journey, you know, of course, it’s prompted by the death of his wife and daughter, but it was really good.
Gayle: [42:57] Right. Can you repeat the name of the book?
Nicole: [42:58] It is The Jewel Trader of Pegu, P-E-G-U, and it’s by Jeffrey Hantover. I think he’s a journalist that wrote a novel.
Gayle: [43:09] I find that when journalists write novels, they’re so detailed, I love it. I like the way they write.
Nicole: [43:14] Yeah, I think that that was like one of the things that I really liked, like as Abraham, the character, is writing back to his hometown, or whatever, it’s just like, you were just so immersed in the culture, and just so– Because you have such a deep understanding of how they do things, and like how you might see it as barbaric, but how it’s important to their culture is just– Yeah, I thought it was just really good in terms of being able to describe two cultures and how people have their reasons for doing things that you might not understand but maybe even come to appreciate.
Gayle: [43:53] All right. Well, lots of good books for October. Hopefully, they’ll [be] good comfort food for you, Nicole to get you back reading a little more.
Nicole: [44:00] Get me going?
Gayle: [44:02] Yeah, get you going.
Nicole: [44:04] Well, I’ve rearranged my book nook, so it’s all cozy, and I read a few pages last night, you know, it’s just like building that muscle memory and that habit, and I’m getting a little bit better at it. So–
Gayle: [44:15] We all go through phases in and out and it’s totally normal. This year is so bizarre that I think anyone’s reaction and anything they’re doing is fine and understandable. All right, well, until next time, happy reading.
[44:32] We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Readerly Report. You can find all of our shows on iTunes or at thereaderlyreport.com. Please join our Facebook group, Readerly Report Readers, where you can talk to other listeners about their reading life. You can also find Nicole at nicolebonia.com, and me, Gayle at everydayiwritethebookblog.com Finally, we’d love it if you left us a review on iTunes and told your book-loving friends about us. Thanks.