May 2021–Part Three

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez (Length: 325 pages).   This is a thriller set in Northern California that starts with a woman rescuing another woman she sees being chased by a scary-looking ex-convict. Complications ensue, and this is a nail-biter that’s difficult to put down. While it’s a bit graphic in terms of violence, I didn’t find the violent scenes to be gratuitous so they didn’t bother me very much. The central mystery is well-crafted even if it’s a bit formulaic (I felt like I’ve read something similar to this, but in a less well-written novel). The writing here is strong, as are the plot and the sense of place, but the character development is pretty thin–perhaps to preserve the mystery? Overall, it’s worth a read (a library check out for sure).

Book #2:

Smile: The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl (Length: 256 pages). This is an ARC of a memoir which comes out in October of 2021 I believe, and is written by a Broadway playwright living in NYC who suffers from long-term (over a decade) Bell’s Palsy, the onset of which occurred after she delivered twins. I was interested in this because a good friend also has the same diagnosis. This memoir traverses the past decade as she deals with this very obvious facial paralysis, first with intense frustration and depression, and eventually with grace and equanimity. The writing is excellent (as befits an award-winning playwright), but I do think the focus on Bell’s Palsy is a bit a too specific for most. I, for one, am glad I took the time to read this book as it gave me even more empathy for those who struggle with this disease, and I think I will always remember it.

Book #3:

Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (Length: 314 pages).   The familial saga was written by the author of The Nest (which I’ve reviewed here previously). This novel is based on the world of theater in NYC as well as in television in Los Angeles and is based on two different couples, along with the daughter of one of the couples. The novel opens with one of the women finding a wedding ring her husband claimed he had lost almost two decades earlier, and the rest of the book attempts to answer the question why. This is very character-driven, and is told mostly in flashbacks. Since there is not much plot, this won’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy excellent writing and in-depth character development along with entangled family dramas (as I do), this is for you!

Book #4:

We Came, We Saw, We Left by Charles Wheelan (Length: 290 pages).   I LOVED this book! This is a family memoir/travelogue written by a Dartmouth professor about the nine months he and his family (three teenagers and his wife) all traveled to six continents in the span of nine months. He includes all of the nitty-gritty details of the planning, their daily budget, and how they decided where to visit. His writing style is very entertaining–witty, charming, and very real. He writes with honesty about his teenagers’ behavior and is also very self-deprecating. I loved reading about all of the places around the globe I’ll likely never get to visit–especially in South America. I never wanted the book (or their travels) to end. Definitely worth a read, and after you are finished, check out his family blog on Blogspot for more photos (he includes a handful in the book).


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