Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Spotlight Post - The Last Chance Library; Freya Sampson - First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews
Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read soon.  

Berkley - August 31, 2021
(Debut Novel)

Chapter One

You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow.

June liked  to play a game when things were quiet at work. She's pick a patron and make up their life story based on the books they read.  Today she'd chosen a middle-aged lady who took out two Danielle Steel novels and The Rough Guide to Iceland.  After some consideration, June decided that the woman was trapped in a loveless marriage, perhaps with a boorish, aggressive husband.  She was planning to run away to Reykjavik, where she'd fall in love with a rigged, bearded, local.  But just as she thought she'd found true happiness, her husband would track her down and announce---"Well that was a pile of shit."

June was snapped out of her daydream by Mrs Bransworth, who was standing in front of the desk waving a book in her face. It was Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day.

I love the sound of this one, what about you? Read more or pass?

                                                                  ( Full Book Description)

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.
 
Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer's feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won't believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she's determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

Freya Sampson

Freya Sampson

Freya Sampson works in television as a creator and Executive Producer. Her credits include two documentary series for the BBC about the British Royal Family, and a number of factual and entertainment series. She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize. She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat. 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

2021 - RIP XVI - Reader's Imbibing Peril

                                                             10/20 - running total

It’s time for one of the few reading challenges I participate in and, it's my 13th year as well.  To join Readers Imbibing Peril just read as many mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, dark fantasy, supernatural, or Gothic books as you want between  September 1 – October 31st, and post about them on your blog, Instagram, or Twitter.  You can use #RIPXVI or tag @PERILREADERS to connect with other participants.

I've been thinking about what I want to read for this challenge for almost the entire month of August and have come up with an overly ambitious list for the next (2) months. Here are the ones I'm hoping to read (this list may change but still hoping to read 15 of these 20):

  1. Billy Summers; Stephen King  - 4.5/5 stars
  2. Getaway; Zoje Stage
  3. The Family Plot; Megan Collins
  4. Where I Left Her; Amber Garza  - 4/5
  5. The Night She Disappeared; Lisa Jewell
  6. The Red House Mystery; A.A. Milane
  7. The Long Call; Ann Cleeves - 4/5 stars
  8. Stolen Hours; Allen Eskens - 5/5
  9. An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed; Helene Thurston - 4/5
  10. Apples Never Fall; Liane Moriarty
  11. The Last House on Needless Street; Catriona Ward - 4.5/5 (utterly creepy)
  12. Nothing But Blackened Teeth; Cassandra Khaw - 2/5
  13. The Guilt Trip; Sandie Jones
  14. The Other Passenger; Louse Candlish
  15. The Stowaway; Murray and Wearmouth - 4/5
  16. The Guide; Peter Heller - 2/5
  17. The Heron's Cry; Ann Cleeves - 4.5/5
  18. Deadly Summer Nights; Vicki Delany
  19. Cul-de-Sac; Joy Fielding
  20. The Thursday Murder Club; Richard Osman

Friday, August 27, 2021

Book Review - The Inflammation Spectrum; Dr. Will Cole

The Inflammation Spectrum; Dr. Will Cole

Avery Books - 2019 - (borrowed from library)

Inflammation, seems to be a hot topic these days when people talk about health issues.  How we feel, especially as we age,  seems to be a product of not only our stress levels and getting enough sleep but also how our bodies and our immune systems react to the different foods and drinks we consume. Different foods can be a friend to one individual but a foe to other people.

The book discusses symptoms of food intolerance such as: bloating, runny nose, joint and muscle pain, fatigue and IBS.

There is a quiz that asks you to answer questions and depending on how you answer and what your point values are in the following categories: 1) brain & nervous system assessment, digestive system assessment, detox system, blood sugar, hormonal system, musculoskeletal system and autoimmune inflammation.  Depending on how you answer the questions you will get an idea as to which are your trigger areas. (For me it was digestive, musculoskeletal and autoimmune inflation). 

The next part was the cleanse, either 4-weeks or 8-weeks depending on your assessment. This was the part that was quite overwhelming for me.  The Elim-4 has you eliminating: all grains, all forms of dairy, all sweeteners and sugars and all inflammatory oils such as: corn, vegetable, canola and sunflower. While the Elim. 8 includes the 4 just mentioned as well as: legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, and nightshades: tomatoes, white and yellow potatoes, eggplant and all peppers.  

There is of course a focus list of acceptable foods and beverages during this period as well as some recipes which sound quite decent.

For me, I can't imagine doing the complete 8 - program  (just too extreme) but, this book did give me a better idea of what my areas of concern are, especially when I combine this information with what gathered from another book: Eat Right 4 Your Type, by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo which I read and reviewed in 2020.

Have you tried any similar programs to determine your food triggers?  I do know too much dairy, nuts  and the nightshades family are not my friends. I'm okay with a little of each though. 

Rating - 4/5 stars


Thursday, August 26, 2021

(2) Book Reviews - Notes on Grief; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Viral; Robin Cook

 

 Notes on Grief; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Random House Audio - 2021
(1 hour and 27 minutes read by the author - very good)

When the author's father passed away in June of 2020 she and her family were shocked. Her father was 88 and the family had connected with him via Zoom the evening before his passing as they often did during COVID.  He had reported that he was tired and feeling unwell. He had been diagnosed with kidney disease but, still his death came as a shock to his family. Are we ever prepared for the death of a loved one even when they have lived a long and meaningful life?  

If the author teaches us one thing by reading her heartfelt, journal like celebration of her father's life is this: you can't tell or show a person how to grieve, it's personal and different for every individual.

A beautiful, reflective look at loss and grief written by his grieving daughter.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

(Audio download provided by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.)

Viral, Robin Cook
Penguin Audio - Scott Brick (narrator)
12 hours and 20 minutes
(library download)

The Murphy family: Brian, Emma and four year old daughter Juliet are taking a break from COVID and vacationing on Cape Cod when Emma comes down with severe flu like-symptoms. On their way home to New York City she has a seizure in the car and is rushed to the closest ER. From there she is moved to ICU and she is diagnosed with Eastern equine encephalitis. From this point things go from bad to worse (with Emma and the entire plot).

This was not the exciting medical thriller my husband and I were expecting as we listened to this for (4) days straight.  We felt it was more about battling with insurance companies and hospital administrators about charges and claims and then wondering how you can ever pay what you owe and, then ultimately about how to get even with them. The story becomes quite repetitive and implausible at times but despite this we wanted to see how the story played out.  We were curious about the epilogue as well which led to more eye-rolling and a few laughs as well.  What started out as a pretty good story went down hill rather fast.   Had it not been for Scott Brick's fabulous narration of multiple voices, we might have abandoned it.

Rating - storyline - 2/5 stars
Rating - Scott Brick's narration - 5/5 stars

NOTE: I'm guilty of convincing my husband to try this one. He thought it felt like payback for having me listen to the last Harold Robbins book a few weeks ago.

Book Review - No Touching; Ketty Rouf

 


TITLE/AUTHOR:  No Touching; Ketty Rouf

PUBLISHER:  Europa Books

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Fiction / Translated

FORMAT:  eGalley

SOURCE:   Edelweiss

SETTING(s):  France (outskirts of Paris)

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A story about a woman who needs something more in life and finds excitement in a new line of work.

BRIEF REVIEW:     Josephine is a 30 year old woman who teaches philosophy in a high school in Drancy. She's in a rut, suffers from anxiety and has mostly unmotivated students, except for perhaps Hadrien.  She dreads going to work and does not feel supported by the powers that be in her school system.  Isn't there more to life she wonders?

One evening while on leave from her school job she walks into a strip club along the Champs-Elysee and feels something awaken in her. On a whim she takes an exotic dancing class and before long Josephine (A.K.A. Rosa Lee) becomes a stripper by night. What happens when her lives intersect?

The story may sound somewhat odd and at least certainly different but, Josephine is a complex character. She goes from being a plain Jane teacher to her secret life with sexy lingerie, makeup and high heels and a provocative allure that gives her a new sense of empowerment. She also loves the unexpected joy and of bonding with the new women she works with at the club.  She also loves the power she feels she has over the customers.  I found Josephine's story rather fascinating but, I just never connected with her. I know it's fiction but just how does a woman suffering from anxiety so easily take on such a drastic transformation. It does appear as if the author has done quite a bit of research about the darker side of strip clubs and what goes on there.

This novella doesn't have a complicated plot and it is just 113 pages. It is definitely not a story all readers will appreciate but, if you like to change your reading up a bit - I say give this one a try.

Thanks go to Europa Books and Edelweiss for allowing me access to this book in exchange for my unbiased review. The book was translated from French by Tina Kover who did an excellent job.

RATING:  3.5/5

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Spotlight Post - His Only Wife; Peace Adzo Medie - First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews
Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read.  

His Only Wife; Peace Adzo Medie
Algonquin Books - 2020

(Intro Paragraph)

One

"Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding. The ceremony was held on the third Saturday in January in the rectangular courtyard of my Uncle Pious's house, which was bordered by two-roomed apartments and a wooden gate that opened onto a busy footpath.  Our relative, stirring with equal measures of happiness, but for different reasons, sitting opposite one another in rented plastic chairs that were neatly arranged in rows that filled the courtyard.  The partly walled kitchen had been scrubbed and cleared of the cast-iron coal pots, on which my uncle's wives prepared the evening meal, and the enamel basins that they used for washing and storing dishes.  My uncle's sitting-room chairs, upholstered with a carpet-like fabric and polished so that the chocolate-brown wooden frames glistened, were also brought outdoors and comprised the front row where the elders of each family would sit."

(I love the detail here and am curious for more.) What do you think?

Here's a description of the book:

Afi Tekple is a young seamstress in Ghana. She is smart; she is pretty; and she has been convinced by her mother to marry a man she does not know. Afi knows who he is, of course—Elikem is a wealthy businessman whose mother has chosen Afi in the hopes that she will distract him from his relationship with a woman his family claims is inappropriate. But Afi is not prepared for the shift her life takes when she is moved from her small hometown of Ho to live in Accra, Ghana’s gleaming capital, a place of wealth and sophistication where she has days of nothing to do but cook meals for a man who may or may not show up to eat them. She has agreed to this marriage in order to give her mother the financial security she desperately needs, and so she must see it through. Or maybe not?

His Only Wife is a witty, smart, and moving debut novel about a brave young woman traversing the minefield of modern life with its taboos and injustices, living in a world of men who want their wives to be beautiful, to be good cooks and mothers, to be women who respect their husbands and grant them forbearance. And in Afi, Peace Medie has created a delightfully spunky and relatable heroine who just may break all the rules.

About the Author


Peace Adzo Medie is a Ghanaian writer and senior lecturer in gender and international politics at the University of Bristol in England. Prior to that she was a research fellow at the University of Ghana. She has published several short stories, and her book Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence Against Women in Africa was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. She is an award-winning scholar and has been awarded several fellowships. She holds a PhD in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in geography from the University of Ghana. She was born in Liberia.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Book Review - Songbirds; Christy Lefteri


TITLE/AUTHORSongbirds; Christy Lefteri

PUBLISHER:  Ballantine Books

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Fiction / Migrant workers / Mystery

FORMAT:  Hardcover

SOURCE:   (print - publisher)

SETTING(s):  Cyprus

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A young woman leaves her native country, Sri Lanka hoping to provide for a better future for the daughter she leaves behind.

BRIEF REVIEW:     Nisha works as a housekeeper and a nanny for a wealthy widow and her daughter in Cyprus.  She left her own two year old daughter, Kumari with her mother in Sri Lanka in hopes that someday she could return home and give her daughter a better life. By day Nisha works as a domestic worker for Petra and cares for Petra's nine year old daughter Aliki. Although Nisha chats with her daughter via an iPad in the evenings, she is, for the most part, treated like nothing more than a servant by Petra.

Yiannis is a poacher who makes a lot of money by trapping tiny songbirds and sells them on the black market where they are considered a delicacy.  He lives on Petra's property and is also Nisha's secret lover. He longs to marry her and give her a better life but, poaching is a tough job to get out of once you are part of the illegal operation. Nisha hates what he must do to the tiny birds.

When Nisha goes missing one evening, after preparing dinner, early in the story,  it's Petra who begins her own investigation with the help of Yiannis. She begins talking with other migrant workers as when a migrant, especially a woman, goes missing in Cyprus, the police are not helpful. 

I don't want to say too much more about the story except to say it is beautifully written, full of symbolism and imagery and just unforgettable, yet heartbreaking as well. The story in part was based on the true disappearances of other migrant women in Cyprus. There were some upsetting details involving how the poachers trap the tiny songbirds and what they do to them afterward.  Despite this, I'm so happy I had a chance to read this book. I now want to read the author's previous book: The Beekeeper of Aleppo which is supposed to be excellent as well.

Thanks go to Ballantine Books for sending me a finished copy of this thought-provoking book in exchange for my unbiased review.

RATING:  4.5/5

Memorable Quotes: 

“You see, when you clump people together and don’t understand their personal stories, you can make up any bullshit and convince yourself it’s the truth.”

“Now that I could hear this woman’s song—a melody that told a story I couldn’t understand—I hoped with all of my heart that it wasn’t too late.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She holds a Ph.D. in creative writing from Brunel University, where she is now a lecturer. Her previous novel, the international bestseller The Beekeeper of Aleppo, won the Aspen Words Literary Prize and was the runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She is also the author of A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible, which was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Week in Review - Books Reviews - Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training; Adam Stern - The People We Keep; Allison Larkin and Morningside Heights ; Joshua Henkin


Thank You Deb@ Reader Buzz


How was your week everyone?  Last weekend was enjoyable and we were able to change our walks up a bit and get in some nice views along the way.




The rest of the week was rather humid with some thunderstorms. I didn't even go to yoga this week but, I won't bore you with my swollen knee and icing saga.  Today our devices are powered up as Hurricane Henri is set to wreck havoc with the New England coast. Our last significant here was Hurricane Bob in 1991 (30 years ago.) This one is supposed to be slower moving but longer lasting winds and rain beginning Sunday. i'm hoping no trees come down and if power is lost it will be brief.

READING

This was a good reading week with lots of variety: I reviewed some children's books on Monday, finished a non fiction, and listened to some good fiction on audio (well except for the Harold Robbins one).

Here's what I finished this week:
  1. North and South: The Tale of Two Hemispheres;  Sandra Morris - 5/5 
  2. Picturing a Nation: The Great Depression's Finest Photographers Introduce America to Itself; Martin Sandler - 5/5
  3. Dreams Die First; Harold Robbins - 1.5/5 - Setting: CA and LasVegas, NV
  4. Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training; Adam Stern - NF -  4/5
  5. The People We Keep; Allison Larkin - 3.5/5 Setting: Upstate New York
  6. Morningside Heights ; Joshua Henkin - 4.5/5 Setting: New York City


Mariner Books - 2021
eGalley provided at no cost by Marriner Books and Edelweiss
Rating - 4/5 stars

My Thoughts - Adam Stern's memoir gives reader insight into his four years as a psychiatry resident at Harvard in 2010. He was one of fifteen residents in the program which was referred to by the faculty as "The Golden Class. "  

I thought it was interesting how a young man who had achieved so much, at times he felt like he never measured up. The memoir also provided a look at the challenges he and other residents faced and the unique issues that were not something one would learn from a medical text book.  My favorite part about the memoir were the aspects in which he shared some stories about troubled individuals who were hoping someone could relieve their mental anguish and make their life more bearable. 

I thought the memoir was very well-written and a worthwhile read.even though It wasn't exactly what I was expecting as I thought it would feature more in-depth case studies similar to those found in books like Maybe You Should Talk to Someone; Gottlieb and Good Morning, Monster; Gildiner and Burgess. 


The People We Keep; Allison Larkin
Simon & Schuster Audio - 2021
Narrator: Julia Whelan (very good)
audio download provided at no cost by Simon & Schuster Audio
Rating - 3.5/5 stars

My Thoughts: Sixteen year old April Sawicki hasn't had a happy childhood but music has always been important to her. Her mother took off leaving her with her uncaring and sometimes abusive father. They lived in a motor-less motor home he won in a poker game. April has been pretty much raised by her father's girlfriend.  One day after a fight with her father she decides she's had enough of Little River and heads for Ithaca where she hopes to find work and somehow survive and start a new life. It's at a local coffee shop that she meets some people who are kind to her and make her feel that she fits in. However, when people have disappointed you all of your life, it's difficult to learn to trust when fleeing seems what sometimes feel best. Will April ever find what she longs for?

This is a story that got off to a very slow start for me. It took me a while to connect with April who was so used to keeping people at a distance because of what she had endured. She makes some bad choices along the way but once she begins to see that there are people who really do care about her, perhaps she will get a chance for a happy life. 


Morningside Heights; Joshua Henkin
Random House Audio - 2021
Narrator: Kathe Mazur and Shane Baker (very good)
audio download from my public library
Rating - 4.5/5 stars

My Thoughts: Spence Robbins was a well-respected English professor at Columbia University. It's where he met wife Pru Steiner when she was one of his students, Pru and Spence have a daughter together who is a med student in California. Spence also has an adult son named Arlo with Linda one of his former students. Linda was about of a free spirit moving from place to place so except for two years that Arlo lived with Spence when he was a teen, the two never had much of a father-son relationship.

When Pru is 51 and Spence is 57 he is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.  This is a story of how life can change, sometimes in the blink of an eye and how loved ones act, react and move forward. I loved this story and all of the characters from Pru and Spence to Arlo and Sarah and even the the wonderful caregiver who eventually was hired to help care for Spence. This is a story that makes readers realize that rich or poor, intelligent or average, everyone at some point has the struggles and disappointments.  The tender storyline was so well crafted. I was quite moved by both the story and the wonderful audio narration as well.  Don't miss it!


Current Reads

( good info & well organized)
                                                                                                                                            (just okay so far)
  Review coming on Monday
(this one is well-written but sad)

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Harold Robbins books - a name from yesteryear

                                                               Harold Robbins 1916 -1997

Why am I writing about the late Harold Robbins?  Well, the truth is, I'm always with a book but, my husband is not much of a reader. However he does love to listen to audio books on road trips and in more recent years we've taken to listening to one we can agree upon every few months.  In 2019, Harold Robbins was his pick (an author he read earlier in life). Since I had never tried Robbins, I agreed to try him out and honestly the first few we picked were quite entertaining I must admit.

Here are the ones we listened to in 2019:

Our Favorite

                                                                    (pretty good - 4/5 stars)
                                                                          Review here

                                                                       (so so - 3.5/5 stars)
                                                                             review here

This past week we listened to one more by Robbins:

(terrible - 1.5/5 stars)

 Dreams Die First was a free Audible Download and now that we finished it I understand why it was free - I wanted to give up but we persisted - this one was rather raunchy - LOL  Have you ever read or listened to a Harold Robbin's book? I really enjoyed: A Stone for Danny Fisher

My Thoughts - In Dreams Die First, it's the 1960s and in California and LasVegas sex, drugs, corruption and porn seem to be everywhere. Gareth Brendan is a young guy whose wealthy uncle gives him control of one of those underground newspapers that offers provocative pictures of women and, the publication becomes almost an overnight success.  I'm not going to write too much more only that it was pretty bad. This was my worst experience with a Harold Robbins book to date even though their were some very laughable moments. Overall it was just too over the top for me.  Although my husband liked it more than me, he agreed that this one was a bomb compared to other Robbins books, although Derek Shetterly gave quite a good performance considering what he had to work with.

--------------------------------------

In July of 2019 The Hollywood Report wrote an excellent overview of Harold Robbins and his life calling him "one of the most debauched party-givers Hollywood has ever seen: "He was Gatsby."  In case you're interested here is the entire article.

Book Series in Order offered a complete list of his books and a pretty decent bio of the somewhat forgotten man known for his racy books and tales of power and corruption.

------------------------------------------

On a more positive note, I get to select all our joint audio book listens for the remainder of 2021:)  Our next audio that we hope to begin tomorrow is Robin Cook's new book: Viral. (It has to be better.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Europa Editions Books - 4 new ones and I can't decide which to read first!

Europa Edition Books have long been my favorite imprint for translated fiction.  The stories are always well-written, diverse and the stories are ones that make you think and or reflect. I've probably read at least 30 of their books and own at least another 30 (which look beautiful on my shelves).  These (4) are new ones that either came out this month or will release in September or October.  I plan to read all 4.  

Which of these would you try?


A Single Rose; Muriel Barbery
Europa Editions - release date - 9/28/21
(160 pages)

(about the book)

From the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog comes a story about a woman's journey to discover the father she never knew and a love she never thought possible.  

Rose has just turned forty when she gets a call from a lawyer asking her to come to Kyoto for the reading of her estranged father’s will. And so for the first time in her life she finds herself in Japan, where Paul, her father’s assistant, is waiting to greet her.  

As Paul guides Rose along a mysterious itinerary designed by her deceased father, her bitterness and anger are soothed by the stones and the trees in the Zen gardens they move through. During their walks, Rose encounters acquaintances of her father—including a potter and poet, an old lady friend, his housekeeper and chauffeur—whose interactions help her to slowly begin to accept a part of herself that she has never before acknowledged.  

As the reading of the will gets closer, Rose’s father finally, posthumously, opens his heart to his daughter, offering her a poignant understanding of his love and a way to accept all she has lost.


NOTE - I've read and enjoyed previous books by this author.


Trust; Domenico Starnone
Europa Editions - Release Date - 10/19/21
(144 pages)

(about the book)

Following the international success of Ties and the National Book Award-shortlisted Trick, Domenico Starnone gives readers another searing portrait of human relationships and human folly.

Pietro and Teresa’s love affair is tempestuous and passionate. After yet another terrible argument, she gets an idea: they should tell each other something they’ve never told another person, something they’re too ashamed to tell anyone. They will hear the other’s confessions without judgment and with love in their hearts. In this way, Teresa thinks, they will remain united forever, more intimately connected than ever.

A few days after sharing their shameful secrets, they break up. Not long after, Pietro meets Nadia, falls in love, and proposes. But the shadow of the secret he confessed to Teresa haunts him, and Teresa herself periodically reappears, standing at the crossroads, it seems, of every major moment in his life. Or is it he who seeks her out?

A master storyteller and a novelist of the highest order, Starnone’s gaze is trained unwaveringly on the fault lines in our public personas and the complexities of our private selves. Trust asks how much we are willing to bend to show the world our best side, knowing full well that when we are at our most vulnerable we are also at our most dangerous.

NOTE: I've read both of the previous books by this author and enjoyed them so much.  This one was translated from the Italian by author Jhumpa Lahiri.




The Double Mother; Michel Bussi
Europa Editions - release date - 8/17/21
480 pages

(about the book)

From the author of the “wonderfully ingenious” (Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review) novel After The Crash comes a brilliant work of deception that dives deep into the psyche of a child and cruel game of manipulating a person’s memory.

Four-year-old Malone Moulin is haunted by nightmares of being handed over to a complete stranger and begins claiming his mother is not his real mother. His teachers at school say that it is all in his imagination as his mother has a birth certificate, photos of him as a child and even the pediatrician confirms Malone is her son. The school psychologist, Vasily, believes otherwise as the child vividly describes an exchange between two women. Vasily begins recording their conversations and reinterprets the creatures Malone uses in the childish tales he recounts to his stuffed toy to piece the story together as much as he can.

Convinced that Malone is telling the truth, Vasile approaches police commander Marianne Augresse with the case, who has been searching for a gang of thieves that robbed a luxury store and left a couple dead in the neighboring town of Deauville to no avail. Not knowing why a child would lie and with perhaps her own own maternal and protective instinct kicking in, Marianne takes Vasile’s plead for help seriously.

Marianne and her team soon discern that Malone’s memory is in the hands of those around him; the cold members of the Moulin family and the people that they associate themselves with. With Malone’s recollection of the past quickly fading to give way to pirates, animals and other more innocent thoughts children have at his age, Marianne is desperate to find a through line.

Well-crafted and showcasing the fragility of a child’s cognition, The Double Mother is a riveting investigation to follow.


No Touching; Ketty Rouf

Europa Editions - release date - 8/1/21

113 pages

(about the book)

A story of liberation and a heartrending portrayal of a woman’s sense of self, Ketty Rouf’s extraordinary debut shatters tired prejudices about sex, women, and society.   

Josephine teaches philosophy in a high school in Drancy, a suburb of Paris. Her life is a balancing act between Xanax, Propranolol and Tupperware lunches in the staff room. The directives of the National Education Board are increasingly absurd and intolerable and she follows them with playfulness at times and derision at others. 

When, one evening, Josephine walks into a strip club on the Champs-Elysée, her life is completely overturned. There she learns a secret nocturnal code of conduct; she discovers camaraderie and the joys of female company; and she thrills at the sensation of men’s desire directed toward her. Josephine, a teacher by day, begins to lead a secret existence by night that ultimately allows her to regain control of her life. This delicate balance is shattered one evening by an unexpected visitor to the club where she dances.