I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

One of Frankfurt 2013’s most buzzed about books is hitting shelves in May. Eliza Kennedy’s debut novel I Take You sold for a high six figures and the 150,000 first print run solidifies the high expectations. A ribald addition to chick lit shelves, one industry insider calls I Take You a “Bridesmaids-like literary romp,” and it has been consistently compared to Bridget Jones and even Fear of Flying. New York lawyer Lily Wilder is engaged to smart, handsome, all-around-good-guy Will, but in the week before their wedding she is still continuing her hard-partying life of boozing, drugs, and promiscuity. Blurbs and early reviews promise that it is both funny (Gary Shteyngart calls it “the funniest book I’ve read all year”) and contemplative, tackling serious questions about monogamy and sexual politics. Early Goodreads reviewers are already weighing in and I see countless polarized book club discussions in the future as people furiously debate the morality of infidelity and biology of monogamy. Better buy an extra bottle of wine for that month’s book club.

Audio published by Random House Audio. Available 5/5.

 

Out of Orange: My Real Life by Cleary Wolters

Fans of the hugely successful, Emmy-winning series Orange Is the New Black and the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir that inspired it will be thrilled to read Out of Orange, the companion memoir from the real-life Alex Vause, the ex-girlfriend who first enticed Piper Kerman into the international drug-smuggling ring that eventually led both of them to prison. In a show that’s full of interesting characters with inherently shady backgrounds and plenty of unanswered questions, Alex’s story is perhaps one of the most intriguing. Cleary Wolters first learned of her ex-girlfriend’s memoir when she saw a commercial for the show and saw Laura Prepon wearing her own signature black-rimmed glasses. She has followed the show and the success of Piper Kerman’s book along with the rest of the world and now, for the first time, she is telling her own story as it really happened. Cleary Wolters, both as Alex Vause on the show and in her real-life memoir, seems so much more complicated and interesting than Piper Kerman. Where Piper’s account has given us a voyeuristic look at prison life that allows us as a nation to congratulate ourselves on being so well adjusted and normal compared to the people whose lives we can’t stop watching, Wolters’ book sounds much more authentic, insightful, and heartbreaking. She details how young women fall into the world of international drug crime and tells us of crime and punishment in a way that only someone who has experienced both can do. For anyone who enjoys the show or Kerman’s memoir, and for people like me who have had Kerman’s book on the shelf for years, now is the perfect opportunity to read both together.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 5/5.

 

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver and The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

There seems to be something in the air these days that’s invoking twins. I know four people pregnant with twins right now and have read about at least three upcoming titles centered around twins. In Trisha Leaver’s The Secrets We Keep, Ella and Maddy, high school seniors and twin sisters with starkly different personalities, are in a car accident that leaves one of them dead. Maddy dies but, for a variety of reasons, when Ella wakes she learns that everyone has mistaken her for her twin sister. In a split second decision, partly to assuage her guilt over her sister’s death, she decides to take on Maddy’s identity, but taking on the life of her popular sister proves to be difficult for the quiet artist. As she struggles to live out Maddy’s life and learns Maddy’s secrets, she learns about her own identity, too. The YA novel has gotten great early reviews on Goodreads, proclaiming it a page-turner. For an older audience, check out S.K. Tremayne’s The Ice Twins. Instead of a YA take on sisterhood and identity, Tremayne takes a similar premise and spins a creepy psychological thriller. A year after losing one of her twin daughters in a tragic accident, Sarah’s surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims Sarah has mistaken her identity all along, and that she is actually Lydia, the daughter Sarah has been grieving for a year. What is the truth and can Sarah confront what really happened? The setting of a tiny, isolated Scottish island during a major storm adds to the creep factor.

The Secrets We Keep audio published by Brilliance Audio. Available 5/2. The Ice Twins audio published by Blackstone Audio. Available 5/19.

 

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

It has probably become apparent by now that I like books that are a little weird, a little hard to define, a little dark. Leslie Parry’s debut seems to be all of those things. I can’t wait to read it. New York, 1895. The Church of Marvels, a Coney Island sideshow, burns down. Belle, the star of the show, has disappeared and her twin sister (more twins!) is left to find her. Meanwhile, an abandoned newborn baby is rescued from the privies behind the tenement houses and a young woman awakes to find herself in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum. We watch as the threads of these strangers’ lives become increasingly connected. I mean, really, Coney Island, 19th-century sideshows, the dirt and muck of the bowels of tenement housing, a lunatic asylum—if you want a gritty, sort of hallucinatory edge-of-reality ride through the enchantment and terror of turn-of-the-century New York, this is it. I recommend this for fans of The Night Circus, The Book of Speculation, and Island of Vice.

Audio published by HarperCollins Publishers. Available 5/5.

 

The Battle of the Bulge by Rick Atkinson

While parents, educators, and politicians will continue to debate the merits and flaws of the Common Core State Standards, I hope we can all agree that the rise in quality non-fiction for young readers the Common Core has inspired is something to cheer for. The latest in the continuing trend of children’s non-fiction comes from Pulitzer Prize winner (in both history and journalism) Rick Atkinson. Noted by Winston Churchill as “the greatest American battle of [World War II] and . . . an ever-famous American victory,” most of us know the Battle of the Bulge by name and have some vague notion of its importance but I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing of the details or why it was so significant. At the risk of alienating my history-loving husband, I also confess that I sometimes look at the stack of World War II books released every month and wonder if there can possibly be anything new to write about it. What I like about this one is that it’s a clearly defined, approachable topic written for children (ages 8-12). They don’t need to know the whole history of the war and everything that led up to it. They can dive right in and immerse themselves in the month-long battle, which frankly is probably a whole lot more interesting to a 10-year-old than a blur of opposing political philosophies, dates, and names from a 6-year period. By providing an accessible account of a specific and bloody battle, Atkinson may well open the door to children expanding their interest into other aspects of the war and to a deeper understanding of its causes and lasting effects.

Audio published by Macmillan Audio. Available 5/5.