Books to Read After Running

by Sally Drake and Mark Mindel

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Set in Brooklyn, this smart, funny and modern novel is about successful wedding planner Olga Acevedo and her family, including her charismatic Congressman brother, as they navigate their public and private lives in the months surrounding Hurricane Maria, which devastated their beloved Puerto Rico and brings their estranged, revolutionary mother barreling back into their lives. Along the way, long held secrets are revealed and Olga confronts both personal and professional challenges that speak to a variety of social and economic issues. The characters jump off the pages and the plot is propulsive with brilliant intrigue that demonstrates just how personal the political can be.

The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

A chilling, terrifying and gut-wrenching dystopian novel about motherhood. The main character, Frida, makes one mistake that lands her in a government reform program aimed at measuring a woman’s ability parent through the use of manipulative, emotional torture techniques that erases all but a singular focus on the child. The shame Frida is made to feel is amplified in the dystopian plot but it will feel completely familiar to most mothers who face a nearly constant barrage of both passive and aggressive judgment at every turn. A powerful indictment of the many ways a patriarchal society sets women up to fail.

The Maid by Nita Prose

A quirky and often delightful novel about Molly, an eccentric hotel maid who finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery when she discovers a guest dead in his hotel bed. Molly is a neuro-diverse character who struggles with social skills and the nuances of spoken and unspoken communication, skills her beloved but departed grandmother helped her manage, which complicates the investigation and her role in the drama. Both entertaining-the mystery reads like a game of Clue-and heartwarming, this is a lovely book for a winter weekend.

Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho

A series of linked stories about the lives of two Taiwanese American women, best friends since childhood, as they grow up and confront life’s challenges as daughters of immigrants including family strife and expectations, sexuality and relationships. Their friendship waxes and wanes over the decades covered in the stories, but it is the underlying theme in this modern take on the classic “you can’t go home again” genre.

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The Horsewoman by James Patterson and Mike Lupica

Mediocre effort by the great James Patterson and HOF sportswriter Mike Lupica. Somewhat exciting with the competition between mother Maggie Atwood and her daughter Becky McCabe (mom is divorced) as they prepare for the Paris Olympics (which isn't actually taking place until 2024). Maggie is more focused on competition and the Olympics while her wild daughter, only 21 years old, is more talented but less dedicated. Story begins with Maggie falling off her horse Coronado and then grandmother Caroline Atwood, the matriarch of the family decides Becky should come off her little star Sky to ride the much bigger and experienced Coronado. Somehow the mother secretly trains hard and gets better in very little time (totally unreasonable) and wants Coronado back. Then they change trainers and head to the Olympics. Story turns into a Disney-like story from here. Pass.

Bloodless by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

My first attempt to delve into the Pendergast series. Not impressed. Too much supernatural hocus pocus for my liking.  Special Agent A.X.L (Axel) Pendergast and his ward/girlfriend Constance Greene and his partner Special Agent Armstrong Coldmoon have just completed a complicated case in the Keys of Florida and are helicoptering to Miami so Coldmoon can fly out to his new assignment in the Denver FBI office. The next thing we know, the trio are in old-fashioned Savannah, GA, to look into a bizarre double murder where both corpses are bloodless. Somehow the story is linked to D.B. Cooper's parachuting out of an airplane in Oregon with a ransom of $200,000. Characters are very likable and complex, but story is not really believable. Pass.

Better off Dead (Jack Reacher, #26) by Lee and Andrew Child

Second straight of the REACHER series to be co-written by older brother Lee and younger brother Andrew (also known as Andrew Grant); maybe Lee is handing off the keys of the car to his brother ! Well, it's a smooth transition as Reacher follows his usual pattern of basically just walking the country, hitching for rides, going nowhere in particular, and kicking ass. There are a few particularly vivid fight scenes as he takes on his opponents (one doozy at the end of the book!). Of course, Reacher is also out to save the world and also those whom he deems the “good guys” and from those he deems the “The Horsewomanbad guys.” We have kidnapping, terrorism, bomb-making, border crossing...basically your typical Reacher book. An enjoyable read.

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