October 22, 2021

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Olivia’s Book Club: Lisa Taddeo, ‘Animal’ | Olivia’s Book Club

11 min read

(3TV/CBS 5) — Witnessing a suicide of a married lover, while at dinner with another married lover, is the moment that sends Lisa Taddeo’s “Animal” narrator, Joan, out of New York and headed to California.

A dive into grief, rage, and sexual power, the novel is powerfully written and in moments deeply moving and even disturbing. Taddeo reveals she’s far from the darkly intense author many expect is behind her work, shares how she juggled the novel while parenting her six-year-old, and how the pandemic didn’t change her. Listen for the hilarious comment her daughter had for her at a book-signing, and what Olivia said that Lisa jokingly called “the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

“Animal” is published by Avid Reader Press and has been optioned by MGM and Plan B Entertainment.

In a Moment with Margaret, Margaret recommends two other novels with complicated characters: “Pretty Girl” by Karin Slaughter and Jodi Picoult’s “Spark of Light.”

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Jennifer Deibel, A Dance in DonegalJennifer Deibel spent nearly a decade living in Ireland and Austria, building a family and a deep love for all things Irish. That passion for the Emerald Isle and the Gaelic tongue is still with the Arizona schoolteacher, and fueled her passion for writing her debut novel, “A Dance in Donegal” from Revell Books. Jennifer talks to Olivia about making a “perfect cuppa”, life in the desert as compared to a land of green, and how she identifies with her protagonist, Moira. “A Dance in Donegal” follows Moira from Boston to Ireland in 1920, following through on her mother’s dying wish for her daughter to teach in the village where she once lived. There, Moira finds a missing piece of herself, and discovers mysteries surrounding her family’s past. In a Moment With Margaret, they talk about books where the setting is as important as the characters. Margaret recommends “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens, Olivia recommends Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend.”

Sophia Benoit: Well, This is Exhausting: EssaysBe honest, it IS all exhausting! Over the years, Sophia Benoit has sharpened her fierce wit as a means for survival: dealing in with life as a woman in a sexist world, finding love in the age of apps, accepting yourself even when society considers you fat, the push and pull of life as a child of divorce… Benoit, a relationship and sex columnist discusses her collection of essays with Olivia, reflecting on the value of telling her unfiltered truth, and her hope that after readers laugh out loud (and maybe shed a tear or two) at Benoit’s expense, they’ll feel a little less alone and exhausted. In a Moment With Margaret, Margaret makes the most of having the Bustle advice columnist’s expertise available and gets her beneficial dating advice (a can’t miss for anyone currently on the apps!) 

Christina Baker Kline, The ExilesChristina Baker Kline talks about the research and writing of her powerful work of historical fiction, THE EXILES. The novel tells the story of Evangeline, Hazel, and Matthina, three women who must tap into incredible resilience in the face of oppression and injustice. The setting is “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Island, a penal colony established by the British, where 25,000 British women were exiled, by way of a former slave ship, The Medea. The ORPHAN TRAIN author shares with Olivia the parallels with modern day, and her interest in telling stories that focus on the power of female friendship. She shares which famous authors she’s friends with, and recommends mixing up a Dark & Stormy for THE EXILES book club night. Margaret recommends two books she loved this year: THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab, and GREENLIGHTS by Matthew McConaughey. In addition to THE EXILES, Olivia recommends both novels by Brit Bennett, THE VANISHING HALF and THE MOTHERS.

Lauren Layne, To Sir, With LoveCan you fall in love with a stranger? Is anything a mystery anymore? “To Sir, With Love” is a romantic comedy written by Lauren Layne who serves up a satisfying look at modern love in Manhattan. Part “Love Is Blind” meets “You’ve Got Mail,” the novel’s protagonist Gracie Cooper is holding down the fort of her champagne shop/ family business, while falling for anonymous stranger on a dating app she only knows as “sir.” Lauren talks to Olivia about delivering a feel-good story when readers need it the most, and why her own life in Manhattan is so important to her writing. For a reader who loves “To Sir, With Love” Margaret recommends other easy, breezy romantic comedies: “Yes & I Love You” by Roni Loren, “The Real Deal” by Lauren Blakely, and two books by Katharine McGee, “American Royals” and “Majesty.” All pair nicely with a chilled glass of Cava.

Cameron Hamilton & Lauren Speed, Leap of FaithFalling in love and getting engaged without ever looking at each other? That’s the premise of the Netflix hit reality show, Love Is Blind. The unique dating show was a huge hit and launched not only a marriage but new careers for Lauren and Cameron. Fans follow their video content and now they can read about their relationship. Olivia talked with the duo about their book, “Leap of Faith” which is part memoir, but also a useful guide for couples navigating new dynamics, who will take inspiration from the familiar pair as role models in how to define their paths as a couple. Olivia & Margaret both LOVE reality TV as much as they love their books, so they chat about other enjoyable reads from Tan France, Andy Cohen, Jonathan Van Ness, Margaret Josephs and Stassi Schroeder.  

Ashley Audrain, The PushEven the casual reader who glanced at the lists of the Best Books of 2021, or Most Anticipated Fiction of ’21 knew of THE PUSH. Ashley Audrain’s debut novel explores a women’s greatest fears about motherhood through the suspenseful, gripping story of Blythe and her daughter, Violet. She talks with Olivia about how her professional experience as a literary publicist both shaped and shook her as a writer, and the moments when she deleted nearly ¾ of her manuscript. She also previews her second novel, THE WHISPERS. Margaret and Olivia discuss other highly hyped debuts and their follow-up novels from Gillian Flynn, Kevin Kwan, Alex Michaelides.

Steven Rowley, The GuncleIf you didn’t already know what a guncle is, the character of Patrick in Steven Rowley’s “The Guncle” is here to help.  As the Palm Springs dwelling, mimosa loving, sitcom celebrity gay uncle to Maisie and Grant, Patrick opens his heart and his home to the kids in a time of crisis. Olivia talks with the author of “Lily and the Octopus” and “The Editor” about this heartfelt and humorous novel of grief, growth, and finding the people you need right at the right time. Margaret shares some favorite novels that uniquely touch on grief: “Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward, “The Weekend Wedding Assistant” by Rachel Gladstone, and “Long Bright River” by Liz Moore.

Bookseller turned Best Seller T.J. NewmanT.J. Newman’s life changes dramatically this summer. The author is a former indie bookstore bookseller, turned flight attendant, turned novelist. “Falling” is already a bestseller in the UK and is poised for a huge release at home July 7th. Overcoming dozens of rejections from literary agents to get here, Newman’s suspenseful tale of a kidnapping plot targeting the family of an airline pilot ultimately landed her seven-figure deals for the book, and the movie rights. She talks to Olivia about the failures that paved the way, and why her mother has earned the right to say “I told you so” forever. In a Moment With Margaret, T.J. joins Margaret and Olivia to talk about their love for local bookstores and libraries, and new options for audiobooks.

Dr. Amy Shah, I’m So Effing TiredIn I’m So Effing Tired, wellness expert Dr. Amy Shah tackles what we’re doing that’s making us feel fatigued, outlining a plan for readers to implement changes that will create an energy surge. From what you eat, to when you eat, to managing stress, Dr. Shah talks to Olivia about the energy trifecta, and the personal moment that led her to make a change. From surviving shift work to evaluating what, and sometimes who, to let go of, this is an eye-opening chat that will make listeners want to dig deeper into her book. Margaret recommends a work of fiction that focuses on exhausted moms called “Happy & You Know It” by Laura Hankin, and admits to what is making her personally exhausted (late nights with Love Island UK.) 

JoJo Moyes, The Giver of StarsFor so many fiction readers, JoJo Moyes is a household name. The British novelist and screenwriter talked to Olivia and Margaret about the research that went into her latest novel, “The Giver of Stars.” The book is now in paperback, and to write it, the British novelist made numerous trips to America’s heartland for research. She shares why it was important to ride horses in rural Kentucky (combining two of her passions), and some of the wild news headlines that helped her craft Alice, Marjery and the other Pack Horse Librarians. Moyes previews her next book that’s headed to the screen, the trilogy that made her famous, and why readers today are making previous releases best-sellers again. Inspired by Moyes and the Pack Horse Librarians, Olivia and Margaret discuss other novels featuring librarians. For those into suspense, Margaret recommends “All the Devils are Here” by Louise Penny. A novel with a dark and mysterious network of women, there’s “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner. Olivia and Margaret also mention popular books “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, and a children’s classic: “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. For those who haven’t read Sally Hepworth’s “The Good Sister,” Olivia suggests now is the time, as one of the main characters is as a librarian! Olivia talked to Hepworth about this novel in Episode 5 of the podcast.

Dr. Kevin Leman, 8 Secrets to Raising Successful KidsBest-selling author (more times than even he can count with certainty,) Dr. Kevin Leman likely wrote a book on any issue in your family you’d like to address and improve. From parenting, to romantic intimacy, to his theories on birth order that still have people talking decades later, Dr. Leman is a deep well of common sense who delivers hilarious truth bombs in a way only he can. Leman talks to Olivia about his recent book, “8 Secrets to Raising Successful Kids,” why mom is the most influential figure in her son’s life, and why putting away the toaster is his secret to a happy marriage. In “A Moment with Margaret”: Olivia & Margaret discuss self-help titles that resonate with them. They discuss “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle, “More Than Enough” by Elaine Welteroth, and “Give Them Lala” by Lala Kent.

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Sally Hepworth: The Good Sister: When Sally Hepworth’s “The Good Sister” was released in April, it became an instant New York Times bestseller. Available now in paperback, this suspenseful thriller about twin sisters Fern and Rose is summer escape at its finest (be warned, you may chew your nails.) Sally spoke with Olivia about crafting the dual narratives, how organically the character of Fern came to the story, the part of her writing process that is like “a dagger to the heart” for other writers, and self-expression through fashion. “The Good Sister” is published by St. Martin’s Press. In A Moment with Margaret, Margaret shares which thrillers she’ll be reading this summer from authors she’s enjoyed in the past: “The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides, “Survive the Night” by Riley Sager, and “The Perfect Family” by Robyn Harding. These books are released in June, July, and August, respectively.

Samantha Ettus: The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction: Harvard MBA, CEO, and bestselling author Samantha Ettus shares with Olivia her secrets to building a thriving personal and professional life, as outlined in her book, “The Pie Life.” She tells Olivia about her strategies for making the most of home life, what shouldn’t be talked about at work (from the CEO’s perspective), and the true cost for women who step out of the workforce. Samantha is like the best friend you always wanted, ready with supportive, practical advice you’ll want to share with friends.Margaret and Olivia talk about other books with life lessons they’d recommend. 

Jennifer Weiner, That Summer: The queen of the beach read returns with That Summer. Novelist Jennifer Weiner talks to Olivia about writing women’s stories through the lens of the #MeToo movement. She shares about life on Cape Cod, why Beatrice is one of her favorite characters yet, and the importance of body image in her writing. When thinking of how she fell in love with reading, she shares how an essay by Nora Ephron may have changed her life. Margaret shares her beach read recommendations: Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game, and Libby Hubscher’s Meet Me in Paradise.

Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds: Olivia interviews Kristin Hannah, No. 1 New York Times Bestselling author. Hannah reveals why she makes us “ugly cry” and shares two shocking surprises about changes she made to both The Four Winds and The Nightingale. She also shares the book series that hooked her on reading. Olivia and Margaret each recommend a book and movie guaranteed to make you ugly cry. For Olivia, the book is When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi and the movie Stepmom. Margaret’s makeup will run watching Steel Magnolias and reading Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.

Donna Freitas, The Nine Lives of Rose NapolitanoOlivia interviews Donna Freitas about her adult fiction debut about a woman who doesn’t want children, and all the challenges that surround her choice. Donna talks about her relationship with her mother, personal moments that make their way into this book, and why switching genres left some with a funny misunderstanding of her work. Olivia and Margaret discuss other “what if” stories. Margaret recommends The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver, and Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

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