Book Reviews

Three books that will keep you reading into the night

By Lynda Rego
Posted 2/20/24

The following novels kept me enthralled. I couldn’t put them down — always the sign of a good read. So battle through the last of the winter weather by curling up with one of these.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Register to post events

If you'd like to post an event to our calendar, you can create a free account by clicking here.

Note that free accounts do not have access to our subscriber-only content.

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.

Book Reviews

Three books that will keep you reading into the night


The following novels kept me enthralled. I couldn’t put them down — always the sign of a good read. So battle through the last of the winter weather by curling up with one of these.

“Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2019) reminded me of the film “Almost Famous.” Both are stories of a rock band making it big and living large before things implode. This one is told in the format of an oral history, which is especially fascinating when the fallible memory has band members remembering the same events differently.

Billy and Graham Dunne start a blues/rock band in the mid-1960s in Pittsburgh. Daisy Jones grew up in the Hollywood Hills to a rich couple not interested in being parents and began hanging around the Sunset Strip in her teens. They will come together in the 1970s to form an iconic band with multiple hit albums.

It’s a sharp, insightful look at relationships in the music industry, the dynamics between band members, the dangers of fame (sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll), and the fierceness of artists who believe in what they create.

In an intro, the anonymous author says it is “an attempt to piece together a clear portrait” of how the band rose to fame “as well as what led to their abrupt and infamous split while on tour in Chicago on July 12, 1979.” This is an incredible piece of writing (the lyrics to all the songs are in the back of the book, also written by Reid). She said she wanted to “write about a rock band, with this chorus of voices, like a rock documentary.” And she succeeded. A chorus of voices is the perfect description of what makes the story flow, with reminiscences by band members, their significant others, friends, other musicians, record execs and more — all forming a vivid portrait.

“Playing Nice” by JP Delaney (2020) asks how far you would go to protect your family. Pete Riley is a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer living with Maddie Wilson, an advertising executive. They have a 2-year-old son, Theo. Then, one day, Miles Lambert appears at their door and says Theo isn’t theirs. That he and the Lamberts’ son, David, were swapped at the hospital at birth. Both babies were preemies, David with more serious problems, and in the neonatal ICU at the hospital. Miles and the detective he hired have DNA proof. At first, the two couples seem to be on the same page. They will let the children stay in their current families, but have a close relationship that will allow everyone to spend time with both boys and the boys can be “cousins.”

But, Miles is in the process of suing the hospital and seems to be engineering things the way he wants them. His wife, Lucy, passively does as he wishes. I’m not giving anything away because the opening quote in the book is from the story of Solomon and the two women who claim the same baby in the Bible. And, scattered through the book are excerpts from case notes, affidavits, interviews, emails and phone calls pertaining to the case. So, you just know things are going to go sideways. And, when they do, Pete and Maddie have some decisions to make. This psychological thriller was so suspenseful and I had no idea where it was heading.

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2017). Monique Grant is a reporter with an online magazine in New York City, when she is given a new assignment. An interview with Evelyn Hugo, once a major Hollywood movie star, but now a recluse. Evelyn has agreed to the story, but only on condition that Monique do it. Monique doesn’t understand why, but grabs the chance to get her life back on track after her husband left her and her career stalled.

But, Evelyn doesn’t intend to do the interview. Instead, she wants Monique to write her life story and publish it in a book. As Monique conducts the meetings with Evelyn in her gorgeous apartment and they share meals and secrets, she tries to decide how to tell her boss and wonders why she was chosen. We learn about Evelyn’s journey to Los Angeles in the 1950s, her relentless pursuit of fame, her rise to stardom, what it costs her and, yes, about each of her seven husbands (and the real love of her life) before she leaves Tinseltown in the 1980s. Evelyn intends to tell all, even as to why she chose Monique to tell her story, but only on her terms. It’s an insider’s look at Hollywood, the studio system, the pitfalls of fame, and the stark contrast between the truth and what made it into the newspapers in those days. Making it richer are bits of Hollywood gossip columns, stories, online postings (and comments by online readers) interspersed with Evelyn’s tale.

2024 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.