BOOKISH FRIDAY: “I AM NO ONE”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is I Am No One, by Patrick Flanery, a tense, mesmerizing novel about memory, privacy, fear, and what happens when our past catches up with us.

 

 

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Beginning:  At the time of my return to New York earlier this year I had been living in Oxford for more than a decade.  Having failed to get tenure at Columbia I believed Britain might offer a way to restart my career, though I always planned to move back to America, imagining I would stay abroad for a few years at most.  In the interim, however, America has changed so radically—by coincidence I left just after the attacks in New York—that I find myself feeling no less alienated now than I did during those long years in Britain.

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56:  As I showed her to the door, I turned and said, before thinking about the words or what their effect might be, “You know, Rachel, one of the great things about America, one of the reasons I wanted to come home to my country, is that anyone can speak any language in any possible accent and still be accorded the status of American.”

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Synopsis:  After a decade living in England, Jeremy O’Keefe returns to New York, where he has been hired as a professor of German history at New York University. Though comfortable in his new life, and happy to be near his daughter once again, Jeremy continues to feel the quiet pangs of loneliness. Walking through the city at night, it’s as though he could disappear and no one would even notice.

But soon, Jeremy’s life begins taking strange turns: boxes containing records of his online activity are delivered to his apartment, a young man seems to be following him, and his elderly mother receives anonymous phone calls slandering her son. Why, he wonders, would anyone want to watch him so closely, and, even more upsetting, why would they alert him to the fact that he was being watched?

As Jeremy takes stock of the entanglements that marked his years abroad, he wonders if he has unwittingly committed a crime so serious as to make him an enemy of the state. Moving towards a shattering reassessment of what it means to be free in a time of ever more intrusive surveillance, Jeremy is forced to ask himself whether he is “no one,” as he believes, or a traitor not just to his country but to everyone around him.

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I love the sound of this one. What do you think?

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REVIEW: UNTETHERED, BY JULIE LAWSON TIMMER

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Set in small town Michigan, Untethered paints a picture of an idyllic life for Bradley and Char, with Bradley’s daughter Allie as the centerpiece of their family. Allie’s mother Lindy is conveniently absent, living the California life.

But from the first page, the family is torn asunder in the aftermath of Bradley’s accidental death, leaving behind the sadness and the sense of a family adrift. Packing up Bradley’s desk, going through memories together, and trying to accept the condolence calls and casseroles, Char’s new life feels empty. Who is she, if not Bradley’s wife and Allie’s stepmother? Now that she has “lost” these roles, she is vulnerable to Lindy’s sudden demands for Allie, as well as to Allie’s behavior, which has turned distant, sullen, and rude. Her grades are slipping, she has chosen questionable new friends, and nothing Char can do seems to turn things around.

What is more challenging is that everyone seems poised, waiting for Lindy to call the shots regarding Allie, while she passively controls all of them when she keeps changing her mind. Yet when Allie visits her for spring break, she is mostly absent every day until late at night. Char feels at the mercy of Lindy’s whims, and believes that Lindy’s behavior is creating a wedge between her and Allie.

Allie has a unique bond with a ten-year-old girl named Morgan, adopted out of foster care. Morgan has mental health issues and a dramatic (and annoying) way about her. When Allie began tutoring her, they connected. Their relationship becomes a focus later in the novel when something happens to the girl. Something that will stun them all. Will Char and Allie’s bonding moments over Morgan’s trauma help connect them again? Will Lindy use the episode to tear them apart even further?

It was easy to empathize with Char, but she did have a tendency to sit back and let others call the shots, even the teenager, whom she seemed afraid to cross. The way she dealt with Lindy seemed too conciliatory, and I often wanted to yell at her. Allie’s rudeness and passive-aggressiveness was annoying, but she also seemed to be calling out for someone, anyone, to take control. Lindy, of course, was so unlikeable that I hurried through the pages that showed her condescending attitudes and inability to remember the names of everyone that she had known for years. She had a way of putting everyone down, which may have been a way of covering her insecurities in the mothering role.

Themes of blended families, the broken foster care system, and abandonment did keep me engaged, and I enjoyed the story. But after the intensity of Allie and Morgan’s traumatic episode, the ending was wrapped up a little quickly, fast forwarding to two years in the future. I would have preferred being shown how the events unfolded, but the conclusion was a satisfying one. 4 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “UNTETHERED”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is from an Amazon Vine ARC called Untethered, by Julie Lawson Timmer.

 

 

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Beginning:  Char slumped low in the pew, fretting about the casket.  It took her brother, Will, a moment to realize what she was doing.  Like everyone else, he had risen with the priest’s invitation and was waiting, a hand extended, to help her up and walk her to the social hall.

***

56:  Char gasped and covered her mouth with one hand while she reached out with the other, holding the towel to Morgan.  Morgan snatched it, wrapped herself in it, and ran to the bathroom.  As the bathroom door closed, the sound of the teenagers’ voices and footsteps rose from the staircase.

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Synopsis:  When Char Hawthorn’s husband dies unexpectedly, she is left questioning everything she once knew to be true: from the cozy small town life they built together to her relationship with her stepdaughter, who is suddenly not bound to Char in any real way. Untethered explores what bonds truly form a family and how, sometimes, love knows no bounds.

Char Hawthorn, college professor, wife and stepmother to a spirited fifteen-year-old daughter, loves her family and the joyful rhythms of work and parenting. But when her husband dies in a car accident, the “step” in Char’s title suddenly matters a great deal. In the eyes of the law, all rights to daughter Allie belong to Lindy, Allie’s self-absorbed biological mother, who wants to girl to move to her home in California.

While Allie begins to struggle in school and tensions mount between her and Char, Allie’s connection to young Morgan, a ten-year-old-girl she tutors, seems to keep her grounded. But then Morgan, who was adopted out of foster care, suddenly disappears, and Char is left to wonder about a possible future without Allie and what to do about Morgan, a child caught up in a terrible crack in the system.

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What do you think?  Does this family novel with its complex issues resonate with you?  Do you want to keep reading?

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REVIEW: GIRL ON THE RUN, BY DARYL WOOD GERBER

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From the beginning moments of Girl on the Run, we are drawn into a world of fantasy, secrets, and ultimate betrayal.

Standing in the midst of a beautiful Happily Ever Ball, Chessa Paxton, our event planner, has the normal fears about how a party will come off, but something else is tugging at her, something that hints that it is only a matter of time until the worst might occur. Chessa’s fears about her husband Zach are soon realized, and the blurry, eerie feeling that takes over her will be just the tip of the iceberg.

Did someone drug Chessa’s drink? What is the big secret Zach is keeping, and how did Chessa find out that something might be wrong? Who are the frightening characters behind the masks at the ball, and who among them will bring about the ultimate mayhem? Waking up to her dead husband, and learning of a mass murder in a nearby meadow, Chessa slips from the house, eluding the police, and heads out to uncover the truth and to find out who framed her. She knows she is innocent…or is she?

Some of the truths Chessa will discover go back to her childhood when her father was betrayed, and just when we thought we knew all of the secrets, we learn there are more. A “master of disguise,” Chessa cleverly changes up her look while trying to stay ahead of the killer or killers.

The cast of characters is large, including Chessa’s stepfather, a senator named Jeremiah Wolfe, and an evangelical type minister named Davey Diggs. The primary detective in charge is Marcus Newman, with his sidekick Keegan, and we also see early on that, while he believes Chessa could be guilty, certain facts don’t line up with that conclusion, so he is keeping an open mind.

Alternate narrators keep us intrigued as we try to figure out the whodunit as well as the motives behind it all. This suspenseful story that kept me engaged throughout was set in one of my favorite places, Lake Tahoe, so I felt I could have been there with the characters. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “GIRL ON THE RUN”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a review book from the author:  Girl on the Run, by Daryl Wood Gerber.

 

 

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Beginning:  Chessa Paxton had dreaded the night, even feared it, but now, dressed as Sleeping Beauty, she quivered with anticipation as she moved with the throng toward the entrance to the Boardwalk Casino.  Everything was exciting:  the costumes, the eager chatter, the orchestral music being piped through amplifiers.  The Happily Ever After Ball was going to be, in a word, heady.

***

56:  Marcus paused at an intersection and cupped his hands around his eyes.  Not to block the sun’s glare—the sun was pretty much obliterated by clouds—but to block out distractions.  Dozens of A-framed houses lined the streets.

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Synopsis:  “Readers will be shocked by this exciting, fast-paced thriller’s twists and turns.” Kirkus Reviews

From nationally bestselling author Daryl Wood Gerber comes a gripping new suspense!

When a fairytale fantasy night becomes a nightmare, Chessa Paxton must run for her life…but will the truth set her free?

Chessa Paxton, an event planner in Lake Tahoe, celebrates a successful night at the Happily Ever After Ball, but her dream quickly becomes a nightmare when she wakes up beside the body of her dead husband. Nauseous and confused, feeling as if she’s been drugged, she can’t explain to the sheriff why her princess costume is bloodied. With her father already a convicted murderer, she feels invisible shackles ratcheting onto her wrists and ankles. She runs! But she can’t escape vivid flashes of memory: a massacre in a meadow; men and women in fairy tale costumes; Snow White’s dead body shielding her from bullets.

Though Chessa is a former costumer and a master of disguise, she quickly learns that hiding while trying to prove herself innocent is the most difficult task imaginable. Especially when the sheriff wants to throw her in jail and the real killer wants to silence her forever.

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What do you think?  Does this book grab you?  Would you keep reading?

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REVIEW: I’VE GOT SAND IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES, BY LISA SC0TTOLINE, ET. AL.

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Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella are adept at humor, as exemplified in I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places, the latest in a series of such collections that offer up short and witty vignettes on a variety of topics.

They bring us right into the thick of it all, as they alternately share anecdotal incidents from their lives, mostly about all the daily things everyone experiences, but also spiced with their take on clothes; their unique book signings; gardening, especially fantasies about the perfect garden; food and metabolism; life with dogs; friendships; and romantic relationships, to name a few.

Lisa is famous for her labeling of her two ex-husbands as Thing One and Thing Two. Thing One has redeeming social value: he is Francesca’s father, whereas Thing Two barely gets a mention.

Francesca shares a frightening assault she experienced, and walked us through how she healed from it, while still acknowledging that she relives it at times. Her writing about her relationships, her dogs, and her single life in Manhattan help us see her perspective on a variety of issues, including her connection to her mother, and the importance of that connection in getting through life’s challenges.

Another topic many of us “people pleasers” can relate to is how to say no and how to do it without guilt. Lisa shares how she came to a realization that trying to make everybody happy was not a good thing for her own life.

“It took me fifty years to figure out what I was doing wrong, and how to fix it. I started saying no, and the world did not end. Then I kept saying no, and it got easier and easier.

“It takes practice….and I taught myself that every time I said no to someone else, I was saying yes to myself….I started living—my own life.”

I loved the section on The Empty Nest, and how Lisa dealt with it as a celebration, which does not in any way negate how much she loves and enjoys her daughter. But being able to own your day, without having responsibility for another human being under your roof, is a freedom unmatched by any other kind. She describes how her world is rocked a little when her daughter comes to visit, though, and that they get into little conversations about “why is the TV on CNN” all the time, or why are there closed captions? I got a giggle out of this one, as I love having the captions on, too, not because I can’t hear, but so I can mute the TV and still glance up to see what is going on. When I am reading or working, the TV, with captions, is muted and is like a backdrop to my other activities.

I thoroughly enjoy these chats with the authors, which make me feel as though I know them and that I’m joining them for coffee…or a drink. So I can’t wait for the next installment.

Rating:  cropped again 5

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “I’VE GOT SAND IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a collection of stories by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella, I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places.

 

 

 

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Beginning:  (Lisa)

Who doesn’t love summer?

It is our reward for three seasons of going full speed, twenty-four/seven, in a world that is too complex and way too fast.

We all need a break, especially mothers.

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56:  These new friends reminded me that sometimes you have to quit to create who you really are.  Sometimes the parameters someone else sets for you aren’t the ones to build your life upon.  Life’s a gamble; make sure you’re risking it all for the right reward.

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Synopsis:  Lisa and Francesca are back with another collection of warm and witty stories that will strike a chord with every woman. This six book series is among the best reviewed humor books published today and has been compared to the late greats, Erma Bombeck and Nora Ephron. Delia Ephron said of the fifth book in the series, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, “Lisa and Francesca, mother and daughter, bring you the laughter of their lives once again and better than ever. You will identify with these tales of guilt and fall in love with them and fierce (grand) Mother Mary.” This seventh volume will not disappoint as it hits the humorous and poignant note that fans have come to expect from the beloved mother-daughter duo.

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What do you think?  Would you love a good laugh and pick up this book?

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