REVIEW: THE GIRLS OF AUGUST, BY ANNE RIVERS SIDDONS

 

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The women had all met years before, in Nashville, and they had all married doctors: Teddy, Hugh, Mac, and Oliver. Their first August getaway had cemented their bonds, despite the fact that the first divorce among them took Teddy’s wife Cornelia shortly thereafter. They didn’t miss her, but they did love her summer house.

Teddy’s next wife, Melinda, was a favorite friend who was lost too soon in a terrible accident. After her death, and despite fifteen years of getaways, the August escapes ended. For a while.

Now, after three years, they are trying again. They escape to Tiger Island, Teddy’s summer house on the South Carolina coast, which he shares with his new “child bride,” LucyAnne, whom everyone calls Baby, and they try to form a new bond.

But Baby is hard to love, with her childish prattle and her propensity for stripping down and wandering in the ocean, stark naked. Could she be stupid, or is there more to her than her surface would suggest?

The Girls of August was an enjoyable read, mostly because of the three older women, Rachel, Barbara, and our first person narrator, Madison (Maddy). Rachel’s biting wit, mostly directed toward Baby and her antics, and Barbara’s mysterious silences and excessive drinking…made me want to get to know them a bit more. I wanted to understand what was going on with them. And our narrator, Maddy, was someone who seemed compassionate, and like a friend anyone would want. And then there was Baby, who surprised me in the end, even though I still didn’t like her.

Some of their adventures made me long for a retreat like that one, but unexpected events bring the two-week getaway to a crashing end, jolting me a little. A four star read.

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE GIRLS OF AUGUST”

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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 featured book is one I had hoped to read by summer’s end…and maybe I can still make it.  The Girls of August, by Anne Rivers Siddons, is about four friends carrying out a ritual getaway…until something happens to halt the friendship connection.

 

 

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Beginning:  Of all the fifteen summerhouses, the first one was the best.  That’s what we all agreed on, for a while, anyway…until we grew wiser, more measured in our joy, more careful with the doling out of praise.  Funny, we rarely agreed unanimously on anything, but for years there had been no doubt about the Colleton house.  At first glance it had seemed designed—brick, board, and shingle—for the girls of August.

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56:  Rachel shook her head as if freeing it of stupid thoughts.  She pulled out a tube of gloss and painted her bottom lip.  She paused and, holding the gloss aloft, said, “Obviously Oliver is wrong.  Just look at you!  And look at Teddy!”

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Synopsis:  Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

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I love friends getting together at the beach, especially when they do so after a rift.  When they are trying to repair the damage.  What do you think?  Should I read this one next?

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REVIEW: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, BY B. A. PARIS

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When a couple seems as perfect as Jack and Grace Angel, it is inevitable that there are secrets, and that more is going on with them.

Grace met Jack just a few months before they married, and she was impressed with how he expressed love and caring for her sister Millie, who has Down Syndrome and lives in a facility. He is a brilliant attorney, defending battered women, who has never lost a case. Grace becomes the perfect homemaker who gave up her job right after the marriage.

It doesn’t take long for the creep factor to enter this story, narrated by Grace, and I was worried and afraid for her from the first moments after their wedding.

Alternating between the past and the present, Behind Closed Doors, set in England, is a frightening tale that swept back and forth in time, the intensity increasing with every page.

Why does Grace never leave the house without Jack accompanying her? Is their inseparability a good thing or a sign of something dark? If Grace is under Jack’s spell, how can she manage to grasp control of her own fate and protect her sister? Will she finally be able to come out of the shadows and find happiness at last, and what must she do to accomplish that task?

A riveting tale that had me biting my nails throughout, this suspense novel earned 5 stars.

REVIEW: MYSTIC SUMMER, BY HANNAH MCKINNON

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Maggie Griffin and Erika Crane have been best friends for many years, and now, while sharing an apartment in Boston’s Back Bay, their friendship is about to take another turn.

Erika and her fiancé Trent Mitchell are planning a summer wedding.

Meanwhile, Maggie is ending the school year, teaching at Darby, a private school, and her future as a teacher is up in the air due to budget cuts.

Will going home to Mystic, Connecticut, for Erika’s wedding help Maggie figure things out, even as she plays a supporting role for Erika through her wedding celebration?

Mystic Summer was a light and comfy tale about events that unexpectedly change the course we are on, and remind us of the people and places that make us feel at home.

I liked feeling as though I were right there in the lovely village, eating at Mystic Pizza, and remembering the movie that was set there…and walking along with the characters on the cobbled streets as they reminisced, and as they made decisions about who feels like home among their various acquaintances and friends.

I was definitely not a fan of Evan, Maggie’s boyfriend, an actor who had little time for her, but wanted everything to march to his tune. He liked everything neat and settled, so when anything was the least bit untidy, he liked cleaning it up. On his own, without consulting Maggie.

On the other hand, Maggie’s ex-boyfriend Cameron is back in town, with a baby girl in tow. The baby’s mother has left them, and he is handling it all on his own, with some help from his parents. And now Maggie feels a unique pull toward the baby girl, while remembering how Cam makes her feel. His life is definitely a little messy, a little chaotic…but it all clicks for Maggie.

Wonderful read that earned 4.5 stars from me.

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE THINGS WE WISH WERE TRUE”

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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 excerpts are from The Things We Wish Were True (e-book), by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

 

 

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Beginning:  Memorial Day Weekend, 2014  (Cailey)

Cutter and I were there when they opened the Sycamore Glen pool for the summer.  So I actually saw, with my own eyes, the spider web that was woven across the gate, keeping all the people from just walking right on in like they’d done every year.  Our new neighbors shuffled their feet and sighed real loud as they waited for the lifeguards to figure out what to do.

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56:  She glanced over at Bryte, who was obliviously gathering her things.  She wasn’t gone yet.  That was good.  “I was rushing to speak to my friend.”  She pointed in Bryte’s direction.  “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

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Synopsis:  In an idyllic small-town neighborhood, a near tragedy triggers a series of dark revelations.

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

Up and down the streets, neighbors quietly bear the weight of their own pasts—until an accident at the community pool upsets the delicate equilibrium. And when tragic circumstances compel a woman to return to Sycamore Glen after years of self-imposed banishment, the tangle of the neighbors’ intertwined lives begins to unravel.

During the course of a sweltering summer, long-buried secrets are revealed, and the neighbors learn that it’s impossible to really know those closest to us. But is it impossible to love and forgive them?

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My kind of read!  I love those long-buried secrets.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading.

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “LEAVE ME”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s featured book is an e-ARC from NetGalley.  Leave Me, by Gayle Forman, to be released on September 6, 2016, is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?

 

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Intro:  (New York City)

Maribeth Klein was working late, waiting to sign off on the final page proofs of the December issue, when she had a heart attack.

Those first twinges in her chest, however, were more a heaviness than a pain, and she did not immediately think heart.  She thought indigestion, brought on by the plate of greasy Chinese food she’d eaten at her desk the hour before.  She thought anxiety, brought on by the length of tomorrow’s to-do list.  She thought irritation, brought on by the conversation with her husband, Jason, who when she’d called earlier was having a dance party with Oscar and Liv, even though their downstairs neighbor Earl Jablonski would complain and even though keeping the twins up past eight upped the odds that one of them would wake in the night (and wake her up, too).

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Teaser:  She followed him down a long narrow hallway, the walls covered with framed photographs, through a dining room, the table piled high with mail and medical journals, and into a bright open kitchen with top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances and fire-engine red laminate cabinets.  It looked like a showroom, pristine, as if the kitchen had never been sullied by the messy act of cooking. (45%).

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Synopsis:  Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

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Would you keep reading?  Does this book capture your attention?  I know that I’m definitely eager to learn more about the characters.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE TRUTH-TELLER’S LIE”

BOOKISH FRIDAY 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 featured book is one from a favorite mystery author:  The Truth Teller’s Lie, by Sophie Hannah, is “a superbly creepy, twisty thriller” (The Times (London)) by the internationally best-selling author of The Other Woman’s House and The Wrong Mother…

 

 

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Beginning:  (2006:  Monday, April 3)

I could explain, if you were here to listen.  I am breaking my promise to you, the only one you ever asked me to make.  I’m sure you remember.  There was nothing casual about your voice when you said, “I want you to promise me something.”

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56:  At no point had she taken a step back into the house.  She stood right on the threshold.  Behind her, in the hall, Simon could see a light-brown ribbed carpet, a red telephone on a wooden table, a scattering of shoes, trainers and boots.

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Synopsis:  Naomi Jenkins knows all about secrets: three years ago something so terrible happened to her that she’s never told anyone about it. Now, Naomi has another secret: her relationship with the unhappily married Robert Haworth. When Robert vanishes without explanation, Naomi knows he must have come to harm. But the police are less convinced, particularly when Robert’s wife insists he is not missing. In desperation, Naomi decides that if she can’t persuade the detectives that Robert is in danger, she’ll convince them that he is a danger to others. Naomi knows how to describe the actions of a psychopath; all she needs to do is dig up her own traumatic past.

The second book in Sophie Hannah’s beloved Zailer and Waterhouse series, The Truth-Teller’s Lie is a chillingly smart suspense novel sure to appeal to fans of Tess Gerritsen and Gillian Flynn.

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What do you think?  I am quite hooked on this series, but it’s been a while since I read one of them.

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