REVIEW: LEFT: A LOVE STORY, BY MARY HOGAN

 

It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia.

As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept.

My Thoughts: From the beginning of Left: A Love Story, we alternate between fantasy and reality. Fay’s comfortable and predictable life is changing, and she takes flights of fancy, mostly involving a beautiful apartment building nearby, where she goes to watch and imagine a perfect life within its gorgeous walls.

The experiences on their trip to Spain were terrifying to Fay, especially since the husband she had always counted on suddenly turned different. Seemingly uncaring. Afterwards, she realizes that nothing would ever be the same again.

However, she has trouble getting Paul’s doctor, his son, or even his legal assistant to listen when she expresses her concerns. Feeling dismissed and isolated, her daily walks take her more often to the “fantasy building.”

How did a traumatic event change everything forever? Why did others finally acknowledge her concerns, but act as if she were derelict in her duty not to have noticed sooner? I really disliked Paul’s primary physician and his son. But soon, they all went on with their lives…and Fay is left to deal with her new reality. A sad and poignant story, this one earned 4.5 stars.

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RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “OUR HOUSE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a NetGalley review book to be released on 8/7:  Our House, by Louise Candlish, a disturbing and addictive novel of domestic suspense where secrets kept hidden from spouses cause shocking surprises that hit home…

 

 

 

Intro:  Friday, January 13, 2017

London, 12:30 p.m.

She must be mistaken, but it looks exactly as if someone is moving into her house.

The van is parked halfway down Trinity Avenue, its square mouth agape, a large piece of furniture sliding down the ribbed metal tongue.  Fi watches, squinting into the buttery sunlight—rare for the time of year, a gift—as the object is borne shoulder high by two men through the gate and down the path.

My gate.  My path.

***

Teaser Tuesday:  “That’s why we called you,” Merle tells the officers.  “This house fraud and Bram’s disappearance are clearly linked.  We’re worried he might be the victim of professional criminals.”

***

Synopsis:  When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

***

What do you think?  Do the snippets intrigue you?  Do you want to keep reading?

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REVIEW: THE EVER AFTER, BY SARAH PEKKANEN

 

Josie and Frank Moore are happy…at least Josie thinks they are. As parents of two young girls in the Chicago suburbs, their days can be both busy and monotonous, and sometimes Josie wonders how she became a harried forty-something mother rather than the driven career woman she once was. But Frank is a phenomenal father, he’s handsome and charismatic, and he still looks at his wife like she’s the beautiful woman he married more than a decade ago. Josie isn’t just happy—she’s lucky.

Until one Saturday morning when Josie borrows her husband’s phone to make a quick call—and sees nine words that shatter her world.

Now Josie feels as if she is standing at the edge of a sharp precipice. As she looks back at pivotal moments in the relationship she believed would last forever, she is also plunging ahead, surprising everyone (especially herself) with how far she will go to uncover the extent of her husband’s devastating secret.

 

My Thoughts: What happens to a wife when she realizes that the life she thought she had was a big lie? The Ever After digs deep into the anger, pain, and distress that foment after a husband’s secrets and lies are revealed.

It was impossible not to feel the agony of Josie’s situation, as the author’s conversational style, along with the great dialogues and monologues, made the reader feel a part of what was happening.

The story goes back and forth in time, showing the reader how the couple first met; unfurled the times in their marriage when they struggled; and revealed the depths of their current agony.

I especially liked how Josie would not simply accept that the revelations her husband had given her could lead to forgiveness. She had to do her own investigating, work through the uncertainty, and finally get some help for the two of them. Mistrust requires brutal honesty between partners if the trust is to be rebuilt. We learned, through the therapy sessions, that a list of tests Josie devised had to be passed on a regular basis for her to finally believe in her husband again. If she ever could. An in-depth experiment in trust-building and working through the emotions of the disaster could begin to illuminate a new path for the two of them. 4.5 stars.

***

RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “LEFT: A LOVE STORY”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Left (e-book), by Mary Hogan, an unforgettable tale about life’s aching uncertainties—and a woman who discovers that somewhere between hope and reality, an unexpected future will find its way forward.

 

 

 

Intro:  I never meant for it to happen.  Though, isn’t that what they all say?  My heart was at the wheel; my mind and body were buckled, helpless, in the backseat?  Lola was along for the ride, of course.  Best friends like her appear only once or twice or maybe three times in a lifetime.

Lola—leggy, striking, indifferent—was standing a few feet back when love broadsided me.  More precisely, when lust hit in a T-bone collision.  Because that’s what it was.  Blind and combustible want.  A longing so fiery I felt like a flushed teenager.  As if I would incinerate if we didn’t connect.

***

Teaser:  I waited for feelings of love to creep back in like a fog.  The way they always did after a fight.  Always had, before my husband of two decades became a man I didn’t recognize (p. 58).

***

Synopsis:  It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia.

As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: NIGHT MOVES, BY JONATHAN KELLERMAN

 

Even with all his years of experience, LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis knows there are crimes his skill and savvy cannot solve alone. That’s when he calls on brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware to read between the lines, where the darkest motives lurk. And if ever the good doctor’s insight is needed, it’s at the scene of a murder as baffling as it is brutal.
   
There’s no spilled blood, no evidence of a struggle, and, thanks to the victim’s missing face and hands, no immediate means of identification. And no telling why the disfigured corpse of a stranger has appeared in an upscale L.A. family’s home. Chet Corvin, his wife, and their two teenage children are certain the John Doe is unknown to them. Despite that, their cooperation seems guarded. And that’s more than Milo and Alex can elicit from the Corvins’ creepy next-door neighbor—a notorious cartoonist with a warped sense of humor and a seriously antisocial attitude.

As the investigation ensues, it becomes clear that this well-to-do suburban enclave has its share of curious eyes, suspicious minds, and loose lips. And as Milo tightens the screws on potential persons of interest—and Alex tries to breach the barriers that guard their deepest secrets—a strangling web of corrupted love, cold-blooded greed, and shattered trust is exposed. Though the grass may be greener on these privileged streets, there’s enough dirt below the surface to bury a multitude of sins. Including the deadliest.

My Thoughts: The duo of Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware always keeps me reading, but Night Moves is especially captivating, with no shortage of evil and odd characters.

What, if anything, connects a teenage girl sneaking around a posh neighborhood at night, and a long-haired teenage boy whose car seems to show up unexpectedly where murderous events are happening? Nothing is quite what we think it will be, as twists and turns take us down strange pathways.

How does a very troubling murder scene lead to finding a missing woman from years before? Will the night moves of the teen girl and the young boy connect to someone we least expect? What will eventually bring all the clues together to solve the mysteries?

Following the trails of those who seem to be on the sidelines can take us to the true perpetrators. Will their hidden crimes of the past finally lead to solving these recent gruesome crimes?

Along the way, we get to watch how Milo and Alex work, and enjoy their banter with other detectives, as well as with some of the witnesses and perpetrators. A 4.5 star read.

***

RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a library book from a delightful author:  My (Not So) Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella,  a witty critique of the false judgments we make in a social-media-obsessed world.

 

 

 

Intro:  First:  It could be worse.  As commutes go, it could be a lot worse, and I must keep remembering this.  Second:  It’s worth it.  I want to live in London; I want to do this; and commuting is part of the deal.  It’s part of the London experience, like Tate Modern.

(Actually, it’s not much like Tate Modern.  Bad example.)

***

Teaser:  To be fair, I did have some good nights out with the girls at my previous job.  But all we really did was drink prosecco and bitch, and after then I had such a scare with my overdraft, I swore off going out for a bit.  And at Cooper Clemmow, no one seems to socialize at all.  Unless you count working late as “socializing.” (p. 64)

***

Synopsis:  Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

***

I’m eager to keep reading.  What do you think?

***

REVIEW: THE FAMILY GATHERING, BY ROBYN CARR

 

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.

My Thoughts: I have enjoyed the two previous books in the Sullivan’s Crossing series, so The Family Gathering was a lovely reunion of characters from the past. Each book focuses on a primary character, and the supporting characters are there to fill out the story. The characters feel like old friends at this point, and their issues are very real, ranging from bad relationships to mental illness.

Dakota Jones is an interesting guy who has stayed away from family due to the traumas of their childhood. But some things happened to bring him to Colorado, where two of his siblings reside, and there he begins to feel the warmth of family connections. Especially when some strange events happen that seem to threaten his newfound stability.

I liked Sid, the young bartender who has her own intriguing backstory, and when Dakota and Sid begin to overcome their negative relationships of the past and trust again, I could see good things ahead for them. If the crazy women who are stalking Dakota can be stopped!

How will Dakota’s efforts to help his sister Sedona make him feel more connected? What will happen to further cement the relationship between him and Sid? A delightful 5 star read.

***

RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “BELIEVE ME”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a NetGalley ARC to be released on July 24:  Believe Me, by J.P. Delaney.  In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.

 

 

 

Intro:  (Prologue) On the day of departure, guests are requested to vacate their rooms by noon.

By eleven o’clock the sixth floor of the Lexington Hotel has nearly emptied.  This is Midtown Manhattan, where even the tourists are on busy schedules of galleries and department stores and sights.

(Chapter One:  Five Days Earlier)

My friend hasn’t showed yet.

That’s what you’d think if you saw me here, perched at the bar of this corporate-cool New York hotel, trying to make my Virgin Mary last all evening.  Just another young professional waiting for her date.

***

Teaser:  He steps forward and clasps Raoul by both shoulders, as if he’s congratulating him on the wittiness of his joke.  Then, abruptly, he brings his head down on Raoul’s nose.  Raoul crumples like a marionette and falls to the floor. (51%).

***

Synopsis:  A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.

The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?

But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

***

Would you keep reading?  I know that I’m intrigued.

***

REVIEW: BRING HER HOME, BY DAVID BELL

 

Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.
 
As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.
 
When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…

My Thoughts: Our primary narrator in Bring Her Home is Bill Price, the father of Summer, one of the missing teenagers. One girl was dead, the other badly beaten, and one is still missing. We soon realize the ultimate dilemma in a situation like this. Who is the girl in the hospital, what happened to her, and will we ever know the truth about what happened.

Many red herrings and surprise twists kept me intrigued throughout, and I soon realized that I didn’t trust anyone. Even though I was primarily rooting for the father to find his daughter and his answers, I also felt troubled by some issues that came to light through the investigation. The presence of Bill’s sister Paige added an interesting layer, as she offered helpful insights, and their conversations gave us a hint of their family life as children.

Who can a parent trust in this situation, and what more will be revealed before the end? How does the death of Julia, Bill’s wife and Summer’s mother, figure into what is now happening? The answers did not come easily, and the unexpected twist at the end left me pondering all the nefarious characters and their motives. An intriguing story that left me wondering throughout. 4.5 stars.

***

STARTING LINE: MINI-BLOGGIESTA

It is finally time to START THE MINI-BLOGGIESTA!

I’ve already done some of my tasks…I’ll be adding more as the weekend progresses.

Here is my to-do list, which may expand (or shorten!).

  •   change or fix one thing on your sidebar Removed two items
  •   add a page (about me, contact, policy, etc) – Added Privacy Policy
  •   change one thing on your layout and/or look   Changed header, background, and blog button
  •   comment on other Bloggiesta partipants’ blogsOngoing!

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Join the party!

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