HUMP DAY READING/WWW POST

Today I’m participating in WWW Wednesdays, at Taking on a World of Words Here’s how it works:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

CURRENTLY READING:  Shelter Mountain, by Robyn Carr

I am also reading occasionally from America’s Reluctant Prince, by Steven M. Gillon

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BOOKS READ SINCE MY LAST POST OF 1/7/20:

The Playground, by Jane Shemilt

Such a Perfect Wife, by Kate White

Regretting You, by Colleen Hoover

The Daughter, by Jane Shemilt

No Place Like Home, by Rebecca Muddiman

The Edible Woman, by Margaret Atwood

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:

I have been seeing this book everywhere, and guess what?  It was released today and I downloaded it.

American Dirt, by Jeanine Cummins – (The Newest Oprah Pick)

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK

Extraordinary.”
Stephen King

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
—Sandra Cisneros

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Synopsis:  Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

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These were my books of the last two weeks.  What did you enjoy?

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REVIEW: NO PLACE LIKE HOME, BY REBECCA MUDDIMAN

What would you do if you came home to find someone in your house?

This is the predicament Polly Cooke faces when she returns to her new home. The first weeks in the house had been idyllic, but soon Jacob, a local man, is watching her.

What does he want and why is he so obsessed with Polly?

In a situation where nothing is what it seems, you might end up regretting letting some people in.

Polly, our first person narrator in No Place Like Home, just wants her own house. A home to call her own. Everything she does is directed toward that goal, and just when she thinks she finally has what she wants, everything starts unraveling.

Because Jacob keeps showing up. Then Cathy, the woman at her mother’s care home, stops by uninvited. Why are they all disturbing her and ruining everything?

In the beginning, we feel sorry for Polly, as she tells the story from the past to the present and back again. Her story is a bit confusing at times, suggesting that she might have issues. Is she making everything up? Is there more going on with her?

Then comes an opposing reality as we look more deeply into her story…and into Jacob’s. Maybe nothing is what it seems.

By the end, we are just happy to escape from these disturbing and somewhat unlikeable characters. But the story kept me turning the pages, earning 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: SUCH A PERFECT WIFE, BY KATE WHITE

On a sunny morning in late September, Shannon Blaine sets off for a jog along the rural roads near her home in Lake George, New York. It’s her usual a.m. routine, her “me time” after dropping the kids off at school…except on this day she never returns.

Is her husband lying when he says he has no clue where she is? Could Shannon have split on her own, overwhelmed by the pressures of her life? Or is she the victim of a sexual predator who had been prowling the area and snatched her before she knew what was happening.

True crime writer Bailey Weggins, on assignment for the website Crime Beat, heads north from New York City to report on the mysterious disappearance. An anonymous tip soon leads Bailey to a grisly, bone-chilling discovery. Every town has its secrets, Bailey reminds herself, and nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. She keeps digging for answers until—when it’s almost too late—she unearths the terrifying truth.

 

From the first page of Such a Perfect Wife, I was pulled into the story of a missing jogger in the lovely town of Lake George. Having read other books with reporter Bailey Weggins as the main character and first person narrator, I was rapidly turning pages to see what she would discover next. I liked the way her mind worked, and how we learned her processes through her internal monologues and the conversations she had with the missing woman’s family and friends.

Just when we thought there was nothing to connect one suspect to the murder because of a link to other murders, suggesting a serial killer, something unexpected tipped Bailey off…and put her in grave danger. A heart-pounding tale that kept me glued to the pages and earned 5 stars.

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HUMP DAY & RAINY DAY READING…

Today I’m participating in WWW Wednesdays, at Taking on a World of Words Here’s how it works:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:  The Playground, by Jane Shemilt

Big Little Lies meets Lord of The Flies in this electrifyingly twisty follow-up to Jane Shemilt’s breakout debut The Daughter.

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Books Read Since My Last WWW Post on 12/11/19:

Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain – NetGalley Release Date 1/14

Marilyn Monroe:  The Private Life of a Public Icon, by Charles Casillo

 

Tell Me Everything, by Amy Hatvany

Meg and Jo, by Virginia Kantra

The Empty Nest, by Sue Watson

Delusions of Grandma, by Carrie Fisher

All the Flowers in Paris, by Sarah Jio

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, by Mary Higgins Clark (First Book of the Year)

The Look-Alike, by Erica Spindler – (NetGalley Release – 1/28)

Normal People, by Sally Rooney

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING: I am waiting for a NetGalley ARC I requested: He Started It, by Samantha Downing – Release Date 4/28/20

Synopsis:  From the twisted mind behind mega hit My Lovely Wife comes the story of a family—not unlike your own—just with a few more violent tendencies thrown in….

Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan haven’t all been together in years. And for very good reasons—we’ll get to those later. But when their wealthy grandfather dies and leaves a cryptic final message in his wake, the siblings and their respective partners must come together for a cross-country road trip to fulfill his final wish and—more importantly—secure their inheritance.

But time with your family can be tough. It is for everyone.

It’s even harder when you’re all keeping secrets and trying to forget a memory, a missing person, an act of revenge, the man in the black truck who won’t stop following your car—and especially when at least one of you is a killer and there’s a body in the trunk. Just to name a few reasons.

But money is a powerful motivator. It is for everyone.

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These were my reads for the past month.  What was your month like?

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REVIEW: THE LOOK-ALIKE, BY ERICA SPINDLER

Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she’s returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head—that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?

A page-turner that kept me in its grip, The Look-Alike reminded me of every favorite thriller of mine. A story with many possible suspects, intense moments that kept me glued to the pages, and characters that felt like real people.

I liked Sienna’s voice and how she stood by her family, even those who were difficult, like her mother, and her brother Brad who seems to have betrayed her.

I had to work through it all for a while, sorting through the clues and setting aside the red herrings, but in the end, the reveal was perfectly orchestrated and allowed for Sienna to put the pieces together. Definitely a five star read.

***My ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

HOLIDAYS CAN BRING ON THE BLUES…CHASING THEM AWAY…

My Rainy Days and Mondays blog was created in August 2009, more than ten years ago.  It began “life” on the Blogger site, and I then transferred to WordPress in 2013.  The themes were the same:  Mondays can make us blue; books chase away the blues; and I smile whenever I go to this site.

I am also reminded of the Carpenters’ song:

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down
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But…Mondays are no longer blue days for me, as I have retired and am reading and blogging.  Happy days!  My symbols for the site showed up in my blog headers.  Books, rain, and sometimes the girl on the right side in the current banner:  she looks pretty blue.
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I checked out my archives to see what I was writing about when I first celebrated a holiday season here on WordPress. (December 2014):

I love Mondays!  Seriously, I do.  But I used to hate them.  Which is one reason that I am now celebrating, via this blog, the absence of Blue Mondays.  Post-retirement, I relished being able to wake up on Mondays, or any day, and do what I wanted.  And read all day every day.

Chasing Away the Blues (through reading) is our antidote to the blues.

But some Mondays can seem blue, even now.  Like the Monday of a holiday week, with many blogs quiet and memes missing.  Yes, the bloggers need a break, too!  What does this say about me that I am so glued to my laptop and my online world?

Am I addicted?  Dependent?  Or at loose ends because I just miss those connections?

Meanwhile, however, the books, those trusty friends, are close by…

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I have changed the header several times over the years.  Here is one I had a while back:

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Now I am closing, with thoughts of rainy days…and Mondays…and books.  What are your favorite themes on your blog(s)?

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REVIEW: DELUSIONS OF GRANDMA, BY CARRIE FISHER

The actress-author of Postcards from the Edge explores maternity in her latest novel, featuring a very pregnant woman’s lively odyssey to rescue her Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather from a nursing home.

 
A fictionalized autobiography, Delusions of Grandma, follows the experiences of Cora Sharpe, a Hollywood screenwriter, as she navigates a relationship with Ray, a lawyer.

When she first meets him, she doesn’t trust him because she has a basic dislike of men of his profession. But their conversations hooked her, as she was drawn to banter, and she was soon deeply involved with him.

As she had predicted from the beginning, however, Cora and Ray parted ways…before she discovered that she was pregnant.

Fisher’s trademark wit kept me smiling until the very last page, following along on a delightful journey to save Cora’s grandfather from a nursing home, while carrying on conversations with her unborn child in the form of letters. The word play kept me fascinated as the story unfolded. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: TELL ME EVERYTHING, BY AMY HATVANY

 

A happily married couple. A dance with a stranger at a bar.

One night—one seemingly insignificant choice—can change everything.

Jessica and Jake Snyder love each other, and their life together. Successful in their chosen careers, they reside in the picturesque, though at times stifling, Seattle suburb of Queens Ridge as they parent teenagers Ella and Tucker.

As so often happens in marriage, their romantic life falls casualty to busy schedules and repetitive routine, until one night, a stranger asks Jessica to dance. On a whim, Jake urges her to say yes, saying that he wants to watch this other man touch her, something that surprises Jessica by arousing her like never before. A door opens for them then, into a realm of exploration neither of them knew existed.

They create rules to protect their marriage, and are thrilled when their relationship is strengthened and enriched by deeper levels of communication and trust brought about by this exciting, but taboo behavior. That is, until Jessica keeps a secret from Jake and embarks on a tryst with an intriguing man from her past, who, when she tries to end things between them, decides to seek revenge.

What happens after that will threaten to destroy their world—and them.

Jessica, our first-person narrator in Tell Me Everything, boldly opens her story of sexual experimentation as part of her marriage, giving the reader a somewhat shocking introduction to their reasons for these choices, while keeping us intrigued throughout. As I got to know the characters and their history, all of which led to these outlets for them, I had that niggling sense that nothing would end well for them. Not because of their nontraditional choices, but because the scene was set early on for everything to unravel.

The story did veer off into unexpected places, and the effects on Jessica, Jake, and their family led to a closer scrutiny of their choices. In the end, they had the opportunity to work on their issues.

An interesting look at how social media can exacerbate the challenges in relationships brought another layer to the story. 4.5 stars.

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RAINY DAYS & HUMP DAY READING…

Today I’m participating in WWW Wednesdays, at Taking on a World of Words Here’s how it works:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:  Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain – NG -1/14/20

A beautiful dual time piece that showcases Chamberlain’s unique style.  Loving it so far.

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BOOKS READ SINCE MY LAST WWW POST ON 11/27/19:

Touched by the Sun, by Carly Simon

The Poison Garden, by A. J. Banner

Carrie Fisher:  A Life on the Edge, by Sheila Weller

The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off!, by Gloria Steinem

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:  I just added another NetGalley ARC to my stack, a book that will be released on 3/3/20.  I’ve read two other thrillers by the author, so I can’t wait!

You Are Not Alone, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Synopsis: The #1 Bestselling authors of THE WIFE BETWEEN US and
AN ANONYMOUS GIRL deliver a thriller about a circle of friends
deadly intentions–where trust is their weapon and revenge is their
trigger….

You probably know someone like Shay Miller
She wants to find love, but it eludes her.
She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end.
She wants to belong, but her life is becoming increasingly isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters
They have an unbreakable circle of friends.
They live a life of glamour and perfection.
They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.
But what they really want is hers.

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So…that wraps up another couple of weeks of reading.  What did your reading look like?

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REVIEW: THE POISON GARDEN, BY A.J. BANNER

 

Elise Watters seems to have it all—a blissful marriage, a gorgeous Victorian home surrounded by lush gardens, and a dream job running her late mother’s herbal boutique.

But on the eve of her first wedding anniversary, Elise makes a shocking discovery that turns her life upside down and casts doubt on everything she thought she knew—about her marriage, her friends, and even herself. As she treads into dangerous territory, Elise is forced to wonder: Is her whole future at stake? Or is paranoia getting the best of her?

If she is to believe what she sees, Elise has every reason to fear for her life…

 

Elise’s first person voice carried us along on an intense path, and just when we thought we knew the source of the danger, we would be struck by still another shock.

Even her best friend was suspect.

I do enjoy a book in which I do not know who to trust. By the end of The Poison Garden, however, I wasn’t sure I could even believe what ultimately happened.

I couldn’t put it down, however, which is why I’m awarding 4 stars.

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