REVIEW: THE FAMILY, BY LOUISE JENSEN

 

Laura is devastated when her husband dies, leaving her and their almost grown-up daughter, Tilly, alone. When the insurance company refuses to pay out, Laura is in danger of losing the house and has no choice but to seek help from elsewhere.

Oak Leaf Farm, a community that lives just outside of town, seems to be everything that Laura and Tilly need, so when this self-made family offer Laura the lifeline she’s been looking for she gratefully accepts.

But all is not right on the farm and when both Laura and Tilly are drawn to the community’s handsome and charismatic leader, mother and daughter find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines…

 

 

My Thoughts: When a ready-made family and community are offered to Laura and Tilly, red flags appeared, reminding me that such an apparent solution could be anything but the answer they need.

Each of the community members offer apparent friendship and help, but it didn’t take long to realize that the fear Laura is beginning to feel is probably warranted.

The Family offered up many plausible twists and turns, so that by the end, I knew that there were so many evil possibilities that I couldn’t stop reading. 4 stars.

***

REVIEW: IF YOU ONLY KNEW, BY KRISTAN HIGGINS

 

Letting go of her ex-husband is harder than wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate expected…especially since his new wife wants to be Jenny’s new best friend. Needing closure, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll start her own business and bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and maybe even find a little romance of her own with Leo, her downstairs neighbor, who’s utterly irresistible and annoyingly distant at the same time.

Rachel’s idyllic marriage, however, is imploding after she discovers what looks like her husband’s infidelity. She always thought she’d walk away in this situation but now she’s wavering, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ perfect marriage as a shining example of patience and forgiveness; but to protect her sister, Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their rela-tionship¬—and reveal a family secret she’s been keeping since childhood.

 

 

My Thoughts: If You Only Knew is full of all my favorite ingredients: sisters who are best friends; an idyllic setting near Manhattan; gorgeous wedding dresses created by Jenny, my favorite character; and gorgeous little girls, mothered by Rachel, whose not-so-perfect life is coming unglued.

That last part, of course, is less than wonderful, but I do enjoy reading about characters that are trying to make their lives work out, even as I’m yelling at them to stop putting up with the bad behavior, since they don’t seem to be listening to other characters who know them well.

With the turn of each page, I sank more and more into the world of these characters, hoping that they would find just what they needed, and that they would realize they don’t need perfect, just perfect moments now and then, A delightful book that earned 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL, BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

 

A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about.. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?

My Thoughts: In Good Girl, Bad Girl, we are pulled into a dual story line immediately. A young girl has been murdered, and Cyrus Haven is tasked with helping the police solve the case. Meanwhile, in a high-security children’s home in Nottingham, a resident social worker requests Cyrus’s help in working with a young girl dubbed Evie Cormac, whose identity has never been uncovered. She was found under mysterious circumstances. Was she held captive, or was there more going on with the man assumed to be her captor?

Alternating narrators tell the tale, and as more details emerge, we try to solve the mystery of who murdered the figure skater named Jodie Sheehan. The most obvious perpetrator begins to seem less likely as more secrets and lies soon add to the growing list of questions about who did what to whom.

Evie’s connection to Cyrus leads to a bond that will keep us intrigued throughout. I kept rapidly turning pages until the final revelations, while rooting for both Cyrus and Evie. 4.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE HEART GOES LAST”

 

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood.

***

Book Beginnings: (CRAMPED)

Sleeping in the car is cramped.  Being a third-hand Honda, it’s no palace to begin with.  If it was a van they’d have more room, but fat chance of affording one of those, even back when they thought they had money.  Stan says they’re lucky to have any kind of a car at all, which is true, but their luckiness doesn’t make the car any bigger.

***

Friday 56:  She slept that night as if drunk.  The next day she went about her hospital duties as briskly as usual, hiding behind the grillwork of her smile.  Ever since then she’s been waiting:  inside Positron while Max inspects vacant dwellings in Consilience; then in the house with Stan, working at her bakery job during the days; she does the pies and the cinnamon buns.

***

Synopsis:  Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their “civilian” homes.
At first, this doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one’s head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan’s life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.

***

What do you think?  I am eager to dive into this one.

***

REVIEW: THE LYING ROOM, BY NICCI FRENCH

 

It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair….

 

My Thoughts: From the very first page of The Lying Room, we watch every move Neve Connolly makes, keeping track of her actions, her lies, and what she must do to make sense of a murder…and to figure out who is responsible.

With the police on her heels at every turn and with a growing list of friends and acquaintances that she must not trust, Neve and her troubled daughter Mabel play against time, juggling events and hoping to save themselves.

All along, we also follow Neve’s efforts to get through the routines of home, work, and caring for her children, staying clear of anything that will bring the police to her door. It was hard to figure out who might be setting up Neve, and I had plenty of people to mistrust along the way. Red herrings, misdirection, and troublesome moments from the past kept me on guard as I tried to sort it all out. A riveting tale that kept me fully engaged…and then suddenly, it all made sense. 5 stars.

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL”

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 Good Girl, Bad Girl, by Michael Robotham.

***

Intro:  (Cyrus)

“Which one is she?” I ask, leaning closer to the observation window.

“Blonde.  Baggy sweater.  Sitting on her own.”

“And you’re not going to tell me why I’m here?”

“I don’t want to influence your decision.”

***

Teaser:  Ness slides his arms through the sleeves of his coat.  “I can’t tell you the exact cause of death, but the temperature on Monday night fell to below freezing.  Jodie was cold and wet and barely conscious.  She was always going to die unless someone found her.” (p. 62).

***

Synopsis:  A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity. Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth? Fiendishly clever, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from internationally bestselling author Michael Robotham.

***

What do you think?  I do enjoy reading this author’s books.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is What Happens in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand.

***

Book Beginning:  (Irene)

She wakes up facedown on a beach.  Someone is calling her name.

Irene!

She lifts her head and feels her cheek and lips dusted with sand so white and fine, it might be powdered sugar.  Irene can sense impending clouds.

***

56:  Huck nods.  He yearns to tell Adam that, more than half the time, love dies, and it probably dies quicker in places like Oneida and Oneonta.  But Huck won’t be that curmudgeonly skeptic today.

***

Synopsis:  Secret lives and new loves emerge in the bright Caribbean sunlight, in the follow-up to national bestseller Winter in Paradise
A year ago, Irene Steele had the shock of her life: her loving husband, father to their grown sons and successful businessman, was killed in a helicopter crash. But that wasn’t Irene’s only shattering news: he’d also been leading a double life on the island of St. John, where another woman loved him, too.

Now Irene and her sons are back on St. John, determined to learn the truth about the mysterious life -and death – of a man they thought they knew. Along the way, they’re about to learn some surprising truths about their own lives, and their futures.

***

I enjoyed the previous book, so I’m eager to continue the journey.  What do you think?

***

COFFEE CHAT: RAMBLINGS…

Here we are again, rambling on about our thoughts, our feelings, and our perspectives.  Join our host at Bookishly Boisterous,  to see what others are chatting about.  Let’s grab some coffee and have a chat.

Welcome to another week of ramblings.  Last week, I brought my chat over to this Rainy Days and Mondays blog…but not many bloggers found it.  However, I like to change things up…so I’m going to try again.

  • It has been a pretty good week for reading.  I read and reviewed The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood, which I loved…but then moved on to a lighter read with The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine. (Click titles for my reviews).
  • Last night I started reading The Nanny, by Gilly Macmillan, and I’m enjoying it so far.
  • Here in California, we have been warned of massive PG&E shutdowns for up to five days…or even a week.  The wildfires are raging here again, and the utility company thinks they need to do this.  They haven’t shut our power down here in my residence…and I hope they won’t in facilities like this one, or in hospitals.  Sigh.
  • Tomorrow will finally be another hair styling day with my daughter…it is long overdue.  LOL.
  •  I’m fighting with my computer again!  The cursor is doing its dance, and ends up anywhere but where I want it to be.  I remember there was a fix…disabling the touchpad.  So far, I haven’t been able to do it.  I may have to call the Geek Squad.  LOL
  • I haven’t spent time with Fiona for a couple of weeks; her new job is keeping her very busy. 

  • Until I can get together with her again, I keep busy ordering my Amazon packages…and trying to find a doll that is similar to the one I “lost” in the move.  Yes, it was sold.  I do love posting pictures of it in the meantime.

***

That is my week so far.  What did yours look like?

***

READING: FOR RAINY DAYS, MONDAYS, & HUMP DAYS…

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: 

I am halfway finished with The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine.

 

BOOKS I’VE READ SINCE MY LAST POST ON SEPTEMBER 17: (Click Titles for My Reviews)

Seven Letters, by J. P. Monninger – (NG 10/8 Release Date)

Without a Doubt, by Marcia Clark

 

The Stranger Inside, by Lisa Unger

The Murder List, by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The Testaments, (Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale), by Margaret Atwood

Twenty-One Truths About Love, by Matthew Dicks (NG-10/15)

***

EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off, by Gloria Steinem (10-29 Release Date)

Synopsis:  For decades—and especially now, in these times of crisis—people around the world have found guidance, humor, and unity in Gloria Steinem’s gift for creating quotes that offer hope and inspire action. From her early days as a journalist and feminist activist, Steinem’s words have helped generations to empower themselves and work together.

Covering topics from relationships (“Many are looking for the right person. Too few are trying to be the right person.”) to the patriarchy (“Men are liked better when they win. Women are liked better when they lose. This is how the patriarchy is enforced every day.”) and activism (“Revolutions, like trees, grow from the bottom up.”), this is the definitive collection of Steinem’s words on what matters most. Steinem sees quotes as “the poetry of everyday life,” so she also has included a few favorites from friends, including bell hooks, Flo Kennedy, and Michelle Obama, in this book that will make you want to laugh, march, and create some quotes of your own. In fact, at the end of the book, there’s a special space for readers to add their own quotes and others they’ve found inspiring.

I am a fan of this journalist/feminist/matriarch of change, so I had to pre-order the book.

***

These are my books from the past month.  What has your reading been like for you?

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE LYING ROOM”

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 The Lying Room, by Nicci French.

***

Intro:  (The Assignation)

When Neve pulled up the blinds, the kitchen sprang into life like a theatre set, empty and waiting for the familiar show to begin.  She looked around:  it was all a bit threadbare, the skirting boards scuffed and that crack running down the wall.  She and Fletcher had been meaning to do something about it for years.

***

Teaser:  She was about to leave—she had raised her hand to open the front door—when she stopped.  There was something odd about the flat.  What was it?  She thought and thought.  She walked back to the living room.  Suddenly she realized.  It wasn’t what was there.  It was what wasn’t there. (p.57).

***

Synopsis:  It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair….

***

I am eager to immerse myself in this book.  What do you think?

***