REVIEW: THE SUNSHINE SISTERS, BY JANE GREEN

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.
 
As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother’s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London—and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.
 
But now the Sunshine sisters are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy have never been close, their mother’s illness draws them together to confront the old jealousies and secret fears that have threatened to tear these sisters apart. As they face the loss of their mother, they will discover if blood might be thicker than water after all…

My Thoughts: The Sunshine Sisters was a beautifully woven story that brought the past and the present together, and revealed moments of discovery for the characters. Hope for new beginnings.

Multiple narrators offer the opportunity to feel empathy for the individual characters. Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are the daughters who each felt the hurt of an uncaring mother who only seemed to think of herself.

Ronni was focused on her own needs to the exclusion of all else, but in the reunion brought about by her illness, more is revealed. Each character, perhaps especially Ronni, had regrets and felt the sting of what might have been.

Can Ronni’s plan to reunite her family bring out more for each of them? Will she take the drastic steps that she had envisioned?

I enjoyed traits about each character. I liked that Nell was independent and didn’t seem to need anyone to lean on…until the unexpected happened. I admired Meredith’s ability to forge a new life in London, a life that felt like growth for her. But when coming home helped her realize that her fiancé was controlling and judgmental, I loved that she was able, with the support of her sisters, to make the best choice for herself. Lizzy, spoiled and thinking primarily of her own needs, had to finally face the consequences of her actions, but those newly forged sisterly connections turned out to be just what she needed to finally accept herself.

While the story was wrapped up pretty neatly for the characters, I still felt a glow as I turned the last page, making this another 5 star read for me.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: HOT, HOT, HOT!!!

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

It is hot, hot, hot!  Yes, every year we begin summer with triple digits…but this year, we had some lovely 80 degree weather leading up to this scorching hot season.  However, it is perfect for staying indoors in the AC…reading, blogging, watching TV.  I love the new Netflix season on Wentworth…more than the Orange Is the New Black fifth season, which I finished anyway.

I read and reviewed three books...and I’m halfway through my fourth one, which I was sure I would finish before now.  But I’m savoring it.

My total for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge is…wait for it!  52!

Let’s grab some coffee…and/or breakfast, and chat.

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Bloggiesta Finish Line

Tuesday Sparks:  “The Summer House”

Hump Day Potpourri:  Book Love!

Coffee Morning:  Hot Day Ahead!

Bookish Friday:  “The Sunshine Sisters”

From the Past to the Present in Photos…

Coffee Morning on Saturday:  Reminiscing…

Review:  You’ll Never Know, Dear (e-book), by Hallie EphronReview:  Fairy Tale Interrupted, by RoseMarie TerenzioReview:  Good Me, Bad Me, by Ali Land

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Nothing in my physical mailbox…but I received one e-ARC from NetGalley…and then went on to download some purchases…and I also bought two books from Barnes & Noble’s bargain table.

Girl in Snow (e-book), by Danya Kukafka (NetGalley – 8/1/17)

 

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Purchases:  Downloads

Lost & Found Sisters (e-book), by Jill Shalvis

Here & Gone (e-book), by Haylen Beck

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (e-book), by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Bargain Table Books: I had coupons!

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian

Heroes Are My Weakness, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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UP NEXT:

Currently Reading: The Sunshine Sisters (e-book), by Jane Green

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Then I have several possibilities, like these:

Watching the Detectives (e-book, Book 5), by Julie Mulhern

The Summer House (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

The Bookshop at Water’s End (e-book), by Patti Callahan Henry (NG – 7/11)

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That was my week…what did yours look like?  Last weekend, I enjoyed this lunch treat.

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REVIEW: FAIRY TALE INTERRUPTED, BY ROSEMARIE TERENZIO

Working Girl meets What Remains in this New York Times bestselling, behind-the-scenes story of an unlikely friendship between America’s favorite First Son, John F. Kennedy Jr. and his personal assistant, a blue-collar girl from the Bronx. Featured in the documentary I Am JFK Jr.!

From the moment RoseMarie Terenzio unleashed her Italian temper on the entitled nuisance commandeering her office in a downtown New York PR firm, an unlikely friendship bloomed between the blue-collar girl from the Bronx and John F. Kennedy Jr.

Many books have sought to capture John F. Kennedy Jr.’s life. None has been as intimate or as honest as Fairy Tale Interrupted. Recalling the adventure of working as his executive assistant for five years, RoseMarie portrays the man behind the icon—patient, protective, surprisingly goofy, occasionally thoughtless and self-involved, yet capable of extraordinary generosity and kindness.
She reveals how he dealt with dating, politics, and the paparazzi, and describes life behind the scenes at George magazine. Captured here are her memories of Carolyn Bessette, how she orchestrated the ultra-secretive planning of John and Carolyn’s wedding on Cumberland Island—and the heartbreak of their deaths on July 16, 1999, after which RoseMarie’s whole world came crashing down around her. Only now does she feel she can tell her story in a book that stands as “a fitting personal tribute to a unique boss . .

My Thoughts: As a fan of all things Kennedy, I relished the opportunity to look behind the scenes at the prince of that clan, and the one least known to me.

We all recall him saluting at his father’s funeral; we were there while his mother was trying to protect him and his sister from the paparazzi while they were growing up; and we watched while he started his magazine George, hoping to carve out his own niche. And then grieved as he and his wife and sister-in-law lost their lives in that fatal plane crash in 1999.

I did enjoy the author’s voice as she described the working relationship she had with John while serving as his assistant, and also the friendship that developed between her, John, and Carolyn, sometimes even mediating their disagreements.

I would have loved seeing some personal photos, and having a greater insider view of their personal world…but no one book can give us everything we want about the life of someone we admire and want to know more about. I liked the author’s writing style, which felt like a conversation between the reader and the author, so despite what was missing for me from Fairy Tale Interrupted, I give this book 3.5 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Triple digits are predicted for this weekend and beyond!  I knew it was coming…but I was still clinging to the past week with the 80s days.  Sigh.

It has still been a pretty good week, with THREE books read and reviewed.  My Read the Books You Buy Challenge total:  49 books.  Two of my books this week were review books.  I am enjoying hanging out in my office today, with books and the TV playing in the background.  Breakfast (nothing fancy:  toaster waffles) and an Aurora Teagarten Mystery Marathon.

 

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This weekend brings a Summer Mini-Bloggiesta, and I’ve given myself a head start, as usual.  I am enjoying working on my An Interior Journey site, my first blog on Word Press.

Now…let’s take a look at the past week.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Sparks:  “All the Best People”

Hump Day Reading:  A Summer of Engaging Reads….

Summer 2017:  Mini-Bloggiesta Sign-Up Post & Starting Line

Coffee Morning with Photos & Life Moments…

A Potpourri of Adventures….

Bookish Friday:  “You’ll Never Know, Dear”

Weekend Potpourri:  All the Usual Activities & More….

Review:  Every Last Lie (e-book), by Mary Kubica – (NetGalley – 6/27)Review:  The Red Hunter (e-book), by Lisa UngerReview:  The Beach Inn, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Review Request)

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

One review book came via NetGalley, and I downloaded two purchased books and one Kindle Prime freebie.

Mrs. Fletcher (e-book), by Tom Perrotta – (NG – 8/1/17)

 

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Freebie:

Stillhouse Lake (e-book), by Rachel Caine

 

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Purchases:

Purity (e-book), by Jonathan Franzen

 

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Bad Housekeeping (e-book), by Maia Chance

 

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WHAT’S NEXT?

You’ll Never Know, Dear (e-book), by Hallie Ephron

 

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Good Me, Bad Me, by Ali Land

 

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And maybe this one:

The Summer House (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

 

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That was my week.  Here’s what I’m doing today….the book was one I finished up earlier this morning.

 

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REVIEW: THE RED HUNTER, BY LISA UNGER

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.


My Thoughts: The intertwined lives of Claudia and Zoey were fascinating, and kept me reading as they told their alternating tales. Zoey, living in the East Village, tells hers with a first person narrative, so we find something more immediate about her story. About the violence that ripped her world apart one night, in Lost Valley, and the ongoing threats that keep her on her toes, learning how to defend herself.

A different kind of violence tore Claudia’s life apart, also in the East Village, but moving into her father’s old abandoned house in a town called Lost Valley, with her teenage daughter, is her way of starting over. To renovate the old house, to blog about her adventures, and to find her strength. Not knowing the history of the house allowed Claudia to feel optimistic.

Who were the bad guys that murdered Zoey’s parents? How are they now connected to the apparently normal lives that each woman is trying to live? How is each woman dealing with her rage? What will finally trigger another bout of violence, and bring some answers that have plagued them for years?

As The Red Hunter weaves back and forth between the past and the present, we learn more about all the characters, and how the present threat has ended up right back where it started, in an old house in Lost Valley. As Claudia stands before the home that could have been a new beginning, she has a realization: “How had she gotten here? How many accidents and mistakes and choices had she made? How many of them had been wrong or right, good or bad? Maybe that’s all life was, this impossibly complicated helix of choice and accident, things you could control and couldn’t. And when the day was done, the only measure of success was how happy you were, how much you loved and were loved.”

Each woman finds something in the answers that will allow her to move forward. A 5 star read.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: BINGE-WATCHING, ETC…..

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Warmer days have been conducive to staying indoors, but I didn’t read more.  Only TWO books read and reviewed this week.  One was a review book, and one was a book from my purchased stacks, bringing my Read the Books You Buy Challenge total to 48 books.

The Summer Mini-Bloggiesta is coming next weekend, and, of course, I have already started making changes on my target blog:  An Interior Journey.

There was a bit of rearranging of my interiors again this week, in response to last week’s new addition:  the office TV.

Netflix and Hulu kept me busy binge-watching.  I finished Season 5 of House of Cards, watched another episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, and started Season 5 of Orange is the New Black.

Morning hours might find me outdoors on the patio, cool enough for reading and breakfast.

 

Let’s take a look back at the week….

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  Changing the Interiors….

Tuesday Potpourri:  My Ever-Changing Stacks…

Tuesday Sparks:  “Sycamore”

Hump Day Sparks:  What Was Your Week Like?

My “New” Interior World:  Thoughts…

Bookish Friday:  “Every Last Lie”

Friday Potpourri:  Home & Family….

Review:  The Swallow’s Nest, by Emilie Richards (Author Review Request)Review:  One Good Thing (e-book, Book 5), by Wendy Wax

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INCOMING BOOKS (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  But…I downloaded three newly released e-books.

You’ll Never Know, Dear (e-book), by Hallie Ephron

 

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The Summer House (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

 

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The Sunshine Sisters (e-book), by Jane Green

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Currently Reading:  Every Last Lie (e-book), by Mary Kubica (NetGalley Review – 6/27/17)

 

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And then…perhaps:

The Red Hunter (e-book), by Lisa Unger

 

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Watching the Detectives (e-book, Book 5), by Julie Mulhern

 

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The Beach Inn, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Review Request)

 

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And that was my week.  What did yours look like?  On Wednesday, I enjoyed this lunch with a friend at the Cheesecake Factory….

 

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WEEKLY UPDATES: WELCOME, JUNE!

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Another week has flown by!  I read and reviewed four books, two of them NetGalley reviews, and my Read the Books You Buy total is now at 47.

The 90 – 100 degree heat has kept me indoors with the AC….which explains the four books read.

I’ve been watching Season 5 of House of Cards on Netflix, and The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.  Soon there will be another season of Orange Is the New Black.

I’m still watching (and loving) Season 3 of Better Call Saul, on AMC, but there are only three episodes left. Sigh.

I think the skin condition is ALMOST under control.

Finally my new little flat screen TV for the office arrived, and the Geek Squad set it up for me.   I like listening to it as background noise when I’m at my computer.

 

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What else happened this week?

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  A Week in Transition…

Overcoming the Past:  Excerpting “Embrace the Whirlwind”

Tuesday Sparks:  “Same Beach, Next Year”

Hump Day Sparks:  What a Reading Week!

Goodbye to May!  A Wrap-Up…

From the Interior:  My Thoughts…

Bookish Friday:  “One Good Thing”

Friday Potpourri:  The Mounting TBR Pile…

Review:  How It All Began (e-book), by Penelope LivelyReview:  The Breakdown (e-book), by B. A. Paris (NetGalley – 6/20)Review:  It’s Always the Husband (e-book), by Michele CampbellReview:  Beach House for Rent (e-book), by Mary Alice Monroe

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Two books came in my mailbox!  One for review, the other a purchase.  Then I downloaded (purchased) e-books.

The Beach Inn, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Review Request)

 

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Good Me, Bad Me, by Ali Land (Purchased)

 

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Downloads:

Watching the Detectives , Book 5 (e-book), by Julie Mulhern

 

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White Fur (e-book), by Jardine Libaire

 

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UP NEXT?  These two…and whatever else my mood dictates….

The Swallow’s Nest, by Emilie Richards (Author Review Request)

 

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One Good Thing (e-book), by Wendy Wax

 

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That was my week….what did yours look like?  Last night, I enjoyed one of my favorite soups at the neighborhood Elephant Bar.

 

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REVIEW: BEACH HOUSE FOR RENT, BY MARY ALICE MONROE

When Cara Rutledge rents out her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather Wyatt for the entire summer, it’s a win-win by any standard: Cara’s generating income necessary to keep husband Brett’s ecotourism boat business afloat, and anxiety-prone Heather, an young artist who’s been given a commission to paint birds on postage stamps, has a quiet space in which to work and tend to her pet canaries uninterrupted.

It isn’t long, however, before both women’s idyllic summers are altered irrevocably: the alluring shorebirds—and the man who rescues them—begin to draw Heather out of the shell she’s cultivated toward a world of adventure, and maybe even love; at the same time, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy, and she wishes only to return to the beach house that had once been her port amidst life’s storms. When Heather refuses to budge from her newfound sanctuary, so begins the unlikeliest of rooming situations. While they start out as strangers, as everything around the women falls apart they learn that the only thing they can really rely on is each other.

And, like the migrating shorebirds that come to the island for the summer, these two women of different generations must rediscover their unique strengths so by summer’s end they, too, can take flight in ways they never imagined possible.


My Thoughts: I was drawn into the story of Primrose Cottage and the dynamics of a Southern family. I could envision that hard-boiled patriarch accustomed to dictating the lives and choices of the women. It struck a familiar tone with me, having experienced some of these things, even though I grew up far away from the South.

But the people born in the South sometimes migrate to other places, carrying their values with them. That was what my grandparents did, and how their values impacted my life.

When Cara Rutledge and Heather Wyatt joined forces, they discovered how to begin new journeys. Would Heather find what she needed and learn to stand on her own two feet? Would love be part of her new journey? What would Cara do in her new life, once she moved beyond the grief?

A delightful story of loss, friendship, and new beginnings, Beach House for Rent captivated me throughout. 4.5 stars.***My e-ARC came to me from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: HOW IT ALL BEGAN, BY PENELOPE LIVELY

 

When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends.

Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people’s lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet.


My Thoughts: From the very first page of How It All Began, we are caught up in a series of events, beginning with the mugging of Charlotte Rainsford, and rippling forward to people she knows…and then to total strangers.

How we can all be connected by an event was a fascinating exploration. I liked how the author showed us the various characters as they meandered down the pathways that were affected by this one seemingly irrelevant moment in one woman’s life.

There was Rose, Charlotte’s daughter, who takes her in after the mugging and whose life is changed.

Another random connection occurs when Rose’s boss Henry asks his niece Marion to attend a luncheon with him when Rose cannot. A text Marion sends to Jeremy, a married lover, upends his marriage.

Numerous vignettes that spotlight how these several lives are changed kept my interest up, and while the story was not one I loved, I definitely enjoyed it. 4 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: HAPPY HOLIDAY WEEKEND!

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Happy holidays to those who celebrate Memorial Day.  It is plenty hot here, and I’m loving the functioning AC, which one can never really take for granted.

My week has been busy, with four books read and reviewed.  Two were review books, and two were purchased, bringing my totals for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge to 45.

All week I’ve been fighting my hair dye reaction, and at this point, all is almost back to normal.  I am seriously rethinking hair dye, though.  The reaction was painful…and let’s just say I don’t want to go through it again.

I shopped for a new flat screen TV for my office, but the one I picked out was too big for the space, which I didn’t realize until the delivery guy arrived.  There were unexpected “legs” on it.  Back to the drawing board!

I have been watching Season 3 of Bloodline, and how depressing are those folks!  Their problems are huge, and I cannot see any good ending for any of them.

I have watched through Episode 7 of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu.  Loving it!

I’m sipping iced tea and contemplating the week ahead…but first let’s look at last week.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  Curling up on My Comfy Couch

Tuesday Sparks: “Miss You”

Meet the Domestic Diva:  An Excerpt from “Interior Designs “

Keeping Track:  An Update

Tuesday Potpourri:  A Day of Anticipation…and Some Relief

Hump Day Sparks:  Engaging Reads…

Thoughts on a Thursday…

Bookish Friday:  “It’s Always the Husband”

Friday Potpourri:  My Thursday, An Unexpected Day, with Twists…

Review:  Secrets in Summer, by Nancy Thayer (Amazon Vine)Review:  Into the Water (e-book), by Paula HawkinsReview:  #GIRLBOSS (e-book), by Sophia AmorusoReview:  The Wildling Sisters, by Eve Chase (Amazon Vine)

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INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

One book I purchased came in my mailbox…and I received an e-ARC from NetGalley.

The Other Girl (e-book), by Erica Spindler – (NetGalley – 8/22/17)

 

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Purchased:

The Comfort of Others, by Kay Langdale

 

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WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently Reading:  How It All Began (e-book), by Penelope Lively

 

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I hope to start reading some of my June 20-27 NetGalley reads, like these:

 

The Breakdown (e-book), by B. A. Paris (6/20)

 

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Beach House for Rent (e-book), by Mary Alice Monroe (6/20)

 

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That was my week.  What did yours look like?

On Thursday, I had a day outside the box and enjoyed Happy Hour with these goodies:

 

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