WEEKLY UPDATES: I SHOPPED ‘TIL I DROPPED…

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.

 

The past week has been full of sunshine…and the prediction for today is upper 70s.  Yay!  But I’m pretty sure that there will be more rain at some point.

My reading was slower this week, mostly bogged down by my first book…which was disappointing and a little tedious, but there were also good parts, so I kept reading.  I read two more books that were great…so my total of THREE isn’t that bad.  My total for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge:24! 

My week was spent doing some shopping, which distracted me from reading a little.  I found two dresses, one of which will be for the wedding…and the other for the reception the next day.  One is simple and elegant and the other is fun.

Shoe-shopping took a lot out of me…but I found them!  So now I’m all set.  Finding shoes that look good, but are also comfortable…well, it takes time and the willingness to hop from shop to shop.

Oh, and for those who are moving to Daylight Savings Time…don’t forget to set your clocks FORWARD.  I hate doing this, since I have LOTS of clocks.  The ones you see below are just the tip of the iceberg:

 

My craving for smoothies took me to the mall again, where I found a new blender.  There’s a whole (funny) story about my original blender, involving my daughter…and “borrowing.”  Here’s the little red one I bought…and have been enjoying.  Note:  the Mary Engelbreit calendar is one of my regular fixtures in the kitchen as her art makes me smile…and it’s so cheerful.  Plus, there are always cute cottages. (The text on the calendar:  Find Your Way Home).

 

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So…let’s now grab some coffee…and take a look at last week.

 

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri: A Flurry of Activities…

Monday Potpourri:  Hanging Out with a Favorite Author…

Tuesday Potpourri:  “It Happens All the Time”

Hump Day Sparks:  What Are You Reading?

My Journey with Hope…

Thursday Potpourri:  Spotlighting Home and Family…

Weekend Potpourri:  Kitchen Tidbits and Books…

Bookish Friday:  “Eeny Meeny”

Review:  The Good Daughter (e-book), by Alexandra BurtReview:  It Happens All the Time (e-book), by Amy Hatvany (NetGalley – 3/28)Review:  The Fifth Letter (e-book), by Nicola Moriarty***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

I received one review book in my mailbox from Vine; and downloaded a NetGalley review book.  I then proceeded to download 4 (purchased) books:

The Cutaway, by Christina Kovac (Vine)

 

 

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The Marriage Pact (e-book), by Michelle Richmond (NetGalley (7/25/17)

 

 

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Downloads (Purchased)

Never Change (e-book), by Elizabeth Berg (an older book from the author that I somehow missed)

 

 

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The Widow’s House (e-book), by Carol Goodman

 

 

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The Roanoke Girls (e-book), by Amy Engel

 

 

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On Turpentine Lane (e-book), by Elinor Lipman

 

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Currently Reading:  The Mother’s Promise (e-book), by Sally Hepworth

 

 

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Then, perhaps one of these:

 

Idaho (e-book), by Emily Ruskovich

 

 

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One Perfect Lie (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline (NetGalley – 4/11)

 

 

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So…that was my week.  What did yours look like?  Check out last weekend’s lunch, my reward after hectic shopping:

 

 

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REVIEW: THE FIFTH LETTER, BY NICOLA MORIARTY

A fun vacation game turns destructive, exposing dark secrets, deeply buried grudges, and a shocking betrayal in Nicola Moriarity’s intriguing debut.

Four friends . . .
Joni, Deb, Eden, and Trina have been best friends since high school, sharing a bond that has seen them through their teenage years and into adulthood. But now, time and circumstance is starting to pull them apart as careers, husbands, and babies get in the way. As their yearly vacation becomes less of a priority—at least for three of the women—how can Joni find a way to draw the four of them back together?

Four secrets . . .
During a laughter and wine-filled night, the women dare one another to write anonymous letters, spilling their deepest, darkest secrets. But the fun game turns devastating, exposing cracks in their lives and the friendship they share. Each letter is a dark confession revealing shocking information. A troubled marriage? A substance abuse problem? A secret pregnancy? A heartbreaking diagnosis?

Five letters . . .
Late on one of their last nights together, after the other three have gone to bed, Joni notices something in the fireplace—a burnt, crumpled, nearly destroyed, sheet of paper that holds the most shattering revelation of all. It is a fifth letter—a hate-filled rant that exposes a vicious, deeply hidden grudge that has festered for decades. But who wrote it? Which one of them has seethed with resentment all these years? What should Joni do?

My Thoughts: My eyes were glued to the pages as the stories in The Fifth Letter unfolded. There were many versions of these women, and the secrets, when revealed, would stun each of them.

But even after they thought they had told all, secrets and lies remained. I did not like the women very much, as they were pretty self-absorbed and competitive with one another. Especially Eden and Joni.

I did enjoy the alternate conversation between Joni and Father O’Reilly, a priest and former psychologist. His advice, his observations, and his very “un-churchy” view of life made me wonder more about him.

Guessing about who wrote that fifth letter, which we get to “read” along with Joni, kept me busy. I was going back and forth between two of the characters, but not until after the vacation, when the women and their husbands got together at Eden’s house for dinner, did it all come out. And then there was chaos, a little danger, and more to come. An epilogue shows us a peek into each of their futures. 4.5 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: A FABULOUS READING WEEK…

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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 flew by, and it was mostly sunshine around here.  So I did get out and about some, but always took Pippa with me, resulting in FOUR books read and reviewed.  Twenty-Two is now my total for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge...not a big leap this week, as three of the books I read were Vine and NetGalley review books.

Did anyone watch the Oscars?  I loved Jimmy Kimmel’s banter, as well as some of the shots he got in on “one who will remain nameless.”  The mix-up at the end was horrific…and a little hilarious.  As usual, I recorded it and watched afterwards, fast-forwarding through the parts that are less enjoyable to me.  I have not seen Moonlight...or La La Land, the “almost” win.  Both got a lot of awards.  I saw and enjoyed Manchester by the Sea...and now must see Fences.  Viola Davis is a great actress, IMO, with such diversity in the roles she plays.  I feel like seeing The Help again this weekend.

Now…today.  What to do!  I should go shopping for that Mother of the Bride dress, as April 1 is coming so fast. (My hilarious daughter, picking April Fool’s Day!).  And I suspect I might need several shopping trips.  But I don’t love shopping…unless it’s on Amazon.  Books and handbags are my favorite items to buy.  I can get them on Amazon, but I shouldn’t order the dress there. LOL.

Instead of deciding, I’m going to grab another cup of coffee…and chat about my week.

 

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Monday Sparks:  Ignite Your Musings…

Let’s Curl up with “The Good Neighbor”

Another Month Bites the Dust:  Goodbye, February!

Hump Day Reading:  Engaging Choices…

Hump Day Ramblings:  Past and Present…

Coffee Morning:  Some Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts…

Bookish Friday:  “A Separation”

Friday Potpourri:  Ponderings…

Review:  Never Let You Go (e-book), by Chevy Stevens (NetGalley – 3/14/17)   cropped-again-5Review:  How Will I Know You?, by Jessica Treadway – (Amazon Vine)ratings-worms-4-croppedReview:  The Good Neighbor (e-book), by A. J. Bannerratings-worms-4-croppedReview:  Almost Missed You (e-book), by Jessica Strawser (NetGalley – 3/28/17)  cropped-again-5***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

I received one Amazon Vine review book in the mail…and one Author Review Request download…I also received one PURCHASED book in my mailbox…and downloaded another.

Persons Unknown, by Susie Steiner (Amazon Vine)

 

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Review Book Download:

Wait for the Rain (e-book), by Maria Murnane

 

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PURCHASES:

America’s Queen:  The Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Sarah Bradford

 

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Download:

Dead Letters (e-book), by Caite Dolan-Leach

 

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UP NEXT:

Currently Reading:  The Good Daughter (e-book), by Alexandra Burt

 

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And then….

It Happens All the Time (e-book), by Amy Hatvany (NetGalley – 3/28/17)

 

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The Fifth Letter (e-book), by Nicola Moriarty

 

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That was my week…what did yours look like? I think I’ll grab some more coffee…and perhaps a mimosa.  Enjoy your week!

 

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REVIEW: THE GOOD NEIGHBOR, BY A. J. BANNER

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Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

My Thoughts: From the first moments of sheer terror in the prologue to the slowly unfolding secrets and tragedies of the following pages, The Good Neighbor captured me. The setting in Shadow Cove was the perfect place to start a home and family, and the neighborhood with seemingly friendly people made it just the kind of place Sarah and her husband Johnny had been seeking.

But Sarah, a writer of children’s books, starts to feel a niggling doubt almost immediately. It starts with the next door neighbors, Chad and Monique. Monique’s seductive ways hint at more beneath the surface when she whispers to the men in the room.

Several strange phone calls suggest a stalker, but Sarah also fears that her husband has been unfaithful to her.

Why does the realtor, Eris Coghlan, come across as a little bit too accommodating? What about the flirtatious way that Theresa Minkowski, another neighbor, seems to behave around Johnny? Is Sarah just insecure, or is there more going on?

I was surprised, but not totally stunned when events unfolded as they did, and I had little trouble figuring things out. On the last page, however, another whopper was unleashed, reminding us that secrets just keep coming once the genie is released from the bottle. 4 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: GREAT READING, A FUN SPA DAY, ETC.

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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.

 

What a week!  Some rain, but mostly sunshine…and a lot of wind.  With a jury summons hanging over my head, I tried to plan the week without missing out on things I wanted to do.  In the end, I requested and was granted a postponement.

Reading and reviewing FOUR engaging books brought my total in the Read the Books You Buy Challenge to TWENTY-ONE.

Some of my week’s activities included a spa day, with more silver added to my hair…after a very relaxing massage.

I also obsessively changed up some lamps in my space.  I  now enjoy this one that stands atop my desk, smaller and giving just enough light:

 

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On Thursday, I signed my tax documents…and have only a small additional amount to pay to the IRS…and a tiny refund from the state.  Hopefully I won’t have to wait for six months this time!

In my evenings, I enjoyed some of my favorite shows, like How To Get Away with Murder’s Season Finale...and a movie I found On Demand, which has been nominated for an Oscar:  Manchester by the Sea.  It was wonderful!

No time for Netflix this week…maybe this weekend.  I will record the Oscars, as I have discovered that the boring parts are best viewed afterwards, when I can fast-forward sections I do not enjoy.

Let’s lift our cups of caffeinated (or sparkling beverage) and chat about the week.

 

coffeemimosa-morning***

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

TBR Patrol:  Are My Numbers Dictating My Life?

Monday Sparks:  Musing About Bookish Scents…

Happy Birthday!  The Many Faces of Fiona….

Tuesday Potpourri:  “The Good Daughter”

Hump Day Potpourri:  Puddles, Hair Magic, & Postponed Jury Duty…

Hump Day Sparks:  Book Hopping…

Coffee Chat:  Tick-Tock, the Time Is Flying….

Bookish Friday:  “Heartbreak Hotel”

Weekend Potpourri:  Looking Back…

Review:  Right Behind You (e-book), by Lisa Gardnercropped-again-5Review:  The Trophy Child (e-book), by Paula Daly – (NetGalley – 3/7/17)cropped-again-5Review:  The Best Awful, by Carrie Fisherratings-worms-4-croppedReview:  Rainy Day Women (e-book, Book 2), by Kay Kendallratings-worms-4-cropped

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AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:

Debbish Tells Us:  Why I Don’t Read Romance

Lexxie, at Up Close & (Un)Conventional Shares:  Why I Read Romance

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

No mailbox books or review book downloads…BUT, I did purchase three downloads.

A Separation (e-book), by Katie Kitamura

 

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The Mother’s Promise (e-book), by Sally Hepworth

 

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A Piece of the World (e-book), by Christina Baker Kline

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT?

Currently Reading:  Never Let You Go (e-book), by Chevy Stevens (NetGalley- 3/14/17)

 

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Then…a series of possibilities, like these:

How Will I Know You?, by Jessica Treadway (Amazon Vine Review)

 

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The Good Neighbor (e-book), by A. J. Banner

 

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And that was my week.  What did yours look like?  I hope to take my reading over to one of my favorite restaurants…and relax.  Maybe this one:

 

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REVIEW: RAINY DAY WOMEN, BY KAY KENDALL

 

Kay Kendall’s RAINY DAY WOMEN is the second book in the Austin Starr Mystery series. In 1969, during the week of the Manson murders and Woodstock, the intrepid amateur sleuth, infant in tow, flies across the continent to support a friend suspected of murdering women’s liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. Then her former CIA trainer warns that an old enemy has contracted a hit on her. Her anxious husband demands that she give up her quest and fly back to him. How much should Austin risk when tracking the killer puts her and her baby’s life in danger?
My Thoughts: Having enjoyed Book One in this series, I was eager to rejoin amateur sleuth Austin Starr. Following along in her adventures in Vancouver, I loved how the reader is introduced to the early feminist struggles via a women’s group.

As a backdrop to Rainy Day Women, the vernacular of the 60s, the music, and the Woodstock festival, along with the Sharon Tate murders, offer up a real taste of what life was like back then.

Austin is an interesting character, determined and skilled at following clues. She was also a little bit naïve, but she made up for it by pushing ahead fearlessly. Her husband, David, opposed to her activities, seemed to take on the thoughts and feelings of a lot of men back then, worried and overly-protective.

Larissa, the daughter of a Russian immigrant, Professor Klimenko, was different in this outing. Previously, while in Toronto, she had been awed by Austin, but in this setting, and probably because she was a suspect in her friend Shona’s murder, she seemed brusque and irritable.

As Austin accompanied Larissa to the women’s lib group, she met other friends of Shona’s, and also a few rivals in the group. How did Shona’s former roommate Mia fit into what happened to her? Were her brashness and her violent ups and downs a factor? How does Becky, another woman in the group, recently separated from her controlling husband, add to the questions Austin has? Did Shona’s ex-boyfriend Jack have a motive to have killed her? Or would the answers lie closer to home in the chemistry lab, with the graduate students?

I did enjoy watching Austin zero in on the killer, and in an exciting finale, bring justice for her friend and the other women in the group. In the end, there were also unresolved threads in the form of an ex-US Senator who had been tailing her. I can see a Book Three on the horizon. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE BEST AWFUL, BY CARRIE FISHER

 

When we left Suzanne Vale at the end of Carrie Fisher’s bestselling Postcards from the Edge, she had survived drug abuse, rehab, and Hollywood celebrity. The Best Awful takes Suzanne back to the edge with a new set of troubles—not the least of which is that her studio executive husband turned out to be gay and has left her for a man.

Lonely for a man herself, Suzanne decides that her medication is cramping her style, and she goes off her meds—with disastrous results. The “manic” side of the illness convinces her it would be a good idea to get a tattoo, cut off her hair, and head to Mexico with a burly ex-con and a stash of OxyContin. As she wakes up in Tijuana, the “depressive” side kicks in, leading Suzanne through a series of surreal psychotic episodes before landing her in a mental hospital. With the help of her movie star mom, a circle of friends, and even her ex-husband, she begins the long journey back to sanity.

My Thoughts: What I enjoy most about Suzanne Vale is her fierce desire to move beyond life’s disappointments. Certainly she finds herself up to her neck in alligators after the disappointment of her marriage. Even her joy at having her daughter Honey does not quite take the edge off of how much she hates being wrong about her ex-husband.

She has done pretty well at staying off the drugs, until…Yes, going off of the bipolar medication is a familiar tale for those with the illness. Life seems less wonderful when the journey turns flat and joyless.

How does Suzanne’s quest for a new man, while enjoying the ups and downs she experiences without the medications, turn into disaster? How does she find herself sliding down the surreal rabbit hole once again?

The Best Awful is a fictionalized tale filled with some of the author’s own experiences. As a result, we are gifted with an authentic journey through the meltdowns, the chaos, and life in a mental hospital. Fisher knows firsthand what her protagonist is going through, and we are rooting for Suzanne as she struggles. I enjoyed this book, although it wasn’t my favorite from the author. 4.5 stars.

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