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.)

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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)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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%).

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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?

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

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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.

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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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RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “BRING HER HOME”

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 book that has been languishing on my TBR for almost a year.  Bring Her Home, by David Bell, is the breathtaking new thriller in which the fate of two missing teenage girls becomes a father’s worst nightmare….

 

 

Intro:  Bill Price stepped into the whirling chaos of the emergency room.To the left, he saw a woman holding a red-faced, crying baby.  The child’s eyes were pools of tears, its mouth contorted into a wailing “O.”  The mother made shushing noises, but the baby didn’t seem to hear them.  Ahead of Bill, a teenage girl with a nose ring and a neck tattoo tried to calm a man holding a bloody rag against his shaven head.  The man appeared agitated, waving his free hand around as though orating.

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Teaser:  Bill took the glass and tossed the shot down.  The burn spread through his throat and into his nasal passages, but then a wave of calm swept through him.  The liquor served its purpose, and  he wondered why he hadn’t thrown down more shots in the past couple days.  (p. 66).

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Synopsis:  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…

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What do you think?  Do you want to keep reading?

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REVIEW: THE HOUSE SWAP, BY REBECCA FLEET

 

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap–from their city apartment to a house in a leafy, upscale London suburb–they jump at the chance for a week away from home, their son, and the tensions that have pushed their marriage to the brink.

As the couple settles in, the old problems that permeate their marriage–his unhealthy behaviors, her indiscretions–start bubbling to the surface. But while they attempt to mend their relationship, their neighbor, an intense young woman, is showing a little too much interest in their activities.

Meanwhile, Caroline slowly begins to uncover some signs of life in the stark house–signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music might seem innocent to anyone else–but to her they are clues. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone who knows her, someone who knows the secrets she’s desperate to forget. . . .

 

My Thoughts: From the very beginning of The House Swap, the reader knows that nothing good can come of this strange exchange of houses.

Who owns the house in which Caroline and Francis are staying? What motivated the swap, and why does Caroline not immediately suspect that something strange and obsessive is happening?

A weird and intrusive girl next door adds to the creepiness.

The book is mostly narrated by Caroline, and flashes back to the past and forward to the present. We learn about the issues in the marriage…and I had to ask myself over and over why the two are even trying.

But as Caroline starts receiving messages that suggest a mysterious presence in her home, our senses are heightened. But then the messages Caroline is receiving start to make sense, and a dark secret from the past is revealed.

The story unfolded slowly, and sometimes the pace was frustrating. But the story was worth hanging in for its shocking conclusion. 4.5 stars.

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RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “EDUCATED”

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 library book:  Educated (e-book), by Tara Westover, an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

 

 

 

Intro:  (Prologue)

I’m standing on the red railway car that sits abandoned next to the barn.  The wind soars, whipping my  hair across my face and pushing a chill down the open neck of my shirt.  The gales are strong this close to the mountain, as if the peak itself is exhaling.  Down below, the valley is peaceful, undisturbed.  Meanwhile our farm dances:  the heavy conifer trees sway slowly, while the sagebrush and thistles quiver, bowing before every puff and pocket of air.  Behind me a gentle hill slops upward and stitches itself to the mountain base.  If I look up, I can see the dark form of the Indian Princess.

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Teaser:  I awoke one morning in August to find Tyler packing his clothes, books and CDs into boxes.  He’d nearly finished by the time we sat down to breakfast.  I ate quickly, then went into his room and looked at his shelves, now empty except for a single CD, the black one with the image of people dressed in white, which I now recognized as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (p. 66).

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Synopsis:  Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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A FRIDAY FOR READING…AND PAMPERING…

Fridays are not my usual time to chat here, but I am sitting next to these Disney figurines and my coffee cup (above), and feeling like sharing.  I am also ignoring the housekeeping I need to do!  I did do a few things, but will postpone the heavy cleaning until later.  LOL

As I read my library copy of Manhattan Beach, I am swept back in time…to an era that pre-dates me (1930s), but the 1940s are now making an appearance in the story, and I am reminded of tales my parents told of that time.  My family lived on the West Coast, while Anna Kerrigan, in this story, lived in Brooklyn.  There were similar fears and feelings, no matter where one lived during this memorable time.

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

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I am always intrigued by how the women were offered opportunities not available to them when the men were home.  I could sense the feeling of adventure that heightened their experiences, and how the women took the chance to discover new skills, even some independence not previously offered to them.

Anna was a character I enjoyed.

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Later today I have scheduled a mani…and then I’ll probably have dinner out.  I know…I should do the housework before I get my nails done, as not wanting to “mess them up” will be another excuse not to dig into the heavy stuff.  Sigh.  Here’s the color I chose last time.  Should I keep it, or change it?

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What lies ahead for your weekend?  Adventures?  Movies?  Reading?

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RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “MANHATTAN BEACH”

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:  Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan, takes us into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men in a dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world.

 

 

Intro:  (The Shore)

They’d driven all the way to Mr. Styles’s house before Anna realized that her father was nervous.  First the ride had distracted her, sailing along Ocean Parkway as if they were headed for Coney Island, although it was four days past Christmas and impossibly cold for the beach.  Then the house itself:  a palace of golden brick three stories high, windows all the way around, a rowdy flapping of green-and-yellow striped awnings.  It was the last house on the street, which dead-ended at the sea.

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Teaser Tuesday:  She had never cried.  When she’d believed he was about to return, there had been nothing to cry about, and when at last she’d stopped believing, it was too late. (p. 59).

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Synopsis:  Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

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

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