REVIEW: THE WINTER SISTER, BY MEGAN COLLINS

 

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

My Thoughts: As Sylvie returns home, reluctantly, to care for her sick mother, Annie, she is confronted by the past and its dark secrets. Sometimes, studying the past can change one’s perspective and even the reality of one’s relationships.

What would Sylvie learn, as she tried to sort through the events leading up to her sister’s death? Would her view be reinforced, or would she realize that she had it all wrong?

As we follow Sylvie’s story and her interactions with Persephone’s boyfriend, we learn more about Annie’s story. The one loss that changed everything in her life, leading to Dark Days and the inability to really nurture her daughters, could have been the one thing that changed everything for the girls, too.

How can Sylvie sort through the detritus of her sister’s life, as well as her mother’s secrets, and discover the truth? As the final revelations in The Winter Sister are unveiled, everything will finally be brought to light, setting them free. 4.5 stars.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.
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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “BY THE BOOK”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  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 a download from almost a year ago:  By the Book, by Julie Sonneborn:  Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

 

 

Beginning:  “What time’s your class, Anne?”  my best friend and fellow English professor Larry asked.  He was standing at the door to my office in his pressed shirt and tortoiseshell glasses, his balding head shaved close and his hand clutching an interoffice mail envelope.

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Friday 56%:  Best to wait until the book was out to share the news, I decided.  Anything could happen between now and the book’s publication, and I didn’t want to rile him up unnecessarily.  With his leg hoisted onto the stool, he looked frailer than normal, swallowed up by his huge armchair.

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Synopsis:  An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

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I am eager to read this one, a book that has been quietly resting on my Kindle for almost a year.  What do you think?

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A LOOK BACK AT NEW YEAR’S EVES OF THE PAST…

Now that New Year’s Eve is behind us, I took a look back at some of my previous celebrations.  Quiet, of course, but with movies and moments.

Four years ago, this is what I wrote:

Have some popcorn and movies handy, preferably some old favorites like The Way We Were.  I saw the original movie on a New Year’s Eve, when it first came out on the Big Screen…yes, that was a long time ago, early seventies.

 

 

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Even though I have seen it MANY times, I keep hoping that the ending will change, and Katie and Hubbell will end up together.  Sigh.

I saw Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in an interview together…I think it was one of Oprah’s last years of shows.  So amazing.

Okay, I am a sucker for sad stories (movies) that somehow have a happy ending, or even one I wish would happen.

Then, of course, I will have some champagne to sip while I watch the ball drop on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, with Ryan Seacrest...Oh, I miss Dick Clark, sigh.

I met him once…Dick Clark.  My second son worked for Dick Clark Productions for a few years, as a CFO, and in 1999, Dick Clark Productions and Soap Opera Digest put on the Soap Opera Awards show. (Now no longer an event..sigh).  I attended, of course, as my son gave me a ticket, and that included the pre-party as well as a Back Stage Pass.   See bottom center.

 

Mementos

Mementos

 

That event was not on a New Year’s Eve, but in February of that year.  It felt like a New Year’s Eve event for me, however.  (In case you don’t know, I am seriously addicted to soap operas, and since there are only four left, I record them all daily).

But back to my quiet New Year’s Eve….

I also have a few other movies picked out, like Beaches, Annie Hall, and Urban Cowboy.

Yes, seriously sappy.  But I love the music in Beaches and Urban Cowboy, and the humor of Annie Hall will lighten things up.

You may have noticed these are all oldies…but I have them in my own DVD Collection, which exceeds 800 movies.  Yes, I am addicted.

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For New Year’s Eve in 2018, I watched When Harry Met Sally, another movie that says “Happy New Year” to me.

What did your New Year’s Eve look like?

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RAINY DAY READING: WWW WEDNESDAYS

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:  I am enjoying an e-ARC from NetGalley, to be released on 2-5-19:  The Winter Sister, by Megan Collins:   a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

 

Last week, I was reading Sadie, by Courtney Summers, but I had to DNF it at 117 pages.  I tried, but it wasn’t working for me.

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BOOKS FINISHED SINCE LAST WEEK-(Titles/Covers Linked to My Reviews):

I only finished one book.  Forget You Know Me (e-book), by Jessica Strawser, will be released from NetGalley on 2/5/19.

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:

I have put a library hold on From the Corner of the Oval, by Beck Dorey-Stein.  I should have it in 12 weeks.  Or maybe I will grow impatient and buy it.  No, I’m going to try to wait.

Synopsis:  In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein is working five part-time jobs and just scraping by when a posting on Craigslist lands her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate D.C. outsider, she joins the elite team who accompany the president wherever he goes, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forges friendships with a dynamic group of fellow travelers—young men and women who, like her, leave their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president.

As she learns to navigate White House protocols and more than once runs afoul of the hierarchy, Beck becomes romantically entangled with a consummate D.C. insider, and suddenly the political becomes all too personal.

Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice.

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That was my less than stellar week.  What did yours look like?

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REVIEW: THE ADULTS, BY CAROLINE HULSE

 

Claire and Matt are no longer together but decide that it would be best for their daughter, Scarlett, to have a “normal” family Christmas. They can’t agree on whose idea it was to go to the Happy Forest holiday park, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did—and it’s too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend, Patrick (never Pat), a seemingly sensible, eligible from a distance Ironman in Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life, Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, who is seven, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He’s a giant rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Forced Fun Activities, drink a little too much after Scarlett’s bedtime, overshare classified secrets about their pasts . . . and before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends where this novel begins—with a tearful, frightened call to the police.

What happened? They said they’d all be adults about this. . . .

My Thoughts: From the very beginning of The Adults, I had one of those “uh-oh” feelings. Nothing about this plan of theirs could be a good idea. Right? Vacationing with exes and new partners during the Christmas holidays sounded like the death knell for at least one or two of those relationships. A long five-day “weekend” could be disastrous.

Add in the somewhat bratty child Scarlett with her Imaginary Rabbit friend…and you are in for some tension, at the very least.

Matt was the first one I couldn’t stand. He was an annoyingly vague kind of person, unsure of what to tell his partner Alex about anything, not wanting to deal with the complications that might arise. He knew she wouldn’t want to go on the trip, so he didn’t tell her until the plans were all set.

Claire, Matt’s ex, seemed to have way too much control over everything. Others might feel slighted, or even ignored. And everything seemed to center around keeping their daughter Scarlett pleased about anything and everything.

Then there was Patrick, Claire’s new partner, whose jealousy reaches extremes before the weekend is done. What eventually happened took a while to sort out, and part of the narrative focused on a police investigation. What could have gone wrong indeed?

This interesting story with unlikable characters earned 4.5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “VERITY”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  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 a new download:  Verity, by Colleen Hoover: a standalone romantic thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover. Due to graphic scenes, this book is recommended for ages 18+

 

 

Beginning:  I hear the crack of his skull before the spattering of blood reaches me.

I gasp and take a quick step back onto the sidewalk.  One of my heels doesn’t clear the curb, so I grip the pole of a No Parking sign to steady myself.

***

Friday 56%:  Maybe what I felt was mother’s intuition.  Maybe, deep down, I knew something terrible was going to happen to Chastain, and that’s why I had been given that immense and sudden love for her.

***

Synopsis:  Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night their family was forever altered.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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WHERE ARE MY RAINY DAYS?

Welcome to another Thursday!  Usually I am posting on another blog…and I did that today over at my Coffee Chat post.

Since I created a new blog header here, I wanted to write something to showcase the new look.  Yeah, a little bit weird, I know.  So…I searched for Thursday memes, and couldn’t find anything.  Do some of you regularly participate on Thursday?  Something other than the one I already did?

It is not even raining today, or I would have chosen to spotlight rainy day photos.  I love the one of the little girl in the rain…on the header.  It reminds me of rainy days when I was a child, when I regularly wore rain boots and jumped in puddles.  I grew up in the Central Valley, where I now live, but a little farther north;  there was a lot more rain back then.  No matter what some say, there is truly a Climate Change happening.  Drought is common here, and rainy days are rare.

Here is one of my rainy day photos.  I think it was from a couple of years ago:

I finally finished reading Tell Me Lies, by Carola Lovering.  It was a slow read that went back and forth in time, and while I like faster paced books, there was something about this one that kept me reading. (Click for my review).

I created a new blog header there, too:  on my Curl up and Read blog.

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So…what is happening in your world?  Are you experiencing rainy days?  Are the holidays bringing you down, or keeping you excited with a frenetic kind of energy?

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RAINY DAY HYGGE: BOOKS, DECORATIONS, ETC.

When the rains come, as they do sometimes in this dry Central California city, I like curling up inside and layering my interiors with cozy stuff.  (Hygge).  My hall tree (above) greets my guests, and during the Christmas season, like now, I’ve added a few things:  Mr. and Mrs. Santa Bear and a poinsettia plant (fake).

 

The rest of the greeters remain throughout the year, and include hats, handbags, a Mary Engelbreit doll, Madeleine, and Red Riding Hood with her wolf companion.  Plus, an antique horse that centers the mix.

In the mirror, you can see some reflections of the rest of the room, like my pub table and its own Christmas tree featuring vintage and some Coca Cola ornaments:

The hearth showcases some Nutcrackers, along with the regular birdhouses, and nearby is another hat rack with hats and handbags, and a new scarf with buttons that I got in a Christmas box.  Also, a fluffy boa.  My clock collection above the mantle reminds us of the passage of time…except mine does not.  I removed the batteries to ease time-changing months.

 

Here is a close-up of the unique scarf, handmade in Northern California:

 

My cozy Coca Cola dining area holds another of my miniature trees.  This one has framed ornaments that show my grandchildren in their younger years.   A gingerbread bear hangs on the green cupboard.  You may notice I have a lot of red in my home, which, in my opinion, keeps me festive all year long.

 

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I didn’t bring out everything this year…but I may cave and layer some additions to this mix.

Reading is a part of the season, too, and on the weekend, I got brunch at a nearby restaurant.  I enjoyed this Bloody Mary with my Kindle read:  Tell Me Lies, by Carola Lovering.

 

 

 

 

 

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Because I am watching a lot of Christmas movies…and binge-watching on Prime and Netflix, my reading has slowed down this week.  But I have a long list of enticing books to grab.  Luckily, I didn’t find any new releases to purchase today…because I already have too many waiting in the wings. (And I got a new NetGalley ARC; more on that later).

What are you enjoying during the holidays?  What books, adventures, movies, and decorations are keeping you festive?

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RAINY DAY EXCERPTS: “I’VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU”

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 new e-book:  I’ve Got My Eyes on You, by Mary HIggins Clark, a thrilling investigation asking what we truly know about the those we trust, and the secrets lying in even the most idyllic of neighborhoods.

 

 

 

 

Intro:  Jamie was in his room on the second floor of his mother’s small Cape Cod house in Saddle River, New Jersey, when his life changed.

For a while he had been looking out the window to watch Kerry Dowling’s backyard.  She was having a party and Jamie was mad because she hadn’t invited him.  When they were in high school together, she was always nice to him even though he was in special classes.  But Mom had told him that it was probably just a party only for Kerry’s classmates who would be leaving for college next week.  Jamie had graduated from high school two years ago and now had a good job stocking shelves in the local Acme supermarket.

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Teaser:  “We try to avoid fixating on one obvious suspect.  We’re determined to pursue any relevant leads.”

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Synopsis:  When a terrible crime shocks a New Jersey community, all signs point to one suspect. But if he’s innocent as he claims, it means the murderer is still out there…

After throwing a party when her parents were away, 18-year-old Kerry Dowling is discovered lifeless at the bottom of the family pool. The police immediately question Kerry’s boyfriend, who—despite proclaiming his love for her—was seen arguing with Kerry that night. As neighbors and classmates grieve the loss of their friend, Kerry’s 28-year-old sister Aline, a guidance counselor, searches for answers. She’ll do anything to help the Detective Mike Wilson learn what really happened the night Kerry was killed.

Was someone watching Kerry the night of the murder? For Aline, the truth could be deadly.

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I’m enjoying this one so far.  What do you think?

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REVIEW: THE LIAR’S WIFE, BY SAMANTHA HAYES

 

When Ella wakes up in hospital following a hit and run incident, she is scared and confused. Close to tears, her eyes fall on a get-well-soon card on the window sill and the nurse reassures her that her loving husband will be back soon.

But Ella has never been married…

Absolutely love twisty and unputdownable psychological thrillers like Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us and Gone Girl? Then you will be totally hooked by this jaw-dropping novel about the dangerous secrets behind a perfect marriage.

My Thoughts: A story that goes back and forth in time, revealing dark secrets and hidden dangers, The Liar’s Wife kept me enthralled throughout.

Ella Sinclair has a strict routine in her life, one that doesn’t allow for much socializing. Her isolation will work against her after the hit and run accident that sidelines her. In fact, the news about her accident brings someone from the past back into her life. Someone who has leverage against her.

He sits by her bedside in the hospital and arranges for her things to be moved into a house he owns. House and wheelchair bound, Ella has no way to find help.

A frightening tale that kept me rapidly turning pages, the story gripped me and made me want Ella to find a way out of her situation.

What had happened to Ella in the past that would allow the man called Jacob to hold her hostage? Why is he able to control everything in her life, and prevent her escape? Finding those answers kept me glued to the pages. 4.5 stars.

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