REVIEW: YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN, BY JEAN HANFF KORELITZ

 

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended.

Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.

 
 
 
 

From the first few moments of You Should Have Known, I was caught up in Grace’s life as a therapist, a writer, and a diligent wife and mother. But then, unexpectedly, her life began to unravel. Perhaps the words she wrote in her book were even more true than she had realized: Perhaps she, too, should have known.

When the police begin hounding her and the other mothers at the tony private school shun her, she has a taste of what her new life will look like.

A glimpse back at the choices she had made and the relationship she had believed in revealed more than she could have imagined.

As she is forced to move beyond the life she had taken for granted, however, she begins to discover her true self. A rustic life in Connecticut has morphed into something she can savor. New friends, old friends rediscovered, and the unexpected resurrection of her therapy practice give her strength to start over.

This was a book I had begun reading years ago and now have found to be enjoyable. 4.5 stars.

 
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REVIEW: SAFE HOUSE, BY JO JAKEMAN

One day, a woman turns up in a remote coastal village. She’s bought a crumbling, long-vacant cottage and calls herself Charlie Miller. Charlie keeps to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. If they ever find out who she really is, and what she’s done, she’ll lose what little she has left.

Charlie served two years in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. It was the mistake of a woman in love, a woman who couldn’t believe her boyfriend was guilty—or lying to her. All she desperately wants now is a fresh start.

As Charlie slowly lets down her guard and becomes friendly with her neighbors, she can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching her, someone who knows what she did. When one of her new friends suddenly disappears, Charlie’s worst fears are confirmed. She must confront her past head-on, but as she knows all too well, everything is far more dangerous than how it appears.

As I began the journey in Safe House, I was prepared for twists and turns and keeping an eye out for whoever is watching Charlie Miller try to turn her life around.

Many young women make the mistake of trusting the wrong man, and in Charlie’s case, her bad choices ended with a prison sentence. Starting over will not necessarily lead to a new beginning.

I loved how the author revealed the inner thoughts of our main character, Charlie, whose first-person voice tells the story. We flip back and forth in time, filling in the pieces of the story, and gradually coming to understand what happened.

Someone has his eye on Charlie and as we feel him literally breathing down her neck, the tension escalates. Will Charlie finally be able to start over, or will her past collide with her present?

The author also gave us a cozy feel as she showed Charlie fixing up her cottage and integrating with the villagers. A scenario that offers hope just as everything is about to crash down around her. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: LOST & FOUND SISTERS, BY JILL SHALVIS

 

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earthshattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.

 

My Thoughts: Unsettled by the bombshell news she receives at the beginning of Lost and Found Sisters, Quinn will struggle to accept the secrets of the past and develop connections she had never anticipated.

Wildstone feels like the kind of story book small town, in which news travels quickly from one hour to the next, and the people who live in the town feel friendly and warm. Except for the ones who are not.

Quinn is a likable character, and I had to admire how she dealt with everything, especially the most unexpected aspect of the lawyer’s news.

But as she begins to feel at home with her new normal, she also has to learn that not everyone in small town life is kind. Not everyone has good intentions. But with the love of her own team of supporters, she finds a way to fill the empty spaces inside. She finds a way to start over. A lovely story of building a family, overcoming the past, and making new connections. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: ANY DAY NOW, BY ROBYN CARR

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.


My Thoughts: It did not take long to completely immerse myself in Any Day Now, and relate to Sierra Jones, a wonderful, feisty character. A survivor of a dysfunctional family and a troubled past…she brought all these key ingredients to a story that also aroused my empathy and made me root for her.

In Book One, I had already met some characters at Sullivan’s Crossing, a small Colorado town, like Sully, who was a father figure for Sierra and a kind and compassionate mentor for almost everyone.

California (Cal) was the loyal and protective big brother to Sierra, and his newly created family with Maggie, Sully’s neurosurgeon daughter, added a wonderful sister figure to the mix.

Growing up with a mentally ill father taught Cal and Sierra survival skills, although their father was not a violent or abusive man. He just lived with delusions and his own version of reality.

I liked the unique names of the Jones children: California, Sedona, Dakota, and Sierra…interesting quirks that set them apart.

Besides mental health issues, the story dealt with substance abuse, treatment, and recovery, and my work with clients over the years helped me connect to the stories told by those in recovery.

Of course there was a bit of romance. Who wouldn’t fall for the gorgeous firefighter named Conrad (Connie) Boyle? I enjoyed the slow and gradual connection that grew between Sierra and Connie, an appropriate progression for wounded souls.

Just when I was sinking into the daily drama of addiction and recovery, a stunning danger came reeling into Sierra’s life, the detritus of the messy past that Sierra had been fearing, and there were some intense moments that kept me glued to the pages…and then came that predictable yet comforting happy ending. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: WAIT FOR THE RAIN, BY MARIA MURNANE

 

Daphne White is staring down the barrel of forty—and is distraught at what she sees. Her ex-husband is getting remarried, her teenage daughter hardly needs her anymore, and the career she once dreamed about has somehow slipped from her grasp. She’s almost lost sight of the spirited and optimistic young woman she used to be.

As she heads off to a Caribbean island to mark the new decade with her best friends from college, Daphne’s in anything but the mood to celebrate. But when she meets Clay Hanson, a much younger man, she ignores her inner voice warning her that she’s too old for a fling. In fact, this tropical getaway might be the perfect opportunity to picture her future in a new sun-drenched light.

With the help of her friends, Daphne rediscovers her enthusiasm for life, as well as her love for herself—and realizes that her best years are still ahead.

MY THOUGHTS:

Another delightful girlfriend outing is brought to us in Wait for the Rain. The three college friends, Skylar, Daphne, and KC, felt like old friends to me, too, after reading about them in “Bridges.”

Never having been on a Caribbean vacation, I thoroughly enjoyed joining them on the island getaway, and from the descriptions of the setting, the food, and the activities, I could almost have been there with them…vicariously.

It was fun to watch Daphne’s foray into enjoying her single life. I could relate to her testing the waters, having been almost her age when I tried single life again, back in the day. Her insecurities and the tentative way she connected with Clay, the younger man, felt real to me.

On the island, the little bursts of rain that happened frequently throughout their stay reminded Daphne of the cleansing power of rain…and how the adventure had given her the opportunity for a fresh start. Now she knew that her homecoming would reveal her whole life with fresh eyes. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: INHERITING EDITH, BY ZOE FISHMAN

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When Maggie Sheets, a struggling single mother to toddler daughter Lucy, learns that she has inherited a beach house in Sag Harbor, she is stunned. Not only because she had never expected to receive anything from her former friend Liza. She is also not sure what to think of the “catch” that comes with the legacy. The inheritance includes Liza’s aging mother Edith.

Maggie had met Liza Brenner, a bestselling author, when she had taken on the job of cleaning her penthouse. At some point, the two of them connected. But then, a misunderstanding (or a betrayal, depending on your perspective) drove a wedge between them.

Now Maggie has to decide what to do. Leave her house cleaning business in New York, for the cottage on the beach…and the elderly woman roommate. Or keep doing what she has been doing. But Edith could be a handful. She seems to be in early Alzheimer’s disease.

Alternating perspectives tell the story of Inheriting Edith, bringing out each woman’s history. They have more in common than they initially realized, and I was delighted to discover the layers (and secrets) of these two characters. In a lovely setting, we learn more than we bargained for.

Will they find a way to coexist? Can they provide comfort and support to one another? How will one of Edith’s secrets bind them closer together? Somewhat predictable, the story also offered up glimpses into the lives they create together, and how unexpected challenges can be true gifts. I enjoyed this book, and recommend it for those who like family issues. 4 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “STEALING JASON WILDE”

Married to Books-BOOKISH LOGO

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 better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is from an author I’ve enjoyed in the past:  Dee Ernst.  Stealing Jason Wilde is a story about a woman taking another chance on love, and finding herself in over her head.

 

 

 

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Beginning:  You know the famous saying “What happens on Dune Road stays on Dune Road”?

Wait—maybe it’s really not that famous.  The famous version is about Las Vegas.  But are you familiar with the concept?  That there are some places in the world where your choices are based on a completely different reality and your actions have no consequences in your day-to-day life?  Where you are allowed, even encouraged, to behave in a different way, and, above all, it is understood that those two separate worlds must never intersect?

***

56:  He looked at her as though she tested space-suits by making regular trips to Jupiter.  “Really?  That sounds amazing.  High finance is completely foreign to me.  I have people who take care of my money for me, or I’d have been living on the street years ago.”

***

Synopsis:  After her divorce, librarian Annie Reynolds thought she’d closed the book on love for good—it just wasn’t part of her safe, comfortable routine. But if there’s anyplace she can relax and have a little fun, it’s Dune Road, where she and her closest girlfriends return for their annual getaway in the Hamptons. She knows it’s just what she needs to escape her empty nest (and empty bed).

A chance encounter with a ruggedly handsome local promises Annie just that. But when one of her friends turns a simple flirtation with B-list movie star Jason Wilde into seduction—and Jason accidentally mixes a few drinks and his back-pain medicine—the ladies end up with a very high-profile houseguest. The media calls it a kidnapping, and before long, the FBI is on the hunt.

Soon the ladies’ tame little trip has turned into the adventure of a lifetime. But will this case of mistaken misdoing sabotage Annie’s second chance at love, or will she have the confidence to take matters into her own hands to find her happily ever after?

***

What do you think?  Intrigued?  I enjoy how this author tells a story, so I’m eager to start reading it.

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REVIEW: WHAT WE FIND, BY ROBYN CARR

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Maggie Sullivan, a brilliant neurosurgeon living in Denver, Colorado, has seen her life falling apart around her, bit by bit. Her practice is in a shambles due to some criminal actions by her partners; she is facing a wrongful death lawsuit; and she has just lost her baby in a miscarriage. Further, her partner and the father of the child has dumped her for being “too depressed” for him to deal with.

What is Maggie to do? She finds herself in Sullivan’s Crossing where her father, Sully, has a campground and a general store. Wrapped up in the love of family and friends, Maggie believes that she might finally begin to heal here. But then her father has a heart attack.

In the subsequent weeks, as she helps her father through his recovery, she also meets another camper, a man she at first dismisses as a drifter, but in getting to know Cal Jones, she is able to see how she can open up her world to possibilities. Can the two of them forge a relationship? What does getting to know Cal mean? As he answers some questions about his life before, the family he came from, and what he wants for the future, he is modeling what she herself needs to do, moving forward.

What We Find is full of beautiful settings and interesting characters, from Maggie’s mother Phoebe and her stepfather Walter, to Cal’s father Jed and mother Marissa. How far does the apple fall from the tree? Does the past always inform the future? In reaching some conclusions about the characters, I came to hope that they would not end with this book. I wanted to continue the journey with them, in at least one more book or two. 4.5 stars.

REVIEW: WATERMELON, BY MARIAN KEYES

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When Claire Walsh Webster had her baby girl on February 15, the date was permanently etched on her mind for two reasons: it was her daughter’s birthday, and it was the day her husband James abandoned her for the woman with whom he had been having an affair.

To say that Claire’s life was turned upside down would be an understatement. Taking herself and her baby from London to Dublin was the first step toward creating her new life. Staying in the family home with her parents and two younger sisters did little for her self-esteem, however, and for days and weeks, she languished in the bed, often forgetting to get dressed.

Her younger sisters, Anna and Helen, were annoying distractions…to Claire and to this reader, but their voices did add a bit of humor to Watermelon (Walsh Family Book 1). Themes of betrayal, relationships, and family dynamics kept the story interesting, although it moved rather slowly for most of the story.

I was rooting for Claire, as she struggled to come to terms with the major changes in her life, and I enjoyed the internal monologues she carried on in a rather comic and snarky voice. The story is narrated from her first person perspective, and it was a funny voice indeed.

Would Claire manage to create a new life for herself? Would she find love again? And what would happen when James finally wanted to see her? Could his rather unexpected suggestions arouse her to take charge of her own life?

I recommend this story to those fascinated by family drama and issues of female empowerment, but don’t expect a fast-paced narrative or a plot that leads to any major conclusions. A fun, light read can be enough on some days, though. I liked this conclusion that Claire arrived at toward the end of the book, as she began to reclaim her life:

“When happiness makes a guest appearance in one’s life, it’s important to make the most of it. It may not stay around for long and when it has gone wouldn’t it be terrible to think that all the time one could have been happy was wasted worrying about when that happiness would be taken away?”

A 4 star read.

BOOKISH FRIDAYS: EXCERPTING “IT’S YOU”

BOOKISH FRIDAY LOGO

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I enjoy sharing excerpts from books…and connecting 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 better way to spend a Friday!

I hope everyone will be celebrating a Happy Fourth of July!  Meanwhile, let’s take a look at a new book I’m spotlighting from Jane Porter: It’s You, a story about finding love and strength, even in the darkest moments.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Ali)

For over a year following Andrew’s death I showed up and performed and executed perfectly.

I handled that horrible year and the next few months so well that I’d begun to think the worst was behind me.

And then I got the note.

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56:  (Ali) I have a text message from Diana Martin, the florist I met on the flight, who has an extra ticket for an event at one of the wineries tonight.  It’s the annual Concert in the Cellar, so there’s music and dinner and some kind of an auction, but I don’t have to go glitzy.

***

Blurb:  In the wake of a tragedy that tore her life down to the foundations, Dr. Alison McAdams has lost her way. So when she’s summoned to Napa to care for her ailing father, she’s not sure she has anything to offer him—or anyone else.

What Ali finds in Northern California wine country is a gift—an opportunity to rest, and distance from her painful memories. Most unexpectedly, she finds people who aren’t afraid of her grief or desperate for her to hurry up and move on.

As Ali becomes part of her father’s community, makes new friends of her own, and hears the stories of a generation who survived the Second World War, she begins to find hope again. In a quest to discover the truth about another woman’s lost love, she sets off on a journey across oceans and deep into history. And in making sense of that long-ago tragedy, Ali is able to put together the broken pieces of her heart and make new choices that are right for her.

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts pique your interest?

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