REVIEW: HELLO FROM THE GILLESPIES, BY MONICA MCINERNEY

20893378

 

 

 

 

Angela Gillespie has the perfect life…or at least it is according to her annual Christmas letter. And, for the most part, she has felt happy with her choices. But something has gone awry in the past year or so, leading to strange inexplicable feelings that suddenly come tumbling out as she types her annual letter. What if she told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but?

Thirty years on a sheep station in Australia was not the life she had planned.

Why is Nick shut away in his office all the time? Who is Carol and why are they Skyping continuously about the Gillespie family reunion in Ireland? Why is Nick obsessed with sorting out his family tree? And why is Angela suddenly imagining the life she might have had? If only.

In the midst of her cathartic letter, an emergency happens, and she leaves it on the computer, unsent.

What occurs next will lead to a rollicking and sometimes painful aftermath, when something totally unplanned turns into unimaginable consequences. Helpful hubby decides to send it (without reading it, of course).

And now, each of her three oldest children have had meltdowns of various kinds and ended up back at home, Twins Victoria and Genevieve have their own special communications and exclude their younger sister Lindy, much to her chagrin. Her whininess is unbelievably annoying, and as she sits sewing cushions and imagining her success, she becomes more than a little bit adolescent-like. Young Ig, who is ten, is the only one who truly should be behaving as a child, but he has a precocious nature that makes him seem odd to the others. And he has an imaginary friend.

Hello From the Gillespies feels like a family saga as it unfolds in layers and as we watch the characters deal with the lives they ended up with and as they learn to make the best of things. But then tragedy truly does strike, and everything does change even more in ways that none of them could have anticipated.

A story that takes the reader away into family moments they might recognize, with the sibling rivalries and sparring to the gradually changing relationships between the parents, and we also see how life chisels away at the bonds until it will take something dramatic to bring them all back to one another. Five stars.

MONTHLY WRAP-UP FOR SEPTEMBER

coffee-books-enter-my-world

 

Where did September go?  I know that I read some lovely books and enjoyed adding more to the “finished stack” at my Mt. TBR Challenge…but I did not read as many books as I’d hoped.

Nevertheless, this is what I accomplished:

 

SEPTEMBER 2014:

1.       Crooked River, by Valerie Geary – 323 pages – (suspense/coming-of-age) – 9/28/14

2.      Devil’s Foothold, The (e-book), by Marilyn Meredith – 176 pages – (mystery) – 9/11/14 – (Mt. TBR Challenge)

3.      Friendswood, by Rene Steinke – 350 pages – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 9/26/14

4.     Good Girl, The (e-book), by Mary Kubica – 350 pages – (suspense thriller) – 9/6/14

5.    Gringa in a Strange Land (e-book), by Linda Dahl – 256 pages – (historical fiction) – 9/10/14 – (Mt. TBR Challenge)

6.     Home Place, The, by Carrie La Seur – 289 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/1/14

7.     Midnight Betrayal, by Melinda Leigh – 323 pages – (romantic suspense) – 9/12/14

8.     Safe Keeping, by Barbara Taylor Sissel – 302 pages – (contemporary fiction/mystery) – 9/22/14

9.    Question of Guilt, A (e-book), by Frances Fyfield – 288 pages – (murder mystery) – 9/14/14 (Mt. TBR Challenge)

10.   Quiet (e-book), by Susan Cain – 370 pages- (nonfiction) – 9/20/14 (Mt. TBR Challenge)

11.   Tears and Tequila, by Linda Schreyer & Jo-Ann Lautman – 352 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/7/14

12.   Then & Always, by Dani Atkins – 284 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/17/14

13.  This Is Where I Leave You (e-book), by Jonathan Tropper – 388 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 9/3/14

14.   Wedding and a Killing, A, by Lauren Carr – 295 pages – (murder mystery/series) – 9/18/14

***

BOOKS READ IN SEPTEMBER  2014:               14

PAGES READ IN SEPTEMBER 2014:            4,346

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                134

 

FAVORITE FICTION BOOK:   This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper

Mt. TBR Challenge – 30/36

***

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: RESHUFFLING, RENEWING….

PicMonkey Collage-textured

 

 

Welcome to another Thursday, and the ramblings that make up My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts), hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

Yesterday was a “time out of time” day, beginning with a lovely lunch at one of the neighborhood bistros, Dai Bai Dang.  My friend and I ate delicious things that are pure decadence, including the dessert of Green Tea Ice Cream with Irish coffee.

 

ERJ1Y5L6vuOmQN

Afterwards, we were only steps away from the Edward’s Theater, where we saw This Is Where I Leave You.  I know, I already saw it on the weekend, but I sometimes see a movie twice…even before it comes out on DVD.

Next weekend, it’s Gone Girl for me!

 

gone-girl-ew

 

When I got home, it was evening, and I felt totally satiated…and not in the mood for any dinner.  I had Special K.

Earlier yesterday I wrote about Reshuffling the interiors, my OCDD.

I switched a few things around, because it feels like a new space afterwards.  Like my hall tree at the front door now has some goodies from another place in the room, and my sofa table also has a new arrangement.

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the movies, I even put out a few of my fall stuff, like the pumpkins.  More on those later….

 

I am reading a book called Friendswood, which is kind of depressing…a small Texas oil town with sad, dejected people recovering from toxic substances in their soil, and the subsequent devastating illnesses in some…and the inability of the bigwigs in the town to accept that nothing is all right.  For them, it’s business as usual.

 

91JjWVDutTL._SL1500_

 

***

Remember a few weeks ago when my coffee pot died?  Well, a couple of days ago, it was my blow dryer.  After my lovely afternoon, I had to go blow dryer shopping.  And today I’ll try it out, hoping it will work for a long time…

***

I hope this is not some kind of trend, and that my electronics will not be dying, one after the other…sigh.

What has your week been like?

***

REPRISING MY REVIEW OF “THE BANKS OF CERTAIN RIVERS” – PAPERBACK RELEASE!

index

 

Last year, I read and review the e-book version of The Banks of Certain Rivers.  Now it is being released in the paperback format, so I am reprising my review, below:

 

When Neil Kazenzakis and his wife Wendy are on a trip with their son Chris, the unthinkable happens.

Neil is listening to a speaker at a conference, while his wife and son are enjoying the pool in the hotel. A helicopter medi-vac hovers overhead, and soon someone is airlifted away. In the next few moments, Neil is summoned and learns that his wife was involved in a near-drowning.

When the story picks up a few years later, we see the aftermath of Neil’s life: his son is ready to finish high school and is planning for college; and his wife is in a vegetative state in a long term facility.

The story is narrated in Neil’s first person voice, and we learn through flashbacks and memories about his journey forward, replete with all the pain of the loss and the continual reminders of what was and what will never be.

Living in Port Manitou, Michigan, on the farmland owned jointly with Wendy’s widowed mother Carol Olsson, Neil has fashioned a kind of normalcy for himself and son Christopher. He teaches science at the local high school and coaches the girls’ track team. He has started a relationship with Lauren, the hospice nurse who works with Carol. But the two of them are keeping their relationship a secret until just the right time for Neil to tell his son.

But unfortunately, life doesn’t hold back its punches for just the right moment, and soon Neil is engulfed in a horrifying scandal regarding an event at his school…and he could lose everything he loves. Again.

The Banks of Certain Rivers is a captivating story that leads the reader through all of the swirling rivers of life that can engulf a person, much like the dangers of the river that flows through the property. Will Neil manage to work his way through the allegations against him? Will his relationship with Lauren and with his son survive the onslaught that descends upon them?

Finding out kept me rapidly turning pages until the satisfying conclusion. I loved the characters and the author’s ability to engage me and draw me right into the midst of the emotional morass that swirled about them all until the very end. Five stars.

REVIEW: SAFE KEEPING, BY BARBARA TAYLOR SISSEL

18246296

 

 

 

From the very beginning of Safe Keeping, we are thrust into the troubled world of an anxious mother, Emily Lebay, pondering what her son Tucker might have done now. His father, Roy, is a veteran from the Vietnam War, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and even knowing that, I found it very difficult to like that character.

Roy’s behavior, his control issues…all made me cringe as I wondered again and again why Emily stayed with him.

And even though Tucker is portrayed as the troubled young man, there were so many good reasons for what he has become…and many of them point to the parents. Especially Roy, in my opinion.

Lissa, married to Evan, is the direct opposite of Tucker, always the pride and joy of the family. But she has secrets…and her own issues.

The story unfolds as a mystery, while also revealing the hidden dynamics of the troubled family.

I felt suspicious of almost everyone involved, from the detectives investigating, who apparently ignored other possible suspects in the murder of two girls, and the father himself. What secrets is he keeping? Has he somehow done something to bring the law down on Tucker?

Therefore, I was quite surprised that the ending wrapped things up in such a predictable way. I had hoped that some last minute reveal would turn things around and take the story in an unexpected direction. So while I enjoyed the book, I did not like the ending. 4.0 stars.

FINISH LINE: BLOGGIESTA SUCCESS!

index

 

The weekend has been productive for me.  And I had fun.  So let’s recap.

Here’s what I accomplished:

 

clean up labels/tags done!
  do two mini challengesWriting a Negative Review – The Steadfast Reader;Organizing the TBR Stacks – Cover2Cover Blog
  change or fix one thing on your sidebar Rearranged sidebar and removed four items! done!
  add a page (about me, contact, policy, etc) Added a Favorite Books Page; updated my Favorite Blogs page- done!
  change one thing on your layout and/or look; create new blog button – DONE!
  comment on other Bloggiesta partipants blogs-Visited 40 sites!
  participate in at least one Twitter chat done!

***

Additional stuff:

Changed the theme and layout of my Potpourri blog done!

Cleaned up the sidebar and categories on my Serendipity blog; changed header and background-DONE!

Cleaned up the sidebar at An Interior Journey-DONE!

***

I can’t wait for the next event!  I hope you’ll stop by and share your outcomes!

***

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: BLOGGIESTA, ETC.

PicMonkey Collage-textured

 

Welcome to another Thursday, and the ramblings that make up My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts), hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

I wasn’t going to add a new post today, since I am participating in Bloggiesta...but then I got most of my list for that event completed, so here I am.

Follow the link and find out what I have accomplished so far.  You may have noticed a different look here, and I also added some pages and updated some others.

New blog theme, header, background and blog button.  I love doing this stuff!

Yes, I know many people have fabulous designs created by professionals….but for me, the fun is in doing it.

On the home front this week, I’ve been clearing out drawers:  in my desk, in nightstands, etc., and I shredded a bunch of stuff, too.

The trouble with these tasks…once you get started, the possibilities expand, and the lists are endless!  But I stopped for a while…time to contemplate.

I do need to go out in the garage and organize those bins.  Some of them have papers from more than seven years ago, so I can rid myself of those, too.

I also want to gather up some of my collections and take them to a consignment shop….

See what I mean?  Endless tasks….

***

What does your bookish/non-bookish life look like this week?

***