REVIEW: THE HOME PLACE, BY CARRIE LA SEUR

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She thought she had escaped her broken family and the detritus of her life in Billings, Montana. But Alma Terrebonne, a successful lawyer living in Seattle, finds herself roped back into the family left behind, with all of its lies, secrets, and crippling memories.

On an early Sunday morning in January, a phone call takes Alma back, to the sad consequences of her sister Vicky’s party-loving life, and the eleven-year-old niece who needs her.

How will Vicky’s death change everything about Alma’s life? Will the old family homestead bring back good memories as well as bad? And who, if anyone, has taken Vicky from them? Her brother Pete and her grandmother Maddie, as well as the bitter and angry aunt and uncle, Walt and Helen, will arouse the bitterness of the past, as well as bring more questions in the present.

I could not stop turning the pages, as secret after secret is revealed, and then, just as I finally started to suspect what would come next, the stunning surprise was more malevolent than I had imagined.

The author takes the reader along for a ride as we explore the Big Sky country, with the gorgeous land, and as we learn of the threats that landowners are facing from those who wish to grab their mineral rights, we feel a righteous indignation for those who stand firm to protect what is theirs. The Home Place: A Novel is an evocative tribute to family, its bonds, and the heritage that allows them to stay connected, despite the secrets that often threaten to damage them all. Recommended for those who enjoy family drama, a little mystery, and the thrill of uncovering the secrets of the past. 4.5 stars.

MONTHLY WRAP-UP: AUGUST IS GONE….

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Welcome to my world of books and coffee, where I chart my reading life through the books read, reviewed, purchased, etc.

August was a fabulous month…not so much in the weather outside, but perhaps that very thing contributed to my staying indoors in the air-conditioning to read!  And there were so many fabulous books this month, that I had a hard time picking favorites!  Yes, I even picked two, while several of the others plaintively called:  Pick Me!!

It was a month of mixing things up, with mysteries, psychological thrillers, historical fiction…and FOUR YA books.  Unprecedented for me.

Take a stroll through my books, clicking the links for my reviews, and share your thoughts.  Thanks for stopping by!

 

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AUGUST 2014:

1.      An Italian Wife, by Ann Hood – 283 pages – (historical fiction) – 8/31/14

2.     Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer – 264 pages – (Contemporary YA Fiction) – 8/11/14

3.     Dollbaby (e-book), by Laura Lane McNeal – 338 pages – (historic fiction) – 8/16/14

4.    Evergreen, by Rebecca Rasmussen – 334 pages – (historical fiction) – 8/1/14

5.    Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang – 296 pages – (YA/Contemporary fiction) – 8/26/14

6.    Final Appeal (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – 332 pages – (legal mystery) – 8/23/14

7.     Furies, The, by Natalie Haynes – 297 pages – (psychological mystery) – 8/13/14

8.    Home, by Toni Morrison – 147 pages – (literary fiction) – 8/8/14

9.    House on Mermaid Point, The (e-book), by Wendy Wax – 416 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/30/14

10.   If I Stay (e-book), by Gayle Forman – 196 pages – (YA Contemporary Fiction) – 8/19/14

11.  Save the Date, by Mary Kay Andrews – 500 pages – (romance/contemporary fiction) – 8/18/14

12.  Silent Sister, The, by Diane Chamberlain – 343 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 8/27/14

13.  Thursday’s Children (Frieda Klein #4), by Nicci French – 421 pages – (mystery) – 8/7/14

14.  We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas – 620 pages – (historical/literary fiction) – 8/5/14

15.   We Were Liars (e-book), by E. Lockhart – 226 pages – (YA/contemporary fiction) – 8/2/14

16.   Whiskey Beach (e-book), by Nora Roberts – 484 pages – (Romantic Suspense) – 8/22/14

17.  Wrong Girl, The (e-book), by Hank Phillippi Ryan – 364 pages – (mystery, series) – 8/10/14

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BOOKS READ IN AUGUST  2014:               17

PAGES READ IN AUGUST 2014:          5,861

BOOKS READ YTD:                                       120

 

FAVORITE FICTION BOOK:   Tied:  The Silent Sister, by Diane Chamberlain; We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas

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REVIEW: THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT, BY WENDY WAX

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The women came together for another renovation, like the ones before. Reminiscent of the very first renovation of the house that was all they had left after the Ponzi scheme had drained them of their finances and needing their own reconstruction, this new project would bring unexpected gifts.

An unlikely group of women, they would become best friends as they worked to recreate a house and their lives.

Nicole’s brother had bilked them of their money, but she earned her place as a friend to the others. In their first and subsequent projects, Avery would be the architect and head of construction, while her mother Deirdre would be the interior designer. Those two would gradually reconnect after a lifetime of estrangement.

Maddie would need to pick up the pieces left after a ruined marriage, with her daughter Kyra and grandson Dustin in tow following her abandonment by Dustin’s celebrity father.

They all came with baggage and learned to rebuild their lives along with the houses.

The show Do Over would be a side effect of the first renovation, but it has somehow turned their lives into a caricature of what they had wanted. Being photographed at every turn does have its downside.

In this newest project, the women convene on Mermaid Point, in the Florida Keys. Like the previous projects, the destination had been a surprise selection by the network executives. William Hightower, the owner of this private island home, a rock star fresh out of rehab, needs a renovation of his interior life as well.

What will happen to this group of people, connected by a series of projects that have become more of a burden than a gift? How will the wear and tear of the renovations, along with the irritations wrought by the network head, bring some issues and feelings to a head?

I loved The House on Mermaid Point and how the author brought back the women, while adding new interesting characters to the mix. In the end, I felt a rush of mixed emotions at the unexpected resolution that came to them all, while throwing wide the windows on a fresh new beginning. 5.0 stars.

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: AN UNSETTLING WEEK

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Here we are on Thursday again, ready to celebrate our Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

This week has been unsettling for me.  I received a summons for Jury Duty, but it’s one of those where you have to check in periodically.  Every day, I have held my breath and waited until time to check the Jury website:  Do I have to report, or do I get a reprieve?

And typically, they give me little incremental reprieves, like:  check back tomorrow after 5:00.

We’ve gotten through most of the week this way…except today (Thursday) I have to check at 11:30.  Not “after” 11:30, or “after” 5:00, but at 11:30.  I don’t like the sound of this.  Will I be stuck having this thing carry over into next week?  Will I have to spend my Friday downtown?

See, that’s the other thing.  If I have to go, it involves going to the downtown part of the city, with parking problems, etc., and I recall how I worked downtown for many years and how stressful that all was.  So I’m not looking forward to any of this.

Okay, it’s not that Jury Duty is horrible, or anything, but yes, it does mess up my routines.  And I was just chatting about that very thing over at my Musings Post.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy changing things up…I actually do.  But I want it to be my choice!  Yes, I’ve ranted about waiting on other people’s schedules, having my routines rearranged by the needs of others…and I know that my need to choose what I do with my days is very important to me.

So…heavy sigh.  Let’s hope for the best.

Meanwhile, I was checking my TBR stacks, for my Mt. TBR Challenge. I have pledged to read 36 books this year that I purchased before 2014, including e-books.  I’ve done pretty well, having finished 26 of them so far.  I went to my pages of Book Purchases, and I have seven books unread that I purchased before this year:  Two books in 2011; one book in 2012; and four books in 2013.  So, strangely enough, I won’t make the number even if I read all of these.

But then I remembered the REALLY old stack that isn’t on this blog:  Books Purchased Before 2009, when I started the blog.  And there are seven of them!  Yay!  So I picked out three and stacked them on my coffee table/trunk.

I don’t even want to talk about the books that I have purchased THIS year so far that I haven’t read.  Am I crazy? 

The only books I read in a timely manner are the review books.  I guess that’s good, though.  What are your thoughts on your TBR Stacks?

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Here are the new (unread) print books (front row) that I purchased this year…but before you are impressed, this does not include, of course, all the many books on Sparky. 

 

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Books on Sparky:  52 Unread Books Purchased This Year!

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CURL UP WITH BOOKS, MOVIES, & OUR ROUTINES

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If you have something to muse or rant about, head on over to Should Be Reading and join in.

Possible topics:

Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

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Recently I downloaded two books that I hadn’t even considered buying or reading…because they had been made into movies.  And I LOVE movies.

Yes, I love books, but books made into movies are my go-to thing.

If I Stay (click for review)was a book that left me sighing and weeping a little.  But the movie, which I saw yesterday, even more so.  To find out more about WHY, check out my Sunday Potpourri post.

Yesterday was my day off the grid.  Very little reading…and binging on movies.  After seeing If I Stay at the theater, I went home and watched a movie called At Middleton.  Loved it!

 

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I had noticed this title On Demand, but hadn’t watched it…but then my daughter kept urging me to do so, saying she was sure I’d love it.  Does that girl know me, or what?

I watched it On Demand…but then recorded it later last night, after noticing it on Starz.  I want to be able to watch it again…and you never know about On Demand.  Some of those movies hang around, and others disappear quickly.

I used to buy DVDs for everything…and you can tell by my DVD shelves…I have more than 800 movies there, and that doesn’t count the few VCR tapes that I still have!

Here’s a brief glimpse of a portion of the shelves that extend the length of the hallway.

 

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My obsessions (which I prefer to call collections) are numerous, but recently I’ve been purging my bookshelves.  They are overflowing again, even though my habit nowadays is to download new books to Sparky.

But there are those giveaways and those Vine review books!

Right now I’m reading a Vine book called Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang, from Vine.  In some ways, it is reminiscent of If I Stay, as the girl in the story has also been in a horrendous accident and is lying in a hospital bed, while the world (and her world in the past) swirl around her.

But how she got there is very different.

 

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Earlier today, I read a lovely post by Nose Graze, a blog I recently started following.  She talks about her routines and how much she loves them.

And I could definitely relate.  Even though mine is different, the similarities exist in the security of having something real and secure in our worlds…something that we look forward to in our days.

What has your day been like so far?  Your week?  Do you savor the routines, or do you like playing it by ear?

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REVIEW: WHISKEY BEACH, BY NORA ROBERTS

91vtD4nQq6L._SL1500_Eli Landon has come back to Bluff House in Whiskey Beach, beaten down and troubled after a traumatic year in Boston. His grandmother Hester, who has lived in the home for years, is recuperating in Boston after a fall one night that left her without her memories of what had transpired.

The big old house is filled with sentimental objects and reminders of the family legacy. Abra Walsh, his grandmother’s housekeeper, has taken on the project of helping Eli recover from his horrendous year, and her little reminders of healthy living in the form of post-its are amusing and delightful. Will a special connection develop between these two?

What Eli must try to piece together is what really happened to his wife Lindsay, who was found murdered in their Back Bay home. One bulldog cop named Wolfe is sure that Eli killed her, but neither he nor the DA have been able to make a case. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t do it, is Wolfe’s line of thought.

Starting over in Whiskey Beach will become complicated by some troubling events that happen soon after Eli’s return. A break-in, an assault on Abra, a P.I. who is investigating Eli, and then the death of that same P.I.

And who is digging trenches in the Bluff House basement? What is the truth behind the legend of Esmeralda’s Dowry, a supposedly buried treasure? Are all these events somehow connected? And what long buried secrets will be unearthed?

Whiskey Beach is a gorgeously written tale that wrapped itself around this reader, reeling me in with each page, wondering about the mysteries while enjoying the interaction between the characters. The settings, and most especially the gorgeous Bluff House, with its nooks and crannies and secret passages, that felt like another character, made me want to savor the moments in this story. I also enjoyed the historical references to Prohibition days as they related to the whiskey barons in this story. Recommended for those who enjoy romantic suspense. I didn’t have everything figured out before the end, but I liked that I correctly guessed some of the plot twists and turns. 5.0 stars.

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

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Welcome to another Thursday!  And if you are in the mood to rant, or just share your thoughts about what is fabulous in your life, check out Bookishly Boisterous and join in the fun.

I started to write about the new posting system here at Word Press, but then felt childishly stupid for how I hate when a blogging platform changes things up.  If it isn’t broken, why fix it?  I’ve been perfectly happy with how it all worked up until now!

Do you ever feel that way about life in general?  And yes, change is the one true constant, but sometimes it can be so frustrating.  Like over at Facebook, they changed the format on the “Like” pages, and when you comment, it appears in another section (Posts to Page).

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After many years of working for a bureaucratic organization, I am all too familiar with change, the only thing you can count on in that world.

Most of the time I can roll with it, but sometimes it is just too irritating.  Like the little changes here at Word Press or at Facebook.

Now, heavy sigh!  On to more positive things.

I have read three fabulous books this week so far.  I’m on a roll!

The Wrong Girl, by Hank Phillippi Ryan (click for my review) was a page turner that literally kept me up at night.  It all started with one young woman in search of her birth mother.  Great characters, and it is part of a series.  This one is Book Two, but I didn’t feel lost in the shuffle.

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Then there was Belzhar, (click to my review), a book that I wasn’t even sure I would enjoy…but surprise!  I did.

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And finally, the best of them all:  The Furies, (again, click!) a psychological thriller that had me guessing at every turn.  A grief-stricken woman starting over….and a group of troubled teens.

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Since these wonderful books have made my life enjoyable the last couple of days, I guess I can deal with the changes here and elsewhere.  For now.

What has your week been like?  Come on by and let’s chat.

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