CURL UP…AND LET’S TAKE A LOOK BACK…

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Looking back, checking to see what I was thinking and feeling during a particular time period, is one of my favorite blogging activities.  Today I looked back two years ago, to February 2015 and my review of The Girl on the Train.  Remember that one?

You will see, if you check it out, that I loved it.  And later, I loved the movie, which is now available on Amazon Prime Videos.  I will be watching it…again!

I saw it twice at the theater, once alone and another time with my granddaughter.  She and I often enjoy some of the same movies.  We’ve watched White Oleander and Erin Brockovich too many times to count.

 

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I used to buy the DVDs of favorite movies, but now, with Amazon Prime, I can buy them on the site for less than the cost of the DVD.  So that’s what I do.  Sometimes they are free!

Speaking of Prime..and Netflix...and Hulu, I do enjoy visiting those sites, and haven’t been there in at least a week…but now that some of my favorite TV shows are back from hiatus, I tend to save those places for nights or weekends when nothing else is on.

Tonight it’s This Is Us, one of my favorites of the new season.  The actor, below, was a fan fave on The Young and the Restless…and those of us sad to see him go can now enjoy him on this show. (Hey, that sort of rhymed!  LOL).   Here is super-hot Justin Hartley…

 

 

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What do you enjoy, in movies, TV, or even in books?  Do you find yourself gravitating to a certain kind of reading or viewing?

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REVIEW: THE ORPHAN’S TALE, BY PAM JENOFF

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In Paris, at an exhibit celebrating Two-Hundred Years of Circus Magic, an old woman is searching a hiding place within a train car.

Flashback to 1940s Germany, and The Orphan’s Tale takes the reader through the alternating stories of two women: one, renamed Astrid Sorrell, a Jewish woman who was a member of a performing circus family, now lost to her; and the other, a young Dutch girl whose family cast her out when she got pregnant.

Their lives intertwine in a circus. The Dutch girl, Noa Weil, is found in the snow, almost frozen to death, clutching a young infant, whom she calls Theo. She told those who found her that he was her brother. She didn’t know them well enough to reveal how she came upon a boxcar of dying Jewish babies, and how she reached out to the one she could save.

Herr Neuhoff, the owner of a circus family, has taken in Astrid (formerly named Ingrid), whom he is protecting after her Nazi officer husband threw her out. He also takes in Noa, with the understanding that Astrid will train her to be an aerialist.

What an emotional tale! I loved getting to know Astrid and Noa, and watching the bonds between them develop and grow stronger. They seemed like enemies at first, and they certainly did not trust one another. But as they came to depend upon each other through their acts, they grew closer, finally beginning to share their secrets. Over the short time they were together in the circus, they faced constant and ever-present danger, never knowing when disaster would strike. The danger always hovered nearby from the Nazi officers, yet, despite it all, they held onto a little hope. Of somehow escaping, or finally discovering a way to have freedom in the circus world they had come to know and love.

Will Astrid finally find a way to escape? What about Noa, and her chance to be with Luc, the mayor’s son, with whom she has developed a connection? Will she take the chance, or will she cling to Astrid, whom she now has come to depend on? What about Theo? What surprising events transpire that will change everything?

Their sacrifices and bravery kept me turning the pages, wondering what would happen…and, ultimately, I wanted to know the identity of that old woman we met in the prologue, and what she was hoping to find in that train car? I cried as the story drew to a close, from sadness, and also from joy at the hard-won victories. Definitely a 5 star read for me.

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REVIEW: THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10, BY RUTH WARE

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When Laura (Lo) Blacklock’s basement apartment is broken into, while she is there, she is frightened for her life. But when the intruder finally leaves, and all she has lost is her handbag and its contents, including her phone, she should be grateful. But she is terrified, claustrophobic, and shaky.

So why would she agree to go on a cruise for her magazine, Velocity? A cruise might be the last place someone like her would go. But she does.

Her boyfriend Judah is headed to Moscow for his work, but he is not sure she should go either. Set in London, the story takes us next to the ship.

The Aurora Borealis is on its maiden voyage, headed to the Northern Lights…and it is a beautiful, yet very small ship. Activities are planned for every moment of each day…but Lo is still having trouble sleeping. So it is not surprising that she awakens quickly when she hears a sound…like a big splash, followed by a scream.

But none of the crew are giving her any credibility when she tells her tale, not even when she says that earlier she had met a woman in Cabin 10, and had borrowed some mascara. She even shows them the wand. Nilsson, the captain’s assistant, who insists that there is no guest in Cabin 10 and there never has been, seems especially condescending, suggesting she might have been drunk…and then mentioning the medications she is on. How does he know?

The Woman in Cabin 10 was a riveting tale that kept me hanging on by a thread as it catapulted from one strange event to another. Narrated in Lo’s first person voice, we see the other passengers from her perspective. They all seemed untrustworthy, including the owners, Lord and Lady Bullmer. Anne Bulmer looked like she was on death’s door, and apparently was a cancer patient. Richard Bullmer was especially gregarious, but that would not be unusual. Yet at this point, everyone seems suspicious.

Others include people Lo has met before, like Ben Howard and Tina West. Ben was a former lover, years ago, so she doesn’t think she can really trust him. Tina has a reputation for pushing her way to the top.

Throughout the tale, we suspect everyone on the ship, and then, as stranger events unfold, we are not sure that Lo is going to survive.

An alternate narration includes e-mails and news accounts suggesting something going on behind the scenes back in London, something that does not bode well for Lo.

The denouement, followed by an unexpected tidbit at the end, was stunning…and left me feeling that I could finally let out the breath I had been holding. 5 stars.

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INTRODUCING THE TBR JAR & MY PLAN….

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Now that January 2017 has arrived, we can get down to the business of wiping out the TBR piles.  Or at least whittling down the numbers.

Some bloggers use a TBR Jar…and I’ve been studying the receptacles around my house.  I settled on the little red container above.  It isn’t exactly a jar, but I like it…and it will serve the purpose.  Plus…it is bright enough that I won’t forget to pull book titles from it.

I still have some unread books from 2014, if you can believe that!  I counted them tonight, and not counting the DNFs that are already gone from the list, there are 21 remaining unread books.

Let’s look at 2015.  Using the same criteria, I found 14 unread books there.

And the first half of 2016, the part that doesn’t count for my new Read the Books You Buy Challenge:  there are 22 books.

Fifty-seven dusty old TBR books….not polished enough to make the cut of the 2017 Challenge.  So into the jar those titles go…and I will try to draw from it each week.  At least one of the oldies should come out every week, right?

We’ll see how that goes.

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Currently I am reading one of those old books from 2014:  Desolation Row, by Kay Kendall.  I’m enjoying it so far.  Why did I wait so long?

 

 

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Today I finished a book that counts for the new Read the Books You Buy Challenge:

The Sleeping Beauty Murder (e-book), by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke (click for my review).  This was my First Book of 2017, already finished.

 

 

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Do you have plans for your TBR pile this year?  Are you enthused and rarin’ to go?  Please share.

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A YEAR-END LOOK AT MY READING….

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Hello, Bloggers!  It is time to talk about the past month…and the year.  December was a great month of reading, with a total of seventeen books.  To be fair, though, two were novellas.

Here are some other totals:

167 BOOKS READ IN 2016:

100 of those were purchased books that I read for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge: books I bought between June 2015-December 2016

40 of the books were review books

27 books were a mix of older books that I had purchased

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Take a peek at my December reading; click the titles below to read my reviews.

 

DECEMBER 2016:

1.4th Man, The (e-book, short story), by Lisa Gardner – 44 pages – 12/3/16 – (NetGalley – 1/3/16)

2.Breakfast at Tiffany’s (e-book), by Truman Capote – 178 pages – (literary fiction) – 12/23/16

3.Dollhouse, The (e-book), by Fiona Davis – 289 pages – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 12/16/16

4.Girl Before, The (e-book), by J. P. Delaney – 352 pages – (psychological thriller) – (NetGalley – 1/24/17)

5.In a Dark, Dark Wood (e-book), by Ruth Ware – 337 pages – (thriller) – 12/5/16

6.In Her Wake (e-book), by Amanda Jennings – 320 pages – (psychological thriller) – 12/7/16

7.I See You, by Clare Mackintosh – 374 pages – (thriller) – 12/21/16 – (Amazon Vine)

8.Last Night at the Viper Room (e-book), by Gavin Edwards – 237 pages – (nonfiction) – 12/27/16

9.Little Deaths, by Emma Flint – 292 pages – (mystery) – 12/4/16 – (Amazon Vine)

10.Mothers, The (e-book), by Brit Bennett – 275 pages – (literary fiction) – 12/15/16

11.Premonition, The (e-book, short story, prequel), by Chris Bohjalian – 44 pages – (suspense) – 12/11/16

12.Scandal in Skibbereen (e-book, County Cork #2), by Sheila Connolly – 294 pages – (cozy mystery) – 12/18/16

13.Sleepwalker, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian – 304 pages – (suspense thriller) – 12/19/16 – (NetGalley – 1/10/17)

14.Sting (e-book), by Sandra Brown – 408 pages – (suspense thriller) – 12/2/16

15.Sweet Lamb of Heaven (e-book), by Lydia Millet – 256 pages – (literary fiction) – 12/13/16

16.Things We Wish Were True, The (e-book), by Marybeth M. Whalen – 278 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 12/25/16 (Kindle Prime Freebie)

17. When All the Girls Have Gone (e-book), by Jayne Ann Krentz – 331 pages – (suspense/romantic suspense) – 12/9/16

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN DECEMBER 2016:         17

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN DECEMBER 2016:    4,585

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                     167

FAVORITE FICTION:  (Click Cover for My Review)

 

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REVIEW: THE GIRL BEFORE, BY J. P. DELANEY

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Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer the ad, the consequences are devastating.

Set in London, The Girl Before offers an intriguing look at how one architect sets out to control who lives in an unusual house that he has designed, and what he will do to make sure his vision is realized.

But what kind of vision would require such obsessiveness? Can Emma Matthews, whose tenure at One Folgate Street came first in our story, find what she is looking for? How will living there alter her life, and change her relationship with Simon? What will Simon do after she decides she wants him out of her life?

In the present, Jane Cavendish is luxuriating in the opportunity to start over after the devastating loss of her infant daughter, just days before her birth. She hopes that the simple, minimalist lifestyle in this new residence will heal her wounds.

But as she becomes aware of some disturbing connections between her and the previous tenant, she will have to reexamine what she thought was best for her life.

The tale alternates between the two narrators, and it doesn’t take any time at all to realize that nothing good can come of this new lifestyle. Hovering overhead is a dark sense of foreboding, making it impossible to stop reading. But who was evil, in this tale, and who was simply misunderstood? How would Jane’s decision to find out about the tragedy Emma suffered change her own destiny?

Halfway through the pages, I had moments of confusion, as the stories told alternately by Emma and Jane were so similar that I had to check twice at the chapter headings to know whose voice I was reading. Soon everything seemed to right itself and I was immersed once again.

In the end, I was not completely surprised by the unveiling of the final secrets….but there was still an unexpected denouement. 4.5 stars.

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***I received my copy of the e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

2016 REVIEW BOOKS: CHECK MY PROGRESS!

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What did my Review Books Stack look like in 2016?  Check them out below.  There were 48 books received for review this year…and only 7 remain unread.  They are only unread because their release dates are in February, March, and May.

Check them out….and the ones I’ve finished are linked to their reviews.

 

JANUARY 2016:

1.   After She’s Gone, by Lisa Jackson (Vine)

2.  Don’t You Cry (e-book), by Mary Kubica (NetGalley – 5/17)

3.   Girls in the Garden, The (e-book), by Lisa Jewell (NetGalley – 6/7)

4.  Good Liar, The, by Nicholas Searle (Amazon Vine)

5.  Miller’s Valley (e-book), by Anna Quindlen (NetGalley – 4/5)

6.  Multiple Listings (e-book), by Tracy McMillan (NetGalley – 3/8)

7.   No One Knows (e-book), by J. T. Ellison (NetGalley – 3/22)

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FEBRUARY 2016:

1.  A Girl’s Guide to Moving On, by Debbie Macomber – (Amazon Vine)

2.   Girls, The (e-book), by Emma Cline – (NetGalley – 6/14)

3.  Where I Lost Her (e-book), by T. Greenwood – (NetGalley – 2/23)

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MARCH 2016:

1.  Children, The (e-book), by Ann Leary – (NetGalley – 5/24)

2.   Most Wanted (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NetGalley – 4/12)

3.   Perfect Neighbors, The (e-book),  by Sarah Pekkanen (NetGalley – 7/5)

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APRIL 2016:

1.  Cruel Beautiful World (e-book), by Caroline Leavitt (NetGalley – 10/4)

2.  June, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (Amazon Vine)

3.   Mother Knows Best,  by Karen MacInerney – (Amazon Vine)

4.   Small Great Things (e-book), by Jodi Picoult – (NetGalley – 10/11)

5.   Three-Martini Lunch, by Suzanne Rindell –(Amazon Vine)

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MAY 2016:

1.   All the Missing Girls (e-book), by Megan Miranda – (NetGalley – 6/28/16)

2.  I Almost Forgot About You, by Terry McMillan – (Amazon Vine)

3.  Ink & Bone (e-book), by Lisa Unger (NetGalley – 6/7)

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JUNE 2016:

1.  All Is Not Forgotten (e-book), by Wendy Walker – (NetGalley – 7/12)

2.  Beach Blues, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Request)

3.  Beauty of the End, The, by Debbie Howells (Amazon Vine)

4.  Paris Runaway (e-book), by Paulita Kincer (Author Review Book)

5.  Perfect Girl, The, by Gilly MacMillan (Amazon Vine)

6.  Tuesday Nights in 1980, by Molly Prentiss (Amazon Vine)

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JULY 2016:

1.Couple Next Door, The (e-book), by Shari Lapena (NetGalley – 8/23)

2.Damaged (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline (NetGalley – 8/16)

3.Falling, by Jane Green (Amazon Vine)

4.Leave Me (e-book), by Gayle Forman (NetGalley – 9/6)

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AUGUST 2016:

1. Faithful (e-book), by Alice Hoffman (NetGalley – 11/1)

2. Girl on the Run, by Daryl Wood Gerber (Author Review Request)

3.  Untethered, by Julie Lawson Timmer (Amazon Vine)

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SEPTEMBER 2016:

1.A Poisonous Journey (e-book), by Malia Zaidi DNF

2.Almost Missed You (e-book), by Jessica Strawser (NetGalley – 3/28/17)

3. Fractured, by Catherine McKenzie – Amazon Vine

4.Girl Before, The (e-book), by J. P. Delaney (NetGalley – 1/24/17)

5. Never Let You Go (e-book), by Chevy Stevens – (NetGalley – 3/14/17)

6. Trophy Child, The (e-book), by Paula Daly – (NetGalley – 3/7/17)

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OCTOBER 2016:

1. Always (e-book), by Sarah Jio – (NetGalley – 2/7/17)

2.  Sleepwalker, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian – (NetGalley – 1/10/17)

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NOVEMBER 2016:

1. 4th Man, The (e-book), short story, by Lisa Gardner (NetGalley – 1/3/17)

2. Little Deaths, by Emma Flint (Amazon Vine)

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DECEMBER 2016:

1.Claiming Noah, by Amanda Ortlepp (Amazon Vine)

2. It Happens All the Time (e-book), by Amy Hatvany –(NetGalley – 3/28/17)

3.I See You, by Clare Macintosh (Amazon Vine)

4.Perfect Stranger, The (e-book), by Megan Miranda (NetGalley – 5/16/17)

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