SEPTEMBER WRAP-UP: A MONTH OF LOVELY BOOKS…

Another month has flown by so fast, and we are facing down the end of the year.  Check in over at Book Date to see how other bloggers fared.

Here is my month in reading; click the titles to see my reviews. 

My Favorite for the Month:

Genres:

Mysteries/Suspense/Thrillers:   4

Contemporary Fiction:                    4

Literary Fiction:                                   2

Nonfiction:                                             2

 

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SEPTEMBER 2018:

1.Cross Her Heart (e-book), by Sarah Pinborough – (352 pages) – (mystery/suspense) – 9/13/18

2.Dream Daughter, The (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – (384 pages) – (suspense fiction) – (9/10/18) – (NG- 10/2/18)

3.Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (e-book), by Gail Honeyman – (325 pages) – (literary fiction) – 9/4/18 – (Library Book)

4.Fear:  Trump in the White House (e-book), by Bob Woodward – (357 pages) – (nonfiction) – 9/19/18

5.Golden State, The (e-book), by Lydia Kiesling – (304 pages) – 9/14/18

6.Lies We Told, The (e-book), by Camilla Way – (336 pages) – (suspense) – 9/16/18 – (NG – 10/9/18)

7.Lush (e-book), by Kerry Cohen – (240 pages) – (memoir) – 9/8/18

8.Now That You Mention It (e-book), by Kristan Higgins – (464 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/2/18

9.Other Woman, The (e-book), by Sandie Jones – (304 pages) – (contemporary fiction/suspense) – 9/6/18

10.Watching You, by Lisa Jewell – (488 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 9/30/18

11.When Life Gives You Lululemons (e-book), by Lauren Weisberger – (407) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/26/18 – (Library Book)

12.Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties (e-book), by Camille Pagan – (343 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/22/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN SEPTEMBER 2018:    12

NUMBER OF PAGES READ SEPTEMBER 2018:   4,304

BOOKS READ YTD:   115

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REVIEW: WATCHING YOU, BY LISA JEWELL

 

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

 

My Thoughts: From the beginning of Watching You, there is a hint of impropriety and deep dark secrets, and when the handsome and charming Tom Fitzwilliam strides through the town and seems to thrive on the attention he gets, you just know that bad things are going to happen.

The story unfolds in alternating narratives, and slipped into the story are the investigative notes of a detective who is trying to solve a murder case.

I liked that not everyone thought Tom Fitzwilliam was so perfect. Jenna’s mother seemed to have him figured out. Unfortunately, some of her ramblings made others think she was mentally ill, and perhaps she was. But that didn’t necessarily mean that her conclusions were wrong.

Then there is the young girl Jenna, and she wasn’t fooled by Tom, and red flags went up for her when she watched him.

Tom’s son Freddie is also quite the observer. He photographs his subjects, those who interest him.

What will all the watching lead to? What will each of the residents decide about Tom? Could there be secrets from the past that will be revealed in a startling way? Who is the killer and who is the victim? Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author turns it all on its head, and then I thought: But of course! 5 stars.

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A LOOK BACK AT THE JOURNEY…

This blog is one of my favorite spaces to talk about books, from purchases to review books.  When I think back to how it all began, with large stacks of unread books, I realize that others must also enjoy the journey through books, since this site has the most followers of all of mine:  606 as of this week.

I have been determined to borrow more library books and curtail my purchases.  August and September have brought lower numbers of purchases, see below:

 

AUGUST 2018:

1.An Unwanted Guest (e-book), by Shari Lapena

2.Mr. Flood’s Last Resort (e-book), by Jess Kidd

3.Other Woman, The (e-book), by Sandie Jones

4.Pieces of Her (e-book), by Karin Slaughter

5.Three Things About Elsie (e-book), by Joanna Cannon

6.Watching You, by Lisa Jewell

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SEPTEMBER 2018:

1.Cross Her Heart (e-book), by Sarah Pinborough

2.Fear:  Trump in the White House (e-book), by Bob Woodward

3.Girl, Wash Your Face: (e-book), by Rachel Hollis

4.Golden State, The (e-book), by Lydia Kiesling

5.Good Luck with That (e-book), by Kristan Higgins

6.I Know You Know (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan

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Note the links to my reviews, which tell us that I’m also endeavoring to read more of my purchased books.  In each month, I’ve read half of my purchases.

As you study the pages I have added to this site, you’ll see from my About page that this blog was created in October 2009.  Check it out to see what happened to jumpstart this journey.

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What does your journey through books look like?

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REVIEW: FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, BY BOB WOODWARD

 

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.

 

My Thoughts: I will admit that I was devastated by the outcome of the 2016 election. But I was also hoping that, somehow, Trump would surprise us. That we would discover layers of integrity and competence beneath the blustering façade he loved to show the world. His Twitter madness was a sign, to me, though…there were no hidden depths.

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, pulled me in and validated what I was already seeing. As the author revealed interviews and observations that confirmed the chaos behind those doors, I had to keep reading. Was there a ray of hope somewhere?

Instead, as time marched on, the chaos grew, and the staff around the president worked hard to try to manage and contain his worst impulses. They had numerous processes to help keep him on track, since their advice most often fell on deaf ears. He didn’t like to read, he didn’t listen, and he clung to his own belief system, ideas that he had held for many years. He believed that he had good instincts and should follow them, rather than to listen to those with expertise and wisdom. His temper tantrums were often punctuated by damaging Twitter rants, or firing of those who were trying to help him.

His day to day operations showed an unraveling, like a Trump rally on a continuous loop.

Staff complained about how, in his persistence of his ideas, they had to constantly explain to him and justify their positions. In frustration, some said he had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader.

Attorney Dowd fought hard against Trump being interviewed by Mueller, finally resigning over his inability to persuade the president. That issue is still unresolved. These thoughts at the end summed up some major issues:

“In the man and his presidency, Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying ‘Fake News,’ the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president: ‘You’re a f…king liar.’

A brilliant 5 star read that left me frightened, but sometimes hopeful: that perhaps calmer heads would prevail…or at some point, someone could put an end to it all.

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REVIEW: CROSS HER HEART, BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

 

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

My Thoughts: From the first pages of Cross Her Heart, we can sense something that regularly niggles at Lisa, our MC. Some dark secret from the past that she has tucked away carefully, which makes her seem overly obsessive about some things. Her teenage daughter Ava resents how carefully her mother guards her, as if danger lurks.

When her dark past is revealed after photos are shown in the news, we are still not completely sure about those secrets. Throughout the story, I felt there was a lot more to the past; secrets even Lisa kept to herself back then. Some events she doesn’t even remember clearly. As we rapidly turn the pages, going back and forth in time, we learn more about what really happened all those years ago…and what someone is doing to torture Lisa in the present.

Now she must find the secret tormentor, someone she believes is out there, despite the evidence that suggests otherwise. What will Lisa do to finally put the past to rest? How will her BFF Marilyn help her?

I loved how the characters fought for the truth…and for peace with the past. 5 stars.

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CURL UP WITH NEW REVIEW BOOKS!

The other day, I was celebrating the fact that I was on top of my Review ARCs, with only two left.  They are October releases, so I was relaxing into reading from my shelves.

But then, unexpectedly, I got approval for more NG ARCs…and I did have to pause and consider them.  But one was for January 2019 and the other, February 2019.

An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, will be released on January 8, 2019; I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book, so it was a no-brainer to add it to my Kindle (Paige).  My new Kindle is happily gobbling up the books.

“[A] seamless thriller that will keep readers on their toes to the very end…Readers will enjoy the dizzying back-and-forth as they attempt to figure out just who to root for and as the suspense ratchets up to one hell of a conclusion.” —Booklist

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Then I added one that will be released on February 5:

Forget You Know Me, by Jessica Strawser.  I’ve loved some books by this author, so it was an easy add for me.

In her engrossing new novel, Forget You Know Me, Jessica Strawser takes readers deep into an intimate friendship between two women. When one witnesses a shocking incident that should never have been caught on camera, the secrets and lies it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

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The third book I added came along today, from an author I have enjoyed:  Bette Lee Crosby, with the second in the Magnolia Grove series.  Release Date:  October 16, which means I have added another book to the October schedule…but I can do it!

A Year of Extraordinary Moments

From USA Today bestselling author Bette Lee Crosby comes a heartwarming novel about letting go of the past to make way for a brighter future.

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So…my schedule has just gotten busier again, but I’m loving the feeling of more great new books to read!

What do your review shelves look like these days?

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REVIEW: ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, BY GAIL HONEYMAN

 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
 
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

My Thoughts: I had heard such good things about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, so I was not surprised to find myself irresistibly drawn to this socially awkward yet brilliant young woman. Her routines seemed to define her, and I could understand how reassuring they were. She seemingly denied any problems or issues, assuring everyone repeatedly that she was fine. Being alone and apparently friendless was a way to show her strength and her capability.

But along the way, as Eleanor began to long for someone special in her life, she built up a fantasy life around a handsome singer, and started changing her appearance, from hair and makeup to new clothes, to make herself more appealing. She was also becoming friends with Raymond, the somewhat strange IT colleague, and gradually began to join him for lunches, outings, and even parties. She bloomed.

But then something happens that topples her carefully constructed reality…and she has to accept help. At last.

I loved how we learned bits and pieces about her life, through her first person narrative. But she kept most of her secrets close to her vest until finally, through therapy, she could confront the pain and trauma of the past. I loved Eleanor, and wanted to keep reading about her. I am looking forward to the movie. 5 stars.

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HELLO, SEPTEMBER! AUGUST MONTHLY WRAP-UP

Welcome to September…and goodbye to August.  What a great month, and it seemed to fly by.  Head on over to Book Date, to link up with others and their wrap-up posts.

My August fell into these genres:

Mystery/Thrillers – 7

Contemporary Fiction – 3

Literary Fiction – 2

Historical Fiction – 1

Nonfiction – 1

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This month, I read 4 books with more than 400 pages.

My two favorites this past month…and it was hard to choose, as there were so many good ones.

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the books I read; click titles for my reviews:

AUGUST 2018:

1.All Your Perfects (e-book), by Colleen Hoover – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 8/16/18

2.A Noise Downstairs (e-book), by Linwood Barclay – (368 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 8/21/18

3.An Unwanted Guest (e-book), by Shari Lapena – (290 pages) – (murder mystery) – 8/28/18

4.Clock Dance (e-book), by Anne Tyler – (304 pages) – (literary fiction) – 8/7/18

5.Date, The (e-book), by Louise Jensen – (300 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 8/4/18

6.Feared (e-book, Rosato & DiNunzio), by Lisa Scottoline – 400 pages – (legal thriller) – 8/2/18 – (NG-8/14)

7.Growing up Fisher, by Joely Fisher (305 pages) – (memoir) – 8/5/18

8.Lies (e-book), by T. M. Logan – (432 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 8/26/18 – (NG-9/11)

9.Not Her Daughter (e-book), by Rea Frey – (362 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 8/10/18 – (NG – 8/21/18)

10.November Road, by Lou Berney – (299 pages) – (historical fiction) – 8/25/18 – (Amazon Vine)

11.Perfect Couple, The (e-book), by Elin Hilderbrand – (465 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 8/14/18

12.Pieces of Her (e-book), by Karin Slaughter – (480 pages) – (mystery) – 8/31/18

13.When the Lights Go Out (e-book), by Mary Kubica – (336 pages) – (mystery) -8/23/18 – (NG-9/4/18)

14.Whistle in the Dark (e-book), by Emma Healey – (330 pages) – (literary fiction) – 8/18/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN AUGUST 2018:        14

NUMBER OF PAGES READ AUGUST 2018:           4,991

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                 103

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What did your August look like?

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REVIEW: WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, BY MARY KUBICA

 

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

My Thoughts: From the first page of When the Lights Go Out, I thought that I had a good grip on where this story was going. Narrated by two characters, twenty years apart, we slowly learn the story of a mother and a daughter. But the bizarre twists and turns lead us to scratch our heads and ponder everything we thought we knew.

Who is Jessica Sloane? What secrets did her mother, Eden, keep from her, and why? How did Jessica’s grief lead her down some very uncertain pathways? Has Jessica been living with a stolen identity? Was her life a lie…or a strange dream?

As I read, I couldn’t help thinking of movies I’ve seen in which the conclusion shows that the whole story has been a fabrication…or a Twilight Zone of some kind. So I felt stunned. And as if I, too, had been led into a kind of alternate reality, which I then had to interpret and sort through. Until the last sections, I was headed toward a 5 star rating…instead, 4 stars from me.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: GROWING UP FISHER, BY JOELY FISHER

 

Actress, director, entertainer Joely Fisher invites readers backstage, into the intimate world of her career and family with this touching, down-to-earth memoir filled with incredible, candid stories about her life, her famous parents, and how the loss of her unlikely hero, sister Carrie Fisher, ignited the writer in her.

Growing up in an iconic Hollywood Dynasty, Joely Fisher knew a show business career was her destiny. The product of world-famous crooner Eddie Fisher and ’60s sex kitten Connie Stevens, she struggled with her own identity and place in the world on the way to a decades-long career as an acclaimed actress, singer, and director.

Now, Joely shares her unconventional coming of age and stories of the family members and co-stars dearest to her heart, while stripping bare her own misadventures. In Growing Up Fisher, she recalls the beautifully bizarre twist of fate by which she spent a good part of her childhood next door to Debbie Reynolds. She speaks frankly about the realities of Hollywood—the fame and fortune, the constant scrutiny. Throughout, she celebrates the anomaly of a two-decade marriage in the entertainment industry, and the joys and challenges of parenting five children, while dishing on what it takes to survive and thrive in the unrelenting glow of celebrity. She speaks frankly about how the loss of her sister Carrie Fisher became a source of artistic inspiration.

Fisher’s memoir, with never-before-seen photos, will break and warm your heart.

 

My Thoughts: As a fan of Connie Stevens from the 60s, before she married Eddie Fisher, I was also hooked on their beautiful little family. I enjoyed seeing their two daughters who were approximately the same ages as my first two sons. I followed stories of them over the years, but then lost track.

Next, Joely Fisher’s movies and TV appearances caught my eye, as I was also a fan of her older sister Carrie. It was fascinating to me how Debbie Reynolds and Connie Stevens lived next door to each other on the beach at one point, and co-parented their children at times. Like a big blended family, abandoned by the father. Later in her life, Joely reconnected with Eddie, but she was the one who made the first moves. In the end, they were closer than she had thought possible.

Sharing what Growing up Fisher was like, with Eddie gone and Connie as the perky matriarch, I settled in to enjoy the moments and the memories. The photos were great, and I enjoyed learning more about their primary home on Delfern Drive, in Holmby Hills; a home in which they lived…when they didn’t. As money got tight at times, they would lease the home out and live elsewhere, returning when finances were better. At one point, Connie leased the home to the production crew that filmed Carrie Fisher’s movie Postcards from the Edge, and I loved learning this fact that was previously unknown to me.

The story was told in a back and forth fashion, following along to topics like The Fishbowl; Oh My Papa; The Courtship of Eddie’s Daughter; The Apple Doesn’t Fall Apart Very Far from the Tree; Blind Trust; Home; and After Thoughts…to name a few. An enjoyable read: 4 stars.

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