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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JULY IS ENDING…HELLO, AUGUST!

It’s that time again!  One month is ending, and another is beginning.  Check in over at Book Date to see what others have accomplished.

I loved so many of my books this month that it was hard to pick a favorite:

I chose these two books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genres:

      Mysteries/Thrillers – 5

     Contemporary Fiction: 6

     Nonfiction – 1

 

Books Read and Reviewed:  (Click links to my reviews)

JULY 2018:

1.Believe Me (e-book), by J. P. Delaney – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 7/8/18 – (NG – 7/24/18)

2.Castaway Cottage, by Joanne DeMaio – (400 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/16/18 – (Author Review Request)

3.Death of Mrs. Westaway, The (e-book), by Ruth Ware – (384 pages) – (thriller) – 7/21/18

4.Ever After, The (e-book), by Sarah Pekkanen – (273 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/12/18

5.Left:  A Love Story (e-book), by Mary Hogan – (236 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/20/18

6.My Girls, by Todd Fisher – (383 pages) – (memoir) – 7/1/18

7.My (Not So) Perfect Life (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella – (439 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/6/18 – (Library Book)

8.Night Moves (e-book), by Jonathan Kellerman -(397 pages) – (murder mystery) – 7/5/18

9.Our House (e-book), by Louise Candlish – (416 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 7/18/18 – (NG – 8/7)

10.Season of Silver Linings, The, by Christine Nolfi – (273 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/31/18 – (Author Review Request)

11.Sister of Mine (e-book), by Laurie Petrou – (304 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 7/24/18 – (NG-8/7)

12.Tangerine (e-book), by Christine Mangan – (320 pages) – (suspense) – 7/10/18

***

KEEPING TRACK: MY BOOKS PURCHASED & READ

As we reach the end of the month, with more than half the year over, it might be time to look back at my purchases for the year…and evaluate my progress.

I did cut down on spending in some of the months, and I’ve read and reviewed quite a few books from my purchases.  But…overall, here’s how it looks, by month.  To see the overview, click on Books Purchased – 2018.  The books read are linked to the reviews.

 

Books Purchased:                 Books Read & Reviewed:

January:  14                               10

February:  13                             8

March:  9                                      6

April:     6                                       5

May:      7                                       3

June:     9                                       2

July:      10                                    1

Books Purchased in 2018:           68

Books Read & Reviewed from these Purchases:  35

***              

I’ve read books from other years as well, and a few review books along the way.  So my reading totals are not as light as these numbers reveal.  My total books read for the year so far:

88 books, counting the ones I’ve read so far in July.

***

Do you keep track of your purchases?  Do you enjoy taking a look at your progress?  How is your year shaping up so far?

***

   

 

            

REVIEW: SISTER OF MINE, BY LAURIE PETROU

 

Penny and Hattie, orphaned sisters in a small town, are best friends, bound together to the point of knots. But Penny, at the mercy of her brutal husband, is desperate for a fresh start. Willing to do anything for her older sister, Hattie agrees to help. A match is struck and a fire burns Penny’s marriage to the ground. With her husband gone, Penny is free, and the sisters, it seems, get away with murder. But freedom comes at a cost.

More than a year after the fire, a charming young man comes to town. Hattie and Penny quickly bring him into the fold and into their hearts but their love for him threatens the delicate balance. Soon long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid boil over, and the bonds of sisterhood begin to snap. As one little lie grows into the next, the sisters’ secrets will unravel, eroding their lives until only a single, horrible truth remains: You owe me.

My Thoughts: Sisterhood bonds can be sweet and loving, but they can also be tight and destructive. Sister of Mine is a mix of all these ingredients, but with the passage of time, the tight and destructive bonds would be their undoing.

Orphaned and living in a small town, Penny and Hattie Grayson often feel the eyes of the judgers upon them. Sometimes the scrutiny makes Hattie, the younger sister, act out more. She loves the center of attention, and she also enjoys stirring up rivalry with her sister. Their mother nurtured that spark of competition between them, and remembering her reignites it.

What deep, dark secret strengthens the ties between the sisters, and not in a good way? As we immerse ourselves in their story, a slow burn brings the dark secret into the light, and it is only near the end of the book that we fully realize what had happened one dark and dangerous night.

Hattie moved in and out of the home over the years, and each time she left, Penny savored the freedom from her sister’s constant reminders and taunts. The legacy of their secret.

How does adding a man and a child into the mix up the ante for the two of them? Why do some of the more troubled townsfolk continually tug away at the past until everything comes tumbling down?

As I turned the pages of this dark and sinister tale that shined a light on a truly dysfunctional connection, I couldn’t stop reading. Parts of the story were repetitive, but in the end I awarded 4.5 stars.


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

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE OTHER WIFE”

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 a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition:  The Other Wife, a mesmerising psychological thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of today, Michael Robotham, the international bestselling author of THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS.

 

 

 

Beginning:  (Day One)

From the top of Primrose Hill, silhouetted against the arriving day, the spires and domes of London look like the painted backdrop of a Pinewood sound stage waiting for actors to take their places and an unseen director to yell ‘Action‘.

I love this city.  Built upon the ruins of the past, every square foot of it has been used, re-used, flattened, bombed, dismantled, rebuilt and flattened again until the layers of history are like sediments of rock that will one day be picked over by future archaeologists and treasure hunters.

***

Friday 56:  He’s looking for a sympathetic ear, someone who understands the burden of being middle-aged, male, successful, white and married to an attractive wife.  For a moment, we lock eyes and he realises that I’m not the right person and decides to let it go.  He picks up his mug of tea and dunks a biscuit (56%).

***

Synopsis:  Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he discovers sides to his father he never knew – and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

***

Would you keep reading?  Do the snippets reel you in?

***

REVIEW: TANGERINE, BY CHRISTINE MANGAN

 

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

My Thoughts: Set in mid-century Morocco, Tangerine reveals the push and pull between Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason, college friends who parted after a tragic event. Told in their alternating voices, we see the uncertainty between them.

Alice has moved to Tangiers with her husband, John McAllister, hoping to start over. Sadly, however, the marriage is disappointing in many ways. She and John seem to have very different thoughts and feelings about their new surroundings, and they are a bit off-balance, too, because of how they are depending quite a bit on Alice’s trust fund. Perhaps because of the power struggle, John often tries to push Alice out of her comfort zone, encouraging her to be more sociable, but he comes across as a bully.

When Lucy Mason arrives unexpectedly, everything changes between the three of them. Alice hasn’t moved past what happened in Bennington, when they were in their senior year of college. Nothing about those events was ever satisfactorily explained…but Alice has always felt uneasy. She pushes the feelings down, however, and tries to be a good hostess.

What will trigger long-hidden memories and feelings and change the direction between them? What will Lucy do when pushed up against the wall? Will Alice find the courage to do what she needs to do? Or will Lucy manage to out-maneuver her when she senses her own wishes might not be realized?

An intense and twisted tale of obsession that brings the worst kind of betrayal, ending with mistaken identities and lost dreams. There is no happy ending here, and the book kept its grip on me throughout, but I kept hoping for something to change, for someone to finally find a good resolution. In the end, I sighed with relief that I no longer had to guess what might happen. But I definitely wanted a different outcome. 3.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “ALL WE EVER WANTED”

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 a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition:  All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin, in which three very different people must choose between their families and their most deeply held values. . . .

 

 

 

Book Beginning:  (Nina)

It started out as a typical Saturday night.  And by typical, I don’t mean normal in any mainstream American way.  There was no grilling out with the neighbors or going to the movies or doing any of the things I did as a kid.  It was simply typical for what we’d become since Kirk sold his software company, and we went from comfortable to wealthy.  Very wealthy.

***

Friday 56:  I heard more clicking as he mumbled, “What happened Saturday night has nothing to do with being spoiled.  It was just stupid….” His voice trailed off, and I could tell he was only half focused on our conversation.

***

Synopsis:  Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: MY GIRLS, BY TODD FISHER

 

A revelatory and touching tribute to the lives of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds written by the person who knew them best, Todd Fisher’s poignant memoir is filled with moving stories of growing up among Hollywood royalty and illustrated with never-before-seen photos and memorabilia.

In December 2016, the world was shaken by the sudden deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, two unspeakable losses that occurred in less than twenty-four hours. The stunned public turned for solace to Debbie’s only remaining child, Todd Fisher, who somehow retained his grace and composure under the glare of the media spotlight as he struggled with his own overwhelming grief.

The son of “America’s Sweethearts” Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Todd grew up amid the glamorous wealth and pretense of Hollywood. Thanks to his funny, loving, no-nonsense mother, Todd remained down to earth, his own man, but always close to his cherished mom, and to his sister through her meteoric rise to stardom and her struggle with demons that never diminished her humor, talent, or spirit.

Now, Todd shares his heart and his memories of Debbie and Carrie with deeply personal stories from his earliest years to those last unfathomable days. His book, part memoir, part homage, celebrates their legacies through a more intimate, poignant, and often hilarious portrait of these two remarkable women than has ever been revealed before.

With thirty-two pages of never-before-seen photos and memorabilia from his family’s private archives, Todd’s book is a love letter to a sister and a mother, and a gift to countless fans who are mourning the deaths of these two unforgettable stars.

My Thoughts: As a big fan of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and their books and movies, I was eager to read My Girls…and enjoy the numerous photos, many never seen before.

I enjoyed Todd Fisher’s narrative voice, which should not have been surprising, given his family origins. He very creatively added to the stories I have already heard with some of his own…and anecdotally shared more of Carrie’s and Debbie’s, fresh with his perspective.

My plan was to pick up the book, read a few chapters and look at the photos…and then set it aside for another time. Instead I was glued to the pages all day, ignoring the thriller I had started earlier.

I liked that Todd and his “girls” had a great philosophy they had gleaned from Debbie’s parents: “There is no such word as can’t.” Refusing to give up came to be their strength, as there were so many obstacles to overcome along the way, from Debbie’s efforts to overcome financial difficulties caused by her second and third husbands, and Carrie’s constant battles against addiction and the effects of her bipolar disorder. Each of them was there for the others, making the battles winnable. A loving tribute that spotlights a Hollywood family, warts and all, this story earned 5 stars.

***

WRAPPING UP JUNE…

Here we are again…another month has sped by, and it’s time to talk about the books we read and reviewed.  Check in at Book Date to see what others have finished.

I read and reviewed 12 books in June, and I love how diverse they were.

FAVORITE BOOK FOR JUNE

Genres:

      Thrillers & Mysteries/Cozy Mysteries – 5

      Contemporary/Historical Fiction – 5

      Nonfiction – 2

 

Book Sources:

      Author Review Requests/NetGalley Reviews – 3

     Library Books – 3

     My Own Shelves – 6

 

***

My Books for the Month:  Click Titles for My Reviews:

JUNE 2018:

1.Bad Stories, by Steve Almond – (272 pages) – (nonfiction) – 6/1/18

2.Before & Again (e-book), by Barbara Delinsky – (416 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 6/17/18 – (NG – 6/26/18)

3.Bring Her Home (e-book), by David Bell – (427 pages) – (mystery) – 6/22/18

4.Bring Me Back (e-book), by B. A. Paris – (304 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 6/4/18 – (NG-6/19/18)

5.Educated (e-book), by Tara Westover – (335 pages) – (memoir) – 6/19/18

6.Family Gathering, The (e-book, Sullivan’s Crossing #3), by Robyn Carr – (352 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 6/27/18- (Library Book)

7.House Swap, The (e-book), by Rebecca Fleet – (294 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 6/15/18

8.Manhattan Beach (e-book), by Jennifer Egan – (449 pages) – (historical fiction) -6/9/18

9.Nothing Forgotten, by Jessica Levine – (317 pages) – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 6/11/18 – (Author Review Request)

10.Raspberry Danish Murder (e-book), by Joanne Fluke – (362 pages) – (cozy mystery) – 6/29/18

11.Shadow Dancing (e-book, Country Club Murders), by Julie Mulhern – (210 pages ) – (cozy mystery) – 6/2/18 – (NG-6/19/18)

12.Surprise Me (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella – (417 pages) – (contemporary fiction – 6/24/18- (Library Book)

***

What did your month look like?  Come on by and share.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “MY EX-LIFE”

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 a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download:  My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley, a novel that examines how we define home, family, and love. Be prepared to laugh, shed a few tears, and have thoughts of your own ex-life triggered. (Throw pillows optional.)

 

 

 

 

Beginning:  No, it was not the happiest moment of David Hedges’s life.  Soren, his partner of five years, had left him, he’d gotten fat, and somewhere in the midst of that, he’d woken up one day and realized he was no longer in his twenties.  Or his forties.  The last person he expected to hear from was Julie Fiske.

***

Friday 56:  “He’s the kind of man who is at home everywhere, which in this case means Berlin or maybe Tokyo.  Who can remember?”

***

Synopsis:  David Hedges’s life is coming apart at the seams. His job helping San Francisco rich kids get into the colleges of their (parents’) choice is exasperating; his younger boyfriend has left him; and the beloved carriage house he rents is being sold. His solace is a Thai takeout joint that delivers 24/7.

The last person he expects to hear from is Julie Fiske. It’s been decades since they’ve spoken, and he’s relieved to hear she’s recovered from her brief, misguided first marriage. To him.

Julie definitely doesn’t have a problem with marijuana (she’s given it up completely, so it doesn’t matter if she gets stoned almost daily) and the Airbnb she’s running out of her seaside house north of Boston is neither shabby nor illegal. And she has two whole months to come up with the money to buy said house from her second husband before their divorce is finalized. She’d just like David’s help organizing college plans for her 17-year-old daughter.

That would be Mandy. To quote Barry Manilow, Oh Mandy. While she knows she’s smarter than most of the kids in her school, she can’t figure out why she’s making so many incredibly dumb and increasingly dangerous choices?

When David flies east, they find themselves living under the same roof (one David needs to repair). David and Julie pick up exactly where they left off thirty years ago—they’re still best friends who can finish each other’s sentences. But there’s one broken bit between them that no amount of home renovations will fix.

***

I’m intrigued by the excerpts and the premise.  What do you think?

***