REVIEW: MANHATTAN BEACH, BY JENNIFER EGAN

 

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

 

My Thoughts: Our multiple narrators take us back and forth in time, centering on the 1930s and 40s.

Anna Kerrigan was twelve years old when we first meet her, but then time moved ahead and we see her after the loss of her father to mysterious circumstances…and how she meets up once again with Dexter Styles, who is a vivid memory of a time on the beach with her father.

The war years reveal the ways in which women were dismissed, and how hard Anna had to fight to get some of the things she wanted. Anna was a strong character struggling against the norms of the times, and experiencing pushback from the men around her.

The disabilities of Anna’s sister Lydia informed her life in the early years, and the moments would leave their mark of pain and loss.

What would ultimately fill in the gaps in Anna’s life? How would she make some crucial discoveries as she tries to create her niche in the world?

Manhattan Beach had some promising moments, but just when I would start to connect with a character, we would switch to another one…and stay away for a while. Back again, picking up with the previous characters, it took more time to fall into that character’s perspective. The book was too long and too erratic for me. I was disappointed, and kept trying to love the book…without success. Beautiful writing, with some interesting characters. 3.5 stars for me.

***

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REVIEW BOOKS 2018: CHECK MY PROGRESS!

This year as brought many tantalizing review books. Below, check out this year’s bounty.  Click on the links to see the reviews I’ve completed.  The others have not been read yet.

 

JANUARY 2018:

1.After Anna (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NG-4/10)

2.Alternate Side (e-book), by Anna Quindlen (NG-3/20)

3.Family Next Door, The (e-book), by Sally Hepworth (NG-3/6)

4.Flight Attendant, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian (NG – 3/13)

5.Not That I Could Tell (e-book), by Jessica Strawser – (NG-3/27)

6.Other People’s Houses (e-book), by Abbi Waxman (NG-4/3)

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FEBRUARY 2018:

1.Before and Again (e-book), by Barbara Delinsky (NG- 6/26)

2.High Tide Club, The (e-book), by Mary Kay Andrews – (NG-5/8/18)

3.Paris Ever After (e-book), KSR Burns (NG – 5/1/18)

***

MARCH 2018:

1.How to Walk Away (e-book), by Katherine Center – (NG-5/15/18)

2.Our House (e-book), by Louise Candlish (NG -8/7/18)

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APRIL 2018:

1.Beach Bliss, by Joanne DeMaio – (Author Review Request)

2.Believe Me (e-book), by J. P. Delaney (NG – 7/24/18)

3.Bring Me Back (e-book), by B. A. Paris – (NG – 6/19/18)

4.Dream Daughter, The (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – (NG-10-2-18)

5.Go Ask Fannie, by Elisabeth Hyde – (Vine Review)

6.Lies (e-book), by T. M. Logan – (NG – 9/11/18)

7.Not Her Daughter (e-book), by Rea Frey (NG – 8/21/18)

8.Shadow Dancing (e-book, Country Club Murders), by Julie Mulhern – (NG – 6/19)

***

MAY 2018:

1.Castaway Cottage, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Review Request)

2.Feared (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NG – 8/14/18)

3.Lying in Wait (e-book), by Liz Nugent – (NG – 6/12/18)

4.Nothing Forgotten, by Jessica Levine (Author Review Request)

5.When the Lights Go Out (e-book), by Mary Kubica – (NG-9/4/18)

***

What has your year brought?  Are you enjoying your books?

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ANOTHER MONTH BITES THE DUST….MONTHLY WRAP-UP

How did my Bookworm’s Journey fare in May 2018?   I didn’t read quite as many books, but there were some really good ones.  Check over at Book Date, to see what others are sharing.

My Favorite for the Month:

 

My Genres are surprisingly balanced…again.

My Genres:

     Contemporary Fiction:  4

     Mysteries/Thrillers:  4

     Literary Fiction:  3

     Nonfiction:  1

***

Here are the books I read and reviewed.  Click titles to check out my reviews.

MAY 2018:

1.Beach Bliss, by Joanne DeMaio – (354 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/21/18 – (Author Review Request)

2.Before I Let You Go (e-book), by Kelly Rimmer – (384 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/12/18

3.Every Note Played (e-book), by Lisa Genova – (321 pages) – (literary fiction) – 5/17/18)

4.Female Persuasion, The (e-book), by Meg Wolitzer – (464 pages) – (literary fiction) – 5/9/18

5.Garden of Small Beginnings, The (e-book), by Abbi Waxman – (358 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/14/18

6.Gunners, The (e-book), by Rebecca Kauffman – (234 pages) – (literary fiction) 5/30/18

7.How To Walk Away (e-book), by Katherine Center – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/2/18 – (NG – 5/15/18)

8.I Am I Am I Am (e-book), by Maggie O’Farrell (304 pages) – (memoir) – 5/24/18

9.Lying in Wait (e-book), by Liz Nugent – (320 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 5/26/18 – (NG – 6/12/18)

10.New Neighbors, The (e-book), by Simon Lelic – (328 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 5/6/18

11.Other Mother, The (e-book), by Carol Goodman – (321 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 5/4/18

12.Perfect Mother, The (e-book), by Aimee Molloy – (336 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 5/22/18

***

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN MAY 2018:        12

NUMBER OF PAGES READ MAY 2018:               4,044

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                               65

***

How did your journey end?  What did you discover about your choices?

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BOOK REVIEW: I AM I AM I AM, BY MAGGIE O’FARRELL

 

I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter–for whom this book was written–from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.

Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O’Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface, and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself.

My Thoughts: From a brilliant writer comes this beautiful memoir that kept me turning pages and astonished at everything coming forth. I Am I Am I Am reads like fiction, as surely these life moments could not possibly be real.

The author’s own near misses with death are revealed in an anecdotal style, going back and forth in time in a non-linear fashion, and each sequence of events reveals the intensity of those moments in an unforgettable narrative.

From grave illnesses to dreadful accidents, from challenges in her pregnancies to the horrific life-threatening condition of one of her daughters, we are astounded by the overwhelming odds she has faced. But instead of a “poor me” reaction, she gives us her gratitude and the overwhelming fortune she has had to still be alive, and for her daughter to have come through these experiences, also a survivor.

A memorable story that reminds us of all of life’s blessings, even in the face of adversities. 5 stars.

***

ADDING TO MY SHELVES…

Halfway through May, I am amazed at the books I am reading.  I usually read thrillers, but last month, I mixed things up a bit.  I’m loving the variety!

I also started borrowing books from the library, which cut down on my “click to buy” activity.

Here is what my book “purchases” pages looked like in April and May (so far):

APRIL 2018:

1.Before I Let You Go (e-book), by Kelly Rimmer

2.Book Club, The (e-book), by Mary Alice Monroe

3.Female Persuasion, The (e-book), by Meg Wolitzer

4.New Neighbors, The (e-book), by Simon Lelic

5.Tangerine (e-book), by Christine Mangan

6.True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness:  A Feminist Coming of Age (e-book), by Christine Lahti

***

MAY 2018:

1.My Ex-Life (e-book), by Stephen McCauley

2.Perfect Mother, The (e-book), by Aimee Molloy

3.Smell of Other People’s Houses, The (e-book), by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

***

In previous months, I purchased 14 books in January; 13 books in February; and 9 books in March.  My dip in purchases has a lot to do with my library borrowing.  I also relied some on review ARCs:

I received 8 review books in April and 3 in May so far.

***

At my other blogs: I am sharing bookish and not so bookish thoughts at my An Interior Journey site.  Today I wrote my post for tomorrow…and saved the draft.  Now I won’t have to struggle to come up with my activities for the week when it is time to post it.

Sometimes Wednesday nights find me scratching my head, wondering what, if anything, I had done that I could turn into a post! 

I’ve done this before:  written a post and saved the draft, so I’m ready to go when the post is due.  I don’t schedule my posts, though, as I don’t really trust the system (LOL), plus I might want to add something on the actual day of the post.

***

What books are you curling up with this week?  Are you struggling with the acquisition of your reading material?

***

HELLO, MAY! CHECK OUT MY APRIL READING…

Another month bites the dust!  My bookworm’s journey is traveling down a great path, with lots of wonderful book discoveries.  Check in at Book Date, to see how others are doing.

Genres:

     Mystery/Thrillers – 5

     Contemporary/Historical Fiction – 6

     Nonfiction/Memoir – 2

 

Favorite Read for the Month:

Check on my titles to read my reviews:

APRIL 2018:

1.A Nantucket Wedding (e-book), by Nancy Thayer – (300 pages) – (contemporary romance) – 4/17/18

2.A Turn for the Bad (e-book, County Cork Mystery #4), by Sheila Connolly – (294 pages) – (cozy mystery) – 4/7/18

3.Darkness Gathers, The (e-book), by Lisa Unger – (338 pages) – (thriller) – 4/10/18

4.Go Ask Fannie, by Elisabeth Hyde – (291 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – (Amazon Vine) – 4/12/18

5.High Tide Club, The (e-book), by Mary Kay Andrews – (480 pages) – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 4/21/18 -(NG-5/8/18)

6.Let Me Lie (e-book), by Clare Mackintosh – (395 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 4/24/18

7.Paper Ghosts (e-book), by Julia Heaberlin – (368 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 4/27/18 – (NG-5/15/18)

8.Paris Ever After (e-book), by K.S.R. Burns (260 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 4/15/18 – (NG – 5/1/18)

9.Saints for All Occasions (e-book), by J. Courtney Sullivan – (353 pages) – (historical fiction) – 4/6/18

10.Sisters Like Us (e-book), by Susan Mallery – (432 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 4/30/18

11.Sometimes I Lie (e-book), by Alice Feeney – (264 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 4/3/18

12.True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness (e-book), by Christine Lahti – (224 pages) – (memoir) – 4/18/18

13.Unexpected Mother, The (e-book), by Susan A. Ring – (301 pages) – (nonfiction/memoir) – 4/14/18

***

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN APRIL 2018:        13

NUMBER OF PAGES READ APRIL 2018:              4,300

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                               53

***

REVIEW: THE HIGH TIDE CLUB, BY MARY KAY ANDREWS

 

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.

Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.

My Thoughts: The High Tide Club is a book about friendships, secrets, and the things that happen to tear friends apart.

Brooke, a young lawyer who left a practice in Savannah to set up her own office in St. Ann’s, is struggling to raise her three-year-old son; she has secrets of her own, and keeps them close. When she gets the call from Josephine, she is reluctant to get involved. Especially when she realizes that one of Josephine’s old friends was her own grandmother.

The story goes back and forth in time, with narrators in the 1940s and in the present. Just when Josephine finally has some of the descendants of her old friends around her, telling her story, she dies unexpectedly. Although at ninety-nine, with a terminal illness, it could have happened at any time.

Because of her ill health and age, Josephine’s story unfolded very slowly, in bits and pieces, which frustrated the listeners. If only she had held on one more day!

How did the skinny dipping and occasional pranks change into big secrets and mysteries? What really happened back then? With Josephine gone, how would the rest of the story unfold? How does the discovery of old letters add to the mystery?

I enjoyed the characters and with each turn of a page, I was eager to find out what really happened. So many unexpected twists came at them, and none of the descendants could have seen any of them coming. 4.5 stars.


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

REVIEW: TRUE STORIES FROM AN UNRELIABLE EYEWITNESS, BY CHRISTINE LAHTI

 

A fiercely intelligent, hilarious, and deeply feminist collection of interrelated personal stories from Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award–winning actress and director Christine Lahti.

For decades, actress and director Christine Lahti has captivated the hearts and minds of her audience through iconic roles in Chicago Hope, Running on Empty, Housekeeping, And Justice for All, Swing Shift, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, God of Carnage, and The Blacklist. Now, in True Stories from an Unreliable Eyewitness, this acclaimed performer channels her creativity inward to share her own story for the first time on the page.

In this poignant essay collection, Lahti focuses on three major periods of her life: her child-hood, her early journey as an actress and activist, and the realities of her life as a middle-aged woman in Hollywood today. Lahti’s comical and self-deprecating voice shines through in stories such as “Kidnapped” and “Shit Happens,” and she takes a boldly honest look at the painful fissures in her family in pieces such as “Mama Mia” and “Running on Empty.” Taken together, the collection illuminates watershed moments in Lahti’s life, revealing her struggle to maintain integrity, fight her need for perfection, and remain true to her feminist inclinations.

My Thoughts: As a fan of the actress, I’ve enjoyed her humor and her down-to-earth and realistic portrayals of characters I’ve been able to relate to.

In True Stories From an Unreliable Eyewitness, Lahti described how memory is subjective, and that events are sifted through our personal filters. Individual family members would thus have very different memories of events they shared. I had seen this occur in my own family, with siblings experiencing quite different versions of events.

As she talks about growing up in Michigan in the 1950s, I felt a kinship with that picture perfect upbringing that could hide a multitude of frustrations, anxieties, and the quest for perfection.

Topics ranged from the counter-culture to aging, and in each stage of her life, she described her struggles to achieve her goals. In all parts of her journey, she has tried to find her authentic self, and fight against the demands of the male directors who expected sexual favors from female performers, and how sometimes she had to turn down roles that would erode her self-respect.

Back and forth in time, the author takes us along on her journey, sharing heart-felt moments and traumatic family episodes that could destroy someone without her strength and determination.

An engaging book that kept me interested throughout, I am awarding 4.5 stars.

***

MY BOOKISH JOURNEY THROUGH REVIEW BOOKS…

My Bookish World consists of books I purchase, borrow from the library (recently), and ARCs provided by Amazon Vine, Authors, and NetGalley.

Below, note the review books on my stacks for 2018, with links to the reviews of those I’ve read.  (I still have one left over from 2017, Paper Ghosts, by Julia Heaberlin,  which will be released on May 15, 2018).  I’ll be reading it soon!

JANUARY 2018:

1.After Anna (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NG-4/10)

2.Alternate Side (e-book), by Anna Quindlen (NG-3/20)

3.Family Next Door, The (e-book), by Sally Hepworth (NG-3/6)

4.Flight Attendant, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian (NG – 3/13)

5.Not That I Could Tell (e-book), by Jessica Strawser – (NG-3/27)

6.Other People’s Houses (e-book), by Abbi Waxman (NG-4/3)

***

FEBRUARY 2018:

1.Before and Again (e-book), by Barbara Delinsky (NG- 6/26)

2.High Tide Club, The (e-book), by Mary Kay Andrews – (NG-5/8/18)

3.Paris Ever After (e-book), KSR Burns (NG – 5/1/18)

***

MARCH 2018:

1.How to Walk Away (e-book), by Katherine Center – (NG-5/15/18)

2.Our House (e-book), by Louise Candlish (NG -8/7/18)

***

APRIL 2018:

1.Bring Me Back (e-book), by B. A. Paris – (NG – 6/19/18)

2.Dream Daughter (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – (NG-10-2-18)

3.Go Ask Fannie, by Elisabeth Hyde – (Vine Review)

4.Lies (e-book), by T. M. Logan – (NG – 9/11/18)

5.Not Her Daughter (e-book), by Rea Frey (NG – 8/21/18)

6.Shadow Dancing (e-book, Country Club Murders), by Julie Mulhern – (NG – 6/19)

***

Loving my Bookworm Journey!  What does yours look like?

***

REVIEW: THE DARKNESS GATHERS, BY LISA UNGER

 

Fresh from a tour promoting her last case, reclusive true crime writer Lydia Strong receives an anonymous cry for help, begging her to find and protect Tatiana Quinn, “and all the other girls in need of rescue.” Maybe the plea strikes close to her heart; maybe her investigator’s intuition starts buzzing. She takes it on.

But this simple case of a missing teenager soon becomes much more. Someone wants Lydia to drop the case, someone powerful, someone anxious enough to engineer the reappearance of one of Lydia’s first–and most dangerous–adversaries. Now, in addition to tracing the roots of Tatiana’s disappearance on a trail across the country and eventually overseas, Lydia must find the man who wants her dead, his unfinished business from years ago.

My Thoughts: A page turner with strong and intriguing characters, The Darkness Gathers brings the reader the same strength and ingenuity we find in the author’s later novels. As we trail Lydia Strong and her partner Jeffrey Mark in their quest to find a missing girl, we soon realize that so much more is at stake. Especially when so many agencies and individuals are trying to stop them, no matter what.

Following the money turns out to be their best way to uncover the truth and lead to the evil hidden in powerful organizations.

Will Lydia and Jeff find Tatiana? Who is behind her kidnapping? What evil lurks within her family?

Chasing down connections to the Albanian mob, sexual slavery, and snuff films keep their lives on a chaotic path, hurling toward danger in the darkness and the shadows.

As a final horror for the two of them, the release from prison of serial killer Jed McIntyre brings them to a terrifying conflict. This novel was a page turner that was intense and interesting, albeit with a few confusing elements. 4.5 stars.

***