REVIEW: YOUNG JANE YOUNG, BY GABRIELLE ZEVIN

 

Aviva Grossman, an ambitious congressional intern in Florida, makes the mistake of having an affair with her boss–and blogging about it. When the affair comes to light, the beloved congressman doesn’t take the fall. But Aviva does, and her life is over before it hardly begins: slut-shamed, she becomes a late-night talk show punch line, anathema to politics.

She sees no way out but to change her name and move to a remote town in Maine. This time, she tries to be smarter about her life and strives to raise her daughter, Ruby, to be strong and confident. But when, at the urging of others, Aviva decides to run for public office herself, that long-ago mistake trails her via the Internet and catches up–an inescapable scarlet A. In the digital age, the past is never, ever, truly past. And it’s only a matter of time until Ruby finds out who her mother was and is forced to reconcile that person with the one she knows.

My Thoughts: In the beginning of Young Jane Young, we are thrust into the perspective of Rachel Shapiro Grossman, an aging Miami woman recently divorced. When her daughter was younger, she had worried when she and the rest of the world accidentally discovered that she had been having an affair with the Congressman for whom she was an intern. And typically, the Congressman’s life went on. He was not ruined politically; his marriage survived; and Aviva had to come up with another way to move on.

Reinventing herself as Jane Young, she moves to a small town in Maine, where she has her baby girl Ruby. Now we see her new life and how she has found a way to start over.

When Ruby is thirteen, we learn more from her perspective about her quest for answers. Like who is her father? She is precocious and knows how to Google, so it doesn’t take her long to realize that her mother is Aviva Grossman, the infamous intern who slept with a Congressman.

What will Ruby do? How will she deal with what she has learned? Will her investigation cause her to arrive at some erroneous conclusions about her paternity?

In the subsequent chapters, we flash back to Aviva’s early years, which we see unfold from her perspective, and discover some of our own answers to those questions. A delightful read that reminded me of how women pay dearly for their poor choices…and how men seem to sail through theirs. But we also learn that sometimes brave young women can change the course of their lives by boldly reinventing themselves. 5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST”

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 from an author I enjoy:  Fragments of the Lost, by Megan Miranda, is a suspenseful psychological mystery about one girl’s search to uncover the truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s death. Perfect for fans of We Were Liars and 13 Reasons Why.

 

 

Beginning:  (A Blue Door)

There’s no light in the narrow stairway to the third floor.  There’s no handrail, either.  Just wooden steps and plaster walls that were probably added in an attic renovation long ago.  The door above remains shut, but there’s a sliver of light that escapes through the bottom, coming from inside.  He must’ve left the window uncovered.

***

56:  It’s mine.  My grief, my guilt, all of it—it belongs to me, and it’s mine to go through.  I had no idea how possessive I felt over Caleb, even now.  Even though Max probably has more claim to that room, if he wants to make the argument.  But he doesn’t.

***

Synopsis:  Jessa Whitworth knew she didn’t belong in her ex-boyfriend Caleb’s room. But she couldn’t deny that she was everywhere–in his photos, his neatly folded T-shirts, even the butterfly necklace in his jeans pocket . . . the one she gave him for safe keeping on that day.

His mother asked her to pack up his things–even though she blames Jessa for his accident. How could she say no? And maybe, just maybe, it will help her work through the guilt she feels about their final moments together.

But as Jessa begins to box up the pieces of Caleb’s life, they trigger memories that make Jessa realize their past relationship may not be exactly as she remembered. And she starts to question whether she really knew Caleb at all.

Each fragment of his life reveals a new clue that propels Jessa to search for the truth about Caleb’s accident. What really happened on the storm-swept bridge?

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What do you think?  Do the snippets capture your interest?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “WONDER VALLEY”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a new download:  Wonder Valley, by Ivy Pochoda, a swirling mix of angst, violence, heartache, and yearning—a masterpiece by a writer on the rise.

 

 

Intro:  (Prologue – Los Angeles, 2010)

He is almost beautiful—running with the San Gabriels over one shoulder, the rise of the Hollywood Freeway as it arcs above the Pasadena Freeway over the other.  He is shirtless, the hint of swimmer’s muscle rippling below his tanned skin, his arms pumping in a one-two rhythm in sync with the beat of his feet.  There is a chance you envy him.

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Teaser:  Patrick stood and caught Owen as he lurched forward, his son’s blood streaking the front of his faded polo shirt.  Patrick gently peeled Owen’s arm away from his body, turning it toward the firelight. (57%).

***

Synopsis:  From the acclaimed author of Visitation Street, a visionary portrait of contemporary Los Angeles in all its facets, from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific, from the 110 to Skid Row.

During a typically crowded morning commute, a naked runner is dodging between the stalled cars.  The strange sight makes the local news and captures the imaginations of a stunning cast of misfits and lost souls.

There’s Ren, just out of juvie, who travels to LA in search of his mother. There’s Owen and James, teenage twins who live in a desert commune, where their father, a self-proclaimed healer, holds a powerful sway over his disciples. There’s Britt, who shows up at the commune harboring a dark secret. There’s Tony, a bored and unhappy lawyer who is inspired by the runner. And there’s Blake, a drifter hiding in the desert, doing his best to fight off his most violent instincts.  Their lives will all intertwine and come crashing together in a shocking way, one that could only happen in this enchanting, dangerous city.

***

Would you keep reading?  Do the snippets grab you?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE CRUELEST MONTH”

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, The Cruelest Month, Book 3 in the C. I. Gamache series, by Louise Penny:  “The book’s title is a metaphor not only for the month of April but also for Gamache’s personal and professional challenges—making this the series standout so far.” 

 

Book Beginnings:  Kneeling in the fragrant moist grass of the village green Clara Morrow carefully hid the Easter egg and thought about raising the dead, which she planned to do right after supper.  Wiping a strand of hair from her face, she smeared bits of grass, mud and some other brown stuff that might not be mud into her tangled hair.  All around, villagers wandered with their baskets of brightly colored eggs, looking for the perfect hiding places.

***

56:  But if there was ever a case for evil, in Beauvoir’s experience, it was the old Hadley house.  He shifted his toned body in the driver’s seat, suddenly uncomfortable, and looked over at the boss.  Gamache was watching him thoughtfully.

***

Synopsis:  Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.

It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .

When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil—until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?

Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

***

What do you think?  Do you want to keep reading?  Have you read any books in this series?

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KEEPING TRACK: THE STATUS OF MY TBR

With the year nearing its end, it’s time for another look at my book buying/reading stats.

I am regularly updating readers to my Read the Books You Buy Challenge, and so far, I have read 102 books toward the challenge goals.

What might not be evident from that number:  books I have counted for this challenge come from these sources:

Books Purchased Between July – December 2016

Books Purchased Between January 2017-December 2017

Let’s look at those sources more closely.

Between July-December 2016, I purchased 72 books, and from that number, I’ve read 61.

Between January-November (so far) 2017, I’ve purchased 139, and read 86.

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Those figures don’t add up, you may say!  But…here’s the clincher.  The ones that count for the 2017 Challenge must have been read in 2017.  And some of the books bought in 2016 were read last year.

It puzzled me when I first looked at the numbers…but now I’m clear on it.

***

How I Track My Purchases and My Books Read:

When I purchase a book, I enter it onto the appropriate page on this blog:  Month, Year.

When I read a book, I link it to my review on the Books Purchased page and also on my Books Read page, month and year.

Review books have separate pages.

***

Before the year’s end, I don’t expect to have read ALL the books I bought this year, or even in 2016.  But I’m closer to that goal than I was on January 1.

How are you faring with your TBR stacks?  What methods work for you?

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REVIEW: THE ONE & ONLY, BY EMILY GIFFIN

 

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

My Thoughts: In the beginning of The One and Only, I had mixed feelings about the book. I am not a football addict, and I feared that the game, its players, and its fans would take over the story. But I started caring about Shea right away, and I found that I could relate to her feelings about her hometown and about family, even though my own experiences were quite different.

Watching how her unique friendship with Coach Clive Carr, her best friend’s father, started changing after his wife’s death caught me up in their story, and I couldn’t help rooting for them. I knew that they were about to encounter a lot of push back from people, especially Shea’s friend Lucy.

The slow build of passion between Coach and Shea allowed time for her to experience some other relationships that did not work out, and which increased the pull between them. When it looked like their love was doomed, I hoped for some kind of miracle. The quick turnaround at the end was a bit much, though, and left me feeling cheated out of more special moments. But overall, I had to keep turning the pages, wondering how the characters’ lives would come together. 4 stars.

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LET’S CURL UP & SAY GOODBYE TO OCTOBER….

What a great month!  It flew by too fast, and I didn’t read as many books as I did last month…but there were so many lovely ones.  Click in at Book Date to see what everyone else is doing.  Enjoy November!

My Genres:

Mystery/Psychological Thrillers:  10

Contemporary Fiction:  3

Historical Fiction: 1

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FAVORITE FICTION:  Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell

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Click on my titles to read my reviews:

OCTOBER 2017:

1.Cardinal Cabin, by Joanne DeMaio – 249 pages – (contemporary romance) – 10/10/17 -(Author Review Request)

2.Her Last Goodbye (e-book, Book 2 Morgan Dane), by Melinda Leigh – 324 pages – (mystery) – 10/15/17

3.Keep Her Safe (e-book), by Sophie Hannah – 352 pages – (psychological thriller) – 10/19/17

4.Lie to Me (e-book), by J. T. Ellison – 416 pages – (suspense thriller) – 10/18/17

5.Little Fires Everywhere (e-book), by Celeste Ng – 352 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 10/3/17

6.Odd Child Out (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan – 432 pages – (mystery/literary fiction) – 10/24/17

7.Rules of Magic, The (e-book), by Alice Hoffman – 384 pages – (historical fiction) – 10/6/17 – (NetGalley – 10/10)

8.Say You’re Sorry (e-book, Book One Morgan Dane), by Melinda Leigh – 326 pages – (mystery)-10/13/17

9.Sleep Like a Baby (e-book), by Charlaine Harris – 262 pages- (cozy mystery) – 10/21/17

10.Surrogate, The (e-book), by LouiseJensen – 345 pages – (psychological thriller) – 10/29/17

11.Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell – 424 pages – (mystery) – 10/25/17

12.When We Were Worthy (e-book), by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen – 260 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 10/9/17

13.White Bodies (e-book), by Jane Robins – 384 pages – (psychological thriller) – 10/27/17

14.Y is for Yesterday (e-book), by Sue Grafton – 483 pages – (mystery) – 10/31/17

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER 2017:         14

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN OCTOBER 2017:    4,993

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                      146

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What did your October look like?

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REVIEW: THEN SHE WAS GONE, BY LISA JEWELL

 

Ten years after her teenage daughter disappears, a woman crosses paths with a charming single father whose young child feels eerily familiar, in this evocative, suspenseful drama from New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell—perfect for fans of Paula Hawkins and Liane Moriarty.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. She was beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers. She and her boyfriend made a teenaged golden couple. She was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put her life back together. It’s been ten years since her daughter disappeared, seven years since her marriage ended, and only months since the last clue in Ellie’s case was unearthed. So when she meets an unexpectedly charming man in a café, no one is more surprised than Laurel at how quickly their flirtation develops into something deeper. Before she knows it, she’s meeting Floyd’s daughters—and his youngest, Poppy, takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because looking at Poppy is like looking at Ellie. And now, the unanswered questions she’s tried so hard to put to rest begin to haunt Laurel anew. Where did Ellie go? Did she really run away from home, as the police have long suspected, or was there a more sinister reason for her disappearance? Who is Floyd, really? And why does his daughter remind Laurel so viscerally of her own missing girl?


My Thoughts: The characters, the story, and the mysterious circumstances of Then She Was Gone drew me in, taking me to places I could not have imagined.

After Laurel Mack meets a handsome stranger named Floyd Dunn, she is swept up into a feeling of belonging, a sense of family. But there is something so surreal about Floyd’s nine-year-old daughter Poppy. She cannot help but feel a special connection to her.

As Laurel quickly becomes enmeshed in his world and in his family, she begins to feel uneasy. Why did Floyd reel her in so quickly? What is going on in his mind? She senses something about the way Floyd behaves with Poppy, something that raises those red flags. Why did he always give in to her demands? Why does he treat her like an adult, allowing her control over many aspects of their lives?

In alternating narratives, we learn more about Poppy, and about her mother Noelle Donnelly, who had abandoned her when she was very young; through Ellie’s first person narrative, we realize what had happened to her. And finally, we learn the secrets Floyd is hiding. A book I couldn’t put down. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: KEEP HER SAFE, BY SOPHIE HANNAH

 

Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows flees her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied — by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake at the front desk… but soon Cara realizes that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving natural life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust — everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

My Thoughts: The opening lines of Keep Her Safe reveal another narrator, someone who seems to be Melody Chapa…and then we are thrust into the perspective of Cara Burrows, a British woman who fled her home for some unknown reason, and who is looking forward to her time at the Swallowtail Resort and Spa in Arizona. The place is huge and guests push a white button to get a car to take them around. But on the first night, Cara is given a room number and a key and insists on walking to her destination.

What does she find on the third floor when she unlocks the door? Evidence of occupancy, and then the crying voice of a girl, followed by a man’s voice. The girl is upset over spilling something on her stuffed toy Poggy. Embarrassed and apologetic, Cara scurries from the room, and the management upgrades her to a casita with a private pool and wonderful amenities. She is also given an iPad to guide her through her days.

What is going on in this strange spa? The receptionist, a woman named Riyonna Briggs, is trying to calm down an elderly woman who insists she saw “Melody.” Later, that same staff member assures Cara that the woman always sees Melody, wherever she goes, and is confused.

As the pages turn, we watch Cara studying the guests and listening to a woman named Tarin Fry and her daughter Zellie, who annoy her, but also pique her curiosity. Soon she is reading a blog that Tarin mentioned, written by a woman named Bonnie…and learns about Melody’s case and how her parents are in prison for killing her. She also begins to connect the dots, and realizes that there was something odd about the man and girl in that first room.

Nothing is the way it seems, as we soon find out. Numerous oddities keep us wondering, even as we realize that danger lurks around every corner. How does Cara find herself right in the middle of what looks like a conspiracy, wondering if she will ever see her family again? Will she put together the clues and find her way home again? A captivating 5 star read with so many twists that I could not stop reading.***

MY PROGRESS: COMPULSIVE BOOK BUYING DISORDER…

Have I improved in this area?  Do I sometimes wait and ponder whether or not to “click to buy,” or am I just as compulsive as ever?

Well, let’s take a peek.

In August, I bought 17 books, and I purchased 15 in September.  Here’s October…so far:

 

OCTOBER 2017:

1.Best Day Ever (e-book), by Kaira Rouda

2.Cold as Ice (e-book, Country Club Murders), by Julie Mulhern

3.Last Mrs. Parrish, The (e-book), by Liv Constantine

4.Odd Child Out (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan

5.Seven Days of Us (e-book), by Francesca Hornak

6.Sing, Unburied, Sing (e-book), by Jesmyn Ward

7.Without Merit (e-book), by Colleen Hoover

8.Unraveling Oliver (e-book), by Liz Nugent

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Yes, I could buy more…and I probably will.  But I have been pausing and thinking before “clicking.”  That’s good, isn’t it?

What does your buying record show you?  Or do you avoid buying altogether?

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