REVIEW: DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW, BY JOANNA TROLLOPE

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Anthony and Rachel Brinkley are enjoying their empty nest in Suffolk, especially since their three grown sons, Edward, Ralph, and Luke, stay in close touch. Edward is married to Sigrid, and they have a daughter Mariella. Ralph, who is often a challenge, now seems settled in nicely with Petra and their two boys, Kit and Barney.

But with Luke marrying Charlotte, Rachel is a little nervous. She suspects that Charlotte will not “fall into line” as nicely as the other two daughters-in-law.

She is right. Charlotte is used to getting what she wants, and she has some very definite ideas about how her new relationship with the in-laws will proceed.

But what Rachel could not have predicted would be the intense chaos that rises up during that summer, and how Sigrid and Petra seemingly step out of line, just as Charlotte is asserting herself.

Daughters-in-Law was a delightful family tale that reveals much of what often goes on behind the scenes in families, and shows the reader how one new addition to the mix can stir things up in unexpected ways.

I enjoyed this story, narrated from multiple perspectives, and at some point or another, found each character annoying, but in ways that made them seem real. Like people you might know. 4.0 stars.


REVIEW: THE SHORE, BY SARA TAYLOR

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In the synopsis, we learn that The Shore is a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay, just off the coast of Virginia, with…clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, and dark magic in the marshes. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it’s a place that generations of families both wealthy and destitute have inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years.

So the story begins, and we are first introduced to two young girls, Chloe and Renee, and watch Chloe in the store, trying to get bait so she and her sister can catch crabs for dinner. The descriptions of Chloe and her life were awesome, and I settled in for a great tale.

But then we meet some other characters, and then more characters…and as each vignette took us into other worlds, with some appealing and others, not so much, I started to lose focus.

Sweeping across time and back again, the author shows many such characters, but none quite so appealing to me as Chloe.

Then we meet Medora, in the 1800s…and I was hooked again. A half-Shawnee woman, with special medicinal talents and a determination to rise above her childhood abuse…she really grabbed my attention, and then I kept waiting for her story to reappear.

The author did a great job of showing us the setting and making the reader feel a part of it. And the darkness of the characters’ lives didn’t bother me, but the numerous cast of characters and the veering back and forth through time did….I was lost. And then decided to forget about taking notes and just try to enjoy each “story,” which worked out better.

The Shore: A Novel was not an enjoyable book for me, but the themes and issues were definitely important ones. 3.5 stars.

REVIEW: GUILT, BY JONATHAN KELLERMAN

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Our story begins with Holly Ruche, a young pregnant wife who is rhapsodizing about her beautiful and recently acquired ninety-year old home, in Cheviot Hills in LA, and even though it will require some fixing up, she is very happy at the thought. The only thing that bothers her is how the previous owners did not properly cut down that tree, and there is a mess in the yard.

While digging in the garden, she discovers skeletal remains that appear to be an infant. At this point, the detectives are called in, and the initial findings suggest that the remains are at least 60 years old. This fact will complicate the investigation.

Before the detectives can pursue this case further, another infant’s body, a more recent one, is discovered in a nearby park. And a woman’s dead body is just across the park. Are these two events connected?

When Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware begin their quest to solve the mysteries, their journey takes them along many unexpected trails that veer and twist, making you forget where you started. Oh, yes…what about the first body in Holly’s yard?

Soon on their radar are two somewhat reclusive megastars, Prema Moon and Donny Rader, and the very unusual life they share. It is easy to forget about the first infant…at least for a while.

The fun in taking the journey with Alex and Milo is also getting to join them as they ponder what to do next, while eating a large breakfast or lunch somewhere. Or watching Alex feed the koi in his backyard and then getting a glimpse of his girlfriend Robin while she works on the guitars she rebuilds. I can visualize the lovely home in Beverly Glen, which is off the beaten track and a little quirky.

But back to the quest. Prema’s unexpected cooperation leads Milo and Alex to some answers….and then, after a while, we learn more about the first infant.

As much as I enjoyed Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel, the investigation itself was all over the map, so my enjoyment was centered on Alex and his life and thoughts. In the end, there were satisfactory conclusions, but I’m awarding 3.5 stars for this one.

CURL UP WITH BOOK BEGINNINGS/FRIDAY 56 – “THE LIAR”

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

What fun it is to share excerpts from upcoming reads!  Mine today is from a book by Nora Roberts, The Liar.

 

 

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Beginning:  In the big house—and Shelby would always think of it as the big house—she sat in her husband’s big leather chair at his big important desk.  The color of the chair was espresso.  Not brown.  Richard had been very exact about that sort of thing.  The desk itself, so sleep and shiny, was African zebra wood, and custom-made for him in Italy.

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56:  By noon she was winding, winding up through the green with her window half down so she could smell the mountains.  The pine, the rivers and streams.  Here there was no snow.

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Blurb:  The extraordinary new novel by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Collector.

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …

The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.

Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts pique your interest?  I know I am eager to plunge into this one.

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REVIEW: THOSE GIRLS, BY CHEVY STEVENS

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The three sisters were bound together by the cruelty of the life they lived, with an alcoholic father who turned violent and often went missing, and without their mother who had died years before.  They were often lonely on the remote farm in Western Canada, but they found comfort in each other.

 
One night, their father turned on them while drunk and things got out of hand.  They ran, knowing that they would face even more trouble if they stayed.

 
On the way to Vancouver, their destination, their truck broke down outside a small town called Cash Creek, and when two young men offered help, they were reluctant.  But went along, to their great remorse afterwards.  What happened to them in those five days would inform the rest of their lives.

 
They escaped, they took on new identities with the help of a kind man who ran the pub, and made new lives in Vancouver.  But eighteen years later, everything goes wrong, and they are face-to-face with their past again.

 
Dani, Courtney, and Jess Campbell—who became Dallas, Crystal, and Jamie Caldwell—were characters that grabbed hold of my heart and made me want to root for them.  Their vulnerability, mixed with the strength of their fierce protectiveness of one another, kept me glued to the pages, wondering how they would be forced to confront their past and how they would come out the other end…or if they would.

 
Jamie’s daughter Skylar is an interesting addition to the cast of original characters, and her story is equally compelling.  Those Girls was narrated by each in turn, with the first part in Jess/Jamie’s voice, followed by Skylar’s voice.  At the end, we finally hear Dani/Dallas’s voice, and feel, along with her, the anger, frustration, and helplessness…and then the peace that comes with some kind of resolution.

CURL UP WHILE YOU WAIT FOR “THE QUALITY OF SILENCE”

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Welcome to our Wednesday event, our time to share upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.  Check out Jill @ Breaking the Spine, to find out what others are sharing.

I have a list of books I am waiting for, but today I chose one by Rosamund Lupton, who brought us Sister and Afterwards, books I loved.

The Quality of Silence will be released on July 2, 2015.

 

 

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On 24th November Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska. Within hours they are driving alone across a frozen wilderness Where nothing grows Where no one lives Where tears freeze And night will last for another fifty-four days. They are looking for Ruby’s father. Travelling deeper into a silent land. They still cannot find him. And someone is watching them in the dark.

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Luckily July is just a short distance away, since we are already in May….which I find hard to believe.  What are you waiting for?

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP FOR APRIL!

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April is over, and here are the fabulous books I read.  Click on the titles to see the reviews.

 

APRIL 2015:

1.      Blueprints, by Barbara Delinsky – 405 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 4/6/15

2.     Children’s Crusade, The (e-book), 448 pages – (historical fiction) – 4/15/15

3.     Comfort of Lies, The (e-book), by Randy Susan Meyers – 323 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 4/1/15

4.     Daughter, The (e-book), by Jane Shemilt – 341 pages – (contemporary fiction/suspense) – 4/28/15

5.     Denim Blue Sea, The, by Joanne DeMaio – 359 pages –  (contemporary fiction) – 4/4/15

6.     Did You Ever Have a Family, by Bill Clegg – 293 pages – (literary fiction) – 4/8/15

7.      Goldberg Variations, by Susan Isaacs – 320 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 4/18/15

8.      Guest Cottage, The, by Nancy Thayer – 336 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 4/21/15

9.      How to Start a Fire, by Lisa Lutz – 337 pages – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 4/13/15

10.    Idea of Love, The, by Patti Callahan Henry – 239 pages – (romance) – 4/25/15

11.    Inside the O’Briens (e-book), by Lisa Genova – 352 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 4/17/15

12.    Lacy Eye, by Jessica Treadway – 339 pages – (psychological study/mystery) – 4/11/15

13.     Last One Home, by Debbie Macomber – 320 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 4/21/15

14.    Night Night, Sleep Tight (e-book), by Hallie Ephron – 304 pages – (thriller) – 4/27/15

15.   Precious Thing (e-book), by Colette McBeth – 300 pages – (mystery/thriller) – 4/9/15

16.    Royal We, The (e-book), by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan – 464 pages (contemporary fiction) – 4/20/15

17.    Spool of Blue Thread, A (e-book), by Anne Tyler – 358 pages – (literary fiction) – 4/24/15

18.    Wife-in-Law, by Haywood Smith – 369 pages – (Southern fiction) – 4/29/15

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BOOKS READ IN APRIL 2015 –   18

PAGES READ IN APRIL 2015 –   6,207

BOOKS READ YTD:                 65

FAVORITE FICTION READ:   Tied:   Lacy Eye, by Jessica Treadway; A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler

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What did your month look like?

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