BOOKISH FRIDAY: “A SEASON TO LIE”

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:  A Season to Lie (A Detective Gemma Monroe Mystery), by Emily Littlejohn, in a follow-up to her acclaimed debut Inherit the Bones, a twisted killer stalks his prey in the dead of winter.  

 

 

Beginning:  (Prologue)

On a cold and bitter night in February, twelve weeks after giving birth, I returned to what I know best:  death.

I follow death into black woods.  I chase death across deserted meadows.  I seek death in the faces of strangers.

***

Friday 56:  Surely Lila Conway was some kind of princess, or fairy queen, to live in a house such as this, deep in the woods, sheltered against the harsh realities of the outside world.

The stone cottage was two stories, made from smooth, polished gray river rock.

***

Synopsis:  On a cold dark night in February, as a blizzard shrieks through Cedar Valley, police officer and new mother Gemma Monroe responds to an anonymous report of a prowler at the local private high school, The Valley Academy. In her idyllic Colorado small town, Gemma expects the call was just a prank by a bored teenager.

But there in the snow lies the savaged body of a man whose presence in town was meant to be a secret. And a disturbing message left by his killer promises more death to come.

This is only the beginning . . .

Nothing is as it seems in Cedar Valley and stories, both fact and fiction, ensnare Gemma as her investigation moves from the halls of an elite academy to the forests that surround Cedar Valley.

Against a backdrop of bleak winter weather, stymied by those who would lie to protect what is dearest to them, Gemma hunts a ruthless killer before he strikes again in A Season to Lie.

***

And that’s how it goes.  What do you think?  Do you want to know more?

***

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REVIEW: FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

 

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?


My Thoughts: From the beginning of Fragments of the Lost, I was drawn in by Jessa’s task to search through and box up Caleb’s belongings…after his death. And at his mother’s request.

But his mother, Eve, was someone untrustworthy with her own agenda, in my opinion. And the little girl, Mia, Caleb’s half-sister, had been fed stories about Jessa by her mother, obviously. But why?

Caleb’s secrets and his mysterious “death” seemed to hide a whole other life that might have been waiting for him. A life lost to him because of the choices of others.

As Jessa discovered each item in his room, her thoughts carried her away to moments in their relationship, and she was caught up in nostalgia. But she also realized that pieces of Caleb’s life had been hidden from her. What will she do to find her answers? Will the mysterious room behind his closet offer up a path to discovery?

The book was slow for about 2/3 of the way through. As fascinating as it was to see what each “fragment” yielded, I wanted the story to move along, taking us to whatever denouement awaited us. And I hoped that Jessa would dismiss the creepy Eve and Mia who always seemed to appear just when Jessa was on the path to a new memory. What further secrets will Jessa find as she packs up boxes and dumps the trash? Will a recent find lead to more answers? Near the end, the pieces of the puzzle started to come together, and as they did, I very happily could not stop reading as the intensity and danger grew. Despite the uneven pacing, the story did satisfy me eventually, and I liked how everything was finally resolved. 4 stars.

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE GIRLS IN THE PICTURE”

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

My featured book today is The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin:  an e-ARC from NetGalley (1/16/18), a fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female legends—screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford

 

 

Intro: (Frances – 1969)

Lately, the line between real life and movies has begun to blur.

There are times when I’m pounced upon by a memory—the cracked rearview mirror of the first car I ever owned, say, or the ghostly dance of a curtain in front of an open window when I was small and impressionable and plastered in bed with a fever.  Or the teasing curve of a man’s lips, a man whose kiss I must have known at some time in my life.  And the longer I dwell on the memory, the less certain I am of its origin.  Is the memory really mine?

***

Teaser:  “But we menfolk, as you call us, want to take care of those things.  We want to take care of you.”

“But not all women want to be taken care of, you see.” (55%).

***

Synopsis:  It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone’s lips these days is “flickers”—the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you’ll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all.

In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have earned her the title “America’s Sweetheart.” The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution.

But their ambitions are challenged by both the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender—and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world’s highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered.

With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era—its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

***

Do you want to keep reading?  Do the snippets pique your interest?

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IT’S A WRAP! GOODBYE, NOVEMBER….

The month flew by.  Check out my reading, and head on over to The Book Date to see what others read.

November was a great reading month!  I read and reviewed FIFTEEN books.  My Favorite Fiction Book was Poison, by Galt Niederhoffer- (Click title/cover for review)

 

My Genres Included:

       Literary Fiction – 3

      Suspense/Mystery/Psychological Thriller – 6

      Contemporary/Historical Fiction –   6

 

Here are the books I read.  Click the titles for my reviews.

NOVEMBER 2017:

1.All the Best People (e-book), by Sonja Yoerg – 332 pages – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 11/13/17

2.Bonfire (e-book), by Krysten Ritter – 290 pages – (suspense thriller) – 11/23/17

3.Cold As Ice (e-book,Country Club Murders #6), by Julie Mulhern – 268 pages – (cozy mystery) – 11/8/17

4.Last Mrs. Parrish, The (e-book), by Liv Constantine – 400 pages – (psychological thriller) – 11/11/17

5.Merry & Bright (e-book), by Debbie Macomber – 272 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 11/22/17

6.Moral Defense (e-book, Book Two Samantha Brinkman), by Marcia Clark  – 406 pages – (mystery/legal thriller) – 11/28/17

7.One and Only, The, by Emily Giffin – 415 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 11/7/17

8.Play It as It Lays (e-book), by Joan Didion – 214 pages – (literary fiction) – 11/25/17

9.Poison (e-book), by Galt Niederhoffer – 304 pages – (psychological thriller) – 11/15/17 – (NG – 11/21)

10.Seven Days of Us (e-book), by Francesca Hornak – 355 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 11/5/17

11.Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, The (e-book), by Gabrielle Zevin – 258 pages – (literary fiction) – 11/17/17

12.Story of Arthur Truluv, The (e-book), by Elizabeth Berg – 240 pages – (literary fiction) – 11/16/17 – (NG – 11/21)

13.Unraveling Oliver (e-book), by Liz Nugent – 258 pages – (psychological thriller) – 11/3/17

14.Without Merit (e-book), by Colleen Hoover – 384 pages -(contemporary fiction/YA) – 11/29/17

15.Young Jane Young (e-book), by Gabrielle Zevin – 295 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 11/19/17

***

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN NOVEMBER 2017:         15

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN NOVEMBER 2017:      4,691

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                      161

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

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE UNEXPECTED MOTHER”

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 new download:  The Unexpected Mother, by Susan A. Ring, a POWERFUL, CHILLING, TRUE STORY as featured in People Magazine and The Dr. Oz show 2016 -O, The Oprah Magazine 2003, and Oprah’s choice as one of the most talked about stories in O’s Top 10 Anniversary Special in 2010. 

 

 

Beginning:  As a surrogate mother, it never entered my mind that the intended parents, Michael and Jackie who I was working with for a second time, would change their minds and not want their triplets, the ones I was pregnant with.  At the time, I sensed they might be having marital problems, but never, ever gave any thought to the fact that they would demand a reduction to twins, and then inform me afterward they did not want the twins.

***

56:  I never gave thought to meeting him—ever.  It was wrong because he was married, but so was I.  He knew all about my divorce and tried his best to talk me out of it.  He preached to me to keep working on my marriage, but I wasn’t open to his counseling.

***

Synopsis:  Inside the life of a surrogate mother Susan Ring, a single mother of two who learns upon her second journey, with the same intended parents, she is pregnant with triplets. The parents demand a reduction to twins. The surrogacy agency informs Susan of the unbelievable, the parents no longer want the twins she is pregnant with, and the intended father is suffering from mental illness. The parents breach the contract, divorce, and abandon Susan and the twins at the hospital, ultimately insisting their children go to social services. Susan refuses to comply and boldly prepares to fight for parentage in a California court with no biological ties. It is a story of hope, love and letting go. This astonishingly honest memoir raises challenging ethical questions, redefines motherhood, and what it means to be a mother in today’s complex world of infertility. It recognizes how far advanced science has become, and how the law is lagging far behind. Above all, it is a story for our times.

***

What do you think?  Do the snippets pique your curiosity?

***

REVIEW: MORAL DEFENSE, BY MARCIA CLARK

 

For defense attorney Samantha Brinkman, it’s not about guilt or innocence—it’s about making sure her clients walk.

In the follow-up to bestselling Blood Defense, Samantha is hired as the legal advocate for Cassie Sonnenberg after a brutal stabbing left the teenager’s father and brother dead, and her mother barely clinging to life. It’s a tabloid-ready case that has the nation in an uproar—and Sam facing her biggest challenge yet. Why did Cassie survive? Is she hiding something?

As Sam digs in to find the answers, she’s surprised to find herself identifying with Cassie, becoming more and more personally entangled in the case. But when Sam finally discovers the reason for that kinship, she faces a choice she never imagined she’d have to make.

My Thoughts: In the first outing with Samantha Brinkman, Blood Defense, I was drawn in by this tough but vulnerable defense attorney, and in Moral Defense, I loved finding out more about her world. From the author’s descriptions, I could visualize everything about her current life, and her past had a way of poking into her world via a client with whom she identifies.

Sam’s father Dale Pearson made himself available to her in her cases as she struggles to deal with nefarious clients and a dirty cop. But would he continue to support her when he discovers some of her less than legitimate methods?

Cassie Sonnenberg was the kind of teenage girl that made me want to roll my eyes, but I could also feel empathy for her situation as more of her story came to light.

Will Sam find enough information to help her client? Will she gather enough evidence to win the case? Or will we all be blindsided when we finally see the truth?

Midway through the book, we think we know how it all plays out…but then we are thrown a curve with an unexpected character. When that twist turns everything in a completely different direction, we get to watch how Sam makes the system work for her. A 5 star read for me.***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE WIFE BETWEEN US”

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 an ARC from NetGalley:  The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks/Sarah Pekkanen, to be released on 1/9/18, “a fiendishly clever romantic thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. This one will keep you guessing.” –Anita Shreve, New York Times bestselling author of The Stars are Fire

 

Book Beginning:  (Prologue)

She walks briskly down the city sidewalk, her blond hair bouncing against her shoulders, her cheeks flushed, a gym bag looped over her forearm.  When she reaches her apartment building, her hand dips into her purse and pulls out her keys.  The street is loud and busy, with yellow cabs racing by, commuters returning from work, and shoppers entering the deli on the corner.  But my eyes never stray from her.

***

Friday 56:  One of the first clues surfaced even before we were married.  I held it in my hand.  Sam saw it.  So did everyone else at our wedding. (56%).

***

Synopsis:  When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage – and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

***

What do you think?  Do the snippets grab you?  Would you keep reading?

***

ANTICIPATING MY BOOKISH JOURNEY IN 2018…

I am still trying to accept that we are almost in December…and what happens when that month is over.

Yes, 2018, and what it means for this blog.  Here I document my bookish journey, and add pages to celebrate what I’ve purchased, read, and received for review.

Yesterday I was feeling restless, so I created pages for the New Year.  Yes, believe it or not!

Here they are:

BOOKSHELVES: 2018

      Review Books – 2018

      Books Purchased – 2018

      Books Read – 2018

***

At some point, I may have to archive the old years….does anyone have experience doing that?

In the meantime, I will chug along enjoying how I can show what I’ve done in the past, and what is coming for the New Year. 

Happy Reading!

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “DEAD OF WINTER”

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 recent download:  Dead of Winter, by Wendy Corsi Staub, a Lily Dale Mystery.

 

 

Intro:  Belle Jordan squints and takes aim.  Just as she presses the trigger, a voice bellows, “Mom!”

Jolted, she misses the target.

A fat white blob lands in the middle of a newly installed tile instead of in the seam along the countertop.  With a sigh, she sets aside the caulk gun and grabs a rag.

“Mom!”

“What is it, Max?”

Her six-year-old son offers an unintelligible response from the small TV room off the front parlor.

***

Teaser:  Calla turns away with her phone.  It doesn’t allow her any more privacy, because every word on her end is still audible, but they can’t see her expression.  Still, Misty can hear the trepidation in her voice (50%).

***

Synopsis:  Just as a murderer dumps his corpse into the lake across Valley View in Lily Dale, Bella Jordan happens to be at her window, not quite realizing what she’s seeing. Unbeknownst to her, the killer spots her silhouette and prowls straight to her door. That is, until he’s interrupted by a black cat. A superstitious gambler, he takes off, but Bella’s seen too much, and he vows to return.

Jiffy Arden, a neighborhood kid looking for the black cat and stumbling across the killer, begins to have premonitions of being kidnapped during the season’s first snowstorm. Sure enough, when it strikes, he vanishes, never arriving home from the bus stop. While her son, Max, believes Jiffy has been kidnapped, Bella is convinced he’s just wandered off as he typically does… until a body shows up in the lake.

Now everyone is pulling out all the stops to find the missing child, identify the victim, and collar the killer. And fast, because he’s coming for Bella next in Dead of Winter.

***

What do you think?  Do you want to know more?  Would you keep reading?

***

 

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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