Posted in book review

REVIEW: THE EXCELLENT LOMBARDS, BY JANE HAMILTON

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Mary Frances (Frankie) Lombard and her older brother William have grown up with a deep love and sense of connection to the Lombard farm. Despite knowing that the partnership between their father and his cousin Sherwood might cause problems with their future legacy, the hope for that future remains strong.

The Excellent Lombards is a coming-of-age tale that features young Frankie, and from her perspective, we learn what growing up under these circumstances has instilled in her. We come to understand how she might feel threatened by interlopers like distant cousin Philip, and the ominous presence of his aunt, May Hill, who has some ownership in the property as well.

From her pre-adolescent self to young adulthood, we see how she grows and changes, and observe the various influences on her young life.

The sense of competition flourishes among the various relatives, and at times, it seems like a good thing. Until it isn’t.

How will Frankie eventually resolve her plight? What will her future hold for her, and will she be able to merge her various passions and make a life for herself?

The story unfolded slowly, revealing the emotions, the connections, and what life looked like on a farm that might, eventually, be sold off in order to make way for subdivisions. A changing landscape that mimics how the world in the 21st Century has built upon past versions of a country, a nation. 4 stars.

Posted in book review

REVIEW: THE TRUTH-TELLER’S LIE, BY SOPHIE HANNAH

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The opening lines of The Truth-Teller’s Lie are in the form of a letter to a survivor’s website, signed NJ.

We soon learn that the writer is Naomi Jenkins, and some time before, she was raped in a particularly cruel way. And she never reported it.

But now her life is all about a man named Robert Haworth, whom she met a while after the rape, and whom she didn’t tell about her experience. But he meets her every Thursday in a motel where they went the first time they were together. He is obsessive, loves his routines, and talks about leaving his wife.

But then one Thursday he doesn’t show up, and because of his habits, Naomi is convinced that something has happened to him. When she reports his “missing” status to the police, she can tell they won’t make the search for him a priority. So she tells a lie. One that will guarantee action on their part.

Our favorite detectives from the previous novel, Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse, are on the case, especially now due to the lie. And the truth of what happened to Robert, and many more hidden truths, will cause everything to unravel.

I loved the multiple narrators, beginning with Naomi, in her first person voice, and with her quirky tendency to address Robert as “you,” when voicing her thoughts. In the third person perspective, we learn what several of the other characters are thinking and feeling, from Charlie, Simon, Olivia (Charlie’s sister), to Juliet, Robert’s wife.

The complexity of the plot kept me fully engaged, and like most books by this author, there are plenty of creepy aspects, as well as the usual twists and turns that take us to interesting places.

I also enjoyed learning more about sundials, which Naomi creates. This book was also sold under the title “Hurting Distance,” which has significance for some of the characters. 4.5 stars.

Posted in book review

REVIEW: TRULY MADLY GUILTY, BY LIANE MORIARTY

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In the opening lines of Truly Madly Guilty, we learn about a significant event that will change the lives of three couples and everything they thought they knew about themselves.

A barbecue. What could be so important about a get-together like this one?

More than this one event, however, is the significance of the history between two of the characters, Erika and Clementine. How they became friends and their complex journey will reveal much about what ultimately happens, and will shape how everything unfolds.

They started as school friends, but we soon realize that the friendship was lopsided. Clementine had been pressured into inviting Erika to events by her social worker mom, Pam, and as a result, Clementine’s resentment had the power to undermine them in the end. What motivated Pam to reach out to Erika? What horrible secret about Erika’s home and family life is driving the social worker’s actions?

The tale, set in Australia, moves back and forth through time, revealing life after the barbecue…and life on the day of the barbecue. Memories are skewed by alcohol and the resulting intoxication, so the story also helps us see what actually happened, but only a few bits at a time.

I liked how the author showed what the characters were feeling along the way, and also how she filled in details of their personalities and made them seem like real people, flawed and struggling. The chapters had headings that guided us through the journey, and in the end, I felt satisfied that I finally knew how the events of that day had played out.

However, as much as I enjoyed this book, as I’ve loved all the author’s work, the big reveal felt anti-climactic, since learning it all via bits and pieces left us guessing and wondering, but also a little frustrated; and then, when we saw the final pieces of the puzzle come together, there was a feeling of “is that all there is?” But…what I loved more than waiting to see how the final revelations would fill in the gaps was watching the characters struggle with wondering and worrying about their own culpability for that day. How that one day became a defining moment for each of them, leading to better choices in the future. 4.5 stars.

Posted in Uncategorized

CURL UP WITH MY NEWEST BOOKISH PICK…

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Welcome to my Bookish World!  Just back from vacation last week, I’ve been organizing my reading lists and planning ahead for new review books.

My NetGalley list was pretty short, with only four books on it, spread out between 8/23 through 10/11.  So…should I peek at the Reviewer’s Dashboard?  Find something more to add?  I don’t have any outstanding Vine reviews to read…so I’m good.  Right?

Well…imagine my surprise to find Faithful, by Alice Hoffman, to be released on 11/1…available to read now!  So perfectly lined up after my October reads.

 

 

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

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I love everything by this author, but I like that this newest one has none of the “magical” elements of some of her work.  I am a big fan of ordinary characters finding themselves in the midst of extraordinary tragedies.   

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Now….since my review list is relatively short, even with this addition (five books, spread out nicely), should I check the Amazon Vine list?  Or let well enough alone?

I should probably focus on reading more of the books I’ve bought recently.  Today I downloaded THREE books that were released today.  More about those later.

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What are you reading and adding this week?  What are your policies for requesting review books?

 

 

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Posted in book review

REVIEW: THE MELODY LINGERS ON, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK

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A story of an investment banker, Parker Bennett, who deceived his clients; the aftermath for those who were affected; and the mystery of what happened to the supposedly deceased crook, grabbed me from the first page of The Melody Lingers On.

Lane Harmon is a young interior designer, an assistant to Glady Harper, famed designer to the rich in Connecticut, Manhattan, and nearby wealthy neighborhoods. A single mom to four-year-old Katie, Lane finds herself unexpectedly drawn to Eric Bennett and his mother Anne, who reside in a downsized condo now being renovated by Lane and Glady.

It is obvious that there is considerable question as to whether or not Parker Bennett is actually dead, and if not, how he pulled it all off. There is also question as to how much, if anything, his wife and son knew of his dealings. Various FBI agents and undercover operatives bring out interesting perspectives.

Typically intense, this page turner kept me going, wondering about the answers to what happened, who knew what and when, and what the mysterious music box in Anne’s home had to do with anything.

Of course I had my own guesses about the characters and events, but the author also offers the reader a peek at what went on before the downfall, and we get to watch the mysterious drama unfold. The fun is in wondering just how far the deception went and how much of his family had been privy to his goings-on, as well as who is in danger and who will save the day. 4 stars.

Posted in monthly wrap-up

WRAPPING UP JULY! A GREAT MONTH….

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Welcome to another Monthly Wrap-Up Post!  July was a great month for me, with more books read than in recent months.  It was hard to pick a favorite read, as there were several awesome books on my list.

Let’s link up with Kathryn, at Book Date, to see how others have fared in July.

 

 

JULY 2016:

1. All Is Not Forgotten (e-book), by Wendy Walker – 319 pages – (psychological thriller) – 7/11/16 – (NetGalley Review – 7/12)

2. Beauty of the End, The, by Debbie Howells – 413 pages – (psychological thriller) – 7/8/16 – (Amazon Vine Review)

3.  Clouds in My Coffee (e-book, Book 3), by Julie Mulhern – 256 pages- (cozy mystery) – 7/7/16

4.  Damaged (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – 416 pages – (legal thriller) – 7/30/16 (NetGalley – 8/16)

5.  Dear Carolina (e-book), by Kristy Woodson Harvey – 307 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 7/12/16

6.  Death at Breakfast (e-book), by Beth Gutcheon – 288 pages – (cozy mystery) – 7/16/16

7.  Falling, by Jane Green – 295 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 7/23/16

8.   Flight Patterns (e-book), by Karen White – 401 pages – (contemporary/historical fiction) – 7/29/16

9.  Friction (e-book), by Sandra Brown – 410 pages – (mystery) – 7/5/16

10. One True Loves (e-book), by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 352 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 7/22/16

11. Orphan Choir, The (e-book), by Sophie Hannah – 272 pages – (paranormal/thriller) – 7/24/16

12. Paris Runaway (e-book), by Paulita Kincer – 251 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 7/14/16 (Author Review)

13. River Road (e-book), by Carol Goodman – 288 pages (thriller/mystery) – 7/1/16

14.  Vinegar Girl (e-book), by Anne Tyler – 242 pages – (literary fiction) – 7/18/16

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN JULY 2016:     14

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN JULY 2016:     4,510

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                       95

FAVORITE FICTION BOOK IN JULY 2016:  Flight Patterns, by Karen White

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Posted in book review

REVIEW: DAMAGED, BY LISA SCOTTOLINE

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Set in Philadelphia, the newest Rosato & DiNunzio novel starts right off with Mary DiNunzio, our MC, hitting the ground running. She is intense, dedicated, and good at multi-tasking, which is necessary right now with her wedding looming on the horizon. She and Anthony Rotunno, a college professor, grew up in the same neighborhood. They have much in common.

But just when she needs to focus on the wedding, her newest case grabs her and pulls her all in. Edward O’Brien, the grandfather/guardian of ten-year-old Patrick, has brought in a case that will tug at her heartstrings and keep her absorbed indefinitely. Patrick is dyslexic, but the school district has done nothing to provide services to assist him. One IEP was completed several years before, when he was six, and since then, no services have been set up. He is bullied by the other students, and recently, he was struck by a teacher’s aide. To top things off, the aide quit his job and hired the most obnoxious attorney in Philadelphia, Nick Machiavelli, to sue Edward, claiming that little Patrick pulled a pair of scissors on him.

Damaged is an intense page turner that kept me going until I had to finally stop to sleep. I loved how Mary dug in and found creative solutions to each obstacle that arose, and when tragedy strikes, she is right there with another solution. I loved learning about the ins and outs of special education law, some of which I knew already, but it felt great to polish up this knowledge. Also the children’s services issues are familiar to me, except for the differences between states that are inevitable.

Will Mary win the war against the horrible Machiavelli? Is Patrick more damaged than anyone realized? How will Mary’s absorption in this case affect her upcoming nuptials?

My favorite thing about this author’s novels is how quickly I connect with the characters, and how easy it is to root for some and abhor others. Just when it seemed as though all would finally come together, a few more surprising and agonizing twists shook Mary and her associates to the core. But Mary kept going, her determination and love of family guiding her. Five stars.

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