REVIEW: THE WATERGATE GIRL, BY JILL WINE-BANKS

It was a time, much like today, when Americans feared for the future of their democracy, and women stood up for equal treatment. At the crossroads of the Watergate scandal and the women’s movement was a young lawyer named Jill Wine Volner (as she was then known), barely thirty years old and the only woman on the team that prosecuted the highest-ranking White House officials. Called “the mini-skirted lawyer” by the press, she fought to receive the respect accorded her male counterparts―and prevailed.

In The Watergate Girl, Jill Wine-Banks opens a window on this troubled time in American history. It is impossible to read about the crimes of Richard Nixon and the people around him without drawing parallels to today’s headlines. The book is also the story of a young woman who sought to make her professional mark while trapped in a failing marriage, buffeted by sexist preconceptions, and harboring secrets of her own. Her house was burgled, her phones were tapped, and even her office garbage was rifled through.

At once a cautionary tale and an inspiration for those who believe in the power of justice and the rule of law, The Watergate Girl is a revelation about our country, our politics, and who we are as a society.

 

My memories of Watergate are quite vivid, as I experienced them in adulthood. I was a thirty-year-old social worker with a husband and three children as the scandal began playing out. I was opposed to many of the actions taken by then-President Nixon, but despite these feelings, I was appalled by how events unfolded during those Watergate years. The author of The Watergate Girl was part of the prosecution team that tried the Watergate burglars and those that were part of the cover-up, including Nixon himself.

In view of recent political scandals and the Impeachment of President Trump, I completely agree with the author who has drawn parallels between then and now, but concludes with the assessment that our current situation presents even greater dangers. She writes:

“Today we are up against a deeper existential threat to democracy than we faced during Watergate, a peril exacerbated by a more complicated political, social, and cultural landscape than existed in the 1970s. The country is more divided now, and today’s media is a minefield of fake news and shrill voices from a multiplicity of sources.”

I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed account of the Watergate investigation and hearings, and also liked reading about the author herself, then and now. A brilliant 5 star read. #2020ReadNonFic

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SIX YEARS AGO….

Six years ago yesterday (April 1, 2014), my sixth novel, Interior Designs, was published.  It is available in paperback and Kindle formats, (296 pages).

For those interested in reading and reviewing it, I will make either format available to the first five people who reach out to me.

Here is a blurb:

Meet Martha Scott Cummings: an interior designer, an abandoned wife, and a newly single mother to her daughter Meadow. Now, she must begin an interior journey to reexamine the life she had, the choices she made, and find the strength to begin again. She could wallow in self-pity amongst the detritus that is her life, or she could explore her feelings, study her behavior, and figure out how to redesign her life by changing the way she reacts to disappointments, betrayal, and insecurity. Along the way to rediscovering who she was and who she can be, Martha reconnects with her best friend Maeve, who has been there for her in the past, but was somehow missing from her life during her darkest hour. Martha now realizes that she built walls around herself, shutting out those who could have sustained her. There is strength in numbers, and her old BFF can help Martha retrieve the lightheartedness of her earlier life and even learn to laugh at and love herself again, flaws and all. Lots of girl talk, a girlfriend getaway, and new relationships characterize the days and nights of the newly redesigned Martha. But will she find a new love? And if she does, how can she prevent herself from destroying it all? Taking risks, learning to trust her judgment, and finding out that mistakes are part of the learning process, Martha takes a leap of faith and finds unexpected treasures.

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Check out each of my six novels on my website.

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GOODBYE TO MARCH!

Another month has flown by!  While I didn’t read a lot of books (just ten!), I did enjoy them.

My Favorite for the Month:

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Genres:

     Mysteries/Thrillers:  7

     Nonfiction:  1

     Fictionalized Memoir:  1

     Contemporary Fiction:  1

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Here are the books!  Click titles for my reviews.

MARCH 2020:

1.And They Called It Camelot, by Stephanie Marie Thornton – (450 pages) – (fictionalized memoir) – 3/24/20

2.Coconut Layer Cake Murder (e-book), by Joanne Fluke – (352 pages) – (murder mystery) – 3/11/20

3.Eight Perfect Murders (e-book), by Peter Swanson – (288 pages) – (murder mystery) – 3/20/20

4.Heaven Adjacent (e-book), by Catherine Ryan Hyde – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 3/28/20

5.Mssing Sister, The (e-book), by Elle Marr – (294 pages) – (thriller) – 3/21/20 (Amazon freebie)

6.Other Mrs., The (e-book), by Mary Kubica – (361 pages) – (thriller) – 3/18/20

7.Pretty as a Picture (e-book), by Elizabeth Little – (333 pages) – (murder mystery) – 3/14/20

8.Red Lotus, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian – (400 pages) – (mystery/suspense) – 3/8/20 – (NG-3/17/20)

9.Wallis In Love, by Andrew Morton – (334 pages) – (nonfiction/biography) – 3/27/20 – (Nonfiction Challenge)

10.When You See Me (e-book), by Lisa Gardner – (382 pages) – (mystery/thriller) – 3/4/20

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN MARCH 2020:    10

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN MARCH 2020:  3,514

BOOKS READ YTD:  34

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

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REVIEW: WALLIS IN LOVE, BY ANDREW MORTON

“You have no idea how hard it is to live out a great romance.” -Wallis Simpson

Before she became known as the woman who enticed a king from his throne and birthright, Bessie Wallis Warfield was a prudish and particular girl from Baltimore. At turns imaginative, ambitious, and spoiled, Wallis’s first words as recalled by her family were “me, me.” From that young age, she was in want of nothing but stability, status, and social acceptance as she fought to climb the social ladder and take her place in London society. As irony would have it, she would gain the love and devotion of a king, but only at the cost of his throne and her reputation.

In WALLIS IN LOVE, acclaimed biographer Andrew Morton offers a fresh portrait of Wallis Simpson in all her vibrancy and brazenness as she transformed from a hard-nosed gold-digger to charming chatelaine. Using diary entries, letters, and other never-before-seen records, Morton takes us through Wallis’s romantic adventures in Washington, China, and her entrance into the strange wonderland that is London society. During her journey, we meet an extraordinary array of characters, many of whom smoothed the way for her dalliance with the king of England, Edward VIII.

WALLIS IN LOVE goes beyond Wallis’s infamous persona and reveals a complex, domineering woman striving to determine her own fate and grapple with matters of the heart.

As a fan of all things royal, I have always been intrigued by the king who gave up his crown for the woman he loved. So much of the tale told in Wallis in Love gives us a peek into the controversial union, focusing primarily on how much of Wallis was all about her own needs, more than those of her husband. Her social climbing ways were fascinating, in that we catch a glimpse of her style, somewhat outrageous at times, and at her need to surround herself with interesting and important people.But Wallis apparently lacked the main ingredients for true social interaction, and by the end of the story, we could only wonder how the banished king could continue to stick to his wife like glue, especially since there were many scenes we saw of her rude and cruel behavior to him. Throughout we are also shown her feelings for her “one true love,” a friend and confidante who was never actually hers.The wartime attitudes of the Duke almost destroyed his life further, but then he narrowly escaped the consequences of his actions.

Looking at the two of them near the end of their days, I felt a sadness and even some empathy for their poor choices and how they had to finally live with what those decisions had wrought. Abandoned and discarded, they were truly alone, and not even really “together.” I was happy to finally close this book and turn my back on them. 4 stars.

Read for the Nonfiction Challenge. –#2020ReadNonFic

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REVIEW: PRETTY AS A PICTURE, BY ELIZABETH LITTLE

Marissa Dahl, a shy but successful film editor, travels to a small island off the coast of Delaware to work with the legendary—and legendarily demanding—director Tony Rees on a feature film with a familiar logline.

Some girl dies.

It’s not much to go on, but the specifics don’t concern Marissa. Whatever the script is, her job is the same. She’ll spend her days in the editing room, doing what she does best: turning pictures into stories.

But she soon discovers that on this set, nothing is as it’s supposed to be—or as it seems. There are rumors of accidents and indiscretions, of burgeoning scandals and perilous schemes. Half the crew has been fired. The other half wants to quit. Even the actors have figured out something is wrong. And no one seems to know what happened to the editor she was hired to replace.

Then she meets the intrepid and incorrigible teenage girls who are determined to solve the real-life murder that is the movie’s central subject, and before long, Marissa is drawn into the investigation herself.

The only problem is, the killer may still be on the loose. And he might not be finished.


As I slowly immersed myself in Pretty as a Picture, I was fascinated to be inside our first person narrator’s head as she showed us the world of film making from her perspective. As the film editor, Marissa had a very unique view of that world.It didn’t take long for the reader to realize that the movie making world Marissa had stumbled into would be different than usual. Something was going on, and danger was all around.

The teenage girls who sneaked around the hotel were interesting in their junior detective mode, but soon Marissa would realize they had insights that would help solve the old murder…and the dangerous things happening in the current situation.

Several red herrings kept me off guard through most of the story…but then, at the end, the culprit turned out to be almost too obvious to be true. 4 stars.

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GOODBYE TO FEBRUARY…

Another month bites the dust!  February was short, but there were some great books to devour.

My Favorites:

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Genres:

     Literary Fiction – 1

     Nonfiction – 1

     Contemporary Fiction – 1

     Thrillers/Mystery/ – 7

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Here are the books, linked to my reviews:

FEBRUARY 2020:

1.American Dirt (e-book), by Jeanine Cummins – (377 pages) – (literary fiction) – 2/14/20)

2.Becoming, by Michelle Obama – (421 pages) – (memoir) – 2/14/20 (Nonfiction Challenge)

3..Country Guesthouse, The (e-book), by Robyn Carr – (336 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 2/4/20

4.Dead to Her (e-book), by Sarah Pinborough – (400 pages) – (mystery) – 2/27/20

5.Deep State (e-book), by Chris Hauty – (280 pages) – (political thriller) – 2/8/20

6.Housekeeper, The, by Natalie Barelli – (260 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 2/29/20

7.Losing You, by Nicci French – (322 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 2/9/20

8.Perfect Little Children (e-book), by Sophie Hannah – (327 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 2/20/20

9.Wives, The, by Tarryn Fisher – (320 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 2/22/20

10.You Are Not Alone (e-book), by Greer Hendricks/Sarah Pekkanen – (352 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 2/17/20 – (NG – 3/3/20)

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN FEBRUARY 2020:    10

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN FEBRUARY 2020:  3,395

BOOKS READ YTD:  24

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What did your month look like?

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REVIEW: THE WIVES, BY TARRYN FISHER

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

Thursday narrates The Wives, and her voice feels so rational that I had no trouble buying into her version of the story. Everything felt so credible that I was easily fooled into blaming others for the events that followed.

But then again, when the shocking conclusion knocked me off my perspective, I still wasn’t quite sure who to believe.

A stunning book that was impossible to put down, I kept reading it late into the night. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE COUNTRY GUESTHOUSE, BY ROBYN CARR

A summer rental, a new beginning…

Hannah Russell’s carefully crafted plans for her life have been upended without warning. When her best friend died suddenly, Hannah became guardian to a five-year-old named Noah. With no experience at motherhood, she’s terrified she’s not up to the challenge. She and Noah need time to get to know each other, so she decides to rent a country house with stunning views on a lake in rural Colorado.

When they arrive at the house, they are greeted by the owner, a handsome man who promises to stay out of their way. But his clumsy Great Dane, Romeo, has other ideas and Noah immediately bonds with the lovable dog. As Hannah learns to become a mother, Owen Abrams, who is recovering from his own grief, can’t help but be drawn out of his solitude by his guests.

But life throws more challenges at this unlikely trio and they are tested in ways they never thought possible. All three will discover their strengths and, despite their differences, they will fight to become a family. And the people of Sullivan’s Crossing will rally around them to offer all of the support they need.

 

I do enjoy visiting Sullivan’s Crossing and reconnecting with familiar characters like Sully, Helen, and others. Hannah merges nicely with this group, bringing her own unique strengths to the mix.

I liked that she and Owen, photographer and guesthouse owner, got along so well, and that he was a positive role model for little Noah.

When challenges presented themselves, he aided in facing off against them.

Throughout The Country Guesthouse, I felt like I was taking a stroll in the beautiful settings while enjoying the time I spent with the characters. An enjoyable read, although parts of the story lagged for me. The positives outweighed those moments, however, leading to a 4 star rating.***

JANUARY WRAP-UP: NOW LET’S CURL UP WITH FEBRUARY BOOKS…

It is time to turn the page on January.  It has been an excellent month, and I am eager to share my books.  I read and reviewed fourteen books, and I even finished one book for my Nonfiction Challenge.

My favorite book of the month:  The Look-Alike, by Erica Spindler, a NetGalley ARC that released on January 28.

 

My Genres for the Month:

Mystery/Suspense:  9

Contemporary Fiction:  3

Literary Fiction: 1

Nonfiction:  1

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My Books Read for the Month-Click on Titles for Reviews:

JANUARY 2020:

1.All the Little Liars, by Charlaine Harris – (229 pages) – (mystery) – 1/31/20

2.Daughter, The, by Jane Shemilt – (341 pages) – (suspense/mystery) – 1/17/20

3.Edible Woman, The, by Margaret Atwood – (310 pages) – (literary fiction) – 1/20/20

4.John F. Kennedy, Jr.:  America’s Reluctant Prince, by Steven M. Gillon – (408 pages) – (biography) – 1/26/20 -(Nonfiction Challenge)

5.Kiss the Girls & Make Them Cry, by Mary Higgins Clark – (384 pages)- (suspense thriller), 1/2/20 (FIRST BOOK OF THE YEAR)

6.Look-Alike, The (e-book), by Erica Spindler (320 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 1/2/20 – (NG – 1/28/20)

7.No Place Like Home, by Rebecca Muddiman – (231 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 1/18/20

8.Normal People (e-book), by Sally Rooney – (268 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 1/6/20

9.Playground, The (e-book), by Jane Shemilt – (369 pages) – (domestic suspense thriller) – 1/10/20

10.Regretting You (e-book), by Colleen Hoover – (354 pages) – (contemporary fiction) -1/14/20

11.Shelter Mountain (e-book), by Robyn Carr – (395 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 1/23/20

12.Such a Perfect Wife (e-book), by Kate White – (362 pages) – (murder mystery) – 1/11/20

13.Vanishing, The (e-book, Fogg Lake #1), by Jayne Ann Krentz – (293 pages) – (paranormal suspense) – 1/30/20

14.When I Was You (e-book), by Minka Kent – (281 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 1/25/20

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN JANUARY 2020:    14

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN JANUARY 2020:  4,545

BOOKS READ YTD:  14

FAVORITE BOOK IN JANUARY 2020: The Look-Alike, by Erica Spindler

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How did you do in January?  What are your February plans?

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REVIEW: THE DAUGHTER, BY JANE SHEMILT

Jenny is a successful family doctor, the mother of three great teenagers, married to a celebrated neurosurgeon.

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn’t come home after her school play, Jenny’s seemingly ideal life begins to crumble. The authorities launch a nationwide search with no success. Naomi has vanished, and her family is broken.

As the months pass, the worst-case scenarios—kidnapping, murder—seem less plausible. The trail has gone cold. Yet for a desperate Jenny, the search has barely begun. More than a year after her daughter’s disappearance, she’s still digging for answers—and what she finds disturbs her. Everyone she’s trusted, everyone she thought she knew, has been keeping secrets, especially Naomi. Piecing together the traces her daughter left behind, Jenny discovers a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

Alternating narratives take the reader through the past and the present in The Daughter. Jenny struggles to move beyond what has happened to her daughter, but she is unable to do so. Thoughts of her relationship with Naomi and those last fateful days before her daughter disappeared seem to consume her.

She spends her time in the family cottage, isolated, but slowly she begins to reach out to others. Helping an ailing neighbor next door reminds her of her nurturing qualities and what is missing in her life, offering an alternative to focusing on her loss.

As the story continues, we start uncovering more pieces to the puzzle of Naomi’s disappearance, and see beneath the perfect exterior of the characters’ lives. Lies, secrets, and unexpected events kept me reading, although I felt frustrated by the slow unwinding of a tome that could have kept me glued to the pages. 4 stars.

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