BOOKS FROM THE BACKLOG: ANOTHER POTENTIAL TREASURE!

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Lately I have been slowly reading books I found through this meme.  What a satisfying feeling that has been!  There are still more to bring forward, however, and today I found one purchased in April 2017 from an author I have enjoyed, and as I read the description, I am excited at the prospect of digging in.

The Dark Flood Rises, by Margaret Drabble: From the great British novelist Dame Margaret Drabble comes a vital and audacious tale about the many ways in which we confront aging and living in a time of geopolitical rupture.

 

Sounds good to me right now!

Here’s the description from Amazon: 

Francesca Stubbs has an extremely full life. A highly regarded expert on housing for the elderly who is herself getting on in age, she drives “restlessly round England,” which is “her last love . . . She wants to see it all before she dies.” Amid the professional conferences that dominate her schedule, she fits in visits to old friends, brings home cooked dinners to her ailing ex-husband, texts her son, who is grieving over the shocking death of his girlfriend, and drops in on her daughter, a quirky young woman who lives in a flood plain in the West Country. Fran cannot help but think of her mortality, but she is “not ready to settle yet, with a cat upon her knee.” She still prizes her “frisson of autonomy,” her belief in herself as a dynamic individual doing meaningful work in the world.

The Dark Flood Rises moves between Fran’s interconnected group of family and friends in England and a seemingly idyllic expat community in the Canary Islands. In both places, disaster looms. In Britain, the flood tides are rising, and in the Canaries, there is always the potential for a seismic event. As well, migrants are fleeing an increasingly war-torn Middle East.

Though The Dark Flood Rises delivers the pleasures of a traditional novel, it is clearly situated in the precarious present. Margaret Drabble’s latest enthralls, entertains, and asks existential questions in equal measure. Alas, there is undeniable truth in Fran’s insight: “Old age, it’s a fucking disaster!”

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I am eager to start reading it!

Why did I neglect it?  Same old story.  I think I may have begun reading it three years ago and just didn’t connect with it at that time.  Or the new thrillers were calling to me.

What are you finding on your TBR piles today?

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REVIEW: JUST BETWEEN US, BY REBECCA DRAKE

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

 

In Just Between Us, the friendship between four suburban women deepens when they believe one of them is being abused.

They step up and band together to encourage her to leave her husband and to get help. She refuses. Then one night, tragedy comes to them all as they are caught up in keeping a dreadful secret that will lead to so much more danger than any of them could have imagined.

At what cost will they keep protecting their friend? Will they discover that there is so much more to her story, and will they all finally pay the price?

So many twists along the way kept me reading and hoping for a good outcome. The story has multiple narrators, and sometimes I lost track of whose voice I was reading, but I could not put the book down. 4.5 stars.

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JULY WAS A GOOD READING MONTH…

Another month has flown by, almost literally, as I scarcely blinked before it was over.  But…I read more books this month than any previous ones in the last while.  In fact, the last month in which I read FOURTEEN books was January!  So I guess something went right this month.

I had several books that vied for favorites, so I ended up choosing two fiction books and one nonfiction for that title.

Fiction Books:

 

Nonfiction Book:

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Genres:

     Thrillers:  8

     Contemporary Fiction:  4

     Nonfiction:  2

 

Here are my books, with titles linked to my reviews:

JULY 2020:

1.Dead Letters (e-book), by Caite Dolan-Leach -(332 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/4/20

2.Friends & Strangers (e-book), by J. Courtney Sullivan – (416 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/31/20

3.Girl from Widow Hills, The (e-book), by Megan Miranda – (332 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 7/21/20

4.Half Sister, The (e-book), by Sandie Jones – (304 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/6/20

5.House Guest, The (e-book), by Mark Edwards – (294 pages) – (thriller) – 7/2/20

6.Night Swim, The (e-book), by Megan Goldin – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 7/28/20 (NG-8/4/20)

7.Nomadland (e-book), by Jessica Bruder – (287 pages) – (nonfiction) – 7/15/20

8.Playing Nice (e-book), by JP Delaney – (417 pages) – (domestic suspense) – 7/25/20 – (NG-7/28/20)

9.Request, The (e-book), by David Bell – (403 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 7/26/20

10.Safe Place, The (e-book), by Anna Downes – (342 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 7/24/20

11.Stranger in the Lake (e-book), by Kimberly Belle – (352 pages) – (mystery) – 7/13/20

12.Swap, The (e-book), by Robyn Harding – (315 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 7/10/20

13.Too Much & Never Enough (e-book), by Mary L Trump, Ph.D. – (236 pages) – (nonfiction) – 7/16/20

14.What You Wish For (e-10book), by Katherine Center – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/8/20 – (NG-7/14/20)

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN JULY 2020:    14

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN JULY 2020: 4,702

BOOKS READ YTD:  86

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How did your July unfold?  Come on by and share.

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REVIEW: FRIENDS & STRANGERS, BY J. COURTNEY SULLIVAN

 

Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day (and awake with him much of the night), she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms’ Facebook group, her “influencer” sister’s Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore. Enter Sam, a senior at the local women’s college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she’s always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She’s worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth’s father-in-law, the true differences between the women’s lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

A masterful exploration of motherhood, power dynamics, and privilege in its many forms, Friends and Strangers reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life.


I loved the primary characters in Friends and Strangers, and how their connection started during one difficult year when each of the two women was exploring major changes in their lives. Their relationship morphs to one of friendship, but will they cross lines along the way?

Elisabeth is still struggling with whether or not to have another child, something she doesn’t really want, but she doesn’t have the courage to openly confront her feelings and the possible ramifications.

Sam is in a love relationship that is seemingly fraught and possibly inappropriate, but her need to move into her adult life with everything “sorted,” like she believes Elisabeth’s life has been settled, propels her into decisions that may upend her life and her plans in unexpected ways.

By the end, the crossed lines will ultimately change everything, but is it possible that what they meant to each other will have changed them in positive ways, too?

I didn’t want the year to end things between them, but like most seemingly important relationships that happen at crucial turning points, that year did serve its purpose. The friendship will have been important to each of them, turning significant and sentimental moments into treasures to cherish. 5 stars.

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I FOUND ANOTHER NEGLECTED BOOK!

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

I scrolled through 2018 again to see what I have left behind, and found this book that sounds so good!  How did I neglect it so?

Just Between Us, by Rebecca Drake, is a “twisty domestic thriller” in which four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime…

Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

***

I have now collected a group of must-read neglected books.  Since I began this journey, I have read a few, so that’s a start, right?  I don’t know how soon I’ll read this one, but I have retrieved it from the Cloud.  So there’s that.

Enjoy your reading.  What have you overlooked in your TBR pile?

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REVIEW: PLAYING NICE, BY JP DELANEY

 

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son—he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again.

The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents—or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

Playing Nice brings out the worst kind of crisis for two couples, one that will change everything they believed and hoped to find in family life.

At first, when the Lamberts seem congenial and eager to compromise, Pete and Maddie almost sigh with relief. But then the true nightmare begins, when the act of “playing nice” is revealed in full.

As Miles begins to show his true self and the horror of his intentions, his actions intensify as the custody case ratchets up.

But what happens next after a judge makes her decision? Will there be happiness at last, or will more secrets come out that will change everything again? Who will finally find comfort and joy with the children? A brilliant story that kept me turning pages and hoping for the right outcome for my favorite characters. 5 stars.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

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PLUMBING THE DEPTHS OF MY TBR…

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

My neglected book today is from April 28, 2017, and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet.  It sounds great!

The Affair, by Amanda Brooke, is a shocking story about a fifteen-year-old girl and the man who took advantage of her…

“You might as well know from the start, I’m not going to tell on him and I don’t care how much trouble I get in. It’s not like it could get any worse than it already is.

I can’t. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t.”

When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart.

Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything.

As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.

 

***

So this book is moving up on my Kindle, for a “sooner rather than later” read.  I hope.

What books have you been neglecting?

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REVIEW: TOO MUCH & NEVER ENOUGH, BY MARY L. TRUMP, PH.D.

In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald’s only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents’ large, imposing house in the heart of Queens, New York, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse. She explains how specific events and general family patterns created the damaged man who currently occupies the Oval Office, including the strange and harmful relationship between Fred Trump and his two oldest sons, Fred Jr. and Donald.

A firsthand witness to countless holiday meals and interactions, Mary brings an incisive wit and unexpected humor to sometimes grim, often confounding family events. She recounts in unsparing detail everything from her uncle Donald’s place in the family spotlight and Ivana’s penchant for regifting to her grandmother’s frequent injuries and illnesses and the appalling way Donald, Fred Trump’s favorite son, dismissed and derided him when he began to succumb to Alzheimer’s.

Numerous pundits, armchair psychologists, and journalists have sought to parse Donald J. Trump’s lethal flaws. Mary L. Trump has the education, insight, and intimate familiarity needed to reveal what makes Donald, and the rest of her clan, tick. She alone can recount this fascinating, unnerving saga, not just because of her insider’s perspective but also because she is the only Trump willing to tell the truth about one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families.


From the very first page of Too Much and Never Enough, the author spoke to us from her position inside the family, as well as by way of her clinical training.We learn how Donald Trump was taught by his father that lying is okay and admitting that you are wrong is a sign of weakness. We also see how his arrogance is a defense against abandonment (by his mother) and an antidote to his lack of self-esteem.Why do so many with access to him now, in his position, enable him? Their futures are directly dependent on his success and favor.The author talks about his response (or lack thereof) to Covid-19 and how it underscores his need to minimize negativity at all costs. Fear, the equivalent of weakness in his family, is as unacceptable to him now as it was when he was three years old.

The toxic positivity that his father deployed within the family is the very same thing now driving the man who has placed the country and the democracy in danger. Let us not be complicit in the destruction by ignoring it.

A great read that kept me turning pages and earned 5 stars.

Read for the Nonfiction Challenge. –#2020ReadNonFic

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BACKLOG BOOKS…ANOTHER ONE!

It is time for another search of our TBR shelves/piles for those sadly neglected books from the past.  Carole’s Random Life in Books is hosting this event.

Today I have dipped into my 2019 Book Purchases, and found one from January 2 that I have been eager to read.  So why haven’t I gotten around to it?  Overwhelming TBR!

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan

Now a USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly bestseller! “Patti Callahan seems to have found the story she was born to tell in this tale of unlikely friendship turned true love between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis, that tests the bounds of faith and radically alters both of their lives. Their connection comes to life in Callahan’s expert hands, revealing a connection so persuasive and affecting, we wonder if there’s another like it in history. Luminous and penetrating.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife In a most improbable friendship, she found love. In a world where women were silenced, she found her voice. From New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan comes an exquisite novel of Joy Davidman, the woman C. S. Lewis called “my whole world.” When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford don and the beloved writer of Narnia, yet their minds bonded over their letters. Embarking on the adventure of her life, Joy traveled from America to England and back again, facing heartbreak and poverty, discovering friendship and faith, and against all odds, finding a love that even the threat of death couldn’t destroy.

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I have seen a movie based on the love story, starring Debra Winger and Anthony Hopkins, so I was eager to read the book.

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What books have you neglected?

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REVIEW: THE SWAP, BY ROBYN HARDING

 

Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.


What begins as a tale of obsession and jealousy, The Swap soon becomes so much more. Is it about love gone wrong, or is it about the narcissistic actions of a woman whose own needs, desires, and destructive manipulations control the lives of those around her?

The characters were all flawed and unlikable in many ways. Jamie and Brian had some redeeming qualities, so in the end, I found myself rooting for them.

Low seemed tragically affected by her own family’s issues and seeking love in all the wrong places.

An engaging, but dark story that earned 4.5 stars from me.

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