REVIEW: INVISIBLE GIRL, BY LISA JEWELL

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct—accusations he strongly denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is inadvertently sucked into the dark world of incel forums, where he meets a charismatic and mysterious figure.

Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.

Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

 

Invisible Girl introduces the characters in alternating sections, beginning with a young girl who likes to hide out and watch people. She is called Saffyre Maddox and she has been in therapy with another character, Roan Fours, whom she likes to follow and watch, along with his family. What is going on behind her actions, and what happens to her one night when she suddenly goes missing?

Meanwhile, we learn more about Cate, Roan’s wife, along with her teenage children, Josh and Georgia. Their lives seem normal enough, but Cate worries a lot about them and her husband Roan, who has given her reasons to mistrust him at times.

Saffyre’s story unfolds slowly, until we begin to fill in the missing pieces of what happened to her. Even as she emerges from her “invisibility,” other puzzling tidbits come to light about other characters: like Owen and his true story; about a man who hurt Saffyre years before; and about Roan’s secrets. In the end, there was a stunning reveal. 5 stars from me.

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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.

Today’s forgotten book is from a favorite author and was purchased in September 2017!  The Summer That Made Us, by Robyn Carr, should have been an instant read…but other books, distractions, etc. 

The description pulls me in today, just as it did when I added it to my shelves:

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.

That was then…

For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now…

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

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I am pulling it forward on my Kindle!  What have you rediscovered today?

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REVIEW: REMAIN SILENT, BY SUSIE STEINER

Newly married and navigating life with a preschooler as well as her adopted adolescent son, Manon Bradshaw is happy to be working part-time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, a job that allows her to potter in, coffee in hand, and log on for a spot of Internet shopping—precisely what she had in mind when she thought of work-life balance. But beneath the surface Manon is struggling with the day-to-day realities of what she’d assumed would be domestic bliss: fights about whose turn it is to clean the kitchen, the bewildering fatigue of having a young child while in her forties, and the fact that she is going to couples counseling alone because her husband feels it would just be her complaining.

But when Manon is on a walk with her four-year-old son in a peaceful suburban neighborhood and discovers the body of a Lithuanian immigrant hanging from a tree with a mysterious note attached, she knows her life is about to change. Suddenly, she is back on the job full-force, trying to solve the suicide—or is it a murder—in what may be the most dangerous and demanding case of her life.

 

I like the character Manon Bradshaw, having read and enjoyed previous books in the series.  Her internal monologues are astute and sometimes funny, while her diligence on the job shows through, even when she sometimes feels frustrated by her colleagues and her superior officer who seems bent on changing the way Manon does her job.

Manon’s coworker Davy is another character from previous books, and Remain Silent is told between the two of them via alternating narratives.

Will Manon eventually discover the answers in the strange case involving immigrants and slave labor?  Can she find her way to balancing her home and work life?  Another story that I enjoyed, and which earned 4.5 stars.

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A BOOKISH DELIGHT ON THE BACKLOG…

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 newly rediscovered book was purchased in June 2018: The Lost for Words Bookshop, by Stephanie Butland.

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

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I have loved finding these bookish novels about libraries, etc.  I can’t wait to read this one.

What have you rediscovered this week?

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REVIEW: LIFE IN PIECES, BY DAWN O’PORTER

From reflections on grief and identity, bad hair and parenting, sleep and spirituality, to the things we can control and the things we cannot, Dawn has been doing a lot of thinking about life in lockdown. Mostly from a cupboard. Discover the daily diaries that track the journey – for a hilarious, heartbreaking and highly entertaining glimpse into the new normal.

‘There’s been a lot of well-meaning but mad advice on how to contend with the strangest period of human history any of us has ever lived through. Dawn O’Porter redresses the balance by telling it as it really has been: holding out for 5pm to crack open the tequila’ Mark Watson

As soon as I began reading Life in Pieces, I was smiling and sometimes laughing at her view of 2020. Unlike her, I am not a mother of small children, but a senior citizen; however, having been in that role, I could definitely imagine how the year would play out from her perspective.

Her occasional jabs at those in charge in this strange new world particularly resonated with me. None of us are happy to learn that politics has played such a role in how events unfolded for us.

Now I am just hoping to make it through the year…and beyond, if necessary, but it is great to read books like this one along the way.

I like her description of events: “I am speaking to my family more. I am working on my marriage more. I am nesting, organizing, preparing for disaster, making sure that, if the world goes to shit, we will survive. I am loving harder than I’ve ever loved in my life. I was alone with my grief, but now the whole world is grieving too. A solidarity that we can’t deny.”

I love when a book pulls it all together so nicely, reminding us that, in the midst of uncertainty and chaos, there is a silver lining. 5 stars.

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ANOTHER BACKLOG 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 didn’t go back that far to find this overlooked book, which I purchased in March 2019:  The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick is one I definitely should not have passed by.

Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.

All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.

Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heartwarming and poignant tale of how one woman must take control of her destiny to write her own happy ending.

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This one sounds like my kind of read, so I am grateful to this meme for helping me search out such books.

What did you find?

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PLAYING AROUND WITH HEADERS…

Yesterday I discovered that my PicMonkey Photo Editor had gone “new,” just as so many things have done lately! Are you listening, WordPress?

After a few clicks, I discovered that I could revert to the Old PicMonkey, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I went a little crazy making new blog headers while I still could! Like the one you see above, for this site.

I also changed my theme.

Over at Potpourri, I created this header:

And I tripped on over to An Interior Journey to tweak the header there.

Of course, making all these changes did require lots of time working with the Block Editor (sigh), but I have figured out a few tweaks there, too. Knock wood!

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What do you do when you find that the whole familiar universe is changing?  We all have had a lot of practice with that this year!  Have a great week!

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A BOOK OVERLOOKED…

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 scrolled through my 2019 purchases, and found a book I bought in September that I have been meaning to read: The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett.

I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet…it is not a lengthy book.  So I will commit to it…soon!

Here’s what drew me in:

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

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What books have you been ignoring/neglecting/overlooking?

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SEPTEMBER WRAP-UP…

How did September fly by so fast?  I didn’t even read that many books:  only nine!  But I did find two favorites:

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Genres:

Mysteries/Thrillers:  5

      Contemporary Fiction:  4

 

Here are my books.  Click the titles to find my reviews.

SEPTEMBER 2020:

1.Don’t Look for Me (e-book), by Wendy Walker – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 9/2/20 – (NG-9/15/20)

2.Final Cut (e-book), by S.J. Watson – (360 pages) – (mystery) – 9/16/20

3.Girls of Summer (e-book), by Nancy Thayer – (305 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/7/20

4.Heart Bones (e-book), by Colleen Hoover – (251 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/4/20

5.Little Disasters (e-book), by Sarah Vaughan – (420 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 9/10/20

6.Monogamy (e-book), by Sue Miller – (352 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/19/20

7.Three Perfect Liars (e-book), by Heidi Perks – (333 pages) – (thriller) – 9/30/20

8.Unfollow Me (e-book), by Charlotte Duckworth – (288 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/12/20

9.When She Was Good (e-book), by Michael Robotham – (349 pages) – (thriller) – 9/26/20

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN SEPTEMBER 2020:    9

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN SEPTEMBER 2020: 3,010

BOOKS READ YTD: 106

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How did your month unfold?

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REVIEW: THREE PERFECT LIARS, BY HEIDI PERKS

Laura has returned to work at Morris and Wood after her maternity leave, only to discover that the woman she brought in to cover for her isn’t planning on going anywhere. Despite her close relationship with the agency’s powerful CEO, Harry Wood, she feels sidelined—and outmaneuvered—as she struggles to balance the twin demands of work and motherhood.

Mia was only supposed to be a temporary hire at Morris and Wood, but she’s managed to make herself indispensable to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Laura. If people only knew why she was so desperate to keep her job, they might not want her to stay.

Janie gave up everything to support her husband and the successful agency he runs. But she has her own dark secret to protect…and will go to any lengths to keep it safe.


As I followed along with the alternating narratives in Three Perfect Liars, I was drawn in by each of the women. I could easily see each point of view, so that I knew I would have to choose one of them by the end of the story.Or were they all equally compelling?

The story also takes us to occasional interviews with investigators, who are trying to determine the cause of a massive fire that takes out the company at the center of the tale. Back and forth we go as the timeline carries us along for a ride.

As much as I wanted to find the answers to each woman’s secrets, the story plodded along with few hints until we approached the final denouement. Who would come out the winner, or would there be none? Who started the fire and whose body was discovered? 4.5 stars.

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