REVIEW: CROSS HER HEART, BY SARAH PINBOROUGH

 

Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.

But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it’s time to let her terrifying secret past go.

But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa’s world explodes.

As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it’s up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.

But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.

Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren’t meant to be broken.

My Thoughts: From the first pages of Cross Her Heart, we can sense something that regularly niggles at Lisa, our MC. Some dark secret from the past that she has tucked away carefully, which makes her seem overly obsessive about some things. Her teenage daughter Ava resents how carefully her mother guards her, as if danger lurks.

When her dark past is revealed after photos are shown in the news, we are still not completely sure about those secrets. Throughout the story, I felt there was a lot more to the past; secrets even Lisa kept to herself back then. Some events she doesn’t even remember clearly. As we rapidly turn the pages, going back and forth in time, we learn more about what really happened all those years ago…and what someone is doing to torture Lisa in the present.

Now she must find the secret tormentor, someone she believes is out there, despite the evidence that suggests otherwise. What will Lisa do to finally put the past to rest? How will her BFF Marilyn help her?

I loved how the characters fought for the truth…and for peace with the past. 5 stars.

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CURL UP WITH NEW REVIEW BOOKS!

The other day, I was celebrating the fact that I was on top of my Review ARCs, with only two left.  They are October releases, so I was relaxing into reading from my shelves.

But then, unexpectedly, I got approval for more NG ARCs…and I did have to pause and consider them.  But one was for January 2019 and the other, February 2019.

An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, will be released on January 8, 2019; I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book, so it was a no-brainer to add it to my Kindle (Paige).  My new Kindle is happily gobbling up the books.

“[A] seamless thriller that will keep readers on their toes to the very end…Readers will enjoy the dizzying back-and-forth as they attempt to figure out just who to root for and as the suspense ratchets up to one hell of a conclusion.” —Booklist

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Then I added one that will be released on February 5:

Forget You Know Me, by Jessica Strawser.  I’ve loved some books by this author, so it was an easy add for me.

In her engrossing new novel, Forget You Know Me, Jessica Strawser takes readers deep into an intimate friendship between two women. When one witnesses a shocking incident that should never have been caught on camera, the secrets and lies it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

***

The third book I added came along today, from an author I have enjoyed:  Bette Lee Crosby, with the second in the Magnolia Grove series.  Release Date:  October 16, which means I have added another book to the October schedule…but I can do it!

A Year of Extraordinary Moments

From USA Today bestselling author Bette Lee Crosby comes a heartwarming novel about letting go of the past to make way for a brighter future.

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So…my schedule has just gotten busier again, but I’m loving the feeling of more great new books to read!

What do your review shelves look like these days?

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REVIEW: ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, BY GAIL HONEYMAN

 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .
 
The only way to survive is to open your heart. 

My Thoughts: I had heard such good things about Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, so I was not surprised to find myself irresistibly drawn to this socially awkward yet brilliant young woman. Her routines seemed to define her, and I could understand how reassuring they were. She seemingly denied any problems or issues, assuring everyone repeatedly that she was fine. Being alone and apparently friendless was a way to show her strength and her capability.

But along the way, as Eleanor began to long for someone special in her life, she built up a fantasy life around a handsome singer, and started changing her appearance, from hair and makeup to new clothes, to make herself more appealing. She was also becoming friends with Raymond, the somewhat strange IT colleague, and gradually began to join him for lunches, outings, and even parties. She bloomed.

But then something happens that topples her carefully constructed reality…and she has to accept help. At last.

I loved how we learned bits and pieces about her life, through her first person narrative. But she kept most of her secrets close to her vest until finally, through therapy, she could confront the pain and trauma of the past. I loved Eleanor, and wanted to keep reading about her. I am looking forward to the movie. 5 stars.

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HELLO, SEPTEMBER! AUGUST MONTHLY WRAP-UP

Welcome to September…and goodbye to August.  What a great month, and it seemed to fly by.  Head on over to Book Date, to link up with others and their wrap-up posts.

My August fell into these genres:

Mystery/Thrillers – 7

Contemporary Fiction – 3

Literary Fiction – 2

Historical Fiction – 1

Nonfiction – 1

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This month, I read 4 books with more than 400 pages.

My two favorites this past month…and it was hard to choose, as there were so many good ones.

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the books I read; click titles for my reviews:

AUGUST 2018:

1.All Your Perfects (e-book), by Colleen Hoover – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 8/16/18

2.A Noise Downstairs (e-book), by Linwood Barclay – (368 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 8/21/18

3.An Unwanted Guest (e-book), by Shari Lapena – (290 pages) – (murder mystery) – 8/28/18

4.Clock Dance (e-book), by Anne Tyler – (304 pages) – (literary fiction) – 8/7/18

5.Date, The (e-book), by Louise Jensen – (300 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 8/4/18

6.Feared (e-book, Rosato & DiNunzio), by Lisa Scottoline – 400 pages – (legal thriller) – 8/2/18 – (NG-8/14)

7.Growing up Fisher, by Joely Fisher (305 pages) – (memoir) – 8/5/18

8.Lies (e-book), by T. M. Logan – (432 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 8/26/18 – (NG-9/11)

9.Not Her Daughter (e-book), by Rea Frey – (362 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 8/10/18 – (NG – 8/21/18)

10.November Road, by Lou Berney – (299 pages) – (historical fiction) – 8/25/18 – (Amazon Vine)

11.Perfect Couple, The (e-book), by Elin Hilderbrand – (465 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 8/14/18

12.Pieces of Her (e-book), by Karin Slaughter – (480 pages) – (mystery) – 8/31/18

13.When the Lights Go Out (e-book), by Mary Kubica – (336 pages) – (mystery) -8/23/18 – (NG-9/4/18)

14.Whistle in the Dark (e-book), by Emma Healey – (330 pages) – (literary fiction) – 8/18/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN AUGUST 2018:        14

NUMBER OF PAGES READ AUGUST 2018:           4,991

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                 103

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What did your August look like?

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REVIEW: WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, BY MARY KUBICA

 

Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.

Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?

My Thoughts: From the first page of When the Lights Go Out, I thought that I had a good grip on where this story was going. Narrated by two characters, twenty years apart, we slowly learn the story of a mother and a daughter. But the bizarre twists and turns lead us to scratch our heads and ponder everything we thought we knew.

Who is Jessica Sloane? What secrets did her mother, Eden, keep from her, and why? How did Jessica’s grief lead her down some very uncertain pathways? Has Jessica been living with a stolen identity? Was her life a lie…or a strange dream?

As I read, I couldn’t help thinking of movies I’ve seen in which the conclusion shows that the whole story has been a fabrication…or a Twilight Zone of some kind. So I felt stunned. And as if I, too, had been led into a kind of alternate reality, which I then had to interpret and sort through. Until the last sections, I was headed toward a 5 star rating…instead, 4 stars from me.


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

REVIEW: GROWING UP FISHER, BY JOELY FISHER

 

Actress, director, entertainer Joely Fisher invites readers backstage, into the intimate world of her career and family with this touching, down-to-earth memoir filled with incredible, candid stories about her life, her famous parents, and how the loss of her unlikely hero, sister Carrie Fisher, ignited the writer in her.

Growing up in an iconic Hollywood Dynasty, Joely Fisher knew a show business career was her destiny. The product of world-famous crooner Eddie Fisher and ’60s sex kitten Connie Stevens, she struggled with her own identity and place in the world on the way to a decades-long career as an acclaimed actress, singer, and director.

Now, Joely shares her unconventional coming of age and stories of the family members and co-stars dearest to her heart, while stripping bare her own misadventures. In Growing Up Fisher, she recalls the beautifully bizarre twist of fate by which she spent a good part of her childhood next door to Debbie Reynolds. She speaks frankly about the realities of Hollywood—the fame and fortune, the constant scrutiny. Throughout, she celebrates the anomaly of a two-decade marriage in the entertainment industry, and the joys and challenges of parenting five children, while dishing on what it takes to survive and thrive in the unrelenting glow of celebrity. She speaks frankly about how the loss of her sister Carrie Fisher became a source of artistic inspiration.

Fisher’s memoir, with never-before-seen photos, will break and warm your heart.

 

My Thoughts: As a fan of Connie Stevens from the 60s, before she married Eddie Fisher, I was also hooked on their beautiful little family. I enjoyed seeing their two daughters who were approximately the same ages as my first two sons. I followed stories of them over the years, but then lost track.

Next, Joely Fisher’s movies and TV appearances caught my eye, as I was also a fan of her older sister Carrie. It was fascinating to me how Debbie Reynolds and Connie Stevens lived next door to each other on the beach at one point, and co-parented their children at times. Like a big blended family, abandoned by the father. Later in her life, Joely reconnected with Eddie, but she was the one who made the first moves. In the end, they were closer than she had thought possible.

Sharing what Growing up Fisher was like, with Eddie gone and Connie as the perky matriarch, I settled in to enjoy the moments and the memories. The photos were great, and I enjoyed learning more about their primary home on Delfern Drive, in Holmby Hills; a home in which they lived…when they didn’t. As money got tight at times, they would lease the home out and live elsewhere, returning when finances were better. At one point, Connie leased the home to the production crew that filmed Carrie Fisher’s movie Postcards from the Edge, and I loved learning this fact that was previously unknown to me.

The story was told in a back and forth fashion, following along to topics like The Fishbowl; Oh My Papa; The Courtship of Eddie’s Daughter; The Apple Doesn’t Fall Apart Very Far from the Tree; Blind Trust; Home; and After Thoughts…to name a few. An enjoyable read: 4 stars.

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JULY IS ENDING…HELLO, AUGUST!

It’s that time again!  One month is ending, and another is beginning.  Check in over at Book Date to see what others have accomplished.

I loved so many of my books this month that it was hard to pick a favorite:

I chose these two books:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genres:

      Mysteries/Thrillers – 5

     Contemporary Fiction: 6

     Nonfiction – 1

 

Books Read and Reviewed:  (Click links to my reviews)

JULY 2018:

1.Believe Me (e-book), by J. P. Delaney – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 7/8/18 – (NG – 7/24/18)

2.Castaway Cottage, by Joanne DeMaio – (400 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/16/18 – (Author Review Request)

3.Death of Mrs. Westaway, The (e-book), by Ruth Ware – (384 pages) – (thriller) – 7/21/18

4.Ever After, The (e-book), by Sarah Pekkanen – (273 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/12/18

5.Left:  A Love Story (e-book), by Mary Hogan – (236 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/20/18

6.My Girls, by Todd Fisher – (383 pages) – (memoir) – 7/1/18

7.My (Not So) Perfect Life (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella – (439 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/6/18 – (Library Book)

8.Night Moves (e-book), by Jonathan Kellerman -(397 pages) – (murder mystery) – 7/5/18

9.Our House (e-book), by Louise Candlish – (416 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 7/18/18 – (NG – 8/7)

10.Season of Silver Linings, The, by Christine Nolfi – (273 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/31/18 – (Author Review Request)

11.Sister of Mine (e-book), by Laurie Petrou – (304 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 7/24/18 – (NG-8/7)

12.Tangerine (e-book), by Christine Mangan – (320 pages) – (suspense) – 7/10/18

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KEEPING TRACK: MY BOOKS PURCHASED & READ

As we reach the end of the month, with more than half the year over, it might be time to look back at my purchases for the year…and evaluate my progress.

I did cut down on spending in some of the months, and I’ve read and reviewed quite a few books from my purchases.  But…overall, here’s how it looks, by month.  To see the overview, click on Books Purchased – 2018.  The books read are linked to the reviews.

 

Books Purchased:                 Books Read & Reviewed:

January:  14                               10

February:  13                             8

March:  9                                      6

April:     6                                       5

May:      7                                       3

June:     9                                       2

July:      10                                    1

Books Purchased in 2018:           68

Books Read & Reviewed from these Purchases:  35

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I’ve read books from other years as well, and a few review books along the way.  So my reading totals are not as light as these numbers reveal.  My total books read for the year so far:

88 books, counting the ones I’ve read so far in July.

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Do you keep track of your purchases?  Do you enjoy taking a look at your progress?  How is your year shaping up so far?

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REVIEW: SISTER OF MINE, BY LAURIE PETROU

 

Penny and Hattie, orphaned sisters in a small town, are best friends, bound together to the point of knots. But Penny, at the mercy of her brutal husband, is desperate for a fresh start. Willing to do anything for her older sister, Hattie agrees to help. A match is struck and a fire burns Penny’s marriage to the ground. With her husband gone, Penny is free, and the sisters, it seems, get away with murder. But freedom comes at a cost.

More than a year after the fire, a charming young man comes to town. Hattie and Penny quickly bring him into the fold and into their hearts but their love for him threatens the delicate balance. Soon long-held resentments, sibling rivalry, and debts unpaid boil over, and the bonds of sisterhood begin to snap. As one little lie grows into the next, the sisters’ secrets will unravel, eroding their lives until only a single, horrible truth remains: You owe me.

My Thoughts: Sisterhood bonds can be sweet and loving, but they can also be tight and destructive. Sister of Mine is a mix of all these ingredients, but with the passage of time, the tight and destructive bonds would be their undoing.

Orphaned and living in a small town, Penny and Hattie Grayson often feel the eyes of the judgers upon them. Sometimes the scrutiny makes Hattie, the younger sister, act out more. She loves the center of attention, and she also enjoys stirring up rivalry with her sister. Their mother nurtured that spark of competition between them, and remembering her reignites it.

What deep, dark secret strengthens the ties between the sisters, and not in a good way? As we immerse ourselves in their story, a slow burn brings the dark secret into the light, and it is only near the end of the book that we fully realize what had happened one dark and dangerous night.

Hattie moved in and out of the home over the years, and each time she left, Penny savored the freedom from her sister’s constant reminders and taunts. The legacy of their secret.

How does adding a man and a child into the mix up the ante for the two of them? Why do some of the more troubled townsfolk continually tug away at the past until everything comes tumbling down?

As I turned the pages of this dark and sinister tale that shined a light on a truly dysfunctional connection, I couldn’t stop reading. Parts of the story were repetitive, but in the end I awarded 4.5 stars.


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

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE OTHER WIFE”

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 acquisition:  The Other Wife, a mesmerising psychological thriller from one of the greatest crime writers of today, Michael Robotham, the international bestselling author of THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS.

 

 

 

Beginning:  (Day One)

From the top of Primrose Hill, silhouetted against the arriving day, the spires and domes of London look like the painted backdrop of a Pinewood sound stage waiting for actors to take their places and an unseen director to yell ‘Action‘.

I love this city.  Built upon the ruins of the past, every square foot of it has been used, re-used, flattened, bombed, dismantled, rebuilt and flattened again until the layers of history are like sediments of rock that will one day be picked over by future archaeologists and treasure hunters.

***

Friday 56:  He’s looking for a sympathetic ear, someone who understands the burden of being middle-aged, male, successful, white and married to an attractive wife.  For a moment, we lock eyes and he realises that I’m not the right person and decides to let it go.  He picks up his mug of tea and dunks a biscuit (56%).

***

Synopsis:  Childhood sweethearts William and Mary have been married for sixty years. William is a celebrated surgeon, Mary a devoted wife. Both have a strong sense of right and wrong.

This is what their son, Joe O’Loughlin, has always believed. But when Joe is summoned to the hospital with news that his father has been brutally attacked, his world is turned upside down. Who is the strange woman crying at William’s bedside, covered in his blood – a friend, a mistress, a fantasist or a killer?

Against the advice of the police, Joe launches his own investigation. As he learns more, he discovers sides to his father he never knew – and is forcibly reminded that the truth comes at a price.

***

Would you keep reading?  Do the snippets reel you in?

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