REVIEW: THE ARRANGEMENT, BY SARAH DUNN

Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They’ve got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It’s the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school’s “hot lunch,” dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, “chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife’s version of chopping wood.”

When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they’ve made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There’s a part of her, though-the part that worries she’s become too comfortable being invisible-that’s intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she’s known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-“real life,” or the “experiment?”

My Thoughts: Almost immediately, my eyes glazed over at the image of the “bucolic life” of these characters, but I wanted to know what they would do with the experiment.

It didn’t take long to realize that there would be consequences. Would they be able to move beyond The Arrangement?

I felt a connection to both Lucy and Owen. There were no “bad guys” here, just vulnerable ones hoping to find something that would strengthen their marriage.

Yes, they believed that their little experiment would make them stronger. But they were not prepared for the unexpected.

How did Owen deal with an out-of-control lover named Izzy? What will Lucy do about unexpectedly falling in love with Ben?

In addition to our two main characters, there were others within the community who would learn more about themselves and travel down unique pathways.

I was hooked by the story, remembering how I came from an era of experimentation and learning more about ourselves through these “out there” times. I would award this book 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE WIDOWER’S WIFE, BY CATE HOLAHAN

 

Ana Bacon, a beautiful young wife and mother, tumbled off a cruise ship into dark and deadly waters. Ana is gone–leaving behind her wealthy husband and adorable daughter–but not everything about her disappearance adds up. What secrets did she leave behind?
My Thoughts: Before the fatal cruise, Tom and Ana were barely holding on financially. Tom had been unemployed for a while, and his beautiful wife Ana had lost her job recently under mysterious circumstances. Many secrets are hidden behind these closed doors. What will Tom and Ana do to find a way out of their financial difficulties? How will they protect their three-year-old daughter Sophie?

The Widower’s Wife is told in alternating narratives, from Ana’s first person voice in August, leading up to the end of that cruise; and then we have the voice of an insurance investigator, Ryan Monahan. His narrative begins in November, as he tries to determine if he should pay out the insurance benefit. He has some serious concerns about the story Tom is telling.

The back and forth storyline shows the reader Ana’s thoughts and what she and Tom had planned, and as we read Ryan’s narrative, we see how far off track their plans led them.

This was a story I could not stop reading, wanting to know how it all played out, but there were also some twists that strained credibility and kept me from truly immersing myself in its outcome. In the end, I decided to go with it and imagine that all would work out for my favorite characters. 4 stars.

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REVIEW: SMALL HOURS, BY JENNIFER KITSES

 

In the vein of Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta, a gripping, suspenseful, and gorgeous debut novel–told hour-by-hour over the course of a single day–in which a husband and wife try to outrun long-buried secrets, sending their lives spiraling into chaos.

My Thoughts: Tom Foster and Helen Nichols had fled urban NY with their twin daughters, Sophie and Ilona, hoping to find a more peaceful life. They settled into small town Devon, but after Tom lost his job, and after the financial downturn, they found themselves scrambling, just to meet the bills and to work out their child care arrangements.

But both Tom and Helen were keeping secrets, and the darkness of their hidden selves and Tom’s secret life brought them to a crisis that could have unraveled everything.

Alternating narratives between Tom and Helen gave the reader a look at those secrets, and how each of them was treading water, headed “out to sea.”

The narratives flashed back to the past, too, revealing some of what led them to this point in time: this one long day that became a series of defining moments.

Miscommunication, misunderstandings, and outside stress led to the chaos they faced at the end of one long day. Small moments had escalated and now they would have to ask themselves what they would give up…and what they wanted to keep. Small Hours was captivating with engaging characters, so I could not stop reading. 4.5 stars.

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CURL UP & READ: MONTHLY WRAP-UP

My wrap-up is a little early, as I’m leaving tomorrow for my weekend beach getaway.

What a month!  There were so many wonderful books on my stacks, and I thoroughly enjoyed everything.  I had to choose two books for my favorites this month…and there were more that could have earned the title.

What did you enjoy this month?  Click the titles for my reviews.

Check in at Book Date for other wrap-up posts.

 

MARCH 2017:

1.Almost Missed You (e-book), by Jessica Strawser – 320 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/3/17 – (NetGalley- 3/28/17)

2.Bridges (e-book), by Maria Murnane – 194 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/23/17 – (NetGalley – 4/4/17)

3.Cutaway, The, by Christina Kovac – 308 pages – (thriller, mystery) – 3/30/17 – (Amazon Vine Review)

4.Fifth Letter, The (e-book), by Nicola Moriarty – 288 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/10/17

5.Futures, The (e-book), by Anna Pitoniak – 320 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/15/17

6.Good Daughter, The (e-book), by Alexandra Burt – 367 pages – (mystery/family saga) – 3/7/17

7.Good Neighbor, The (e-book), by A. J. Banner – 198 pages – (suspense thriller) – 3/1/17

8.Idaho (e-book), by Emily Ruskovich – 320 pages – (literary fiction) – 3/17/17

9.Idea of You, The (e-book), by Amanda Prowse – 338 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/21/17 – (NetGalley – 3/21/17)

10.It Happens All the Time (e-book), by Amy Hatvany – 320 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/9/17 – (NetGalley – 3/28/17)

11.Mother’s Promise, The (e-book), by Sally Hepworth – 384 pages – (contemporary fiction) – 3/13/17

12.Never Change (e-book), by Elizabeth Berg – 353 pages – (literary fiction) – 3/19/17

13.Persons Unknown, by Susie Steiner – 316 pages – (mystery/crime fiction) – 3/27/17- (Amazon Vine)

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN MARCH 2017:         13

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN MARCH 2017:     4,026

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                                    42

FAVORITE FICTION:   ALMOST MISSED YOU; NEVER CHANGE

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OFF TO THE SHORE: THE BOOKS ARE COMING, TOO….

 

It is almost time for my trip to the beach!  You’d think I’m going for a week or more, the way I’m gathering things together, making lists, etc.

All week long, these pieces of half-packed luggage have been sitting by my bed.  Whenever I can tuck something away, which has to be an item I won’t be using again before I leave…in it goes.

At least I have refrained from bringing out my large luggage…my daughter has reminded me that other people will have luggage in the van.  LOL.

One thing I haven’t forgotten…books.  Maybe I won’t have much reading time, but you have to be prepared.  For late nights, when everyone else is out doing other things, I can curl up in my hotel room and read a little.  I’m thinking one of these, below.  I’m already reading The Cutaway, by Christina Kovac.

 

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I’ll be bringing Pippa, too, with many book choices, including One Perfect Lie, by Lisa Scottoline.

 

 

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I also have a short book on my Kindle, one I downloaded this week:  All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg.

 

 

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So….I will party with the others until I can make my excuses and retreat to my room…for reading, TV, etc.  That’s how I enjoy myself, and since many people will be having a bonfire on the beach after the festivities, I will not be missed, I’m pretty sure.

Now you know my secret…I am basically a recluse who comes out to play for only a few hours into the night.  That’s how I do things nowadays.  I had my days of partying all night back in the day…now I prefer curling up to read.

What do you like to do when you are on “vacation”?

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REVIEW: BRIDGES, BY MARIA MURNANE

 

It’s a piece of news Daphne never expected to hear: Her globe-trotting friend Skylar, who vowed never to get married, is engaged! Time to celebrate in Manhattan—Skylar’s treat, of course. After years scaling the corporate ladder, she can more than afford it.

Daphne arrives in NYC with news of her own—the novel she’s finally finished appears to be going nowhere but the trash bin of every publishing house around. She’s devastated but plans to keep her disappointment under wraps, something that becomes trickier when she sees Skylar’s spectacular apartment. Could her life have been like this if she’d chosen a different path?

What Daphne doesn’t know is she’s not the only one with a secret. Skylar and their friend KC are also holding something back, but what? As the trip unfolds, the truth about each woman emerges, along with tears.

And laughter. And love.

My Thoughts: Who doesn’t love a great friends’ weekend? I definitely couldn’t wait to curl up with these three college friends for a Manhattan getaway, to celebrate something special, and to reconnect.

Bridges was the kind of story that resonated with me, as I have always enjoyed the special connections that I’ve felt with college friends. Add in the perfect setting of Manhattan, and there is nothing better. Girl talk, sharing secrets, and even trying new things.

Daphne was my favorite character, primarily because she was a single mother and an aspiring author. I loved watching her experience her first trip to Manhattan. I could see Skylar’s world from her perspective, including visualizing the fabulous apartment that she shared with her fiancé James. I walked the streets with her and her friends. From the Brooklyn Bridge to the cute boutiques and flea markets, I felt as though I was along for the ride.

I was a little intimidated by Skylar, and even by her soon-to-be stepdaughter Sloane…until one night when Daphne lost her cool and let Skylar have it. It was inevitable that old feelings of envy might creep into their moments together, but those conflicts made them all feel very real. When envy reared its head, the air was cleared and they grew even closer.

Events unfolded in unexpected ways, and by the end of the weekend, I wanted more. More of the friends and their unique connection, and more about Daphne’s writing experiences. 5 stars.

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

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MY TBR REPORT FOR 2017: SO FAR….

As I entered still another March book purchase today, I had to check out my reading progress so far. 

In January, I purchased 20 books, and I have read 15!

In February, I bought 13 books, and I’ve read 3.

So far in March:  9 purchases and 1 read.

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Overall, not bad.

How do I discover the books that I MUST buy?  Well, I blame the blogging community, of course…lol.  And then there is Goodreads.  From them I received the e-mail to notify me that a book I marked “to-read” is now available.  Thanks, Goodreads!

Actually, I am grateful, as even though I bookmark on Amazon, sometimes I forget an upcoming release date.  Today’s purchase is one I’ve been eyeing for so long that it had dropped off my bookmarks when I added several additional ones.

The Secrets You Keep (e-book), by Kate White, is a harrowing new psychological thriller about a successful self-help author who suddenly finds her life spiraling dangerously out of control.

 

 

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What would you do if you realized that your new husband, a man you adore, is keeping secrets from you—secrets with terrifying consequences?

Bryn Harper, an accomplished self-help author, already has plenty to deal with. She’s still recovering from a devastating car accident that has left her haunted by recurring, smoke-filled nightmares. Worse still, she can’t shake the ominous feeling her dreams contain a warning. 

In the beginning, Bryn’s husband Guy couldn’t have been more supportive. But after moving into a new house together, disturbing incidents occur and Guy grows evasive, secretive. What the hell is going on, she wonders? Then, a woman hired to cater their dinner party is brutally murdered.

As Bryn’s world unravels—and yet another woman in town is slain —she must summon her old strength to find answers and protect her own life. Her nightmares may in fact hold the key to unlocking the truth and unmasking the murderer.

With unexpected, riveting twists, The Secrets You Keep is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that once again showcases Kate White’s extraordinary storytelling talent.

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I am definitely eager to dive into this one.  What do you think?

How are you doing with book purchases this year…so far?  Do you keep track?

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