REVIEW: HER PRETTY FACE, BY ROBYN HARDING

 

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart.

Because one of these women is not who she seems.

My Thoughts: Her Pretty Face opens with an article from 1996: a teenager was murdered in Arizona. What, if anything, connects these happenings to the current day characters?

I could empathize with Frances and how she has been ostracized by the other school moms due to something her son Marcus did. One can sense that she has had her own experiences from childhood that set her apart…if she could only talk about those events.

So when the gorgeous and wealthy Kate offers friendship, and their sons get along, which really helps Marcus begin to settle into the school, Frances feels connected and understood for the first time ever. Something had happened in her own past that led to her feelings of alienation.

In a back and forth storyline that begins to reveal more from the past events, I could see where the plot was taking us…and then was stunned by the final revelations. Daisy, Kate’s teenage daughter, gave an alternating narrative that led us to a greater understanding of the characters and their secrets, while intriguing us with more questions.

A riveting 5 star read.

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HELLO, NOVEMBER! MONTHLY WRAP-UP…

As we say goodbye to October, we anticipate the holidays ahead…and we may be changing up our reading in honor of the occasions.  Let’s join Kathryn at Book Date to see what others have done this month.

My Favorite for October:

GENRES FOR THE MONTH:

Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense:  5

Contemporary Fiction:  3

Nonfiction:  1

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My numbers weren’t great this month, with only 9 books read and reviewed!  But I did enjoy a nice mix of plots and titles.  I am in the midst of another book that I had hoped to finish by day’s end…but I decided to go ahead and write this post.

Click the titles to read my reviews.

 

OCTOBER 2018:

1.A Year of Extraordinary Moments (e-book), by Bette Lee Crosby – (368 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/8/18 – (NG-10/16)

2.Book Club, The (e-book), by Mary Alice Monroe – (400 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/13/18

3.Day of the Dead (e-book, Frieda Klein Novel), by Nicci French (416 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 10/27/18)

4.First Flurries (e-book), by Joanne DeMaio – (239 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – (Author Review Book) – 10-15-18

5.I Know You Know (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan – (348 pages) –  (murder mystery/suspense)-10/5/18

6.In Pieces, by Sally Field (396 pages) – (memoir) – 10/21/18

7. Neighbors, The (e-book), by Hannah Mary McKinnon – (384 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 10/30/18

8.Open Your Eyes, by Paula Daly, (339 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 10/29/18

9.They All Fall Down (e-book), by Tammy Cohen (377 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 10/18/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER 2018:    9

NUMBER OF PAGES READ OCTOBER 2018:   3,267

BOOKS READ YTD:   124

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How did your month turn out for you?  Enjoy November.

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REVIEW: OPEN YOUR EYES, BY PAULA DALY

 

Jane Campbell avoids confrontation at any costs. Given the choice, she’ll always let her husband, Leon―a bestselling crime writer―take the lead, while she focuses on her two precious young children and her job as a creative writing teacher. After she receives another rejection for her novel, Leon urges Jane to put her hobby to rest. And why shouldn’t she, when through Jane’s rose-tinted glasses, they appear to have the perfect house and the perfect life?

But then Leon is brutally attacked in their driveway while their children wait quietly in the car, and suddenly, their perfect life becomes the stuff of nightmares. Who would commit such a hateful offense in broad daylight? With her husband in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, as well as the secrets that have been kept from her. Although she might not like what she sees, if she’s committed to discovering who hurt her husband―and why―Jane must take matters into her own hands.

 

My Thoughts: I am a big fan of Paula Daly, so I was eager to read Open Your Eyes. From the very beginning, I was caught up in the lives of Jane and her husband Leon. What happened to him upended their lives, and as I rapidly turned the pages, I kept asking myself who among their acquaintances would have done such a horrendous thing? But as Jane makes discoveries and realizes the extent of Leon’s secrets, she is afraid. And when the police seem to be looking in all the wrong directions, Jane tries to figure some of it out on her own. But will her efforts take her into more dangerous places?

I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, so the pages flew by. Just when I thought I had it figured out, the answers came seemingly out of nowhere. I loved how the twists and turns took us into the dark side of the publishing world. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: IN PIECES, BY SALLY FIELD

 

One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades, beginning with her first TV role at the age of seventeen. From Gidget’s sweet-faced “girl next door” to the dazzling complexity of Sybil to the Academy Award-worthy ferocity and depth of Norma Rae and Mary Todd Lincoln, Field has stunned audiences time and time again with her artistic range and emotional acuity. Yet there is one character who always remained hidden: the shy and anxious little girl within.

With raw honesty and the fresh, pitch-perfect prose of a natural-born writer, and with all the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind-the-scenes for not only the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, but deep into the truth of her lifelong relationships—including her complicated love for her own mother. Powerful and unforgettable, In Pieces is an inspiring and important account of life as a woman in the second half of the twentieth century.

 

My Thoughts: A fan of Sally Field since her early days on TV, I felt immediately drawn to her first person narrative, beginning with her family history of matriarchal women whose lives were an example of love, connections, flaws and strength.

Her struggles as a child, dealing with the twisted relationship with her stepfather, resonated with me, having read about some of these experiences in part, but which I learned in depth In Pieces.

Her beginnings as an actor were not easy, and she had to persist to finally discover her niche. And when she did find her place as an actor, a woman, and she revealed how she finally connected to her seemingly elusive mother, I could relax and enjoy learning about her life and her work, and how memorable it would all be in the end. 5 stars.

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SEPTEMBER WRAP-UP: A MONTH OF LOVELY BOOKS…

Another month has flown by so fast, and we are facing down the end of the year.  Check in over at Book Date to see how other bloggers fared.

Here is my month in reading; click the titles to see my reviews. 

My Favorite for the Month:

Genres:

Mysteries/Suspense/Thrillers:   4

Contemporary Fiction:                    4

Literary Fiction:                                   2

Nonfiction:                                             2

 

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SEPTEMBER 2018:

1.Cross Her Heart (e-book), by Sarah Pinborough – (352 pages) – (mystery/suspense) – 9/13/18

2.Dream Daughter, The (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – (384 pages) – (suspense fiction) – (9/10/18) – (NG- 10/2/18)

3.Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (e-book), by Gail Honeyman – (325 pages) – (literary fiction) – 9/4/18 – (Library Book)

4.Fear:  Trump in the White House (e-book), by Bob Woodward – (357 pages) – (nonfiction) – 9/19/18

5.Golden State, The (e-book), by Lydia Kiesling – (304 pages) – 9/14/18

6.Lies We Told, The (e-book), by Camilla Way – (336 pages) – (suspense) – 9/16/18 – (NG – 10/9/18)

7.Lush (e-book), by Kerry Cohen – (240 pages) – (memoir) – 9/8/18

8.Now That You Mention It (e-book), by Kristan Higgins – (464 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/2/18

9.Other Woman, The (e-book), by Sandie Jones – (304 pages) – (contemporary fiction/suspense) – 9/6/18

10.Watching You, by Lisa Jewell – (488 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 9/30/18

11.When Life Gives You Lululemons (e-book), by Lauren Weisberger – (407) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/26/18 – (Library Book)

12.Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties (e-book), by Camille Pagan – (343 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 9/22/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN SEPTEMBER 2018:    12

NUMBER OF PAGES READ SEPTEMBER 2018:   4,304

BOOKS READ YTD:   115

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REVIEW: WATCHING YOU, BY LISA JEWELL

 

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighborhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

 

My Thoughts: From the beginning of Watching You, there is a hint of impropriety and deep dark secrets, and when the handsome and charming Tom Fitzwilliam strides through the town and seems to thrive on the attention he gets, you just know that bad things are going to happen.

The story unfolds in alternating narratives, and slipped into the story are the investigative notes of a detective who is trying to solve a murder case.

I liked that not everyone thought Tom Fitzwilliam was so perfect. Jenna’s mother seemed to have him figured out. Unfortunately, some of her ramblings made others think she was mentally ill, and perhaps she was. But that didn’t necessarily mean that her conclusions were wrong.

Then there is the young girl Jenna, and she wasn’t fooled by Tom, and red flags went up for her when she watched him.

Tom’s son Freddie is also quite the observer. He photographs his subjects, those who interest him.

What will all the watching lead to? What will each of the residents decide about Tom? Could there be secrets from the past that will be revealed in a startling way? Who is the killer and who is the victim? Just when I thought I had it figured out, the author turns it all on its head, and then I thought: But of course! 5 stars.

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A LOOK BACK AT THE JOURNEY…

This blog is one of my favorite spaces to talk about books, from purchases to review books.  When I think back to how it all began, with large stacks of unread books, I realize that others must also enjoy the journey through books, since this site has the most followers of all of mine:  606 as of this week.

I have been determined to borrow more library books and curtail my purchases.  August and September have brought lower numbers of purchases, see below:

 

AUGUST 2018:

1.An Unwanted Guest (e-book), by Shari Lapena

2.Mr. Flood’s Last Resort (e-book), by Jess Kidd

3.Other Woman, The (e-book), by Sandie Jones

4.Pieces of Her (e-book), by Karin Slaughter

5.Three Things About Elsie (e-book), by Joanna Cannon

6.Watching You, by Lisa Jewell

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SEPTEMBER 2018:

1.Cross Her Heart (e-book), by Sarah Pinborough

2.Fear:  Trump in the White House (e-book), by Bob Woodward

3.Girl, Wash Your Face: (e-book), by Rachel Hollis

4.Golden State, The (e-book), by Lydia Kiesling

5.Good Luck with That (e-book), by Kristan Higgins

6.I Know You Know (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan

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Note the links to my reviews, which tell us that I’m also endeavoring to read more of my purchased books.  In each month, I’ve read half of my purchases.

As you study the pages I have added to this site, you’ll see from my About page that this blog was created in October 2009.  Check it out to see what happened to jumpstart this journey.

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What does your journey through books look like?

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REVIEW: FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE, BY BOB WOODWARD

 

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.

Fear is the most intimate portrait of a sitting president ever published during the president’s first years in office.

 

My Thoughts: I will admit that I was devastated by the outcome of the 2016 election. But I was also hoping that, somehow, Trump would surprise us. That we would discover layers of integrity and competence beneath the blustering façade he loved to show the world. His Twitter madness was a sign, to me, though…there were no hidden depths.

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward, pulled me in and validated what I was already seeing. As the author revealed interviews and observations that confirmed the chaos behind those doors, I had to keep reading. Was there a ray of hope somewhere?

Instead, as time marched on, the chaos grew, and the staff around the president worked hard to try to manage and contain his worst impulses. They had numerous processes to help keep him on track, since their advice most often fell on deaf ears. He didn’t like to read, he didn’t listen, and he clung to his own belief system, ideas that he had held for many years. He believed that he had good instincts and should follow them, rather than to listen to those with expertise and wisdom. His temper tantrums were often punctuated by damaging Twitter rants, or firing of those who were trying to help him.

His day to day operations showed an unraveling, like a Trump rally on a continuous loop.

Staff complained about how, in his persistence of his ideas, they had to constantly explain to him and justify their positions. In frustration, some said he had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader.

Attorney Dowd fought hard against Trump being interviewed by Mueller, finally resigning over his inability to persuade the president. That issue is still unresolved. These thoughts at the end summed up some major issues:

“In the man and his presidency, Dowd had seen the tragic flaw. In the political back-and-forth, the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying ‘Fake News,’ the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president: ‘You’re a f…king liar.’

A brilliant 5 star read that left me frightened, but sometimes hopeful: that perhaps calmer heads would prevail…or at some point, someone could put an end to it all.

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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.

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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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