REVIEW: TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE, BY SUSAN ISAACS

 

Just a few years ago, Corie Geller was busting terrorists as an agent for the FBI. But at thirty-five, she traded in her badge for the stability of marriage and motherhood. Now Corie is married to the brilliant and remarkably handsome Judge Josh Geller and is the adoptive mother of his lovely 14-year-old daughter. Between cooking meals and playing chauffeur, Corie scouts Arabic fiction for a few literary agencies and, on Wednesdays, has lunch with her fellow Shorehaven freelancers at a so-so French restaurant. Life is, as they say, fine.

But at her weekly lunches, Corie senses that something’s off. Pete Delaney, a milquetoast package designer, always shows up early, sits in the same spot (often with a different phone in hand), and keeps one eye on the Jeep he parks in the lot across the street. Corie intuitively feels that Pete is hiding something—and as someone who is accustomed to keeping her FBI past from her new neighbors, she should know. But does Pete really have a shady alternate life, or is Corie just imagining things, desperate to add some spark to her humdrum suburban existence? She decides that the only way to find out is to dust off her FBI toolkit and take a deep dive into Pete Delaney’s affairs.

 

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the interesting thought processes of our first-person narrator, Corie; I also liked how she was able to hide her history with the FBI and seemingly settle into suburban life.

We follow along as her fascination with Pete Delaney became an obsession, but she very skillfully wended her way through the trail that ultimately led to answers.

Before the fast-paced culmination of Takes One To Know One, the story was a little bit tedious, but because I enjoy the author and also liked the character of Corie, I kept plugging away. In the end, I was biting my nails as the intensity ratcheted up exponentially. This one earned 4.5 stars.

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HELLO TO NOVEMBER!

 

Another month bites the dust.  I had a good one, with a mix of genres; all of them kept me glued to the pages.

Here is my favorite for the month, and choosing wasn’t easy:

 

 

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My Genres:

     Mystery/Suspense/Thrillers:  4

     Nonfiction:  3

     Contemporary Fiction:  3

     Dystopian Fiction:  1

     Literary Fiction:  1

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Here is my list. Click titles for my reviews.

OCTOBER 2019:

1.Good Girl, Bad Girl (e-book), by Michael Robotham – (354 pages) – (murder mystery) – 10/21/19

2.Grammarians, The (e-book), by Cathleen Schine – (272 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/8/19

3.Inside Out, by Demi Moore – (256 pages) – (memoir) – 10/17/19

4.Just After Midnight (e-book), by Catherine Ryan Hyde – (324 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/27/19

5.Ladies Who Punch, by Ramin Setoodeh – (295 pages) – (memoir) – 10/30/19

6.Lifelines, by Heidi Diehl – (317 pages) – (literary fiction) – 10/14/19 – (Amazon Vine Review)

7.Lying Room, The (e-book), by Nicci French -(417 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 10/16/19

8.Murder List, The (e-book), by Hank Phillippi Ryan – (352 pages) – (legal thriller) – 10/1/19

9.Nanny, The (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan – (400 pages) – (mystery/suspense)- 10/12/19

10.Queen Meryl, by Erin Carlson – (274 pages) – (biography) – 10/24/19

11.Testaments, The (e-book), by Margaret Atwood – (415 pages) – (dystopian fiction) – 10/6/19

12.Twenty-One Truths About Love (e-book), by Matthew Dicks – (352 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/2/19 – (NG-13-15

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER 2019:    12

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN OCTOBER: 4,028

BOOKS READ YTD:  100

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REVIEW: LADIES WHO PUNCH, BY RAMIN SETOODEH

 

When Barbara Walters launched The View, network executives told her that hosting it would tar-nish her reputation. Instead, within ten years, she’d revolutionized morning TV and made house-hold names of her co-hosts: Joy Behar, Star Jones, Meredith Vieira and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. But the daily chatfest didn’t just comment on the news. It became the news. And the headlines barely scratched the surface.

Based on unprecedented access, including stunning interviews with nearly every host, award-winning journalist Ramin Setoodeh takes you backstage where the stars really spoke their minds. Barbara struggled to maintain control of it all, a modern-day Lear with her media-savvy daugh-ters. You’ll read about how so many co-hosts had a tough time fitting in, suffered humiliations at the table, then pushed themselves away, feeling betrayed―one nearly quitting during a commer-cial. Meanwhile, the director was being driven insane, especially by Rosie.

Setoodeh uncovers the truth about Star’s weight loss and wedding madness. Rosie’s feud with Trump. Whoopi’s toxic relationship with Rosie. Barbara’s difficulty stepping away. Plus, all the unseen hugs, snubs, tears―and one dead rodent.

Ladies Who Punch shows why The View can be mimicked and mocked, but it can never be matched.

My Thoughts: I knew that Ladies Who Punch would be delightful, with previously unknown tidbits coming to light as I rapidly turned the pages. Some of the chatter had been on the news from time to time over the years, like Star’s weight loss, her bridezilla actions before her wedding, and how she literally turned the show into her one-woman show.

I have read Barbara’s book Audition and knew how she worked hard to achieve what other women had not, and how much she had to give up along the way. Quoting from my review of that book, I wrote about “her efforts to achieve recognition in a journalistic world that often overlooked women; the competitive moments; her occasional mistakes along the way—all shared with candor, humor, and insight. Her awesome and inspiring climb to a success that has included not only the famous interviews, but the numerous shows she has hosted, from the Today show, 20/20, the Specials…and now The View.” Of course, as I read the perspectives of the other members of the show and saw how, even though they looked up to Barbara, they were also sometimes intimidated by her, I had to enlarge my perspective to include their struggles.

Rosie’s effect on the show turned things upside down in a short time. She went from someone who had great ideas that led to soaring ratings to someone who was in one conflict or another with her cohosts. She went from buddy moments with Elisabeth to tear-filled conflicts.

The show, launched in 1997, went through a revolving door of cohosts to something more settled down…once Whoopi Goldberg arrived. She seemed to bring just the right measure of sanity to the mix, although some protested her tendency to take over at times. Then the revolving door began again after the 2016 election. Despite being called “a petri dish of vicious feuds,” the show has lasted…and lasted. I loved reading about the behind-the-scenes moments and I give this book 5 stars.

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CURL UP WITH NONFICTION…

Even though I am not officially participating in Nonfiction November, I already have many books from that category, and I’ve been eagerly adding to that stack.

On November 12, I’ll be receiving my pre-ordered copy of Carrie Fisher:  A Life on the Edge, by Sheila Weller.

Sourced by friends, colleagues, and witnesses to all stages of Fisher’s life, Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge is an empathic and even-handed portrayal of a woman who―as Princess Leia, but mostly as herself―was a feminist heroine, one who died at a time when we need her blazing, healing honesty more than ever.

This morning I read a review of the upcoming release that reminded me of how much I miss this iconic writer/actor/spokesperson.

I have read her books, watched her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, and seen some of the documentaries released since her death.  She and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were jointly and singularly impressive.  I love that they lived on the same property, with their issues overwhelmed by their mutual adoration.

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Do you love nonfiction, even when it is not November?  Which books are your favorites?  For me, memoirs of impressive celebrities/authors are at the top of the list.

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FAVORITE THINGS…FOR CURLING UP, ETC.

When I think of spots where I like to “curl up and read,” I often focus on the little wicker loveseat above.  That little bench has been with me for many years, and moves around from various spots in each home.

Years ago, it was like a window seat in my foothill home, and cats enjoyed it, too.

Then I added a few pillows for human comfort and moved it to my next home, where it landed near windows or bookshelves (as in the first photo above).

 

For a while, it also had pride of place in my former bedroom.  I loved its coziness.

Now it sits at the foot of my bed in my current residence.

 

My pattern is to cling to my favorite things, especially when they’ve proven to be versatile, like the bench.  I also have tables and other accessories that trail along after me in my various moves.  Below, I used my antique ice cream table as an end table in my previous residence.

Before that, I used it as a sofa table for playing games…See the photo on the left portion of this “back in the past” collage…

 

Now I use it to “hold” my TV in my new place.

 

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I have definitely diverged from my initial focus on the bench seat…LOL.  But my point, apparently, is to show how I hang onto my various favorite things.

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Do you have furniture/accessories/or collections that remain part of your life as you move from place to place?  Or do you like to start over with a “blank canvas” wherever you are?  And what are your favorite “curl up and read” spots?

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REVIEW: QUEEN MERYL, BY ERIN CARLSON

 

Meryl Streep is the most celebrated actress of our time. She’s a chameleon who disappears fully into each character she plays. She never tackles the same role twice. Instead, she leverages her rarified platform to channel a range of dynamic, complicated women–Joanna Kramer, Karen Silkwood, Julia Child, Margaret Thatcher, Katharine Graham–rather than limit herself to marginal roles for which other actresses must settle: Supportive Wife. Supportive Mother. Supportive Yet Utterly Disposable Love Interest. Streep will have none of that.

The once-awkward, frizzy-haired suburban teen blossomed into a rising ingénue on the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama. She came of age during the women’s movement of the ’60s and ’70s, and has worn her activism on her sleeve even when it was unfashionable. When she reached 40, the age when many leading ladies fade away, Streep plunged forward, taking her pick of parts that interested her and winning a pile of awards along the way. Mean-while, she remained an unlikely box-office draw, her clout even managing to grow with age: The Devil Wears Prada, starring Streep as the Anna Wintour avatar Miranda Priestly, scored $326 million worldwide.

Journalist and author Erin Carlson documents all of Streep’s Oscars, accents, causes, memes, friendships, and feuds; also exploring the “off-brand” forays into action-adventure (The River Wild) and musicals (Mamma Mia!), and how Streep managed to sneak her feminism into each character. In the spirit of nontraditional bestsellers like Notorious RBG and The Tao of Bill Murray, Queen Meryl is illustrated by artist Justin Teodoro and filled with fascinating lists and side-bars, delivering joy in homage to its unique and brilliant subject.

My Thoughts: To describe Queen Meryl as an ode to an amazing actor and person would be an understatement. While there were some details of occasional movies or experiences that I might call slightly tedious, the overall experience of reading about Meryl Streep was something to truly enjoy.

To add to my delight were the drawings that accompanied each chapter.

My enjoyment of her movies, most of which I’ve seen, was enhanced by some personal touches, like how she starred with her toddler daughter Mamie in Heartburn, then her daughter as an adult in Evening, and finally in Ricki and the Flash. I may have missed a few appearances. Personal favorites also included the movie Silkwood and The Devil Wears Prada. Who can deny how Meryl immerses herself fully into her roles?

If you are a fan of the actor, or even some of her personal beliefs about the industry or life in general, you will probably enjoy this book which I give 5 stars.

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CURLING UP ON A HUMP DAY…

Today I’m participating in WWW Wednesdays, at Taking on a World of Words Here’s how it works:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:  Queen Meryl, by Erin Carlson

 

BOOKS FINISHED SINCE MY LAST POST:  OCTOBER 8, 2019

The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine

 

The Nanny, by Gilly Macmillan

Inside Out, by Demi Moore

The Lying Room, by Nicci French

Lifelines, by Heidi Diehl (Amazon Vine Review)

Good Girl, Bad Girl, by Michael Robotham

 

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING: (I just ordered this book, which should arrive tomorrow!)

Touched by the Sun:  My Friendship with Jackie, by Carly Simon

Synopsis:  A chance encounter at a summer party on Martha’s Vineyard blossomed into an improbable but enduring friendship. Carly Simon and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis made an unlikely pair―Carly, a free and artistic spirit still reeling from her recent divorce, searching for meaning, new love, and an anchor; and Jackie, one of the most celebrated, meticulous, unknowable women in American history. Nonetheless, over the next decade their lives merged in inextricable and complex ways, and they forged a connection deeper than either could ever have foreseen. The time they spent together―lingering lunches and creative collaborations, nights out on the town and movie dates―brought a welcome lightness and comfort to their days, but their conversations often veered into more profound territory as they helped each other navigate the shifting waters of life lived, publicly, in the wake of great love and great loss.

An intimate, vulnerable, and insightful portrait of the bond that grew between two iconic and starkly different American women, Carly Simon’s Touched by the Sun is a chronicle, in loving detail, of the late friendship she and Jackie shared. It is a meditation on the ways someone can unexpectedly enter our lives and change its course, as well as a celebration of kinship in all its many forms.

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That was my reading since my last post on October 8.  What has your reading been like?

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REVIEW: INSIDE OUT, BY DEMI MOORE

 

For decades, Demi Moore has been synonymous with celebrity. From iconic film roles to high-profile relationships, Moore has never been far from the spotlight―or the headlines.

Even as Demi was becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood, however, she was always outrunning her past, just one step ahead of the doubts and insecurities that defined her childhood. Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi battled addiction, body image issues, and childhood trauma that would follow her for years―all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception. As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress―and, always, if she was simply good enough.

As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In this deeply candid and reflective memoir, Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life―laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward open heartedness. Inside Out is a story of survival, success, and surrender―a wrenchingly honest portrayal of one woman’s at once ordinary and iconic life.

My Thoughts: Demi’s tumultuous journey is one I’ve read about in occasional magazine pieces, so I enjoyed the opportunity to follow her story told in her own voice in this memoir, Inside Out.

I had already been aware that her childhood was fraught with abuse, abandonment, addictions, and the low self-esteem that explains a lot about some of her actions and her choices. Her in-depth exploration that led to her current feelings of peace and self-acceptance was insightful and truly rewarding.

Some believe that celebrity status offers its own rewards, but the glaring exposure that accompanies these so-called gifts can chip away at any feelings of bliss and comfort.

I enjoyed learning more about Demi’s family life and how she and Bruce Willis co-parent from small-town Hailey, Idaho, where their family compound offers a place to retreat. Her story spotlights her life with all its flaws and vulnerabilities, bringing everything out into the open, from the “inside out.” 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE NANNY, BY GILLY MACMILLAN

 

When her beloved nanny, Hannah, left without a trace in the summer of 1988, seven-year-old Jocelyn Holt was devastated. Haunted by the loss, Jo grew up bitter and distant, and eventually left her parents and Lake Hall, their faded aristocratic home, behind.

Thirty years later, Jo returns to the house and is forced to confront her troubled relationship with her mother. But when human remains are accidentally uncovered in a lake on the estate, Jo begins to question everything she thought she knew.

Then an unexpected visitor knocks on the door and Jo’s world is destroyed again. Desperate to piece together the gaping holes in her memory, Jo must uncover who her nanny really was, why she left, and if she can trust her own mother…

My Thoughts: Alternating narrators and flip-flops between the past and present take us on our journey in The Nanny. Just when we think we’ve figured out who to believe, or who is the most reliable narrator, one of them adds a twist to the stories they tell, offering another dimension. Soon we don’t know who, if anyone, to trust.

As we follow the paths exposed by each character, we learn more and more of their secrets. In the end, will the darkest secrets tell us who we can trust and who to avoid?

I enjoyed traipsing along with the characters, guessing about what we will learn next. By the time we turn the final pages, we will be stunned by how the tale concludes. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE TESTAMENTS, BY MARGARET ATWOOD

 

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

My Thoughts: As I began reading The Testaments, I was captivated immediately by the alternating voices: witnesses and a person who would soon become known to us as someone plotting the downfall of Gilead. A feat that would require great strength, wisdom, and cunning. I was rooting loudly as I read.

The young witnesses would soon make us aware of their connections to others we met in Gilead, back when we saw how a Handmaiden would help the Gilead destruction begin.

Would our double agent surprise us with her actions? Would we fear for what might happen to her if discovered? Or would we, like others, realize the extent of her involvement only when historic symposiums revealed much of what she had accomplished, many years later? A brilliant futuristic exploration that had me rapidly turning pages. 5 stars.

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