REVIEW: THE DILEMMA, BY B.A. PARIS

It’s Livia’s 40th birthday, and her husband Adam is throwing her the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding they never had. Everyone she loves will be there, except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But Livia is secretly glad Marnie won’t be there.

Livia has recently uncovered a secret about their daughter which, if revealed, will shake the foundation of their family to its core. She needs to tell Adam, but she’s waiting until the party is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam, meanwhile, has his own surprise for Livia: he’s arranged for Marnie to secretly fly back for the party. But before Marnie arrives, Adam hears some terrible news. Now he too is faced with a dilemma: Does he share what he’s learned with his wife? Is hiding the truth the same as telling a lie? And how far are Adam and Livia willing to go to protect the ones they love—and give each other a last few hours of happiness?


What a convoluted tale of secrets and good intentions that started out simply enough but then turned complex and wrong by the end. The Dilemma is all about the numerous conundrums in a marriage that can keep a couple off balance and turn their lives upside down.

When Livia and Adam each keep their secrets for their own reasons, perhaps to protect the other person, they are risking the delicate balance of their lives and their family.

The story is told alternately by Livia and Adam, and the intensity builds up as we draw closer to the final denouement and learn what price they will all have to pay for their moments of deception. An emotional read that kept me turning the pages. 4 stars.

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

BOOKS FROM THE BACKLOG: “A PIECE OF THE WORLD”

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 am spotlighting a book I downloaded on February 22, 2017:  A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline.

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Synopsis:  To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

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Why did I add this book to my shelves?  The description pulled me in, with its historical/artistic/iconic elements.  Plus, I have read and loved three books by the author.

I am not sure why I haven’t yet read the book.  It isn’t that lengthy, which often keeps me from diving into a book.  But I must rectify the negligence right away!

What have you been neglecting on your shelves?  What will you do about those books?

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REVIEW: CRIME SCENE, BY JONATHAN & JESSE KELLERMAN

Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.

The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

It was supposed to be a simple case of accidental death; all the signs were leaning in that direction. But something about Tatiana’s plea for a closer look takes Clay Edison on a convoluted journey to places he would never have anticipated going.

There is something so appealing about a detective that goes beyond the call of duty. Who knew that all the people who kept standing in his way had their own mistakes to protect?

Of course, Clay showed himself to be an “outside the box” thinker, who sometimes came across as a rule breaker. His attitudes and behaviors made a more interesting story for me.

I liked following the clues with Clay, in Crime Scene, this fascinating tale that takes us from California’s Bay Area to Lake Tahoe.

In the end, justice is done. A 4.5 star read for me.***

BOOKS FROM THE BACKLOG: IT’S A CRIME WHAT I FOUND!

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.

As I scrolled through the pages on my blog, I was stunned to find some books I am sure to love…but still haven’t read.  Like Crime Scene, (Clay Edison, Book I) by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman, the first in a new series from the rare partnership writing team of father and son.

I bought this book on August 1, 2017.  Isn’t it great that Amazon tells us on the product page when we purchased a book?  And, of course, I list the purchases on the pages of my blog devoted to the months and years.  I am a big fan of Kellerman, so not reading this one yet is a puzzle.  I have a few other authors I enjoy on the backlog, too, so I can only blame the overwhelming number of books I buy.  Here is the description that sold me on the book.

Synopsis: Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.

The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

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I am embarrassed by how many unread books I find, but I like that this meme gives us the opportunity to pull those books forward.

What are you discovering on your TBR stacks?

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REVIEW: HUNGRY HEART, BY JENNIFER WEINER

Jennifer Weiner is many things: a bestselling author, a Twitter phenomenon, and an “unlikely feminist enforcer” (The New Yorker). She’s also a mom, a daughter, and a sister, a clumsy yogini, and a reality-TV devotee. In this “unflinching look at her own experiences” (Entertainment Weekly), Jennifer fashions tales of modern-day womanhood as uproariously funny and moving as the best of Nora Ephron and Tina Fey.

No subject is off-limits in these intimate and honest essays: sex, weight, envy, money, her mother’s coming out of the closet, her estranged father’s death. From lonely adolescence to hearing her six-year-old daughter say the F word—fat—for the first time, Jen dives into the heart of female experience, with the wit and candor that have endeared her to readers all over the world.

 

I waited a long time before reading Hungry Heart; (I purchased the book in January 2016). I waited because that’s what we sometimes do to our books to be read, and a nonfiction title occasionally gets ignored for a while. I love her writing and kept reading her fiction along the way.

Just as her fiction grabs me, so did her memoir, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages while she told her story. She is a great storyteller, as we know, and I liked how she approached each topic, not necessarily in chronological order, but in just the right order to leave the most impact. Her college and writing life came first, and I couldn’t wait to learn about how she created Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, not to mention her subsequent titles. I also enjoyed learning about the pieces she wrote for magazines and her time working as a journalist.

Her marriage and childbirth stories came along at the right time, too, and eventually, other climactic moments showed up near the end: details about her father’s abandonment, hoarding, and horrific death, and the emotional losses created by his behavior.Early on we watch as she grapples with her food and weight issues, and later we smile as she shares her social media experiences, including some tweet storms.

Even her special pets get their time in the spotlight. Throughout, her humorous and sometimes snarky voice shines through, making me want to keep going. A book that earned 5 stars from me.#2020ReadNonFic

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FROM THE BACKLOG: BRINGING IT FORWARD…

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 randomly scrolled past an older book, tucked away on my Kindle, one purchased on July 7, 2017…and realized that it also needs to come off the backlog!

After Anna, by Alex Lake, is a bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and The Girl on the Train.

I had another book of the same title that I added around the same time.  That one, by Lisa Scottoline, was read and reviewed in March 2018.

I did not intend to neglect this book, so I’m glad for the opportunity to spotlight it and bring it forward on my Kindle.

Here’s a description:   A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.

The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.

She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

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This is another of my favorite kinds of reads, so I am looking forward to it.

What have you neglected?  What are your plans?

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FROM THE BACKLOG: I GHOSTED THIS ONE…

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 unread books from July 2018…and found one that is actually on my device, almost as if it is waiting for me.  Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh, sounded good to me when I bought it.  So I need to explore it further.

Synopsis:  When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened–there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

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Now I am really excited to read this book.  Why has it taken so long?  Well, the overwhelming influx of newer books.  So…time to change a few things.

What books have you neglected lately?  What are you planning to do about them?

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BIG SUMMER, BY JENNIFER WEINER

Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.

Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.

 

Big Summer opens with a prologue featuring a single mom and her young son and concludes with a cliff hanger. We see nothing more about these characters until the very end, after the culmination of some tragic events that turn the story about struggling characters searching for love into something more. It becomes a mystery.

In the first part of the book, we come to know Daphne in the present and through flashbacks of the past. Her friendship with Drue is tumultuous, with the kind of stormy episodes that, in my opinion, should have forever turned Daphne away from this so-called friend.

But when Drue begs Daphne to be in her wedding on the Cape and offers the opportunity for her to feature it on her online accounts, drawing traffic to her influencer business, Daphne cannot resist.

As the weekend winds down, Daphne is beginning to sense that more is afoot with Drue and her fiancé and with the hugely expensive wedding…and when the truth finally starts to unfold, the mystery begins.

I loved the descriptions of Daphne’s business, her thoughts and feelings about events, and how her plus-size figure challenges her constantly. Her business has boosted her self-esteem, but can she ever really dismiss how her supposed friend Drue has made her feel “less than” over the years? I couldn’t stop reading this book that carried us through issues of friendship, betrayal, loss, and finally, consequences. 5 stars.

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

SCROUNGING AROUND IN MY TBR: BOOKS FROM 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.

In the past two weeks, I have scrounged around among my books from February 2018, and today’s sad book was also found there. Secrets of the Tulip Sisters, by Susan Mallery was downloaded on February 2, 2018, and looks like a perfect springtime story.

I know that I fully intended to read this one sooner…and I don’t know why I neglected it.  But that was a Thing back in February 2018, I guess.

At any rate, I will rectify the oversight, as this one sounds like a good one to me now.  And I love tulips!

Kelly Murphy’s life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing’s prodigal son, who’s set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.

But Olivia’s return isn’t as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She’s determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

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What books have you neglected?  Let’s talk about them, and enjoy catching up on those older TBR tomes.

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WRAPPING UP APRIL…

The bells have tolled for April, and it is hard to believe that we have gone through four months of 2020.  Considering all that is going on around us, our bookish moments are treasures to savor.

There were so many really good books, that choosing a favorite was almost impossible.  I ended up choosing these two as my winners this month.  One was literary fiction, and the other was nonfiction:

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Genres:

     Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense:  6

      Literary Fiction:   1

      Nonfiction:  1

      Contemporary Fiction:  3

      Historical Fiction:  2

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Click the titles to read my reviews:

APRIL 2020:

1.Cornelli (e-book), by Johanna Spyri – (146 pages) – (historical fiction) – 4/4/20

2.Cross Her Heart (e-book), by Melinda Leigh – (319 pages) – (murder mystery) – 4/8/20

3.Follow Me (e-book), by Kathleen Barber – (334 pages) – (thriller) – 4/4/20

4.Mrs. (e-book), by Caitlin Macy – (352 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 4/20/20

5.New Girl, The (e-book), by Harriet Walker – (304 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 4/26/20 – (NG-5/19/20)

6.New Husband, The (e-book), by D.J. Palmer – (379 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 4/29/20

7.Operator, The, by Gretchen Berg- (337 pages) – (historical fiction) – 4/1/20

8.Redhead by the Side of the Road (e-book), by Anne Tyler – (192 pages) – (literary fiction) – 4/24/20

9.Safe House (e-book), by Jo Jakeman – (352 pages) – (thriller) – 4/17/20

10.  Sea Glass Cottage, The (e-book), by RaeAnne Thayne – (384 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 4/11/20

11.Separation Anxiety (e-book), by Laura Zigman – (284 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 4/14/20

12.Something She’s Not Telling Us (e-book), by Darcey Bell – (317 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 4/22/20

13.Watergate Girl, The, by Jill Wine-Banks – (238 pages) – (memoir, nonfiction) – 4/6/20 – (Nonfiction Challenge)

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN APRIL 2020:    13

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN APRIL 2020:  3,938

BOOKS READ YTD:  47

FAVORITE BOOKS IN APRIL 2020:

Redhead by the Side of the Road, by Anne Tyler

The Watergate Girl, by Jill Wine-Banks

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How was your reading month?  Come on by and share.

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