CREATING BLOG BOOKSHELVES FOR 2019

It is time to ponder my 2019 books: books I purchase; books I read; and review books added to my shelves.

So…today I created pages for showcasing those books.

Meanwhile, I cringed at the sounds coming from outside my office window…the gardeners and their incessant Friday reverberation of leaf blowers, etc.  Why does the noise always annoy me so much?  They do it so early in the morning that it is impossible to ignore.  Sigh.

I think they are finally moving away from my windows and onto the next set of condos.  Maybe I can now resume my reading of An Anonymous Girl, which I am loving.

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Enjoy your week!  Do you create pages to spotlight your books each year?

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REVIEW: WHAT HAPPENED, BY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

 

In this “candid and blackly funny” (The New York Times) memoir, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. She takes us inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules.

“At her most emotionally raw” (People), Hillary describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. She tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. In this “feminist manifesto” (The New York Times), she speaks to the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

Offering a “bracing… guide to our political arena” (The Washington Post), What Happened lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

 

My Thoughts: What Happened offered a glimpse into the campaign and her life leading up to it; a look at HRC’s reaction afterwards; and some solutions about how to move forward despite the negative ramifications for the election.

HRC showed us that forces at work have played on people’s fears and anger, and how a candidate who provokes the darkest thoughts and feelings can appeal to those who are searching for ways to release those emotions.

Clinton also discussed in depth how the timing of the email controversy, which had turned out not to compromise security in any way, had gained so much importance in the media and critically affected how people viewed her actions. Comey’s announcement of continuing the investigation after he had initially closed it made the whole thing worse. And then, when he backtracked, that fact had little effect. By the same token, Comey’s failure to bring out the Russian interference in a timely matter allowed the election to proceed without giving the voters information that might have made a difference.

I came away from the book with an enhanced frustration about how we access information, and how we decide what and whom to believe when there are so many conflicting voices out there. Especially when there appears to be a concerted effort by some to make it harder for citizens to distinguish between truth and lies.

An excellent book that took me a few weeks to read, since I perused just a few chapters at a time. 5 stars.

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GONE NOVEMBER! WELCOME TO DECEMBER…

 

Where did November go?  It flew by so quickly, and the rainy days that have obliterated the sunny ones are a constant reminder of winter, which lies ahead.  Check in at Book Date to link up with other monthly updates.

FAVORITE BOOK: 

GENRES:

     Literary Fiction: 1

     Mysteries/Thrillers: 7

     Contemporary Fiction:  3

 

Click titles to read my reviews:

NOVEMBER 2018:

1.A Spark of Light (e-book), by Jodi Picoult – (356 pages) – (literary fiction) – 11/2/18

2.In Her Bones (e-book), by Kate Moretti – (352 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11-8-18

3.Her Pretty Face (e-book), by Robyn Harding – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/11/18

4.Island House, The (e-book), by Nancy Thayer – (280  pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/10/18

5.Liar’s Wife, The (e-book), by Samantha Hayes (372 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11/28/18

6.Other Wife, The (e-book), by Michael Robotham – (400 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/22/18

7.Three Beths, The (e-book), by Jeff Abbott – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/20/18

8.Three Days Missing (e-book), by Kimberly Belle – (352 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 11/13/18

9.Under My Skin (e-book), by Lisa Unger (416 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11/26/18

10.We Were Mothers (e-book), by Katie Sise – (311 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/30/18

11.Winter in Paradise (e-book, #1), by Elin Hilderbrand – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 11/16/18

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN NOVEMBER 2018:    11

NUMBER OF PAGES READ NOVEMBER 2018:   3,863

BOOKS READ YTD:   135

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How did your November unfold?

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REVIEW: WE WERE MOTHERS, BY KATIE SISE

 

A scandalous revelation is about to devastate a picturesque town where the houses are immaculate and the neighborhoods are tightly knit. Devoted mother Cora O’Connell has found the journal of her friend Laurel’s daughter—a beautiful college student who lives next door—revealing an illicit encounter. Hours later, Laurel makes a shattering discovery of her own: her daughter has vanished without a trace. Over the course of one weekend, the crises of two close families are about to trigger a chain reaction that will expose a far more disturbing web of secrets. Now everything is at stake as they’re forced to confront the lies they have told in order to survive.

My Thoughts: We Were Mothers offers a peek behind closed doors as friends and neighbors in a small town show up for various social events, even as their lives are untangling a web of secrets and lies.

Alternating narrators take us to the past, while also bringing out the contemporary dramas in their lives.

At times, I found the characters confusing, as we zeroed in on their troubles. There was little to differentiate them from one another, except for their names. I had to take notes to keep their stories separate.

By the end, their individual stories seemed to mesh together, making them even less unique and more like cardboard characters. Perhaps the truth behind each story did not distinguish them much, but overall, their lives were all in crisis of one kind or another, which kept me reading. Not memorable or interesting enough, however. 3 stars.

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REVIEW: THE OTHER WIFE, BY MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

 

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 mis-tress, a fantasist or a killer?

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

 

 

My Thoughts: Joe is struggling with the loss of his wife, and parenting his two young daughters, Charlie and Emma, is a constant reminder of the loss. Emma’s struggles are interfering with her behavior at school, and when the staff suggest that she has deeper issues, Joe resists the labels they are putting on her. He is a psychologist, after all, and wouldn’t he know if his own daughter had serious problems?

His Parkinson’s Disease is under control, mostly, but there are daily reminders of what lies ahead.

When his father is brutally attacked and injured, Joe fiercely pushes ahead to find answers, despite the warnings from the police. But there is something troubling about his father’s mistress, Olivia, who insists she is his wife. In learning more about her history, as well as William’s own past mistakes and errors of judgment, Joe begins to realize that the mysteries are dark and deep.

I enjoyed The Other Wife and the characters and felt as though I knew them all.

What would Joe uncover as he meets up with friends and acquaintances from the past? Would the old adage “follow the money” take him to unexpected places and answers? Old resentments add to the mix, and when we reach the conclusion, we feel hope. 4.5 stars.

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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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