REVIEW: THE PERFECT FAMILY, BY ROBYN HARDING

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….

This twisty, addictively page-turning suspense novel about a perfect family’s perfect façade will keep you turning pages until its explosive ending.

curl up and read thoughts

 

Everything is going wrong in The Perfect Family, and as we follow the thoughts of each member during a frightening and troubling time in their lives, we are as curious as they are about who is terrorizing them.

Alternating voices tell the tale, from Thomas, the patriarch, to Viv, the matriarch. And then Eli and Tarryn, the younger generation, reveal bits and pieces of their issues.

Who is raising havoc in their lives? As the danger increases, we are more puzzled than ever. Could the terrorists be mischievous youngsters, or are the events the work of someone else? Each family member has secrets, and could those hidden aspects of their lives be responsible? I was totally surprised by the revelations. A twisty tale that earned five stars.

***

DIGGING UP BOOKS ON 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.

Today’s rediscovered book is one from May 2016:  Some Women, by Emily Liebert.  I know I picked it up because it sounds really good.  So now I must see if it is!

Synopsis:

Annabel Ford has everything under control, devoting her time to her twin boys and keeping her household running smoothly. But when her husband of a decade announces that he’s leaving, she’s blind-sided. And suddenly her world begins to unravel.

Piper Whitley has always done her best to balance it all—raising her daughter Fern by herself while advancing her career as a crime reporter. Only now that she’s finally met the man of her dreams, Fern’s absentee father shows up, throwing everything into a tailspin.

Married to the heir of a thriving media conglomerate, Mackenzie Mead has many reasons to count her blessings. But with an imperious mother-in-law—who’s also her boss—and a husband with whom she can no longer seem to connect, something has to give.

On the surface, these three women may not have much in common, but just when they each need someone to lean on, their lives are thrust together, forming unlikely friendships that help each woman navigate her new reality.

***

What have you rediscovered today?

***

REVIEW: CUL-DE-SAC, BY JOY FIELDING

 

Someone on this quiet, unassuming cul-de-sac will be shot dead in the middle of a sultry July night.

Will it be Maggie, the perfectionist wife, or Craig, the husband who can’t quite live up to her expectations? They’ve packed up their two children and fled their life in California, hoping for a fresh start in Florida, only to find the demons of the past hovering on their doorstep.

Maybe it will be Nick, a highly respected oncologist, or his wife, Dani, a successful dentist, both with well-kept secrets of their own.

Or perhaps the victim will be Julia, an elderly widow, whose troubled grandson has recently moved in with her, introducing unsavory habits and even more unsavory acquaintances into her formerly quiet existence.

Then there’s Olivia and her husband, Sean. Having lost his job at a prestigious advertising agency, Sean is depressed, resentful of his working wife, and drinking heavily. He is also prone to increasingly violent fantasies.

And what of the newlyweds, Aiden and Heidi, whose marriage is already on the rocks, due to Aiden’s reluctance to stand up to his intrusive mother? Matters aren’t helped when Heidi befriends Julia’s grandson, setting the stage for a major blowup.

A diverse group of neighbors, to be sure. Yet all harbor secrets. All bear scars. And all have access to guns.

Not all will survive the night.
 
 
 
curl up and read thoughts

Cul-de-Sac opens with a shooting in a quiet neighborhood.

In the following pages, we meet the residents of the quiet street, each of them appearing normal until we look below the surface.

As we learn more about each of them, we are left guessing about who will explode and turn on someone else.

The shooter could be any one of them, and I had my money on one individual, but I could have been wrong. In the end, I had it figured out.

A year later, everything has changed on the quiet street, but some were able to pick up the pieces. A brilliant story that delved into the lives behind the façade. 5 stars.
 
***

REDISCOVERED TREASURE…

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 found a book from December 2018:  True Places, by Sonja Yoerg.  It was a free Prime book, so why haven’t I read it yet?

***

A girl emerges from the woods, starved, ill, and alone…and collapses.

Suzanne Blakemore hurtles along the Blue Ridge Parkway, away from her overscheduled and completely normal life, and encounters the girl. As Suzanne rushes her to the hospital, she never imagines how the encounter will change her—a change she both fears and desperately needs.

Suzanne has the perfect house, a successful husband, and a thriving family. But beneath the veneer of an ideal life, her daughter is rebelling, her son is withdrawing, her husband is oblivious to it all, and Suzanne is increasingly unsure of her place in the world. After her discovery of the ethereal sixteen-year-old who has never experienced civilization, Suzanne is compelled to invite Iris into her family’s life and all its apparent privileges.

But Iris has an independence, a love of solitude, and a discomfort with materialism that contrasts with everything the Blakemores stand for—qualities that awaken in Suzanne first a fascination, then a longing. Now Suzanne can’t help but wonder: Is she destined to save Iris, or is Iris the one who will save her?

***

Now I am eager to pick this one up!  What have you discovered today?

***

REVIEW: THE AFFAIR, BY AMANDA BROOKE

When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart.
Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything.

As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.

 

curl up and read thoughts

Told to the reader in alternating voices, The Affair reveals how families are affected by the behavior of an adult and a young girl.

Scarlet has her mind set on keeping her secrets, and from her narratives, we learn more details about what she is hiding.

We also see how the wives of the possible perpetrators are deeply affected by all that unfolds.

The reader must guess the identity of Scarlet’s “lover,” but the full story will not be told until the very end. A 4 star read

***

REVIEW: NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, BY LIANE MORIARTY

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

 

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer—or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

 
 
 
curl up and read thoughts

 

As Nine Perfect Strangers gather to meditate and deal with their emotional and physical stresses, this reader felt that nothing good could come of this little retreat. After all, none of the guests really know the resort owner/director, and that could be their biggest mistake.

Each guest is introduced to the reader with some back story, and we are hoping for good things, in spite of our misgivings.

My favorite character was Frances, an author, whose last book was rejected, and her love life has definitely gone bad. She will probably be seeking for something she won’t find here.

Masha had so many red flags swirling around her, and the guests did wonder. But perhaps what they see is just the authority she carries with her.

I have had this book since 2018, but I eagerly devoured it now because of the upcoming Hulu original series.  I am glad I read it.

Throughout the tale, we come to know more about each character, but less about Masha, and by the end, we wish they had all done more “due diligence.” A twisted story that left me with more questions than answers, this one earned 4.5 stars.

 
***

BURIED TREASURES…

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 found a book I bought in April 2016:   My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman.

I have been meaning to read this one, and I loved A Man Called Ove.  So what is holding me back?

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

***

What book have you rediscovered today?

***

REVIEW: ALWAYS YOUNG & RESTLESS, BY MELODY THOMAS SCOTT, WITH DANA L. DAVIS

The renowned actress behind the character Nikki Newman of The Young and the Restless tells all in this scintillating memoir, divulging the insider details of her dramatic life and sixty-year career.

Melody Thomas Scott admits she is nothing like her Young and the Restless role, who has seen it all in her forty-year tenure on America’s highest-rated daytime serial. But the high drama, angst, and catastrophes aren’t confined to her character’s plotlines. In this captivating memoir, Melody reveals behind-the-scenes tales of her own riveting journey to stardom.

As Nikki went from impoverished stripper to resourceful, vivacious heroine―with missteps as gripping as her triumphs―Melody became a household name, enthralling global audiences. Her road to stardom was also her road to personal freedom, marked by an escape fit for cinema. In Always Young and Restless, Melody tells of her troubled, untraditional upbringing for the first time.

Learn how she suffered at home with her grandmother, a compulsive hoarder, whose cruelty as her guardian is shockingly extreme, and endured abuse at the hands of industry men; what it was like to act in feature films with Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne, and Clint Eastwood; and how she took control of her life and career in a daring getaway move. And of course, Melody divulges juicy on-and-off-set details of what it’s like to be one half of the show’s most successful supercouple, “Niktor.” In witty, warm prose, meet the shining, persevering heart of an American icon―and prepare to be moved by a life story fit for a soap opera star.

curl up and read thoughts

As a fan of the show The Young and the Restless, I gravitated to the character of Nikki Reed Newman from the first day she showed up on the set.

Her character reflects a journey as troubled as her own life, growing up with an abusive hoarder grandmother.

How Melody escaped the constraints and trauma of her young life to carve out her niche on one of the most popular daytime dramas was a story I couldn’t stop reading. The anecdotal and conversational tone drew me in, and even if I had never connected with the show or the character, I would have wanted to know more about this woman.

Always Young and Restless is a story I will keep thinking about as I continue to watch the show. 5 stars.#2021ReadNonFic

***

GOODBYE TO JULY…

Good morning and welcome to August! I am in my new apartment, and in the cupboard above, I have “housed” the TBR physical books on my radar for the upcoming months. I have lots of Kindle books to read, too, but let’s start with the books we can “touch.”

In July, I had many books I loved, but these two favorites stand out:

Genres:

     Mysteries/Thrillers – 7

     Contemporary Fiction – 2

     Literary Fiction – 1

BOOKS READ IN JULY 2021: 10

BOOKS READ YTD: 73

PAGES READ IN JULY: 3503

***

Now for the list of books read and reviewed:  Click titles to see my thoughts on the books.

JULY 2021:

1.Count the Ways (e-book), by Joyce Maynard – (441 pages) – (literary fiction) – 7/26/21

2.Dark Roads (e-book), by Chevy Stevens – (374 pages) – (thriller) – 7/15/21 – (NG-8/3/21)

3.Dream Girl (e-book), by Laura Lippman – (308 pages) (thriller) – 7/2/21

4Fiancee, The (e-book), by Kate White – (354 pages) – (thriller) – 7/8/21

5.Kill All Your Darlings (e-book), by David Bell – (397 pages) – (murder mystery) – 7/17/21

6.Skye Falling (e-book), by Mia McKenzie – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 7/13/21 – (NG-6/22/21)(

7.Stepsisters, The (e-book), by Susan Mallery – (323 pages) – (contemporary fiction) 7/5/21

8.Stranger in the Mirror, The (e-book), by Liv Constantine – (331 pages) – (thriller) – 7/21/21

9.Such a Quiet Place (e-book), by Megan Miranda – (333 pages) – (mystery) – 7/30/21

10.Survive the Night (e-book), by Riley Sager – (322 pages) – (thriller) – 7/11/21

***

What did your July look like?

***

REVIEW: SUCH A QUIET PLACE, BY MEGAN MIRANDA

Welcome to Hollow’s Edge, where you can find secrets, scandal, and a suspected killer—all on one street.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truetts’ murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

curl up and read thoughts

When Ruby comes back to Hollow’s Edge after she is released, her conviction overturned, she blithely moves back into the house with Harper. Suddenly Harper is afraid and uncertain, wondering what Ruby plans to do. Soon strange events are happening, as neighbors try to cover their own involvement in her conviction, keeping their eyes on Ruby and what she might do next.

A community board that spotlights the thoughts of the neighbors keeps them all focused on covering up secrets while sharing ideas that only heighten their paranoia about Ruby who might be uncovering what they all might have done to put her behind bars in the first place.

When another death occurs, Harper pushes hard to uncover the truth, and the neighbors all become their own worst enemies. Such a Quiet Place is a book that kept me turning pages and earned 4.5 stars.

***