REVIEW: TANGERINE, BY CHRISTINE MANGAN

 

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

My Thoughts: Set in mid-century Morocco, Tangerine reveals the push and pull between Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason, college friends who parted after a tragic event. Told in their alternating voices, we see the uncertainty between them.

Alice has moved to Tangiers with her husband, John McAllister, hoping to start over. Sadly, however, the marriage is disappointing in many ways. She and John seem to have very different thoughts and feelings about their new surroundings, and they are a bit off-balance, too, because of how they are depending quite a bit on Alice’s trust fund. Perhaps because of the power struggle, John often tries to push Alice out of her comfort zone, encouraging her to be more sociable, but he comes across as a bully.

When Lucy Mason arrives unexpectedly, everything changes between the three of them. Alice hasn’t moved past what happened in Bennington, when they were in their senior year of college. Nothing about those events was ever satisfactorily explained…but Alice has always felt uneasy. She pushes the feelings down, however, and tries to be a good hostess.

What will trigger long-hidden memories and feelings and change the direction between them? What will Lucy do when pushed up against the wall? Will Alice find the courage to do what she needs to do? Or will Lucy manage to out-maneuver her when she senses her own wishes might not be realized?

An intense and twisted tale of obsession that brings the worst kind of betrayal, ending with mistaken identities and lost dreams. There is no happy ending here, and the book kept its grip on me throughout, but I kept hoping for something to change, for someone to finally find a good resolution. In the end, I sighed with relief that I no longer had to guess what might happen. But I definitely wanted a different outcome. 3.5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “ALL WE EVER WANTED”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition:  All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin, in which three very different people must choose between their families and their most deeply held values. . . .

 

 

 

Book Beginning:  (Nina)

It started out as a typical Saturday night.  And by typical, I don’t mean normal in any mainstream American way.  There was no grilling out with the neighbors or going to the movies or doing any of the things I did as a kid.  It was simply typical for what we’d become since Kirk sold his software company, and we went from comfortable to wealthy.  Very wealthy.

***

Friday 56:  I heard more clicking as he mumbled, “What happened Saturday night has nothing to do with being spoiled.  It was just stupid….” His voice trailed off, and I could tell he was only half focused on our conversation.

***

Synopsis:  Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: MY GIRLS, BY TODD FISHER

 

A revelatory and touching tribute to the lives of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds written by the person who knew them best, Todd Fisher’s poignant memoir is filled with moving stories of growing up among Hollywood royalty and illustrated with never-before-seen photos and memorabilia.

In December 2016, the world was shaken by the sudden deaths of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, two unspeakable losses that occurred in less than twenty-four hours. The stunned public turned for solace to Debbie’s only remaining child, Todd Fisher, who somehow retained his grace and composure under the glare of the media spotlight as he struggled with his own overwhelming grief.

The son of “America’s Sweethearts” Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Todd grew up amid the glamorous wealth and pretense of Hollywood. Thanks to his funny, loving, no-nonsense mother, Todd remained down to earth, his own man, but always close to his cherished mom, and to his sister through her meteoric rise to stardom and her struggle with demons that never diminished her humor, talent, or spirit.

Now, Todd shares his heart and his memories of Debbie and Carrie with deeply personal stories from his earliest years to those last unfathomable days. His book, part memoir, part homage, celebrates their legacies through a more intimate, poignant, and often hilarious portrait of these two remarkable women than has ever been revealed before.

With thirty-two pages of never-before-seen photos and memorabilia from his family’s private archives, Todd’s book is a love letter to a sister and a mother, and a gift to countless fans who are mourning the deaths of these two unforgettable stars.

My Thoughts: As a big fan of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds and their books and movies, I was eager to read My Girls…and enjoy the numerous photos, many never seen before.

I enjoyed Todd Fisher’s narrative voice, which should not have been surprising, given his family origins. He very creatively added to the stories I have already heard with some of his own…and anecdotally shared more of Carrie’s and Debbie’s, fresh with his perspective.

My plan was to pick up the book, read a few chapters and look at the photos…and then set it aside for another time. Instead I was glued to the pages all day, ignoring the thriller I had started earlier.

I liked that Todd and his “girls” had a great philosophy they had gleaned from Debbie’s parents: “There is no such word as can’t.” Refusing to give up came to be their strength, as there were so many obstacles to overcome along the way, from Debbie’s efforts to overcome financial difficulties caused by her second and third husbands, and Carrie’s constant battles against addiction and the effects of her bipolar disorder. Each of them was there for the others, making the battles winnable. A loving tribute that spotlights a Hollywood family, warts and all, this story earned 5 stars.

***

WRAPPING UP JUNE…

Here we are again…another month has sped by, and it’s time to talk about the books we read and reviewed.  Check in at Book Date to see what others have finished.

I read and reviewed 12 books in June, and I love how diverse they were.

FAVORITE BOOK FOR JUNE

Genres:

      Thrillers & Mysteries/Cozy Mysteries – 5

      Contemporary/Historical Fiction – 5

      Nonfiction – 2

 

Book Sources:

      Author Review Requests/NetGalley Reviews – 3

     Library Books – 3

     My Own Shelves – 6

 

***

My Books for the Month:  Click Titles for My Reviews:

JUNE 2018:

1.Bad Stories, by Steve Almond – (272 pages) – (nonfiction) – 6/1/18

2.Before & Again (e-book), by Barbara Delinsky – (416 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 6/17/18 – (NG – 6/26/18)

3.Bring Her Home (e-book), by David Bell – (427 pages) – (mystery) – 6/22/18

4.Bring Me Back (e-book), by B. A. Paris – (304 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 6/4/18 – (NG-6/19/18)

5.Educated (e-book), by Tara Westover – (335 pages) – (memoir) – 6/19/18

6.Family Gathering, The (e-book, Sullivan’s Crossing #3), by Robyn Carr – (352 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 6/27/18- (Library Book)

7.House Swap, The (e-book), by Rebecca Fleet – (294 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 6/15/18

8.Manhattan Beach (e-book), by Jennifer Egan – (449 pages) – (historical fiction) -6/9/18

9.Nothing Forgotten, by Jessica Levine – (317 pages) – (historical/contemporary fiction) – 6/11/18 – (Author Review Request)

10.Raspberry Danish Murder (e-book), by Joanne Fluke – (362 pages) – (cozy mystery) – 6/29/18

11.Shadow Dancing (e-book, Country Club Murders), by Julie Mulhern – (210 pages ) – (cozy mystery) – 6/2/18 – (NG-6/19/18)

12.Surprise Me (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella – (417 pages) – (contemporary fiction – 6/24/18- (Library Book)

***

What did your month look like?  Come on by and share.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “MY EX-LIFE”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download:  My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley, a novel that examines how we define home, family, and love. Be prepared to laugh, shed a few tears, and have thoughts of your own ex-life triggered. (Throw pillows optional.)

 

 

 

 

Beginning:  No, it was not the happiest moment of David Hedges’s life.  Soren, his partner of five years, had left him, he’d gotten fat, and somewhere in the midst of that, he’d woken up one day and realized he was no longer in his twenties.  Or his forties.  The last person he expected to hear from was Julie Fiske.

***

Friday 56:  “He’s the kind of man who is at home everywhere, which in this case means Berlin or maybe Tokyo.  Who can remember?”

***

Synopsis:  David Hedges’s life is coming apart at the seams. His job helping San Francisco rich kids get into the colleges of their (parents’) choice is exasperating; his younger boyfriend has left him; and the beloved carriage house he rents is being sold. His solace is a Thai takeout joint that delivers 24/7.

The last person he expects to hear from is Julie Fiske. It’s been decades since they’ve spoken, and he’s relieved to hear she’s recovered from her brief, misguided first marriage. To him.

Julie definitely doesn’t have a problem with marijuana (she’s given it up completely, so it doesn’t matter if she gets stoned almost daily) and the Airbnb she’s running out of her seaside house north of Boston is neither shabby nor illegal. And she has two whole months to come up with the money to buy said house from her second husband before their divorce is finalized. She’d just like David’s help organizing college plans for her 17-year-old daughter.

That would be Mandy. To quote Barry Manilow, Oh Mandy. While she knows she’s smarter than most of the kids in her school, she can’t figure out why she’s making so many incredibly dumb and increasingly dangerous choices?

When David flies east, they find themselves living under the same roof (one David needs to repair). David and Julie pick up exactly where they left off thirty years ago—they’re still best friends who can finish each other’s sentences. But there’s one broken bit between them that no amount of home renovations will fix.

***

I’m intrigued by the excerpts and the premise.  What do you think?

***

REVIEW: SURPRISE ME, BY SOPHIE KINSELLA

 

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.

They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.

 

My Thoughts: Sylvie’s first person voice carries us along somewhat blithely in the opening chapters of Surprise Me, and I loved her quirky take on life and marriage. And then as unexpected and unpleasant events began to turn their marriage into something dark and secretive, I felt empathy for Sylvie’s distress.

But just when we think we have figured everything out, and when we have decided that their marriage is about to unravel, Sylvie takes proactive steps to learn the unexpected truth that Dan has been hiding. Sylvie’s life in the bubble created by her parents, with Dan’s assistance, has suddenly burst.

As the truth unfolds, will the two of them discover surprisingly inspirational things about one another? I enjoyed the characters, their views of life and relationships, and their realistic dialogue…and couldn’t wait to find out what ultimately happens to them all. 4.5 stars.***

REVIEW: MANHATTAN BEACH, BY JENNIFER EGAN

 

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

 

My Thoughts: Our multiple narrators take us back and forth in time, centering on the 1930s and 40s.

Anna Kerrigan was twelve years old when we first meet her, but then time moved ahead and we see her after the loss of her father to mysterious circumstances…and how she meets up once again with Dexter Styles, who is a vivid memory of a time on the beach with her father.

The war years reveal the ways in which women were dismissed, and how hard Anna had to fight to get some of the things she wanted. Anna was a strong character struggling against the norms of the times, and experiencing pushback from the men around her.

The disabilities of Anna’s sister Lydia informed her life in the early years, and the moments would leave their mark of pain and loss.

What would ultimately fill in the gaps in Anna’s life? How would she make some crucial discoveries as she tries to create her niche in the world?

Manhattan Beach had some promising moments, but just when I would start to connect with a character, we would switch to another one…and stay away for a while. Back again, picking up with the previous characters, it took more time to fall into that character’s perspective. The book was too long and too erratic for me. I was disappointed, and kept trying to love the book…without success. Beautiful writing, with some interesting characters. 3.5 stars for me.

***

REVIEW BOOKS 2018: CHECK MY PROGRESS!

This year as brought many tantalizing review books. Below, check out this year’s bounty.  Click on the links to see the reviews I’ve completed.  The others have not been read yet.

 

JANUARY 2018:

1.After Anna (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NG-4/10)

2.Alternate Side (e-book), by Anna Quindlen (NG-3/20)

3.Family Next Door, The (e-book), by Sally Hepworth (NG-3/6)

4.Flight Attendant, The (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian (NG – 3/13)

5.Not That I Could Tell (e-book), by Jessica Strawser – (NG-3/27)

6.Other People’s Houses (e-book), by Abbi Waxman (NG-4/3)

***

FEBRUARY 2018:

1.Before and Again (e-book), by Barbara Delinsky (NG- 6/26)

2.High Tide Club, The (e-book), by Mary Kay Andrews – (NG-5/8/18)

3.Paris Ever After (e-book), KSR Burns (NG – 5/1/18)

***

MARCH 2018:

1.How to Walk Away (e-book), by Katherine Center – (NG-5/15/18)

2.Our House (e-book), by Louise Candlish (NG -8/7/18)

***

APRIL 2018:

1.Beach Bliss, by Joanne DeMaio – (Author Review Request)

2.Believe Me (e-book), by J. P. Delaney (NG – 7/24/18)

3.Bring Me Back (e-book), by B. A. Paris – (NG – 6/19/18)

4.Dream Daughter, The (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain – (NG-10-2-18)

5.Go Ask Fannie, by Elisabeth Hyde – (Vine Review)

6.Lies (e-book), by T. M. Logan – (NG – 9/11/18)

7.Not Her Daughter (e-book), by Rea Frey (NG – 8/21/18)

8.Shadow Dancing (e-book, Country Club Murders), by Julie Mulhern – (NG – 6/19)

***

MAY 2018:

1.Castaway Cottage, by Joanne DeMaio (Author Review Request)

2.Feared (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline – (NG – 8/14/18)

3.Lying in Wait (e-book), by Liz Nugent – (NG – 6/12/18)

4.Nothing Forgotten, by Jessica Levine (Author Review Request)

5.When the Lights Go Out (e-book), by Mary Kubica – (NG-9/4/18)

***

What has your year brought?  Are you enjoying your books?

***

ANOTHER MONTH BITES THE DUST….MONTHLY WRAP-UP

How did my Bookworm’s Journey fare in May 2018?   I didn’t read quite as many books, but there were some really good ones.  Check over at Book Date, to see what others are sharing.

My Favorite for the Month:

 

My Genres are surprisingly balanced…again.

My Genres:

     Contemporary Fiction:  4

     Mysteries/Thrillers:  4

     Literary Fiction:  3

     Nonfiction:  1

***

Here are the books I read and reviewed.  Click titles to check out my reviews.

MAY 2018:

1.Beach Bliss, by Joanne DeMaio – (354 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/21/18 – (Author Review Request)

2.Before I Let You Go (e-book), by Kelly Rimmer – (384 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/12/18

3.Every Note Played (e-book), by Lisa Genova – (321 pages) – (literary fiction) – 5/17/18)

4.Female Persuasion, The (e-book), by Meg Wolitzer – (464 pages) – (literary fiction) – 5/9/18

5.Garden of Small Beginnings, The (e-book), by Abbi Waxman – (358 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/14/18

6.Gunners, The (e-book), by Rebecca Kauffman – (234 pages) – (literary fiction) 5/30/18

7.How To Walk Away (e-book), by Katherine Center – (320 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 5/2/18 – (NG – 5/15/18)

8.I Am I Am I Am (e-book), by Maggie O’Farrell (304 pages) – (memoir) – 5/24/18

9.Lying in Wait (e-book), by Liz Nugent – (320 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 5/26/18 – (NG – 6/12/18)

10.New Neighbors, The (e-book), by Simon Lelic – (328 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 5/6/18

11.Other Mother, The (e-book), by Carol Goodman – (321 pages) – (psychological thriller) – 5/4/18

12.Perfect Mother, The (e-book), by Aimee Molloy – (336 pages) – (domestic thriller) – 5/22/18

***

NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN MAY 2018:        12

NUMBER OF PAGES READ MAY 2018:               4,044

BOOKS READ YTD:                                                               65

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How did your journey end?  What did you discover about your choices?

***

BOOK REVIEW: I AM I AM I AM, BY MAGGIE O’FARRELL

 

I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter–for whom this book was written–from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.

Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. In taut prose that vibrates with electricity and restrained emotion, O’Farrell captures the perils running just beneath the surface, and illuminates the preciousness, beauty, and mysteries of life itself.

My Thoughts: From a brilliant writer comes this beautiful memoir that kept me turning pages and astonished at everything coming forth. I Am I Am I Am reads like fiction, as surely these life moments could not possibly be real.

The author’s own near misses with death are revealed in an anecdotal style, going back and forth in time in a non-linear fashion, and each sequence of events reveals the intensity of those moments in an unforgettable narrative.

From grave illnesses to dreadful accidents, from challenges in her pregnancies to the horrific life-threatening condition of one of her daughters, we are astounded by the overwhelming odds she has faced. But instead of a “poor me” reaction, she gives us her gratitude and the overwhelming fortune she has had to still be alive, and for her daughter to have come through these experiences, also a survivor.

A memorable story that reminds us of all of life’s blessings, even in the face of adversities. 5 stars.

***