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

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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.

 
 
 
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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.

 
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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.

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What book have you rediscovered today?

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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

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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

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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

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What did your July look like?

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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.

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PLUMBING THE DEPTHS OF THE TBR…

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 rediscovered a book purchased in May 2016:  We’re All Damaged Here, by Matthew Norman.

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I don’t recall why I bought this one, but I know someone on a blog must have recommended it.

Andy Carter was happy. He had a solid job. He ran 5Ks for charity. He was living a nice, safe Midwestern existence. And then his wife left him for a handsome paramedic down the street.

We’re All Damaged begins after Andy has lost his job, ruined his best friend’s wedding, and moved to New York City, where he lives in a tiny apartment with an angry cat named Jeter that isn’t technically his. But before long he needs to go back to Omaha to say good-bye to his dying grandfather.

Back home, Andy is confronted with his past, which includes his ex, his ex’s new boyfriend, his right-wing talk-radio-host mother, his parents’ crumbling marriage, and his still-angry best friend.

As if these old problems weren’t enough, Andy encounters an entirely new complication: Daisy. She has fifteen tattoos, no job, and her own difficult past. But she claims she is the only person who can help Andy be happy again, if only she weren’t hiding a huge secret that will mess things up even more. Andy Carter needs a second chance at life, and Daisy—and the person Daisy pushes Andy to become—may be his last chance to set things right.

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Now I think I must read it!  What have you rediscovered today?

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ANOTHER FORGOTTEN 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’s forgotten book is The Blue Bath, by Mary Waters-Sayer, purchased in May 2016.

I was drawn to this book by the cover and the idea of an expatriate living in London.  The art gallery aspects also intrigued me.  Now I am happy to have rediscovered the book after all this time.

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Kat Lind, an American expatriate living in London with her entrepreneur husband and their young son, attends an opening at a prestigious Mayfair art gallery and is astonished to find her own face on the walls. The portraits are evidence of a long-ago love affair with the artist, Daniel Blake. Unbeknownst to her, he has continued to paint her ever since. Kat is seduced by her reflection on canvas and when Daniel appears in London, she finds herself drawn back into the sins and solace of a past that suddenly no longer seems so far away.

When the portraits catch the attention of the public, threatening to reveal not only her identity, but all that lies beyond the edges of the canvases, Kat comes face to face with the true price of their beauty and with all that she now could lose.

Moving between the glamour of the London art world and the sensuous days of a love affair in a dusty Paris studio, life and art bleed together as Daniel and Kat’s lives spin out of control, leading to a conclusion that is anything but inevitable, in Mary Waters-Sayer’s The Blue Bath.

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What have you rediscovered?

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REVIEW: KILL ALL YOUR DARLINGS, BY DAVID BELL

After years of struggling to write following the deaths of his wife and son, English professor Connor Nye publishes his first novel, a thriller about the murder of a young woman.

There’s just one problem: Connor didn’t write the book. His missing student did. And then she appears on his doorstep, alive and well, threatening to expose him.

Connor’s problems escalate when the police insist details in the novel implicate him in an unsolved murder from two years ago. Soon Connor discovers the crime is part of a disturbing scandal on campus and faces an impossible dilemma—admit he didn’t write the book and lose his job or keep up the lie and risk everything. When another murder occurs, Connor must clear his name by unraveling the horrifying secrets buried in his student’s manuscript.

This is a suspenseful, provocative novel about the sexual harassment that still runs rampant in academia—and the lengths those in power will go to cover it up.
 
 
curl up and read thoughts


From the very first moments of Kill All Your Darlings, we are caught up in a twisted thriller that begins with a plagiarized novel and ends with murder.

The twists and turns really ramp up when Madeline comes back after being gone (and presumed dead) for two years.

The story sweeps back and forth in time and between characters as we are offered several perspectives on events. Just when the reader begins to suspect one person of a murder that has been featured in the book, we see numerous other possibilities.

Sexual harassment is an ongoing theme as some of the professors behave inappropriately with their students. But would any of them commit murder to keep that secret? Or is everything part of the plagiarism plot? In the end, we discover a less likely suspect who actually seems more so once we peel back the layers. A book that kept me turning pages and held me hostage throughout. 5 stars.
 
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EXPLORING MY SHELVES FOR FORGOTTEN BOOKS…

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 neglected book is from August 2018:  Three Things About Elsie, by Joanna Cannon

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Why did I buy it?  I have been drawn to elderly characters lately, and quirky stories.  But for whatever reason, I haven’t actually read this one.  Is it time to do so?

 

There are three things you should know about Elsie. The first thing is that she’s my best friend. The second is that she always knows what to say to make me feel better. And the third thing…might take a bit more explaining.

Eighty-four-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. As she waits to be rescued, she thinks about her friend Elsie and wonders if a terrible secret from their past is about to come to light. If the charming new resident is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly like a man who died sixty years ago?

From the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, Three Things About Elsie “breathes with suspense, providing along the way piercing, poetic descriptions, countless tiny mysteries, and breathtaking little reveals…a rich portrait of old age and friendship stretched over a fascinating frame” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). This is an “amusing and heartbreaking” (Publishers Weekly) story about forever friends on the twisting path of life who come to understand how the fine threads of humanity connect us all.

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What have you almost forgotten about on your shelves?

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