REVIEW: IDAHO, BY EMILY RUSKOVICH

 

Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives—including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison—we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho.

In a wild emotional and physical landscape, Wade’s past becomes the center of Ann’s imagination, as Ann becomes determined to understand the family she never knew—and to take responsibility for them, reassembling their lives, and her own.

My Thoughts: In the very beginning of Idaho, we are introduced to Ann and Wade at a time in their lives when Wade’s memories are beginning to fade.

I could visualize the scenery of their mountaintop home and understood why they remained there, even though Wade had lived there with his first wife Jenny, and their two daughters, June and May.

The story goes back and forth in time, to Wade’s childhood, Ann’s younger years, and then leaps ahead to a time in the distant future, when Wade is no longer a part of the picture. We watch as Ann carefully arranges her life so that she can move on.

We see the life Wade and Jenny had together, and then we flash forward to Jenny in prison, how she copes, and the one friendship she maintains with a woman named Elizabeth.

The tragedy that led to Jenny’s imprisonment was one that left this reader with many questions, and by the end, hanging in there and hoping for clear answers. Through Ann’s searching and imagining, we think we have it figured out…but it is only guesswork.

No clear resolution made the book feel frustrating, although it was well written. It will be one that stays with me, mostly because the book felt like a puzzle I could not quite solve. We do have a sense of Ann moving forward, however, and can visualize some of what lies ahead for Jenny. A 4 star read.

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REVIEW: DAMAGED, BY LISA SCOTTOLINE

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Set in Philadelphia, the newest Rosato & DiNunzio novel starts right off with Mary DiNunzio, our MC, hitting the ground running. She is intense, dedicated, and good at multi-tasking, which is necessary right now with her wedding looming on the horizon. She and Anthony Rotunno, a college professor, grew up in the same neighborhood. They have much in common.

But just when she needs to focus on the wedding, her newest case grabs her and pulls her all in. Edward O’Brien, the grandfather/guardian of ten-year-old Patrick, has brought in a case that will tug at her heartstrings and keep her absorbed indefinitely. Patrick is dyslexic, but the school district has done nothing to provide services to assist him. One IEP was completed several years before, when he was six, and since then, no services have been set up. He is bullied by the other students, and recently, he was struck by a teacher’s aide. To top things off, the aide quit his job and hired the most obnoxious attorney in Philadelphia, Nick Machiavelli, to sue Edward, claiming that little Patrick pulled a pair of scissors on him.

Damaged is an intense page turner that kept me going until I had to finally stop to sleep. I loved how Mary dug in and found creative solutions to each obstacle that arose, and when tragedy strikes, she is right there with another solution. I loved learning about the ins and outs of special education law, some of which I knew already, but it felt great to polish up this knowledge. Also the children’s services issues are familiar to me, except for the differences between states that are inevitable.

Will Mary win the war against the horrible Machiavelli? Is Patrick more damaged than anyone realized? How will Mary’s absorption in this case affect her upcoming nuptials?

My favorite thing about this author’s novels is how quickly I connect with the characters, and how easy it is to root for some and abhor others. Just when it seemed as though all would finally come together, a few more surprising and agonizing twists shook Mary and her associates to the core. But Mary kept going, her determination and love of family guiding her. Five stars.

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

REVIEW: DEAR CAROLINA, BY KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY

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What constitutes a true family? For Frances (Khaki) Mason, a busy interior designer with an antiques store and coffee table book publications, her family with her husband Graham consisted of a son, Alex, from Khaki’s first husband who had died. Their desire for another child had not yet been realized.

Meanwhile, Graham’s cousin Jodi, at nineteen, found herself pregnant and struggling with her addictions. She wanted to try to do better than her own mother had, but after just a few weeks, she made a hard decision.

What Khaki and Jodi decided to do would make some people cringe. But adopting little Carolina, and then allowing Jodi to continue as part of that family, turned into the best solution for all. Jodi had her own little trailer, and visited regularly. Later, she moved in with them for a while. Ultimately, Jodi made her own dreams come true when she enrolled in college.

Dear Carolina is the story of that blended family, and alternate narrators, Khaki and Jodi, reveal the struggles, the victories, and the gifts they found along the way. Eventually, Khaki struck a better balance for her life and her family, selling some of the holdings in Manhattan, and continued to include Jodi as part of the family in some fashion or another.

I enjoyed this book and the characters, and the Southern feel was brought out in the cookbooks and canning that Jodi did, as well as the homespun world they all inhabited. 4 stars.

WEEKLY UPDATES: CURLING UP WITH BOOKS & NETFLIX

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

What a wonderful week it was!  It flew by…and every book I picked up seemed to keep me engaged.  I read and reviewed THREE books, and I’m halfway through the fourth one.  I now have 31 books completed for the Read the Books You Buy Challenge.  Last Sunday, I enjoyed brunch at the lake with my daughter and her fiance, along with my grandson Noah.  Here are Heather and Noah, with the lake as a backdrop.

 

 

Heather & Noah - Mother's Day Brunch - Bass Lake

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Weekend Moments:  Netflix Bingeing, Mother’s Day, & Love

Tuesday Potpourri:  Excerpting “The Children”

Hump Day Potpourri:  Luxuriating in the Goodies…

Bookish Wednesday:  Waiting on “This Must Be the Place”

Bookish Thursday #13:  Serendipitous Moments

Tensions Arise:  An Excerpt from “Interior Designs”

Bookish Fridays:  “I Let You Go”

Review:  What We Find (e-book), by Robyn Carr

Review:  My Name is Lucy Barton (e-book), by Elizabeth Strout

Review:  The Children (e-book), by Ann Leary – (NetGalley – 5/14)

 

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AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:

From Cleopatra Loves Books, My A-Z of Books

 

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

One book came in my mailbox from Amazon Vine! 

I purchased three e-books….

 

I Almost Forgot About You, by Terry McMillan (Vine)

 

 

 

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Downloads:

 

Clouds in My Coffee (e-book, Country Club Murders #3), by Julie Mulhern

 

 

 

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Two If By Sea (e-book), by Jacquelyn Mitchard

 

 

 

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Dear Thing (e-book), by Julie Cohen

 

 

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Currently Reading:  The Other Typist (e-book), by Suzanne Rindell

 

 

 

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My list also includes:

 

Breakdown (e-book), by Jonathan Kellerman

 

 

 

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The Ramblers (e-book), by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

 

 

 

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Born with Teeth:  A Memoir, by Kate Mulgrew

 

 

 

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That’s it for my week…what did yours look like?  Some of you went to BEA…or did the armchair reading here.  Come on by and share, please!  Here’s what I did last weekend (below), and plan to do again today.  Netflix bingeing!

 

 

May 7 breakfast in bed with Netflix

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LET’S CURL UP WITH “THE PERFECT NEIGHBORS”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we gather around the blogosphere and search out the upcoming book releases, sharing our thoughts and blurbs.   Today’s featured book will be released on July 5, 2016, and is the newest offering from Sarah Pekkanen, whose books I have enjoyed.  The Perfect Neighbors takes us into the homes of an idyllic suburban neighborhood where we discover the burning secrets hiding just below the surface.

 

 

 

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Synopsis:  Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US. It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs, she’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour, and she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear that Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

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I am very excited about getting my hands on this one…and I haven’t found an ARC anywhere yet…but one way or another, I will read this one!  What are you anticipating?

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REVIEW: ALL THE HOUSES, BY KAREN OLSSON

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How does one come home again, after launching an adult life, albeit one that is somewhat floundering? Helen Atherton is trying to find out how to do just that, and how to reconnect with her father, Tim Atherton, whose connection to the Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980s lent a certain intrigue to his life back then.

Her father’s heart condition gives Helen the perfect excuse to change course, and try to write something meaningful about her father’s life and his work.

Helen is the middle sister, sandwiched between her “perfect” older sister Courtney and the younger, somewhat elusive sister Maggie. When Helen comes back to Washington, D.C., she sees that the ties between the siblings are unraveling. She doesn’t understand either of her sisters, and they don’t seem to understand her.

All the Houses was somewhat disjointed, going back and forth between the past and the present, and in both cases, we see Helen floundering. Her recollections of parties her parents threw in her childhood seemed to be her way of trying to understand how her father had made the choices he did, and why he is so detached from life now. His former colleagues and friends seem to have slipped away, and he lashes out. Was everything in his career defined by the mistakes he made?

I didn’t care that much about the characters, although my favorite parts were watching Helen in the present, trying to forge a new life. Her memories of the past seemed like selective memories, as she tried to find meaning and hope in the events that defined her father and his career. 3.5 stars.

LET’S CURL UP AND CHAT!

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Good morning, and welcome to my Office Nook, where I spend most of my mornings.

Today is my eldest son’s birthday…and I wish he were here!  But he and my lovely DIL Gabi spent more than a month with us in the summer, and we keep up nowadays via Facebook, etc.

 

 

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We won’t mention his age, because then you might figure out mine!  LOL.  Here is a photo of him in 1987…Yikes!  That spiky hair.  We enjoyed sharing some of these photos with his wife Gabi…she met him long after these days….

 

 

Craig - 1987

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As I searched through various blog posts, I realized that October was the last time I purged…and then there was the carpet cleaning, as well as the office reorganization.

So is it time again?  Should I do more?

Well, I don’t want to cut too deep, as today’s Intros from Diane, at Bibliophile by the Sea, reminded me of a book that I hoped was still on my shelves…and it was!  Yay!

Family Tree, by Barbara Delinsky, is one I loved.  I read it back in 2008, before I really immersed myself in blogging.  So it deserves a reread, don’t you think?  And a proper review?

 

 

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I love this cover!  Here’s the blurb:

 

Dana Clarke has always longed for the stability of home and family—her own childhood was not an easy one. Now she has married a man she adores who is from a prominent New England family, and she is about to give birth to their first child. But what should be the happiest day of her life becomes the day her world falls apart. Her daughter is born beautiful and healthy, but no one can help noticing the African American traits in her appearance. Dana’s husband, to her great shock and dismay, begins to worry that people will think Dana has had an affair.
The only way to repair the damage done is for Dana to track down the father she never knew and to explore the possibility of African American lineage in his family history. Dana’s determination to discover the truth becomes a poignant journey back through her past and her husband’s heritage that unearths secrets rooted in prejudice and fear.
Barbara Delinsky’s Family Tree is an utterly unforgettable novel that asks penetrating questions about race, family, and the choices people make in times of crisis—choices that have profound consequences that can last for generations.

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In my post-purging weeks, I have busied myself with new headers and themes, and here’s what I’ve done at my website –  here’s the newest header:

 

 

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And a screenshot showing the background:

 

 

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So…perhaps I can focus on other things for a while.  No more purging through the holidays?  I still have two bookcases full of donations to take to the library.

 

 

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Meanwhile, I’ve been curling up with The Perfect Son, by Barbara Claypole White…and I’m enjoying it!

 

 

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Let’s curl up and immerse ourselves in our books!  What are you reading today?

 

 

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