FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS/FRIDAY 56 – “EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT”

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

 

Today I am sharing from my current read:  Everywhere That Mary Went (e-book), by Lisa Scottoline.

 

 

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Beginning:  “All rise!  All persons having business before this Honorable Judge of the United States District Court are admonished to draw near and be heard!” trumpets the courtroom deputy.

Instantly, sports pages vanish into briefcases and legal briefs are tossed atop the stock quotes.

***

56:  As I leave his office, I see that Delia’s headset is off, resting at the base of her neck like a cheap choker.  As I walk by, she’s sipping tea in a genteel way from a white china cup.  An affectation she’s picked up from Berkowitz, who likes to stub out his Marlboro in the saucer.

***

Blurb:  Mary DiNunzio is trying to make partner in her cutthroat Philadelphia law firm. She’s too busy to worry about the crank phone calls that she’s been getting—until they fall into a sinister pattern. Mary can’t shake the sensation that someone is watching her. Following her every move. Then the shadowboxing turns deadly, and she has to fight for something a lot more important than a partnership—her life.

***

This is one mystery from Scottoline’s various works that I have missed.  I am eager to read it.  What do you think?

***

TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS – “KATWALK”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today I am featuring my current read, an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Katwalk, by Maria Murnane.

 

 

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Intro:  Katrina felt cool beads of sweat forming on her palms as she prepared to stand up.  She placed her hands lightly on the desk and glanced around her tidy cubicle.  As usual, there wasn’t so much as a pen or a Post-it note—much less a paper clip—out of place.  She quietly opened a drawer and removed her purse, turning her eyes to the calendar mounted on the wall as she reached inside for her makeup kit.

A small black circle was drawn around Wednesday, September 18.

Today.

It was finally here.

She ran a comb through her auburn hair, then checked her face in the mirror of her compact, applying a touch of powder to her fair skin and wishing, as always, that she didn’t have quite so many freckles sprinkled across her cheeks and nose.  She added a dab of rosy lip gloss, then rubbed hand sanitizer between her palms before putting her purse back in the drawer.  She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, sitting silently, thinking about how many times she’d practiced this.

***

Teaser:  First drinks with her new neighbor and now this unanticipated encounter with Reid barely twenty-four hours later.  It was completely out of character for her to chatter away so openly with virtual strangers, but she’d done it, twice. (p. 79).

***

Amazon Description:  From the bestselling author who brought us Perfect on Paper and Cassidy Lane comes the tale of a young woman who wakes up one day and decides to start over.

Katrina Lynden has always walked a straight line in life, an approach that has resulted in a stable career and pleased her hard-nosed parents but that has also left her feeling unfulfilled—and miserable. When her best friend suggests they quit their Silicon Valley jobs and embark on two months of adventure in New York City, Katrina balks at the idea but ultimately agrees, terrified yet proud of herself for finally doing something interesting with her life. But when her friend has to back out at the last minute, Katrina finds herself with a tough decision to make. Much to her surprise, she summons the courage to go alone, and the resulting journey changes everything. Along the way she makes new friends, loses others, learns what is really important to her, and finds a way to grow up without leaving herself behind.

***

I am enjoying this one, especially since my recent reads have been dark and atmospheric.  What do you think?  Would you want to read more?

***

FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS/FRIDAY 56 – “PAIN, PARTIES, WORK”

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today I just started reading a book on Sparky, my Kindle…a book that has been languishing there since last year, so reading it will accomplish another check on the list for my Mt. TBR Challenge.  Already I’m enjoying it.  Pain, Parties, Work:  Sylvia Plath in New York – Summer 1953, by Elizabeth Winder, spotlights a time that I recognize from my own younger days.

 

 

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Beginning:  (The First Week:  Euphoria)


THE BARBIZONETTES

Her room was the size of a decent closet—beige walls trimmed in maroon paint.  A dark green carpet, ferny bedspread with rose-patterned ruffles like Snow White’s muted forest.  There was green upholstery on the low parlor chair.  A desk for typing wedged neatly at the bed’s foot.  Above the bed there was a speaker box that piped in music if you turned a knob.

***

56:  (Looking back at Sylvia’s Childhood)

And there was something of Saint Therese de Lisieux about her—collecting cockles and seaweed and talking to mermaids.  A sensitive little pagan with a blond braid down her back.

***

Amazon Description: “I dreamed of New York, I am going there.”

On May 31, 1953, twenty-year-old Sylvia Plath arrived in New York City for a one-month stint at “the intellectual fashion magazine” Mademoiselle to be a guest editor for its prestigious annual college issue. Over the next twenty-six days, the bright, blond New England collegian lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended Balanchine ballets, watched a game at Yankee Stadium, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She typed rejection letters to writers from The New Yorker and ate an entire bowl of caviar at an advertising luncheon. She stalked Dylan Thomas and fought off an aggressive diamond-wielding delegate from the United Nations. She took hot baths, had her hair done, and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Young, beautiful, and on the cusp of an advantageous career, she was supposed to be having the time of her life.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with fellow guest editors whose memories infuse these pages, Elizabeth Winder reveals how these twenty-six days indelibly altered how Plath saw herself, her mother, her friendships, and her romantic relationships, and how this period shaped her emerging identity as a woman and as a writer. Pain, Parties, Work—the three words Plath used to describe that time—shows how Manhattan’s alien atmosphere unleashed an anxiety that would stay with her for the rest of her all-too-short life.

Thoughtful and illuminating, this captivating portrait invites us to see Sylvia Plath before The Bell Jar, before she became an icon—a young woman with everything to live for.

***

I am loving this portrait of Sylvia before the dark days that would come later and define her for all time.  Once upon a time, she was happily engaged…and this story spotlights that time.

What are you sharing?  I hope you’ll come by and leave your comments and links.

***

Tuesday Sparks: Intros/Teasers – “Little Mercies”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today I am featuring a book that will go down as another favorite.  I just finished it today, and my review is HERE.

 

Little Mercies, by Heather Gudenkauf, is a ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force that reveals how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences…

 

 

 

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Intro:  When people find out what I do for a living their first question is always about the most horrendous case of child abuse I’ve encountered.  I can be at a backyard barbecue or at a New Year’s Eve party or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, or my husband’s baseball game.  You must see so much, they say, shaking their heads, lips pursed in something like empathy, like I was the one who might have endured the beatings, the burns, the torrents of hateful words.  Of course I don’t share any details about my clients or their families.  So much has been stripped from the children that stagger in and out of my orbit; the very least I can do is honor their privacy.  Come on, people urge, tell me.  It’s bad, isn’t it?  Like I’m dangling some salacious gossip in front of them.  Like I’m keeping mum because I don’t want to offend their tender ears, upset their perfectly ordered worlds where all children are touched with gentle hands, spoken to with loving words and tucked warmly into beds with full stomachs.

***

Teaser:  Tears well in my mother’s eyes and she grasps both of my hands in her, “I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have our moments.  We all have those times when we turn our backs, close our eyes, become unguarded.” (53%).

***

Amazon Description:  Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

***

I could relate to this story on so many levels:  but mostly as a parent and as a retired social worker.  Nothing ignites passion in me more quickly than stories of child abuse and neglect.  But this story reminds me that none of us are exempt from mistakes…or the “unguarded moments” that can define our lives.  And all of us can occasionally use those “little mercies” handed out in unexpected places.

Would you keep reading?  I know some turn away from the horrific stories, but for those who don’t, you might find yourself fully engaged.

***

Friday Sparks: Book Beginnings/Friday 56 – “Real Murder”

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we 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!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s feature is a review book that is part of Lauren Carr’s Lovers in Crime Series:  Real Murder.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Prologue)

Friday the Thirteenth, February 13, 1976

Dolly’s Gentlemen Club, Newell, West Virginia

In the upper tip of West Virginia’s northern panhandle, the tiny town of Newell has two claims to fame—Homer Laughlin China Company, whose wares are used in restaurants and fine dining all over the world, and Waterford Race Track.  Folks will travel for miles to see the Thoroughbreds race for the finish line.

***

P. 56:  (Eighteen Years Later)

“You mean like a secret adoption?”

“It’s not unheard of,” Joshua said.  “I’m sure Tad would know about it if there were any truth to it.”

***

Blurb:  “It’s not a real murder.” When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.” Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide. Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The sheriff deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute. It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe it’s worth killing to keep undercover.

***

I have enjoyed this series, so I’m eager to plunge into this one.  What do you think?

***

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Let’s spark our celebration today, Fourth of July, with our reading snippets.

***

CREATIVE SATURDAY: FUN IN THE SUN, ETC.

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Welcome to our regular feature, Saturday Snapshot, our opportunity to showcase photos we or friends and family have captured.  The event is now hosted by West Metro Mommy.

Today I am going to feature “fun moments” with family members…and introduce a new family member.

Here is my gorgeous niece Amy, enjoying some fun in the sun, with all the appropriate accessories.  A mother of three, she could use a break!

 

My niece Amy - fun in the sun

Fiona went off to the beach and a few other places this week.  Here she is at my house just before she left.

 

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And here she is with her boyfriend Tomas…and a special friend.

 

Fiona and Tomas - and Friend

 

While they were all enjoying the sun, our newest family member (my step-great-grandson) was coming into the world.  Meet Lane!

 

New arrival - Lane

 

And getting to know him is older brother Logan.

 

Brothers - Logan and Lane

 

***

It was an interesting week!  What are you sharing today?

***

TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS – “SHE CAN HIDE”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today I am reading She Can Hide, another book in the mystery series authored by Melinda Leigh.

 

 

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Intro:  A whoosh and soft impact jolted Abby’s body.  She slid forward.  The seat belt caught her and snapped her back.  Pain ripped through her temple.  What happened?  Her vision blurred, and she rubbed her eyes to clear it.

The steering wheel and dashboard came into focus.  She was sitting in the front seat of her Subaru sedan.  Ice pellets bounced off her windshield.  When had it started to sleet?  Blinking hard, she stared through the glass.  Water splashed over the hood.

Oh my God.

***

Teaser:  Ethan looked down at his notebook.  So far, all he’d written was doesn’t remember two hours before accident. (p. 22).

***

From Amazon:  From the moment Officer Ethan Hale pulls Abby Foster from icy waters, he senses there’s more to her than meets the eye. Abby has no memory of the accident that submerged her car in the frozen river. Three years ago, Abby was kidnapped and abandoned in a well for a week. The botched police investigation nearly killed her. Abby had moved to the mountains of Pennsylvania for a fresh start, but when it becomes clear that this car crash wasn’t an accident, she knows the violence from her past has caught up with her.

But Abby’s former assailant was convicted and imprisoned, so who else wants her dead?

Ethan uncovers a fresh string of murders tied to Abby’s past. Someone is trying to kill her, and this time the stalker seems determined to finish the task. As the killer grows bolder, Abby begins to trust Ethan enough to share the truth, her heart, and her life. But to stop the murders, Ethan must make a decision that could jeopardize it all.

***

I love the sound of this one, and having enjoyed every previous book in this series, I am eager to keep reading.  What do you think?

***

SATURDAY SPARKS: THE GARDEN COTTAGE

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Welcome to our regular feature, Saturday Snapshot, our opportunity to showcase photos we or friends and family have captured.  The event is now hosted by West Metro Mommy.

This week, I am excited to share some photos of my eldest son’s new garden cottage in suburban Berlin.  First, here’s the gorgeous exterior with some gardens:

 

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From the patio, enter the dining area through the French doors….I LOVE French doors….

 

 

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Cozy dining will happen here….

 

 

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As you may know from previous Saturday Snapshots, I am a big fan of lofts…and exposed wooden beams.

 

 

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This work space looks inviting to me….

 

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The sitting room looks cozy to me, too….

 

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Now I simply must go visit!  Thanks for joining my fantasy tour of my son and his wife’s new space.

 

What are you sharing today?  I hope you’ll stop by and comment, with links.

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TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS – “THE IDEA OF HIM”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today’s featured book is an ARC from Amazon Vine:  The Idea of Him, by Holly Peterson.

 

 

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Intro: (Memory Lane)

The taxi driver took off down Seventh Avenue as if he’d just mainlined a pound of crystal meth.  This guy was on a kamikaze mission, reckless even by New York standards where taxi drivers charge down the streets with no regard for their passengers’ lives.

“Slow down, sir, please!”  I yelled through the opening in the glass partition as I contemplated ditching this driver at the next corner.

He slammed on his brakes.  “Okay, lady!  I’ll slow it down a little.  Yeah.”  But when the light turned green, he began weaving between cars and playing chicken to blow past the giant city buses.  We brushed a bike messenger who retaliated with a fisted punch on the trunk.  I again waffled about getting out, but it was that bustling time of early rush hour just before the taxi shift change, when I wouldn’t be able to get another, so I stayed put and latched my seat belt.  Besides, my kids were waiting for me at home, and I was already half an hour late leaving the office.

***

Teaser:  I pretended to waltz into my kitchen, no big deal, just checking on the food, and found the college server frantically filling black lacquer trays with hot-outside, frozen-inside hors d’oeuvres.  No sign of Wade.  “Jim.  Have you seen my husband?” (p. 45).

***

Amazon Description:  From the New York Times bestselling author of The Manny—a vibrant novel of love, life lessons, and learning to trust yourself…

Allie Crawford has the life she always dreamed of—she’s number two at a high-profile P.R. firm; she has two kids she adores; and her husband is a blend of handsome and heroic. Wade is everything she thought a man was supposed to be—he’s running a successful newsmagazine and, best of all, he provides the stable yet exciting New York City life Allie believes she needs in order to feel secure and happy.

But when Allie finds Wade locked in their laundry room with a stunning blonde in snakeskin sandals, a scandal ensues that flips her life on its head. And when the woman wants to befriend Allie, an old flame calls, and a new guy gets a little too close for comfort, she starts to think her marriage is more of a facade than something real. Maybe she’s fallen in love not with Wade—but with the idea of him.

Captivating and seductive, told in the whip-smart voice of a woman who is working hard to keep her parenting and career on track, The Idea of Him is a novel of conspiracy, intrigue, and intense passion—and discovering your greatest strength through your deepest fears.

***

What do you think?  Are you intrigued?  Do you want to keep reading?  This is a new-to-me author, so I’m eager to find out.

***

CREATIVE SATURDAY: A ROOM OF HER OWN

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Welcome to our regular feature, Saturday Snapshot, our opportunity to showcase photos we or friends and family have captured.  The event is now hosted by West Metro Mommy.

This week, I found a collage of photos that Fiona had taken, showing the process of cleaning up and decorating her room.

A teenage girl’s room is a special place, and I always enjoy seeing the personality come through.

As I studied the pictures, I was reminded of other rooms Fiona has enjoyed over the years, starting with her first room of her own when she was living in my guesthouse in the foothills.  And then there was the room  she often used in my house next door.

First, let’s look at Fiona in infancy and now:

 

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Fiona’s first room of her own…

 

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Fiona’s room at my house, where she had sleepovers and playtime….

 

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And Fiona’s teenage sanctuary….

 

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Do you have fond memories of the various rooms you have enjoyed over the years?

 

 

 

 

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