TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “LESSONS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a new book:  Lessons, by Ian McEwan.

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Intro:

This was insomniac memory, not a dream.  It was the piano lesson again—an orange-tiled floor, one high window, a new upright in a bare room close to the sickbay.

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Teaser:

Possessions consorted tyrannically with time.  They could disappear at the ends of your fingers.

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Synopsis:  When the world is still counting the cost of the Second World War and the Iron Curtain has closed, eleven-year-old Roland Baines’s life is turned upside down. Two thousand miles from his mother’s protective love, stranded at an unusual boarding school, his vulnerability attracts piano teacher Miss Miriam Cornell, leaving scars as well as a memory of love that will never fade.

Now, when his wife vanishes, leaving him alone with his tiny son, Roland is forced to confront the reality of his restless existence. As the radiation from Chernobyl spreads across Europe, he begins a search for answers that looks deep into his family history and will last for the rest of his life.

Haunted by lost opportunities, Roland seeks solace through every possible means—music, literature, friends, sex, politics, and, finally, love cut tragically short, then love ultimately redeemed. His journey raises important questions for us all. Can we take full charge of the course of our lives without causing damage to others? How do global events beyond our control shape our lives and our memories? And what can we really learn from the traumas of the past?

Epic, mesmerizing, and deeply humane, Lessons is a chronicle for our times—a powerful meditation on history and humanity through the prism of one man’s lifetime.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE SHOP ON ROYAL STREET”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s featured book is The Shop on Royal Street, by Karen White.

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Intro:

Shadowy reflections of drooping banana leaves haunted the dirt smudged windows of the old house.  It made me think of the hidden memories of people and a past long since gone but still trapped within the walls of the crumbling structure.

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Teaser:

He sipped from his own drink, something amber with two ice cubes in a crystal double old-fashioned glass, then stared down into it for a moment, thinking.  When he looked up again, he was smiling.

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Synopsis:  After a difficult detour on her road to adulthood, Nola Trenholm is looking to begin anew in New Orleans, and what better way to start her future than with her first house? But the historic fixer-upper she buys comes with even more work than she anticipated when the house’s previous occupants don’t seem to be ready to depart.

Although she can’t communicate with ghosts like her stepmother can, luckily Nola knows someone in New Orleans who is able to—even if he’s the last person on earth she wants anything to do with ever again. Beau Ryan comes with his own dark past—a past that involves the disappearance of his sister and parents during Hurricane Katrina—and he’s connected to the unsolved murder of a woman who once lived in the old Creole cottage Nola is determined to make her own…whether the resident restless spirits agree or not.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “NOTHING MORE TO TELL”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books:  Nothing More to Tell, by Karen M. McManus.

 

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Intro:

Brynn

“Do you have a favorite crime?”

The girl sitting beside me in the spacious reception area asks the question so brightly, with such a wide smile, that I’m positive I must have misheard her.  “A favorite what?” I ask.

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Teaser:

Then I do a double take as I catch sight of the driver.  They pass in a flash, and I blink at the bumper, confused and disoriented.  No.  It can’t be. The car is a nondescript gray sedan I’ve never seen before, with a New Jersey license plate.

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Synopsis:  Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher—a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened. 

The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex–best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder—but instead, thanks to Tripp, they’re now at the top of the Saint Ambrose social pyramid. Tripp’s friends have never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day, and neither has he. Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.

Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and when Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she uncovers secrets that might change everything—about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.

Four years ago someone got away with murder. More terrifying is that they might be closer than anyone thinks.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “BABYSITTER”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books:  Babysitter, by Joyce Carol Oates.

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Intro:

She Asks Herself Why

Because he’d touched her.  Just her wrist.

A brush of his fingers.  A sidelong glance.  Because he’d asked Which one are you?-–meaning Which man’s wife?

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Teaser:

Before going out Hannah will require an hour examining herself in the mirror, in secret.  Trying on clothing—“outfits.”  Tossing aside rejected items, pulling other items off hangers.  Staring at herself as anxiety mounts like a vise tightening around her skull.

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Synopsis:  In the waning days of the turbulent 1970s, in the wake of unsolved child-killings that have shocked Detroit, the lives of several residents are drawn together with tragic consequences.

There is Hannah, wife of a prominent local businessman, who has begun an affair with a darkly charismatic stranger whose identity remains elusive; Mikey, a canny street hustler who finds himself on a chilling mission to rectify injustice; and the serial killer known as Babysitter, an enigmatic and terrifying figure at the periphery of elite Detroit. As Babysitter continues his rampage of abductions and killings, these individuals intersect with one another in startling and unexpected ways.

Suspenseful, brilliantly orchestrated, and engrossing, Babysitter is a starkly narrated exploration of the riskiness of pursuing alternate lives, calling into question how far we are willing to go to protect those whom we cherish most. In its scathing indictment of corrupt politics, unexamined racism, and the enabling of sexual predation in America, Babysitter is a thrilling work of contemporary fiction.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE HOUSEKEEPER”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s featured book is The Housekeeper, by Joy Fielding.

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Intro:

It’s my fault.  

I’m the one who first brought up the idea, who championed it, who set the ball rolling, and who ultimately insisted on hiring her.  

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Teaser:

I confess that, at the time, I found her admission charming.  Now I realize that it was one of the few honest things she ever said. (p. 84).

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Synopsis:  Jodi Bishop knows success. She’s the breadwinner, a top-notch real estate agent. Her husband, Harrison . . . not so much. Once, he had big dreams. But now, he’s a middling writer who resents his wife’s success.

Jodi’s father, Vic, now in his late seventies and retired, is a very controlling man. His wife, Audrey, was herself no shrinking violet. But things changed when Audrey developed Parkinson’s ten years ago and Vic retired to devote himself to her care. But while still reasonably spry and rakishly handsome, Vic is worn down by his wife’s deteriorating condition.

Exhausted from trying to balance her career, her family, and her parents’ needs, Jodi starts interviewing housekeepers to help care for Audrey and Vic. She settles on Elyse Woodley, an energetic and attractive widow in her early sixties, who seems perfect for the job. While Vic is initially resistant, he soon warms to Elyse’s sunny personality and engaging ways.

And Jodi is pleased to have an ally, someone she can talk to and occasionally even confide in. Until . . .
She shuts Jodi out. And Audrey’s condition worsens—rapidly. Who is this woman suddenly wearing her mother’s jewelry? What is she after? And how far will she go to get it?

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE FAMILY REMAINS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books:  The Family Remains, by Lisa Jewell.

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Intro:

(Samuel)

“Jason Mott?”

“Yes.  Here.  That’s me.”

I stare down at the young man who stands below me ankle-deep in the mud of the banks of the Thames.  He has sandy hair that hangs in curtains on either side of a soft freckled face.

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Teaser:

Dominique had always selected her boyfriends on the basis of their quirks.  The more quirks the better. Jonathan was a walking litany of unusual features and idiosyncrasies.

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Synopsis:

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

In this masterful standalone sequel to her haunting New York Times bestseller, The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell proves she is writing at the height of her powers with another jaw-dropping, intricate, and affecting novel about the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love and uncover the truth.

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I loved the prequel to this book, and so far, I am really enjoying it.  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “BOOK LOVERS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books:  Book Lovers, by Emily Henry.

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Intro:

(Prologue)

When books are your life—or in my case, your job—you get pretty good at guessing where a story is going.  The tropes, the archetypes, the common plot twists all start to organize themselves into a catalogue inside your brain, divided by category and genre.

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Teaser:

She squints through the light, her freckled nose wrinkling.  “When will you learn that you’re so bad at lying that it’s not worth even trying?” (p. 62).

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Synopsis:

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE HEIGHTS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my newest books:  The Heights, by Louise Candlish

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Intro:

Kieran Watts has been dead for over two years when I see him standing on the roof of a building in Shad Thames.

It is October 2019, a Monday that should be unremarkable.

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Teaser:

The worst part was the scorn in that “you,” the loathing.  It was Kieran’s scorn, Kieran’s loathing.

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Synopsis:  The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there—a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.

But that can’t be because he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

With Louise Candlish’s signature dark and twisty prose, The Heights shows “the ferocity of maternal love” (Hannah Beckerman, author of If Only I Could Tell You). “This cleverly constructed novel will keep readers enthralled until the last page” (Publishers Weekly, starred).

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE SHOP ON ROYAL STREET”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books: The Shop on Royal Street, by Karen White.

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Intro:

Shadowy reflections of drooping banana leaves haunted the dirt-smudged windows of the old house.  It made me think of the hidden memories of people and a past long since gone but still trapped within the walls of the crumbling structure.

***

Teaser:

Jolene sat up at the word “memories.”  I’d thought that her meaning of the word was quaint until right now, when I couldn’t help but wonder if Christopher had used the word on purpose.

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Synopsis:

After a difficult detour on her road to adulthood, Nola Trenholm is looking to begin anew in New Orleans, and what better way to start her future than with her first house? But the historic fixer-upper she buys comes with even more work than she anticipated when the house’s previous occupants don’t seem to be ready to depart.

Although she can’t communicate with ghosts like her stepmother can, luckily Nola knows someone in New Orleans who is able to—even if he’s the last person on earth she wants anything to do with ever again. Beau Ryan comes with his own dark past—a past that involves the disappearance of his sister and parents during Hurricane Katrina—and he’s connected to the unsolved murder of a woman who once lived in the old Creole cottage Nola is determined to make her own…whether the resident restless spirits agree or not.

***

Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE HOTEL NANTUCKET”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events: First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Socrates Book Reviews; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is one of my new books:  The Hotel Nantucket, by Elin Hilderbrand.

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Intro:

Nantucket Island is known for its cobblestone streets and red-brick sidewalks, cedar-shingled cottages and rose-covered arches, long stretches of golden beach and refreshing Atlantic breezes—and it’s also known for residents who adore a juicy piece of gossip (which hot landscaper has been romancing which local real estate mogul’s wife—that kind of thing).

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Teaser:  

Lyric Layton is in her kitchen at seven a. m., making a beet-and-blueberry smoothie after doing yoga on her private beach when she hears a light rapping on her front door. Anne Boleyn, Lyric’s chocolate British shorthair, rises and places her paws on Lyric’s shin, which is something she does only when she’s anxious.

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Synopsis:

Fresh off a bad breakup with a longtime boyfriend, Nantucket sweetheart Lizbet Keaton is desperately seeking a second act. When she’s named the new general manager of the Hotel Nantucket, a once Gilded Age gem turned abandoned eyesore, she hopes that her local expertise and charismatic staff can win the favor of their new London billionaire owner, Xavier Darling, as well as that of Shelly Carpenter, the wildly popular Instagram tastemaker who can help put them back on the map. And while the Hotel Nantucket appears to be a blissful paradise, complete with a celebrity chef-run restaurant and an idyllic wellness center, there’s a lot of drama behind closed doors. The staff (and guests) have complicated pasts, and the hotel can’t seem to overcome the bad reputation it earned in 1922 when a tragic fire killed nineteen-year-old chambermaid Grace Hadley. With Grace gleefully haunting the halls, a staff harboring all kinds of secrets, and Lizbet’s own romantic uncertainty, is the Hotel Nantucket destined for success or doom?  

Filled with the emotional depth and multiple points of view that characterize Hilderbrand’s novels (The Blue Bistro, Golden Girl) as well as an added dash of Roaring Twenties history, The Hotel Nantucket offers something for everyone in this compelling summer drama. 

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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