TUESDAY SPARKS: “MY ABSOLUTE DARLING”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent, a brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl’s heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

 

 

Intro:  The old house hunkers on its hill, all peeling white paint, bay windows, and spindled wooden railings overgrown with climbing roses and poison oak.  Rose runners have prized off clapboards that now hang snarled in the canes.  The gravel drive is littered with spent casings caked in verdigris.  Martin Alveston gets out of the truck and does not look back at Turtle sitting in the cab but walks up the porch, his jungle boots sounding hollowly on the boards, a big man in flannel and Levi’s opening the sliding glass doors.  Turtle waits, listening to the engine’s ticking, and then she follows him.

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Teaser:  The spider moves carefully.  Stricken, Turtle watches it circle the tuft of grass, drawing closer.  She hears then a noise from down the road—someone walking along the roadbed, and she thinks wildly of Martin.  It is more than possible that he has managed to follow her.  He has done it before. (p. 56).

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Synopsis:  Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “CRIME SCENE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a book from Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman:  Crime Scene, a psychological thriller from a father-son writing team that delivers “brilliant, page-turning fiction” (Stephen King).

 

Intro:  Don’t make assumptions.

Every now and then, I remind myself of that.

Every now and then, the universe does the reminding for me.

When I meet new people, they’re usually dead.

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A young white male lies on his back in the parking lot of a Berkeley frat house.  According to the license in his wallet, his name is Seth Lindley Powell.  He is four months past his eighteenth birthday. The license gives a San Jose address.  It’s a fair bet his parents are at that address, right now, asleep.  Nobody has notified them yet.  I haven’t had a chance.

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Teaser:  “The procedure itself was completed.  The full protocol’s not finished.  I’m ready for those codes if you have them.”

“I—right.  I gave you birthdays, I think.  What do you have?”

I read back the list.

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Blurb:  Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.

The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

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Would you keep reading?  I know I’m eager to do just that.

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE LYING GAME”

 

 

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware.  Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

 

 

 

 

Intro:  The sound is just an ordinary text alert, a quiet beep beep in the night that does not wake Owen, and would not have woken me except that I was already awake, lying there, staring into the darkness, the baby at my breast snuffling, not quite feeding, not quite unlatching.

I lie there for a moment thinking about the text, wondering who it could be.  Who’d be texting at this hour?  None of my friends would be awake…unless it’s Milly gone into labor already…God, it can’t be Milly, can it?  I’d promised to take Noah if Milly’s parents couldn’t get up from Devon in time to look after him, but I never really thought…

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Teaser:  “God,” he spits.  “I came to apologize.  I was trying to help.  Just once—just once—you’d think I’d learn from my mistakes.  But no—you haven’t changed, none of you.  She whistles, and you come running, all of you, like dogs.” (46%).

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Synopsis:  On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

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What do you think?  Do you want to keep reading?

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HUMP DAY SPARKS: SHARING THE MOMENTS….

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I love the look of lakes and mountains.  The photo above is one from my niece Amy’s collection.  She luckily lives in a beautiful spot, and also managed to escape the wildfires that descended just an hour away from her home.

Below, Fiona spent the summer in the outdoors, working in Yosemite National Park.  Afterwards, she enjoyed finding her makeup again.

 

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Aubrey is having a great day here…and found someone to capture the mood for her.

 

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Some of my favorite mugs gather on various shelves and surfaces.  On the left, each of the Three A’s has his/her name printed on the side (Alec, Aubrey, Aaron); in the middle, Baby Alec, my first grandchild; and on the right, a mug I enjoy which I bought in Big Bear during one of my vacations to the cabin there.

 

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And then I found this photo of Craig, my eldest son, just before he took off for Europe again.  This one was snapped in 1994, right after I had moved into this A-frame house in the foothills.  He is holding a book, with his photo on the cover.

 

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And check out this delicious looking Shepherd’s Pie that I had last fall…I am eagerly awaiting its return to the menu at Marie Callender’s.

 

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As you can see, my photos are an eclectic mix of sentimental and recent.  What are you sharing this week?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “HEARTBREAK HOTEL”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition from a favorite writer of thrillers:  Heartbreak Hotel, by Jonathan Kellerman, a novel in which Alex Delaware and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis investigate the death of Alex’s most mysterious patient to date in the sensational new thriller from the master of suspense, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman.

 

 

Intro:  I lead a double life.

Some of my time is spent using the doctorate I earned:  evaluating the mental health of injured, neglected, or traumatized children, making recommendations about parental custody, providing short-term treatment.  My own childhood was often nightmarish and I like to think I’m making a difference.  I keep my fees reasonable and bills get paid.

Then there’s the other stuff, initiated by my best friend, an LAPD homicide lieutenant.  Once in a while my name leaks into a news story.  Mostly I keep out of public view.  I doubt any of the families I see are aware of the murders I work on.  They’ve never commented on it and I think they would if they knew.

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Teaser:  At four forty-five we took the unmarked to Ricki Sylvester’s office.  When we were moments away, I got a text.

Maxine Driver. Pitcairn has no idea who the palooka is.  She’ll look into Drancy.  Intrigued.  As am I. (53%).

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Synopsis: At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history.

What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.

When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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HUMP DAY SPARKS: MORE PRAGUE PHOTOS, ETC.

When my daughter and son-in-law went to Europe for their honeymoon, they visited with my eldest son Craig and his wife Gabi, and Craig captured some photos of them against the beautiful Prague backdrop.

I love how he sometimes likes to use black and white for dramatic effect, and I applaud what he captured here (below).

 

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Equally effective:  the bright blue skies and the spires of the fabulous architecture nicely frame the newlywed couple.

 

 

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In this shot, Prague is laid out behind them in a fabulous view.

 

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These buildings behind them are familiar to me because of other photos Craig has in his collection.  I think their familiarity makes them even more perfect as a backdrop.

 

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And then, check out the “adoring, honeymoon look”….

 

 

One of my early Prague photos from Craig…

 

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Back here at home, my ever-changing bookstack…books brought from the office to this “up next” stack…

 

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That’s my spotlight for this week.  What is yours?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE CHILD”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is from an e-book recently downloaded, but which I’ve been eagerly awaiting:  The Child, by Fiona Barton, “a perfect blend of beach read and book club selection. It’s a fascinating and fitting follow-up to [Barton’s] best-selling debut novel, The Widow. . . .[A] page-turning whodunit….A novel that is both fast-paced and thought-provoking, it keeps the reader guessing right to the end.”—USA Today”

 

 

 

Intro:  (Emma – Tuesday, March 20, 2012)

My computer is winking at me knowingly when I sit down at my desk.  I touch the keyboard, and a photo of Paul appears on my screen.  It’s the one I took of him in Rome on our honeymoon, eyes full of love across a table in the Campo dei Fiori.  I try to smile back at him but as I lean in, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the screen and stop.  I hate seeing myself without warning.  Don’t recognize myself sometimes.  You think you know what you look like and there is this stranger looking at you.  It can frighten me.

But today I study the stranger’s face.  The brown hair half pulled up on top of the head in a frantic work bun, naked skin, shadows and lines creeping towards the eyes like cracks in pavement.

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Teaser:  (Emma – March 26, 2012)

My yoga teacher is doing a guided relaxation, her voice purring over the tinkling of finger cymbals, lulling us into a coma.  I love this bit of the class normally, but today I’m lying on my mat trying not to think about the ghosts of Howard Street.  About the baby.  About Professor Will (p. 63).

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Synopsis:  As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

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What do you think?  Have you read this one?  Would you keep reading?

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FRIDAY SPARKS: A FAMILY FEATURE….

As I wander around my home, occasionally dusting and cleaning, I never fail to look at my favorite things, which include books, fairytale figurines, and photos of family.

This blog had its beginnings as Snow Impressions, over on Blogger…and featured my two granddaughters primarily.  One of the photos from back then was of the two of them at the cabin in the snow.

 

 

Today I have a new collection of family photos, mostly featuring my oldest granddaughter Aubrey (she’s actually older than my other granddaughter, Fiona, by only eight days…LOL).

Aubrey has been attending university in San Diego, but this summer she is taking a break to enjoy some adventures with family and friends.  In this shot, she is climbing Potato Chip Rock.

 

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Out on the water…

 

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Some tree hugging with a friend…

 

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Giving back…

 

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Spending time with her little sister Sidney…

 

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And finally, here she is on July 4th with her two oldest brothers, the ones that make up the “A-Team” with her:  Alec, Aubrey, & Aaron.  You may think that Alec and Aubrey are not that tall…you would be wrong.  Alec is 6’2″; Aubrey, 5’10”; and Aaron…well, he is around 6’6″.

 

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Enjoy your weekend!  What are you spotlighting today?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “SWIMMING LESSONS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller; scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

 

Intro:  Gil Coleman looked down from the first-floor window of the bookshop and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.  He had been among the shelves all afternoon, thumbing through the secondhand books from front to back, pausing at folded-over corners, or where the text had been underlined, flicking through the pages to persuade them to offer up what might be hiding between the leaves.  The cup of tea that Viv had brought for him had cooled, forgotten on the window seat.  At about three o’clock he had picked up Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, a book he recognised and thought he might already own.  It had fallen open, and there, tucked between the pages, he had been surprised to see a folded sheet of thin yellow paper with blue faint lines.

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Teaser:  I cried in front of Flora’s teacher, not because the letter was so clearly written by a desperate child, and not because Flora is missing school or lying—although that’s what Mrs. Layland thought—but because she doesn’t need me (p. 60%).

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Synopsis:  Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan. 

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE SUMMER HOUSE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s featured book is a recent download.  The Summer House, by Hannah McKinnon, is a  warm-hearted novel that is perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe.

 

Intro:  (Clem)

Something was not right.  Throughout the night, driving spring rains had battered against the windowpanes, and flashes of lightning illuminated their bedroom in tumultuous bursts.   But now the house was eerily silent.  Turning over, she reached for the alarm clock on her bedside table:  7:15.  She’d never get the kids ready for the school bus on time.  Groaning, she slid back beneath the warmth of the down comforter.

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Teaser:  (Paige)

Paige tossed the shopping bags on the bed and flopped down among them.  She’d spent too much money in town, but it seemed like the only way to guarantee some time with Emma.  David set his book down and looked over at her, bemused (46%).

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Synopsis:  When Flossy Merrill summons her children to the beloved family beach house to celebrate their father’s eightieth birthday, both cherished memories and long-kept secrets come to light in this charming and lyrical novel from the author of The Lake Season and Mystic Summer.

Flossy Merrill has managed to—somewhat begrudgingly—gather her three ungrateful grown children from their dysfunctional lives for a summer reunion at the family’s Rhode Island beach house. Clementine, her youngest child and a young mother of two small children, has caused Flossy the most worry after enduring a tragically life-altering year. But Samuel and his partner Evan are not far behind in their ability to alarm: their prospective adoption search has just taken a heart-wrenching turn. Only Paige, the eldest of the headstrong Merrill clan, is her usual self: arriving precisely on time with her well-adapted teens. Little does her family know that she, too, is facing personal struggles of her own.

No matter. With her family finally congregated under one seaside roof, Flossy is determined to steer her family back on course even as she prepares to reveal the fate of the summer house that everyone has thus far taken for granted: she’s selling it. The Merrill children are both shocked and outraged and each returns to memories of their childhoods at their once beloved summer house—the house where they have not only grown up, but from which they have grown away. With each lost in their respective heartaches, Clementine, Samuel, and Paige will be forced to reconsider what really matters before they all say goodbye to a house that not only defined their summers, but, ultimately, the ways in which they define themselves. 

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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