Posted in Musing Mondays

MONDAY SPARKS: MUSINGS….

SNOW SPARKS LOGOt-Romantic-Restaurants-2011

Welcome to another Monday of Musing with Jenn, at Books and a Beat.

 

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name a book that you hope to re-read some day.

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Currently, I am reading Blood Defense, by Marcia Clark, and even though I haven’t been reading very much this weekend due to catching up after my vacation, I am loving what I have read so far.  I enjoy the author’s writing style and the character of Samantha Brinkman.

 

 

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Blurb:  First in a new series from bestselling author and famed O. J. Simpson trial prosecutor Marcia Clark, a “terrific writer and storyteller” (James Patterson).

Samantha Brinkman, an ambitious, hard-charging Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, is struggling to make a name for herself and to drag her fledgling practice into the big leagues. Sam lands a high-profile double-murder case in which one of the victims is a beloved TV star—and the defendant is a decorated veteran LAPD detective. It promises to be exactly the kind of media sensation that would establish her as a heavy hitter in the world of criminal law.

Though Sam has doubts about his innocence, she and her two associates (her closest childhood friend and a brilliant ex-con) take the case. Notorious for living by her own rules—and fearlessly breaking everyone else’s—Samantha pulls out all the stops in her quest to uncover evidence that will clear the detective. But when a shocking secret at the core of the case shatters her personal world, Sam realizes that not only has her client been playing her, he might be one of the most dangerous sociopaths she’s ever encountered.

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As for the Random Question:  I purchased a book a while ago that I hope to reread some day.  It is one I read when I was a teenager, so I am curious as to how I would feel about it now.  That book is Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier.

 

 

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What are you musing about today?  What are you reading/planning?

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Posted in first paragraphs, teaser tuesdays

TUESDAY SPARKS: INTRO/TEASER – “CONFESS”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

My feature today is a book by Colleen Hoover, an author I have discovered and enjoyed in the past year.  Confess is the winner of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance.

 

 

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Intro:  (Prologue:  Auburn)

I pass through the hospital doors knowing it’ll be the last time.

On the elevator, I press the number three, watching it illuminate for the last time.

The doors open to the third floor and I smile at the nurse on duty, watching her expression as she pities me for the last time.

I pass the supply room and the chapel and the employee break room, all for the last time.

I continue down the hallway and keep my gaze forward and my heart brave as I tap lightly on his door, waiting to hear Adam invite me in for the very last time.

***

Teaser:  (Auburn)

What the hell am I doing?  I don’t do this kind of thing.  I don’t invite guys into my home.

Texas is turning me into a whore. (p. 72).

***

Synopsis:  At age twenty-one, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her fight to rebuild her shattered life, she has her goals in sight and there is no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping a major secret from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  Have you read it?

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Posted in Saturday Snapshot

SATURDAY SPARKS: MY FAMILY & MY NEST

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

It has been a few weeks since my last post, so today will be a potpourri of images from the summer.

First, let’s look at some shots of grandchildren, starting with my eldest grandson, Alec, who will be in his senior year at UC-Berkeley in the fall:

 

 

Alec in June 2016

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Take a peek at a recent shot of Fiona (age 19):

 

 

Fiona in July

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Noah (13), enjoying fireworks on July 4th:

 

 

Noah, 4th of July 2016

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A cupboard with some old favorite print books…and some knick-knacks:

 

 

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A close-up of the books; do you see any titles you’ve read?

 

 

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A tablescape with dolls and other trinkets:

 

 

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Some changes on my sofa table:

 

 

 

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A new hall tree arrangement:

 

 

June 15 changes - 2

 

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Morning coffee….

 

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What did your week look like?  Are you sharing your summer in photos?

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Posted in Thursday Sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “THE MELODY LINGERS ON”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s featured book is from an author I’ve enjoyed for years.  The Melody Lingers On, by Mary Higgins Clark, is a headline-making finance scandal and a breathtaking tale of deception.

 

 

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Intro:  Thirty-year-old Elaine Marsha Harmon walked briskly from her apartment on East Thirty-Second Street in Manhattan to her job as an assistant interior decorator fifteen blocks away in the Flatiron Building at Twenty-Third Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  Her coat was warm but she had not worn gloves.  There was a distinct chill this early November morning.

She had twisted her long auburn hair and fastened it at the back of her head.  Now only wisps of it blew around her face.  Tall, like her father, and slender, like her mother, she had realized after graduating from college that the life of a teacher was not the way for her to go.  Instead, she enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology and after receiving a degree had been hired by Glady Harper, the doyenne of interior decorating among the wealthy and the socially ambitious.

***

Teaser:  Back at the table, he unfolded the Times first.  Then with dismay he read the headline on the right-hand side of the page.  “Parker Bennett’s Secretary Indicted as Co-conspirator.” (p. 77).

***

Synopsis:  As the sole assistant to a famous upscale interior designer, Lane Harmon is accustomed to visiting opulent homes. So her latest job at a modest New Jersey townhouse is unusual. Then she learns the home belongs to the wife of disgraced finance magnate Parker Bennett, who vanished two years earlier, along with the five billion dollar hedge fund he managed.

The debate over whether Bennett was suicidal or staged his disappearance still continues. Both his clients and the federal government want to trace the money and find him. But Lane is surprisingly moved by Mrs. Bennett’s steadfast faith in her husband’s innocence. Gradually, Lane is also drawn to the Bennetts’ son, Mark, who is equally determined to prove his father is not guilty. What she doesn’t realize is the closer she gets to the notorious family, the more her life—and that of her five-year-old daughter—is in jeopardy.

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts grab you?  Would you keep reading?

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Posted in Monday sparks

MONDAY SPARKS: MUSINGS….

SNOW SPARKS LOGOt-Romantic-Restaurants-2011

Welcome to Musing Mondays, hosted by Jenn, at Books and a Beat.  Here are some topics to ponder:

 

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is/are your favorite book cover(s)?

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I am reading and enjoying The Perfect Neighbors, by Sarah Pekkanen, a NetGalley ARC of a book to be released on July 5.

 

 

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How well do you ever really know the family next door?

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 love secrets, and finding out that the “perfect” neighbors have BIG secrets keeps me reading this delicious book.

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This week, I bought the following books:

 

Sunshine Beach (e-book), by Wendy Wax (I love this series, and I also want to continue with my beach staycation).

 

 

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Mystic Summer (e-book), by Hannah McKinnon

 

 

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Vinegar Girl (e-book), by Anne Tyler

 

 

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Here’s To Us (e-book), by Elin HIlderbrand

 

 

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Drinking Closer to Home (e-book), by Jessica Anya Blau

 

 

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I went a little crazy due to the Amazon credit. 

What are you musing about today?

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Posted in tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “DEATH AT BREAKFAST”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s features is one of my newest downloads from a favorite author.  Death at Breakfast, by Beth Gutcheon, the first entry in a stylish and witty mystery series featuring a pair of unlikely investigators—a shrewd novel of manners with a dark heart of murder at its center, set in small-town New England.

 

 

 

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Intro:  Maggie Detweiler, new-minted woman of leisure and not at all sure she was going to like it, had no sense of impending tragedy as she posed in front of the broad stone veranda of the Oquossoc Mountain Inn that bright October morning.  She didn’t really know what made her say to Hope, “When your picture’s being taken, don’t you always wonder if it’s the one that will run with your obituary?”

“Well, that one won’t be,” Hope Babbin said, consigning the image to the digital trash can.  “Hold still and smile, will you?”

Maggie did.

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Teaser:  Sophie and Ada were sitting in the great room, waiting.  They burst into tears as they heard, at last, the sound of the dog’s scrabbling toes on the slate floor of the hall.  As Colette rushed toward them they were rushing the other way, into the two women’s arms.  They shook and sobbed there. (50%).

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Synopsis:  Indulging their pleasure in travel and new experiences, recently retired private school head Maggie Detweiler and her old friend, socialite Hope Babbin, are heading to Maine. The trip—to attend a weeklong master cooking class at the picturesque Victorian-era Oquossoc Mountain Inn—is an experiment to test their compatibility for future expeditions.

Hope and Maggie have barely finished their first aperitifs when the inn’s tranquility is shattered by the arrival of Alexander and Lisa Antippas and Lisa’s actress sister, Glory. Imperious and rude, these Hollywood one-percenters quickly turn the inn upside-down with their demanding behavior, igniting a flurry of speculation and gossip among staff and guests alike.

But the disruption soon turns deadly. After a suspicious late-night fire is brought under control, Alex’s charred body is found in the ashes. Enter the town’s deputy sheriff, Buster Babbin, Hope’s long-estranged son and Maggie’s former student. A man who’s finally found his footing in life, Buster needs a win. But he’s quickly pushed aside by the “big boys,” senior law enforcement and high-powered state’s attorneys who swoop in to make a quick arrest.

Maggie knows that Buster has his deficits and his strengths. She also knows that justice does not always prevail—and that the difference between conviction and exoneration too often depends on lazy police work and the ambitions of prosecutors. She knows too, after a lifetime of observing human nature, that you have a great advantage in doing the right thing if you don’t care who gets the credit or whom you annoy.

Feeling that justice could use a helping hand–as could the deputy sheriff—Maggie and Hope decide that two women of experience equipped with healthy curiosity, plenty of common sense, and a cheerfully cynical sense of humor have a useful role to play in uncovering the truth.

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What do you think?  Does this one captivate you?  Would you keep reading? 

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Posted in Saturday Snapshot

SATURDAY SPARKS: SUMMER FUN

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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 Reads.

Now that school is out, the Three A’s are in a celebratory mood.  Aaron, in the middle, just graduated from high school; Alec, on the left, will be starting his senior year at University of California at Berkeley; and Aubrey, right, just finished her freshman year at San Diego State University.

 

The Three A's in June

 

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Aubrey and some friends are enjoying the wind in their hair…Aubrey is the one in the back right.

 

 

Windblown in June - Aubrey & friends

 

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In the mountains to the north of us, my niece and family are enjoying the Great Outdoors.  Here are Lucas, Gavin, & America, left to right.

 

 

Luca, Gavin, & America - June fun

 

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Luc (left) and Gavin (right), are wandering through the Lupines.

 

 

Luca & Gavin in the Lupines - June

 

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My niece Amy and the Guard Dog….

 

 

 

June camping - Amy & Dog

 

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Take a look at one view of my office nook, a part of the book case, and the sofa on the right.

 

 

Office Nook & Surroundings - June 9

 

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Say hello to little Madeleine Hatter, strutting her stuff on the pub table in its new location.

 

 

 

rounded Madeleine

 

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What are you sharing today?  Come on by and leave your comments and links.

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Posted in first paragraphs

TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “THE GIRLS”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

 

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s feature is my next up read, a review e-ARC from NetGalley.  The Girls, by Emma Cline, is an indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong—this stunning first novel is perfect for readers of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad.

 

 

 

the girls by emma cline

 

 

Intro:  I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.

I noticed their hair first, long and uncombed.  Then their jewelry catching the sun.  The three of them were far enough away that I saw only the periphery of their features, but it didn’t matter—I knew they were different from everyone else in the park.  Families milling in a vague line, waiting for sausages and burgers from the open grill.  Women in checked blouses scooting into their boyfriends’ sides, kids tossing eucalyptus buttons at the feral-looking chickens that overran the strip.  These long-haired girls seemed to glide above all that was happening around them, tragic and separate.  Like royalty in exile.

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Teaser:  My task made me a spy in my mother’s house, my mother the clueless quarry.  I could even apologize for our fight when I ran into her that night across the stillness of the hallway.  My mother gave a little shrug but accepted my apology, smiling in a brave way.  (45%).

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Synopsis:  Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.
 
Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction.

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I have been eager to start reading this book, a reminder of a time when young people longed for a more free and casual way of life, and often plunged ahead impulsively with no clue about what could happen to them.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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Posted in morning sparks

MONDAY SPARKS: MUSING ABOUT BOOKS

a bookish window seat-musings logo

 

Welcome to another Monday of Musing, hosted by Jenn, at Books and a Beat.  Here are some topics:

 

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your most favorite book from your childhood?

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My current read:  I Let You Go, by Claire Mackintosh, is about a rainy afternoon, when a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street….

 

 

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I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.
 
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner, says, “I read I Let You Go in two sittings; it made me cry (at least twice), made me gasp out loud (once), and above all made me wish I’d written it . . . a stellar achievement.”

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I’ve heard good things about this book, so I’m going to spend time today immersed in it.

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As for my most favorite childhood book, I might have to say Little Women, as I read it a few times.  But I was also thoroughly engaged by the Nancy Drew mysteries.

I don’t have a print copy of Little Women, as I read library books back then.  I brought no books from my childhood to my own collection, but I do have an e-book of Little Women now.

I also have the first three books in the Nancy Drew series that I bought a few years ago.  See them on the bottom of this stack, below:

 

Books & fairytales - may 16

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What are you musing about today?

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Posted in tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: EXCERPTING “TWO IF BY SEA”

Books & fairytales - TUESDAY EXCERPTS

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s feature is a book I hope to start reading soon:  Two If By Sea, by Jacquelyn Mitchard, an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart.

 

 

 

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Intro:  So many things happen when people can’t sleep.

It was always hot in Brisbane, but that night was pouty, unsettling.  After getting Natalie and her family comfortable in their rooms at the inn, Frank couldn’t rest.  His leg plagued him.  The toll of oppressive weather on that kind of old injury was no old farmer’s myth.  He rambled around, briefly joining Natalie’s brother Brian in the bar on the beach, then painfully mounting the switchbacked decks of wooden stairs that led to a kind of viewing platform just adjacent to the car park, looking out over Bribie Island Beach.  Up there, he hoped the signal would be good enough to call home, his home, if home is the place you started.  For Frank, that would always be a ramshackle horse farm in south-central Wisconsin—now probably more ramshackle than when he last saw it, three years before.  As the brrrr on the other end began, his pulse quickened.  He looked up at the sky and thought of all the calls darting through the sea of radio waves tonight, swift as swallows—dutiful, hopeful, wistful, sad.

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Teaser:  That was it.  Claudia was tired.  And other hallucinations.  Life was hurling events at the two of them like a pitching machine stuck on fastball.  Claudia was at her limit. (57%).

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Synopsis:  Just hours after his wife and her entire family perish in the Christmas Eve tsunami in Brisbane, American expat and former police officer Frank Mercy goes out to join his volunteer rescue unit and pulls a little boy from a submerged car, saving the child’s life with only seconds to spare. In that moment, Frank’s own life is transformed. Not quite knowing why, Frank sidesteps the law, when, instead of turning Ian over to the Red Cross, he takes the boy home to the Midwestern farm where he grew up. Not long into their journey, Frank begins to believe that Ian has an extraordinary, impossible telepathic gift; but his only wish is to protect the deeply frightened child. As Frank struggles to start over, training horses as his father and grandfather did before him, he meets Claudia, a champion equestrian and someone with whom he can share his life—and his fears for Ian. Both of them know that it will be impossible to keep Ian’s gift a secret forever. Already, ominous coincidences have put Frank’s police instincts on high alert, as strangers trespass the quiet life at the family farm.

The fight to keep Ian safe from a sinister group who want him back takes readers from the ravaged shores of Brisbane to the middle of America to a quaint English village. Even as Frank and Claudia dare to hope for new love, it becomes clear that they can never let Ian go, no matter what the cost. A suspenseful novel on a grand scale, Two If by Sea is about the best and worst in people, and the possibility of heroism and even magic in ordinary life.

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What do you think?  Read more?  I know that I’m eager to keep going.

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