TUESDAY SPARKS: “AN UNWANTED GUEST”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a new download from a favorite author:  An Unwanted Guest, by Shari Lapena:  A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away

 

 

 

Intro:  (ONE, Friday, 4:45 p.m.)

The road curves and twists unexpectedly as it leads higher and deeper into the Catskill Mountains, as if the farther you get from civilization, the more uncertain the path.  The shadows are deepening, the weather worsening. The Hudson River is there, appearing and disappearing from view.  The forest that rises on either side of the road has a lurking quality, as if it might swallow you whole; it is the forest of fairy tales.  The softly falling snow, however, lends it all a certain postcard charm.

***

Teaser:  She walks quietly into the bathroom, leaving the door open.  She doesn’t want to turn on the light—she doesn’t want to wake Ian.  It’s damn cold.  She brushes her hair quickly.  Her illuminated watch face says it’s just before six. (p. 60).

***

Synopsis:  It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.

***

Do the excerpts draw you in?  Do you want to know more?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE PERFECT COUPLE”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a book I downloaded in June:  The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand, a novel about the many ways family can fill our lives with love…if they don’t kill us first.

 

 

Book Beginning:  (Saturday, July 7, 2018, 5:53 a.m.)

The Chief:  A phone call before six on a Saturday morning is never a good thing, although it’s not unheard of on a holiday weekend.  Too many times to count, Chief Ed Kapenash of the Nantucket Police Department has seen the Fourth of July go sideways.  The most common accident is a person blowing off a finger while lighting fireworks.   Sometimes things are more serious.

***

Friday 56:  (Nantucket)

At the hospital, the Greek is greeted by a trio of nurses—Margaret, Suzanne, and Patty.  Nick has been on dates with both Suzanne and Patty—nothing serious, just fun.  He smiles at all three and says, “Where am I going and what do I need to know?” (56%).

***

Synopsis:  It’s Nantucket wedding season, also known as summer—the sight of a bride racing down Main Street is as common as the sun setting at Madaket Beach. The Otis-Winbury wedding promises to be an event to remember: the groom’s wealthy parents have spared no expense to host a lavish ceremony at their oceanfront estate.

But it’s going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons after tragedy strikes: a body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor just hours before the ceremony-and everyone in the wedding party is suddenly a suspect. As Chief of Police Ed Kapenash interviews the bride, the groom, the groom’s famous mystery-novelist mother, and even a member of his own family, he discovers that every wedding is a minefield-and no couple is perfect.

***

What grabs you?  The synopsis, the promise of a beautiful setting, or an unexpected murder?

***

TUESDAY SPARKS: “WHISTLE IN THE DARK”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Whistle in the Dark, by Emma Healey, is a wry, poignant, and masterfully drawn story that explores the bonds and duress of family life, the pain of mental illness, and the fraught yet enduring connection between mothers and daughters…

 

 

Intro:  (The end)

“This has been the worst week of my life,” Jen said.  Not what she had planned to say to her fifteen-year-old daughter after an ordeal that had already covered four days.

“Hi, Mum.”  Lana’s voice emerged from blue-tinged lips.

***

Teaser:  “I just don’t see why you won’t talk to anyone, Lana,” Meg was saying, as Jen walked in.  “Have you done something bad?  Something illegal?  Did you hurt someone?  Are you ashamed?”  She had her back to the sitting-room door, but had surely heard her mother come in (p. 56).

***

Synopsis:  Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

***

I loved the author’s previous book, Elizabeth Is Missing, so I was eager to grab this one.  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “GHOSTED”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a new download:  Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh.  Seven perfect days. Then he disappeared. A love story with a secret at its heart.

 

 

Beginning:  (Chapter One)

Dear You,

It’s exactly nineteen years since that luminous morning when we smiled and said good-bye.  That we would see each other again was never in doubt, was it?  It was a question of when, not if.  In fact, it wasn’t even a question.  The future might have seemed as insubstantial as the curled edge of a dream, but it unequivocally contained us both.  Together.

***

Friday 56:  Tommy,  Jo, and Rudi were long gone.  I had been crouching in the back of Tommy’s car for nearly half an hour.

I was going to have to get out.

***

Synopsis:  When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it’s mutual: It’s as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn’t call.

Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something’s happened—there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

***

What do you think?  Does the premise grab you?  Do the excerpts pique your interest?

***

TUESDAY SPARKS: “FEARED”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, originally hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea and now hosted by I’d Rather Be at the Beach; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a NetGalley ARC:  Feared, by Lisa Scottoline, will be released on 8/14/18.  The book explores what happens when we are tempted to give in to our own inner darkness.

 

 

 

Intro:  “Surprise!” everyone shouted, as Mary DiNunzio opened the door to the conference room.  The office was throwing her a baby shower, and she almost burst into tears of joy.  Pregnancy had boosted her emotions past normal Italian-American levels, and for the past seven months, she’d been a walking bowl of estrogen.

***

Teaser:  It wasn’t until two o’clock in the morning that Mary finally slipped into bed, having stayed up to decompress with Judy in the guest bedroom, flopping around with her gaseous golden retriever, talking about John, William, and theories of the murder.  They had searched John’s file cabinet in his apartment, but they hadn’t been able to find a William file or emails from John to Mike Shanahan, so they’d resolved to look at the office at work tomorrow (54%).

***

Synopsis:  When three men announce that they are suing the Rosato & DiNunzio law firm for reverse sex discrimination—claiming that they were not hired because they were men—Mary DiNunzio and Bennie Rosato are outraged. To make matters worse, their one male employee, John Foxman, intends to resign, claiming that there is some truth to this case.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer is Nick Machiavelli, who has already lost to Mary once and is now back with a vengeance —determined not to not only win, but destroy the firm. It soon becomes clear that Machiavelli will do anything in his power to achieve his end…even after the case turns deadly. The stakes have never been higher for Mary and her associates as they try to keep Machiavelli at bay, solve a murder, and save the law firm they love…or they could lose everything they’ve worked for. Told with Scottoline’s trademark gift for twists, turns, heart, and humanity, this latest thriller asks the question: Is it better to be loved, or feared…

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “JUST BETWEEN US”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a book I downloaded several months ago…and decided it needed attention.  Just Between Us, by Rebecca Drake,  is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.

 

 

Beginning:  (Prologue)

Funerals for murder victims are distinguished from other services by the curiosity seekers.  Those who come even though they have no real relationship with the victim, but have been fooled by the publicity surrounding the death into thinking that they had a personal connection.

Chapter One: (Alison)

Sometimes I play the what-if game and wonder, what if we hadn’t moved to Sewickley when I got pregnant, and what if I hadn’t gone into labor in early August, and what if Lucy hadn’t slipped, wet and wailing, into this world a full three weeks early?  If my oldest child had been born on her due date or after, then she wouldn’t have been eligible for school a full year earlier than expected, and I wouldn’t have met the women who became my closest friends, and what happened to us might never have happened at all.

(Thoughts:  I love playing “what-if” games, but they seldom bring any kind of relief!).

***

Friday 56:  (p. 57 – there is no p. 56)

(Alison) The shock of finding out that Daniel was not Heather’s birth child was as great, in many ways, as seeing that vast and lovely kitchen covered in broken glass.  Sarah swung the car off the side of the road, screeching to a halt along the berm, before reaching for my phone to confirm for herself.

***

Synopsis:  Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.

Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.

***

This book has been a neglected one, since I purchased it in January.  As I re-read the blurb and the excerpts, I had to chide myself at how long I’ve waited.  What do you think?  Do the snippets grab you?

***

HUMP DAY SPARKS: AT HOME & ABROAD…

Good morning, and welcome to a peek behind the scenes in my home and with my family.  Above is a glimpse of my office bookshelf, situated next to my desk nook.  As you can tell, I do love quirky dolls and Disney characters mixed in with books.

 

My focus today will primarily be on my son and daughter-in-law:  shots taken in and around Prague, their corner of the world.   Gabi is behind the camera on some of these, while others were captured by Craig, like this one of her in a garden in Prohonicky Park.

 

Next, we join her as she is surrounded by lovely greenery…there is a wispy feeling to the scene…

 

Gabi captured Craig sitting down on the job…or maybe he is busily studying something in his hands.

 

Here is a sweeping view to behold…and there is Craig again, peeking out from behind the fence….

 

Interesting architecture to behold….

 

Another view of a building…

 

And here is a great close-up of a rose….with a little creature resting on Gabi’s hand…

 

***

And just for the fun of it, here is a flashback to some images from my foothill home.  Far right, my Fearsome Four, Circa 1999.  Middle, three of my grandchildren in 2006:  Aiden, Dominic, and Fiona.  My vignette on the left includes my first published book, front and center:  An Accidental Life.

 

***

Have a great weekend!

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “ALL YOUR PERFECTS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a new download from a favorite author:  All Your Perfects, by Colleen Hoover, is a tour de force novel about a troubled marriage and the one old forgotten promise that might be able to save it.

 

 

 

Beginning:  (Then)

The doorman didn’t smile at me.

That thought plagues me during the entire ride up the elevator to Ethan’s floor.  Vincent has been my favorite doorman since Ethan moved into this apartment building.  He always smiles and chats with me.  But today, he simply held the door open with a stoic expression.  Not even a, “Hello, Quinn.  How was your trip?”

***

Friday 56%: (Now)

“You don’t hate me,” he says quietly.  “In order to hate me you’d have to love me.  But you’ve been indifferent toward me for a long time now.”

***

Synopsis:  Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

***

What do you think?  I’ve been waiting for this one for a long while.

***

 

FRIDAY SPARKS: SAVORING THE MOMENTS…

My two granddaughters are often featured here.  In fact, this blog was first created as Snow Impressions, and the two girls (bottom right) were on the blog header.

Over the years, they have grown…and are now twenty-one!  They have “twin” birthdays in February.

 

Today’s feature will include several shots of Aubrey, and even a final one of her little sister Sidney.  In the first shot, we see Aubrey climbing a mountain. 

 

Now we see her achieving her goal:  top of the mountain!

 

Next, let’s check out this shot of Aubrey with her friend Noah:

 

Below, she is enjoying the lake and the mountains with friends during summer break:

 

And here is little Sidney enjoying her sixth birthday…little princess!

 

***

When we see life in a series of photos, we realize how quickly these precious young people grow…and we savor the moments.

What are you savoring today?

***

THURSDAY SPARKS: A BOOK ABOUT A WOMAN & A TRIAL…

Recently I watched the Netflix show about the O.J. Trial, which gave us a peek behind the scenes at the players.  Marcia Clark was portrayed by Sarah Paulson, and she did an excellent job.

After watching the show (the first time, on network TV), I started reading Marcia Clark’s books, but had not yet read her story of that trial.

Today I downloaded the book…and can’t wait to start reading it.  Without a Doubt is not just a book about a trial. It’s a book about a woman.

Marcia Clark takes us inside her head and her heart. Her voice is raw, incisive, disarming, unmistakable. Her story is both sweeping and deeply personal. It is the story of a woman who, when caught up in an event that galvanized an entire country, rose to that occasion with singular integrity, drive, honesty and grace.

In a case that tore America apart, and that continues to haunt us as few events of history have, Marcia Clark emerged as the only true heroine, because she stood for justice, fought the good fight, and fought it well.

***

I remember the trial IRL, beginning in 1995, and how it took over the TV stations.  I was frustrated that there was nothing else to watch, back then; but I was glued to the screen for the TV movie.

We do have a tendency to watch, like those viewing a train wreck, but what does that say about us?  Is it simply curiosity, or are we gluttons for the harsh evil around us, clamoring for more, even as events wrap themselves around us and grip us like a noose?

We love our thrillers, we watch reality TV events, and we can’t seem to get enough.  What is next?  I know that I look at the news feeds daily to see what is going on in the world, what events are occurring that could change things for us.  I hope for the downfall of some who represent the tawdry world in which we now live.

Do you love watching?  Are you caught up in the turmoil?

***