TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE PERFECT DAUGHTER”

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 relatively new book:  The Perfect Daughter, by D.J. Palmer.

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Intro:

At thirty minutes past eight o’clock, red and blue strobe lights lit up the sky outside Grace Francone’s modest Cape house with the frenzy of a fireworks display. A quick check out the window revealed two cars parked in their driveway, one a sedan, a single twirling red light mounted on its dashboard, and the other a black-and-white from the Lynn Police Department, lights also flashing.

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Teaser: 

The way Eve studied Mitch, a coquettish glimmer in her eyes, made him shudder.  It was an alluring stare, one brimming with a poise that was startling to see in a seventeen-year-old girl just coming into her own. (p.67

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Synopsis:  Penny Francone, age sixteen, is a murderer. Her guilt is beyond doubt: she was found alone in the victim’s apartment, covered in blood, holding the murder weapon. The victim’s identity and her secret relationship to Penny give Penny the perfect motive, sealing the deal. All the jury needs to decide now is where Penny will serve out her sentence. Will she be found not guilty by reason of insanity, as her lawyer intends to argue? Or will she get a life sentence in a maximum-security prison?
Already reeling from tragedy after the sudden passing of her beloved husband a few years before, now Grace is on her knees, grateful that Massachusetts doesn’t allow the death penalty.

As Penny awaits trial in a state mental hospital, she is treated by Dr. Mitchell McHugh, a psychiatrist battling demons of his own. Grace’s determination to understand the why behind her daughter’s terrible crime fuels Mitch’s resolve to help the Francone family. Together, they set out in search of the truth about Penny, but discover instead a shocking hidden history of secrets, lies, and betrayals that threatens to consume them all.

The perfect daughter. Is she fooling them all?

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THAT SUMMER”

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 NetGalley ARC of a book to be released on 5/11/21:

That Summer, by Jennifer Weiner

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Intro:  (Prologue)

She is fifteen years old that summer, a thoughtful, book-struck girl with long-lashed hazel eyes and a long-legged body that still doesn’t completely feel like her own.  She lives in a row house in South Boston with her parents and two sisters, and attends a private school in Cambridge, on a scholarship, where she gets mostly Bs, except for As in English and art.  She dreams about falling in love.

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Teaser:

Diana cleared her throat.  It felt like her tongue and her lips and her teeth were all new pieces of equipment, recently installed.  “I was mean to you a lot of times.”

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Synopsis:  Daisy Shoemaker can’t sleep. With a thriving cooking business, full schedule of volunteer work, and a beautiful home in the Philadelphia suburbs, she should be content. But her teenage daughter can be a handful, her husband can be distant, her work can feel trivial, and she has lots of acquaintances, but no real friends. Still, Daisy knows she’s got it good. So why is she up all night?

While Daisy tries to identify the root of her dissatisfaction, she’s also receiving misdirected emails meant for a woman named Diana Starling, whose email address is just one punctuation mark away from her own. While Daisy’s driving carpools, Diana is chairing meetings. While Daisy’s making dinner, Diana’s making plans to reorganize corporations. Diana’s glamorous, sophisticated, single-lady life is miles away from Daisy’s simpler existence. When an apology leads to an invitation, the two women meet and become friends. But, as they get closer, we learn that their connection was not completely accidental. Who IS this other woman, and what does she want with Daisy?

From the manicured Main Line of Philadelphia to the wild landscape of the Outer Cape, written with Jennifer Weiner’s signature wit and sharp observations, That Summer is a story about surviving our pasts, confronting our futures, and the sustaining bonds of friendship.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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REVIEW: THE SMASH-UP, BY ALI BENJAMIN

It’s September 2018. In Washington, D.C.,—and in cities and towns across America—women have taken to the streets to protest a Supreme Court nominee. And in Starkfield, Massachusetts—a sleepy rural town where nothing much ever happens—Ethan Frome’s otherwise quiet life has turned upside down.

Ethan’s wife, Zo, is so enraged by the national political scene that she’s transformed their home into a local headquarters for the Resistance. His college roommate and former business partner faces #metoo allegations, sending Ethan into increasingly desperate financial straits. His unruly, headstrong daughter, Alex, grows more challenging by the day.

Enter Maddy Silver—a breezy, blue-haired millennial making her way through the gig economy. Suddenly Ethan and Zo must question everything: their past, their future, their marriage, and what they value most. And all the while, a world-rocking cultural smash-up inches ever closer to home.

Inspired by a classic Edith Wharton novella about a strained marriage in a small town, The Smash-Up is at once an intimate, moving portrait of a family in distress, a vivid examination of our roiling national rancor, and a powerful exploration of how the things we fail to notice can shatter a family, a community, and a nation.
 
 
airbrushed hippie dolls
 


The opening lines of The Smash-Up pose a question: What happened? Those words remind me of how I felt in 2016…and then later, in 2018, as inexplicable events unfolded. A world I could not imagine or accept.

As we follow the journey of Zo and Ethan and their daughter Alex, we see how these events changed lives into something almost twisted. How will these characters survive the world that they are now protesting?

I enjoyed watching the characters as they traverse these changes around them, dealing with things as much as possible, but also struggling. Their livelihoods are at risk and how their family moves forward, even as they remember the events of the past that brought them together, might be impossible.

A beautifully written story that kept me turning pages, I give this one 5 stars for how it gripped and resonated with me.
 
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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE SMASH-UP”

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:  The Smash-Up, by Ali Benjamin.

Intro:  WHAT HAPPENED?

Everyone asked the question, had been asking since the election.  They asked while watching the news, that storm of headlines, jump-cut footage of marches and speeches and hand-sharpied cardboard, an endless, swirling blizzard—a siege, really—of protests and counterprotests, action and reaction, people screaming at one another in the street, neighbor versus neighbor, friend versus friend.

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Teaser:

Ethan rolls over.  “I was kidding, Zo,” he offers to the back of her head.  “About the Minister of Rage thing.” (p. 60).

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Synopsis:  It’s September 2018. In Washington, D.C.,—and in cities and towns across America—women have taken to the streets to protest a Supreme Court nominee. And in Starkfield, Massachusetts—a sleepy rural town where nothing much ever happens—Ethan Frome’s otherwise quiet life has turned upside down.

Ethan’s wife, Zo, is so enraged by the national political scene that she’s transformed their home into a local headquarters for the Resistance. His college roommate and former business partner faces #metoo allegations, sending Ethan into increasingly desperate financial straits. His unruly, headstrong daughter, Alex, grows more challenging by the day.

Enter Maddy Silver—a breezy, blue-haired millennial making her way through the gig economy. Suddenly Ethan and Zo must question everything: their past, their future, their marriage, and what they value most. And all the while, a world-rocking cultural smash-up inches ever closer to home.

Inspired by a classic Edith Wharton novella about a strained marriage in a small town, The Smash-Up is at once an intimate, moving portrait of a family in distress, a vivid examination of our roiling national rancor, and a powerful exploration of how the things we fail to notice can shatter a family, a community, and a nation.

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THIEF OF SOULS”

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 an ARC that will be released on 5/4/21:  Thief of Souls, by Brian Klingborg.

 

Intro:  Saturday

Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China’s 600 million people is that they are “poor and blank.”  This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for changes, the desire for action, and the desire for revolution.

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Teaser: 

Lu has unwittingly crossed a line.  He considers putting money on the table and leaving, but decides that would only make things worse. (53%).

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Synopsis: Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police college but he’s been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing—headed by a rising political star—is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own.

As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “WATCH HER FALL”

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 I am eager to read:  Watch Her Fall, by Erin Kelly…

 


Intro:

It was nine o’clock in the morning and already thirty-one degrees.  London shimmered in a dirty haze.  The weather reporter on the radio had said that it was hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement.

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Teaser Tuesday:

One day Ava would have to concern herself with these things too.  Money.  Letting dancers go. (p. 61).

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Synopsis:

Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.

Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.

But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall . . .

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Would you keep reading?

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MASTERING THE LINK…

The weird thing I am experiencing is serendipity.  Accidentally succeeding at linking one image…and then not being able to repeat the process with the next image.  For example, the photo above is linked to the Amazon page, but I wasn’t able to perform the task in my “updates blog post” earlier!

This means that I need to learn the steps of the process.  I also have trouble navigating on the page, moving the blocks around where I want them to be.

I need to take a webinair, I guess.  Or stop trying!  LOL

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What tricks have you learned along the way?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “A MILLION REASONS WHY”

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 another new book:  A Million Reasons Why, by Jessica Strawser.

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Intro:  (Caroline)

Long before Caroline ever felt compelled to seriously consider the split between nature and nurture, she knew exactly which traits she owed to her dad.

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Teaser:  “Your imagination,” Ecca would say when Sela showed frustration, “is your superpower.  Never underestimate what you can do with it.”

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Synopsis:  When two strangers are linked by a mail-in DNA test, it’s an answered prayer—that is, for one half sister. For the other, it will dismantle everything she knows to be true.

But as they step into the unfamiliar realm of sisterhood, the roles will reverse in ways no one could have foreseen.

Caroline lives a full, happy life—thriving career, three feisty children, enviable marriage, and a close-knit extended family. She couldn’t have scripted it better. Except for one thing:

She’s about to discover her fundamental beliefs about them all are wrong.

Sela lives a life in shades of gray, suffering from irreversible kidney failure. Her marriage crumbled in the wake of her illness. Her beloved mother, always her closest friend, unexpectedly passed away. She refuses to be defined by her grief, but still, she worries what will happen to her two-year-old son if she doesn’t find a donor match in time.

She’s the only one who knows Caroline is her half sister and may also be her best hope for a future. But Sela’s world isn’t as clear-cut as it appears—and one misstep could destroy it all.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE UPSTAIRS HOUSE”

 

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:  The Upstairs House, by Julia Fine.

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Intro:  (November 1950)

Death flaunts itself on every tree, and Margaret looks out the hospital window, calling it beautiful.

Typical, thinks Michael.  The others have gone to the washroom, to interrogate the nurses, to the hotel to retrieve a fresh shirt.  Margaret has stayed.  Margaret is here.

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Teaser:

Sirens approached, the full-on fire brigade clanging down the silent street.  Lights turned on in the condo across the way. (p. 59).

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Synopsis:  There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post). 

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE GOOD SISTER”

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 NetGalley ARC that will be released on 4/13/21:  The Good Sister, by Sally Hepworth.

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Intro: (Journal of Rose Ingrid Castle)

It’s been three months since Owen left.  Left, or left me-–like so many things in the adult world, it’s all a bit gray. He took a job in London; a work opportunity, ostensibly.  It’s not that I wasn’t invited, but it was clear to both of us that I couldn’t go.  That’s another thing about the adult world:  responsibilities.  In my case, one particular responsibility.  Fern.

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Teaser: 

It wasn’t easy leaving Owen.  In fact, it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  But if there was even a chance that Fern was in danger, it was worth it.

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Synopsis:  There’s only been one time that Rose couldn’t stop me from doing the wrong thing and that was a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be…dangerous.

When Rose discovers that she cannot get pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple.

Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of what families keep hidden.

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Would you keep reading?

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