TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR”

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 to my shelves:  The Girl in the Mirror, by Rose Carlyle.

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Intro:  (Prologue)

For the first twelve days of our life, we were one person.  Our father’s brains and our mother’s beauty swirled into one blessed embryo, the sole heir to the Carmichael fortune.

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Teaser:  It was a recent transformation.  I don’t know whether Summer had noticed, but I had seen the way boys looked at her. (p. 66).

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Synopsis:  Twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of Summer’s seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam.

Called to Thailand to help her sister sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes. When she makes it to land, Iris allows herself to be swept up by Adam, who assumes that she is Summer.

Iris recklessly goes along with his mistake. Not only does she finally have the golden life she’s always envied, with her sister gone, she’s one step closer to the hundred-million-dollar inheritance left by her manipulative father. All Iris has to do is be the first of his seven children to produce an heir.

Iris’s “new” life lurches between glamorous dream and paranoid nightmare. On the edge of being exposed, how far will she go to ensure no one discovers the truth?

And just what did happen to Summer on the yacht?

Only Iris knows . . .

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts reel you in?

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MONDAY SPARKS: LAUNCHING A NEW WEEK…

As we march forward to the end of this problematic year, I am feeling hopeful.  And invigorated.

Even in 2019, I was struggling to adjust to my new circumstances:  living in a senior residential community.  Before the Pandemic, however, I was loving my independence, which involved calling for a Lyft driver to go shopping or to meet with friends.

Everything changed in March, when we were all locked down here.  I consider it a fortunate aspect of my introverted personality that I could find a way to get through these changes. Books, movies, and the constant reshuffling of my interiors helped me adapt.

Today I read an article about napping, and how recharging our bodies can help us “improve memory, boost creativity, and enhance emotional control and stamina.”

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Ever since I retired, a few years ago, I have enjoyed the occasional nap.  And, as suggested by the article, a short nap is better than sleeping away the day.

Today is Monday, and I look forward to starting the week with the things I love, like bookish blog events and daytime television shows.  Yes, I am addicted to soap operas.  What I love about them, and have enjoyed for years, is how viewing them takes me out of my own distractions and worries.

There are only four remaining shows, and I am able to manage them without giving up anything else I might enjoy.

General Hospital is a show I have watched on and off since 1963.  Back then, I was still in college and arranged my viewing around my classes.  Later, I used a VCR and then a DVR to record the shows.

After a weekend, I am always eager to rejoin the cast and their various antics.

Meanwhile, I am loving my books…and my current read, which I hope to finish today, is a new series from an author I enjoy: 

Out of Her Mind, by T. R. Ragan

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What do you enjoy about Mondays?  Are you finding ways to cope with the challenges of 2020?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “I WAS TOLD IT WOULD GET EASIER”

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 recent acquisition:  I Was Told It Would Get Easier, by Abbi Waxman.

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Intro:  Jessica Burnstein, 45, Full of Optimism:

I left the house this morning, determined to take the day by the horns and throw it over my shoulder like a scarf, if necessary.  I’d had two cups of coffee, I’d remembered to floss, and I was going to tell my boss the crap with Valentina simply wasn’t going to fly anymore.

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Teaser Tuesday:  (Jessica)

It’s amazing how much I can hate a child.  Alice purposely embarrassed Emily, and I would happily reach along the row of chairs and punch her in the throat.  If Em came home from school and told me that story, I would have told her to shrug and rise above it, but it’s very hard to rise above an intense desire to protect your cub in the moment. (p. 59).

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Synopsis:  Jessica and Emily Burnstein have very different ideas of how this college tour should go.

For Emily, it’s a preview of freedom, exploring the possibility of her new and more exciting future. Not that she’s sure she even wants to go to college, but let’s ignore that for now. And maybe the other kids on the tour will like her more than the ones at school. . . . They have to, right?

For Jessica, it’s a chance to bond with the daughter she seems to have lost. They used to be so close, but then Goldfish crackers and Play-Doh were no longer enough of a draw. She isn’t even sure if Emily likes her anymore. To be honest, Jessica isn’t sure she likes herself.

Together with a dozen strangers–and two familiar enemies–Jessica and Emily travel the East Coast, meeting up with family and old friends along the way. Surprises and secrets threaten their relationship and, in the end, change it forever.

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What do you think?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “I’LL BE SEEING YOU”

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 from a favorite author:  I’ll Be Seeing You, by Elizabeth Berg.

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Intro:  October 30, 2010

The failing of an aging parent is one of those old stories that feels abrasively new to the person experiencing it.  At eighty-nine years of age, my father has begun, in his own words, to “lose it.”  This is a man who was for so many years terrifying to me.  He was tall and fit, a lifer in the U.S. Army whose way of awakening me in the morning when I was in high school was to stand at the threshold of my bedroom and say, “Move out.”

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Teaser:  This morning, I awakened wondering if my mother will be mad at me for doing this, and if my father will be confused by it.  I hope not. (p.73).

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Synopsis:  Elizabeth Berg’s father was an Army veteran who was a tough man in every way but one: He showed a great deal of love and tenderness to his wife. Berg describes her parents’ marriage as a romance that lasted for nearly seventy years; she grew up watching her father kiss her mother upon leaving home, and kiss her again the instant he came back. His idea of when he should spend time away from her was never.

But then Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help. It was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction—to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them. It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy. The mix of emotions on everyone’s part could make every day feel like walking through a minefield. Then came redemption.

I’ll Be Seeing You charts the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious times, love can heal, transform, and lead to graceful—and grateful—acceptance.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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REVIEW: THE NEXT WIFE, BY LIZ LAWLER

My husband is everything I ever dreamed of. A handsome, successful doctor who swept me off my feet.

Our new life together is perfect.

He’s perfect.

But am I good enough for him? I never seem to get anything right. And I’m starting to feel a little afraid of the man I married.

He’s taken away my bank card and my phone. I don’t know what to think or what to do. I gave up everything for him and now I’m trapped.

Then a stranger comes to our door. She tells me that I can’t trust my husband.

That I should ask him what happened to his first wife.

 

It did not take long to hate Daniel, the husband in The Next Wife. I felt a connection to Tess and also enjoyed the older woman, Martha, who lived nearby and tried to warn Tess about her husband.

As Daniel’s controlling behavior intensified, I kept hoping for an escape for Tess. But just when I thought there might be a way out for her, the obstacles grew until she was under his total control.

What had happened before Tess entered Daniel’s life? Was there a first wife? Did she come to some terrible end? It was not hard to imagine the cruelty that Daniel might have exacted on her, as he has turned dark in his current marriage, and so early into the union.

I did wonder about how he developed into this horrific person, and how others could still see his charm, but I have also known characters just like him and had no reason to question how they got that way. Most seem to have learned their evil in childhood, either as a victim or as an aberration.

As the story unfolded, I was shocked by the unexpected twists and turns, and couldn’t stop turning the pages. A great read that earned 4.5 stars.

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE NEXT WIFE”

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:  The Next Wife, by Liz Lawler.

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Intro:  (Prologue)

What was she thinking?

Did she honestly think he would just let her walk out and live a life without him?  That there would be no consequences?  No price to pay for destroying his life?

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Teaser:  Thinking back to how they were, Tess could see now that the complex part of loving him hadn’t presented itself.  They hadn’t uncovered enough layers to know one another well enough before taking the leap. (p. 62).

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Synopsis:  My husband is everything I ever dreamed of. A handsome, successful doctor who swept me off my feet.

Our new life together is perfect.

He’s perfect.

But am I good enough for him? I never seem to get anything right. And I’m starting to feel a little afraid of the man I married.

He’s taken away my bank card and my phone. I don’t know what to think or what to do. I gave up everything for him and now I’m trapped.

Then a stranger comes to our door. She tells me that I can’t trust my husband.

That I should ask him what happened to his first wife.

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What do you think?  Keep reading?

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REVIEW: HOUSE OF CORRECTION, BY NICCI FRENCH

Tabitha is not a murderer.

When a body is discovered in Okeham, England, Tabitha is shocked to find herself being placed in handcuffs. It must be a mistake. She’d only recently moved back to her childhood hometown, not even getting a chance to reacquaint herself with the neighbors. How could she possibly be a murder suspect?

She knows she’s not.

As Tabitha is shepherded through the system, her entire life is picked apart and scrutinized —her history of depression and medications, her decision to move back to a town she supposedly hated . . . and of course, her past relationship with the victim, her former teacher. But most unsettling, Tabitha’s own memories of that day are a complete blur.

She thinks she’s not.

From the isolation of the correctional facility, Tabitha dissects every piece of evidence, every testimony she can get her hands on, matching them against her own recollections. But as dark, long-buried memories from her childhood come to light, Tabitha begins to question if she knows what kind of person she is after all. The world is convinced she’s a killer. Tabitha needs to prove them all wrong.

But what if she’s only lying to herself?

As House of Correction opens, we meet our protagonist, Tabitha Hardy, a young woman who is on remand in prison for the murder of a man who some might describe as her abuser. But Tabitha is not quite sure she would label him that way. Their relationship was complicated, and because she was very young when they had this connection, she is not exactly sure of how to define it.

But in some ways, these complications make her more culpable in the murder.

Tabitha decides almost immediately to represent herself in court. We watch her as she tries to sort through the events of the day in question, taking notes and making her own deductions about what has happened. But what, if anything, has she failed to remember?

I liked Tabitha and found myself rooting for her, even though I suspected that she might not be as innocent as she claims to be.

What will we discover as the trial progresses, and what further secrets might be revealed? I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. An enticing read that earned 4.5 stars.

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “GIRLS OF BRACKENHILL”

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:  Girls of Brackenhill, by Kate Moretti

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Intro:  September 2, 2001

I didn’t mean to kill the girl.

I found her skulking around the woods, hiding behind trees, darting behind the shed.

Hey, I called.  Dizzy with panic when I saw who it was.  I waved the shovel in her direction.  I’d been turning over the compost.

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Teaser: The floor shifted under Hannah’s feet.  The room blurred, then focused. (p. 60).

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Synopsis:  When Hannah Maloney’s aunt dies in a car accident, she returns to her family’s castle in the Catskills and the epicenter of a childhood trauma: her sister’s unsolved disappearance. It’s been seventeen years, and though desperate to start a new life with her fiancé, Hannah is compelled to question the events of her last summer at Brackenhill.

When a human bone is found near the estate, Hannah is convinced it belongs to her long-lost sister. She launches her own investigation into that magical summer that ended in a nightmare. As strange happenings plague the castle, Hannah uncovers disturbing details about the past and startling realizations about her own repressed childhood memories.

Fueled by guilt over her sister’s vanishing, Hannah becomes obsessed with discovering what happened all those years ago, but by the time Hannah realizes some mysteries are best left buried, it’s too late to stop digging. Overwhelmed by what she has exposed, Hannah isn’t sure her new life can survive her old ghosts.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE UNDOING”

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 book I have had for a while, and decided to read because of a miniseries based on it: 

You Should Have Known (The Undoing), by Jean Hanff Korelitz

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Intro: Usually people cried when they came here for the first time, and this girl looked as if she’d be no exception.  She walked in with a briefcase and a swagger and shook Grace’s hand like the cool professional she clearly was, or at least wished to be.

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Teaser:  And they didn’t have enough money to mitigate her nonparticipation.  He knew that, too. (p.73).

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Synopsis:  Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended.

Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “THE LOST FOR WORDS BOOKSHOP”

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 book that has been languishing on my Kindle since June 2018:  The Lost for Words Bookshop, by Stephanie Butland.

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Intro:  (Unlooked-for)

A book is a match in the smoking second between strike and flame.

Archie says books are our best lovers and our most provoking friends.  He’s right, but I’m right, too.  Books can really hurt you.

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Teaser:  He laughed.  ‘No, I can’t go back to work, and neither can the man who hit me.  We’ve had our justice.’

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Synopsis:  Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

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Would you keep reading?  I know that I am intrigued.

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