REVIEW: HADLEY & GRACE, BY SUZANNE REDFEARN

Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

A powerful story of self-discovery, Hadley and Grace is the heart-racing tale of two women facing insurmountable odds, racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them, and discovering new kinds of love and family along the way.

 
 
 
 

From the very beginning of Hadley and Grace, I was captivated by the characters, from their individual stories to their teaming up in a crisis. What will happen to them as they flee their problems and begin to connect with one another?

Their adventures reveal much about how bonds can form in the most unlikely situations. The characters were fully drawn and felt like real people you might meet along the way in your own life journey.

I was rooting for them both and hoping for a conclusion much more satisfying than the one in Thelma and Louise, to whom the two are linked in many ways.

I could not put this book down, and when we reached the final conclusion, I felt like celebrating. 5 stars.

 
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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “LET HER LIE”

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:  Let Her Lie, by Bryan Reardon.

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Intro:  (Chapter One, June 5, 2017)

When I was a kid, I used to pray for snow.  All winter I would watch the weather.  Every chance, no matter how small, filled me with hope.  That a storm would hit.  And we would get to stay home.

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Teaser: 

Late that night, Jasper moved along the empty beach.  The surf ran up the sand to his left, hissing to a stop a few feet from his path before retreating once again. (p. 61).

***

Synopsis: Theo Snyder is at the end of his rope. One minute he was on top of the world, his documentary film The Basement a massive critical and commercial hit, the next crestfallen when his latest film was canceled after an embarrassingly public misstep. As his desperation grows, he makes a bold decision: to pursue the story of the notorious “Halo Killer,” Jasper Ross-Johnson. But delving into the life and mind of a serial killer could prove more deadly than Theo ever could have imagined.

At first, things are looking up. Jasper is willing to talk, the footage of the jailhouse meetings is spectacular, and famed investigator Zora Neale Monroe joins him on the project. Theo is sure he’s getting close to something no one else has discovered: the truth about why Jasper was captured before he could kill his final victim. Someone else was on the beach that day, someone who knows a lot more than they’re telling and just might know how it all happened. The truth could lead to more killing–unless Theo can uncover the real ending to the story of the Halo Killer first.

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Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “FORGIVE ME”

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:  Forgive Me, by Susan Lewis

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Intro: (Chapter One)

Marcus Huxley-Browne looked up from the warning call he’d just received on his mobile phone.  His handsome face was taut, pale, showing none of its usual boredom or arrogance—or the self-satisfaction that came from having so much.

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Teaser: 

Claudia’s heart had already tripped with excitement.  “Absolutely,” she confirmed.  “It’s a dream of mine, bringing an old Georgian property back to life.” (p.69).

***

Synopsis: In prison, Archie Colbrook spends his time writing letters. Letters addressed to a person against whom he committed terrible, nameless harm. Archie knows he doesn’t deserve forgiveness. Yes, he didn’t mean to hurt anyone, and sure, he was only following orders. But does that matter? He still did it.

In a small coastal town of Northern England, Claudia Winters hopes to feel safe for the first time in years after fleeing from her abusive husband with her mother and daughter. Their new life is supposed to be a fresh start. But Claudia knows the past won’t stay hidden for long—and she can’t help but feel that someone is watching her. And that something terrible is about to happen.

Linked by one irrevocable act of violence, Archie and Claudia’s lives intertwine. Claudia can’t overlook what Archie did to her family—but is forgiveness the only way to truly move on?

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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REVIEW: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE MURDER, BY JOANNE FLUKE

 

When the president of Hartland Flour chooses cozy Lake Eden, Minnesota, as the spot for their first annual Dessert Bake-Off, bakery owner Hannah Swensen is thrilled to serve as the head judge. But when a fellow judge, Coach Boyd Watson, is found stone-cold dead, facedown in Hannah’s celebrated strawberry shortcake, Lake Eden’s sweet ride to fame turns very sour indeed.

While perfecting her Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie and Chocolate Crunchies, Hannah’s also snooping into the coach’s private life, which yields plenty of suspects. Or could Watson’s harsh criticism during the judging have lethally ticked off one of the contestants? The stakes are rising faster than dough, because somebody’s cooking up a recipe for murder—with Hannah landing on the “necessary ingredients” list.

Includes seven delicious recipes!

Hannah Swensen is an intriguing character, with her head for murder investigations and her cozy life in her bake shop, The Cookie Jar. I have enjoyed this character in other novels, and also in the Hallmark movies.

Strawberry Shortcake Murder takes us along for the ride as Hannah follows the clues, sometimes accompanied by her sister Andrea.

I loved the dialogue between the characters; it often made me smile and helped keep the darker aspects of the story at bay.

Meanwhile, two possible suitors are part of Hannah’s entourage, and curiosity about what will happen next in her romantic life kept me turning the pages. 4.5 stars.

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “HADLEY & GRACE”

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:  Hadley & Grace, by Suzanne Redfearn.

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Intro:  (Hadley)

Her watch says 12:52, which means eight minutes remain to get the cupcakes.  Plenty of time, yet Hadley feels her pulse ticking.  She looks at the two women in front of her and wills the line to move faster.  She doesn’t like to be late.

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Teaser:  (Hadley)

Hadley stares at the baby, watching him as he breathes.  She is alone in the passenger seat of her own car at the scene of a robbery with a stranger’s baby. (p. 58).

***

Synopsis: Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

A powerful story of self-discovery, Hadley and Grace is the heart-racing tale of two women facing insurmountable odds, racing to stay one step ahead of the trouble that is chasing them, and discovering new kinds of love and family along the way.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “EVERY WAKING HOUR”

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 one of my new books:  Every Waking Hour, by Joanna Schaffhausen.

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Intro:  “Wait, you’re just going to leave us here?  Alone?”  Ellery Hathaway had faced down serial killers and lived to tell about it, but she felt a cold trickle of fear as she glanced at the lone child playing nearby on the grass.  “I believe your ex-wife specifically forbade this proposition.  In writing.  With her attorney.”

***

Teaser:  Teresa’s phone dinged, signaling the arrival of a text.  Eagerly, she pulled it out from her pants, only to drop it with a soft cry when she saw the screen. (p. 62).

***

Synopsis: After surviving a serial killer’s abduction as a young teenager, Ellery Hathaway is finally attempting a normal life. She has a new job as a rookie Boston detective and a fledgling relationship with Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years ago. But when a twelve-year-old girl disappears on Ellery’s watch, the troubling case opens deep wounds that never fully healed.

Chloe Lockhart walked away from a busy street fair and vanished into the crowd. Maybe she was fleeing the suffocating surveillance her parents put on her from the time she was born, or maybe the evil from her parents’ past finally caught up to her. For Chloe, as Ellery learns, is not the first child Teresa Lockhart has lost.

Ellery knows what it’s like to have the past stalk you, to hold your breath around every corner. Sending one kidnapped girl to find another could be Chloe’s only hope or an unmitigated disaster that dooms them both. Ellery must untangle the labyrinth of secrets inside the Lockhart household—secrets that have already murdered one child. Each second that ticks by reminds her of her own lost hours, how close she came to death, and how near it still remains.

***

What do you think?  This book is the fourth book in the series, and I have the third one.  I think I need to grab the first two before beginning the journey.  What do you think?

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THURSDAY SPARKS: NOSTALGIC MOMENTS…

 

Today I searched my categories here and came up with nostalgic moments to celebrate.  Like a post I wrote on February 3, 2020, when I was changing the look of this space from dolls (above)  to my colorful VW bug (below).  A moment when I was thinking about the various changes in my life.

 

 

To illustrate my numerous changes, in life and in my blogs, I had some thoughts about the perfect array of photos to display in my post today.  Yes, you guessed it!  The once-upon-a-time hippie life I had in the 1970s. 

 

Not just VW bugs, but yellow bell bottom pants.  And curly hair. (See above). Sometimes straight hair.  And rainbow hued ponchos.  (Below).

We did have a VW bus for a while:

For a couple of years, we lived in an English stucco house with lots of windows and plants…and wicker furniture.

Later on in the 70s, I had flowy dresses with my curly/bushy hair:

By the end of the 70s, while I was attending graduate school and my youngest child was almost three, she celebrated the “flower child” years.

***

I hope you’ll come on by and share some of your nostalgic moments.

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “AT THE EDGE OF THE HAIGHT”

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:  At the Edge of the Haight, by Katherine Seligman.

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Intro:  Root skimmed the sidewalk with his nose, sniffing at food wrappers, a black boot, and a pair of red tights someone had tossed in a perfect Z.  I put my hand on his neck and nudged him past.

***

Teaser:  I wanted to kick Ash as he pushed me toward the man, who looked serious and so unhappy I couldn’t turn away.  What was I supposed to do? (p. 59).

***

Synopsis:  Maddy Donaldo, homeless at twenty, has made a family of sorts in the dangerous spaces of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. She knows whom to trust, where to eat, when to move locations, and how to take care of her dog. It’s the only home she has. When she unwittingly witnesses the murder of a young homeless boy and is seen by the perpetrator, her relatively stable life is upended. Suddenly, everyone from the police to the dead boys’ parents want to talk to Maddy about what she saw. As adults pressure her to give up her secrets and reunite with her own family before she meets a similar fate, Maddy must decide whether she wants to stay lost or be found. Against the backdrop of a radically changing San Francisco, a city which embraces a booming tech economy while struggling to maintain its culture of tolerance, At the Edge of the Haight follows the lives of those who depend on makeshift homes and communities.

As judge Hillary Jordan says, “This book pulled me deep into a world I knew little about, bringing the struggles of its young, homeless inhabitants—the kind of people we avoid eye contact with on the street—to vivid, poignant life. The novel demands that you take a close look. If you knew, could you still ignore, fear, or condemn them? And knowing, how can you ever forget?”

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY EXCERPTS: “BLOOD ORANGE”

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 acquisition:  Blood Orange, by Harriet Tyce.

***

Intro:  The October sky lies gray above me and my wheelie bag’s heavy but I wait for the bus and count my blessings.  The trial is finished, kicked out at halftime after a legal argument on the basis of insufficient evidence.  It’s always pleasing to get one up on the prosecution and my client’s over the moon.

***

Teaser:  Madeleine’s words echo through my mind while the stark letters of the text message dance in front of my eyes.  Patrick gestures impatiently for me to start talking again once she settles herself at the table but my words come out in incoherent jumps.  Eventually he takes over.  (p.70).

***

Synopsis:  A young lawyer’s outwardly perfect life spirals out of control as she takes on her first murder case in this “dark, original and utterly compelling” domestic noir for readers of Paula Hawkins, A.J. Finn, or Shari Lapena. (Lisa Jewell, New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone)

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise–she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

***

Would you keep reading?  I am eager to find out more.

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REVIEW: THE WIFE UPSTAIRS, BY RACHEL HAWKINS

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates—a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie—not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past—or his—-catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?

I could not stop turning the pages of The Wife Upstairs, as we follow alternating narrators tell their tales. From Jane, to Bea, to Eddie, they all have secrets and we only begin to see how the pieces fit together at the very end.

There is always another twist to the tale, leaving us wondering: now what?

I really enjoyed Jane, but as I got to know Bea a little, too, I had to admire that special something that kept her landing on her feet. What really happened to Eddie and Bea at the end? Could they still be somewhere, around a corner, waiting to surprise us? Will Jane have her happy ending, or will she also be watching over her shoulder? A brilliant five star read.

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