tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “SING, UNBURIED, SING”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, is a majestic new work and an unforgettable family story.

 

 

 

 

Intro:  (Jojo)

I like to think I know what death is.  I like to think that it’s something I could look at straight.  When Pop tell me he need my help and I see that black knife slid into the belt of his pants, I follow Pop out the house, try to keep my back straight, my shoulders even as a hanger; that’s how Pop walks.  I try to look like this is normal and boring so Pop will think I’ve earned these thirteen years, so Pop will know I’m ready to pull what needs to be pulled, separate innards from muscle, organs from cavities.  I want Pop to know I can get bloody.  Today’s my birthday.

***

Teaser:  (Jojo)

Kayla need to eat.  I can tell by the way she keep crying, the way she keep hunching over and then knocking her head back and arching against her seat once we get back on the road.  And screaming.  I can tell there’s something wrong with her stomach. (p. 107).

***

Synopsis:  In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi’s past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power—and limitations—of family bonds.

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.

When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

***

What do you think?  Do you want to keep reading?

***

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tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “EVEN IF IT KILLS HER”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a new download:  Even If It Kills Her, by Kate White, who returns to her New York Times bestselling Bailey Weggins’ Mystery series, with this favorite true-crime journalist turned sleuth’s most chilling case to date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intro: I don’t have a ton of regrets to show for my thirty-six years on the planet, but the ones that I do have seem to possess a determined and sneaky resilience.  Every once in a while, say, when I’m working on a crime story that’s particularly soul-sucking, and I’ve been on the road far longer than planned—holed up in Beyonce-style luxury at  Best Western or DoubleTree Suites—one of them will resurface, like a lake snake coming up for air, raising its snout above the waterline and forcing me to stare it in the face.

I regret not knowing my father well, though there was nothing I could have done about that one.  He died of a brain aneurysm while on a fishing trip with a friend when I was twelve.

***

Teaser:  He abruptly walked away and ducked into what I guessed was the powder room.  Three minutes later he emerged looking grim.  My stomach sank. (58%).

***

Synopsis:  Bailey Weggins’ great new friend in college, Jillian Lowe, had everything going for her. Pretty, popular, and whip-smart, she lit up any room that she walked into. All of that dramatically changed during her sophomore year, when a neighbor became unhinged and murdered her family. Jillian immediately left school, and ever since, Bailey has felt guilty for not staying in closer contact and being a greater support to her friend.

Now, sixteen years later, Bailey is shocked to see Jillian at her book event, and even more stunned when her still-gorgeous friend approaches her with a case. The man accused of murdering her family is on the brink of being cleared of the crime through new DNA evidence. With the real killer walking free, Jillian is desperate for Bailey’s help to identify him and allow her the closure she yearns for.

As the two women return to Jillian’s childhood town to investigate, it doesn’t take long for their sleuthing to cause shock waves. Someone starts watching their every move. As they uncover deeply-guarded secrets, so shocking that they make Jillian rethink her entire relationship to her family, Bailey and Jillian find themselves in great peril. They must decide just how much they’re willing to risk to finally discover the truth about the Lowe family’s murder.

***

Do you like the snippets?  Would you keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE STOLEN MARRIAGE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a NetGalley ARC:  The Stolen Marriage, by Diane Chamberlain: release date, 10/3/17.  Steeped in history and filled with heart-wrenching twists, The Stolen Marriage is an emotionally captivating novel of secrets, betrayals, prejudice, and forgiveness. It showcases Diane Chamberlain at the top of her talent.

 

 

 

Intro:  (June 1944 – Prologue – Hickory, North Carolina)

It’s a terrible feeling, being despised.  From the moment I set foot in Hickory, I felt the suspicion, distrust, and outright hostility of most of the people I met.  Even my new sister-in-law regarded me with disdain.  When Henry told me Lucy was just a few years younger than me, I thought, How wonderful!  We can be friends.  But we were not anywhere close to being friends.

I was making my bed one bright June morning when I heard footsteps in the hall outside the room I shared with Henry.  Lucy pushed open the door, walking into the room without knocking, and I tightened the sash of my robe.  Neither Henry nor I were happy about living with his mother and sister.  In a month or so, we would move into our own home.  I hoped that would make things better.  Our marriage.  My relationship with my mother-in-law, Ruth.  My heavy heart.  I hadn’t been happy in so long.  I doubted a new house was going to fix what was wrong with me.

***

Teaser:  I sat still for a long time after hanging up the phone, wishing I could miraculously change the last few minutes.  Hattie was at the store and I was glad she wasn’t home.  I dreaded telling her. (55%).

***

Synopsis:  One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever.

It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realizes she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not.

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working  there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behavior and find the love—and the life—she was meant to have?

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “MY ABSOLUTE DARLING”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent, a brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl’s heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

 

 

 

 

Intro:  The old house hunkers on its hill, all peeling white paint, bay windows, and spindled wooden railings overgrown with climbing roses and poison oak.  Rose runners have prized off clapboards that now hang snarled in the canes.  The gravel drive is littered with spent casings caked in verdigris.  Martin Alveston gets out of the truck and does not look back at Turtle sitting in the cab but walks up the porch, his jungle boots sounding hollowly on the boards, a big man in flannel and Levi’s opening the sliding glass doors.  Turtle waits, listening to the engine’s ticking, and then she follows him.

***

Teaser:  The spider moves carefully.  Stricken, Turtle watches it circle the tuft of grass, drawing closer.  She hears then a noise from down the road—someone walking along the roadbed, and she thinks wildly of Martin.  It is more than possible that he has managed to follow her.  He has done it before. (p. 56).

***

Synopsis:  Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle’s escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl struggles to become her own hero—and in the process, becomes ours as well.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “CRIME SCENE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a book from Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman:  Crime Scene, a psychological thriller from a father-son writing team that delivers “brilliant, page-turning fiction” (Stephen King).

 

Intro:  Don’t make assumptions.

Every now and then, I remind myself of that.

Every now and then, the universe does the reminding for me.

When I meet new people, they’re usually dead.

***

A young white male lies on his back in the parking lot of a Berkeley frat house.  According to the license in his wallet, his name is Seth Lindley Powell.  He is four months past his eighteenth birthday. The license gives a San Jose address.  It’s a fair bet his parents are at that address, right now, asleep.  Nobody has notified them yet.  I haven’t had a chance.

***

Teaser:  “The procedure itself was completed.  The full protocol’s not finished.  I’m ready for those codes if you have them.”

“I—right.  I gave you birthdays, I think.  What do you have?”

I read back the list.

***

Blurb:  Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.

The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

***

Would you keep reading?  I know I’m eager to do just that.

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE LYING GAME”

 

 

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware.  Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

 

 

 

 

Intro:  The sound is just an ordinary text alert, a quiet beep beep in the night that does not wake Owen, and would not have woken me except that I was already awake, lying there, staring into the darkness, the baby at my breast snuffling, not quite feeding, not quite unlatching.

I lie there for a moment thinking about the text, wondering who it could be.  Who’d be texting at this hour?  None of my friends would be awake…unless it’s Milly gone into labor already…God, it can’t be Milly, can it?  I’d promised to take Noah if Milly’s parents couldn’t get up from Devon in time to look after him, but I never really thought…

***

Teaser:  “God,” he spits.  “I came to apologize.  I was trying to help.  Just once—just once—you’d think I’d learn from my mistakes.  But no—you haven’t changed, none of you.  She whistles, and you come running, all of you, like dogs.” (46%).

***

Synopsis:  On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

***

What do you think?  Do you want to keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “HEARTBREAK HOTEL”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition from a favorite writer of thrillers:  Heartbreak Hotel, by Jonathan Kellerman, a novel in which Alex Delaware and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis investigate the death of Alex’s most mysterious patient to date in the sensational new thriller from the master of suspense, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman.

 

 

Intro:  I lead a double life.

Some of my time is spent using the doctorate I earned:  evaluating the mental health of injured, neglected, or traumatized children, making recommendations about parental custody, providing short-term treatment.  My own childhood was often nightmarish and I like to think I’m making a difference.  I keep my fees reasonable and bills get paid.

Then there’s the other stuff, initiated by my best friend, an LAPD homicide lieutenant.  Once in a while my name leaks into a news story.  Mostly I keep out of public view.  I doubt any of the families I see are aware of the murders I work on.  They’ve never commented on it and I think they would if they knew.

***

Teaser:  At four forty-five we took the unmarked to Ricki Sylvester’s office.  When we were moments away, I got a text.

Maxine Driver. Pitcairn has no idea who the palooka is.  She’ll look into Drancy.  Intrigued.  As am I. (53%).

***

Synopsis: At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history.

What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room.

When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE CHILD”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is from an e-book recently downloaded, but which I’ve been eagerly awaiting:  The Child, by Fiona Barton, “a perfect blend of beach read and book club selection. It’s a fascinating and fitting follow-up to [Barton’s] best-selling debut novel, The Widow. . . .[A] page-turning whodunit….A novel that is both fast-paced and thought-provoking, it keeps the reader guessing right to the end.”—USA Today”

 

 

 

Intro:  (Emma – Tuesday, March 20, 2012)

My computer is winking at me knowingly when I sit down at my desk.  I touch the keyboard, and a photo of Paul appears on my screen.  It’s the one I took of him in Rome on our honeymoon, eyes full of love across a table in the Campo dei Fiori.  I try to smile back at him but as I lean in, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the screen and stop.  I hate seeing myself without warning.  Don’t recognize myself sometimes.  You think you know what you look like and there is this stranger looking at you.  It can frighten me.

But today I study the stranger’s face.  The brown hair half pulled up on top of the head in a frantic work bun, naked skin, shadows and lines creeping towards the eyes like cracks in pavement.

***

Teaser:  (Emma – March 26, 2012)

My yoga teacher is doing a guided relaxation, her voice purring over the tinkling of finger cymbals, lulling us into a coma.  I love this bit of the class normally, but today I’m lying on my mat trying not to think about the ghosts of Howard Street.  About the baby.  About Professor Will (p. 63).

***

Synopsis:  As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

***

What do you think?  Have you read this one?  Would you keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “SWIMMING LESSONS”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s feature is a recent download:  Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller; scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

 

Intro:  Gil Coleman looked down from the first-floor window of the bookshop and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.  He had been among the shelves all afternoon, thumbing through the secondhand books from front to back, pausing at folded-over corners, or where the text had been underlined, flicking through the pages to persuade them to offer up what might be hiding between the leaves.  The cup of tea that Viv had brought for him had cooled, forgotten on the window seat.  At about three o’clock he had picked up Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, a book he recognised and thought he might already own.  It had fallen open, and there, tucked between the pages, he had been surprised to see a folded sheet of thin yellow paper with blue faint lines.

***

Teaser:  I cried in front of Flora’s teacher, not because the letter was so clearly written by a desperate child, and not because Flora is missing school or lying—although that’s what Mrs. Layland thought—but because she doesn’t need me (p. 60%).

***

Synopsis:  Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan. 

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage. 

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

tuesday sparks

TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE SUMMER HOUSE”

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by The Purple Booker.

Today’s featured book is a recent download.  The Summer House, by Hannah McKinnon, is a  warm-hearted novel that is perfect for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe.

 

Intro:  (Clem)

Something was not right.  Throughout the night, driving spring rains had battered against the windowpanes, and flashes of lightning illuminated their bedroom in tumultuous bursts.   But now the house was eerily silent.  Turning over, she reached for the alarm clock on her bedside table:  7:15.  She’d never get the kids ready for the school bus on time.  Groaning, she slid back beneath the warmth of the down comforter.

***

Teaser:  (Paige)

Paige tossed the shopping bags on the bed and flopped down among them.  She’d spent too much money in town, but it seemed like the only way to guarantee some time with Emma.  David set his book down and looked over at her, bemused (46%).

***

Synopsis:  When Flossy Merrill summons her children to the beloved family beach house to celebrate their father’s eightieth birthday, both cherished memories and long-kept secrets come to light in this charming and lyrical novel from the author of The Lake Season and Mystic Summer.

Flossy Merrill has managed to—somewhat begrudgingly—gather her three ungrateful grown children from their dysfunctional lives for a summer reunion at the family’s Rhode Island beach house. Clementine, her youngest child and a young mother of two small children, has caused Flossy the most worry after enduring a tragically life-altering year. But Samuel and his partner Evan are not far behind in their ability to alarm: their prospective adoption search has just taken a heart-wrenching turn. Only Paige, the eldest of the headstrong Merrill clan, is her usual self: arriving precisely on time with her well-adapted teens. Little does her family know that she, too, is facing personal struggles of her own.

No matter. With her family finally congregated under one seaside roof, Flossy is determined to steer her family back on course even as she prepares to reveal the fate of the summer house that everyone has thus far taken for granted: she’s selling it. The Merrill children are both shocked and outraged and each returns to memories of their childhoods at their once beloved summer house—the house where they have not only grown up, but from which they have grown away. With each lost in their respective heartaches, Clementine, Samuel, and Paige will be forced to reconsider what really matters before they all say goodbye to a house that not only defined their summers, but, ultimately, the ways in which they define themselves. 

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***