TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE RED HUNTER”

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 Red Hunter (e-book), by Lisa Unger, is a buzzworthy new standalone thriller…about two wronged women on very different paths who find themselves in the same dark place…

 

Intro:  Raven looked repentant, but Claudia knew that she wasn’t.  The girl had her head bent, and the sheets of her blue-black hair, thick and impossibly glossy, fell to hide her face.  It was October.  A week from Halloween, and this was Claudia’s second time in the principal’s office since school began.  The first one was about grades.  Raven was already struggling.  We can see from her test scores that she’s capable of more, the desperate math teacher said.  But it’s like she’s just not here.  Not paying attention.  Leaving answers blank on her test.  Mrs. Bishop, she’s not even trying.

Claudia could already see it on Principal Blake’s face:  The Look.  It was the expression that careful people, kind people got when they started to wonder if there was something wrong with Raven.

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Teaser:  His eyes filled with tears and then they spilled over.  He bowed his head so I wouldn’t have to look, but to be honest I was relieved to see him cry.  If it was bad enough for him to cry, then it was okay that I did little else (63%).

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Synopsis:   Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

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What do you think?  Do the excerpts and the blurb tempt you to read more?

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WEEKEND SPARKS: FAMILY MEMENTOS….

One of my favorite bookshelves holds fewer books since my Purges of 2015…and I love how the family photos are now highlighted next to the remaining books.

Below, note the bookshelf before the purges, but you can see some of the interesting “harlequin” detail on the front; there is more on the sides, not visible here.  I’ve had this shelf for many years.

 

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I like snapping shots of my book stacks, too, and here is one spotlighting some “up next” books…and a Coca Cola glass filled with iced tea.

 

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When I drink my iced tea, I add two packets of Sweet & Lo, which does not make it “sweet tea,” as I’ve learned from reading my Southern novels.

My current read, The Night the Lights Went Out, by Karen White, has a character named Sugar, who is 90-something…and she makes a big production about the correct way to make “sweet tea.”  I’m loving the book.

 

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As Mother’s Day looms on the horizon, I am remembering many of them from the past.  Way back to when the kids were little and brought trays of breakfast food.  Sometimes the toast was burnt, but the memories are even more precious.

Over at Potpourri, I commemorated last year’s Mother’s Day in  A Year Ago:  Revisiting Mother’s Day 2016.

I especially enjoyed the “love art” my daughter gave me, which I cherished by hanging it on my family wall in the office.

 

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What events or mementos remind you of great times with family?

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HUMP DAY SPARKS: A WEEK OF READING…

Today I’m participating in Sam’s WWW Wednesdays Here’s how it works:

 

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:

Not a Sound (e-book),by Heather Gudenkauf, an e-ARC from NetGalley (5/30/17 release date). 

A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf….

 

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BOOKS FINISHED SINCE LAST WEEK:

(Click titles for my reviews)

 

Vivian in Red (e-book), by Kristina Riggle

 

Hot Milk (e-book), by Deborah Levy

 

A Mother’s Confession (e-book), by Kelly Rimmer

 

What’s Become of Her, by Deb Caletti (Amazon Vine Review)

 

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:

Good Me, Bad Me, by Ali Land

 

I’ve been eyeing this book for a while…and today I ordered a paperback copy, which should be arriving within the next couple of weeks.  Have any of you read it?

Synopsis:  Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop was to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. Her foster sister, Phoebe, starts to bully her. A teacher betrays her trust. And her new best friend tempts her into behaving badly. They have no idea who they are dealing with.

As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

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What was your week like?  Stop by and let’s chat.

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TUESDAY SPARKS: CHANGING & REARRANGING….

Good morning!  I’m at it again, changing something up on one of my blogs.  New header and theme here (above)…inspired by some of the other changes I’ve been making in my interiors (at home).

First I rearranged the top of one of my country cupboards, the one that has been home to my Peter Pan collection for a long while.

Here’s what it looked like before (below), a little crowded.  I enjoyed it like that, until I didn’t:

 

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Now…

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The Baker’s Rack was next; check out how it has been for a while….(below)

 

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Now…Some Peter Pan figurines have migrated over here…focusing in on the top shelves….

 

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While I’m at it, let’s look at my little Jelly cupboard, untouched for a long time…

 

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I took at whack at it, moving the dolls on top to some inner cubbies…and now the space is completely different, featuring a photo of Heather and Noah in a Mary Engelbreit frame (left), and a Coca Cola piggy bank on the right…

 

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Some of the benefits…less dusting on the tops of a couple of the cupboards…but there will be more dusting on the Baker’s Rack.  LOL.

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Today I’m reading and loving a book set near Seattle, on one of the islands…a mystery, some secrets that could be dangerous…and a young woman trying to start over.  What’s Become of Her, by Deb Caletti, is from Amazon Vine.

 

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What fascinating things are keeping you busy today?  What do you enjoy doing when you feel restless?

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MONDAY SPARKS: MUSING ABOUT BOOKS….

Welcome!  Let’s join Ambrosia, at The Purple Booker,   for our musings.

I’m currently reading…
Up next I think I’ll read…
I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
I can’t wait to get a copy of…
I wish I could read ___, but…
I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEKS RANDOM QUESTION: Do you like to read when you are feeling under the weather?

CURRENTLY READING:

 

What’s Become of Her, by Deb Caletti, is a book from Amazon Vine.  I’ve read just a few chapters so far, but I love the setting…one of the islands near Seattle.  The hint of secrets and mystery captured my interest.

 

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Synopsis:  Isabelle Austen returns to her hometown on a small, isolated Pacific Northwest island to take over the family tourism business after the death of her mother, a disapproving parent and a hard woman to love. Feeling lost, Isabelle is also struggling with a recent divorce and wondering if she’ll ever come into her own. Then her life takes a surprising turn: The mysterious Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, steps off a seaplane, and changes Isabelle’s world forever. From the beginning, their relationship is heady and intense—then Isabelle learns of Henry’s disturbing past, involving the death of a fiancée and the disappearance of a wife. Suddenly Isabelle is caught between love and suspicion, paranoia and passion, as she searches for the truth she may not want to find—and is swept into a dangerous game she may not survive.

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UP NEXT, I think I’ll be reading a NetGalley review book from Heather Gudenkauf, to be released on 5/30 Not a Sound.

 

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again. 

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I am looking forward to the week ahead!  What are you musing about today?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE ROANOKE GIRLS”

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 Roanoke Girls, by Amy Engel, shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

 

Intro:  (Prologue)

The first time I saw Roanoke was in a dream.  I knew little of it beyond its name and the fact it was in Kansas, a place I had never been.  My mother only ever mentioned it when she’d had too much wine, her breath turned sweet and her words slow and syrupy like molasses.  So my subconscious filled in the rest.  In my dream it stood tall and stately, tucked among a forest of spring-green trees.  Its red-brick facade was broken up by black shutters, white trim, delicate wrought-iron balconies.  A little girl’s fantasy of a princess castle.

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Teaser:  I ease the list out from underneath its magnet without really knowing why.  It feels like the closest I’ve gotten to Allegra since I’ve been back, as if her essence is embedded in this forgotten scrap of paper, and I don’t trust Sharon to keep it safe.  I flip the paper over, hoping, maybe, for some more personal message.  But it’s just a drugstore receipt from Parsons, a larger town about forty-five minutes from Osage Flats (p. 56).

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Synopsis:  “Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

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

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE”

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 review book sent to me by the author, Kristy Woodson Harvey.  Slightly South of Simple is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.  I took it to dinner tonight, and enjoyed reading while eating the kind of soup I imagine the characters in the book enjoy:  potato cheese soup. 

 

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Intro:  (Prologue – Ansley) – Seagulls

I still have dreams about that yellow-and-white striped bikini, the one I was wearing the night I met Jack, my first bona fide summer love.  I was fifteen going on sixteen, the perfect age, when your hair tints that summer blond that hairstylists become superstars for emulating.  You have filled out enough not to be gangly but not so much that you can imagine a one-piece being in your future.

We spent those bikini summers in Peachtree Bluff, my family and I, at my grandmother’s waterfront home, the one that I didn’t realize until years later was truly something special.  It was always blissful, always enchanted, but that summer, Sandra and Emily, my two best friends, and I spent nearly every day at Starlite Island across from Grandmother’s house.  It was only a few boat lengths across the sound, but you couldn’t swim there and needed at least a kayak to go.  It felt like freedom.

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Teaser:  (Inhumane – Caroline)

The worst part about your husband leaving you when you’re pregnant is that there is no alcohol of any kind involved.  I mean, how are you supposed to heal when you can’t drink your troubles away?  It’s really quite inhumane, if you ask me. (p. 115).

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Synopsis:  From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she’d spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley’s life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

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I’m thoroughly enjoying this book.  When I’ve had my fill of thrillers for a bit, I grab a family story like this one that reminds me of how much mother/daughter bonds (and even conflicts) are just what I need…in between the dark tales.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY SPARKS: “THE CUTAWAY”

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 my current read, an ARC from Amazon Vine:  The Cutaway, by Christina Kovac, is a striking debut that will haunt you long after you reach the last page.

 

Intro:  It began with someone else’s story.  In the beginning, a woman went out to meet a man, and on her long walk, she disappeared.  I didn’t know the woman.  I’d never met her.  But I could see her clearly in my mind, walking the streets of Georgetown, her heels striking the sidewalk to the percussive music booming out of city bars.  That same path I’d traveled many times myself.

Her married name was Evelyn Carney.  She’d been born a Sutton, small town country club people hailing from the cold north.  I didn’t discover much about her people, except they seemed to have no time for her or to care very much about what she did, and when she disappeared, gave a collective shrug.  Had she fled them, or was she like so many other young women, women like me, who’d come to D.C. with dreams of making herself anew?  She had none of the typical means to success in the District, no powerful sponsor or academic prowess or massive wealth.  She had no family connections, either.  But she had ambition and a powerful appeal to men, and she wasn’t afraid to use either.

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Teaser:  The dashboard clock in my car read 11:48, which meant, if I had any hope of catching up with Ben, my next stop would be one of the northwest bars featured in his night life.  Ben’s philosophy boiled down to this:  people were pack animals and it was unnatural for such an animal to be alone. (p. 89).

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Synopsis:  When brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

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What do you think?  Does it grab you, making you want to keep reading?

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HUMP DAY SPARKS: A READING JOURNEY

Today I’m participating in Sam’s WWW Wednesdays Here’s how it works:

 

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:

This morning I started The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak, a debut novel about love and betrayal, in which a young couple moves to New York City in search of success-only to learn that the lives they dream of may come with dangerous strings attached.

Last night I read a couple of chapters of Idaho, by Emily Ruskovich, a stunning debut novel about love and forgiveness, about the violence of memory and the equal violence of its loss—from O. Henry Prize–winning author Emily Ruskovich…

 

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JUST FINISHED:

The Mother’s Promise, by Sally Hepworth (click title for my review) was a totally engaging story of the bonds of family, and the events in life that weaken them…or strengthen them.

 

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:

Some time this week, I will receive Small Hours, by Jennifer Kitses, from Amazon Vine Reviews.

 

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In the vein of Richard Russo and Tom Perrotta, a gripping, suspenseful, and gorgeous debut novel–told hour-by-hour over the course of a single day–in which a husband and wife try to outrun long-buried secrets, sending their lives spiraling into chaos.

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It will be another engaging week ahead!  What does your week look like?

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HUMP DAY SPARKS: WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Today I’m participating in Sam’s WWW Wednesdays Here’s how it works:

 

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next, and/or what are you eagerly awaiting?

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CURRENTLY READING:

It Happens All the Time, by Amy Hatvany, an eARC from NetGalley, a provocative and compelling novel about two friends whose lives are changed by a drunken kiss.

 

I’m enjoying this one, although I’m not that far into it.  I am a fan of the author, however, so I am looking forward to fully immersing myself.

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JUST FINISHED:

The Good Daughter, by Alexandra Burt (click title for my review).

 

I was fascinated by the premise of this book, and there were aspects of it that captured me…and those parts kept me reading.  Overall, however, the book was a bit of a slog for me.

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EAGERLY ANTICIPATING:

I am eager to start reading another e-ARC I have received from NetGalley, which will be released on April 11 One Perfect Lie, by Lisa Scottoline.

 

Blurb:  On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

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What are you reading this week…and in the future?

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