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?

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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: “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: “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: “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: “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: “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?

***

TUESDAY SPARKS: “ALL THE BEST PEOPLE”

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 All the Best People, by Sonja Yoerg, an intricately crafted story of madness, magic and misfortune across three generations from the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken

 

 

 

Intro:  (Carole – August 1972)

Carole was ten when her mother was committed to Underhill State Hospital.   For a rest, her father had said.  By the time Carole was old enough to understand that the truth lay elsewhere, beyond her grasp, her mother had received insulin coma treatment for hysteria, colonics for depression and electroshock just because, and Carole gave up wondering how her mother had lost control of her mind and simply coped with the fact that she had.  Recently, Carole overheard the nurses say Solange Gifford was haunted, and although Carole did not, strictly speaking, believe in ghosts, it was as fitting a diagnosis as any.

***

Teaser:  Carole lay listening to the rain, weary but not sleepy.  Her thoughts were glass shards.  She pulled the coverlet to her neck despite the heat and tried to link up her thinking with Walt’s snoring, steady as the rain.  Perhaps she dozed (p. 56).

***

Synopsis:  Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives.

***

What do you think?   I am fascinated with books about mental illness.  Would you keep reading?

***

 

TUESDAY SPARKS: “SYCAMORE”

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:  Sycamore, by Bryn Chancellor.  Evocative and atmospheric, Sycamore is a coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a moving exploration of the elemental forces that drive human nature—desire, loneliness, grief, love, forgiveness, and hope—as witnessed through the inhabitants of one small Arizona town.

 

Intro:  (You Are Here – January 1991)

Her first night in Sycamore, the girl snuck out of the house.  Wearing frayed purple canvas shoes and a new puffy vinyl winter coat the red-orange of an ocotillo bloom, the girl paused on her tiptoes on the threshold when the front door hinges creaked.  Her mother, deaf in her left ear, didn’t stir, and the girl shut the door with a click.  This wasn’t the girl’s first time to slip out the door late at night, and it wouldn’t be her last.  (There would be a last time, but not tonight.)  For now she had this night, her first in a small northern Arizona town where her mother had dragged her.  She shoved her notebook inside her coat and hurried down the driveway.  Her breath smoked in the desert winter air.

***

Teaser:  Paul blinked.  He saw her standing over the sink with the clippers, buzzing her head, the clouds of hair falling to the basin.  She’d said, “Who needs it?”  She’d never grown it out again, kept it cropped short. (49%).

***

Synopsis:  Out for a hike one scorching afternoon in Sycamore, Arizona, a newcomer to town stumbles across what appear to be human remains embedded in the wall of a dry desert ravine. As news of the discovery makes its way around town, Sycamore’s longtime residents fear the bones may belong to Jess Winters, the teenage girl who disappeared suddenly some eighteen years earlier, an unsolved mystery that has soaked into the porous rock of the town and haunted it ever since. In the days it takes the authorities to make an identification, the residents rekindle stories, rumors, and recollections both painful and poignant as they revisit Jess’s troubled history. In resurrecting the past, the people of Sycamore will find clarity, unexpected possibility, and a way forward for their lives.

Skillfully interweaving multiple points of view, Bryn Chancellor knowingly maps the bloodlines of a community and the indelible characters at its heart—most notably Jess Winters, a thoughtful, promising adolescent poised on the threshold of adulthood.

***

What do you think?  Do the excerpts grab you?  Do you want to keep reading?

***

TUESDAY SPARKS: “SAME BEACH, NEXT YEAR”

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, a perfect summer read:  Same Beach, Next Year (e-book), by Dorothea Benton Frank, a bewitching story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with her warm and engaging earthy humor and generous heart.

 

 

Intro: (Prologue – Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 2016)

The conversation that launched my need to tell you this whole crazy story actually came from our son Luke, who, like his twin, is practically an adult.  Okay, they are adults.  But only because of their age, which is still completely astonishing to me.  How dare they grow up and make us, God help us, almost sixty?  Some nerve.

***

Teaser:  (Adam)

Our condos had the same floor plans but hers was absent any crown molding or shiplap.  And our fireplace was bigger.  Still, they rented for the same money.  As soon as Carl and Eliza’s cars were gone I walked back over to Eve’s. (46%).

***

Synopsis:   One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***