MONDAY SPARKS: MUSINGS….

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It’s Monday, and time to muse about books with Jenn, at Books and a Beat.

 

  • 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 WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What’s your favorite horror novel (if you read that genre)?

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I am reading In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch.  It is a book that has been waiting patiently on Pippa since June 2016, and so far I’m enjoying it.

 

 

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Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

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I do love books about friendships, especially when a rift has occurred.  Putting things right again might seem impossible, but it’s great when it can happen.

I am in the beginning portion of the book, which is narrated by alternate characters.

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What are you musing about today?

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FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS/FRIDAY 56 – “CANCEL THE WEDDING”

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

I hope all those who celebrate it had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Today I’d like to share an ARC from Vine:  Cancel the Wedding, by Carolyn Dingman.

 

 

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Beginning:  (Prologue – August 1956, Huntley, Georgia)

The strap from the overloaded canvas satchel dug into Janie’s shoulder as she made her way down the well-traveled path to the river.  She could feel that George was already there before she could hear him and long before she could see him.  They were only ten years old but they had been tuned in to each other like that for as long as she could remember.

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56:  One didn’t have to be very present while Mrs. Chatham was speaking; she didn’t require much in the way of response.  At the moment she was retelling the family tree of nearly everyone in town.  It seemed as if everyone was knotted together in one way or another as she went through the names.

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Amazon Description:  A heartfelt fiction debut that will appeal to fans of Emily Giffin’s Southern charm and Jennifer Weiner’s compelling, emotionally resonant novels about the frustrations of blood ties, Cancel the Wedding follows one woman’s journey to discover the secrets of her mother’s hidden past—and confront her own uncertain future.

On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?

Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.

As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?

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What do you think?  Does it pique your interest?  Come on by and share your thoughts…and links, please.

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REVIEW: MERCY SNOW, BY TIFFANY BAKER

17869466Titan Halls, New Hampshire, is a small town ruled by the paper mill and its owners, the McAllisters. They are the “haves,” while the “have-nots,” like the Snow family, live on the fringes, dubbed as itinerant ne-er-do-wells and a blight on the community.

So when a tragic bus accident ends a life and seemingly destroys another, the McAllisters, like some others, are quick to place blame on young Zeke Snow, who has recently returned to town with his younger sisters, Mercy and Hannah.

But Cal and June McAllister are keeping secrets, while trying to railroad the Snows out of town. Will Mercy and her young sister starve before the truth comes out? Will the runaway Zeke prove his innocence? And what long-ago secrets might be revealed after a skeleton is discovered near the accident site? Was there more to the story than a simple accidental death?

Following the struggles of Mercy and Hannah made me root for them, even as their desperate choices only seemed to bring more doubt upon any possible innocence. Hazel, the local sheep owner and the wife of the bus driver, injured in the crash, is barely hanging on. Will her sympathy for Mercy put her on the wrong end of things when faced with June McAllister’s pressures? And what surprising connections will Hazel discover in an unexpected way?

Mercy Snow: A Novel is a story that shines a spotlight on the long-buried secrets in a small town, along with the hierarchy of power and how those who possess it will struggle to retain it.

The story comes to its conclusion with a surprising reveal, and then fast forwards into the future to unmask how sometimes the sinners can find redemption. 4.5 stars.

TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS – “THE DEEPEST SECRET”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today’s featured book is The Deepest Secret (e-book), by Carla Buckley.

 

 

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Intro:  Thursday, August 28 (Eve)

Birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, so Eve plans a party.  There are the usual anxieties.  Who would come?  Would Tyler like his presents?  Then there are the special worries, the ones other people didn’t have to think about.  She won’t focus on those.

She makes a cake, a bigger-than-life-size iPad that takes a day and a half to decorate instead of the six hours the Internet site promised.  The problem is getting the paint the right consistency so the lake doesn’t bleed into the shoreline.  And all those tiny icons.  She’s tossed dozens in the trash, false starts where the Facebook f was too wobbly and the camera came out looking as though a giant thumb had pressed down hard.  She hesitates over balloons.  Do they even matter at night?   In the end, she decides, why not, and drives home from the party store with so many fat balloons crammed into her backseat that she can’t see out her rearview mirror.  She imagines being pulled over by the police for driving under the influence of helium.

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Teaser:  They’d all been wonderful, in that imperfect way birthdays are, but the best had been his very first, before they knew. (p. 11).

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Amazon Description:  For fans of Jodi Picoult, Kim Edwards, and William Landay, The Deepest Secret is part intimate family drama, part gripping page-turner, exploring the profound power of the truths we’re scared to face . . . about our marriages, our children, and ourselves.
 
Eve Lattimore’s family is like every other on their suburban street, with one exception. Her son Tyler has a rare medical condition that makes him fatally sensitive to light, which means heavy curtains and deadlocked doors protect him during the day and he can never leave the house except at night. For Eve, only constant vigilance stands between an increasingly restless teenage son and the dangers of the outside world.

Until the night the unthinkable happens. When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that this family is not the only one on the quiet cul-de-sac that is more complicated than it appears. And as Eve is forced to shield her family from harm, there are some crises she cannot control—and some secrets that not even love can conceal.

Deeply moving and stunningly suspenseful, The Deepest Secret is a novel of rare power—a story about hope and forgiveness, about the terrifying ways our lives can spin out of control and the unexpected sacrifices that may save us.

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Would you keep reading?  Come on by and share your thoughts and your links.

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TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS – “THE INNOCENT SLEEP”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today’s spotlight is shining on my current read, an ARC called The Innocent Sleep, by Karen Perry.

 

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Intro:  (Prologue – Tangier)

A storm is rising.  He can feel it in the strange stillness of the air.  There is no movement, no flutter of clothing, not a whisper of a breeze along the narrow streets of Tangier.

Beyond the lines of washing strung between the buildings, above the tiled roofs, he sees a patch of sky.  There is a strange luminous quality to it, a bluish hue and lights that look almost like auroras.

He stirs a cup of warm milk, blinks, and looks out again onto the changing and otherworldly colors of the sky.

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Teaser:  And that was the start of our time in Tangier, something that began as a dream and ended a nightmare.  I can’t tell you everything that happened there.  I can give you an idea, a sense of what the place was like—that’s all  (p. 67).

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Blurb:  When a couple’s lost child resurfaces they are forced to embark on a journey into their shared past—one rife with dark secrets and lies

Tangiers. Harry is preparing his wife’s birthday dinner while she is still at work and their son, Dillon, is upstairs asleep in bed. Harry suddenly remembers that he’s left Robin’s gift at the café in town. It’s only a five minute walk away and Dillon’s so tricky to put down for the night, so Harry decides to run out on his own and fetch the present.

Disaster strikes. An earthquake hits, buildings crumble, people scream and run. Harry fights his way through the crowd to his house, only to find it razed to the ground. Dillon is presumed dead, though his body is never found.

Five years later, Harry and Robin have settled into a new kind of life after relocating to their native Dublin. Their grief will always be with them, but lately it feels as if they’re ready for a new beginning. Harry’s career as an artist is taking off and Robin has just realized that she’s pregnant.

But when Harry gets a glimpse of Dillon on the crowded streets of Dublin, the past comes rushing back at both of them. Has Dillon been alive all these years? Or was what Harry saw just a figment of his guilt-ridden imagination? With razor-sharp writing, Karen Perry’s The Innocent Sleep delivers a fast-paced, ingeniously plotted thriller brimming with deception, doubt, and betrayal.

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This story has captured me in unique ways.  What do you think, based on these excerpts and this blurb?  Would you keep reading?

I hope you’ll stop by and share your thoughts and your links.

 

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REVIEW: PLAYING DEAD, BY JULIA HEABERLIN

13147826When Tommie McCloud returns home to Ponder, Texas, it is for her father’s funeral. And sadly, it might as well have been for her mother’s, too, as she is in a nursing home, suffering from dementia, her health deteriorating.

The funeral is scarcely over when her father’s secretary hands her a letter from a stranger. A missive that will change her life in unexpected ways. A letter that makes Tommie question everything she thought she knew about her family and who she is.

Set on finding out the truth behind the secrets and lies of her childhood, Tommie’s journey takes her to Chicago, to various places in the Southwest, and to a bank vault, where more of her mother’s secrets are revealed.

But will any of the questions find answers? What is Tommie’s connection to mafia prisoner Anthony Marchetti? Who really murdered the family of an FBI agent, and what really happened to Tommie’s brother Tuck?

With the help of special friends and a reporter, Tommie tries to sort through the pieces to the puzzle. Happily, her time at home has given her special moments with her younger sister Sadie and her niece Maddie. But when she finds the answers, will her life as she knew it be over?

I enjoyed the settings, the characters, and the continual surprises that kept me from guessing the answers right away. I always love being surprised by who did what and to whom.

Playing Dead: A Novel is a story that engaged me from the very first page and kept me intrigued throughout. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, with all the twists and turns and unexpected surprises that this author so brilliantly provides. Five stars.

FRIDAY SPARKS: BOOK BEGINNINGS & THE FRIDAY 56 — “THE HUSBAND’S SECRET” — MAY 24

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Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

Today’s spotlight shines on an ARC, from Amazon Vine, called The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty.  This will be my first journey into this author’s works.

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Beginning:  Chapter One:

It was all because of the Berlin Wall.

If it weren’t for the Berlin Wall Cecilia would never have found the letter, and then she wouldn’t be sitting here, at the kitchen table, willing herself not to rip it open.

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56:  Yet Tess hadn’t been wary.  She’d been stupidly secure of Will’s love.  Secure enough to wear her old jeans with that black T-shirt that Will said made her look like a biker chick.

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Blurb:   At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter
that’s not meant to be read

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died. . . .

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

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I am eager to read this book from an author I have not yet tried.  I’ve been hearing such good things about What Alice Forgot, a previous book.

What are you sharing  today?  Come on by….

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TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS — FAMILY PICTURES — FEB. 5

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today I’m spotlighting an ARC from the Amazon Vine program.  Family Pictures, by Jane Green, promises to be my favorite kind of read.

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Intro:  Sylvie

Back then, when life seemed so simple, before she knew what life was capable of throwing at her, Sylvie was a natural worrier.  Anxiety followed her around like a small dank cloud, convincing her that something terrible was just about to happen.  As a child, she worried about her mother’s rages, which didn’t stop them coming.  As a young woman, she worried about making enough money as a textile designer, which meant she had to supplement her career by painting houses.  As a young mother, she worried Eve would roll onto her front and never wake up, and when Jonathan was late home from work, she worried something had happened to him.

Whew!  I’m exhausted from all this worry…but what do you think?

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Teaser:  Sylvie gets out of bed and walks naked to the bathroom, wiggling her bottom deliberately, still grinning over her shoulder at him as she walks, blowing  him a kiss as she closes the bathroom door. (p. 33)

I think she stopped worrying for a few minutes!  lol

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Amazon Description: New York Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes Family Pictures, the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined.  Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school.  They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like.  They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected.  But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart.  As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?
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What intriguing books are capturing your interest today?  Now I’m off to see what you’re showing.

TUESDAY SPARKS: INTROS/TEASERS — GODS IN ALABAMA — JAN. 15

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today I’m sharing a book I got from the library, written by an author I’ve enjoyed.  Gods in Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson, is a story about secrets, guilt, and patched together “alibis.”

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Intro/First Paragraphs:  There are gods in Alabama:  Jack Daniel’s, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus.  I left one back there myself, back in Possett.  I kicked it under the kudzu and left it to the roaches.

I made a deal with God two years before I left there.  At the time, I thought He made out pretty well.  I offered Him a three-for-one-deal:  All He had to do was perform a miracle.  He fulfilled His end of the bargain, so I kept my three promises faithfully, no matter what the cost.  I held our deal as sacred for twelve solid years.  But that was before God let Rose Mae Lolley show up on my doorstep, dragging my ghosts and her own considerable baggage with her.

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What do you think?  Is your interest sparked by this beginning?

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Teaser:  I took the tequila with me and drank it as I made the long hike home.  Worm and all.  p. 39

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Amazon Blurb:  For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now. When an old schoolmate from Possett turns up at Arlene’s door in Chicago asking questions about Jim Beverly, former quarterback and god of Possett High, Arlene’s break with her former hometown is forced to an end. At the same time, Burr, her long-time boyfriend, has raised an ultimatum: introduce him to her family or consider him gone. Arlene loves him dearly but knows her lily white (not to mention deeply racist)Southern Baptist family will not understand her relationship with an African American boyfriend. Reluctantly, Arlene bows to the pressure, and she and Burr embark on the long-avoided road trip back home. As Arlene digs through guilt and deception, her patched-together alibi begins to unravel, and she discovers how far she will go for love and a chance at redemption.

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Now I’m off to see what you are all spotlighting.  Come on by and chat!

THE UNBREAKABLE SISTERHOOD CONNECTION — A REVIEW

 

 

 

Ten years after leaving her disabled sister behind at an institutional care center, Nicole Hunter is stunned by a call from her mother. A devastating rape and subsequent pregnancy have changed everything about her sister Jenny’s future.

Returning to Seattle and leaving behind the settled and supposedly stable life with her boyfriend Shane in San Francisco, Nicole must sort out the complicated situation ahead and deal with the guilt that has surrounded her since she “abandoned” her sister.

Has the special communication between the two of them–nonverbal on Jenny’s part–remained in place? Will Nicole find the strength to care for her sister, after she and her mother remove her from the Wellman Center? And what about the baby? Who will take care of her?

Reconnecting with childhood friend Nova, now the mother of four, helps Nicole settle into the new routines of her life. But can she make the important decisions that lie ahead? And will she be able to let go of the life she had built? Will the disturbing secrets from the past come back to haunt her, or will she find that the pieces of the puzzle she had put together configure into totally new patterns?

A fan of Hatvany, I enjoyed The Language of Sisters. The story touched on some important issues and addressed feelings about old and new connections, and how unique bonds develop a language of their own. However, the end seemed to wrap itself up too neatly for me; therefore, four stars.