SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – “ELIZABETH IS MISSING”

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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 an ARC I’m reading…and enjoying.  Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey, is a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also a heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging…

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Intro:  (Prologue)

“Maud?  Was I boring you so much that you’d rather stand outside in the dark?”

A woman calls to me from the warm light of a cluttered dining room.  My breath curls towards her, wet and ghostly, but no words follow.  The snow, sparse but bright on the ground, reflects the light on to her face, which is drawn tight in an attempt to see.  I know, though, that she can’t see very well, even in the daylight.

“Come inside,” she says.  “It’s freezing.  I promise I won’t say another word about frogs and snails and majolica ware.”

“I wasn’t bored,” I say, realizing too late that she’s joking.  “I’ll be there in a minute.  I’m just looking for something.”  In my hand is the thing I’ve already found, still clotted with mud.  A small thing, easily missed.  The broken lid of an old compact, its silver tarnished, its navy-blue enamel no longer glassy but scratched and dull.  The mildewed mirror is like a window on a faded world, like a porthole looking out under the ocean.  It makes me squirm with memories.

***

Teaser:  “The bath is filthy,” she says as I come into the kitchen.  “And there’s a big lot of dirt on the lawn.  What have you been doing?”

I wince at the question.  Why is it I can remember the garden and the soil and the dew, but none of the reasons for being there?  (p. 71).

***

Amazon Description:  Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  I know that I am loving it, even as I feel frustrated for Maud…and annoyed with the people in her life who dismiss her, not giving any credence to her quest for her friend.

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SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – “JUBILEE’S JOURNEY”

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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 spotlighted book is one I won in a contest from Kimba, Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Jubilee’s Journey is authored by Bette Lee Crosby.

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Intro:  (As It Was…)

On an icy cold November morning in 1956, Bartholomew Jones died in the Poynter Coal Mine.  His death came as no surprise to anyone.  He was only one of the countless men forever lost to the mine.  They were men loved and mourned by their families, but to the world they were faceless, nameless people, not worthy of mention in the Charleston Times.

Morning after morning those men descended into the belly of the mountain, into a world of black dust that clung to their skin with a fierceness that no amount of scrubbing could wash away.  In the winter the sky was still black when they climbed into the trolley cart that carried them into the mountain.  And when they returned twelve hours later, daylight had already come and gone.

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Teaser:  When Mahoney left Anita’s apartment he couldn’t stop wondering what angry words had torn the two sisters apart.  Anita’s bitterness was so thick you could almost see it seeping from her skin.  (p.206).

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Blurb:  When tragedy strikes a West Virginia coal mining family, two children start out on a trek that they hope will lead them to a new life. Before a day passes, the children are separated and the boy is caught up in a robbery not of his making. If his sister can find him, she may be able to save him. The problem is she’s only seven years old, and who’s going to believe a kid? Jubilee’s Journey is Book Two in the Wyattsville Series. This story of discovering lost family and finding love reconnects readers with Ethan Allen and the other heart-warming characters of the bestselling novel SPARE CHANGE.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  Come on by and share your excerpts.

 

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SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS — “THE ALL YOU CAN DREAM BUFFET”

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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 an ARC entitled The All You Can Dream Buffet, by Barbara O’Neal.

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Intro:  (Prologue)

In the stillness just after dawn, Lavender Wills walked the perimeter of the farm, as she did every morning.  Rain or shine—and it could be a lot of rain in the Willamette Valley in Oregon—she strode with her dogs along the lavender fields and the greenhouses, following the line of the fields where meat chickens were pastured in movable pens, checking to be sure they hadn’t been raided overnight.  She eyed the fences around the chicken houses and rounded the beehives, then headed back along the vegetable fields, some of them still tucked under their temporary spring blankets of easily constructed and deconstructed plastic greenhouses.

***

Teaser:  And he had been turning away ever since.  She had tried everything.  Sexy nightgowns, of course, and surprising him in the shower, which ended so badly that she never tried it again. (p. 120)

***

Blurb:  Perfect for fans of Kristin Hannah and Susan Wiggs—Barbara O’Neal’s new novel of food, friendship, and the freedom to grow your dreams brings together four very different women longing to savor the true taste of happiness.
 
Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?

There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

***

Would you keep reading?  I was captivated by the setting, the whole blogger thing, and fresh starts.  Come on by and share your own excerpts and links, please!

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SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – BEFORE I GO TO 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 featured book is one I just finished reading.   Before I Go to Sleep, by S. J. Watson.

 

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Intro: Today

The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.

I have spent the night here. I was woken by a woman’s voice—at first I thought she was in bed with me, but then realized she was reading the news and I was hearing a radio alarm—and when I opened my eyes found myself here. In this room I do not recognize.

***

Teaser:  My name is Christine Lucas. I am forty-seven. An amnesiac. I am sitting here, in this unfamiliar bed, writing my story dressed in a silk nightie that the man downstairs—who tells me that he is my husband, that he is called Ben—apparently bought me for my forty-sixth birthday.  (p. 47)

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Blurb:  “The best debut novel I’ve ever read.”—Tess Gerritsen, bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series

“An exceptional thriller. It left my nerves jangling for hours after I finished the last page.” —Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Moonlight Mile

S. J. Watson makes his powerful debut with this  compelling, fast-paced  psychological thriller,reminiscent of Shutter Island and Memento, in which an amnesiac who, following a mysterious accident, cannot remember her past or form new memories, desperately tries to uncover the truth about who she is—and who she can trust.

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Would you keep reading?  I know I couldn’t put it down…finished it a little while ago, and my review is HERE.

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SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – “BEACH MUSIC”

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teacups for teaser tuesdays

 

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 a chunkster I plan to read early in the New Year.  (768 pages).  It’s Beach Music, by Pat Conroy.

 

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Intro:  In 1980, a year after my wife leapt to her death from the Silas Pearlman Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, I moved to Italy to begin life anew, taking our small daughter with me.  Our sweet Leah was not quite two when my wife, Shyla, stopped her car on the highest point of the bridge and looked over, for the last time, the city she loved so well.  She had put on the emergency brake and opened the door of our car, then lifted herself up to the rail of the bridge with the delicacy and enigmatic grace that was always Shyla’s catlike gift.  She was also quick-witted and funny, but she carried within her a dark side that she hid with bright allusions and an irony as finely wrought as lace.  She had so mastered the strategies of camouflage that her own history had seemed a series of well-placed mirrors that kept her hidden from herself.

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Teaser: “Do you remember how much I loved you as a baby, Leah?” Lucy asked, hugging the child to her.

“I can’t remember anything about South Carolina,” Leah said.  “I’ve tried, but I just can’t.” (p. 275).

***

Blurb:  PAT CONROY, America’s preeminent storyteller, delivers a sweeping novel of lyric intensity and searing truth–the story of Jack McCall, an American expatriate in Rome, scarred by tragedy and betrayal. His desperate desire to find peace after his wife’s suicide draws him into a painful, intimate search for the one haunting secret in his family’s past that can heal his anguished heart.

Spanning three generations and two continents, from the contemporary ruins of the American South to the ancient ruins of Rome, from the unutterable horrors of the Holocaust to the lingering trauma of Vietnam, Beach Music sings with life’s pain and glory. It is another masterpiece in PAT CONROY’S legendary list of beloved novels.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading, or does the chunkster aspect of the book give you pause?  For some reason, I feel more ready to read a hefty book at the beginning of the New Year.

 

SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – ONE HUNDRED NAMES

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teacups for teaser tuesdays

 

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 an ARC from Amazon Vine:  One Hundred Names, by Cecelia Ahern.

 

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Intro:  Chapter One

She was nicknamed The Graveyard.  Any secret, any piece of confidential information, personal or otherwise, that went in never, ever came back out.  You knew you were safe; you knew you would never be judged or, if you were it would be silently, so you’d never know.  She was perfectly named with a birth name that meant consistency and fortitude, and she was appropriately nicknamed; she was solid, permanent and steady, stoic but oddly comforting.  Which is why visiting her in this place was all the more agonising.  And it was agonising, not just mentally challenging; Kitty felt a physical pain in her chest, more specifically in her heart, that began with the thought of having to go, grew with the reality of actually being there, and then worsened with the knowledge that it wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t a false alarm, this was life in its rawest form.  A life that had been challenged, and would subsequently be lost, to death.

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Teaser:  Kitty blocked her face with her hands.  It was too humiliating to have him stand there while she cried, when before he would have comforted her.  (p. 72).

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Blurb:  Internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern’s One Hundred Names is the story of secrets, second chances, and the hidden connections that unite our lives—a universal tale that will grip you with its emotional power and mesmerize you with its magic.

Scandal has derailed Journalist Kitty Logan’s career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss. Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her—what is the one story she always wanted to write?

The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance’s office—a list of 100 names—with no notes or explanation. But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late.

Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence, Kitty throws herself into the investigation, using her skills and savvy to track down each of the names on the list and uncover their connection. Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance’s life. . . and starts to understand her own.

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Sounds good to me.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – FINDING COLIN FIRTH

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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  Finding Colin Firth, by Mia March.

 

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Intro:  Chapter 1 – BEA CRANE

The letter that would change Bea’s life arrived while she was in the kitchen at Boston’s Crazy Burger, working on four orders of Mt. Vesuvius specials—three patties stacked a foot tall and layered with caramelized  onions, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour pickles, and hot sauce.  One of her new roommates, Nina, subletting for the summer in the dumpy three-bedroom apartment that Bea now shared with two strangers, poked her head in and said she’d signed for a certified envelope for Bea, and since she was coming to Crazy Burger for lunch, she brought it over.

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Teaser:  Now there were just memories and this old fisherman sweater.  And a stranger named Veronica Russo, up in Maine.  Waiting a long time to be found by Bea.  (p. 15)

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Blurb:  From the author of The Meryl Streep Movie Club, “a heartwarming, spirit-lifting read just in time for beach season” (Kirkus Reviews), comes a new novel about three women, connected in secret and surprising ways, who are in for a life-changing summer when rumor has it that actor Colin Firth is coming to their Maine town to film a movie. 

After losing her job and leaving her beloved husband, journalist Gemma Hendricks is sure that scoring an interview with Colin Firth will save her career and marriage. Yet a heart-tugging local story about women, family ties, love, and loss captures her heart–and changes everything. The story concerns Bea Crane, a floundering twenty-two-year old who learns in a deathbed confession letter that she was adopted at birth. Bea is in Boothbay Harbor to surreptitiously observe her biological mother, Veronica Russo–something of a legend in town–who Bea might not be ready to meet, after all. Veronica, a thirty-eight-year-old diner waitress famous for her “healing” pies, has come home to Maine to face her past. But when she’s hired as an Extra on the bustling movie set, she wonders if she’s hiding from the truth . . . and perhaps the opportunity of a real life Mr. Darcy.

These three women will discover more than they ever imagined in this coastal Maine town, buzzing with hopes of Colin Firth. Even the conjecture of his arrival inspires daydreams, amplifies complicated lives, and gives incentive to find their own romantic endings.

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What do you think?  Are you intrigued?  I know that I am.

SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – “PLAYING DEAD”

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teacups for teaser tuesdays

 

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 shines on a book from my stacks, purchased a few months ago.  Playing Dead, by Julia Heaberlin, is a compelling family mystery.

 

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Intro:  Despite its name, Ponder, Texas, pop. 1,101, isn’t a very good place to think.  Four months out of the year, it’s too damn hot to think.

It is a good place to get lost.  That’s what my mother did thirty-two years ago.  The fact that she successfully hid this from almost everyone who loved her makes her a pretty good liar.  I’m not sure what it says about me.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother would tell my fortune to keep me still.  I vividly remember one August day when the red line on the back porch thermometer crept up to 108.  Sweat dribbled down the backs of my knees, a thin cotton sundress pressed wet against my back.  My legs swung back and forth under the kitchen table, too short to reach the floor.  Granny snapped beans in a soothing rhythm.  I stared at a tall glass pitcher of iced tea that floated with mint leaves and quarter moons of lemon, wishing I could jump in.  Granny promised a storm coming from Oklahoma would cool things off by dinner.  The fan kept blowing the cards off the table and I kept slapping them down, giggling.

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Teaser:  I strode over, furious, thinking that anger was a good emotion for me to hang on to.  It cleared my head of all the crazy crap  (p. 123).

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Amazon Description:  “Dear Tommie: Have you ever wondered about who you are?”
 
The letter that turns Tommie McCloud’s world upside down arrives from a stranger only days after her father’s death. The woman who wrote it claims that Tommie is her daughter—and that she was kidnapped as a baby thirty-one years ago.

Tommie wants to believe it’s all a hoax, but suddenly a girl who grew up on a Texas ranch finds herself  linked to a horrific past: the slaughter of a family in Chicago, the murder of an Oklahoma beauty queen, and the kidnapping of a little girl named Adriana. Tommie races along a twisting, nightmarish path while an unseen stalker is determined to keep old secrets locked inside the dementia-battered brain of the woman who Tommie always thought was her real mother. With everything she has ever believed in question, and no one she can trust, Tommie must discover the truth about the girl who vanished—and the very real threats that still remain.

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What do you think?  Something that you would keep reading?  I’ve never read this author, but I am eager to discover what’s inside the spine.

 

 

SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – “SEA CREATURES”

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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 an ARC I’m starting in the next day or so:  Sea Creatures, by Susanna Daniel.  I just finished reading another fabulous book by this author today, called Stiltsville (my review), so I am eager to dive into this one.

 

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Intro:  It was my husband Graham’s idea to buy the houseboat.  The notion took shape on the first leg of our move from Illinois to Miami, between pulling away from the cottage in Round Lake and stopping at the county fair outside of Peoria, where we urged our three-year-old, Frankie, into a gargantuan bouncy castle.  For a few minutes Frankie seemed to take some pleasure in jumping haphazardly among strangers, until he remembered that he didn’t like strangers, and staggered lock-kneed toward the exit.  I mention this interlude in the long drive for one reason:  a few minutes after we walked away from the enormous cartoonish castle, a gust of wind upended it, bouncing children and all.  Ambulances arrived quickly.  As we stood among the anxious crowd, I thought—not for the first time and not for the last—that to be a parent is terrifying.  Graham once told me how the stoics practiced imagining their own worst fears had come to pass, to make peace.  But it seems to me that what worries us most—pedophiles, kidnappers, dog attacks—is least likely to happen, while what is most likely is some unimagined event.  And how do we prepare for that?

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Teaser:  Graham had a way of zeroing in on exactly what made history interesting.  Being a tourist with him was like traveling with your best high school teacher, the one who put down the textbook and relayed some bit of trivia that brought an entire era to life  (p. 117)

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Blurb:  In Sea Creatures, a riveting domestic drama by Susanna Daniel, a mother must make the unthinkable choice between her husband and her son.

When Georgia Qullian returns to her hometown of Miami, her toddler and husband in tow, she is hoping for a fresh start. They have left Illinois trailing scandal and disappointment in their wake, fallout from her husband’s severe sleep disorder. For months, their three-year-old son has refused to speak a word.

On a whim, Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a reclusive artist and is surprised at how her life changes dramatically. But soon the family’s challenges return, more complicated than before. Late that summer, as a hurricane bears down on South Florida, Georgia must face the fact that her decisions have put her only child in grave danger.

Sea Creatures is a mesmerizing exploration of the high stakes of marriage and parenthood.

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What I love about this author is her talent for picking out the ordinary moments in life and rendering them poignant.  Would you keep reading?  I know I can’t wait!

 

SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: INTROS/TEASERS – “LEAVING HAVEN”

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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 an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Leaving Haven, by Kathleen McCleary.

 

 

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Intro:  (Prologue) – Georgia – June 19, 2012

Georgia sat up in her hospital bed, holding her baby.  She studied his little face—just visible beneath the striped blue and pink knit cap the nurse had pulled over his head after cleaning him off.  She tried to remember how Liza had looked as a newborn, all those years ago.  But this baby didn’t look like Liza, maybe because there was nothing of her, Georgia, in this baby.  Instead John’s features bloomed on this tiny boy—the ears that stuck out just slightly, the dark hair, the full lips.

Outside the window the sun broke through the clouds and streamed into the room.  Georgia noticed the shift in the light, but didn’t take her eyes off the baby in her arms.  She picked up one of his hands, rubbed his palm with her thumb.  His fingers were long—she could see that even in such new, tiny hands—nothing at all like Georgia’s own hands.  The baby opened his eyes.

Georgia gazed at him.  “Hi?”  she said.  “Who are you?”

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Teaser:  (Alice – June 24, 2012)

The one thing Alice had learned since her affair was that no matter how well you thought you knew someone (whether another person or yourself), you could still be surprised, very surprised. (p. 243).

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Blurb:   In Leaving Haven, Kathleen McCleary, author of A Simple Thing, explores the intricacies of love, friendship, and parenthood.

Georgia longs for a baby, but she’s had miscarriage after miscarriage since her daughter was born more than a decade ago. Through a miraculous egg donation, Georgia is thrilled to find herself pregnant—until she makes a startling discovery that changes her mind about how much she really wants the baby…

Georgia’s best friend, Alice, has a happy teenage daughter, a faithful husband, and a perfectly organized life. But her world spins off its axis when she falls for a man who is everything she knows she doesn’t want…

Leaving Haven is a provocative and touching novel that will appeal to readers of contemporary fiction and fans of Jodi Picoult, Luanne Rice, and Kristin Hannah.

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Would you keep reading?  I know that I can’t wait to immerse myself in this story.