WEEKLY SUNDAY/MONDAY UPDATES: HUNKERING DOWN — SEPT. 15

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  Notorious Spinks Talks Books, for September’s Mailbox Monday, and Book Journey, for What Are You Reading?

The month is half over, so it’s time to hunker down!  And what a week it has been!  I’ve had a lot of blogging and reading to keep me indoors, since the hot days are still with us.  Yes, cooler mornings and evenings, but not nearly enough.

So grab your cup of coffee and let’s talk about our weeks.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Monday from the Interior:  Musing About Upcoming Books

Guilty Pleasures?  Intros/Teasers

Serendipitous Wednesdays:  Upcoming Reads

A Thursday from the Interior:  Imagery

Serendipitous Fridays:  Book Beginnings & The Friday 56 – “Lie Still”

Review:  Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, by Paula Daly

Review (Blog Tour): Mr. Monk Helps Himself, by Ty Conrad

Review:  The Pure Gold Baby, by Margaret Drabble

Review:  In the Drink, by Kate Christensen

Review:  Lie Still, by Julia Heaberlin

Read:   The Perks of Being a Wallflower (e-book), by Stephen Chbosky – (Review Will Be Posted on 9/21/13 – for Banned Books Week)- On An Interior Journey

INCOMING BOOKS:

Between my mailbox and my downloads (from free, purchased, & review books), I have quite a haul.

All are linked to Amazon…

A Dark Mind, by T. R. Ragan (Amazon Vine)

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W is for Wasted, by Sue Grafton (Purchase)

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Sinnerman (e-book), by Jonathan M. Cook (Blog Tour Stop – Oct. 17)

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Diary of a Wildflower (e-book), by Ruth White (Author Review Request)

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Cold Winter Rain (e-book), by Steven P. Gregory (Author Review Request)

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Second Nature (e-book), by Nora Roberts (Purchase)

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower (e-book), by Stephen Chbosky (Purchase)

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Out in the Country (e-book), by Kate Hewitt (Freebie)

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THIS WEEK ON THE BLOGS: (All Books Are Linked to Amazon)

Sinnerman (e-book), by Jonathan M. Cook

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Happy All the Time, by Laurie Colwin

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A Dark Mind, by T. R. Ragan

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Divas by the River (e-book), by Juno Ross (Author Review Request)

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Now…I hope you’ll come on by with a second cup of coffee…and chat about your books.

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WEEKLY SUNDAY/MONDAY UPDATES: NEW BEGINNINGS — SEPT. 8/9

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post,  Notorious Spinks Talks Books, for September’s Mailbox Monday, and Book Journey, for What Are You Reading?

Today I’m celebrating the first signs of fall…it shows up in the crisper air in the mornings, and the cooling down at night.  Fall is like a New Beginning for me.  Even though the days of school are long behind, for me and for my kids, I still enjoy the energy through my grandkids.

Over the Labor Day holiday, I took some time off to see the Lee Daniels’ The Butler movie.  Wonderful!

 

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And now, as a nod to New Beginnings, I am combining all the Sunday/Monday Posts into this one.  So let’s begin.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday From the Interior:  Intros/Teasers – The Garden of Last Days

Hump Day Potpourri:  Relishing Upcoming Movies…& Downloading Books

Bookshelf Clearing Giveaway Winner – Congrats to Laura

Serendipitous Fridays:  Book Beginnings & The Friday 56

Saturday Snapshots:  Memories

Can You Go Home Again? — An Excerpt from “Embrace the Whirlwind”

Review:  The Supreme Macaroni Company, by Adriana Trigiani

Review:  The Garden of Last Days, by Andre Dubus III

Review:  Revenge Wears Prada, by Lauren Weisberger

INCOMING BOOKS:

This week brought one review book in the mailbox; I purchased a book at Barnes & Noble; and downloaded some e-books for Sparky.

All Titles/Covers Link to Amazon Product Pages

Lie Still, by Julia Heaberlin (Amazon Vine)

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The Lost Years, by Mary Higgins Clark

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The Good Wife (e-book), by Jane Porter

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Sure Signs of Crazy (e-book), by Karen Harrington

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The Silent Wife (e-book), by A. S. A. Harrison

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THIS WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

On Tuesday, check out Rainy Days and Mondays for my blog tour stop for Mr. Monk Helps Himself

Upcoming Reads: (Titles/Covers link to Amazon Product Pages)

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, by Paula Daly

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The Pure Gold Baby, by Margaret Drabble

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In the Drink, by Kate Christensen

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What is happening on your blog(s)?  Grab some coffee and come on by to chat.

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SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY: HELLO SEPTEMBER! — SEPT. 1

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and head over to Notorious Spinks Talks Books, for September’s Mailbox Monday.

August is over, and now we can turn our thoughts to what September can bring.  Here’s what happened this month….and what’s coming next.

ON THE BLOGS:

Another Tuesday Potpourri:  A Murder Mystery, A Ghostly Castle, and More!

Hump Day Sparks:  Waiting for “Stella Bain”

Thursday Potpourri:  More Tidbits

Friday’s Creative Journey:  Book Beginnings & The Friday 56

Creative Sparks:  Saturday Snapshot:  August Birthdays

Wrapping up August:  A Good Month

Review:  She Can Scream, by Melinda Leigh

Review:  The Murders at Astaire Castle, by Lauren Carr

Review:  The Good Daughter (e-book), by Jane Porter

Review:  Good Girl, Bad Girl, by Christopher Finch

Review:  Accused, by Lisa Scottoline

INCOMING BOOKS:

I received two review books in the mailbox; purchased one book at B & N; downloaded three e-books; and received a giveaway book from Rose City Reader.

The Pure Gold Baby, by Margaret Drabble (Amazon Vine)

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Jessica Speight, a young anthropology student in 1960s London, is at the beginning of a promising academic career when an affair with her married professor turns her into a single mother. Anna is a pure gold baby with a delightful sunny nature. But as it becomes clear that Anna will not be a normal child, the book circles questions of responsibility, potential, even age, with Margaret Drabble’s characteristic intelligence, sympathy, and wit.

Drabble once wrote, “Family life itself, that safest, most traditional, most approved of female choices, is not a sanctuary; it is, perpetually, a dangerous place.” Told from the point of view of the group of mothers who surround Jess, The Pure Gold Baby is a brilliant, prismatic novel that takes us into that place with satiric verve, trenchant commentary, and a movingly intimate story of the unexpected transformations at the heart of motherhood.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?, by Paula Daly (Amazon Vine)

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Lisa Kallisto—overwhelmed working mother—is the not-so-perfect model of the modern woman. She holds down a busy job running an animal shelter, she cares for three demanding children, and she worries that her marriage isn’t getting enough attention. During an impossibly hectic week, Lisa takes her eye off the ball for a moment and her world descends into a living nightmare. Not only is her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter missing, but it’s Lisa’s fault. To make matters worse, Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear within the past two weeks. The first one turned up stripped bare and abandoned on the main street after a horrible ordeal. Wracked with guilt over her mistake, and after having been publicly blamed by Lucinda’s family, Lisa sets out to right the wrong. As she begins digging under the surface, Lisa learns that everything is not quite what it first appears to be.

In Paula Daly’s heart-stopping debut novel, motherhood, marriage, and friendship are tested when a string of abductions tear through a small-town community. Gripping and fast-paced, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? introduces an outstanding new thriller writer with a terrifying imagination for the horrors that lurk in everyday lives.

Cleans up Nicely, by Linda Dahl (contest win)

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When twenty-something artist Erica Mason moves from laid-back Mexico to Manhattan in the mid-1970s, she finds a hard-edged, decadent, and radically evolving art scene.

Peppered with characters who could only come from the latter days of the turn-on-and-drop-out ’60s in then-crumbling New York (a spaced-out drummer who’s completely given up on using or making money, a radical feminist who glues animal furs to her paintings of vaginas, and icons in the making like Patti Smith), Erica’s New York is fast-moving, funny, and heartrending just like the city itself. Ultimately, her rite of passage is not only a love affair with art, men, alcohol, drugs, and music in the swirl that was the downtown scene in a radically evolving era in New York, but also a resurrection from addiction and self-delusion.

More than the study of a celebrated period of artistic expression, Cleans Up Nicely is the story of one gifted young woman’s path from self-destruction to a hard-won self-knowledge that opens up a whole new world for her and helps her claim the self-respect that has long eluded her.

Lily Steps Out (e-book), by Rita Plush

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Empty nest, retired husband … after thirty-three years of marriage as wife, mother, nursemaid, and family mediator, Lily Gold has had it! There must be more to life than making beds and cooking dinners. A lot more, she discovers, when she decides she needs something of her very own – a job.

Re-entering the work force is harder than it seems, and Lily has difficulty finding a position that’s just right for her. When she finally does, she knows it’s a perfect fit. But husband Leon wants no part of it, and off he goes to the bank to put the kibosh on her chance of opening her own antique center.

This is marriage? This is war! Lily steps out of the tired old habit of always letting Leon have his way. This time she turns the status quo into quid pro quo and gives him a run for the money. And, while she’s at it, with a little help from her friends, she breaks the mold of Lily Gold. But does she have what it takes to create a new Lily – a Lily’s renaissance?

Lily Gold’s journey is the journey of every woman who wants it all – love, respect, personal fulfillment, and real happiness.

The Star Attraction (e-book), by Alison Sweeney

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“Can you blame a publicist for blurring the lines between what’s real and what’s a dream, when her client is a gorgeous actor?” –Jodi Picoult
Sophie is a Hollywood publicist who has a fabulous job, a fabulous boyfriend, and a fabulous life. She even scores her PR firm’s most important actor client and every woman’s dream—Billy Fox.

But will a steamy make-out session in a restaurant alley with her big-name client cost Sophie her job? And does she really want an escape from her life and her loving, if imperfect, relationship with her investment banker boyfriend? The Star Attraction takes us on a wild ride through one woman’s daytime soap come to life. “Alison Sweeney’s novel is an entertaining, backstage glimpse at those who organize the lives of the Hollywood elite. It’s great fun for any reader who secretly sneaks peeks at People magazine in the checkout line at the grocery store, and wonders, What if . . . ?” –Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Lone Wolf and The Storyteller

Cross Stitch Before Dying (e-book), by Amanda Lee

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Embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer is about to find out that show biz and sew biz don’t mix!

Marcy’s mom Beverly is the costume designer for a lavish, Bollywood-style production…and she suggests Tallulah Falls as a great place to shoot part of the film. Everyone at the embroidery shop, and around town, is in a flutter that a glamorous movie production is taking place in their midst. But when the star of the film is found murdered, the police suspect Marcy’s mom, who made it no secret she did not care for the diva’s attitude regarding her wardrobe.

Marcy might as well issue an open call for suspects, because the star had a long list of enemies. To save her mom’s career and keep her from accessorizing with handcuffs, Marcy and her friends will need to stitch together the clues to catch one crafty killer who may have designs on Marcy next…

The Silver Boat, by Luanne Rice

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In The Silver Boat, New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice has written a heart-wrenching yet heartwarming portrait of a family in all its flawed complexity. The McCarthy sisters have come to Martha’s Vineyard to say good-bye to their family’s beach house—the place they were happiest together. Each has her own complicated issues and is struggling with the difficult process of letting go, but when a cache of old letters spurs them to visit Ireland, each woman comes to see herself in a new light. True-to-life sisters, the beach, laughter, and passionate love—The Silver Boat is Luanne Rice at her very best.

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Now I think I’d better settle back and start planning how to incorporate these new titles into my weeks ahead!

I hope you’ll come on by and chat!

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SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY: FALL IS NEAR! — AUGUST 25

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and head over to  Bermudaonion for Mailbox Monday.

Another week has sped by.  School has started for the grandkids…and the temperature is going down just a tad.  I can sense that autumn is near at hand!  My favorite time of the year.

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Here’s My Week on the Blogs:

Serendipitous Tuesdays:  Intros/Teasers – “Blue Plate Special”

On Tenterhooks for this One:  “Critical Mass”

Thursday Potpourri:  The Tea is Steeping and the Book is Delicious

August Bookshelf Clearing:  Come on Down!

Friday Potpourri:  Book Beginnings/The Friday 56 –”Accused”

Sweet Saturday Sample:  Another Look at Evan (Excerpt)

Sunday Potpourri:  A Trip to the Library

Review: Townie (e-book), by Andre Dubus III (From Mt. TBR)

Review:  Is This Tomorrow (e-book), by Caroline Leavitt

Review:  Blue Plate Special, by Kate Christensen (Amazon Vine Review)

Review:  The Great Gatsby (e-book), by F. Scott Fitzgerald

INCOMING BOOKS:

Accused, by Lisa Scottoline (Amazon Vine)

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Mary Dinuzio has just been promoted to partner and is about to take on her most unusual case yet, brought to the firm by a thirteen-year-old genius with a penchant for beekeeping.  Allegra Gardner’s sister Fiona was murdered six years ago, and it seemed like an open-and-shut case: the accused, Lonnie Stall, was seen fleeing the scene; his blood was on Fiona and her blood was on him; most damningly, Lonnie Stall pleaded guilty.  But Allegra believes Lonnie is innocent and has been wrongly imprisoned. The Gardner family is one of the most powerful in the country and Allegra’s parents don’t believe in reopening the case, so taking it on is risky.  But the Rosato & Associates firm can never resist an underdog.  Was justice really served all those years ago?  It will take a team of unstoppable female lawyers, plus one thirteen-year-old genius, to find out.

The Supreme Macaroni Company: A Novel (Valentine Trilogy), by Adriana Trigiani (Amazon Vine)

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In The Shoemaker’s Wife Adriana Trigiani swept her readers across generations of an Italian family, from the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy. In The Supreme Macaroni Company, she weaves a heartbreaking story that begins on the eve of a wedding in New York’s Greenwich Village, travels to New Orleans, and culminates in Tuscany. Family, work, romance, and the unexpected twists of life and fate all come together in an unforgettable narrative that Adriana Trigiani’s many fans will adore.

Good Girl, Bad Girl, by Christopher Finch (Amazon Vine)

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In May of 1968, New York City is broke and on the skids, and private eye Alex Novalis is hard up for gigs. So when he’s offered a case from wealthy construction mogul Gabriel Kravitz, he can’t refuse.

Kravitz’s eighteen-year-old daughter Lydia has gone missing. Though she’s presumed to be with Jerry Pedrosian, the radical middle-aged artist and known womanizer she’d been sleeping with, there are few clues. Information is hard to come by; everyone seems to be hiding something. And then there’s Andrea Marshall, Lydia’s miniskirted and vinyl-booted best friend, who Novalis is deeply distrustful of…and unfortunately attracted to.

But as Novalis traverses the city, tracking Lydia from scummy artists’ lofts in pre-gentrified SoHo to luxury penthouses overlooking Central Park, he’ll face threats deadlier than any he signed on for.

Smart and sophisticated, Good Girl, Bad Girl provides a rare, fascinating snapshot of late 1960s New York City—a glimpse into the forbidden sex, politics, art, drugs, and counterculture violence that ran rampant in its once gloriously gritty streets.

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Another week to look forward to!  Come on by and share some thoughts….

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SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY: LOST IN BOOKS — AUGUST 18

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and head over to  Bermudaonion for Mailbox Monday.

How did this past week skip by so quickly?  The best thing about it was how lost I got in some of my reading.

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And then there was the blogging!

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HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED ON MY BLOGS:

Serendipitous Tuesdays:  Intros/Teasers:  Mr. Monk Helps Himself

Thursday Sparks:  Borrowing?

Thursday Potpourri:  Book Drives, Review Books, & Movies

August Bookshelf Clearing:  Come on Down!

Friday Potpourri:  Book Beginnings & The Friday 56 – Is This Tomorrow

Sweet Saturday Sample:  A Great Escape

Review:  We Are Water, by Wally Lamb

Review:  MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood

Review:  The Obituary Writer (e-book), by Ann Hood

Read:  Mr. Monk Helps Himself, by Ty Conrad (Review will be posted on 9/10 at Blog Tour Stop:  Rainy Days and Mondays)

 

INCOMING BOOKS:

No books came in the mail, but I downloaded two e-books to feed Sparky

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What Maisie Knew (e-book), by Henry James

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Strikingly modern in its subject and narrative voice, this 1897 novel centers on a child’s view of her parents’ bitter divorce. Maisie develops a precocious maturity as she observes the adults’ irresponsible and immoral behavior. Rather than a gloomy parable of innocence corrupted, the tale abounds in dark humor and savage wit.

Alterations (e-book), by Rita Plush

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Author’s Note:  Many of these stories hark back more than fifty years, unwritten stories that lived in me the way stories do, as a bit of memory – a certain smell, the turn of a head, or the particular sound of a voice. Or, in the case of “Love, Mona,” in a quilted dime-store night table and a sleeping Mexican painted on a cupboard door.

My Brooklyn stories were told through the eyes of a child growing up with the rumble of the El along 86th Street, walking with her mother in her big-shouldered mouton coat, as she did her errands and talked with the shopkeepers. The walkup apartment house where she lived with her family, the damp steamy smell of the lobby where the metal taps on her shoes made a satisfying clicking sound as she ran up and down the marble steps. The seamstress in her apartment building, her friend’s father who seldom spoke, the people her parents knew, the relatives – her ear pressed to the wall, hearing talk that was not for her to hear – the people they spoke of in Yiddish so the child would not understand.

Decades later, they called to me, the memory of them morphing, changing, altering, becoming characters that were and were not them. And I kept writing about the loving and sometimes mysterious bonds of family. I dressed my characters, gave them habits and a particular way to speak, and put them down on the pages, wanting things they could not have, remembering things they wanted to forget. They mended and they sewed, they owned stores and boutiques, they jerry-made contraptions and carved dollhouse furniture. They dug in the dirt and planted tomatoes, they hunted for bear and did a jigsaw puzzle in a far off mountain cabin. Makers and fixers, they had the creative qualities derived from my parents and passed down to me.

Beginning with Frances, the young child grieving for her mother in “Love, Mona,” these stories come full circle to Rusty in “Feminine Products,” pregnant but unmarried, desperate to make a family for her unborn child. Family is a recurrent theme in my stories.

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I picked the Henry James book after seeing the newly released DVD, What Maisie Knew, updated to the present day:

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And that is my week!  What a ride!!  And now I am curious about your week…come on by and let’s chat.

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SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY — COOLING DOWN! — AUGUST 11

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and head over to The Reading Fever...or Bermudaonion for Mailbox Monday.

This past week has brought slightly cooler weather…and I had a little longer in the mornings to read outside in the cool air.

 

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THIS WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Intros/Teasers:  The Interestings

Hump Day Sparks:  Waiting on Thankless in Death

Book Beginnings & The Friday 56:  Ladies’ Night

Sweet Saturday Sample:  Life Throws a Curve

(Review) Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willett

(Review) Necessary Lies, by Diane Chamberlain

(Review) The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer

(Review)  Ladies’ Night, by Mary Kay Andrews

 

INCOMING BOOKS:

The mailbox brought two review books…and I downloaded one purchase.

Blue Plate Special, by Kate Christensen (Amazon Vine)

 

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“To taste fully is to live fully.” For Kate Christensen, food and eating have always been powerful connectors to self and world—“a subterranean conduit to sensuality, memory, desire.” Her appetites run deep; in her own words, she spent much of her life as “a hungry, lonely, wild animal looking for happiness and stability.” Now, having found them at last, in this passionate feast of a memoir she reflects upon her journey of innocence lost and wisdom gained, mistakes made and lessons learned, and hearts broken and mended.
In the tradition of M. F. K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, and Ruth Reichl, Blue Plate Special is a narrative in which food—eating it, cooking it, reflecting on it—becomes the vehicle for unpacking a life. Christensen explores her history of hunger—not just for food but for love and confidence and a sense of belonging—with a profound honesty, starting with her unorthodox childhood in 1960s Berkeley as the daughter of a mercurial legal activist who ruled the house with his fists. After a whirlwind adolescent awakening, Christensen strikes out to chart her own destiny within the literary world and the world of men, both equally alluring and dangerous. Food of all kinds, from Ho Hos to haute cuisine, remains an evocative constant throughout, not just as sustenance but as a realm of experience unto itself, always reflective of what is going on in her life. She unearths memories—sometimes joyful, sometimes painful—of the love between mother and daughter, sister and sister, and husband and wife, and of the times when the bonds of love were broken. Food sustains her as she endures the pain of these ruptures and fuels her determination not to settle for anything less than the love and contentment for which she’s always yearned.
The physical and emotional sensuality that defines Christensen’s fiction resonates throughout the pages of Blue Plate Special. A vibrant celebration of life in all its truth and complexity, this book is about embracing the world through the transformative power of food: it’s about listening to your appetites, about having faith, and about learning what is worth holding on to and what is not.

 

The Murders at Astaire Castle, by Lauren Carr (From Author)

 

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Never tell Mac Faraday not to do something. Spencer’s police chief, David O’Callaghan, learns this lesson the hard way when he orders Mac Faraday to stay away from the south end of Spencer’s mountaintop—even though he owns the property. It doesn’t take long for Mac to find out what lies on the other side of the stone wall and locked gate, on which hangs a sign warning visitors to Keep Out! Topping the list of the ten most haunted places in America, Astaire Castle is associated with two suicides, three mysterious disappearances, and four murders since it was built almost a century ago—and Mac Faraday owns it! In spite of David’s warning, Mac can’t resist unlocking the gate to see the castle that supposedly hasn’t seen a living soul since his late mother had ordered it closed up after the double homicide and disappearance of Damian Wagner, a world-famous master of horror novels. What starts out as a quick tour of a dusty old castle turns into another Mac Faraday adventure when Astaire Castle becomes the scene of even more murders. Mac is going to need to put all of his investigative talents to work to sort out this case that involves the strangest characters he has run into yet—including a wolf man. No, we’re not talking about Gnarly.

 

The Dream You Make (e-book), by Christine Nolfi (.99 this weekend)

 

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Each day Annie McDaniel’s dream of a brighter future slips further away.

After her nephew’s world is destroyed in a burst of gunfire, Annie receives temporary custody of five-year-old Dillon. Now the greenhouse she managed with her late father isn’t bringing in enough money. If she doesn’t get her financial house in order, a judge will allow a couple in Baltimore to adopt Dillon–and remove him from her life forever.

When Annie takes a second job at Rowe Marketing, the instant attraction she shares with Michael Rowe is a circumstance she can’t risk. But should she walk away from a love sure to last a lifetime?

Fresh, heartwarming and inspiring, The Dream You Make reveals that hope always carries the promise of new beginnings.

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And that’s my week!  What does yours look like?  Come on by and let’s chat.

 

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SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY: A NEW MONTH! — AUGUST 4

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and head over to Bermudaonion for Mailbox Monday.

We’ve said goodbye to July this past week…and now we’re looking ahead to August and the final weeks of summer.

Here’s what’s been happening around my place(s) in the blogosphere.

ON THE BLOGS:

Serendipitous Tuesdays:  Intros/Teasers – Necessary Lies

Author Interview with Shalanna Collins

Monthly Wrap-up:  Goodbye to July

Thursday Sparks:  First Person or Third Person Voice

Go out on a Limb on Friday with Book Beginnings/The Friday 56

Sweet Saturday Sample:  Second Thoughts?

READING/REVIEWING: (Click Titles for Reviews)

Someone Else’s Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson

Daddy’s Gone A Hunting (e-book), by Mary Higgins Clark

The Wednesday Daughters (e-book), by Meg Waite Clayton

The First Lie (e-book), by Diane Chamberlain (Prequel)

INCOMING BOOKS:

Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willett (Amazon Vine Review)

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Amy Gallup is an aging novelist and writing instructor living in Escondido, California, with her dog, Alphonse. Since recent unsettling events, she has made some progress. While she still has writer’s block, she doesn’t suffer from it. She’s still a hermit, but she has allowed some of her class members into her life. She is no longer numb, angry, and sardonic: she is merely numb and bemused, which is as close to happy as she plans to get. Amy is calm.

So, when on New Year’s morning she shuffles out to her backyard garden to plant a Norfolk pine, she is wholly unprepared for what happens next.

Amy falls down.

A simple accident, as a result of which something happens, and then something else, and then a number of different things, all as unpredictable as an eight-ball break. At first the changes are small, but as these small events carom off one another, Amy’s life changes in ways that range from ridiculous to frightening to profound.

This most reluctant of adventurers is dragged and propelled by train, plane, and automobile through an outlandish series of antic media events on her way to becoming–to her horror–a kind of celebrity. And along the way, as the numbness begins to wear off, she comes up against something she has avoided all her life: her future, that “sleeping monster, not to be poked.”

Jincy Willett’s Amy Falls Down explores, through the experience of one character, the role that accident plays in all our lives. “You turn a corner and beasts break into arias, gunfire erupts, waking a hundred families, starting a hundred different conversations. You crack your head open and three thousand miles away a stranger with Asperger’s jump-starts your career.”

We are all like Amy. We are all wholly unprepared for what happens next.

Also, there’s a basset hound.

Innocent, by Scott Turow (Purchased)   (Sequel to Presumed Innocent)

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The sequel to the genre-defining, landmark bestseller Presumed Innocent, INNOCENT continues the story of Rusty Sabich and Tommy Molto who are, once again, twenty years later, pitted against each other in a riveting psychological match after the mysterious death of Rusty’s wife.

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The mailbox was very quiet…which is probably a good thing after the bonanza of books I received last week.  Now I just have to settle down and get some reading done!

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SUNDAY UPDATES/MONDAY MAILBOX: PATIO READING — JULY 28

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and Mailbox Monday! (July will be Book Obsessed).

This week was better for reading, in terms of my eye issues.  My brain has almost trained itself to ignore the spidery floater!  lol.

I did a lot of outdoor reading on the patio.

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Here’s what happened:

ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Potpourri:  Intros/Teasers – Crystal Cove

Moving Day Nightmares:  A Bookish Exploration

Friday Sparks:  Book Beginnings & Friday 56

Sweet Saturday Sample:  Escape to the Beach

Saturday Snapshot:  Mornings on the Patio

READING:  (CLICK TITLES FOR REVIEWS)

The Last Original Wife, by Dorothea Benton Frank

Island Girls, by Nancy Thayer

Chocolate for Two, by Maria Murnane

Currently Reading:  The Year of the Flood (e-book), by Margaret Atwood (From Mt. TBR)

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INCOMING BOOKS:

My mailbox was flooded this week!  And I also grabbed some bargains at Barnes & Noble.  I fed Sparky, too, with two downloads.

Someone Else’s Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson (Amazon Vine)

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Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn’t define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

MaddAdam, by Margaret Atwood (Amazon Vine)

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Bringing together Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, this thrilling conclusion to Margaret Atwood’s speculative fiction trilogy points toward the ultimate endurance of community, and love.

Months after the Waterless Flood pandemic has wiped out most of humanity, Toby and Ren have rescued their friend Amanda from the vicious Painballers. They return to the MaddAddamite cob house, newly fortified against man and giant pigoon alike. Accompanying them are the Crakers, the gentle, quasi-human species engineered by the brilliant but deceased Crake. Their reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is recovering from a debilitating fever, so it’s left to Toby to preach the Craker theology, with Crake as Creator. She must also deal with cultural misunderstandings, terrible coffee, and her jealousy over her lover, Zeb.

Zeb has been searching for Adam One, founder of the God’s Gardeners, the pacifist green religion from which Zeb broke years ago to lead the MaddAddamites in active resistance against the destructive CorpSeCorps. But now, under threat of a Painballer attack, the MaddAddamites must fight back with the aid of their newfound allies, some of whom have four trotters. At the center of MaddAddam is the story of Zeb’s dark and twisted past, which contains a lost brother, a hidden murder, a bear, and a bizarre act of revenge.

Combining adventure, humor, romance, superb storytelling, and an imagination at once dazzlingly inventive and grounded in a recognizable world, MaddAddam is vintage Margaret Atwood—a moving and dramatic conclusion to her internationally celebrated dystopian trilogy.

We Are Water, by Wally Lamb (Amazon Vine)

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We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True.

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.

We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs—nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience and the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

Necessary Lies, by Diane Chamberlain (Amazon Vine)

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Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest—and most hopeful—places in the human heart

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

Finding Colin Firth, by Mia March (Giveaway from Book Dilettante -- thanks!)

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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.

The Good Daughter (e-book), by Jane Porter

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Love was given to all, except herself . . .

Kit Brennan has always been the most grounded of her sisters. A Catholic school English teacher for seventeen years and a constant giver, her decisions have been sound—just not very satisfying. Her fortieth birthday is right around the corner, causing Kit to consider some wilder notions, like skipping right past the love and marriage to raising a child all by herself . . .

A girls’ weekend away is just the reprieve Kit needs from school, Mr. Wrongs, and life-changing decisions. It’s there that she meets a man who’s dangerous; a man who challenges who she thought she was, or rather should be. Kit wants to indulge herself this once, but with one of her students in crisis and the weight of her family’s burdens weighing heavy on her heart, Kit isn’t sure if now is the time to let her own desires take flight . . .

Porch Lights (e-book), by Dorothea Benton Frank

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New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank is back home in the Carolina lowcountry, spinning a tale that brims with the warmth, charm, heart, and humor that has become her trademark. Porch Lights is a stirring, emotionally rich multigenerational story—a poignant tale of life, love, and transformation—as a nurse, returning to Sullivans Island from the Afghanistan War, finds her life has been irrevocably altered by tragedy…and now must rediscover love and purpose with the help of her son and aging mother.

An evocative visit to enchanting Sullivans Island with its unique pluff mud beaches, palmetto trees, and colorful local lore—a novel filled with unforgettable characters, and enlivened by tales of the notorious Blackbeard and his bloodthirsty pirate crew and eerie Edgar Allan Poe stories—Porch Lights stands tall among the very best works of not only Dottie Frank, but Anne Rivers Siddons, Rebecca Wells, Pat Conroy, and other masters of the modern Southern novel as well.

*** (Purchases from B & N)

Home, by Toni Morrison

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When Frank Money joined the army to escape his too-small world, he left behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee. After the war, his shattered life has no purpose until he hears that Cee is in danger.

Frank is a modern Odysseus returning to a 1950s America mined with lethal pitfalls for an unwary black man. As he journeys to his native Georgia in search of Cee, it becomes clear that their troubles began well before their wartime separation. Together, they return to their rural hometown of Lotus, where buried secrets are unearthed and where Frank learns at last what it means to be a man, what it takes to heal, and–above all–what it means to come home.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, by Susan Elia MacNeal

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London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

Playing Dead, by Julia Heaberlin

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“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.

***

And that’s my week!  What did yours look like?

Come by and chat!

Come by and chat!

SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY: MORE HEAT, SOME EYE ISSUES, ETC. — JULY 21

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and Mailbox Monday! (July will be Book Obsessed)

With another hot week behind me, I am staying inside a lot!  I’ve done some blogging and reading, but the reading has suffered due to an eye problem.  Nothing serious…a huge floater in my left eye that makes reading tedious.  The ophthalmologist gave me a good report…retina still intact.  Meanwhile, my new “companion” feels like a big, hairy spider!   Yikes.  Something like this?

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Therefore, my blogging and reading took a back seat this week.

ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Sparks:  Intros/Teasers – Island Girls

Summer Reading – Redux (Booking Through Thursday)

A Little Chocolate on a Friday

Friday Potpourri:  Books, Books, and More Books

Sweet Saturday Sample:  A Budding Romance (An Excerpt)

Saturday Snapshot:  Berlin Artist

READING/REVIEWS (Click Titles for Reviews)

Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld

Something About Sophie, by Mary Kay McComas

Always Watching (e-book), by Chevy Stevens

INCOMING BOOKS:

Nothing came in the mailbox this week, but I downloaded two books onto Sparky. 

The Wednesday Daughters (e-book), by Meg Waite Clayton

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In the tradition of Kristin Hannah and Karen Joy Fowler, Meg Waite Clayton, bestselling author of The Wednesday Sisters, returns with an enthralling new novel of mothers, daughters, and the secrets and dreams passed down through generations.

It is early evening when Hope Tantry arrives at the small cottage in England’s pastoral Lake District where her mother, Ally, spent the last years of her life. Ally—one of a close-knit group of women who called themselves the Wednesday Sisters—had used the cottage as a writer’s retreat while she worked on her unpublished biography of Beatrix Potter, yet Hope knows little about her mother’s time there. Traveling with Hope are friends Anna Page and Julie, first introduced as little girls in The Wednesday Sisters, now grown women grappling with issues of a different era. They’ve come to help Hope sort through her mother’s personal effects, yet what they find is a tangled family history—one steeped in Lake District lore.

Hope finds a stack of Ally’s old notebooks tucked away in a hidden drawer, all written in a mysterious code. As she, Julie, and Anna Page try to decipher Ally’s writings—the reason for their encryption, their possible connection to the Potter manuscript—they are forced to confront their own personal struggles: Hope’s doubts about her marriage, Julie’s grief over losing her twin sister, Anna Page’s fear of commitment in relationships. And as the real reason for Ally’s stay in England comes to light, Hope, Julie, and Anna Page reach a new understanding about the enduring bonds of family, the unwavering strength of love, and the inescapable pull of the past.

Second Chance Grill (e-book), by Christine Nolfi (.99 this weekend!)

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Dr. Mary Chance needs a sabbatical from medicine to grieve the loss of her closest friend. But when she inherits a struggling restaurant in Liberty, Ohio she isn’t prepared for Blossom Perini. Mary can’t resist falling for the precocious preteen–or the girl’s father. The bond they forge will transform all their lives and set in motion an outpouring of love that spreads across America.

Welcome back to Liberty, where the women surrounding the town’s only restaurant are as charming as they are eccentric.
Second Chance Grill is the prequel to Treasure Me, 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist and book two of the Liberty Series.

***

And that is what my past and future weeks look like!  What about yours?  Come on by and share.

breakfast in bed

SUNDAY UPDATES/MAILBOX MONDAY: READING, BLOGGING, & FAMILY TIME — JULY 14

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Good morning!  Today’s post will link up to Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post, and Mailbox Monday! (July will be Book Obsessed)

With another hot week behind me, I am pleased to report that we’re “down” in the nineties today.  Just about chilly, lol.

The past week brought lots of good reading…and some family time, including a lunch get-together with two grown kids and some grandkids.

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I did manage some blogging and some reading, too.

ON THE BLOGS:

A Story About My Reading Habits:  Musing Mondays

Tuesday Sparks:  Intros/Teasers – The Laws of Gravity

Hump Day Potpourri:  Waiting on “The Runaway Wife”

Booking Through Thursday:  The Lovable World of Pets

A Bookish Journey:  Book Beginnings & The Friday 56

Sweet Saturday Sample:  A Friendly Visit (An Excerpt)

Weekend Potpourri:  Cooking, Reading, & Dreaming

READING:  CLICK TITLES FOR REVIEWS:

The Laws of Gravity, by Liz Rosenberg (Amazon Vine Review)

After Her, by Joyce Maynard (Amazon Vine Review)

The Last Camellia (e-book), by Sarah Jio

Don’t Let Me Go, by Susan Lewis (Amazon Vine Review) (Sequel Challenge)

INCOMING BOOKS:

Two review books from Amazon Vine came into my house!

Island Girls, by Nancy Thayer

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New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer returns to her beloved Nantucket in a highly emotional, wholly entertaining tale of three sisters forced to confront the past over one event-filled summer on the island.

Charming ladies’ man Rory Randall dies with one last trick up his sleeve: His will includes a calculating clause mandating a summer-long reunion for his daughters, all from different marriages—that is, if they hope to inherit his posh Nantucket house. Relations among the three sisters are sour thanks to long-festering jealousies, resentments, and misunderstandings. Arden, a successful television host in Boston, hasn’t been back to the island since her teenage years, when accusations of serious misbehavior led to her banishment. College professor Meg hopes to use her summer to finish a literary biography and avoid an amorous colleague. And secretive Jenny, an IT specialist, faces troubling questions about her identity while longing for her sisters’ acceptance.

To their surprise, the three young women find their newfound sisterhood easier to trust than the men who show up to complicate their lives. And if that weren’t problematic enough, their mothers descend on the island. When yet another visitor drops by the house with shocking news, the past comes screaming back with a vengeance. Having all the women from his life under his seaside roof—and overseeing the subsequent drama of that perfect storm—Rory Randall might just be enjoying a hearty laugh from above.

Nancy Thayer’s novel insightfully illustrates how the push and pull of family altercations make us whole. It’s how the Randall sisters come to forgive, and learn to open their hearts to love.

Chocolate for Two, by Maria Murnane (Sequel Challenge)

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Waverly Bryson’s life is officially perfect: She’s engaged to her gorgeous boyfriend, Jake; her Honey on Your Mind TV segment is more popular than ever; and Waverly’s Honey Shop is growing by leaps and bounds. What could possibly go wrong? For starters…everything.

This is Waverly, after all, and drama follows her wherever she goes. Why should her trip down the aisle be any different? Now, before she can marry the man of her dreams, she’ll have to go head-to-head with his high-society mother, whose vision for their wedding isn’t exactly meshing with Waverly’s. Adding to the chaos is the impending departure of Paige, Waverly’s very pregnant retail partner; the arrival of her suddenly secretive best friend, Andie; and the meddling of a new TV producer who’s promising to “shake things up.” Suddenly Waverly’s perfect life feels like it’s about to come crashing down…unless the irrepressible Miss Bryson can prove to the world—and to herself—that she really can have it all.

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That’s my week….and I’m ready to plunge ahead in the next one.  What are you enjoying today?  What’s ahead for you?  Come on by and chat!

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