REVIEW: LATE IN THE DAY, BY TESSA HADLEY

 

Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.

In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose.

Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

 

My Thoughts: Unconventional pairings and dysfunctional families fill the pages of Late in the Day. I felt empathy for Christine throughout, as her so-called best friend Lydia spends her days and nights selfishly pursuing her own needs and disregarding the needs of others.

I felt some sympathy for her when her husband Zach died, but soon she became even more unlikable, setting herself down in the midst of Alex and Christine’s home, sleeping away the days and dropping her clothes and belongings everywhere.

The back and forth movement of the story between the past and the present did nothing to help me connect to these characters, and I could find little to keep me reading.

Additionally, the author’s writing style, with no quotation marks, made following the dialogue challenging. I was quite relieved to turn the last page. 2.5 stars.  **

***

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “I INVITED HER IN”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download:  I Invited Her In, by Adele Parks, a blistering tale of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

 

 

***

Beginning:  (Melanie)

Monday, 19 February

While the girls are cleaning their teeth, I start to stack the dishwasher.  It’s too full to take the breakfast pots—I should have put it on last night.  There’s nothing I can do about this now, so I finish making up their packed lunches and then have a quick glance at my phone.

***

Friday 56%: (Abigail)

Abigail had always thought of Melanie as a sturdy, capable person.  She remembered when they first met one another in the student union bar twenty years ago.  Most students had been standing around looking nervous and overwhelmed; Melanie had struck up a conversation with a couple of botanists or biologists or whatever.

***

Synopsis:  When Mel receives an unexpected email from her oldest friend Abi, it brings back memories she thought she had buried forever. Their friendship belonged in the past. To those carefree days at university.

But Abi is in trouble and needs Mel’s help, and she wants a place to stay. Just for a few days, while she sorts things out. It’s the least Mel can do.

After all, friends look out for each other, don’t they?

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

REVIEW: DAISY JONES & THE SIX, BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID

 

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

 

My Thoughts: There was something serendipitous about the joining of Billy Dunne and his band together with Daisy Jones, a Hollywood girl who seems undisciplined, but who has the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll coming out of her pores.

Mixing these two performers had its problems…they each wanted to do everything their own way. How they managed to make it all work was interesting. But would they keep going indefinitely, or would their basic differences split them apart?

Reading the tale of how the band came together, and how they made it all work—for a while—was fascinating, but also a little challenging, as the writing style of a series of interviews felt more like a play and I had to keep checking to see whose narrative I was reading. The flow felt awkward, but I kept going because the story was one I wanted to follow. I love the 70s and the music from that time.

Toward the end of Daisy Jones and the Six, the story smoothed out for me and I enjoyed discovering what happened to the band and its members. 4.0 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE MAKING OF US”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a book I just borrowed from the library:  The Making of Us, by Lisa Jewell, is a novel about three strangers who are brought together by the father they never knew.

 

***

Beginning:  (1979 – Glenys)

Glenys Pike was thirty-five years old.  She had long dark hair and a neck like a swan.  Her husband was called Trevor and was five years younger. The idea was that he would keep her feeling young.  The truth was that the fact that he had not yet reached his thirtieth birthday made her feel about as old as her grandmother.  Trevor meanwhile still had all the swagger and sway of a young man, his hair a fat plume of mahogany, his stomach as smooth and hard as set cement.

***

Friday 56:  (Last Summer)

(Robyn)

Robyn Inglis celebrated her eighteenth birthday with a Voltz energy shot and the morning-after pill.

The night before she’d still been seventeen, but she wasn’t having her birthday party on a Sunday night, no way.

***

Synopsis:  Lydia, Dean, and Robyn don’t know one another. Yet. Each is facing difficult challenges. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood. Wealthy and successful, she leads a lonely and disjointed existence. Dean is a young, unemployed, single dad whose life is going nowhere. Robyn is eighteen. Gorgeous, popular, and intelligent, she entered her first year of college confident of her dream to become a pediatrician. Now she’s failing her classes. Now she’s falling in love for the first time.

Lydia, Dean, and Robyn live very different lives, but each of them, independently, has always felt that something was missing. What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down. It is a letter containing a secret—one that will bind them together and show them what love and family and friendship really mean.

***

I am eager to dive into this book. What do you think?

***

REVIEW: UNTOUCHABLE, BY JAYNE ANN KRENTZ

 

Quinton Zane is back.

Jack Lancaster, consultant to the FBI, has always been drawn to the coldest of cold cases, the kind that law enforcement either considers unsolvable or else has chalked up to accidents or suicides. As a survivor of a fire, he finds himself uniquely compelled by arson cases. His almost preternatural ability to get inside the killer’s head has garnered him a reputation in some circles–and complicated his personal life. The more cases Jack solves, the closer he slips into the darkness. His only solace is Winter Meadows, a meditation therapist. After particularly grisly cases, Winter can lead Jack back to peace.

But as long as Quinton Zane is alive, Jack will not be at peace for long. Having solidified his position as the power behind the throne of his biological family’s hedge fund, Zane sets out to get rid of Anson Salinas’s foster sons, starting with Jack.

My Thoughts: Untouchable begins with moments from the past of Winter Meadows, back when she was in foster care, followed by her time with a new family: Helen, Susan, and Alice.

We then fast forward to Winter’s rental cottage in Eclipse Bay, Oregon, and how she first meets Jack Lancaster. Almost immediately, they connect. Between Winter’s meditative and hypnotic skills and Jack’s ability to predict events almost to a certainty, they are the perfect partners.

An obsessive stalker of Winter’s tries to kill her, but Jack saves the day. Between the two of them, they have each other’s backs.

How will they work together to finally capture Quinton Zane? What dangerous events will lead them to a small island in the San Juans and the eventual plan to finally capture the man Jack has sought for more than two decades?

A lovely conclusion offered up that seldom-achieved happy ending. 4.5 stars.***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “COME FIND ME”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download: Come Find Me, by Megan Miranda,  a captivating thriller about two teens who connect when each discovers a mysterious radio frequency, which suggests their family tragedies are mysteriously connected.

 

***

Book Beginning:  (Kennedy)

They say the universe is constantly heading toward disorder, and I believe it.  Walls go up, and walls come down.  Buildings crumble, governments fall, civilizations collapse.  Stars explode.

People live.

People die.

On and on it goes.

Everything falls apart.

Please don’t think I’m a pessimist.  These are just the facts.

***

Friday 56:  There’s some sort of master switch below the fuse box, a red lever, and I pull it to the side.  But as I do, the lights brighten for a second, as if there’s a sudden surge of electricity instead of a cutoff.  Like the light in the hallway, too bright, buzzing.  And then everything goes dead.

***

Synopsis:  After surviving an infamous family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Kennedy Jones has made it her mission to keep her brother’s search through the cosmos alive. But then something disturbs the frequency on his radio telescope–a pattern registering where no signal should transmit.

In a neighboring county, seventeen-year-old Nolan Chandler is determined to find out what really happened to his brother, who disappeared the day after Nolan had an eerie premonition. There hasn’t been a single lead for two years, until Nolan picks up an odd signal–a pattern coming from his brother’s bedroom.

Drawn together by these strange signals–and their family tragedies–Kennedy and Nolan search for the origin of the mysterious frequency. But the more they uncover, the more they believe that everything’s connected–even their pasts–as it appears the signal is meant for them alone, sharing a message that only they can understand. Is something coming for them? Or is the frequency warning them about something that’s already here?

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “LATE IN THE DAY”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent acquisition:  Late in the Day, by Tessa Hadley, explores the complex webs at the center of our most intimate relationships, to expose how, beneath the seemingly dependable arrangements we make for our lives, lie infinite alternate configurations.

 

***

Beginning:  They were listening to music when the telephone rang.  It was a summer’s evening, nine o’clock.  They had finished supper and Christine was listening with intensity, sitting with her feet tucked under her in the armchair; she recognized the music although she didn’t know what it was.  Alex had chosen it, he hadn’t consulted her and now she stubbornly wouldn’t ask—he took too much pleasure in knowing what she didn’t know.

***

56:  Alex’s withdrawn silences, when he was with his friends, didn’t do any harm to the reputation he had as the rarest, most talented among them; and then when he did talk he was original, forceful and funny.

***

Synopsis:  The lives of two close-knit couples are irrevocably changed by an untimely death in the latest from Tessa Hadley, the acclaimed novelist and short story master who “recruits admirers with each book” (Hilary Mantel).

Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.

In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

***

Would you keep reading?  I am curious about this one, and hope to enjoy it.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE LIAR’S ROOM”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s 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!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s featured book is a recent acquisition:  The Liar’s Room, by Simon Lelic, a new spine-tingling thriller from the author of The New Neighbors that takes place over the course of a therapy session, in which neither patient nor therapist are who they claim to be.

 

 

***

Beginning: 

Who am I?

She wakes to find herself broken, and it is the first question that enters her head.  The next:  where am I?

She feels drugged, sluggish.  Her head is heavy, her senses dulled, as though she were underwater.  And there is a fire in her throat.  The sensation when she swallows is of trying to ingest crushed glass.

***

Friday 56 (it is p. 57; there is no p. 56):

“You know him.”

Susanna looks up, half expecting to see someone else in the room.  Alina or Ruth or…or Emily.  But there are just her and Adam in opposite chairs, the ticking clock on the wall between them.

***

Synopsis:  Two liars. One room. No way out.

Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a therapist and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe.

But when a young man, Adam Geraghty, walks into her office, claiming he needs Susanna’s help but asking unsettling questions, she begins to fear that her secret has been discovered.

Who is Adam, really? What does he intend to do to Susanna?

And what has he done to her daughter?

***

Does your spine tingle as you read these excerpts?  I know I can’t wait to begin…

***

SERENDIPITOUS MOMENTS: A LOOK BACK…

This morning, I was clicking through my six blogs, pondering whether or not to change any headers or themes…and when I came to this one, I had one of those nostalgic moments.  Note the header, with the “lofty” photos.  The loft on the left was from a townhouse where I lived for almost six years, from 1988 to 1994. (The one on the right is from a cottage in Berlin where my eldest son and his wife lived for a while).

There is a bit of serendipity about that loft where I lived for a while.  I first saw the space in 1978!  Yes, ten years before I moved into it.  Then it was brand new…but the loft, with spaces between the rails, gave me pause.  At the time, the girl you see in the above photo (my daughter) was a toddler.  I cringed at the thought that she might crawl through a slat and fall.  So we moved on.

But in 1988, there was no such fear, and the serendipitous moment had arrived.  I just knew I had to live there. 

Here are some scenes from those days:

Looking down from the loft to a Christmas living room scenario. 

Curled up by the fire:  my eldest and my youngest, enjoying the coziness.

My Three Sons…

Another view of the loft, from above; I turned it into my bedroom:

 

And here’s another look; I loved the brass headboard, which I moved with me to the foothills after I left this place…but then gave it away before coming to my current residence.  Sigh.

My No. 2 son, visiting from college…

My youngest, being her preteen self….

A Halloween in the townhouse…and my daughter is strutting in the dining room…

So…now that I’ve savored those memorable moments, I will move on to other things, but memories and moments do lift my spirits during the dark days we are now living.

Sharing on A Web of Stories.

***

REVIEW: FORGET YOU KNOW ME, BY JESSICA STRAWSER

 

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit―in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side―but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

My Thoughts: The twists and turns of Forget You Know Me kept me fully engaged throughout, although it would take a while to sort out events. To figure out what, if anything, was left of the relationships between friends and between husband and wife.

Alternating narratives take us through the story, and I couldn’t help but be more drawn to Liza and her situation. Her friend Molly, who had done something truly confusing on the strange night of the video chat, seemed flaky and a little unreliable. What was really going on with her, and would she confess to her old friend, or even her husband, about what was happening?

Many events felt a little too unbelievable, but I did keep reading, because I was curious and wanted to know the meaning of it all. There were explanations by the characters at the end, leaving me with some hope for them all. 4 stars.


***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.