WEEKLY UPDATES: READING, BLOGGING, & MOVIES

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Another week has flown by.  The three books that I read and reviewed were wonderfully suspenseful.  One was a NetGalley ARC, so now I am finished with my January review books.

Last Sunday, I saw The Post, with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks…and thoroughly enjoyed it.

On Netflix, I saw the movie Mudbound, based on the book by Hillary Jordan.  This weekend, I will binge-watch Season 4 of Grace & Frankie.

Let’s take a closer look at the week.  I’m grabbing more coffee.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Sparks:  Showcasing Connections…

Tuesday Sparks:  “Genuine Fraud”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Book Release Day, Plans, Tidbits…

Hump Day Reading…

Coffee Chat:  Books, Movies, & Thoughts…

Bookish Friday:  “Promise Not to Tell”

Review:  The Woman in the Window (e-book), by A. J. FinnReview:  Watch Me (e-book), by Jody Gehrman (NG – 1/23)Review:  Best Day Ever (e-book), by Kaira Rouda

***

INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

No books in my physical mailbox…BUT I got two review ARCs from NetGalley…then I downloaded two purchases.

The Flight Attendant (e-book), by Chris Bohjalian -(NG – 3/13)

The Family Next Door (e-book), by Sally Hepworth – (NG-3/6)

***

Purchases:

Lie With Me (e-book), by Sabine Durrant

The Promise Between Us (e-book), by Barbara Claypole White

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

I’m currently reading two books: 

Seeing Red (e-book), by Sandra Brown;

Fire & Fury (e-book), by Michael Wolff

***

That was my week.  I’m probably going to be picking up other books to read…but haven’t decided which ones yet.  What did your week look like?  Here’s my delicious French Pot Roast dinner from the other night:

***

Advertisements

REVIEW: WATCH ME, BY JODY GEHRMAN

 

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood College, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except one.

Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.

As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?

 

My Thoughts: Alternating first person narratives tell the tale in Watch Me. At first we see that Sam has a crush on Kate, his professor, and she is flattered by his attention. But with each page we turn, the darkness escalates until we are left with fear and angst.

Intense, dark, thrilling…all of the ingredients in a cat and mouse game that can only end badly, yet keep the reader glued to the pages. Will Kate realize the danger? Will Sam’s obsession lead to disaster?

What I did enjoy, aside from the intensity, was getting to know these two characters. Kate’s lonely and solo existence involves a lot of drinking at home, especially after her best friend Zoe has a baby and is no longer available for nights out.

Sam’s existence seems completely focused on Kate and the dream he has for the two of them. Even the persistent attention of a young sexy student named Jess is not enough for him to take his eye off his goals. We empathize a bit with him as we learn about his childhood and how he was dragged from place to place, putting up with his mother’s drug abuse and her series of abusive boyfriends.

Set in the small town of Blackwood, Ohio, the story unfolds in such a way that we never really know what will happen next. As writers, the characters could almost be creating fiction for us. Could any of it be really happening? We are watching them, unable to believe what we are seeing. The characters are as addictive to the reader as they are to each other. We turn the pages quickly in order to find out what happens next. In the end, we are stunned by it all. 5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

WEEKLY UPDATES: RAINY DAY READING & MOVIES…

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

Another month is almost half gone, and what do we have to show for it?  Well, there has been some reading…and some movie watching.  I read and reviewed three books, and one of them was a chunkster (600+ pages).  That book inspired some movie watching, as it was a biography of Jane Fonda.  I downloaded some of her old movies through Amazon Prime (Klute, Sunday in New York, and Barefoot in the Park), and brought some others to my bedroom, and they are waiting on this little table (below).

Speaking of Jane Fonda, Season 4 of Grace and Frankie is coming to Netflix on January 19.  Yay!  I love that show so much that I tend to binge-watch the whole new season in one day…which then means I’m waiting a while for what comes next.  Sigh.

Disjointed just released Season 2…and I saw Kathy Bates on The Talk yesterday.

For most of the week, I stayed home—trying to keep my eating out to a minimum—plus, the weather was in the 60s, with some rainy days.  On those kinds of days, I like to curl up on one of my sofas and read or watch movies.

Let’s grab some coffee and take a closer look at the week:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “The Woman in the Window”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Books, Attitudes, & Acceptance…

Midweek Reading Picks…

Coffee Chat:  Books, Movies, Etc.

Thursday Potpourri:  A Mix of Young & Old, Home & Family…

Bookish Friday:  “Best Day Ever”

Friday Thoughts:  Books, Social Media, Etc.

Review:  I Am Watching You (e-book), by Teresa DriscollReview:  Jane Fonda:  The Private Life of a Public Woman, by Patricia BosworthReview:  Anatomy of a Scandal (e-book), by Sarah Vaughan – (NG – 1/23)

***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

I received one purchased book in my mailbox and downloaded one NetGalley review book.  Then I bought four more e-books. 

Growing Up Fisher:  Musings, Memories, & Misadventures, by Joely Fisher

***

NetGalley Review Book:

Other People’s Houses (e-book), by Abbi Waxman NG – 4/3/18

Purchased Downloads:

The Sixth Window (e-book), by Rachel Abbott

Just Between Us (e-book), by Rebecca Drake

Two Girls Down (e-book), by Louisa Luna

Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House (e-book), by Michael Wolff

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

I have one more January e-ARC to read (Watch Me, by Jody Gehrman)

But first, I’m reading The Woman in the Window, by A. J. Finn

And then I have a long list of possible reads.  I will follow my moods!

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  I didn’t go out to eat this week, so I’m sharing a photo of my soup and margarita from a couple of weeks ago.  I’m thinking of having it later today or tomorrow.

 

***

REVIEW: ANATOMY OF A SCANDAL, BY SARAH VAUGHAN

 

An astonishingly incisive and suspenseful novel about a scandal amongst Britain’s privileged elite and the women caught up in its wake.

Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

My Thoughts: Eager to read this story that could have been grabbed from today’s headlines, I began Anatomy of a Scandal with some idea of what would unfold.

Our alternating narrators take us from the present to the past, to a time when youth and bad choices set the tone for what would come next in the lives of these elite characters.

Setting in the past: Oxford University, with entitled students, mixed in with a handful of scholarship recipients. 1993 was a year that stood out for a number of reasons, and those secrets will stay in the past until something that happens in the present yanks them forward.

Did James rape his colleague? Or was it a misunderstanding between two lovers? What long term pattern of being “flexible” with the truth might be relevant in the present? What will Sophie realize about her husband, and how long will she stay loyal?

What, if anything, is the past connection between Kate Woodcroft, the barrister in James’s case, and James and Sophie? How will Kate handle the delicacy of her situation? What will Sophie finally acknowledge? How does the longstanding friendship between James and Tom, his boss, inform the dynamics in the present?

Issues of consent are basic to the case before the Court and to this story…while the existence of secrets, lies, and a feeling of being untouchable will ultimately change the course of all their lives, since nothing stays buried forever. 5 stars.


***I received this e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: I AM WATCHING YOU, BY TERESA DRISCOLL

 

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

My Thoughts: The story opens with Ella, as she watches two young girls on a train, and the young men hitting on them. At first, she is not bothered, but when the men describe having just been released from prison, red flags go up. Soon the behavior of the girls and the men begins to worry her…but she doesn’t want to overreact.

Over the course of I Am Watching You, alternate narrators tell the story. From the perspective of Anna’s friend Sarah, we learn about her secrets, and also her feelings of guilt.

Anna’s father, Henry Ballard, has been covering up his own secrets, including one that might tell us something important about his relationship with Anna.

But Ella, above all others, has been lambasted in the media about her failure to come forward, and someone has leaked her information. She is now receiving frightening missives…and feels like someone is watching her.

Another narrator is “The Watcher,” an anonymous voice that flaunts “his” or “her” behavior, and gives us little added information, except that someone is definitely watching.

Just when I thought I had it figured out, a stunning last-minute reveal quickened the pace as Ella and the authorities rush to capture that person. Someone seemingly on the sidelines, perhaps the last person one would suspect. A compelling mystery that earned 4.5 stars.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: JUMP-STARTING THE NEW YEAR….

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

The New Year has brought some interesting moments, and, of course, the First Book of the Year, which I finished on New Year’s Day.  I’ve read and reviewed three books this week, and as for challenges, I am not participating in any formal ones.  I’ve taken a look at my older TBR and selected several books on which to focus this year.

Since my new One Word is CONNECT, I am searching for a local book club to join, as one of my ways of expanding my connections.

The year of family events started off with my youngest grandson’s birthday party on Friday.  He is now fifteen! 

After taking down my Christmas decorations, I started off the week by cleaning my spaces…and finishing up the Christmas movies on my DVR.  Let’s take a closer look at my week, but first, grab some coffee with me:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

First Book of 2018:  Following a Tradition…

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “Eaves of Destruction”

Tuesday Potpourri:  First 2018 Book Release Day…

A New Year and a New Week:  Hump Day Reading

Hump Day Potpourri:  A Young Girl Says Goodbye…

Coffee Chat:  Going with the Flow…

Attacking the TBR:  Books Languishing on My Shelves…

Bookish Friday:  “Now That You Mention It”

Connect!  Starting the New Year…

Review:  Every Breath You Take, by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke (First Book of Year)Review:  Be Frank With Me (e-book), by Julia Claiborne JohnsonReview:  Eaves of Destruction (e-book, Fixer-Upper Mystery), by Kate Carlisle

***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  I did download two purchased e-books…

The Woman in the Window (e-book), by A. J. Finn

Promise Not to Tell (e-book), by Jayne Ann Krentz

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently Reading:  I Am Watching You (e-book), by Teresa Driscoll

Currently Reading:  Jane Fonda:  The Private Life of a Public Woman, by Patricia Bosworth

***

Then…some e-ARCs from NetGalley:

Anatomy of a Scandal (e-book), by Sarah Vaughan (NG – 1/23)

Watch Me (e-book), by Jody Gehrman (NG – 1/23)

***

That was my week.  What did yours look like?  Earlier in the week, I enjoyed this dessert with my reading…

 

***

REVIEW: BE FRANK WITH ME, BY JULIA CLAIBORNE JOHNSON

 

Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style Ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.

As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

My Thoughts: For some reason, I kept putting off reading Be Frank With Me, a book I downloaded in March 2016. The blurb obviously grabbed my attention enough for me to buy the book. So why did I wait so long?

Whatever my reluctance, I was immediately captivated by the nine-year-old boy Frank. A brilliant child with a head full of random facts, he also seemed to capture the affection of Alice, the new assistant. His strange behavior and odd costumes did not endear him to other children, but some of the staff at school found him lovable and tried to protect him from the others. However, the principal who arrived at the school late in the book was so smug and off-putting that he set off a chain of disastrous events that would change everything.

I had issues with the inappropriate and unreliable Xander, who also had his likable characteristics. His tendency to pop in and out of Frank’s life made me very curious about how he came to be part of this dysfunctional group.

Alice, as our narrator, offered her own theories as she, too, questioned Xander’s role. Was he a former lover of Mimi’s? Was he Frank’s father?

Mimi was self-absorbed, unreliable, and definitely unlikable most of the time. But then she would do something wonderful and make you question everything you thought you knew about her and her family.

Tragic events bring the story to an unexpected denouement, and then we are left trying to imagine what will happen to the characters. A 4.5 star read for me.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: RINGING IN 2018…

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

As we count down the final days of 2017, we also have our eye set on what lies ahead in 2018.  On January 1st, I will be writing my First Book of the Year post at An Interior Journey, with Sheila, Book Journey, leading the event.

In the past week, I read and reviewed three books, and completed my Read the Books You Buy Challenge with a total of 121 purchased books read and reviewed.

Christmas was a lovely and quiet event with family…and a follow-up of reading and movies.  On Netflix I watched half of Season I of Fuller House…but I’m not sure if I will continue.  It has been too long since the Full House years, and I’m not really connected to the characters.

In the year ahead, I hope to choose books carefully, since some of this year’s picks were underwhelming, with a few DNFs, sigh.  Here’s to a great year of reading!  Let’s have a cup of coffee and chat about last week.

***

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  A Quiet Christmas Eve…

Tuesday Sparks:  “Lost & Found Sisters”

Tuesday Potpourri:  It’s That Time Again…

Midweek Reading:  Enjoy!

Hump Day Potpourri:  The New Year…

Challenge Update…

Coffee Chat:  Wrapping up the Year…

Bookish Friday:  “The Girl in Times Square”

My One Word for 2018:  Shouting It Out!

Review:  Dead of Winter (e-book, Lily Dale Mystery), by Wendy Corsi StaubReview:  The Girls in the Picture (e-book), by Melanie Benjamin – (NetGalley – 1/16/18)Review:  Lost & Found Sisters (e-book), by Jill Shalvis

***

INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  I did buy one e-book, however…

Now That You Mention It (e-book), by Kristan Higgins

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

My First Book of the Year, of course, which I will not reveal until my January 1 post!

I also have a list for next week that includes:

Eaves of Destruction (e-book), by Kate Carlisle

Seeing Red (e-book), by Sandra Brown – a book I’ve had since last summer, and now I’m brave enough to take on this 585 page book

***

Then I have two more January NetGalley books:

Anatomy of a Scandal (e-book), by Sarah Vaughan (NG – 1/23)

Watch Me (e-book), by Jody Gehrman (NG-1/23)

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  On Friday night, I enjoyed this repast at CPK…not my usual soup, but pizza, salad, and my strawberry margarita.  I had leftover pizza for today’s lunch!

***

REVIEW: DEAD OF WINTER, BY WENDY CORSI STAUB

 

Just as a murderer dumps his corpse into the lake across Valley View in Lily Dale, Bella Jordan happens to be at her window, not quite realizing what she’s seeing. Unbeknownst to her, the killer spots her silhouette and prowls straight to her door. That is, until he’s interrupted by a black cat. A superstitious gambler, he takes off, but Bella’s seen too much, and he vows to return.

Jiffy Arden, a neighborhood kid looking for the black cat and stumbling across the killer, begins to have premonitions of being kidnapped during the season’s first snowstorm. Sure enough, when it strikes, he vanishes, never arriving home from the bus stop. While her son, Max, believes Jiffy has been kidnapped, Bella is convinced he’s just wandered off as he typically does… until a body shows up in the lake.

Now everyone is pulling out all the stops to find the missing child, identify the victim, and collar the killer. And fast, because he’s coming for Bella next in Dead of Winter.

My Thoughts: Bella Jordan is the central character in Dead of Winter, and as she continues to grieve the year-ago loss of her husband Sam, while trying to manage Valley View Inn, the ancient home she is renovating, she also must keep her six-year-old son Max safe.

Max’s best friend Jiffy is mischievous, unsupervised most of the time, and the kind of child who can pull another into his pranks.

When Jiffy goes missing, right after a body is found in the lake, it is easy to imagine that the killer stumbled upon him. Was he kidnapped by the killer, or is there more to the story?

Misty Starr, Jiffy’s mother, does readings, and some of her recent clients have had dark auras. She has also been fighting with her husband, Mike, a deployed soldier. Do any of these characters figure into the missing child scenario?

Lily Dale is an interesting village with quirky residents, including several who seem to connect to the Other Side. A quick read that kept me fascinated, this one earned 4.5 stars.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: LET’S HEAR THE “HO-HO-HO!”

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

 

What a week!  As we count down to the holidays, the Christmas movies fill up my DVR, with something to watch every night.  It’s a good thing, as some of my shows are on hiatus.

As for reading, I abandoned one of the books on my list (Sing, Unburied, Sing)…and I was in the minority about that book.  But I decided that, with so many books I am loving, I won’t spend time on those with which I do not connect.  In the end, I still read and reviewed THREE books, with 119 purchased books completed for my challenge.

On Netflix, I binged on the ten new episodes of The Ranch, still annoyed with some of the characters, but the likable ones kept me tuned in.  I found out that Barbra Streisand has a new Netflix show (The Music…the Mem..’ries…the Magic), which I am eager to watch.

Coming soon!  The First Book of the Year event, hosted by Sheila, at Book Journey.  Book picks, with photos, will be on Sheila’s blog on January 1st...and my pick will also be featured on my An Interior Journey site.

So…that’s my week so far…let’s take a closer look, but first, let’s grab a cup of coffee (and another Christmas cookie!)

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  Savoring What You Love…

Tuesday Sparks:  “I Am Watching You”

It’s Hump Day!  A Time to Read…

Keeping Track:  TBR Progress…

Coffee Chat:  Assorted Tidbits…

Bookish Friday:  “These Violent Delights”

Review:  Snap Judgment (e-book, Samantha Brinkman #3), by Marcia ClarkReview:  Wonder Valley (e-book), by Ivy PochodaReview:  These Violent Delights (e-book), by Victoria Namkung

***

INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  But…I downloaded two e-book purchases.

The Girl in Times Square (e-book), by Paullina Simons

Eaves of Destruction (e-book, A Fixer-Upper Mystery), by Kate Carlisle

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Since Christmas is literally around the corner, I will follow my moods this week.  Thrillers, cozy mysteries…and maybe even some unexpected choices.  I may start on my January e-ARCs, like The Girls in the Picture and Anatomy of a Scandal…

 

 

 

 

 

***

That was my week…and a peek at what is ahead.  On Thursday, I enjoyed a repast while out shopping:  Corn Chowder and a Strawberry Margarita, at Mimi’s in my neighborhood.

 

***