BOOKISH FRIDAY: “APPLES NEVER FALL”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 another recent download:  Apples Never Fall, by Liane Moriarty.

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Book Beginning:

(Prologue)

The bike lay on the side of the road beneath a gray oak, the handlebars at an odd, jutted angle, as if it had been thrown with angry force.

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Friday 56:

Brooke swiveled her chair away from her computer.  The memory of the weekend’s migraine blossomed across her forehead. (p. 56).

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Synopsis:

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

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Would you keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “56 DAYS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 one of my new books and my current read:  56 Days, by Catherine Ryan Howard.

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Beginning:

(Today)

It’s like one of those viral videos taken inside some swanky apartment complex, where all the slim and fit thirtysomething residents are doing jumping jacks behind the glass railings of their balconies while the world burns.  But these ones stand still, only moving to look down or at each other from across the courtyard, or to lift a hand to their mouth or chest.

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Friday 56:

That’s what had started the wheels turning.  He wondered:  Why had he never seen any other blue-lanyard-wearing employees in these aisles?

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Synopsis:

No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.

56 DAYS AGO

Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO

When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who—and what—he really is.

TODAY

Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?

***

What do you think?  Does this one seem particularly timely these days?

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REVIEW: ROCK PAPER SCISSORS, BY ALICE FEENEY

Things have been wrong with Mr. and Mrs. Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.

Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts—paper, cotton, pottery, tin—and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

 

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Adam and Amelia alternately narrate their stories, interspersed with letters from someone signed “wife.” The “Rock Paper Scissors” game was a familiar theme, and while it seemed playful, there was a darkness surrounding it. As we learn more and more about them and their secrets, we “meet” other characters, like Robin, who seems to live near the vacation cottage. But that cottage has so many weird aspects that we just know that nothing will end well.

As the end approaches and more is revealed, I realized that I didn’t like any of the characters! There might not be a happily ever after for some of them, so the ending seemed inevitable. I was still stunned by what eventually happened. And then, even more was revealed in a final chapter. 5 stars

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBOR”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 my current read:  The Downstairs Neighbor, by Helen Cooper.

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Book Beginning:

(Emma)

If it hadn’t been for a disruptive hamster and three nights of insomnia, Emma might not have found herself crouched in her understairs cupboard that night.  She might not have heard the fear-pinched voice from overhead.

***

Friday 56:

(Kate)

I know it’s not the right moment to bring it up, but Nick’s been here all weekend, so this is the first time I’ve managed to get Mum on her own.  As she’s flinging things into her handbag, I ask, “Were you ill last week?”

***

Synopsis:

One House. Three Families. Countless Secrets.

From her downstairs apartment in suburban London, Emma has often overheard the everyday life of the seemingly perfect family upstairs–Steph, Paul and teenage daughter Freya–but has never got to know them. Until one day, she hears something that seizes her attention: Freya has vanished and the police are questioning Steph and Paul about their life. Do either of you have any enemies? Anyone who might want to harm or threaten you?

The effects of Freya’s disappearance ripple outward, affecting not just her parents, but everyone who lives in the building, including Emma and local driving instructor Chris, who was the last person to see the teenager before she went missing. Each character’s life is thrown into sharp focus as devastating mistakes and long-held secrets are picked apart and other crimes come to light–including a child gone missing twenty-five years earlier, and a shocking murder–that make clear that the past never stays where we leave it, and that homes can be built on foundations of lies.

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I am almost finished with this book, and I’m loving the alternating narrators and short chapters, keeping up a nice pace.  Would you keep reading?

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REVIEW: MAID, BY STEPHANIE LAND

At 28, Stephanie Land’s dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer quickly dissolved when a summer fling turned into an unplanned pregnancy. Before long, she found herself a single mother, scraping by as a housekeeper to make ends meet.

Maid is an emotionally raw, masterful account of Stephanie’s years spent in service to upper middle class America as a “nameless ghost” who quietly shared in her clients’ triumphs, tragedies, and deepest secrets. Driven to carve out a better life for her family, she cleaned by day and took online classes by night, writing relentlessly as she worked toward earning a college degree. She wrote of the true stories that weren’t being told: of living on food stamps and WIC coupons, of government programs that barely provided housing, of aloof government employees who shamed her for receiving what little assistance she did. Above all else, she wrote about pursuing the myth of the American Dream from the poverty line, all the while slashing through deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid is Stephanie’s story, but it’s not hers alone. It is an inspiring testament to the courage, determination, and ultimate strength of the human spirit.

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From the very first pages of Maid, I felt a connection to the author as she openly described her journey as a single mother faced with so many challenges that I couldn’t stop rooting for her.

In the end, she did make it to the end of her journey to become a writer through this tale of those struggles with the system that seemed designed to keep her in poverty, unable to move up the ladder.

Having worked with women trying to find their way up that ladder, I could relate to Stephanie and her experiences. Domestic violence is a theme in her story, just as we also could see how her fight against the system seemed determined to keep her down.

I enjoyed her detailed stories of how cleaning houses inspired her and even spurred her on by her dreams of another kind of life. A life she eventually found. 5 stars. .#2021ReadNonFic

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “SURFSIDE SISTERS”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 my current read:  Surfside Sisters, by Nancy Thayer.

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Book Beginning:

Two different kinds of people exist:  Those who wade cautiously into the shallows and those who throw themselves headlong into the roaring surf.

At least, that was what Keely and Isabelle thought.

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Friday 56:

Keely sat up straight.  She wiped her eyes and gave a quavering smile.  “I guess I understand.  Anyway, I don’t want to fight over any stupid male.  Our friendship should mean more than that.”

***

Synopsis:

Keely Green always dreamed of leaving the beautiful shores of Nantucket to become a writer. Now she’s a bestselling novelist living in New York City, attending glamorous cocktail parties and mingling with the literary elite. Keely is also dating a charming, perfectly fine pediatric surgeon who looks good on paper but isn’t “the one.” She just can’t bear to break it off—until he declares his desire to settle down. Then Keely’s editor rejects her latest novel. With her personal and professional lives suddenly in shambles, Keely longs for the soothing island way of life.

Growing up, Keely and her best friend, Isabelle, were inseparable. Nothing could come between them—except, as it turned out, Keely’s high school boyfriend, Tommy. Returning home would mean facing Isabelle’s bitter betrayal and seeing for herself the family Tommy and Isabelle have created, the life that might have been Keely’s.

But when Keely’s mother falls into a deep depression, Keely knows what she must do, even though she is reluctant to face her estranged friend. And encountering Isabelle’s older brother, Sebastian—Keely’s longtime crush—only complicates things.

In one incredible summer, Keely must confront the mistakes of the past if she has any chance of finding true happiness in the place she will always call home. Nancy Thayer shines yet again in this uplifting tale of forgiveness and self-discovery.

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I am enjoying this book!  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “LIE BESIDE ME”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 new book to my shelves:  Lie Beside Me, by Gytha Lodge.

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Book Beginning:

(Prologue, Louise)

I felt cold.  Cold in the way of night sweats.  In the way of a slow waking to damp sheets that stuck to my skin.  It was like that time when I thought I had lymphoma but was, in fact, falling to pieces mentally instead.

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Friday 56:

I was aware, though, of a growing disconnect between Drunk Louise and me.  I would occasionally be alarmed at things she’d done.  Like the time she talked you into getting sexy in an office at your work Christmas party.

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Synopsis:

Louise wakes up. Her head aches, her mouth is dry, her memory is fuzzy—but she suspects she’s done something bad.

She rolls over toward her husband, Niall. The man who, until recently, made her feel loved.

But it’s not Niall lying beside her. In fact, she’s never seen this man before.

And he’s not breathing. . . .

As Louise desperately struggles to piece her memories back together, it’s clear to Jonah Sheens and his team that she is their prime suspect—though they soon find she’s not the only one with something to hide.

Did she do it? And, if not, can they catch the real killer before they strike again?

In this gripping novel, a young woman finds that trying to make sense of her life’s bad choices might prove the most dangerous reckoning there is.

***

Spooky, right?  I can’t wait to see what will happen in this one!

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REVIEW: GONE FOR GOOD, BY JOANNA SHAFFHAUSEN

 

The Lovelorn Killer murdered seven women, ritually binding them and leaving them for dead before penning them gruesome love letters in the local papers. Then he disappeared, and after twenty years with no trace of him, many believe that he’s gone for good.

 

Not Grace Harper. A grocery store manager by day, at night Grace uses her snooping skills as part of an amateur sleuth group. She believes the Lovelorn Killer is still living in the same neighborhoods that he hunted in, and if she can figure out how he selected his victims, she will have the key to his identity.

Detective Annalisa Vega lost someone she loved to the killer. Now she’s at a murder scene with the worst kind of déjà vu: Grace Harper lies bound and dead on the floor, surrounded by clues to the biggest murder case that Chicago homicide never solved. Annalisa has the chance to make it right and to heal her family, but first, she has to figure out what Grace knew—how to see a killer who may be standing right in front of you. This means tracing his steps back to her childhood, peering into dark corners she hadn’t acknowledged before, and learning that despite everything the killer took, she has still so much more to lose.

 
 
 
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 I liked Annalisa from the very beginning, as she showed us her backstory and the actions of the Lovelorn Killer who had seemingly disappeared for twenty years, maybe Gone for Good.

But as another victim is taken, someone who had been studying the killer and his victims, Annalisa doubles down to try to find him.

She believes he is possibly someone right in their midst, someone who knows the group members are looking for him, a fact that he uses to tease and entice them.

A page turner that roped me in until the very last page as I held my breath, guessing and watching. I knew that I would be stunned by the big reveal…and I was. 5 stars.

 
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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE LAST HOUSE ON THE STREET”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which we  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 NetGalley ARC that will be released on January 11, 2022:  The Last House on the Street, by Diane Chamberlain.

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Book Beginning:

Kayla – 2010:

I’m in the middle of a call with a contractor when Natalie, our new administrative assistant, pokes her head into my office.  I put the call on hold.

“This woman is in the foyer and she says she has an eleven o’clock appointment with you, but I don’t have her on your calendar.”

***

Friday 56:

He studied me from behind his glasses, then shook his head. “No, Ellie.  Uh-uh.  I believe you’re the real deal.  You and the other freedom fighters…nobody stays in a house with a damn outhouse unless they’re serious about this work.” (56%).

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Synopsis:


1965

Growing up in the well-to-do town of Round Hill, North Carolina, Ellie Hockley was raised to be a certain type of proper Southern lady. Enrolled in college and all but engaged to a bank manager, Ellie isn’t as committed to her expected future as her family believes. She’s chosen to spend her summer break as a volunteer helping to register black voters. But as Ellie follows her ideals fighting for the civil rights of the marginalized, her scandalized parents scorn her efforts, and her neighbors reveal their prejudices. And when she loses her heart to a fellow volunteer, Ellie discovers the frightening true nature of the people living in Round Hill.

2010

Architect Kayla Carter and her husband designed a beautiful house for themselves in Round Hill’s new development, Shadow Ridge Estates. It was supposed to be a home where they could raise their three-year-old daughter and grow old together. Instead, it’s the place where Kayla’s husband died in an accident—a fact known to a mysterious woman who warns Kayla against moving in. The woods and lake behind the property are reputed to be haunted, and the new home has been targeted by vandals leaving threatening notes. And Kayla’s neighbor Ellie Hockley is harboring long buried secrets about the dark history of the land where her house was built.

Two women. Two stories. Both on a collision course with the truth–no matter what that truth may bring to light–in Diane Chamberlain’s riveting, powerful novel about the search for justice.

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What do you think?  I always enjoy this author’s books, so I am eager to start reading it.

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REVIEW: THE NECKLACE, BY MATT WITTEN

Susan Lentigo’s daughter was murdered twenty years ago—and now, at long last, this small-town waitress sets out on a road trip all the way from Upstate New York to North Dakota to witness the killer’s execution.

On her journey she discovers shocking new evidence that leads her to suspect the condemned man is innocent—and the real killer is still free. Even worse, her prime suspect has a young daughter who’s at terrible risk. With no money and no time to spare, Susan sets out to uncover the truth before an innocent man gets executed and another little girl is killed.

But the FBI refuses to reopen the case. They—and Susan’s own mother—believe she’s just having an emotional breakdown. Reaching deep, Susan finds an inner strength she never knew she had. With the help of two unlikely allies—a cynical, defiant teenage girl and the retired cop who made the original arrest—Susan battles the FBI to put the real killer behind bars. Will she win justice for the condemned man—and her daughter—at last?
 
 
 
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A story that sweeps back and forth between the past and the present, The Necklace kept me turning those pages, unsure of how it would all unfold.

Susan was a character I felt connected to since her love of her lost daughter and her uncertainty about events she is only now remembering kept my heart pounding as I turned to the very last page. And the final reveal was one I had been hoping for all along. 5 stars.
 
***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley
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