REVIEW: IT’S YOU, BY JANE PORTER

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Grief has followed Alison (Ali) McAdams around in the more than one year following the death of her fiancé, Dr. Andrew Morris. She stays busy working in the dental practice she shares with Andrew’s father, the same practice that now has a hole in it where Andrew once worked.

She believes she is moving along okay, despite the rage she still feels as she goes over the details of Andrew’s death: his suicide. It came out of nowhere, of course, and that is the hardest part for her. How did she miss the signs? Were there any signs?

On this particular day, however, her anger is further aroused by a stupid, hateful note left on her car: Learn to park: Asshole.

Was the note the impetus she needed to take a break from it all? Perhaps. Or could it have been her dad’s fractured wrist? Whatever the motivation, Ali is soon arranging for a flight to Oakland, and then a shuttle to Napa, where her father now lives. In a senior citizen home, in the independent living section. She’ll be taking a break from Scottsdale, AZ, and the life she lived there with Andrew.

In the days she spends in Napa, she meets several of her father’s cronies in the home, including a ninety-four-year-old woman named Edie. There is something compelling about Edie, but she is also crotchety, feisty, and a bit abrasive. Still, Ali can’t resist the connection she begins to feel for the elderly woman, especially after Edie shares some of her stories from the war years in Germany. There were secrets and betrayals…and the sadness and loss could have defined her. Instead, Edie seems more engaged in life than some younger people. And then there are the two handsome grand-nephews of Edie’s: Craig and Chad Hallahan.

It’s You is alternately narrated in the first person voices of Ali and Edie. Edie’s perspective is interesting, in that we also read portions of diaries she kept during the 1930s and 40s in Germany. She first went to Germany to study music, but over time, became entrenched in her life there. We learn about her lost love, Franz.

Why does Ali impulsively decide to fly to Germany, after reading Edie’s diaries? What does she hope to learn there? Can this be a journey of healing? Of starting over?

I enjoyed the characters and the brief appearance of Meg, Kit, and Brianna Brennan, from the Brennan Sisters novels. I kept rooting for a romance for Ali, but it probably made more sense for her to very slowly begin again. The ending was lovely…although it was a bit rushed, after the slow build of the rest of the story. Definitely a 4 star read.

REVIEW: FREEDOM’S CHILD, BY JAX MILLER

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Most chapters in Freedom’s Child: A Novel begin with this opener: “My name is Freedom,” and then reveal bits and pieces of her story. We learn quickly that Freedom Oliver is not her real name; that she is in the Witness Protection program; and that she is hiding from some dangerous people.

Currently living in Painter, Oregon, and spending most nights in a bar, regularly getting drunk and arrested, one might think that her goal in life is self-destruction. But no, she has a larger purpose, and it governs most of her days. She wants to find the children she lost many years before. The children whom she knows were renamed by their adoptive parents as Mason and Rebekah Paul.

In Goshen, Kentucky, where the Pauls live, we see a glimpse of the life of their evangelical world and realize that they have dark secrets and a deadly plan.

In upstate New York, the Delaneys are set on revenge. Matthew Delaney just got out of prison, where he served time for killing his brother Mark, a cop, and the husband of Nessa Delaney, now hiding out as Freedom Oliver. The matriarch, Lynn, and the three brothers, Matthew, Luke, and John, are scary people that one would not want to encounter. The descriptions are vivid, and I can easily visualize what lies ahead for Freedom when/if they find her. Also headed toward Freedom is the kind brother, Peter, wheelchair-bound with Cerebral Palsy.

Multiple narrators show us the collision course that will bring the dangerous Delaneys into Freedom’s new life, just as she is headed to Kentucky to search for her daughter Rebekah, now reported as missing. A cop from Painter, James Mattley, is also looking for Freedom and her daughter, too; he has a soft spot for her and is hoping to find her before the others do.

Will Freedom find her daughter in time? Can she outrun the Delaneys? When she finally reaches Goshen, what will she discover about the small child Magdalene? The story is fast-paced with intriguing characters, and I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to them all. Themes of violence, dark legacies, and redemption kept me reading, even as parts of the story and the writing style bogged down for me at times. Recommended for those who enjoy stories that could be ripped from the headlines. 4.0 stars.

ENJOYING LIFE’S UNEXPECTED TREASURES: FAMILY VISIT

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Earlier I wrote about how having house guests led to a few shake-ups in my interior world.

Yes, I did some reshuffling to make my guest room/office more comfortable for my son and DIL, who will be staying here on and off for a while.  First I removed that “jutting out” bookcase from the room, along with those books.

 

 

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Then I created my temporary work station, as seen at the top of this post.  And here’s another view of that work station:

 

 

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And back in the office/guest room, here is the changed space (below).

 

 

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And another view:

 

 

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And while all this rearranging is going on, we are having get-togethers, like Margarita Night, which I posted about in my Weekly Updates

 

 

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And some other fun-filled days, beginning with the first night’s dinner at Heather’s:  corned beef and cabbage.

 

 

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Here’s Gabi, enjoying the bear outside a pub in Shaver Lake, a mountain community above us.

 

 

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This week, Craig and Gabi will be at Heather’s house, although I’ll be joining them for dinners, etc.

Back at home, I am reading and bingeing on Netflix...just like I did before.  As if nothing has changed.  But knowing that more adventures lie ahead.

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SERENDIPITOUS WEDNESDAYS: WAITING ON “ALL DRESSED IN WHITE”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we gather around the blogosphere and search out the upcoming book releases, sharing our thoughts and blurbs.  Today’s feature is a sequel to the first book I read in 2015.  The new book by Mary Higgins Clark is All Dressed in White.  This newest book will be released on November 17, 2015.

The previous book was The Cinderella Murder.

 

 

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Blurb:  The second thrilling novel in the New York Times bestselling Under Suspicion series following The Cinderella Murder, featuring intrepid television producer Laurie Moran as she investigates the case of a missing bride.

Five years ago Amanda Pierce was excitedly preparing to marry her college sweetheart in a lavish ceremony at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Then, with their guests and families on site, Amanda disappeared.

In present-day New York City, Laurie Moran realizes a missing bride is the perfect cold case for her investigative television series, Under Suspicion. She and her team set out to recreate the night of the disappearance at the Florida resort with Amanda’s friends and family in attendance, hoping to shed new light on the mystery as the series has done in past episodes. With a jealous sister, playboy groomsmen, Amanda’s former fiancé now married to a bridesmaid, and rumors about the “beloved” bride herself, Laurie and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley quickly realize everyone has a theory about why Amanda vanished into thin air.

One thing is certain: whoever was behind Amanda’s disappearance plans to keep the truth hidden “until death do they part…”

The bestselling Under Suspicion series from Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke offers “plenty of intrigue and excitement” (Publishers Weekly, on The Cinderella Murder). Featuring the chilling suspense and elegant settings readers have come to love, All Dressed in White is not to be missed.

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What do you think?  What are you sharing today?  I hope you’ll leave your comments and links.

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SERENDIPITOUS WEDNESDAY: WAITING FOR “THE MISTAKE I MADE”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we gather around the blogosphere and search out the upcoming book releases, sharing our thoughts and blurbs.  Today, I am eager to share The Mistake I Made, by Paula Daly, to be released on September 8, 2015.

 

 

 

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Blurb:  The Mistake I Made is the latest page-turner from one of the England’s most captivating new thriller writers. In her provocative and riveting third novel, Paula Daly focuses her masterful eye for psychological suspense and family drama on an indecent proposal that has fatal repercussions.

Single mother Roz has reached breaking-point. After the dissolution of her marriage, Roz’s business has gone under, debts are racking up, the rent is late (again), and she’s struggling to provide for her nine-year-old son, who is starting to misbehave in school. Roz is in trouble. Real trouble.

When Roz returns home from work one day and finds an eviction notice, she knows that it’s time for action—she has two weeks to find a solution otherwise they will be kicked out of their home. Increasingly desperate, Roz doesn’t know where to turn. Then the perfect opportunity presents itself. At her sister’s fortieth birthday party, Roz meets Scott Elias—wealthy, powerful, and very married. But the impression Roz leaves on him is indelible. He tracks her down and makes Roz an offer to spend the night with him—for money. He wants no-strings-attached intimacy and can guarantee total discretion. Could it be as simple as it sounds? With that kind of cash, Roz could clear her debts and get her life back on track. But as the situation spirals out of her control, Roz is forced to do things she never thought herself capable of. Can she ever set things right again?

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I have read two previous novels by this author, and can’t wait to see what she does with this one.  What are you sharing today?

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PASSING THE TORCH: SAYING GOODBYE TO “SPARKY”

Remember Sparky?  Here I am, above, reading from its beautiful pages.  My daughter gifted me with this lovely device in 2010, at Christmas.  She was gently trying to tell me that my books were taking over my life, and if I wanted them to be less visible, I should start buying e-books.

I wasn’t so sure about it, but once I got the knack of reading from it, and after I named the device, I was in.

But as all things must come to an end, I knew I needed to upgrade.  So Pippa came into my life.

 

 

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But what about Sparky?  Well, long story short:  my youngest grandson, Noah, aged 12, who loves accompanying me to bookstores, asked if he could have it.  Of course!  How appropriate to pass the torch to him, especially since his mother gave me Sparky in the first place.

I was new to how all this works.  First I had to deregister it, and I thought that would be it.  But no, there is more to it.  My books were still showing.  Then I realized that I needed to return to the “factory default setting,” and voila!  Books gone.

Now he can begin his own collection.

 

 

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Yes, it is only fitting that this kid who loves books…and devices, would be the perfect recipient for Sparky.  Live on, Sparky!  Have fun, Noah!

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REVIEW: A WEEK AT THE LAKE, BY WENDY WAX

 

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Friendships that go on for years can sustain a person, and when there is a break in the regular get-togethers and an absence of contact, feelings are hurt. People feel abandoned.

Emma Michaels grew up among Hollywood royalty, and was a child actor. She famously divorced her parents at a young age and lived with her grandmother. The cottage at the lake was a special gathering place for Emma’s friends, the ones she bonded with in their Manhattan days: Mackenzie Hayes and Serena Stockton.

Now, after a five-year absence, Emma has invited her old friends to the lake house for a week in the summer.

But when they arrive in Manhattan, before heading up to the Adirondacks cottage, they are stunned by the news that Emma is in the hospital, after sustaining major injuries. Her daughter Zoe, almost sixteen, is waiting for them at Mt. Sinai.

While Emma is in her coma, we see flashbacks of the friends over the years, learning about what kept them together…and pondering what might have separated them.

Mackenzie is going through her own angst, as her husband Adam is in LA, meeting with production companies about his screenplay. For the past twenty years, they have been living in Indiana, running a small theater. Mackenzie writes a popular blog.

Meanwhile, Serena, an actor, portrays a cartoon character, and she has received a lot of attention and some fame. But the loss of her long-ago love, Brooks Anderson, has left her bereft and making poor choices.

Why did Emma call her friends together? What does she have in mind? Explanations, or is there a deep, dark secret that will change everything between them?

Finally they are all at the lake, and as Emma heals, with the moments and days ticking away like a time bomb, we learn bits and pieces. I guessed the secret long before it was revealed. And it was a doozy. Despite that fact, I enjoyed seeing how the ramifications would all play out.

Will the friendships survive? Will Mac’s marriage go on after the decisions Adam made in LA? And what will Serena do when an unexpected brush with the past puts her in another quandary? A Week at the Lake was another novel from a favorite author that I enjoyed all the way to the end. 5 stars.