REVIEW: STONE MOTHERS, BY ERIN KELLY

 

You can’t keep the secret.
You can’t tell the truth.
You can’t escape the past…Marianne was seventeen when she fled her home in Nusstead—leaving behind her family, her boyfriend, Jesse, and the body they buried. Now, thirty years later, forced to return to in order to help care for her sick mother, she can feel the past closing around her. And Jesse, who never for-gave her for leaving in the first place, is finally threatening to expose the truth.

Marianne will do anything to protect the life she’s built, the husband and daughter who must never know what happened all those years ago. Even if it means turning to her worst enemy for help… But Marianne may not know the whole story—and she isn’t the only one with secrets they’d kill to keep.

My Thoughts: Stone Mothers begins with present day Marianne, who is struggling to overcome her fears of past events, along with the dark secrets she has hidden for many years.

Her husband Sam has just bought a second home in the worst place possible. A place that has kept her nightmares alive over the years.

How will the people and places of that time stay hidden? What will she do to outrun the darkness?

Our story flashes back to the beginning and reveals how it all unfolded. We learn what happened between Jesse, Marianne, and Helen…and then we are offered a peek into Helen’s history, which changes how we see her.

Issues of mental health treatment and how the antiquated systems derailed the lives of many kept me glued to the pages. 4.5 stars.

***
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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “AFTER THE END”

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 NetGalley ARC I’m enjoying:  After the End, by Claire Mackintosh. (Release Date: 6/25).

Beginning:  (Prologue):  Leila looks around the courtroom.  Only the handful of press given permission to attend are moving, their pens making swift marks in shorthand, recording every word the judge speaks.  Everyone else is quite still—watching, waiting—and Leila has the strange sensation of being frozen in time, that they might all wake, a year from now, and they will still be here in this courtroom, waiting for the ruling that will change so many lives.

***

Friday 56:  (After) You cannot feel grief without first feeling love, and now my heart is filled with both.  For my son, for my husband, for my marriage.  Max turns to face me, lines around his eyes that weren’t there a month ago.

***

Synopsis:  Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.
 
What if they could have both?
 
A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

***

I am glued to the pages of this book.  What are you sharing today?

***

REVIEW: EMILY, GONE, BY BETTE LEE CROSBY

 

 

1971:  When a music festival rolls through the sleepy town of Hesterville, Georgia, the Dixon family’s lives are forever changed. On the final night, a storm muffles the sound of the blaring music, and Rachel tucks her baby into bed before falling into a deep sleep. So deep, she doesn’t hear the kitchen door opening. When she and her husband wake up in the morning, the crib is empty. Emily is gone.

Vicki Robart is one of the thousands at the festival, but she’s not feeling the music. She’s feeling the emptiness over the loss of her own baby several months before. When she leaves the festival and is faced with an opportunity to fill that void, she is driven to an act of desperation that will forever bind the lives of three women.

When the truth of what actually happened that fateful night is finally exposed, shattering the lives they’ve built, will they be able to pick up the pieces to put their families back together again?

My Thoughts: Emily, Gone, was a gripping tale of loss that kept this reader on the edge of my seat. We follow the lives of the parents whose child has been kidnapped alongside the alternating narrative of the broken characters whose actions have brought such tragedy, and we come to feel compassion for each of them.

The story is one that could conclude any number of ways, but until the very end, you’re not sure what will happen to the characters. Could there be a satisfying ending, or will the pain be continuous?

I did like how the intricate pathways almost crossed several times along the way, and then in a somewhat serendipitous coming together of events, everything falls into place. 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: THOSE PEOPLE, BY LOUISE CANDLISH

 

Lowland Way is the suburban dream. The houses are beautiful, the neighbors get along, and the kids play together on weekends.

But when Darren and Jodie move into the house on the corner, they donʼt follow the rules. They blast music at all hours, begin an unsightly renovation, and run a used-car business from their yard. It doesn’t take long for an all-out war to start brewing.

Then, early one Saturday, a horrific death shocks the street. As police search for witnesses, accusations start flying—and everyone has something to hide.

My Thoughts: Who hasn’t lived in a neighborhood with annoying people at one time or another? Noise pollution, cars everywhere, and rude attitudes make what was once a lovely suburb a place to abhor.

As each resident tries to fight the encroaching madness, police officers congregate, and strangely enough, do not seem to put a stop to the events.

Those People took the reader down a twisted pathway, and just when you wondered what would happen next, you would be stunned.

While I couldn’t stop reading, wanting to find out what would happen, I did not enjoy these characters and I was happy to put them all behind me. 4 stars.

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

REVIEW: I KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BY ALICE FEENEY

 

Meet Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from.
Except one person.

Someone knows Aimee very well.

They know who she is and they know what she did.

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is—but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts: From the beginning moments of I Know Who You Are, we follow Aimee Sinclair’s journey, wondering what secrets she is hiding…and what really happened to Ben.

Our narrative takes us back and forth in time, with Aimee as a kidnapped child whose caretaker is both cruel and kind, a crazy-making pattern of behavior that sets up a lifetime of anxieties.

I liked the pace that kept me turning pages and wondering what would happen next. For example, who is Maggie O’Neil really? What brought her into Aimee’s orbit, and why is she working so hard to ruin her? Does she have an accomplice? What do events in the past have to do with the terror in Aimee’s life now? A creepy, yet engaging read that earned 4.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “I KNOW WHO YOU ARE”

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 Know Who You Are, by Alice Feeney,a brand new, highly anticipated, dark and twisted thriller.

 

 

***

Beginning:  (London, 2017)

I’m that girl you think you know, but you can’t remember where from.

Lying is what I do for a living.  It’s what I’m best at; becoming somebody else.  The eyes are the only part of me I still recognize in the mirror, staring out beneath the made-up face of a made-up person.  Another character, another story, another lie.

***

Friday 56:  “Take your clothes off,” she says.

I don’t want to.

“I said take your clothes off!”

I still don’t move.

***

Synopsis:  Meet Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from.

Except one person.

Someone knows Aimee very well.

They know who she is and they know what she did.

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is—but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

In I Know Who You Are, Alice Feeney proves that she is a master of brilliantly complicated plots and killer twists that will keep you guessing until the final page.

***

What do you think?  Do the excerpts hook you?

***

SERENDIPITOUS MONDAY: MEMORIES & IMAGES…

 

Lately, I’ve been sentimentally looking back at some of my previous places and spaces.  A favorite of mine:  this cozy room that felt like an apartment/getaway in my two-story A-frame house.

Note the mini fridge, microwave, coffee pot…and that white wicker bed tray.  I could stay in that room all weekend, if I wanted.  And since I was still working at my high-stress career, I often chose to do that.  My kids were grown, and while the two youngest took turns living in the guest house next door, they had their own private lives.

Except when they needed to use my laundry room.

When my daughter was in the guest house, she had colorful decor, and I enjoyed visiting there, too.  I loved the bathroom she created, with red-orange on the walls and playful images.

 

 

 

Later, when both “kids” had gone, I used it as a real guest house.  I bought some Coca Cola furnishings, which I took with me to my current residence when I moved.  The sofa/bed now resides in my guest room/office at the condo.

 

 

Sometimes the memories take me back, and while I’m enjoying my smaller space now, I do miss having those “kids” pop in from time to time.  Now they are scattered everywhere…except for my daughter, who is half an hour away.

My eldest son, who really enjoyed staying in the guest house when he visited, is coming in mid-May for a short visit.  We’ve had some good visits in my current space, too.  Watching Netflix and eating popcorn.

 

***

Do you ever traipse down Memory Lane?  What fond memories and photos make you smile?

***

I’m currently reading Someone Knows, by Lisa Scottoline, and really enjoying it.

***

 

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE GIRL HE USED TO KNOW”

 

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 The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracey Garvis Graves, the compelling, hopelessly romantic novel of unconditional love.

 

***

 

Beginning:  (Annika, Chicago, August 2001)

I run into him at Dominick’s, of all places.  I’m poking around in the freezer case, searching for the strawberries I put in my morning smoothie, when a man’s voice somewhere off to my right says, “Annika?”  He sounds unsure.

From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of his face.  It’s been ten years since we’ve seen each other and though I often struggle to recognize people out of context, there’s no need for me to question whether or not it’s him.  I know it’s him.

***

Friday 56:  Around us, people play Frisbee on the grass, many of them barefoot.  A bee buzzes around Annika’s lemonade, and I swat it away.  When we’re done eating I open the board and we set it up.

***

Synopsis:  Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game—and his heart—to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

***

I am eager to jump right into this one.  What do you think?

***

 

REVIEW: SUNSET BEACH, BY MARY KAY ANDREWS

 

Drue Campbell’s life is adrift. Out of a job and down on her luck, life doesn’t seem to be getting any better when her estranged father, Brice Campbell, a flamboyant personal injury attorney, shows up at her mother’s funeral after a twenty-year absence. Worse, he’s remarried—to Drue’s eighth grade frenemy, Wendy, now his office manager. And they’re offering her a job.

It seems like the job from hell, but the offer is sweetened by the news of her inheritance—her grandparents’ beach bungalow in the sleepy town of Sunset Beach, a charming but storm-damaged eyesore now surrounded by waterfront McMansions.

With no other prospects, Drue begrudgingly joins the firm, spending her days screening out the grifters whose phone calls flood the law office. Working with Wendy is no picnic either. But when a suspicious death at an exclusive beach resort nearby exposes possible corruption at her father’s firm, she goes from unwilling cubicle rat to unwitting investigator, and is drawn into a case that may—or may not—involve her father. With an office romance building, a decades-old missing persons case re-opened, and a cottage in rehab, one thing is for sure at Sunset Beach: there’s a storm on the horizon.

 

My Thoughts: Sunset Beach takes the reader right into the setting, amongst a cast of interesting characters. Drue was my favorite, and her father’s wife Wendy was someone I loved to hate. The two had been friends as children, and then were not. Now, as her father’s newest wife, she is also the office manager, in a position to order Drue around with big yellow “SEE ME” post-it notes showing up frequently.

Coworkers Jonah and Ben brought unexpected flavor, especially as the twists in the story took us behind the scenes in some legal cases, with Drue following the clues to solving a murder.

An alternating timeline from the 70s revealed secrets from the past, and how the present day characters were connected to a mysterious disappearance.

I also loved seeing Drue’s joy at fixing up her grandparents’ old cottage, which she had inherited. Lovely memories brought out the sense of family and sentimental moments.

I liked how the story swept back and forth in time, culminating in some unexpected answers to some piercing questions. I couldn’t wait to keep turning the pages of this great 5 star read full of family, friends, loss, and mysteries.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “MY LOVELY WIFE”

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:  My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing.  Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…

 

 

***

 

Beginning:  She is looking at me.  Her blue eyes are glassy, they flicker down to her drink and back up.  I look at my own drink and can feel her watching, wondering if I’m as interested as she is.  I glance over and smile to show her I am.

***

Friday 56:  The local news logo appears.  It is followed by that young, earnest reporter following Lindsay’s story.  His name is Josh, and I have been watching him every day since Lindsay’s body was found. 

***

Synopsis:  Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

***

What do you think?  Do the excerpts grab you?

***