REVIEW: BONFIRE, BY KRYSTEN RITTER

 

It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game”—it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

 

My Thoughts: Bonfire was a captivating story of environmental poisoning; mean girls who played a horrible Game; and how the past never stays in your rear view mirror.

Abby Williams is an environmental lawyer revisiting her past when her team goes to Barrens, Indiana, to investigate Optimal, a company that seems to control everything about the town.

At first it seemed as though the poisoning in the water was the worst that could be uncovered, but what the company had done to hide its darker secrets gradually unfolded, as Abby kept digging, even when some members of her team had wrapped up their quest.

I enjoyed Abby’s shifting memories of the past, and how their darkest parts slowly came to her in the end, and how even some of the people she thought she could trust turned out to be the most evil. The scent of bonfires on the horizon seemed to hover just on the edges of her mind whenever a new memory would surface. The past and present collide during one dark night when Abby is facing horrific danger that she didn’t see coming. Engaging and slowly revealing how the past informs the present, I give this one 4.5 stars.

***

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WEEKLY UPDATES: DEVELOPING AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE…

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 I sit at my laptop in my cozy office, I am enjoying the warmth from the heater…it is on for the first time this season!  For a while, I thought summer heat would go on forever…then the cooler days arrived, and for a little while we were in that limbo between hot and cold.

But now that I am snuggling under the covers at night, and today felt chilly for the first time, I took the leap and turned the system on.  I like the first heated morning as it takes the chill off.  I will snuggle up on my sofa in the office and read…and watch TV.  And practice my attitude of gratitude.

For now, let’s talk about last week.  I read the three books I had planned to read!  It has been a while since that happened.  First I read an e-book that I had downloaded several months ago, which brought my challenge total to 104...and then I grabbed two NetGalley ARCs and inhaled them.  They were sooo good.

But…then I started picking up books, reading a few pages, and tossing them aside.  Until I remembered a little book I’d been wanting to read forever.  In fact it had been on Pippa for three years!  So I started reading…and a few hours later, I was done.  Now that’s how it should be!

So…as for the rest of the week, I started a new series on Netflix called Wanted.  I watched movies and shows from my DVR…and then yesterday, I learned that Longmire has a sixth season available.  So I’ll be watching it today…or tomorrow.

I also want to see the movie Lady Bird, with Saoirse Ronan.  Earlier in the week, I had lunch with a friend and we saw Murder on the Orient Express.  So it has been a week of books and movies.

Grab your coffee, and let’s take a closer look at the week.

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  How Cozy Turns Annoying…

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Wonder Valley”

It’s Tuesday!  New Release Day…

Loving the Reading!…WWW

Coffee Chat:  Time to Enjoy Family…

Bookish Friday:  “Fragments of the Lost”

Friday Potpourri:  Vicarious Travels…and Books

Review:  All the Best People (e-book), by Sonja YoergReview:  Poison (e-book), by Galt Niederhoffer – (NetGalley -11/21)Review:  The Story of Arthur Truluv (e-book), by Elizabeth Berg – (NetGalley – 11/21)Review:  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (e-book), by Gabrielle Zevin

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Nothing came in my physical mailbox…but I received a NetGalley ARC!  Then I downloaded two e-books (my purchase).

The Great Alone (e-book), by Kristin Hannah – (NetGalley – 2/6/18)

Downloads:

Fragments of the Lost (e-book), by Megan Miranda

A Bella Flora Christmas (e-book, novella), by Wendy Wax

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

After loving The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, I am starting with the author’s newest book:

Young Jane Young (e-book), by Gabrielle Zevin

***

Then…maybe…

Merry & Bright (e-book), by Debbie Macomber

Play It as It Lays (e-book), by Joan Didion

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  And…in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving, enjoy my Pumpkin Cheesecake with Irish Coffee.

***

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: POISON, BY GALT NIEDERHOFFER

 

Cass and Ryan Connor have achieved family nirvana. With three kids between them, a cat and a yard, a home they built and feathered, they seem to have the Modern Family dream. Their family, including Cass’ two children from previous relationships, has recently moved to Seattle—a new start for their new lives. Cass and Ryan have stable, successful careers, and they are happy. But trouble begins almost imperceptibly. First with small omissions and white lies that happen daily in any marital bedroom. They seem insignificant, but they are quickly followed by a series of denials and feints that mushroom and then cyclone in menace.

With life-or-death stakes and irreversible consequences, Poison is a chilling and irresistible reminder that the closest bond designed to protect and provide for each other and for children can change in a minute.

 

My Thoughts: In the beginning of Poison, their lives looked perfect from the outside, and everything seemed to be falling into place according to plan. But when Cass begins to find evidence of her husband’s cheating, everything starts coming unglued.

A nanny who seems too good to be true; a neighbor who appears to be kind, offering assistance; and very strange physical symptoms in Cass that start after Ryan has cooked a tuna dish.

Just when it seems as though she has figured out what is happening, the real battle begins. Proving that Ryan is out to harm her. Finding out who in her world she can trust. Everyone begins to look suspicious, which is dangerous, since Cass learns what she has always known, underneath, that the system is designed to cater to the words of men and to reduce those of women to labels such as hysteria, paranoia, and delusions.

It will take a lot for Cass to finally discover the answers…following her journey kept me captive throughout this book as I could totally relate to how women and victims are treated, even in this day and age. I was on the edge of my seat until I turned the last page, hoping for a resolution. Hoping for justice. A brilliant five star read!***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: CHRISTMAS IS IN THE AIR…

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 quick week.  Lots of reading, blogging, some errands, and even a bit of house cleaning, my least favorite activity.  FOUR books read and reviewed…and my challenge total:  103.  Somehow I’ve managed to adjust to the time change…although I was super tired for a few days, which doesn’t jibe with the idea that we were gaining an hour of sleep!

November is speeding by, with the weeks seeming to vanish without a trace.  I haven’t watched anything on Netflix this week, but I have been enjoying the Thursday night lineup on TV; those shows are already nearing winter finales.  How is that even possible?  My favorite daytime shows are keeping me glued to the screen with lots of cliffhangers on Fridays.  From General Hospital and the “two Jasons” to Will’s resurrection on DOOL...followed by the public revelation of the leader of the sex ring on Y & R.  Big Bad Dollar Bill has gone too far on B & B.

Yes…I am a soap addict.  LOL. 

The Christmas movies are reminding us that we will soon be hauling out the decorations, and I am caught up in the fairytale stories that sweep us away into the glitter of the holidays.

So…what else happened this week?  Let’s grab another cup of coffee and find out.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  All About the Clocks…& Books

Tuesday Potpourri:  From Fairytale Images to Russian Novels…

Tuesday Sparks:  “Even If It Kills Her”

Hump Day Potpourri:  Books, Books, & More Books…

Coffee Chat:  Past Journeys…and Looking Ahead

Keeping Track:  The Status of My TBR

Bookish Friday:  “The Cruelest Month”

Coffee Chat:  Tidbits, Chores, An Excerpt…

A Cozy Saturday…

Review:  Seven Days of Us (e-book), by Francesca HornakReview:  The One & Only, by Emily GiffinReview:  Cold as Ice (e-book, #6 Country Club Murders), by Julie MulhernReview:  The Last Mrs. Parrish (e-book), by Liv Constantine

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INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Two Purchased Books came in My Mailbox…and I received one NetGalley review book….Then I downloaded some books…

The Girls in the Picture (e-book), by Melanie Benjamin (NG – 1/16/18)

Purchased Books:

Every Breath You Take (Under Suspicion Series), by Mary Higgins Clark & Alafair Burke

What Happened, by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Downloads:

Bonfire (e-book), by Krysten Ritter

Dead of Winter (e-book), by Wendy Corsi Staub

Wonder Valley (e-book), by Ivy Pochoda

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently Reading:  All the Best People (e-book), by Sonja Yoerg

***

And then…some NetGalley books like…

Poison (e-book), by Galt Niederhoffer (NG – 11/21)

The Story of Arthur Truluv (e-book), by Elizabeth Berg (NG-11/21)

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  And…because I can’t resist, I’m sharing my comfort dessert from last Monday…

***

REVIEW: COLD AS ICE, BY JULIE MULHERN

 

Ellison Russell’s life resembles a rollercoaster ride. And rollercoasters make her ill. Her daughter Grace has a crush on a boy Ellison doesn’t trust and she’s taken to hosting wild parties when Ellison goes out for the evening. Worse, the bank which represents Grace’s inheritance from her father may be in trouble.

When a meeting with the chef at the country club leads to the discovery of a body, Ellison can’t afford cold feet. She must save the bank, find the killer, and convince Grace (and herself) that powerful women don’t need men to rescue them.

My Thoughts: The pages turn rapidly in Cold as Ice, and, as always, I am swept up into Ellison’s world of 1974 Kansas City, Missouri. The Country Club set figures into this new mystery, just as the ones before, and we meet some characters who might not have been in previous books, but they are all connected somehow to Ellison and to her mother Frances Walford.

Ellison and her mother have their issues, but in the end, they have each other’s back…but sometimes glare at each other and make choices that conflict.

Grace, Ellison’s teen, is as snippy and eye-rolling as ever, but she does surprise occasionally by stepping in and helping out.

Anarchy Jones, the detective who always seems to appear at the right time, is even more drawn to Ellison in this outing…but as the pages turn, he is more and more frustrated with her inability to stay out of his latest investigation. She is determined to save the day herself and not depend on a man, and he is determined to be the one to solve the case and her problems.

What will happen when their goals clash? Will they go their separate ways? Will there be anything for the two of them afterwards?

I loved this book…and enjoyed Ellison’s quirks: chatting with her Mr. Coffee; mixing it up with all the suspects in the case; and taking risks that could change everything in her life. Definitely 5 stars for me.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: NOVEMBER IS COZY!

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.

 

A week of cooler weather, ongoing birthday celebrations, and Halloween…kept me busy.  I knew I wouldn’t have any Trick or Treaters…as I haven’t had them for the past ten years that I have lived here.  Instead I curled up on my sofa to read and watch movies.

I thought I would finish my fourth book of the week, but decided to write this post about the THREE I did read and review, bringing my challenge total to ONE-HUNDRED!

Because we change our clocks back on Sunday, and because I removed the batteries on this wall of clocks…

I knew that I needed a desktop style clock that actually works…so I ordered this one from Amazon.  It should arrive by 8 p.m. tonight…maybe not in time for the changeover, since arrival times are unpredictable.

I know where I’m going to set it…on this bookshelf, which faces my sofa…between some of my fairytale trinkets….

Let’s check in and see what I did last week; here is my morning of coffee, TV, and books:

 

***

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “The Story of Arthur Truluv”

Tuesday Potpourri:  A Bookish Day…

An Amazing Week of Reading…

Let’s Curl up and Say Goodbye to October…

Coffee Chat:  The Holidays Are Coming!

Thursday Potpourri:  A Plethora of Celebrations…

Bookish Friday:  “Cold As Ice”

Review:  The Surrogate (e-book), by Louise JensenReview:  Y is for Yesterday (e-book), by Sue GraftonReview:  Unraveling Oliver (e-book), by Liz Nugent***

INCOMING BOOKS:  (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Nothing came in my physical mailbox…but I received one NetGalley review book...and then downloaded three purchases…

Paper Ghosts (e-book), by Julie Heaberlin (NG – 5/15/18)

A gripping thriller about a man who may or may not have dementia—and who may or may not be a serial killer—from a master of twists and turns, in the tradition of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn

***

Purchased Downloads:

Play It As It Lays (e-book), by Joan Didion

Even If It Kills Her (e-book, A Bailey Weggins Mystery), by Kate White

Try Not To Breathe (e-book), by Holly Seddon

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Yesterday I started reading Seven Days of Us, by Francesca Hornak, and hoped to finish it before writing this post….I may still finish it today, but I didn’t want to rush.  I am savoring this dysfunctional family.

***

I also started reading The One and Only, by Emily Giffin, a book I purchased in April 2016 from the bargain table at Barnes & Noble.

***

Then I will follow my moods….

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  On Wednesday, I celebrated my birthday again with a friend of many years…and had this delicious dessert, Pumpkin Cheesecake:

***

REVIEW: UNRAVELING OLIVER, BY LIZ NUGENT

 

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.


My Thoughts: From the shocking first pages of Unraveling Oliver to the gradually unfolding multi-layered tale brought from alternating narrators, we learn how a monster was created. I could not stop turning the pages.

As much as I felt like hating Oliver, I started to see how his circumstances, starting with the way his father treated him, set him up to become a person who could do the things he did.

Understanding him did not mean liking him or even forgiving him. I felt sad for the people he mistreated, although, in the end, I could also feel some empathy for him.

Could Oliver have risen from his circumstances and created a better life? A more honest life? Definitely others have done so, despite their own horrific beginnings.

Some of the secrets that Oliver learned about himself and his origins contributed to who he became. A final secret at the end of the book, one that would fill in some blanks about his previous lover Laura, shone some light on the mysteries of this man and some moments of unexpected selflessness that were possible from him. A 5 star read for me.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: ANOTHER BIRTHDAY & GREAT READING…

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.

 

Every day this week was full of running around, errands, and finally, my birthday lunch on Wednesday with my daughter.  We had Mexican food, with the obligatory Margarita(s).  I forgot to photograph our food!

While the weather was cooler, there were some warm days midweek again!  My reading was good…THREE books read and reviewed, bringing my challenge total to 97!  Fewer blog posts…but let’s chalk it up to too much celebrating.

Today I enjoyed a Netflix documentary featuring Joan Didion:  The Center Will Not Hold.

Now that my birthday is over, and Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are waiting around the corner, I need to focus on more housework…just because I’m feeling the need to polish up the nest.

So…let’s grab another cup of coffee and chat about the week.

 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “Seven Days of Us”

A Week of Engaging Reads…

Thursday Potpourri:  Exploring My Archives…

Coffee Chat:  Another Year & More Adventures…

Facing Reality:  An Excerpt from “An Accidental Life”

Bookish Friday:  “Unraveling Oliver”

Review:  Odd Child Out (e-book), by Gilly MacmillanReview:  Then She Was Gone, by Lisa JewellReview:  White Bodies (e-book), by Jane Robins

***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

No books came to my physical mailbox…but I received TWO NetGalley review books.

Watch Me (e-book), by Jody Gehrman – (1/23/18)

The Good Liar (e-book), by Catherine McKenzie – (4/3/18)

Purchased Downloads:

The Cruelest Month (e-book), by Louise Penny (Gamache #3)

Merry & Bright (e-book), by Debbie Macomber

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Y Is for Yesterday (e-book), by Sue Grafton

The Surrogate (e-book), by Louise Jensen

And then…wherever my moods take me.

***

That was my week…another year older and still many more books to read.  What did yours look like?  Here is my birthday dessert:

***

REVIEW: WHITE BODIES, BY JANE ROBINS

 

This chilling psychological suspense novel—think Strangers on a Train for the modern age—explores the dark side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind twin sisters together.

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful, up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?

My Thoughts: Nothing is as it seems in White Bodies. Domestic abuse is the primary theme, but the lines between victims and abusers is not all that clear. The story unfolds from Callie’s first person POV.

You might think you have it figured out, and then you realize that more is afoot. Why is Tilda clinging to Felix and refusing to acknowledge his abuse? Why is she shutting out her twin and everyone else, refusing to work?

Callie’s tendency to watch and to obsess over her twin sister’s life might be a red flag. When Tilda isolates herself and shows up with bruises, it all seems very clear. Until it isn’t.

An Internet group called Controlling Men reels Callie in, and she soon finds herself “bossed around” by one of the members. Should she be worried? A strange so-called “deal” is made, and then Callie finds herself in a very disturbing place.

I could not stop turning the pages, wondering what was going on and hoping to find the answers, which were totally unexpected. 4.5 stars.***

WEEKLY UPDATES: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WEEK?

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 weekend already!  The week flew by, and I cannot tell you much of what happened…except that I read and reviewed FOUR BOOKS, bringing my Challenge total to 94…and wrote ELEVEN blog posts.  What was I thinking?  On Friday, we had a little rain.  Just enough to turn the fallen leaves soggy…and perhaps to clear some of the dust from the air.  Hopefully the rain that came to Northern California late this week will help contain the wildfires, but it feels like “too little too late.” 

As for TV viewing, it was great to have the Thursday lineup back...and I tried the Dynasty reboot on Wednesdays…but quickly dismissed it, deleting it from my DVR schedule.  It is nothing like the first series, except for some of the names of the characters.  If they are going to “pretend” that a show is a reboot, they really should create something that bears a slight resemblance to the original.  ‘Nuff said.

Let’s talk about the week, and in the photo (below), I’ll share my nod to the upcoming Halloween season:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Looking Back:  An Homage to Rainy Days….

Sunday Potpourri:  Curling up with Books, Etc.

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “Lie to Me”

Serendipitous Tuesdays:  Collections, Tidbits, New Books…

Hump Day Serendipity:  Collections, Books, Family…

Hump Day Reading:  Engaging…

My Progress:  Compulsive Book Buying Disorder…

Coffee Chat:  From Books to Berlin…and In-Between…

Bookish Friday:  “Odd Child Out”

Friday Potpourri:  Family, Connections…

A Rainy Day Friday…

Review:  Her Last Goodbye (e-book, Morgan Dane #2), by Melinda LeighReview:  Lie to Me (e-book), by J. T. EllisonReview:  Keep Her Safe (e-book), by Sophie HannahReview:  Sleep Like a Baby (e-book, Aurora Teagarden Mystery), by Charlaine Harris***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Nothing came in my physical mailbox…but I did receive a NetGalley review book.  Then I downloaded three e-books.

The Wife Between Us (e-book), by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (NG – Release Date -1/9/18)

***

Downloaded Purchases:

Cold As Ice (e-book, Country Club Murders #6), by Julie Mulhern

The Last Mrs. Parrish (e-book), by Liv Constantine

Seven Days of Us (e-book), by Francesca Hornak

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently Reading:  Odd Child Out (e-book), by Gilly McMillan

And then…wherever my moods take me!

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  On Friday night, I took myself to my favorite neighborhood spot, CPK, for soup and margaritas…and this delicious pumpkin cheesecake dessert, with Irish Coffee:

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