BOOKISH FRIDAY: “HOME BEFORE DARK”

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 recent acquisition:  Home Before Dark, by Riley Sager.

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Book Beginning:  (Prologue – July 1)

“Daddy, you need to check for ghosts.”

I paused in the doorway of my daughter’s bedroom, startled in that way all parents get when their child says something truly confounding.  Since Maggie was five, I suppose I should have been used to it.  I wasn’t.  Especially with a request so unexpectedly odd.

“I do?”

Yes, Maggie said, insistent.  “I don’t want them in my room.”

***

Friday 56:  I had no idea what Baneberry Hall really had in store for us.  How, despite our best efforts, its history would eventually threaten to smother us.  How twenty days inside its walls would become a waking nightmare.

***

Synopsis:  What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

***

Would you keep reading?  Or would you close the book and run?

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REVIEW: WHAT YOU WISH FOR, BY KATHERINE CENTER

 

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.

Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.

But he wasn’t always that way.

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.

I loved everything about What You Wish For, from the characters to the theme of choosing joy and doing it in spite of your fears.

Samantha and Duncan had a history that wasn’t necessarily good, especially with their combination of characteristics and fears. So when they are thrust together after Max dies and he is brought in as the new school principal, Sam learns that what she had wished for wasn’t turning out so great.

But between her friend Alice and Max’s widow Babette, a plan is created. A plan that could change everything about their lives and how they see things.

Characters like little Clay, the nine-year-old genius, kept me loving everything to the very end. Negative characters like Kent Buckley, Clay’s father and Babette’s son-in-law, kept me turning pages to see if justice would be served and he would no longer be a thorn in our sides. A book I didn’t want to put down, this one earned 5 stars.

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

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE SWAP”

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 from The Swap, by Robyn Harding.

***

Book Beginnings:  (Spring 2019) (low morrison)

I first saw Freya at my high school.  I hated school, found the classes as dull and simple as my fellow students.  This attitude did not endear me to my teachers nor my classmates, so I was alone, as usual, when she walked through the double front doors.  No one noticed her, which seemed to be her intent.  She wore a ball cap and aviator sunglasses that she did not remove under the fluorescent lights.

***

Friday 56:  It was a bright but mild morning, perfect walking weather, when Freya mentioned her connection to Low.  “I hear my favorite student applied for a job at the store.”

***

Synopsis:  Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.

After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

***

What do you think?  I am eager to dive into this book.

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REVIEW: THE GUEST LIST, BY LUCY FOLEY

 

The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

As we follow along, getting acquainted with the characters in The Guest List, we are on tenterhooks, wondering what will go wrong. The sense of foreboding hovers overhead as the alternating narrators tell the story. Who will end up in a dark place…or dead?

Jules, the bride, was annoyingly determined for perfection, critical of anything or anyone that might interfere with that goal.

Olivia, the bridesmaid and sister to the bride, is in a mood from the beginning. Something has gone awry for her, but she is trying to hide whatever that might be.

Hannah, the “Plus One,” is married to one of the bride’s male friends, and the two of them seem to be too close for comfort. Why are they often huddled together, whispering, and will their behavior trigger something in Hannah?

What mysterious drinking games amongst the groomsmen are setting off sparks among the other guests?

As the days pass, we know that dark and mysterious events will soon be coming…and we hold our breaths, waiting.

Just when we have imagined the scenario that will play out, we realize that there are complex puzzle pieces coming together to make up the eventual tragedy, and nothing can be sorted out easily.

By the time I turned the last page, I felt something for each and every character. Some of it was sadness. There was some empathy, too, but also a dark aura of disgust and contempt for the entitlement that had threaded itself through their lives. 4.5 stars.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE HALF SISTER”

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 The Half Sister, by Sandie Jones.

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Book Beginnings:  (Kate)

Kate sees the familiar nameplate on Dr. Williams’ office door and feels a knot in her stomach.  She doesn’t know why, after all this time, it still affects her like this—she should be used to it by now.  But every time she walks through his door she’s filled with hope, and every time she walks back out, she feels utter despair and sadness, unable to believe that fate could be so cruel.

***

Friday 56:  Kate carefully lifts the smaller box out and lays it on the carpet, as if psyching herself up to open it.  She knows what’s inside it; she just can’t remember the details.  She takes a deep breath, not knowing whether she wants to be proved right or wrong as she lifts the lid. (p.56).

***

Synopsis:  Meet the half sister, and unravel the ties that blind us.

THE TRUTH

Sisters Kate and Lauren meet for Sunday lunch every week without fail, especially after the loss of their father.

THE LIE

But a knock at the door is about to change everything. A young woman by the name of Jess holds a note with the results of a DNA test, claiming to be their half sister.

THE UNTHINKABLE

As the fallout starts, it’s clear that they are all hiding secrets, and perhaps this family isn’t as perfect as it appears.

***

What do you think?  Do the snippets grab you?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “SWAN SONG: AN ODYSSEY”

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 by a favorite author from back in the day:  Swan Song: An Odyssey, by Lisa Alther.

***

Book Beginning:  (The Death Magnet)

It was snowing the afternoon Jessie recycled her sex toys.  A sharp wind from Canada was whipping sheets of white across the parking lot at the household waste dump in Burlington.  It was like being smacked in the face by a line of wet laundry.  Most Vermonters had the good sense to stay home during a blizzard.

***

Friday 56:  Jessie was mystified.  What in the world did Alexandria, Egypt, have to do with Kat Justice from Mink Ridge, North Carolina?  It was unnerving to realize that, although she had caressed every square inch of Kat’s body many hundreds of times, there were evidently levels on which Kat had been a stranger to her. (56%).

***

Synopsis:  Dr. Jessie Drake, in her mid-sixties, following the sudden deaths of her parents and Kat, her partner of twenty years, has fled the Vermont life she has known for decades.

In an effort to escape the oppressive constancy of grief, she accepts a job from an old flame from her residency in New York City’s Roosevelt Hospital, and agrees to assist Ben as the ship’s doctor on a British liner. Jessie boards in Hong Kong, and, as the Amphitrite sails throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, cruise ship antics ensue. Jessie is lulled back into a long-ago romance with the ship’s co-doctor, and both she and her new/old beau become enmeshed with the ship’s lead (female) singer/entertainer. Among the passengers who fling socialized behavior aside on the high seas: a former Florida beauty queen (Miss Florida Power and Light) on a second honeymoon with her husband, as she causes high-velocity scandal, while juggling onboard affairs with a suicidal golf pro, and a defrocked priest hired as one of the liner’s gentleman hosts, until she vanishes–poof!–from the ship off the coast of Portugal . . . As the ship sails through the Gulf of Aden and into a possible hijacking by Somali pirates, Jessie retreats into her lover’s journals, written during her final months, journals filled with sketches of potential characters, observations on life and love–as well as drafts of a long new poem in progress, “Swan Song,” that seems to be about being in love with someone else, someone new. As Jessie’s grief turns to suspicion about the woman she thought she knew so well, her illumination of the poem’s meaning begins to lift the constraints of the past and make clear the way toward the future.

***

I first read books by Lisa Alther in the 1980s, and still have one of her books on my shelves:  Other Women.

When I discovered this new book on Kindle, I knew I had to give it a whirl.  What do you think?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “YOU CAN’T CATCH 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 download:  You Can’t Catch Me, by Catherine McKenzie.

***

Beginning:  (Airport Bars Are the Loneliest Bars)

There’s no real time of day in airports, only morning and drinking time.

I’m sitting in an airport bar.  They’re sad places, I’ve found, full of people who are waiting out flight delays or long layovers—whatever excuse they want to use to drink in the daytime.

***

Friday 56:  Now we’re going through one of those granite canyons they carved out when they built the highway.  Water runs down the rocks, and it smells like the beginning of time.

***

Synopsis:  Do you want to play a game?

Twelve years ago Jessica Williams escaped a cult. Thanks to the private detective who rescued her, she reintegrated into society, endured an uncomfortable notoriety, and tried to put it all behind her. Then, at an airport bar, Jessica meets a woman with an identical name and birth date. It appears to be just an odd coincidence—until a week later, when Jessica finds her bank account drained and her personal information stolen.

Following a trail of the grifter’s victims, each with the same name, Jessica gathers players—one by one—for her own game. According to her plan, they’ll set a trap and wait for the impostor to strike again. But plans can go awry, and trust can fray, and as Jessica tries to escape the shadows of her childhood, the risks are greater than she imagined. Now, confronting the casualties of her past, Jessica can’t help but wonder…

Who will pay the price?

***

Would you keep reading?  I can’t wait to dive into this one.

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “WATCH ME DISAPPEAR”

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 from a book I found deep on my Kindle, and which I hope to start reading soon:  Watch Me Disappear, by Janelle Brown.

***

Book Beginning:  (Prologue)

It’s a good day, or maybe even a great one, although it will be impossible to know for sure later.  By that point they’ll already have burnished their memories of this afternoon, polished them to a jewel-like gleam.  One of the last days they spent together as a family before Billie died:  Of course Jonathan and Olive are going to feel sentimental about it.  Of course they will see only what they want to see.

***

Friday 56:  Natalie sits back in her chair, tugging absently at the end of her ponytail.  “Maybe someone abducted her when she was hiking,” she offers.  Then registering the distress on Olive’s face:  “Or maybe she just has amnesia?”

***

Synopsis:  Who you want people to be makes you blind to who they really are.

It’s been a year since Billie Flanagan—a Berkeley mom with an enviable life—went on a solo hike in Desolation Wilderness and vanished from the trail. Her body was never found, just a shattered cellphone and a solitary hiking boot. Her husband and teenage daughter have been coping with Billie’s death the best they can: Jonathan drinks as he works on a loving memoir about his marriage; Olive grows remote, from both her father and her friends at the all-girls school she attends.

But then Olive starts having strange visions of her mother, still alive. Jonathan worries about Olive’s emotional stability, until he starts unearthing secrets from Billie’s past that bring into question everything he thought he understood about his wife. Who was the woman he knew as Billie Flanagan?

Together, Olive and Jonathan embark on a quest for the truth—about Billie, but also about themselves, learning, in the process, about all the ways that love can distort what we choose to see. Janelle Brown’s insights into the dynamics of intimate relationships will make you question the stories you tell yourself about the people you love, while her nervy storytelling will keep you guessing until the very last page.

***

What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “A PIECE OF THE WORLD”

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 book that has been hiding out on my Kindle for more than three years:  A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline.

***

Book Beginnings:  1939

I’m working on a quilt patch in the kitchen on a brilliant July afternoon, small squares of fabric and a pincushion and scissors on the table beside me, when I hear the hum of a car engine.  Looking out the window toward the cove, I see a station wagon turn into the field about a hundred yards away.  The engine cuts off and the passenger door swings open and Betsy James gets out, laughing and exclaiming.

***

Friday 56:  So later that afternoon, when Papa comes in from the milking, I bring him the box.  “Mamey said this is yours.”

Papa shrugs.  “That’s nothing.  I don’t know why I kept it.  Just bits and pieces I brought with me from Sweden.”

***

Synopsis:  To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

***

Would you keep reading?  I am definitely curious about this book by the author of Orphan Train, a book I have waited a long time to start reading.

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REVIEW: THE SEA OF LOST GIRLS, BY CAROL GOODMAN

Tess has worked hard to keep her past buried, where it belongs. Now she’s the wife to a respected professor at an elite boarding school, where she also teaches. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, whose dark moods and complicated behavior she’s long worried about, seems to be thriving: he has a lead role in the school play and a smart and ambitious girlfriend. Tess tries not to think about the mistakes she made eighteen years ago, and mostly, she succeeds.

And then one more morning she gets a text at 2:50 AM: it’s Rudy, asking for help. When Tess picks him up she finds him drenched and shivering, with a dark stain on his sweatshirt. Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress: Lila Zeller, Rudy’s girlfriend, has been found dead on the beach, not far from where Tess found Rudy just hours before.

As the investigation into Lila’s death escalates, Tess finds her family attacked on all sides. What first seemed like a tragic accidental death is turning into something far more sinister, and not only is Tess’s son a suspect but her husband is a person of interest too. But Lila’s death isn’t the first blemish on Haywood’s record, and the more Tess learns about Haywood’s fabled history, the more she realizes that not all skeletons will stay safely locked in the closet.

For most of Tess’s life, she has been trying to bury the past and her dark secrets. Throughout The Sea of Lost Girls, our narrator Tess has many fears and reasons to try to hide everything she has lived through. Some might point out that she could have prevented a lot of her own pain if she had come forward to share about how she had been abused and assaulted by someone who should have been a protector, but old habits die hard. And when women fear that others will not believe them, they often hunker down and hide everything even more.

The story takes us to the distant past and how the school where Tess and her husband teach has its own reasons to bury the past, but once Tess realizes how deep the secrets go and how much danger is coming at her, she begins to come forward with the truth.

Will she be able to protect her son? Can her husband be protected? Or will she find out that she is covering for the wrong people?

An intense tale that kept me guessing, not sure who had killed Lila or what had happened to all the lost girls. Just when I thought I knew the answers, another surprise would come around the bend. 4.5 stars.

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