BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE DUTCH HOUSE”

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 I bought in September 2019. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett.  I thought I would have read it by now…but here we are.

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Book Beginnings:

The first time our father brought Andrea to the Dutch House, Sandy, our housekeeper, came to my sister’s room and told us to come downstairs.  “Your father has a friend he wants you to meet,” she said.

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Friday 56:

Bright laughed but then Norma ran out of the room in tears, suddenly understanding what taking Maeve’s room might mean to Maeve.  Maeve watched her go and I could see on her face she wasn’t sure whom she should be comforting:  Norma? Sandy? Me?

***

Synopsis:

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakeable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.

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What do you think?

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REVIEW: LAST GIRL GHOSTED, BY LISA UNGER

She met him through a dating app. An intriguing picture on a screen, a date at a downtown bar. What she thought might be just a quick hookup quickly became much more. She fell for him—hard. It happens sometimes, a powerful connection with a perfect stranger takes you by surprise. Could it be love?

But then, just as things were getting real, he stood her up. Then he disappeared—profiles deleted, phone disconnected. She was ghosted.

Maybe it was her fault. She shared too much, too fast. But isn’t that always what women think—that they’re the ones to blame? Soon she learns there were others. Girls who thought they were in love. Girls who later went missing. She had been looking for a connection, but now she’s looking for answers. Chasing a digital trail into his dark past—and hers—she finds herself on a dangerous hunt. And she’s not sure whether she’s the predator—or the prey.
 
 
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Last Girl Ghosted carries the reader along on a quest for missing girls and the predator who has captured them.

Wren Greenwood grew up off the grid and lost her family to violence. She becomes one of the missing girls as she tries to help them.

Our story also follows the lives of others searching for the disappeared girls, some of whom have roots in The Hollows.

The story was dark and twisted and multilayered, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. 5 stars.
 
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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “LAST GIRL GHOSTED”

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 newest books:  Last Girl Ghosted, by Lisa Unger.

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Book Beginnings:

(Prologue – Mia)

Mia Thorpe drove, the road ahead of her long and twisting.  Dark.  She’d been driving on and off for two days, was stiff and bleary-eyed from the trip.  She’d stopped last night at a motel for a fitful sleep, half-waiting for word from Raife that didn’t come.

***

Friday 56:

That picture of you.  So far, I haven’t admitted that I know you.  In fact, I haven’t said much at all.

***

Synopsis:

She met him through a dating app. An intriguing picture on a screen, a date at a downtown bar. What she thought might be just a quick hookup quickly became much more. She fell for him—hard. It happens sometimes, a powerful connection with a perfect stranger takes you by surprise. Could it be love?

But then, just as things were getting real, he stood her up. Then he disappeared—profiles deleted, phone disconnected. She was ghosted.

Maybe it was her fault. She shared too much, too fast. But isn’t that always what women think—that they’re the ones to blame? Soon she learns there were others. Girls who thought they were in love. Girls who later went missing. She had been looking for a connection, but now she’s looking for answers. Chasing a digital trail into his dark past—and hers—she finds herself on a dangerous hunt. And she’s not sure whether she’s the predator—or the prey.

***

Would you keep reading?  I can’t wait to start!

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “ALWAYS THE LAST TO KNOW”

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 languishing on my Kindle for more than a year:  Always the Last to Know, by Kristan Higgins.

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Book Beginning:

(Sadie)

“You’re engaged?  Oh! Uh…huzzah!”

Yes.  I had just said huzzah.

You know what?  I couldn’t blame myself.  Another engagement among the teachers of St. Catherine’s Catholic Elementary School in the Bronx.  The fifth this year, and yes, I was counting.

***

Friday 56:

(John)

The years have rushed by in a river.  There’s an old man living in his room.  John isn’t sure who he is.  His wife doesn’t notice.  It’s not his grandfather, but he looks familiar.  He’d ask his wife, but he can’t make words come out.

***

Synopsis:

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other…who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters– Barb’s favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John’s darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn’t be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad–and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she’s spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks.

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what’s been going on in their marriage all along.

***

Would you keep reading?  I waited a long time to begin, but now I’m immersed in this one.

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REVIEW: THE STRANGER BEHIND YOU, BY CAROL GOODMAN

Journalist Joan Lurie has written a seething article exposing a notorious news-paper tycoon as a sexual predator. But the night it goes live, she is brutally attacked. Traumatized and suffering the effects of a concussion, she moves into a highly secure apartment in Manhattan called the Refuge, which was at one time a Magdalen Laundry. Joan should be safe here, so how can she explain the cryptic incidents that are happening?

Lillian Day is Joan’s new 96-year-old neighbor at the Refuge. In 1941, Lillian witnessed a mysterious murder that sent her into hiding at the Magdalen Laundry, and she hasn’t come out since. As she relates to Joan her harrowing story, Joan sees striking similarities to her own past.

Melissa Osgood, newly widowed and revengeful, has burning questions about her husband’s recent death. When she discovers a suspicious paper trail that he left behind, she realizes how little she knew about her marriage. But it seems Joan Lurie might be the one who has the answers.

As these three lives intersect, each woman must stay one step ahead of those who are desperate to make sure the truth is never uncovered.

 

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Alternating narrators offer up their perspectives in The Stranger Behind You. I found myself liking Joan Lurie more than the others, but each had interesting tales to tell.

When Joan ends up attacked and living in a cloistered apartment where she can feel safe, she soon begins to realize that safety is not necessarily what she finds here.

Melissa’s goals in moving into the same apartment are less about her safety, but more about getting revenge on Joan, who had written about her husband.

The old woman from the 1940s had interesting stories to tell. But who is she really?

As all the characters add to the story, we soon realize how much more there is to tell.

We learn a lot more about all of them, with additions to their stories, and we discover that some were not to be trusted. There was a surreal element that kept me on my toes. 4.5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “BRAVE GIRL, QUIET GIRL”

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 I bought in June 2020, and now I have brought it forward on my Kindle:  Brave Girl, Quiet Girl, by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

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Beginning:

Brooke:  Shattered

It started that day with just the normal levels of my mother driving me crazy.  Which, don’t get me wrong, is plenty bad enough.  And some leftover feelings from the odd conversation I’d had with the young woman at my daughter’s new day care might have factored in.

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Friday 56:

Part of me had been genuinely concerned for her.  And them.  I think.  Another big part of me was just avoiding steering the conversation to my own truths.

***

Synopsis:

Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.

Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.

Out of one terrible moment, Brooke’s and Molly’s desperate paths converge and an unlikely friendship across generations and circumstances is formed. With it, Brooke and Molly will come to discover that what’s lost—and what’s found—can change in a heartbeat.

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What do you think?  I have overlooked this book for a while, so I’m grateful I found it again.

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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.

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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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