REVIEW: THE EDIBLE WOMAN, BY MARGARET ATWOOD

Margaret Atwood’s first novel is both a scathingly funny satire of consumerism and a heady exploration of emotional cannibalism.

Marian McAlpin is an “abnormally normal” young woman, according to her friends. A recent university graduate, she crafts consumer surveys for a market research firm, maintains an uneasy truce between her flighty roommate and their prudish landlady, and goes to parties with her solidly dependable boyfriend, Peter. But after Peter proposes marriage, things take a strange turn.
Suddenly empathizing with the steak in a restaurant, Marian finds she is unable to eat meat. As the days go by, her feeling of solidarity extends to other categories of food, until there is almost nothing left that she can bring herself to consume. Those around her fail to notice Marian’s growing alienation—until it culminates in an act of resistance that is as startling as it is imaginative.

I have had The Edible Woman on my stacks for ages, and as I read it now, I am stunned that I didn’t grab it earlier. There is something so captivating about Marian, as she narrates the story of her journey, varying from first person to third person voice.

The story of her issues with food resonated with me, even though mine occurred for different reasons. The similarities remained, though; Marian and I were both consumed with NOT eating certain things. How those issues affected her life (and mine) were all consuming, pun intended.

Psychological reasons probably formed the basis for Marian’s food dilemma, and I liked how the author showed us the progression for the character.

What does Marian learn from her experiences? How did they affect her choices and her life going forward? I couldn’t wait to find out more, and by the final denouement, I was smiling at the unexpected turn the story took. 5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE COUNTRY GUESTHOUSE”

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 Country Guesthouse, by Robyn Carr. (Sullivan’s Crossing – Book 5)

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Book Beginning:  (Prologue)

Hannah Russell loved the rented cabin she and her colleagues were staying in—it was exquisite.  The upscale, relatively new five bedroom/five bath house was in the woods on a lake and had a huge deck from which there was an amazing view of the Rockies.  Well, during the day when the sun was out.  Just now it was raining.  Make that sleeting.

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Friday 56:  Owen ruffled his hair.  “I’m going to want something a little stronger.  I’m not sure what day it is.  I think it’s yesterday.” (56%).

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Synopsis:  A summer rental, a new beginning…

Hannah Russell’s carefully crafted plans for her life have been upended without warning. When her best friend died suddenly, Hannah became guardian to a five-year-old named Noah. With no experience at motherhood, she’s terrified she’s not up to the challenge. She and Noah need time to get to know each other, so she decides to rent a country house with stunning views on a lake in rural Colorado.

When they arrive at the house, they are greeted by the owner, a handsome man who promises to stay out of their way. But his clumsy Great Dane, Romeo, has other ideas and Noah immediately bonds with the lovable dog. As Hannah learns to become a mother, Owen Abrams, who is recovering from his own grief, can’t help but be drawn out of his solitude by his guests.

But life throws more challenges at this unlikely trio and they are tested in ways they never thought possible. All three will discover their strengths and, despite their differences, they will fight to become a family. And the people of Sullivan’s Crossing will rally around them to offer all of the support they need…

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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SERENDIPITOUS HUMP DAY…

Welcome to my Hump Day World of Books and Disney Images.  I miss these little characters, so I am spotlighting them through photos.  Above, note that in my current header, I still have the little house-shaped frame with Pinocchio sitting nearby, while Disney characters and favorite books are taking up residence next to it in the banner.

Here’s how I showcase that frame these days:

Here is another view of it, a close-up with the dolls.

For those who visit my blogs, you know that I love quirky things that include dolls and fairy tale images.

My reading, however, is the thriller variety, although I am switching genres more lately.

My current read is The Daughter, by Jane Shemilt.

In the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Tana French, and Ruth Rendell, this compelling and clever psychological thriller spins the harrowing tale of a mother’s obsessive search for her missing daughter.

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The book held me hostage until late last night.  I should be finishing it today.

What books, images, and trinkets intrigue you?  How are you spending your Hump Day?

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REVIEW: REGRETTING YOU, BY COLLEEN HOOVER

 

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

An emotionally captivating story about family, bad choices, and moving on, I was drawn into Regretting You from the very first pages.

The story begins with Morgan as a teenager and how she deals with her teenage pregnancy, and what happens to her dreams afterwards. Her own feelings are stuffed down and she puts all of her energy into being the best mother she can be.

Her sister Jenny is always there for her. The two are close, but years later, when Morgan faces a tragic event and discovers that a great betrayal has turned her life upside down, she is forced to hide the truth from her own teenage daughter Clara. She fights against choices her daughter is making that could turn her into someone who could be hurt by someone she loves. Will telling the truth set them free, or make their lives another kind of trap?

The author kept me turning pages, hoping that the mother and daughter could communicate with each other and avoid the mistakes they are about to stumble into. A 4.5 star read.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE VANISHING”

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 Book One in a new Jayne Ann Krentz thriller series: The Vanishing, (Fogg Lake #1).

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Beginning:  Fogg Lake, fifteen years earlier…

Catalina Lark saw the murder take place about four seconds before it happened.  Maybe five seconds.  She was still getting used to the ominous visions.  They always caught her off guard.

She’d had flashes of bizarre scenes for the past couple of years, but a few months ago, shortly after her sixteenth birthday, they had started occurring more frequently.

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Friday 56:  “It looked like she was going to sleep,” Marge said.  “She’ll wake up in hell.  Just like I did.”

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Synopsis:  Decades ago in the small town of Fogg Lake, The Incident occurred: an explosion in the cave system that released unknown gases. The residents slept for two days. When they woke up they discovered that things had changed—they had changed. Some started having visions. Others heard ominous voices. And then, scientists from a mysterious government agency arrived. Determined not to become research subjects of strange experiments, the residents of Fogg Lake blamed their “hallucinations” on food poisoning, and the story worked. But now it has become apparent that the eerie effects of The Incident are showing up in the descendants of Fogg Lake.…

Catalina Lark and Olivia LeClair, best friends and co-owners of an investigation firm in Seattle, use what they call their “other sight” to help solve cases. When Olivia suddenly vanishes one night, Cat frantically begins the search for her friend. No one takes the disappearance seriously except Slater Arganbright, an agent from a shadowy organization known only as the Foundation, who shows up at her firm with a cryptic warning.

A ruthless killer is hunting the only witnesses to a murder that occurred in the Fogg Lake caves fifteen years ago—Catalina and Olivia. And someone intends to make both women vanish.

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I am excited about getting in on the beginning of this new series.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “NORMAL PEOPLE”

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 to me:  Normal People, by Sally Rooney.

 

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Book Beginnings:  Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell.  She’s still wearing her school uniform, but she’s taken off the sweater, so it’s just the blouse and skirt, and she has no shoes on, only tights.

Oh, hey, he says.

Come on in.

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Friday 56:  They’re about to pass a garage and Lorraine taps the window quickly and says:  Pull in here. Connell looks over, confused.  What? he says.  She taps the window again, harder, and her nails click on the glass.

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Synopsis:  Connell and Marianne grew up in the same small town, but the similarities end there. At school, Connell is popular and well liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation—awkward but electrifying—something life changing begins.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Normal People is the story of mutual fascination, friendship and love. It takes us from that first conversation to the years beyond, in the company of two people who try to stay apart but find that they can’t.

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I’ve heard a lot about this book.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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IN A NEW YEAR, A LOOK BACK…

Today I decided to search my Archives for stories from the past.  This one is from January 17, 2019:

This morning, I was clicking through my six blogs, pondering whether or not to change any headers or themes…and when I came to this one, I had one of those nostalgic moments.  Note the header, with the “lofty” photos.  The loft on the left was from a townhouse where I lived for almost six years, from 1988 to 1994. (The one on the right is from a cottage in Berlin where my eldest son and his wife lived for a while).

There is a bit of serendipity about that loft where I lived for a while.  I first saw the space in 1978!  Yes, ten years before I moved into it.  Then it was brand new…but the loft, with spaces between the rails, gave me pause.  At the time, the girl you see in the above photo (my daughter) was a toddler.  I cringed at the thought that she might crawl through a slat and fall.  So we moved on.

But in 1988, there was no such fear, and the serendipitous moment had arrived.  I just knew I had to live there. 

Here are some scenes from those days:

Looking down from the loft to a Christmas living room scenario. 

Curled up by the fire:  my eldest and my youngest, enjoying the coziness.

My Three Sons…

Another view of the loft, from above; I turned it into my bedroom:

 

And here’s another look; I loved the brass headboard, which I moved with me to the foothills after I left this place…but then gave it away before coming to my current residence.  Sigh.

My No. 2 son, visiting from college…

My youngest, being her preteen self….

A Halloween in the townhouse…and my daughter is strutting in the dining room…

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So…now that I’ve savored those memorable moments, I will move on to other things, but memories and moments do lift my spirits during the dark days we are now living.

Do you find nostalgic moments helpful when times are tough?  What do you do to help in difficult times?

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REVIEW: ALL THE FLOWERS IN PARIS, BY SARAH JIO

 

When Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memory of her past, she’s confused to learn that for years she’s lived a sad, reclusive life in a sprawling apartment on the rue Cler. Slowly regaining vague memories of a man and a young child, she vows to piece her life back together—though she can’t help but feel she may be in danger. A budding friendship with the chef of a charming nearby restaurant takes her mind off her foggy past, as does a startling mystery from decades prior.

In Nazi-occupied Paris, a young widow named Céline is trying to build a new life for her daughter while working in her father’s flower shop and hoping to find love again. Then a ruthless German officer discovers her Jewish ancestry and Céline is forced to play a dangerous game to secure the safety of her loved ones. When her worst fears come true, she must fight back in order to save the person she loves most: her daughter.

When Caroline discovers Céline’s letters tucked away in a closet, she realizes that her apartment harbors dark secrets—and that she may have more in common with Céline than she could have ever imagined.

 

My Thoughts: Our first-person narrators, Caroline and Celine, alternately tell the story in All the Flowers in Paris.

Caroline’s story takes place in Paris in 2009, while Celine’s voice comes to us from the same city in 1943.

The women are somehow connected to one another, in that they lived in the same apartment, but decades apart, and some mysterious events further link them.

Celine’s story reminds us of the time in which she lived, WWII, and the German occupation of Paris that brought danger every day.

Caroline’s tale begins with a horrific accident that leaves her with amnesia, presenting another kind of danger.

I loved turning the pages to find out what would happen next for the women, and what answers might give them peace and safety. Unexpected events were always just on the horizon, so I couldn’t stop reading. In the end, as the story came together with serendipitous results, I felt the kind of closure we all want in a book. 5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE EMPTY NEST”

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 Empty Nest, by Sue Watson.

 

 

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Book Beginnings:  It’s no surprise that mothers find it so hard to live in their empty nests.  We’re with our children every day of their lives, then suddenly, whoosh, they’re gone.

My daughter Amy went away to university just weeks ago—well, seven weeks and three days, to be precise.  Like all parents, I knew her leaving was inevitable—they have to leave one day—but for me it was especially hard.  She’s my only child and we’ve been through a lot together and as a result, our bond is perhaps even stronger than usual, we are so much more than mother and daughter—we’re best friends.

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Friday 56:  The prospect of leaving her had terrified me for months, and now the moment had arrived, it was every bit as bad as I’d expected it to be.  Like most mums I’d been part of everything my daughter had done in her life.

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Synopsis:  Kat remembers the days when her only daughter Amy wouldn’t leave her side. Amy was the baby who cried when you walked out of the room, the toddler who was too shy to speak to strangers, the small child who clung to Kat’s legs in the school playground.

But now Amy is grown up, and Amy is gone – to university in a town several hours away. Kat’s house – which once felt too full, too noisy, too busy – is deathly quiet, and Kat awaits the daily phone call to tell her that her beloved daughter is thriving and happy.

Until the day Amy doesn’t call, sending Kat into a panic. Her husband and friends say she’s being paranoid – surely Amy is just out, having fun? But Kat feels sure something is very wrong – she knows her daughter, and she would never just disappear.

As the hours turn into days, her fears are confirmed: Amy is missing. But there are secrets about her daughter that Kat doesn’t know about yet. And the truth about Amy’s whereabouts may be closer to home than Kat could ever imagine…

A gripping and suspenseful psychological thriller with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster and an ending that will blow readers’ minds. Fans of The Wife Between Us, The Girl Before and Gone Girl will be gripped by this unputdownable story about a mother’s obsessive love for her child.

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Now I’m eager to start reading. What do you think?

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HUMP DAY SERENDIPITY: MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!

When I went into the dining room today, I didn’t expect anything very festive…but when I asked for a Mimosa…guess what?  They brought one.

While I was here today, I also created a new blog button from images I found in my files:

When I moved to my new space, I left most of my favorite things behind, like Disney trinkets, lots of the books I owned, and some of my favorite mugs.  Luckily, I have many photos.

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Enjoy your day and your books!

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