REVIEW: THE PERFECT DAUGHTER, BY D. J. PALMER

Penny Francone, age sixteen, is a murderer. Her guilt is beyond doubt: she was found alone in the victim’s apartment, covered in blood, holding the murder weapon. The victim’s identity and her secret relationship to Penny give Penny the perfect motive, sealing the deal. All the jury needs to decide now is where Penny will serve out her sentence. Will she be found not guilty by reason of insanity, as her lawyer intends to argue? Or will she get a life sentence in a maximum-security prison?

Already reeling from tragedy after the sudden passing of her beloved husband a few years before, now Grace is on her knees, grateful that Massachusetts doesn’t allow the death penalty.

As Penny awaits trial in a state mental hospital, she is treated by Dr. Mitchell McHugh, a psychiatrist battling demons of his own. Grace’s determination to understand the why behind her daughter’s terrible crime fuels Mitch’s resolve to help the Francone family. Together, they set out in search of the truth about Penny, but discover instead a shocking hidden history of secrets, lies, and betrayals that threatens to consume them all.

The perfect daughter. Is she fooling them all?

 

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Alternating narrators tell us the current and backstory in The Perfect Daughter. I loved that Grace was so determined to find the truth and protect her beloved adopted daughter, Penny, whose alternating personalities might be a key to finding the truth.

Did Penny really have DID, or had she found a way to go back and forth between characters, hiding who she really is?

Even as I read along with all the narrators, including Dr. McHugh, I wasn’t even sure what we would discover.

The fact that DID had fallen into some disrepute by doctors and psychiatrists, there were others who still believed in the possibilities.

Digging into the past of Rachel Boyd, Penny’s birth mother, might yield some answers. But just when we thought we had the answers, an unexpected turn brought everything we needed. 4.5 stars.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE NEXT WIFE”

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!

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Today’s feature is a new book from an author I enjoy:  The Next Wife, by Kaira Rouda.

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Beginnings:

(Tish)

Despite popular notions to the contrary, it isn’t easy being the next wife.

I mean, sure, I have the benefit of his success without struggling through the “early days,” whatever that means.

 

Friday 56:

By the time I walked into the condo, it was like nothing had happened between us.  As if we’d never fought.

***

Synopsis: Kate Nelson had it all. A flourishing company founded with her husband, John; a happy marriage; and a daughter, Ashlyn. The picture-perfect family. Until John left for another woman. Tish is half his age. Ambitious. She’s cultivated a friendship with Ashlyn. Tish believes she’s won.

She’s wrong.

Tish Nelson has it all. Youth, influence, a life of luxury, and a new husband. But the truth is, there’s a lot of baggage. Namely, his first wife—and suspicions of his infidelity. After all, that’s how she got John. Maybe it’s time for a romantic getaway, far from his vindictive ex. If Kate plans on getting John back, Tish is one step ahead of her.

She thinks.

But what happens next is something neither Kate nor Tish saw coming. As best-laid plans come undone, there’s no telling what a woman will do in the name of love—and revenge.

***

Would you keep reading?  I have enjoyed this author’s previous books.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “FALLOUT”

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 since 2017:  Fallout, by Sara Paretsky.

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Book Beginning:  Playing the Sap—Again

“The police say it was drug-related, ma’am.  They think August was stealing to deal.”  Angela Creedy spoke so softly I had to lean forward to hear her.

***

Friday 56:

Red Menace

“Wow.  Strong medicine.”  I folded the page and put it in my case. “Was Ferring arrested?  What happened?”

***

Synopsis:  Before there was Lisbeth Salander, before there was Stephanie Plum, there was V.I. WARSHAWSKI. To her parents, she’s Victoria Iphigenia. To her friends, she’s Vic. But to clients seeking her talents as a detective, she’s V.I. And her new case will lead her from her native Chicago… and into Kansas, on the trail of a vanished film student and a faded Hollywood star.

Accompanied by her dog, V.I. tracks her quarry through a university town, across fields where missile silos once flourished — and into a past riven by long-simmering racial tensions, a past that holds the key to the crimes of the present. But as the mysteries stack up, so does the body count. And in this, her toughest case, not even V.I. is safe.

Exciting and provocative, fiercely intelligent and witty, FALLOUT is reading at its most enjoyable and powerful.

***

Would you keep reading?  I think I must, as I have put this one off too long!

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CLEAVING, BY JULIE POWELL

Julie Powell thought cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the craziest thing she’d ever do—until she embarked on the voyage recounted in her new memoir, CLEAVING.

Her marriage challenged by an insane, irresistible love affair, Julie decides to leave town and immerse herself in a new obsession: butchery. She finds her way to Fleischer’s, a butcher shop where she buries herself in the details of food. She learns how to break down a side of beef and French a rack of ribs—tough, physical work that only sometimes distracts her from thoughts of afternoon trysts.

The camaraderie at Fleischer’s leads Julie to search out fellow butchers around the world—from South America to Europe to Africa. At the end of her odyssey, she has learned a new art and perhaps even mastered her unruly heart.

 
 
 
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As I immersed myself in Cleaving, I enjoyed the author’s voice, which took me back to her first book and the movie based on it.

But then, as we followed her in her journey to butchering, and as the details grew, I liked it less. The gory meat journey was not as much fun as her cooking journey!

There were occasional recipes in this book, too, and there were interesting departures into her complicated love life. An ongoing affair, some problems in her marriage, and her occasional monologues about how she might finally “cleave” her relationship issues added just enough to the story to keep me going.

Overall, however, I was disappointed in this second effort by an author I had previously enjoyed. 3.5 stars..#2021ReadNonFic

 
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FRIDAY CHANGES…

I love changing up my blog headers!  When I added one of my newest dolls, Poppy, far right, to an older doll on the left, (Lizzy),  I tried another banner version first.  Then I settled on this one, as both dolls are now spotlighting books and other favorite things.

Poppy is sitting atop the entry way table with unread print volumes underneath and a Mary Engelbreit cottage next to her.

Lizzy is perched in front of copies of Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables books…and Disney figurines.

Sadly, Lizzy is no longer with me, as she was sold or given away when I moved.  It wasn’t my idea…but I am glad to have numerous photos of her. I have been looking for her online, but no luck so far.

Do you sometimes long for old sentimental objects that you no longer have in your home?

***

Here is one of my other versions of Poppy with things I enjoy.  She sits next to my Jelly Cupboard in the entry way with the beloved Engelbreit banner proclaiming my love of chocolate…and the little note about Nana:  “When All Else Fails, Ask Nana.”

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How is your Friday so far? I think I’ll start preparing for the day…and read a little more of my book, The Smash-Up, by Ali Benjamin.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “HER THREE LIVES”

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 I am excited to read:  Her Three Lives, by Cate Holahan

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Beginning:  She would make them late.  Greg paced between moving boxes, fighting the urge to call Jade a second time and remind her of Friday traffic into the city.  He didn’t want to nag his new fiancee about the importance of their presence at a cocktail hour, in which she couldn’t partake, for an event that neither of them wished to attend.

***

Friday 56:  Jade turned toward the steps.  “Sorry, Momma.  I have to give my husband his tea.  Then I’ll take you to the train.”

***

Gaslight goes high-tech in USA Today bestselling author Cate Holahan’s new standalone thriller in which a family must determine who the real enemy is after a brutal home invasion breaks their trust in each other.
Her public life Jade Thompson has it all. She’s an up-and-coming social media influencer, and she has a beautiful new home and a successful architect for a fiancé. But there’s trouble behind the scenes. To Greg’s children, his divorce from their mother and his new life can only mean a big mid-life crisis. To Jade, his suburban Connecticut upbringing isn’t an easy match with her Caribbean roots.
  Her private life A savage home invasion leaves Greg house-bound with a traumatic brain injury and glued to the live feeds from his ubiquitous security cameras. As the police investigate the crime and Greg’s frustration and rage grows, Jade begins to wonder what he may know about their attackers. And whether they are coming back.
  Her secret life As Greg watches Jade’s comings and goings, he becomes convinced that her behavior is suspicious and that she’s hiding a big secret.  The more he sees, the more he wonders whether the break-in was really a random burglary. And whether he’s worth more to Jade if he were dead than alive.

***

Would you keep reading?  I love this kind of story.

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REVIEW: THIEF OF SOULS, BY BRIAN KLINGBORG

Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police college but he’s been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing—headed by a rising political star—is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own.

As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.

 

 

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As Lu pursues the clues and the potential serial killer in Thief of Souls, we are caught up in his processes and his ability to find the connections.

Early on, Lu is especially drawn to a young woman who runs a local bar, and while he is learning more about her, he begins to realize that she might also be in danger.

While he finds answers to one mystery after the other, he draws closer to the solution.

Like the trail of clues Lu follows, the reader begins to zero in on the guilty party, even as the danger intensifies. I was fascinated by the spiritual elements of the story. 4.5 stars.

My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

***

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “WHEN THE STARS GO 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 new book from a favorite author:  When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McLain

Book Beginning:  (Prologue)

The mother who tore off her dress when the police came to her house with the news and then ran down the street in only her shoes, while her neighbors, even the ones who knew her well, hid behind their doors and windows, afraid of her grief.

***

Friday 56:

The sun is sinking fast now, staining the cloud line.  Gulls draft over the chop below us, buoyed and free.

***

Synopsis:  Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives—and our faith in one another.

***

Would you keep reading?

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REVIEW: BLOOD ORANGE, BY HARRIET TYCE

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise—she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband—she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything…

 
 
 
 
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Blood Orange is a gripping story full of flawed characters that kept this reader glued to the pages.

A brilliant attorney, Alison seems to have it all, but her personal life is a mess.

Her good qualities kept me rooting for her, just as her toxic marriage kept me wishing she could finally let go of her bad actions and be a better mother. Her husband Carl might look like a good guy on the outside, but his snarky judgmental tones put me off from the very beginning.

Patrick, Alison’s lover, wasn’t much better, in my opinion, as he was self-involved most of the time.

Six-year-old Matilda was the best character: loving, cheerful, and hoping for a happy family life. Would she ever have it?

As the twists and turns kept coming, I couldn’t stop reading. In fact, I read past midnight, wanting to know what would happen next. I was intrigued by the little clue that came in the form of a blood orange, but I was still stunned by the intensity of the ending. A 5 star read!

 
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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “MOTHER MAY I”

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 I am hoping to enjoy:  Mother May I, by Joshilyn Jackson.

***

Book Beginning:

I woke up to see a witch peering in my bedroom window.

She was little more than a dark shape with a predator’s hungry eyes, razor-wire skinny but somehow female, staring in through the partly open drapes.

***

Friday 56:

Then I went to Google and typed in “Hypnodorm.”  I scanned the entry, reading about dosage and side effects.  Roofies lowered inhibitions, made people suggestible, and stole their memory.

***

Synopsis: 

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected that fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of.

Until the day she awakens and sees someone peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price. 

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

***

Would you keep reading?

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