BOOKISH FRIDAY: “AFTER THE END”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  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 NetGalley ARC I’m enjoying:  After the End, by Claire Mackintosh. (Release Date: 6/25).

Beginning:  (Prologue):  Leila looks around the courtroom.  Only the handful of press given permission to attend are moving, their pens making swift marks in shorthand, recording every word the judge speaks.  Everyone else is quite still—watching, waiting—and Leila has the strange sensation of being frozen in time, that they might all wake, a year from now, and they will still be here in this courtroom, waiting for the ruling that will change so many lives.

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Friday 56:  (After) You cannot feel grief without first feeling love, and now my heart is filled with both.  For my son, for my husband, for my marriage.  Max turns to face me, lines around his eyes that weren’t there a month ago.

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Synopsis:  Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers—unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son.
 
What if they could have both?
 
A gripping and propulsive exploration of love, marriage, parenthood, and the road not taken, After the End brings one unforgettable family from unimaginable loss to a surprising, satisfying, and redemptive ending and the life they are fated to find. With the emotional power of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Mackintosh helps us to see that sometimes the end is just another beginning.

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I am glued to the pages of this book.  What are you sharing today?

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REVIEW: THE LIFE SHE WANTS, BY ROBYN CARR

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Emma Shay Compton was blindsided by her husband’s fraudulent Ponzi scheme, his crooked ways that had upended their wealthy, upscale Manhattan lives.

Emma cooperated with the authorities, maintaining her ignorance of her husband’s actions, but the agents did not quite believe her. In the end, she refused any kind of settlement from the government once they had concluded their investigation. Then when Richard killed himself in their apartment, just before he was due for imprisonment, Emma knew that it would never be over.

Left with nothing but the few thousand dollars she brought into the marriage, Emma headed back to Sonoma County, where she grew up, and where her best friend Lyle and his partner Ethan ran a floral shop.

But going home also will resurrect old pain. The losses of her teenage years, like her father’s death; the loss of her best friend Riley, who hooked up with her boyfriend Jock, while she was away at college; and the final piece of sadness: Riley had gotten pregnant with Jock, too. Now, years later, she has a teenage daughter, Maddie.

The Life She Wants pulled me in from the very beginning, and I loved the characters, several of whom alternately narrated the story. Will Riley and Emma patch up their friendship? What will happen with Adam, Riley’s brother, who has carried the torch for Emma all these years? And will Emma find a home at last?

I loved watching the characters and rooted for them to find their way to healing. A feel-good story that brought tears of joy in the end.

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REVIEW: FLIGHT PATTERNS, BY KAREN WHITE

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A story with themes about journeys beginning and ending, the patterns of flight innumerable, the destination always being home, Flight Patterns takes us along for the ride. We find out more than we ever hoped to know about bees, we learn about loss and those who choose to stay apart rather than to forgive. And finally, we learn about how healing can begin.

Georgia Chambers, living her life in New Orleans, has stayed away from the family home in Apalachicola, Florida, ever since something happened between her and her sister Maisy Sawyers ten years before. Between the two of them, they are keeping the secrets and hanging onto the pain.

Meanwhile, their mother Birdie has not spoken a word for all that time, and the past is suddenly churning up, threatening to explode, right when Georgia returns to Apalachicola with a client in tow. James Graf is hoping to find out about a unique china pattern that belonged to his mother, a Limoges pattern with a unique design of bees circling it. And Georgia happens to be an expert in antiques. She also recalls seeing a soup cup in her own family home, one that might be part of the set.

What will Georgia discover in her quest for the china’s history? How will it take her to a family secret in France, one that might just have something to do with Birdie’s silence? How will a stolen truck only recently recovered help them all sort out the puzzle? And what will finally bring Georgia together with her sister Maisy, her niece Becky, and start the forgiveness process?

What a great story! I must admit that Georgia was my favorite character, with Becky my second favorite. I never warmed up to Maisy, really disliking her tendency to blame everyone else and not acknowledge her own faults. But in the end, she started to grow on me. James was delightful, and I kept rooting for him and his own healing. 5 stars.

REVIEW: WHERE I LOST HER, BY T. GREENWOOD

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It was a lovely June in Vermont when Jake and Tess visited their friends, Devin and Effie. But Tess was feeling anything but peaceful or content, having just made a discovery about her husband. Flirtatious text messages on his phone from a woman.

She was also still lost and sad from her experiences in Guatemala a few years back, a time that would seriously puncture the hope she once felt: in herself and in her marriage.

That night in Vermont, she drank too much and went to the store for more wine. Which is why, perhaps, that what happened next would turn her into what some saw as an unreliable reporter. Someone who found a little girl in the road, who then ran away. A little girl the police and searchers could not find, even after a day or two. Someone the lead detective would publicly label a liar and false reporter.

Where I Lost Her was a story that gripped me from the beginning, keeping me glued to the pages, hoping against hope for some kind of satisfactory resolution.

Alternate narratives swept back and forth, revealing the events in Guatemala and lending a reality to Tess’s feelings about her experiences, both then and in the present. Would the missing girl be found? Did she even exist? And what could Tess do to regain some kind of credibility in the community, a place where she grew up?

I felt a connection to Tess right away, and disliked her husband. The two of them seemed on completely different wavelengths, which can make for feelings of loneliness and isolation. For both of them.

The setting sounded beautiful, but with darkness around every corner, and as the truth about events finally came to light, I once again felt a sense of contentment for the characters. 5 stars.

***A copy of the e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

REVIEW: FOREVER, INTERRUPTED, BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID

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They likened their love to a supernova—shining brighter than anything else in the sky and then fading out really quickly. A short burst of extraordinary energy.

Ben Ross and Elsie Porter met in early January, on an ordinary rainy evening in the neighborhood pizza place. They had both ordered pizza to take out…and were waiting.

They started a conversation. The chemistry between them was electric, and before long, they had exchanged phone numbers. He called her the next day.

Like magic, they became inseparable almost immediately, and soon fell in love. They were married in early June, but nine days later, when Ben went out on an errand, he was struck by a truck and killed.

From there, Forever, Interrupted takes a turn, revealing in back and forth thrusts, their life, before and after it was interrupted so viciously. The story is narrated in Elsie’s first person voice, and we can feel what she is feeling as she struggles with the present while remembering the short past they had.

She has to deal with a number of obstacles, like not having a marriage certificate yet and having to contend with Susan, Ben’s mother, who is the legal next of kin.

Set in LA, Elsie’s life was a good one before Ben, but once they met, she couldn’t imagine any kind of life without him. Her best friend Ana is supportive and loving, but soon, and surprisingly, Susan reaches out to Elsie, apologizing for her behavior when they first met…and the two begin to forge a family relationship.

What happened to Elsie’s marriage certificate? Why was Ben so reluctant to tell his mother about their relationship? How will Susan and Elsie finally find a way to move on?

I loved this book, as I have loved the others I’ve read by this author. I felt so enveloped in the lives of the characters who are like real people, with all the flaws and fears of ordinary life interrupted by the loss of a loved one. This one was a 5 star read for me.