Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

What They Say.....Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate. From a writer with "exceptional gifts for making nerves jangle and skin crawl," (Janet Maslin) You Will Know Me is a breathless rollercoaster of a novel about the desperate limits of desire, jealousy, and ambition.

What I Say....Wowzer!  Megan Abbott never disappoints and this was a one day read.  

I had a daughter who played club volleyball and I saw parents who were converting garages into practice areas with padded floors or families who hadn't taken a vacation in years because they were spending all of their money on volleyball and the traveling tournaments.  But no matter how much money people spent, you could see which kids were naturally talented and which were there because of their parents dedication to making them good.  And there was always some (semi) natural jealousy amongst the girls and even the grown ups.

So the setup of all of these young girls wanting to be at the gym where the predicted Olympian is working out, receiving coaching by the same teachers as Devon was eerily familiar to me.  I'm telling you, as parents - we are nuts.  There is nothing most of us won't do to help our child succeed.  But sometimes you see the situation morphing into something the parent wants more than the child.

But I digress.  Katie and Eric have devoted themselves to their daughter's  passion for gymnastics ever since she lost part of her foot in a terrible accident at home - an accident that they both still think about frequently.  Gymnastics started out as a way to help Devon regain her balance, but ends up taking over their family's life.

While they are all working up to a pre-Olympic qualifier, a sudden death of one of the hot gym assistant via hit and run shakes up everyone's world.  His girlfriend, a coach at the gym and the owner's niece quickly has a mental breakdown, Devon seems to be off her game and shutting down emotionally.

The parents are quickly turning against the coach and his family since their tragedy is interrupting their daughter's training schedules.

I thought I knew who did it, but my mind was twisted at the end - like all of her books.  This is a definite must read.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....July 24, 2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

Ugh.  Last week I had friends in town, and we had so much fun, but we were busy every single minute so I didn't get to read at all.  They left Tuesday morning, which meant I had to work hard to catch up from my time off work, so I was too tired to read more than a few pages.  

I thought this weekend would be a great time to float and catch up, but I'm throwing a baby shower today and I dramatically underestimated how much work it is to host something like this.  So no reading or floating this weekend either.

But next weekend, the weather forecast is all rain, which is fine with me. So I'll either be in the house reading or if the weather improves, I'll be in the pool reading.  But either way, I'll be reading.

I did receive some good adds this week, and I'm excited to get to them.  Magical realism is one of my favorites, and two of my new books this week are in this genre!

The Cottage at Pumpkin and Vine by Kate Angell, Jennifer Dawson and Sharla Lovelace.....Welcome to Moonbright, Maine…Where the scents of
donuts and cider waft through the crisp night air…with just a hint of magic.

It's time for the annual Halloween costume party at the cottage on Pumpkin and Vine, the perfect place to celebrate the pleasures of the season. Guests return to the picturesque B & B year after year to snuggle up in its cozy rooms, explore the quiet, tree-lined streets and enjoy all the spooky fun of the holiday. But local legend whispers that it's also a place where wishes have a strange way of coming true. 

For three unsuspecting revelers, it's going to be an enchanted weekend of candy corn kisses and midnight black kittens, along with some real Halloween surprises—the kind that make your heart skip a beat—for many more celebrations to come…

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell....26-year-old
Rachel Monroe has spent her whole life trying to keep a very unusual secret: she can make wishes come true. And sometimes the consequences are disastrous. So when Rachel accidentally grants an outlandish wish for the first time in years, she decides it’s time to leave her hometown—and her past—behind for good. 

Rachel isn’t on the road long before she runs out of gas in a town that’s not on her map: Nowhere, North Carolina—also known as the town of “Lost and Found.” In Nowhere, Rachel is taken in by a spit-fire old woman, Catch, who possesses a strange gift of her own: she can bind secrets by baking them into pies. Rachel also meets Catch’s neighbor, Ashe, a Southern gentleman with a complicated past, who makes her want to believe in happily-ever-after for the first time in her life. 
As she settles into the small town, Rachel hopes her own secrets will stay hidden, but wishes start piling up everywhere Rachel goes. When the consequences threaten to ruin everything she’s begun to build in Nowhere, Rachel must come to terms with who she is and what she can do, or risk losing the people she’s starting to love—and her chance at happiness—all over again.

Dear Mother by Angela Marsons....Three sisters. Three childhoods ruined.
One chance to heal the scars of the past.
After their death of their cruel and abusive mother, estranged sisters Alex, Catherine and Beth reunite once again. 

Alex, the youngest, is a bitter, unhappy woman who refuses to face the horrors of her childhood. Finding solace in a bottle, her life is spiralling dangerously out of control. 

Eldest child, Catherine, has strived for success, despite her difficult upbringing. But behind the carefully constructed façade lies a secret that could shatter her world forever. 

Beth, the middle child, bore the greatest burden. But having blocked out the cruelty they suffered, she remained with their mother until her death. Now she must confront the devastating reality of the past. 

Brought together as strangers, the sisters embark on a painful journey to heal themselves and each other. Can they finally put their terrible childhoods to rest and start over? 

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams

What They Say.....The bestselling author of A Hundred Summers, brings the Roaring Twenties brilliantly to life in this enchanting and compulsively readable tale of intrigue, romance, and scandal in New York Society, brimming with lush atmosphere, striking characters, and irresistible charm.

As the freedom of the Jazz Age transforms New York City, the iridescent Mrs. Theresa Marshall of Fifth Avenue and Southampton, Long Island, has done the unthinkable: she’s fallen in love with her young paramour, Captain Octavian Rofrano, a handsome aviator and hero of the Great War. An intense and deeply honorable man, Octavian is devoted to the beautiful socialite of a certain age and wants to marry her. While times are changing and she does adore the Boy, divorce for a woman of Theresa’s wealth and social standing is out of the question, and there is no need; she has an understanding with Sylvo, her generous and well-respected philanderer husband. 

But their relationship subtly shifts when her bachelor brother, Ox, decides to tie the knot with the sweet younger daughter of a newly wealthy inventor. Engaging a longstanding family tradition, Theresa enlists the Boy to act as her brother’s cavalier, presenting the family’s diamond rose ring to Ox’s intended, Miss Sophie Fortescue—and to check into the background of the little-known Fortescue family. When Octavian meets Sophie, he falls under the spell of the pretty ingénue, even as he uncovers a shocking family secret. As the love triangle of Theresa, Octavian, and Sophie progresses, it transforms into a saga of divided loyalties, dangerous revelations, and surprising twists that will lead to a shocking transgression . . . and eventually force Theresa to make a bittersweet choice.

Full of the glamour, wit and delicious twists that are the hallmarks of Beatriz Williams’ fiction and alternating between Sophie’s spirited voice and Theresa’s vibrant timbre, A Certain Age is a beguiling reinterpretation of Richard Strauss’s comic opera Der Rosenkavalier, set against the sweeping decadence of Gatsby’s New York.

What I Say......Okay, so I freely admit I'm a Beatriz Williams fan.  I couldn't put down A Hundred Summers.  It was one of my favorites.  

This one started out a little slower, with a reporter providing the setup for the story, but with an old radio type voice.  A man is on trial for murder and the courtroom is filled with spectators and interested family and friends.

Theresa is a rich society woman of a certain age, who has begun a passionate affair with a young soldier just back from the war.  I will say that the constant reference to Octavio as "The Boy" was an irritant from the beginning.  I felt like it actually made the character less relatable, and made me not as invested in his story.

Theresa's brother decides to send a "cavalier" to propose to the young heiress, Sophie, rather than do it himself.  Theresa volunteers her "Boy" for the task, but instead of creating a happy marriage, the cavalier falls in love with Sophie himself.  

As Theresa tries to compete in the same ring as beautiful, young Sophie, a mystery surfaces.  I don't want to give any spoilers, but some of the twists seem very far reaching.

I think I may be more of WWII fan than WWI - is that possible?  It doesn't seem like it should make that much of a difference, but maybe that's the key.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....July 17, 2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

This is going to be the fastest blog post ever.  I've got some friends in town - girls that I've been friends with since kindergarten!  Not a lot of people have been able to maintain friendships over 40 years and it's one of the things I'm most grateful for.

So lots of laughing, talking, and relaxing is happening and I need to get back to it.

I finished Beatriz William's A Certain Age and review will be coming soon.  It was okay, but not my favorite by her. 

I added NOTHING to my TBR list - I'm full up on great books!

I hope everyone has a great week!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Hardcover310 pages

Published July 12th 2016 by St. Martin's Press

What They Say.....In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

What I Say.....Oh boy, I haven't read a book that stuck with me like this in a long time.  Probably not since The Luckiest Girl Alive.  Where I closed the book and kept hearing the characters.

The story is told from the voice of the therapist that begins working with the family after the horrific rape of teenaged Jenny.  The perfect family begins to show fault lines almost immediately, after Jenny's mother pushes for her to be given a new memory erasing medical treatment - kind of like the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for trauma victims.

Initially, it appears that it may have been the right thing to do, but since her family hasn't received the same memory removing treatment, they begin to cope in different ways.  Her father thinks about revenge and justice constantly, and her mother begins to deal with the double life she's been leading.
In the midst of all of this, there is an angry young Marine who lost an arm in Afghanistan, who also received the same treatment.  He and Jenny develop a bond over their inability to remember the most traumatic events of their lives - how can you move past it if you can't remember?  

And there is our narrator, the calm, cool and collected therapist who realizes that his own son was at the party and that he is the owner of the unidentified sweatshirt that a witness describes........

I will give NO spoilers because that would be too suckish of me.  You will be holding your breath until the end, when all roads converge on one terrible night.

I do have to say that I thought about several different endings.  It would have been cool if this were an Encyclopedia Brown "choose your own ending" book like I used to read when I was a kid.  Does anyone remember those?????????  Dang, I'm old.

So if you go to a therapist (raises my hand), this book will make you give them the side eye at your next appointment.  They are only human after all, and they have families that they want to protect just as much as you want to protect yours.  But they have the added bonus of knowing how to mess with your mind if they choose to.  It had never occurred to me how vulnerable you actually are with a therapist!  If a sociopath got a Phd, he could probably do some significant harm - there's a book idea.

Loved it - great read.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.88

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