Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Daughters of Foxcote Manor by Eve Chase

Kindle Edition386 pages
Published July 21st 2020 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published May 14th 2020)

What They Say..... Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They're grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house's dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour - and the law - don't seem to apply.

But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

What I Say....  Eve Chase!!!  I love her books and you definitely have to be patient because she only puts one out about every 2-3 years.  So I was beyond excited to get a review copy of The Daughters of Foxcote Manor.  

Rita grew up with her grandmother, and is beyond excited to get a job as a nanny in London, with a glamorous mistress,, Jeannie, pregnant with her third child.  Rita loves the children, but Jeannie is devastated when her baby is delivered stillborn. She never even got to see her, her husband, Walter decided it would be too painful, so she has no closure.

Walter decides that his wife and children need to be bundled off to the country for the summer, without him.  He puts Rita in charge, and demands that she give him private reports on his wife's mental health - deciding whether she needs to be put away.

Rita doesn't want to spy on Jeannie, but Walter holds all the power, and the money, so she has to go along with it. 

As the summer goes on, Rita has to contend with Jeannie's mood swings, Hera's insecurity and anger towards her mother, a family friend who comes to stay and won't leave, and a baby that was found on a fencepost covered in ants.  Yep, you read that correctly.  A foundling that Jeannie immediately begins to think of as her replacement baby, and pushes Rita to delay notifying the police.

Poor Rita, she is also dealing with a local boy that seems interested in her, but she's not sure how she feels about him.  And she can't leave Jeannie in her current situation.

I won't give any spoilers, but this book is full of Eve Chase's twist and turns, and I absolutely loved, loved, loved the ending.  Once I was done with this one, I went straight into Black Rabbit Hall and loved that too.  

My only complaint is that I want her to write faster!!!!  When I finished this book, the first thing I thought was now I probably have to wait until 2022 to see anything new 

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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Our House by Louise Candlish

Kindle Edition416 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Berkley (first published April 5th 2018)


What They Say......There's nothing unusual about a new family moving in at 91 Trinity Avenue. Except it's her house. And she didn't sell it.

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she's sure there's been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern coparenting arrangement: bird's nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona's children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram's not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

What I Say..... I try not to rage blog, because I have so much respect for anyone that can sit down and write a book, much less get it published.  However, for this book, I'll make an exception.  

Fair warning, this will contain ALL the spoilers.  Fiona Lawson is coming home from a romantic weekend with her new lov-ah, when she sees movers outside of her house.  Moving other people's belongings INTO her house.  She is understandably shocked, and here our story begins.

First of all, this is told in alternating perspectives, in the form of a true crime podcast and a suicide note.  Fi is #VictimFi in the podcast, and it is the type of podcast everyone would listen to and discuss how they can't be as stupid as they think, because look at this woman.  Her husband is the one writing a novella suicide note as he backpacks across Europe.

#VictimFi (and she is truly life's victim), has decided to divorce her drunken, cheating husband after she finds him having sex with a neighbor in the kid's playhouse.  The husband is sorry, but this isn't the first time and she's apparently over it.  Bram has always broken the rules, but he's a good dad, so Fi decides to have the world's kindest uncoupling since Gwyneth Paltrow.  

Show me a middle aged woman who decides to divorce her cheating husband, and has no anger towards him, wants to share the house - a "bird's nest" arrangement and immediately meets a handsome stranger in a local bar and starts a supportive new relationship.  Seriously, show her to me.  

Anyway.....Bram has a an anger management problem, and a speeding problem, and a drinking problem (Fi: but he's a great father!), and has had his driver's license suspended but doesn't want Fi to know, because she might not let him stay with the kids on the weekends because he has to drive them around.  What else can a great father do but start driving on a suspended license?  And then when he's late for a work presentation, what else could you expect him to do but drive?

It's obviously not his fault that he drinks after his presentation, and then drives through residential streets to avoid the police, and tries to pass a jerk who he thinks is driving too slow, who then won't let him back in, causing an oncoming car to swerve and hit a house.  Mom and daughter are critically injured, but both Bram and the other driver leave the scene.  

I honestly can't believe I'm devoting this much time to writing this review - it really sucked that much.  

Bram is now worried that the other occupants will die and that he will get caught.  Both are hospitalized with critical injuries.  But how can he admit what happened? He was driving on a suspended license.  He could go to jail for up to 4 years.  More if they DIE.  

Meanwhile, what's a guy to do but hook up with a lady looking at you in a bar?  In the world's worst walk of shame, the next morning she tells Bram she saw him leave the scene and now wants a ridiculous amount of money in order to keep quiet.

Now throughout this book, Fi harps on and on about how much their house is worth, how the neighborhood is a family, how important this house is to her, she wants to leave it to her sons so they can raise their families in it - umm, okay, it's a house?

But now the one night stand has an accomplice, and he tells Bram to sell the house, the chickie will pretend to be Fi, and they will pocket the money and he can leave the country.  Like seriously, sell your house without your spouse's knowledge so you can pay off blackmailers because you drove drunk on a suspended license and don't want to go to jail.  At what point do you say, what the eff?  The answer if you are Bram is, you don't.

Because he's such a great dad, he doesn't want to leave his kids while he goes to jail.  Not bad enough to take a goddamn Uber, but you know how it is.  Btw, the child in the other car died.

He makes a series of stupid decisions, dumps the car in a crappy neighborhood, reports it stolen, but he can't even get an Audi successfully taken when he leave the keys in it. Yep, he's that bad.

Then we find out Fi's boyfriend is actually the blackmailer, because why not?  It is a little unbelievable that a newly separated mother would immediately meet Mr. Right, but she's this gullible.  He won't let her take his picture, she's never gone to his house, but it's all good, right?

Meanwhile, Bram throws an open house, sells the house and disappears, leaving the boys with his mom.  He's traveling across Europe, writing his suicide novel.  Turns out his dad also committed suicide, after hitting an old man driving drunk.  So Bram decides that suicide has been what his life has been leading to since he was born.  Holy God, how about therapy?  How about AA?  He literally thinks he's the victim in this scenario, he says sure I made a mistake but if these people weren't blackmailing me, we wouldn't be here.  

Meanwhile, Fi, Miss Holier Than Thou, is realizing what her husband has done, and that her new boyfriend wasn't really ever interested in her.  He calls her fat, and takes off when he realizes that  Bram has double crossed him.  So of course she lures him to the apartment and poisons his with alcohol and sleeping pills.  He chokes on his vomit and dies.  Then she calls one of her best friends to help her, and of course this pregnant housewife does, because she's the one that Fi caught screwing her husband in the playhouse.  "I didn't think this is what it would take for you to speak to me again.".  These two clean the crime scene and call the cops, framing Bram for the murder since he won't be coming back.  Yep, you read that right, #VictimFi just killed a man for stealing her house and calling her fat.  

Bram changed the account number the house money was deposited into and although he knows the police will tie it up for 3-4 years as evidence, he feels like he did Fi right.  So he kills himself, because you know, he's such a good dad.  And this is his gift to them, that they not be ashamed of him.  Or you know, see how a grown man takes accountability for his actions.  

Writing this review has been therapeutic.  I've never read a book with characters that repulsed me quite as much as this one.  I deserve to buy two books as a reward for reading this one.  

Current Goodreads Rating 3.71 - so obviously I'm the odd man out.  I want to hear from someone who loved this book. Explain it to me, please!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What They Say......Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and joy for living.

But she wasn’t always that way.  
Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen. 
But he wasn’t always that way.  

And Sam knows it. Because she knew him before—at another school, in a different life. Back then, she loved him—but she was invisible. To him. To everyone. Even to herself. She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But when Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school—and the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam. Until the opposite turns out to be true. The lovable Duncan she’d known is now a suit-and-tie wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he’s willing to destroy it.

As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love—which is the riskiest move of all.  

What I Say.... 

I love Katherine Center's books, I've always been a fan.  See, The Bright Side of DisasterHow to Walk AwayEveryone is Beautiful.  She's writes books that relax me to read and on occasion, make me cry.  

So I was excited to get a chance to read her newest book.  Sam is a librarian, she embraces life, and lives big in her small town.  Her school is her home and her coworkers and students her family.  She's left love behind - the man she loved never even knew she was alive. 

Then he shows up.  Her lost love, but he's lost his color, his joy, his love of life.  And Sam is afraid he's going to draw all of the color out of hers.  Duncan has been involved in a tragedy at work, and although he's still physically healing, he's not emotionally healing at all.  

I liked this book because it brought forth some very topical issues.  How do we balance being cautious in today's world with how do we live without fear, and embrace joy?  

My one bit of feedback is that at times Sam didn't feel real - real like other characters have in Center's books.  She was trying too hard with her wardrobe, her "uniqueness", it was like she was trying to become Duncan, but it didn't quite fit.  It kept making me realize I was reading a book and she wasn't real, which is so unusual for this author.  Usually I fall right into her character's world.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Paperback318 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Lake Union Publishing

What They Say.....Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.

She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.

A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

What I Say....This was a book that felt pretty timely in our current world.  True crime is one of my favorite genres and there are so many great documentaries, podcasts, and news stories out there.  It was interesting to read a book where the main character is the creator of this type of entertainment.

There were a lot of interesting twists and turns in this book.  Tessa has an uneasy relationship with her sister for unshared reasons, but they now have a home left to them by their estranged mother.

Tess helps to free a man she believes was wrongfully accused of murder.  But once he's out, Tess moves onto her next project and loses touch with him.  It's interesting to see the impact of a man who was wrongfully accused trying to reacclimate to the world that has moved on from him, trying to catch up to all of his missing years - unsuccessfully.  This pressure leads him to kill again and Tessa is devastated.  She wants nothing more than to escape.

But Tessa doesn't have anywhere to go.  She's not speaking to her sister - or rather, her sister isn't speaking to her, and her mother has died.  But when they find out their mother was adopted and has now left them a crumbling creepy house, it seems like the perfect place to escape to.  

Of course what crumbling house with a murderous past would be complete without two creepy sisters who are the caretakers?  Deidre and Kitty live in a cabin on the property, and are just spooky enough to both scare and comfort Tess.

I always love the past-present style of writing, but in this book, I liked the story of the past much more than the story of the present.  That was much more interesting than the bickering between Margot and Tessa.  Overall, I give this book four stars - the gothic past was just much more interesting than the present.  

Current Goodreads Rating 4.27

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Happy Catastrophe by Maddie Dawson

What They Say....Marnie MacGraw and Patrick Delaney have been in love for a few years now, enough to realize that they are imperfectly perfect together. Still, there are some things that maybe need a little attention. Marnie’s ebullient; he’s brooding. She thrives on change; he prefers stability. She sees marriage and parenthood in their future, but he can’t see beyond the shadow of an earlier tragedy.
Then an eight-year-old surprise from Patrick’s past shows up on their doorstep, cartwheeling into their lives and spinning things in all directions. While it’s not exactly the change she envisioned, it looks like instant family to Marnie. But Patrick, afraid of being hurt again, retreats further into himself. Suddenly, two very different pieces of a beautiful puzzle find it harder and harder to fit. How can Marnie trust in the magic of the universe when it seems to be doing its best to knock her off her feet?
But some love stories are worth waiting for. And what’s love without a little chaos anyway?

What I Say.....I haven't book blogged in over a year.  Not because I haven't read any fabulous books, but more because my mind just wasn't in it.  Too much work stress, too much family stress, I just wanted to hibernate when I was home alone.  But as I've crawled out of my depression cave, I kept thinking that there were books I wanted to talk about.  
I picked this book off of NetGalley because I've read and loved Maddie Dawson's books.  I'm not sure exactly what happened with this book, but somehow when I downloaded it, I ended up starting it about halfway through.  And I couldn't figure out how we had gotten to this kid being there and the dad being so withdrawn, and a divorce seeming imminent.  They kept referring to things that had happened and I thought I just missed something.  But I was quickly drawn in even with the weirdness of the disjointed story.
Talk about living your life being distracted!  When I finished the book, I went back to the beginning to see if this was a sequel - and found out that yes, it was a sequel, but I had also missed at least half of the book.
Anyways.....I actually enjoyed going back to the beginning and starting the book knowing the ending, although it seemed anticlimactic.  One of the best things about Dawson's books is that you never know how they are going to end - they aren't formulaic. 

I love an awkward kid story, and Fritzie certainly fills that need for me.  As she drops (is dumped) into Patrick and Marnie's life, she's a little untamed, verbally expressive and very uncertain about why she suddenly has a dad, and one who doesn't seem to want to get to know her.  

Patrick and Marnie are total opposites, and while Patrick recoils from the connection, Marie dives headfirst into mom-hood and love for all of Fritzie's ways.  

Marnie is also full of empathy and compassion for Patrick's ghosts, but she's not okay with him not wanting kids with her, and she's definitely not okay with him emotionally distancing from a little girl who needs more from than he night be able to give.

I moved right into Matchmaking for Beginners, (it's $1.99 on Kindle right now) which was the first book about Patrick and Marnie - and I suggest you do it the right way, start there and then go to Happy Catastrophes, which right now is $4.69 on Kindle - total bargain!

This was the weirdest way to read two books, but it worked out, and I continue to be hooked on Maddie Dawson and all of the feelings that her books bring!  Give them a try, I'd love to know what you think.  

Current Goodreads Rating is 4.0

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