Thursday, June 22, 2017

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings

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It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
Today I'm featuring my current read, The Trophy Child by Paula Daly.  The excerpts shared are from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.

The Trophy Child 

Beginning: Monday, September 21
The girls' changing room smelled heavily of sweat, mud and a sickly-sweet deodorant that was beginning to irritate the back of her throat.  She didn't have a lot of enthusiasm for hockey.  Not a lot of enthusiasm for school, full stop, now that she was on a probationary period.

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Page 56:  "Jennifer couldn't respond, just quaked hard in her chair, her knees lifting with what Verity knew was excitement at seeing her daughter."
 
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My thoughts:  Paula Daly is a keen observer of contemporary marriage and family life.  As with two of her previous novels that I readJust What Kind of Mother are You? and Keep Your Friends Closereaders are drawn into mysterious circumstances and unexpected twists while uncovering the troubled relationships between neighbors, spouses, parents, and children.  Daly's characters are complex and relatable, and her strong plots move the stories along at a good pace. 
 
The Trophy Child follows this same winning formula.  I am savoring the story and hope the author will be treating readers to another novel soon.
 
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From Goodreads: 
Paula Daly is acclaimed for her distinctive voice, masterful plotting, and terrifying depictions of ordinary people whose everyday lives are turned upside down through deception and murder. In her unsettling new domestic thriller, The Trophy Child, Daly digs beneath the serene surface of the idyllic suburban Lake District community where families strive for perfection, delivering a suspenseful, surprising story of motherhood and fallibility.

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as "the tiger mother."  Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

A thrilling tale of ambition and murder, Daly’s richly imagined world of suburban striving and motherly love is an absorbing page-turner about the illusions of perfection and the power games between husband and wife, parent and child.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings

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It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
Today I'm featuring my current read, My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry.  The excerpts shared are from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.

 My Husband's Wife  

Beginning: Prologue
Flash of metal.

Thunder in my ears.

"This is the five o'clock news,"

The radio, chirping merrily from the pine dresser, laden with photographs (holidays, graduation, wedding): a pretty blue and pink plate; a quarter bottle of Jack Daniel's, partially hidden by a birthday card.

My head is killing me.  My right wrist as well.  The pain in my chest is scary.  So, too, is the blood.
 
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Page 56:  "There was a silence.  Ed didn't notice, his head glancing from them to the paper and back to them again."
 
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My thoughts:  I'm still trying to process all the information and wonderful books I received last week at Library Journal's Day of Dialog and Book Expo.  While I arrange my reading queues of forthcoming and recently published titles, I am working on clearing the stacks of library books currently in my possession.  

My Husband's Wife leapt from the stacks because I couldn't resist the title and the blogosphere buzz.  I am only a few chapters in, but am already fascinated with the characters--solicitor Lily and her aspiring artist husband Ed Macdonald, and their neighbors, 9 year-old Carla Cavoletti and her single mother.  The prologue is set in the present day, but the story begins fifteen years earlier, in the year 2000.  With alternating chapters told in Lily and Carla's voices, I can sense that all is not as it appears, with shocking truths and events to be revealed.
 
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From Goodreads:  It won't be so bad when you're there, says my new husband before kissing me on the mouth. He tastes of Rice Krispies and that strong toothpaste of his which I still haven't gotten used to. I know, I say before he peels off to the bus stop on the other side of the road. Two lies. Small white ones. Designed to make the other feel better. But that's how some lies start. Small. Well meaning. Until they get too big to handle.

When young lawyer Lily marries Ed, she's determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But then she takes on her first murder case and meets Joe. A convicted murderer whom Lily is strangely drawn to. For whom she will soon be willing to risk almost anything.

But Lily is not the only one with secrets. Her next-door neighbor Carla may be only nine, but she has already learned that secrets are powerful things. That they can get her whatever she wants. When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.
 
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This Friday Focus post was originally written and published by Catherine for bookclublibrarian.com.  It cannot be republished without attribution.  Retweeting and sharing on Google+ are appreciated. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Friday Focus: The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings

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It's Friday . . . time to share book excerpts with:
  • Book Beginnings on Fridays hosted by Rose City Reader, where bloggers share the first sentence or more of a current read, as well as initial thoughts about the sentence(s), impressions of the book, or anything else that the opening inspires.  
  • The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice, where you grab a book and turn to page 56 (or 56% of an ebook), find one or more interesting sentences (no spoilers), and post them.
Today I'm featuring my current read, What's Become of Her by Deb Caletti.  The excerpts shared are from a trade paperback edition that I borrowed from the library.
 
 What's Become of Her 

Beginning: Chapter 1
In about twelve minutes, Isabelle Austen's old life will be gone forever.  Right now, though, the seaplane is still in the air, out of her sight, a few miles off the coast of Parrish Island.
 
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Page 56:  "Not the most cheerful guy to spend your life on, if you ask Isabelle.  Still, she respects this, too, his knowledge and experience and passion."
 
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My thoughts:  Isabelle Austen is reeling from a divorce and the recent death of her controlling mother.  When she travels to Parrish Island to settle her mother's affairs, the last thing on her mind is beginning a new relationship.  Yet, when she meets Henry North, she is instantly attracted to him, and finds his mysterious past alluring.  Is Henry the man of her dreams, or does he have a dark side that could endanger her?  
 
I am happy to at last be reading a novel by Deb Caletti, an author who has been on my radar screen for quite some time.  This story drew me in immediately and is holding my interest.  I can see myself burning the midnight oil to find out how it unfolds and concludes.
 
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From Goodreads:  Isabelle Austen returns to her hometown on a small, isolated Pacific Northwest island to take over the family tourism business after the death of her mother, a disapproving parent and a hard woman to love. Feeling lost, Isabelle is also struggling with a recent divorce and wondering if she'll ever come into her own. Then her life takes a surprising turn: The mysterious Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, steps off a seaplane, and changes Isabelle's world forever. From the beginning, their relationship is heady and intense then Isabelle learns of Henry's disturbing past, involving the death of a fiance and the disappearance of a wife. Suddenly Isabelle is caught between love and suspicion, paranoia and passion, as she searches for the truth she may not want to find and is swept into a dangerous game she may not survive.
 
 
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This Friday Focus post was originally written and published by Catherine for bookclublibrarian.com.  It cannot be republished without attribution.  Retweeting and sharing on Google+ are appreciated. 
 

Thursday Thoughts: Beartown

Today I'm sharing my thoughts about a recent read, Beartown by Fredrik Backman.

Beartown 

Beartown is an examination of the moral character of a small-town community and its inhabitants whose identities and fates are closely tied to the local youth hockey team. When an unthinkable attack involving a team player occurs, fault lines appear as residents side with either the victim or the accused.  As a result, multi-generational relationships are tested, underlying rivalries are exposed, and long-ago hurts resurface, as the town's fundamental values come under scrutiny.

After a slow start, themes of right and wrong and power and betrayal move the story forward.  Insiders and outsiders are pitted against each other in the pursuit of justice as the dangers of blind loyalty clash with the courage of those willing to stand up for the truth despite great personal cost.  Over the course of the novel, townspeople grapple with private and public anguish as each must ultimately take personal responsibility for their actions and collective responsibility for Beartown's future.

This thought-provoking story is quite relevant to current times and offers many discussion points for individual and book club readers alike.




Note:  My review is based on reading a library copy of the novel.  No compensation was received in exchange for this blog post.


This Thursday Thoughts post was originally written and published by Catherine for bookclublibrarian.com.  It cannot be republished without attribution.  Retweeting and sharing on Google+ are appreciated.