Wednesday, August 9, 2017

WWW Wednesdays: Lazy Days of Summer Edition

It's time for WWW Wednesdays hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words 

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This mid-weekly meme consists of answering The Three Ws:


What are you currently reading?


 What did you recently finish reading?


What do you think you’ll read next?


It's been a while since my last blog post, and I'm checking in now to say I'm still here, but won't be blogging much during August either.  I've been enjoying days at the pool and the beach, planning for two trips later this month, and reading as much as time allows.  Unfortunately, there hasn't been much time for blogging.

Anyway, until I settle back into my usual blogging routine, here's a look at what I read in July, a mix of contemporary and historical fiction, thrillers, and mysteries. . .

The Woman on the Stairs


The Daylight Marriage


The Dead Detective


The Child


The Magdalen Girls


Camino Island


What She Knew


The Hate U Give

My August reading so far . . .

The Story of a Brief Marriage


The Glass Eye

What I'm reading right now . . .

Exit West

What I'll be reading next . . .

Three Men in a Boat


What are your Wednesday updates?



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

Thursday, July 13, 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 most recent read, What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan.  The excerpts shared are from a paperback edition borrowed from the library.

What She Knew  

BeginningBEFORE
DAY 1   SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2012
RACHEL

My ex-husband's name is John.  His new wife is called Katrina.  She's petite.  She has a figure that can make most men drink her in with their eyes.
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Page 56:  "What he avoided saying explicitly was what we all knew.  Ben wasn't lost; he'd been taken."
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My thoughts:  The race is on to find 8-year-old Ben Finch, who disappeared from a local park while on a walk in the woods with his mother. There are many possible suspects, and DI Clemo must discover what they each know and who is responsible for this chilling crime.

What She Knew is a strong, page-turning debut that had me holding my breath as I tore through the story to reach the conclusion. I'm looking forward to the arrival of another installment in this thrilling new series.


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From Goodreads:  In her enthralling debut, Gilly Macmillan explores a mother’s search for her missing son, weaving a taut psychological thriller as gripping and skillful as The Girl on the Train and The Guilty One.

In a heartbeat, everything changes…


Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.

Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.

As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.

Where is Ben? The clock is ticking...


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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: The Woman on the Stairs

The Woman on the StairsThe Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this powerful novel, Schlink examines the price of personal freedom and obsession through the lives of his flawed characters: Peter, the artist obsessed with his muse and control of his artwork; Karl, the business tycoon married to Peter's muse and just as obsessed with her as he is with his own prowess; and Irene, the trophy to Karl and muse to Peter.

Irene is the captivating goddess and subject of Peter's painting. Her presence and the artwork itself loom large in the characters' individual and shared fates. She is the woman on the stairs who struggles against a patriarchal society, ultimately paying a considerable price for her nonconformity.

The story unfolds through both the present time and reflections of the past, as facilitated by an unnamed narrator, an attorney who has been drawn into the triangular relationship between the main characters and plays the role of pawn to advance their wishes and desires. Readers learn how each character connects to the other, exploring the outcomes of their jealousies and rivalries as they are reunited one last time in their senior years to contemplate both the past, the future, and the meaning of life.

The story raises questions about morals and values; selfishness, status quo, and the common good; the consequences of choices; life's purpose; the roles individuals play in the lives of others; and the elusive nature of love and happiness. Schlink, who previously wrote The Reader, is a thought-provoking author and masterful story teller who suggests that ultimate freedom is attained by coming to terms with and releasing the past.




Friday, June 30, 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 an upcoming read, The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink.  The excerpts shared are from a hardcover edition borrowed from the library.

 The Woman on the Stairs 

Beginning: Monday, September 21
Perhaps you will see the painting one day.  Long lost, suddenly resurfaced — all the museums will want to display it.

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Page 56:  "How would she deal with the picture?  Wasn't it way too heavy?  Was someone helping her?  Who?  Or would she manage to carry it?  Why didn't she trust me?"
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My thoughts: The opening piques my interest and invites many questions.  Since I enjoyed Schlink's novel, The Reader when I read it a few years ago, I am eager to sink into another of his stories.
 
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From Goodreads:   For decades the painting was believed to be lost.  But, just as mysteriously as it disappeared, it reappears, an anonymous donation to a gallery in Sydney.  The art world is stunned but so are the three men who loved the woman in the painting, the woman on the stairs.  

One by one they track her down to an isolated cottage in Australia.  Here they must try to untangle the lies and betrayals of their shared past - but time is running out.

The Woman on the Stairs is an intricately-crafted, poignant and beguiling novel about creativity and love, about the effects of time passing and the regrets that haunt us all.

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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, June 29, 2017

Thursday Thoughts: Paula Daly's Latest Domestic Thriller

The Trophy ChildThe Trophy Child by Paula Daly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paula Daly is a keen observer of contemporary marriage and family life. As with two of her previous novels that I read—Just What Kind of Mother are You? and Keep Your Friends Close—readers are drawn into mysterious circumstances, murders, 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 savored the story and hope the author will be treating readers to another novel—and the recurring characters DS Joanne Aspinall and her Aunt Jackie—very soon.


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.