Tuesday, August 23, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - They Left Us Everything: a memoir; Plum Johnson

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. (I love a good memoir and think this one will hit the spot, I'm enjoying the writing style).

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir; Plum Johnson
G.P. Putnam & Sons - 2016

Never Mind the Dog

"The night before I turn sixty-three, I'm looking in the mirror, pulling my sagging jawline up to my ears, listening to voice mails on speakerphone. Three are from Mum:

'Happy birthday m'darlin!'
Promise you'll drive out first thing tomorrow!
Damn this machine! Call me!'

Mum is ninety-three, and these are her messages just since dinner.  Nineteen years, one month, and twenty-six days of eldercare have brought me to my knees.  But first thing next morning, I crawl to my car, hack at the ice on my windshield, and slump into the front seat with the heater cranked up."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

(2) Books that Wowed Me and a few New Books

 Just finished (2) amazing books that I highly recommend. I hope to work on reviews this week but, for now here is a bit of info from the overview of the Amazon website.

Homegoing; Yaa Gyasi - (Knopf)  2016
(Overview) The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

  • Beautiful writing; memorable story;  debut author 

(Thomas Dunne Books) 2016

(Overview) A beautiful and provocative love story between two unlikely people and the hard-won relationship that elevates them above the Midwestern meth lab backdrop of their lives.
As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.
  • Heart-breaking coming of age story; uncomfortable to read at times but addictive; debut author

Thursday, August 18, 2016

She's Not There; Joy Fielding

She's Not There; Joy Fielding
Ballantine Books & Brilliance Audio - 2016

To celebrate 10 years of marriage Caroline Shipley's husband Hunter, an attorney, surprises her with a   family trip to a posh resort in Mexico.  The couple has 2 young daughters Michelle, 5, and Samantha, 2.  Two other couples, family and friends are also there to celebrate.

On the evening of their anniversary dinner celebration there is a mixup with the child watch services at the hotel and the couple finds themselves without a sitter.  Despite this they decide to go to dinner in the hotel restaurant which is directly below their room. They agree to check on the sleeping girls every 30 minutes while they dine.  Things go horribly wrong and 2 year old Samantha goes missing without a trace. A parent's nightmare and the guilt which follows torments the parents, especially Caroline. Each anniversary that passes since the disappearance the old hurts resurface.  New stories and occasional leads have failed to find their daughter.  

On the fifteenth anniversary since Samantha has gone missing a new article hits the news with photos of what Samantha might look like today at 17.   Soon after, the phone rings and the girl at the other end asks for Caroline and says,  “I think my real name is Samantha. I think I’m your daughter.” Caroline must find out if this can possibly be true.

What follows is a tension filled psychological thriller that held my interest through and through. There are a lot of emotions and accusations running through this story.  Definitely  character driven story, I was sympathetic and sometimes angered by the behavior of Michelle, the older daughter who was often difficult and disrespectful.  The story starts in the present with the phone call  and soon the chapters alternate between the present and the past to show how the lives of the family members were affected.

Although there were a few unlikely things that happened in this story, it was still a fast paced thriller. The audio book, read by Tanya Eby was excellent.  Fans of psychological thrillers should try this one.

4/5 stars
(library audio)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Couple Next Door; Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door; Shari Lapena
Pamela Dorman Books -2016

How well do you know the people closest to you? You just may ask yourself that question after reading this book.

Anne and Marco Conti are a nice young couple who seem to have it all; a good marriage, nice home, and now a 6 month old daughter named Cora.  One evening they are to have dinner with their neighbors next door (picture attached brownstones).  At the last minute the Conti's babysitter cancels and, their neighbor had told them earlier that it was an adults only party.  Against their better judgement,  they go to the party, taking the baby monitor with them and then checking on the sleeping Cora every 30 minutes. Of course in the course of the evening things go horribly wrong.

Without giving any spoilers the couple comes under suspicion regarding what had transpired but, as the police dig deeper it seems as though not only the Contis but, their family and the neighbors have plenty of secrets of their own.

This is one of those psychological thrillers that sucked me in immediately and never let go.  The writing felt pretty simplistic but, the twists make the story interesting and fast paced. For a while I wasn't sure who was the guilty party but, eventually figured it out.  There was also a stunner of an ending which felt weird and thrown in for extra effect.  This wasn't perfect but, I loved it for the quick read it was.

4/5 stars
(review copy)