Sunday, June 30, 2019

Goodbye June - Mid Year Reading Progress

June was a very good reading month for me, probably because it was hot, I had some cranky days and I mostly felt like staying indoors with the AC on. I found myself venturing out in the early mornings for yoga, groceries etc and some lunches and/dinners out.  I was able to hook up with (3) high school friends for dinner (we do this a few times a year) and it was so much fun. The hub and I headed to Cape Cod for a weekend, it was an okay getaway but, super windy while we were there. 

School is out and this past week I got to see Toy Story 4 with 2 of the granddaughters which was fun.; the sisters are headed to grade K and Grade 2.  The youngest granddaughter graduated from pre-school and will also be in full-time K in September.

A few Pics from June

Books - I read (17)  books in June and, I posted short reviews for most of them.  (82 books YTD).

 In June my armchair travels kept me mostly here in the USA with the exception of a brief stint in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Australia and the UK. The US states visited were:  Massachusetts, Maine, Colorado, Florida, New York and West VA.

I enjoyed most of my June picks a few were just okay.  These (3) were favorites.

What I Read
  1. The Secretary; Renee Knight - 4/5 (ARC-June)
  2. The Night Visitors; Carol Goodman - 4/5 (print/library-June)
  3. The Ditch; Herman Koch - 3/5 (eGalley-June)
  4. Dopesick; Beth Macy - (NF) - 5/5 (audio/library-June)
  5. Mama's Last Hug; Frans de Waal  (NF) - 4.5/5 (print/library-June)
  6. The Mother-in-Law; Sally Hepworth - 4/5 (audio/library-June)
  7. Captivated; Jeffrey Deaver (short story - audio) - (3/5 - June)
  8. Stone Mothers; Erin Kelly - 3.5/5 (ARC-June)
  9. Memories of Another Day; Harold Robbins - 3.5/5 - (audio-June)
  10. No Exit; Taylor Adams - 4/5 (eGalley-June)
  11. Restoration Heights; Wil Medearis - 3.5/5 (ARC-June)
  12. Evvie Drake Starts Over; Linda Holmes - 4/5 - (audio/ARC combo - June)
  13. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls (memoir); T. Kira Madden - 5/5 - (NF-June)
  14. What Alice Forgot; Liane Moriarty - 4/5 (print/book group-June)
  15. The Better Sister; A. Burke 3.5/5 (ARC-June)
  16. Sunset Beach; Mary Kay Andrews 4/5 (print/audio/combo/library-June)
  17. As We Are Now; May Sarton - 4.5/5 (print/library-June)

Fiction - 14  NF - 3  - YTD - 82

Audios - 6
eBooks - 2
print     - 5
ARCS/Review Books - 5
audio/eBook Combos - 2
Borrowed from Library - 7
Off my Shelves - 6
July Plans
(so far)

  • The Last Resort; Marissa Stapley - The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.
  • The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted; Robert Hillman - A tender and wise novel about love, family, and forgiveness in 1960s Australia, in which a lonely farmer finds his world turned upside down by a vibrant woman determined to open the first bookstore his town has ever seen--and to leave her haunting memories of the Holocaust far behind.
  • If She Wakes; Michael Koryta - Two women fight for their lives against an enigmatic killer in this electrifying novel from a New York Times bestselling author and "master" of thriller writing (Stephen King).
  • Women Rowing North: Navigating  Life's Currents & Flourishing As We Age; M. Pipher - Women growing older contend with ageism, misogyny, and loss. Yet as Mary Pipher shows, most older women are deeply happy and filled with gratitude for the gifts of life. Their struggles help them grow into the authentic, empathetic, and wise people they have always wanted to be.
  • Ask Again, Yes; Mary Beth Keane - A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
  • Hope everyone had a great month!

    Thursday, June 27, 2019

    Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls; T. Kira Madden

    AUTHOR:  T. Kira Madden
    PUBLISHER:  Bloomsbury
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    FORMAT:  - print/library
    RATING - 5/5

    I've always enjoyed a good memoir, especially one that delves deep into a dysfunctional childhood. Brutally honest, gritty, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, I loved everything about this woman's journey to self-discovery.

    As her story begins we meet "Uncle Nuke" (a mannequin) -- 

    Uncle Nuke

    "My mother rescued a mannequin from the J.C. Penney dump when I was two years old.  He was a full-bodied jewelry mannequin: fancy, distinguished.  

    Madden grew up in Boca Raton, FL to a single mother who was Chinese and Hawaiian.  Initially they lived alone and not the best neighborhood.  For safety, her mother rescues "Uncle Nuke" from the dump.  She dresses him up and props him near a window so it looks like a man lives with them.

    Her father was white, wealthy and married; he eventually leaves his family to marry her mother and lives with his new family.   Although money was never an issue for Madden growing up: she went to private schools and had plenty of material possessions, she struggled to fit in. She felt different than her peers as a biracial girl in Boca Raton and she was dealing with her sexuality as well.  She also lacked stability and security in her life, both of her parents battled alcohol and drug addictions. 

    Her story is so beautifully written, Madden is tough, strong and forgiving. The memoir is told in a series of very short essays, each one drawing the reader deeper and deeper into her life journey.  Some of her memories were beautiful and funny, others painful. There was so much in this memoir that stuck with me - This memoir did not disappoint; I really loved it.

    Note:  Madden was a victim of sexual assault at the age of 12, so readers for who this might be a trigger need to know this beforehand.

    Wednesday, June 26, 2019

    Evvie Drake Starts Over - Linda Holmes

    TITLE: Evvie Drake Starts Over
    AUTHOR:  Linda Holmes
    PUBLISHER:  Ballantine
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Maine
    FORMAT:  - ARC/Audio (Combo)
    RATING - 4/5

    Evvie Drake is a 30-something widow who lives in a small town in Maine. Everyone who knows her feels bad that her husband has died in an automobile accident. What they don't realize is that instead of sadness she's feeling guilt. Her husband died on the very day that she had packed her bags and planned to leave him for good. No one, including her late husband, knew of her plan.

    Now she's stuck and rarely leaves her house. Evvie hadn't even told her good friend Andy what she had been planning.  Now Andy has two good friends in need of help, Evvie and also Dean, a former has-been major league baseball star that lives n New York and is looking for a new start. Andy suggests that Evvie rent out a small apartment that is part of her house for the extra income.  She is apprehensive to say the least, realizing that she is a hot mess but, the extra money would help so she decides to go along with the idea.

    Predictably, as the two get to know one another they help each other to heal from old wounds and disappointments.

    Romantic comedies are not generally my thing but, I was looking for something light and fun and this one definitely fit the bill.  It's pretty evident early on how this one will turn out but, the characters were fun, made me laugh at times and they became ones I grew to care about as well.   This was a combo print and audio read for me: Julia Whalen was the audio book narrator, she did a terrific job.  A nice light choice for summer reading.

    Tuesday, June 25, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - If She Wakes; Michael Koryta

    On Tuesday, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read. 

    If She Wakes; Michael Koryta
    Little Brown and Company - 2019

    Part 1 - Ignition


    "Nineteen minutes before her brain and body parted ways, Tara Beckley's concern was the cold.

    First night of October, but as the sun set and the wind picked up, it felt like midwinter, and Tara could see her breath fogging the air.  That would have been crisp New England charm on another night, but not this one, when she wore only a thin sweater over a summer-weight dress.  Granted, she hadn't expected to be standing in the cold, but she had a commitment to deliver one Professor Amandi Oltamu from dinner to his keynote presentation, and the professor was pacing the making lot of the restaurant they'd just left, already staringinito the darkness and playing with his phone."

    What do you think - pass or read more? I haven't started this one yet but, I did like the intro.

    Saturday, June 22, 2019

    No Exit; Taylor Adams

    TITLE: No Exit
    AUTHOR:  Taylor Adams
    PUBLISHER:  William Morrow
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Colorado
    FORMAT:  - eGalley
    RATING - 4/5

    When Darby Thorne learns that her mother is dying of pancreatic cancer and needs immediate surgery she heads out from Colorado where she is a college student to Utah for what might be one last visit.  One the way Darby is caught in a blizzard with a broken windshield wiper and no snow tires, so before long she is forced to pull off at a remote rest stop.

    Her cellphone battery is low, she forgot her charger in her dorm and the cell service in the area is basically non existent. At the rest stop are (4) other individuals: (3 men and 1 other woman).  All are forced to wait out the storm until morning when the plows can get through.  If things can't seem to get any worst for Darby, she discovers a little girl, duct taped and caged in one of the vans in the parking lot.   The girl has obviously been kidnapped and Darby is determined to free her and get help.  Just who is the kidnapper and who can she trust?

    While being stranded in a snowstorm and remote rest stops are hardly new plot devices for a thriller, the author does a very good job creating one nail-biting moment after another with a considerable amount of violence as well. The story is told mostly through Darby's POV and she has plenty of her own emotional baggage. This is a story that hooked me despite some implausible scenarios.  Jay, the 6 year old victim who was way too wise for her age and Darby at times seemed to have super human strength.  Despite these flaws, this was a good quick read that seems like it would make a great movie. 

    Thursday, June 20, 2019

    a few more quick reviews - Stone Mothers; Erin Kelly and Restoration Heights; Wil Medearis

    TITLE: Stone Mothers
    AUTHOR:  Erin Kelly

    PUBLISHER:  Minotaur
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Outside of London
    FORMAT:  - ARC
    RATING - 3.5/5

    Marianne Thackeray has built a good life for herself with her husband Sam and daughter, Honor.  She also has a darker side that she has done a good job of keeping hidden from her family. Her dark secrets are from 30 years earlier (1988) in Nusstead (outside of London) when she was just 17. She moved out of that area long ago and thought her secret and body she and her boyfriend, Jesse had buried would never be brought up again.

    Now Marianne's mother is suffering from dementia and Sam wanted to make things easier for his wife so he purchased a second home at Park Royal Manor, a luxury apartment complex located in a former mental hospital, a place Marianne would prefer to forget.

    This story has (3) different timelines (1958), (1988) and (2018) and is told mainly from (3) POVS, Marianne, her daughter Honor and a woman named Helen Greenlaw who also had her secrets surrounding Stone Mothers, the victorian mental asylum.

    I started this book on audio and had trouble following the multiple POVs and the fact the book was divided into 4 parts, so I switched to the print version which worked out much better.  I loved that much of this story had a Gothic feel. The first part was awfully slow and I felt frustrated but as the story progressed it began to make sense.  The images of life at the old asylum were very chilling and just awful to read about, but I liked the way it drew me into the story.  If you like books with a Gothic feel or reading about mental asylums of days gone by, you might want to try this one.

    TITLE: Restoration Heights
    AUTHOR:  Wil Medearis

    PUBLISHER:  Hanover Square Press
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    FORMAT:  - ARC
    RATING - 3.5/5

    Reddick is a 30 something artist who works as an art handler in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a black neighborhood undergoing gentrification. One day he notices a beautiful blond woman, who seems out of place, stagger into one of the apartments. She appears drunk.

    The next day, coincidentally, when Reddick arrives at the apartment of a client, the Seward family, a wealthy family in the city, he overhears a conversation and realizes that the young woman he saw is named Hannah and was the fiancee of his client. Oddly, he's pulled into the girl's disappearance by yet another wealthy family who wants answers. What has happened to Hannah and why does one family not want the police involved yet another family is wanting answers?

    This is a debut novel that I'd have to say was part mystery, part psych thriller.  I thought the whole plot line setup was a bit too convenient, but yet, it's the kind of story that would make for a lively group discussion.  I do think it could have benefited from some deeper character development - overall an okay read.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    Quick Reviews of a few so so reads

    TITLE: Captivated (a short story)
    AUTHOR:  Jeffrey Deaver

    PUBLISHER:  Penguin Audio
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Indiana, Illinois
    FORMAT:  - audio (1+ hours)
    RATING - 3/5

    I hadn't realized that this audio was a short story, a prequel to a new Deaver series, when we began it on a recent road trip. Although it hooked us right away, it was over so fast and ended so abruptly that I couldn't help but be disappointed.

    Colter Shaw is the new character we are introduced to and who appears in Deaver's next novel, The Never Game.  He's an interesting character, definite loner, who travels around the US locating missing persons for a fee.

    His new client is Ron Matthews, a wealthy businessman, whose wife, an artist, has been missing for about a month. It's not unusual for Evie Fontaine to go to art shows solo as Ron doesn't share her interest in art.  It's easy to suspect early on that maybe she has met someone who she has more in common with or maybe she was escaping for another reason.  As Colter Shaw follows some leads we learn there may be more to the couples relationship that wasn't revealed from the start.

    I do think Colter Shaw seems like a interesting character and the new series has the potential of producing some decent novels but, this short story was just so rushed that we couldn't help but feel cheated in the end.

    TITLE: Memories of Another Day
    AUTHOR:  Harold Robbins
    PUBLISHER:  Brillance Audio
    PUB. YEAR: 1997 (audio - 2015)
    SETTING: WVA and other states
    FORMAT:  - audio (15+ hours)
    RATING - 3.5/5

    If you've been following my reviews for the last few months you'll recall my husband and I have been on a bit of a Harold Robbins kick. We listened to A Stone for Danny Fisher (which we loved) as well as Never Love a Stranger (pretty good) and now Memories of Another Day (least favorite of the 3).

    This story features Daniel Boone Huggins who was raised in a poor, sometimes violent, West Virginia household and then rose to become a feared head of a Labor union. As Big Dan fights for justice and power,  as well as his own fame and fortune, he sacrifices family and personal relationships for what he sees as the greater good.

    The story begins after Big Dan has died and goes back to tell his story of his life and the story of the Labor movement over a period of some 50 years. The story outlines the struggles of low paid workers in the coal mines of WVA, working in unsafe environments prior to the union stepping in and looking out for these workers. This really gives readers a good overview of organized labor, and the violence and corruption which often gave unions a bad name.

    I chose this one for a long road trip as I thought my husband might really enjoy it since he spent the majority of his career working for and with labor organizations. While slow in parts and unnecessarily wordy as well, this story had some exciting moments as well as plenty of sexually explicit parts.

    Anyone interested in the history of the Labor Movement in the US will probably enjoy this book a bit more than me. My husband liked it more than I did but, neither of us felt it was worth 15 hours of our time.

    Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - As We Are Now; May Sarton

    On Tuesday, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read. 

    As We Are Now; May Sarton
    WW Norton - 1973

    "I am not mad, only old.  I make this statement to give me courage.  To give you an idea what I mean by courage, suffice it to say that it has taken two weeks for me to obtain this notebook and a pen.  I am in a concentration camp for the old, a place where people dump their parents or relatives exactly as though it were an ash can.

    My brother, John, brought me here two weeks ago. Of course I knew from the beginning that living with him would never work.  I had to close my own house after the heart attack (the stairs were too much for me).  John is four years older than I am and married to a much younger woman after Elizabeth, his first wife, died.  Ginny never liked me.  I make her feel inferior and I cannot help it.  John is a reader and always has been. So am I.  John is interested in politics. So am I. Ginny's only interests appear to be malicious gossip, bridge, and trying out new recipes. Unfortunately she is not a born cook.  I find the above paragraph extremely boing and it has been a very great effort to set it down.  No one wants to look hard at disagreeable things. I am not alone in that."

    I learned about this book after JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing blogged about it.  I love the writing even though the story seems like a rather sad one.

    Read more or pass?

    Monday, June 17, 2019

    The Mother-in-Law; Sally Hepworth

    TITLE: The Mother-in-Law
    AUTHOR:  Sally Hepworth

    PUBLISHER:  St. Martin's Press - Macmillan Audio
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Australia
    FORMAT:  - audio (9+ hours)
    RATING - 4/5

    Diana Goodwin is the "mother-in-law" in this domestic thriller. She's rich, strong, confident, cold-hearted and aloof.  When she dies shortly after her husband, suicide is initially suspected but, the coroner's report indicates that foul play might have been involved.  Did Diana take her own life or was someone else involved?

    Lucy had always longed for a special relationship with her mother-in-law. Her own mother died when she was very young.  Unfortunately, her 10 year relationship with Diana has been a struggle to say the least ever since she married Diana's son, Ollie.

    Ollie loves his wife and his mother and realizes his mother can be difficult. Even his sister, Nettie and her husband Patrick have had their share of run-ins with Diana.

    True, Diana just wasn't a warm and fuzzy individual and, yes, there were plenty of instances where one might want revenge, but, there is more to Diana than meets the eye. The story began with the police at Ollie and Lucy's door telling them Diana has died and that they think it might have been a suicide. She did have cancer but they were not expecting her to pass so quickly. I thought the story moved along at a nice pace and it wasn't at all predictable.  I like complex family dramas and this one made me wonder who really may have wanted Diana out the picture the most.  A well-crafted characters and story. I was happy I tried this one and will try other books by this author in the future. The audio was very good as well.

    Wednesday, June 12, 2019

    Mama's Last Hug; Frans de Waal

    AUTHOR:  Frans de Waal
    PUBLISHER:  WW Norton
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING:  Netherlands
    FORMAT:  - print/library
    RATING - 4.5/5

    For some 40 years the author has studied animal behavior and emotions. In his latest book, Mama's Last Hug were are introduced to a Mama, a 59 year old matriarch chimp who was dying. Mama and biologist Jan van Hooff had formed a bond over the years so he decided to visit her for one last time before her death. Mama's keen facial recognition and happiness at seeing Jan's face resulted in smiles, and her patting his neck repeatedly in a hug, much as we'd see in human to human interactions.  The interaction between Mama and Jan were filmed and went viral evidencing that humans are not the only ones capable of expressing emotion.

    After Mama's death, her adopted daughter Geisha stood vigil and would not leave Mama even for food, demonstrating the animals are also capable of grieving.  Grieving in animals does require an attachment so when a pet dies, others animals may not appear to miss the deceased unless they were bonded. This is true of cats, dogs and even elephants as well.

    Another chimp has lost her babies several times over due to insufficient lactation. When her babies, failing to thrive, had died, the chimp went into a severe depression, screaming, refusing food and rubbing eyes with its fists.

    There was such a wealth of information in this book. Well researched, moving and even funny at times; there are even some illustrations throughout the book.  The subjects researched were not just chimps and bonobos but, birds, rats, dogs, horses and elephants as well.  I was fascinated by this book and found myself reading it very slowing, so that this one would stick with me for sometime. Animal lovers should give this one a try.

    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls; T. Kira Madden

    Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read. 

    Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: a memoir; T. Kira Madden
    Bloomsbury Publishing - 2019

    PART 1 - The Feels of Love

    Uncle Nuke

    "My mother rescued a mannequin from the J.C. Penney dump when I was two years old.  He was a full-bodied jewelry mannequin: fancy, distinguished.  Those were the the words she used.  Her father, my grandfather, worked the counter day and night, slinked antique chains and strands of jade across velvet placemats, and felt the mannequin did no work for his numbers; he's pau--done.  Grandfather said this with both elbows bent, a chopping motion.  The mannequin would have to go."

    I love a good memoir and this one is getting excellent reviews - what do you think? Would you read more?

    Monday, June 10, 2019

    The Ditch; Herman Koch

    TITLE: The Ditch
    AUTHOR:  Herman Koch

    PUBLISHER:  Hogarth
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING:  Amsterdam
    FORMAT:  - eGalley
    RATING - 3/5

    I really enjoyed the darker nature of the last (3) books by Herman Koch: The Dinner, Summer House with Swimming Pool and Dear Mr. M, so I couldn't wait to try this new novel.  Unfortunately, it was a bit of a slog for me.

    Robert Walter is the 60 year old mayor of Amsterdam. Married to Sylvia, the couple has one daughter, Diana.  The story begins with a party on New Years where Robert notices his wife smiling and laughing with an alderman.  He notices him whisper something in her ear and from that point on he is convinced the two are having an affair.

    The more he he obsesses about it, the more jealous he becomes and his anxiety and paranoia intensifies.  Even a vacation to Paris with his wife doesn't convince him that he's imagining the whole affair.  He decides to spend more time at home observing his wife and daughter and listening for clues. Robert is very secretive when it comes to specifics about Sylvia and Diana. Along with the whole affair suspicions, there's a minor story but a serious subject with the mayor's parents contemplating suicide. In addition, there is talk about Dutch politics and the environment including minute details about their recycling program.

    I really wanted to like this novel. There is a good amount of subtle humor which I enjoyed and, it has an ending I wasn't anticipating as well but, overall the story just failed to engage me.

    Sunday, June 9, 2019

    Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors & the Company That Addicted America; Beth Macy

    AUTHOR:  Beth Macy
    PUBLISHER:  Hachette Audio
    PUB. YEAR: 2018
    SETTING:  n/a
    FORMAT:  - Audio - 10+ hrs.
    RATING - 5/5

    Dopesick is a well-researched and in-depth look at the current opioid crisis in America and how it all began. 

    The author tells of the corporate greed at the hands of Purdue Pharma who first released Oxycontin in 1996 as a slow-released pain reliever , a drug which came in several doses and was said to be less addictive than other pain blockers on the market but, nothing could have been farther from the truth.  The company spent over 4 billion dollars in one year on marketing and offered all sorts of perks to sales reps and doctors for pushing their product. Doctors began prescribing it not just for intolerable pain and cancer but for things like arthritis, wrist pain, back pain and more.  The drug, highly addictive after less than a weeks use, it wasn't long before abusers learned to crush it, snort and even inject it.  Fifteen years later once doctors drastically cut back on prescribing the drug and blackmarkets prices skyrocketed, many users turned to the less expensive and more potent heroin.

    There are so many aspects of the opioid crisis covered in this book that I found fascinating. Stories of drug runners, tragic stories from users as well as stories from the grieving families.  The audio is read by the author who did a fantastic job.  There is just so much information revealed on a very tough subject. Highly recommended.

    Thursday, June 6, 2019

    The Night Visitors, Carol Goodman

    TITLE: The Night Visitors
    AUTHOR:  Carol Goodman

    PUBLISHER:  William Morrow
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING:  Upstate New York
    FORMAT:  - print/library ( 320 pp)
    RATING - 4/5

    The Night Visitors starts out like a story many of us have read before. Alice is a young woman who seems to be fleeing an abusive relationship.  She and 10 year/old Oren board a bus from an affluent New Jersey community and are headed for upstate New York.  Alice has contacted an agency for victims of abuse and has arranged to have someone meet her and Oren when they get off the bus and take them to a safe house.

    Mattie is the 50-something social worker who meets the pair but she immediately sees something in Oren that reminds her of Caleb, her little brother who died over 30 years earlier when he was about 10.  Instead of transporting them to the shelter run by nuns, she takes them to her old, run-down Victorian home since a storm is looming.  It is here that it becomes clear each women has been hiding secrets which are slowly revealed.

    The old Victorian home and looming storm make this not only a very dark story but also a very atmospheric one with even a few elements of the supernatural.  Told through the POVS of both Alice and Mattie, this was a page turner and, despite a few unrealistic twists and the mention of using pay phones today (haven't they been removed everywhere?) this one was still a fun read.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2019

    The Secretary; Renee Knight

    TITLE: The Secretary
    AUTHOR:  Renee Knight

    PUBLISHER:  Harper
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    FORMAT:  - ARC (288pp)
    RATING - 4/5

    This book had been on my radar for a few months and, it turned out to be a story that was much different from what I was expecting.

    Christina Butcher is the personal assistant and "the Secretary" to Mina Appleton, a woman who controls a large supermarket chain.  Christina's family was struggling financially, and she felt that this job would help her husband and daughter longterm.  She was offered a significant salary and she's grateful for the opportunity to work for Mina.

    Mina more or less inherits her position from her father, a man who was well respected by all his customers and the other business associates he dealt with over the years. Mina, promises to follow in her father's footsteps, but she is nothing like him.  In fact Mina comes across as a power hungry, pathological liar and someone who will stop at nothing when it comes to retaining power, control and making money and, that means expecting Christina to carry out her orders. Soon, however, Mina just may get what she well deserves or will she?

    Part psychological thriller, part courtroom drama, this story was quite a surprise - much darker than I was expecting. I liked the Christina character to a certain degree,  even though she sacrifices everything. She knows all of Mina's secrets, indiscretions and all about her unethical business practices. Christina's a quiet observer with a good memory as well. She quietly went about her business.  I didn't care for the Mina character but, she was, for the most part, a believable character.

    Although this story was slow at times, the ending was very unexpected and helped me to bump up my overall rating a bit. I felt that there is plenty to discuss for bookclubs here.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Ditch; Herman Koch

    Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read. 

    The Ditch; Herman Koch
    Hogarth - 2019

    PART 1

    "Let me call her sylvia. that's not her real name--her real name would only confuse things.  People make all kinds of assumptions when it comes to names, especially when a name isn't from around here, when they don't have a clue about how to pronounce it, let alone spell it.  So let's just say that it's not a Dutch name. My wife is not from Holland. Where she is from is something I'd rather leave up in the air for the time being.  Those in our immediate surroundings, of course, know where she's from.  And people who read the newspaper and watch the news with any regularity can't really have missed it either.  But most people have a bad memory. They may have heard it once, then forgotten."

    I've read every dark novel by this author; this one will be released in the US on June 11th, what do you think? Read more or pass?