Tuesday, August 20, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Lock Every Door; Riley Sager

Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where readers post the opening paragraph(s) of a book that they are reading or plan to read. 
(I started this one last night and I'm really enjoying it so far.)

Lock Every Door; Riley Sager
Dutton - 2019


Light slices the darkness, jerking me awake.

My right eye--someone's prying it open. Latex-gloved fingers parting the lids, yanking on them like they're stubborn window shades.

There's more light now, Harsh. Painfully bright. A penlight aimed at my pupil.

The same is done to my left eye. Pry, Part, Light.

The fingers release my lids, and I'm plunged back into darkness.

Someone speaks. A man with a gentle voice, "Can you hear me?"

I open my mouth, and hot pain circles my jaw. Stray bolts of it jab my neck and cheek.....

What do you think? Read more or pass?
(The intro is rather long so I only included part of it)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Summer Demands; Deborah Shapiro

On Tuesdays, 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 plan to read.

The Summer Demands; Deborah Shapiro
Catapult - 2019


"Summer, green and still and slightly grainy. The way it is in foreign films from the 1970s and '80s. A lulling, enveloping heat.  I had things to do, I swear, written on lists, but those things seemed to only get done if they coincided with the slow, inevitable rhythm of the days.  From the couch in the room with the bay window, I would watch those movies, watch young French women who never wore bras move around in philosophically provocative situations, and then I would get up and go outside, go down to the lake, or watch another movie.  The days passed into each other without much distinction, dulling all anxiety but heightening a sensitivity. Like walking out of a dark theatre into a bright afternoon, one world exchanged for another.  Being stunned and not minding it, wanting to hold to an in-between."

What do you think? Read more or pass? It's a pretty short novel - just 211 pages.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Never Tell; Lisa Gardner

TITLE: Never Tell     
AUTHOR:  Lisa Gardner
PUBLISHER: Brillance Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT:  audio (12 hours - approx.)
RATING - 4/5

Book #10 of the D.D. Warren series, Never Tell, features Flora Dane, a returning character from previous novels.  The audio is read by Kirsten Potter who did a great job.

Conrad Carter is dead, shot three times in his home office. His computer screen is riddled with more than 10 bullets and, his pregnant wife Evie is found holding the gun.  Sixteen years earlier, Evie was cleared in the killing of her father, which was later ruled accidental.  Is this all too coincidental? Just what is going on with this family?

The story is told in alternating POVs: Evie, who appears guilty, Detective D.D. Warren and Flora Dane, D.D.'s assistant. (Flora was a kidnap victim years earlier and she realizes that Evie's late husband looks familiar to her).

This story has strong female characters, which I loved and, the author did a great job developing each character along the way.  Bonus, I never figured out the ending. It's one of those stories that makes you ask how well you really know those closest to you.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Cape May; Chip Cheek

TITLE: Cape May
AUTHOR:  Chip Cheek
PUBLISHER: MacMillan Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT:  audio (7.5 hours - approx.)
RATING - 4.5/5

In 1957, Henry and Effie are newlyweds from Georgia, who at Effie's suggestion, decide to honeymoon at the seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey. Effie fondly recalls childhood summers spent at her uncle's cottage there.  One thing the couple hadn't planned on was just how desolate, September can be off season at some resort towns. With boarded up businesses and very little to do, this couple is bored and lonely after just one week and talk of cutting their honeymoon short.

 Having had enough solitude, one evening the couple notices lots of lights at a home nearby. Henry and Effie decide to stop in and say hello. It's there that they meet some irresistible and uninhibited party people: Max, Alma and Clara, who draw them into their party circle of booze and other exploits.  The newlywed's marriage will be tested as a result.

I went into this book knowing very little about this story other than the seaside setting: Cape May, New Jersey. I was immediately pulled into the lives of this young couple and, I couldn't stop wondering what would happen to them.  The story was unsettling at times, the sense of dread and self-destructiveness I felt for the characters pulled me in and never let go. 

Cape May is definitely not a book that will appeal to everyone. It seems most are in the "loved-it or hated it camp." It's the kind of story that many will want to read in one sitting -- it's not too long of a story. The audio was excellent, read by George Newbern.  Be advised that the story gets pretty steamy and sexually explicit, and it's definitely not a book that most readers will quickly forget - the story and the characters will stick with me for a long while. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Cape May; Chip Cheek

On Tuesdays, 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 plan to read.

Cape May; Chip Cheek
Celadon Books/Macmillan Audio - 2019


"The beaches were empty, the stores were closed, and after sunset, all the houses on New Hampshire Avenue stood dark.  For months, Effie had been telling him about this place and the many things they would do here, but she had only known it in summer, and this was the end of September. She had not understood what 'off season' meant. They came up from Georgia on the overnight train.  They were supposed to spend two weeks here, for their honeymoon."

"I love it, Henry said their first evening. It's like we got the whole place to ourselves."

What do you think? Read more or pass?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Last Resort; Marissa Stapley

AUTHOR:  Marissa Stapley
PUBLISHER: Grayden House
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING: Mexico - Mayan Rivera
RATING - 3.5/5

A tropical island, a hurricane and a few marriages on the rocks made for a surprising, suspenseful and atmospheric novel.

Drs. Grace and Miles Markell are well known couples therapists who run Harmony Resort; he's 52 and she's just 35. If your marriage is in trouble and money is no object, this resort and the intensive therapy sessions it offers may be just what is needed to save a marriage.

Johanna and Ben are pretty much newlyweds but, already their marriage is in trouble. She is a social worker and has a good deal of emotional baggage affecting the marriage.  Shell and Colin, on the other hand, have been married 20+ years, but he's a workaholic and together they have also had to deal with a traumatic experience.  Miles, Grace and assistant Ruth are not at all what I was expecting.  Miles is a power hungry, ego maniac and Grace a victim of his emotional abuse. As the couples begin intensive 2-week sessions, deep, dark secrets begin to get revealed all around. 

This book took me a bit longer to finish than expected-- it started off slow and then picks up. I thought some of the issues that came out seemed more realistic than others and I was surprised that this was a darker story than I had expected as well.  Some of the therapy seemed questionable and while the cover seemed somewhat serene, the story was not.  I felt a feeling of dread as I was approaching the last quarter of the book and the ending was somewhat explosive as well. Honestly, I was on the fence about how to rate this one and finally decided on 3.5/5 stars. 

What Does an Anteater Eat?; Ross Collins

AUTHOR:  Ross Collins
PUBLISHER: Nosy Crow (Candlewick Press)
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT:  print/my shelves 
RATING - 4.5/5

Targeted for the preschool or beginning reader, this story features one hungry anteater who wakes up hungry and just can't recall what he is supposed to eat. 

Anteater begins asking the critters he meets along the way what he should eat. One critter is rude to him, a tiger in a tree says that he thinks anteater looks pretty tasty and another suggests watermelon might be a good choice.  When the anteater runs in to a anthill full of -- yes, ants, and asks the same question, what happens next is not what you'd suspect. 

Funny story with large print and just enough words on each page to tell a cute story and not frustrate a beginner reader. The illustrations were fun as well.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Keeping Lucy; T. Greenwood

AUTHOR:  T. Greenwood
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING: MA (and cross country)
FORMAT:  eGalley (320pp)
RATING - 4.5/5

In 1969 Ginny Richardson, wife of Abbott, mother to 4 year old Peyson gives birth to a baby girl, Lucy, who is born with Down's Syndrome.  Without her consent, her husband under pressure from his powerful father Abbott Sr. sign the baby over to the care of Willowridge in Western Massachusetts, known as "a place for the feeble-minded".

When Ginny finds out she is devastated and every time she talks about visiting her baby she's stalled and pressured to move on with her life. Two years later her best friend Marsha shows her articles about Willowridge being a filthy and neglectful place for the children residing there.  Ginny and her friend decide to visit Willowridge and find out for themselves. When they do they are horrified by what they witness.  Lucy, now 2,  has in fact been neglected so she decides to check her little girl out for the weekend and figure out her next move in getting her daughter back. Her husband does no know what she's doing and the women, along with Ginny's six year old son travel cross country to figure out what to do. 

Keeping Lucy was a very good read but a sad read.  Ginny is a courageous mother whose unflinching love for her children makes her unstoppable. Her supportive friend has her back and, I thought that their journey had a Thelma and Louise feel to it.  This story is based in part on true events and it felt very real as well given the 1969-1971 time period.  The characters were well explored and I liked that the story also gave insight to an earlier time in Ginny and Abbott's relationship as well.  Great characters however,  the father-in-law Abbott Sr. was hard to take. I was a bit disappointed that the horrors of the school were not more deeply explored, but, perhaps that would have turned off some readers.

Note: This book was of particular interest to me as I grew up in Western MA and there was a place like Willowridge. It was called Belchertown State School for the Feeble Minded that did in fact exist for some 70 years. It finally closed its doors for good in 1992. I recall that my aunt's friend had a daughter, my age, with Down's Syndrome, who spent her life there -  so sad.