TUESDAY POTPOURRI: FEEDING MY OBSESSIONS

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In my little corner of the world, books, coffee, and the various collections I have gathered around me keep me smiling.

Reading is only one of my obsessions, of course, and Netflix bingeing is a regular part of my week.  After finishing a couple of series this past weekend, I was searching, wondering what would catch my eye next.

Then, last night, I stumbled upon The Killing, and before I knew it, bedtime had passed and I was still going.

 

 

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A police investigation, the saga of a grieving family, and a Seattle mayoral campaign all interlock after the body of 17-year-old Rosie Larsen is found in the trunk of a submerged car.

The mystery intrigued me, of course, but the setting (Seattle) and the police detectives kept me going.  I enjoyed seeing how their own lives sometimes intruded on their work, and vice versa.

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Needless to say, after watching this show for a few hours, I barely picked up my current read, The Ramblers.  Aidan Donnelley Rowley is a new-to-me author, but the Manhattan setting and the idea of “lost souls” drew me in.

 

 

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Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit. 

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So…what’s not to love?  I know I will soon engage with the characters, but right now, books and Netflix are competing.

Do you find yourself struggling to enjoy all of your obsessions?

As I sip my morning coffee, I try to make good choices for the day.  First, I’ve been visiting blogs, in the Tuesday Intros/Teasers event.  I also checked what I have bookmarked on Amazon, hoping to find a new release that I had forgotten about. 

Nothing…but I am anticipating Anne Tyler’s newest book,Vinegar Girl, coming on June 21.  Not that far away…right?

 

 

 

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Blurb:  Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. 

Dr. Battista has other problems. After years out in the academic wilderness, he is on the verge of a breakthrough. His research could help millions. There’s only one problem: his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. And without Pyotr, all would be lost.

When Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, he’s relying – as usual – on Kate to help him. Kate is furious: this time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?

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Anne Tyler is skilled at bringing out characters who provide the comforts of home to family members, even at the expense of their own lives.  I hope Kate will find a way to express and meet her own needs.  What do you think?

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Mother's Day gifts & mimosa

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: EXCERPTING “SOMEWHERE OUT THERE”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Jenn, at Books and a Beat.

Today’s spotlight is shining on one of my newer downloads:  Somewhere Out There, by Amy Hatvany.

 

 

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Intro:   (Jennifer)

I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been desperate.

I knew what the stakes were.  I knew I might get caught.  But it was well past midnight and both my babies were hungry and crying—Brooke, who had just turned four, and Natalie, only six months.  A siren sound emanated from Natalie’s tiny lungs, and Brooke’s choppy, hiccuping sobs felt like sandpaper being rubbed against the tips of my nerves.

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Teaser:  (Jennifer)

Five days after getting out of jail, after seeing my mother, I was almost out of money.  She had given me just over two hundred dollars, but the cost of the motel room alone took more than half of that, and I spent most of the rest on food and a few pairs of much-needed clean underwear and socks. (33%).

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Synopsis:  Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.

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What do you think?  Does this one pull you in, compelling you to keep reading?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: “THE SHADOW YEAR”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s featured book is one I hope to read this week.  It has been on Pippa since October 2015, so not that long, right?  It is The Shadow Year, by Hannah Richell.  Suspenseful and moving, with a deep secret at its heart, THE SHADOW YEAR is Hannah Richell’s breakout book.

 

 

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Intro:  (Prologue)

It is the smallest details that come to her:  the damp grass underfoot threaded with buttercups, the air humming with insects, the snap of her nightdress catching in the breeze.  As she wanders out of the cottage and down toward the mirrored surface of the lake, her senses are heightened.  She hears the splash of a duck hiding in the reeds and the slow drum of her heart in her chest.  Just a few moments to herself, she thinks—to wash—to swim—to clear her mind and ready herself for what lies ahead.  Soon she will be gone from this place.

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Teaser: (Lila – December)

Every morning, Lila wakes to the remnants of the same dreams—running down a landing, a sickening plunge, a shattering impact—until one ice-cold morning there’s the haunting fragment of something else echoing from deep within the shadows of her sleep.  She’s still running, she’s still falling, only this time there are three distinct words tumbling behind her into the void:  just like her. (43%).

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Synopsis:  Still grieving the death of her prematurely delivered infant, Lila finds a welcome distraction in renovating a country house she’s recently inherited. Surrounded by blueprints and plaster dust, though, she finds herself drawn into the story of a group of idealistic university grads from thirty years before, who’d thrown off the shackles of bourgeois city life to claim the cottage and rely only on each other on the land. But utopia-building can be fraught with unexpected peril, and when the fate of the group is left eerily unclear, Lila turns her attention to untangling a web of secrets to uncover the shocking truth of what happened that fateful year, in order to come to terms with her own loss and build a new future for herself.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: “BEHIND CLOSED DOORS”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s featured book is from an author I enjoy:  Elizabeth Haynes’s Behind Closed Doors is the spellbinding second installment of New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Haynes’s Briarstone crime series that combines literary suspense and page-turning thrills.

 

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Intro:  (Scarlett – Rhodes, Saturday 23 August 2003, 04:44)

To begin with, nothing was certain except her own terror.

Darkness, and stifling heat, so hot that breathing felt like effort, sweat pouring off her so her skin itself became liquid and she thought she would simply melt into a hot puddle of nothing.  She tried crying out, screaming, but she could barely hear her own voice above the roar of the engine, the sound of the wheels moving at speed on tarmac.  All that did was give her a sore throat.  Nobody could hear her.

She tried listening instead, eyes wide with nothing to see.  She could hear voices sporadically from somewhere else in the vehicle—two different men—but she didn’t recognize them, nor could she understand what they were saying.  She assumed they were speaking in Greek, but the harsh rasp of the words sounded different from the voices she’d heard over the past week at the resort.  Lots of “th” sounds, rolled “r”s, words ending in “a” and “eh.”

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Teaser:  (Lou – Thursday 31 October 2013, 19:03)

Ten minutes later Lou was sitting at her desk, Jason across from her in the only other chair, a low visitor’s chair that had been purloined from reception when they’d redecorated it last year.  The facilities team had a container hidden behind the training school where old furniture went to die, and Lou had gone there herself with Ali Whitmore to try to salvage some desks rather than spend her very snug budget on new ones.

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Synopsis:  Ten years ago, 15-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away from her severely dysfunctional family? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable, and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone.

Lou and her Major Crime team are already stretched working two troubling cases: nineteen-year-old Ian Palmer was found badly beaten; and soon after, bar owner Carl McVey was found half-buried in the woods, his Rolex and money gone. While Lou tries to establish the links between the two cases, DS Sam Hollands works with Special Branch to question Scarlett. What happened to her? Where has she been until now? How did she end up back here? And why is her family—with the exception of her emotionally fragile younger sister, Juliette—less than enthusiastic about her return?

When another brutal assault and homicide are linked to the McVey murder, Lou’s cases collide, and the clues all point in one terrifying direction. As the pressure and the danger mount, it becomes clear that the silent, secretive Scarlett holds the key to everything.

***

I have loved two other books by this author, so I’m eager to immerse myself in this one.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: EXCERPTS FROM “THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTER”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Good morning!  I am getting off to a late start today, but I’m eager to feature one of my NetGalley downloads:  The Murderer’s Daughter, by Jonathan Kellerman.  It will be released on August 18.

 

 

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Intro:  Five-year-old Grace lived with two strangers on the fringes of a desert.  Biology and the law labeled them her parents but Grace had never found them other than alien.  As best she could tell, they felt the same way.

Ardis Normand Blades was twenty-eight years old, tall, reedy, long-haired, and patchily blond-bearded, with a sliver of morose face dramatized by jug ears.  Those bat-like appendages notwithstanding, he was semi-decent-looking in a greasy, vaguely dangerous way.  Only semi because some of his God-given looks were long eroded by dope and alcohol and a near perfect record of bad decisions.

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Teaser:  Women of a certain type were drawn to Ardis’s easy smile and good bone structure.  Dodie Funderburk was one of those.  Her academic achievements rivaled Ardis’s and helped cement a shallow rapport. (2%).

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Blurb:  A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ deaths in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.

Both Grace and her newest patient are stunned when they recognize each other from a recent encounter. Haunted by his bleak past, mild-mannered Andrew Toner is desperate for Grace’s renowned therapeutic expertise and more than willing to ignore their connection. And while Grace is tempted to explore his case, which seems to eerily echo her grim early years, she refuses—a decision she regrets when a homicide detective appears on her doorstep.

An evil she thought she’d outrun has reared its head again, but Grace fears that a police inquiry will expose her double life. Launching her own personal investigation leads her to a murderously manipulative foe, one whose warped craving for power forces Grace back into the chaos and madness she’d long ago fled.

***

I am intrigued by these excerpts and the blurb.  Normally I have been drawn to the Alex Delaware series by this author, but this stand-alone novel has captured my interest.  What do you think?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: EXCERPTS FROM “THE NEW NEIGHBOR”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s featured book is an e-Galley from NetGalley:  The New Neighbor, by Leah Stewart.

 

 

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Intro:  Where before there was no one, suddenly I, Margaret Riley, have a neighbor.  I went out on the back deck this morning like every morning, and there she was.  Across the pond, sitting on her own back deck.  I was startled.  That house has been empty a long time.  My first impulse was to go back inside, as if I’d come upon something shameful, or embarrassed myself.  As if I were out there naked, which of course I wasn’t, and even if I had been she was too far away to see.  But I am braver than that.  I put my coffee cup on the table, as usual, and then I went back inside for my book, which is by P. D. James, a remarkable woman, as ancient as I am and still creating mysteries.  I have to make two trips because I need one hand for the cane.  Sometimes I try to manage cane and book and coffee all at once, and the result is always coffee stains, or burns, or at the very least a wet book and a diminished cup of coffee.  Every morning I’m frustrated anew by the need to make two trips.  Impatience and age are not compatible.

***

Teaser:  I was surprised, when she was gone, by a twinge of loneliness.  How silly.  I am always alone.  Sometimes days go by in which the only other people I see are on TV.  This house is in the woods between two small towns—villages, really—on a mountain in Tennessee. (2%).

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Blurb:  In the tradition of Zoe Heller’s What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, The New Neighbor is a darkly sophisticated novel about an old woman’s curiosity turned into a dangerous obsession as she becomes involved in her new neighbor’s complicated and cloaked life.

Ninety-year-old Margaret Riley is content hiding from the world. Stoic and independent, she rarely leaves the Tennessee mountaintop where she lives, finding comfort in the mystery novels that keep her company, that is, until she spots a woman who’s moved into the long-empty house across the pond.

Jennifer Young is also looking to hide. On the run from her old life, she and her four-year-old son Milo have moved to a quiet town where no one from her past can find her.

In Jennifer, Margaret sees both a potential companion in her loneliness and a mystery to be solved. But Jennifer refuses to talk about herself, her son, his missing father, or her past. Frustrated, Margaret crosses more and more boundaries in pursuit of the truth, threatening to unravel the new life Jennifer has so painstakingly created—and reveal some secrets of her own.

***

I have been eager to read this book for a while.  Perhaps the draw for me is the reference to Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal…or maybe it’s because an aging woman living alone is suddenly stunned to have a neighbor, and I am curious about what will unfold.  What will she do about this new fact? 

Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: MY QUIRKY OFFICE, ETC.

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Good morning!  Welcome to another peek into my world of Tidbits, Obsessions, Etc.

I spend a lot of time in my office (pictured above), and recently that room, along with several others, went through a slight makeover.  Nothing major.  But I wrote about some of the unexpected discoveries I found along the way in My Interior World:  Echoes of the Past.

The blogs also go through various makeovers during the regular Bloggiesta events that come along:  the major ones, and then there are the mini-bloggiestas, like the one coming in June.

Because I have eleven blogs (yes, crazy, right?), I work on a different one each time.  Although during the major events, I sometimes dabble on several.

The upcoming event will see me working on Serendipity, as, well, it’s time for a new look.  I have a folder of new headers that I am creating.

Meanwhile, I grabbed the camera the other day and snapped some photos of this room: 

 

 

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Even though I am ruthlessly purging throughout my home, this space will retain a bit of clutter.  I love having the dolls, the bulletin board full of memorabilia, and the family photos layering the walls.  But I have cleaned it up a bit.  Notice that my TBR stack of print books is pretty small.

And on my coffee table/trunk, you can see that my “up next” reads seem manageable.

 

 

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Of course, most of my new books now go on Pippa, my Kindle…but that’s okay.  Out of sight, out of mind…it’s all good.  Right?

 

 

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Speaking of Pippa, today I am reading The Hypnotist’s Love Story, by Liane Moriarty…and it is sooo good!  That author never lets me down.

 

 

 

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We have two narrators:  Ellen, the hypnotist, and the “stalker,” who turns out to be closer than we think.  I can’t wait to get back to it!

Meanwhile, yesterday, I finished a lovely book from NetGalley, The Lake Season, by Hannah McKinnon.  (Click for my review).

 

 

 

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How is your day shaping up?  What obsessions or tidbits inform your life today?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: INTROS/TEASERS – “THE SHORE”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

Today’s featured book is an ARC from Amazon Vine, called The Shore, by Sara Taylor.

 

 

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Intro:  (1995 – Target Practice)

When news of the murder breaks I’m in Matthew’s, buying chicken necks so my little sister Renee and I can go crabbing.  There isn’t much in the way of food in the house, but we found a dollar and sixty-three cents in change, and decided free crabs would get us the most food for that money.  Usually we use bacon rinds for bait, but we’ve eaten those already.

I’m squatting down looking at the boxes of cupcakes on a bottom shelf when a woman steps over me to get to the register.  Matthew’s is small and the shelves are crowded in; when Mama brought us with her to get food Renee and me would have contests to see who could get from the front door to the grimy meat counter at the back in the fewest hops—I could do it in seven.  She’s a big fat woman, with more of an equator than a waist; she steps heavy, all of her trembling as she does, and for a moment I’m worried she’s going to fall and squish me….

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Teaser:  It’s a little house, our house, one room downstairs and two rooms upstairs and a porch for each, and according to the phone company and the electric company and the taxman it doesn’t exist. (p 4)

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The Shore: a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay, just off the coast of Virginia. The Shore is clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, and dark magic in the marshes. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it’s a place that generations of families both wealthy and destitute have inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years. From a half-Shawnee Indian’s bold choice to escape an abusive home only to find herself with a man who will one day try to kill her, to a brave young girl’s determination to protect her younger sister as methamphetamine ravages their family, the characters in this remarkable novel have deep connections to the land, and a resilience that only the place they call home could create.

Through a series of interconnecting narratives that recalls the work of David Mitchell and Jennifer Egan, Sara Taylor brings to life the small miracles and miseries of a community of outsiders, and the bonds of blood and fate that connect them all.

Spanning over a century, dreamlike and yet impossibly real, profound and playful, THE SHORE is a breathtakingly ambitious and accomplished work of fiction by a young writer of remarkable promise.

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Does it resonate with you?  Would you keep reading?  I hope you’ll stop by and share your own excerpts.

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: INTROS/TEASERS – “BITTERSWEET”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by A Daily Rhythm.

It is time for more fun with our Tuesday memes.  The book I have chosen to feature is an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Bittersweet, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.

 

 

 

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Intro: (February – The Roommate)

Before she loathed me, before she loved me, Genevra Katherine Winslow didn’t know that I existed.  That’s hyperbolic, of course; by February, student housing had required us to share a hot shoe box of a room for nearly six months, so she must have gathered I was a physical reality (if only because I coughed every time she smoked her Kools atop the bunk bed), but until the day Ev asked me to accompany her to Winloch, I was accustomed to her regarding me as she would a hideously upholstered armchair—something in her way, to be utilized when absolutely necessary, but certainly not what she’d have chosen herself.

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Teaser:  But whether Aunt Jeanne had changed or my eye had become considerably more nuanced in the intervening years, what I discovered that first December of college was that I’d rather shoot myself in the head than become her.  She lived in a dank, cat-infested condo and seemed puzzled whenever I suggested we go to the Smithsonian. (p. 11).

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Blurb:  Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.
On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact – and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.

***

I am eager to begin this book, one which I have only heard good things about.  What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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TUESDAY POTPOURRI: INTROS/TEASERS – “ONE PLUS ONE”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today’s featured book is from JoJo Moyes, one of my new favorite authors.  One Plus One is the story of a single mom, a chaotic family, and one quirky stranger.

 

 

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Intro:  (Prologue – Ed)

Ed Nicholls was in the creatives’ room drinking coffee with Ronan when Sidney walked in.  A man he vaguely recognized stood behind him, another of the Suits.

“We’ve been looking for you,” Sidney said.

“Well, you found us,” Ed said.

“Not Ronan, you.”

Ed studied them for a minute, then threw a red foam ball at the ceiling and caught it.  He glanced sideways at Ronan.  Investacorp had bought half shares in the company a full eighteen months ago, but Ed and Ronan still thought of them as the Suits.  It was one of the kinder things they called them in private.

“Do you know a woman called Deanna Lewis?”

“Why?”

“Did you give her any information about the launch of the new software?”

“What?”

“It’s a simple question.”

***

Teaser:  (Chapter One – Jess)

Jess Thomas and Nathalie Benson slumped in the seats of their van, which was parked far enough away from Nathalie’s house that they couldn’t be seen from inside.  Nathalie was smoking.  She had given it up for the fourth time six weeks ago. (p. 4).

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Blurb:  One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

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What do you think?  Does this one grab you?

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