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review 2017-05-25 08:13
Allie and Bea
Allie and Bea - Catherine Ryan Hyde

By:  Catherine Ryan Hyde 

ISBN:  978-1477819715

Publisher:  Lake Union 

Publication Date: 5/23/2017 

Format: Paperback 

My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Master storyteller, Catherine Ryan Hyde returns following Say Good-Bye for Now landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 with another emotional thought-provoking saga ALLIE AND BEA – two protagonists from different generations caught up an unfair system find they may learn something from one another.

The best and worst of humanity.

Bea a senior barely making it on her small social security check. Her husband is deceased and she resides in a mobile home with her cat Phyllis. Her savings is nearly depleted trying to make ends meet.

Then a phone scammer saying he is from the IRS to collect back taxes. Quickly her money is gone. Wiped out. She has nowhere to turn and nowhere to live. Even her rent check will bounce since someone wiped out her bank account.

Feeling stupid and helpless, she has to change her direct deposit bank account and decides she has no choice but to live in her old van with her cat; and leaves her things with a friend. She barely has enough money for gas and food for another month until she receives her next social security check.

Then she is faced with the impossible and begins doing things she never thought she would do in order to survive. Bea does not have any knowledge of cell phones, nor the internet. She never had the opportunity to do much traveling nor see the world. She is rough around the edges, and over the years she has learned not to let others in or get too close. She does not trust easily, cynical, and now a loner. How will she continue to survive sleeping in her van and too old for a job?

Told from two points of view, we meet Allie. Allie is a teen and wise beyond her years. She is smart and has strong principals and integrity. She is a devout vegan and very strict with her food and lifestyle.

She has just discovered her mom and dad are being arrested for tax fraud and being sent to jail. She is left with a social worker, and has to leave her home, friends, school, and all her possessions -
taken to a group home. Allie has no clue of the evil of this world.

All this is foreign to Allie. She soon learns people in this world are not so nice. Some of the girls are very dangerous at the group home and things get out of hand. She has nowhere to turn and no money. Then her only hope is a friend who helps her escape and soon finds herself in another nightmare even worse than what she left. Human trafficking.

She has one shot in order to escape a madman. Soon an unlikely old woman and a runaway teen connect. Two lives both desperate. They soon discover they may learn some hard life lessons together.

As always, Hyde takes readers on a thought-provoking adventure. It may not be an easy road; however, her characters always find a way to connect with someone on a different path to change their lives. Fate intersects. They may not know the reason for the encounter, but you can be assured they were meant to take the journey.

Even though I could relate to Bea being a senior, had to think of my recent experience with my dad, age 86 yrs old with this crazy healthcare system and a recent phone scam. Luckily he did not get sucked into this and lose his money.

 

I also related to Allie in so many ways. She is wise beyond her years. She has integrity. I am also a vegan and some of the reactions are ones I face daily. I had to laugh when I went to a shelter during our last Florida hurricane evacuation. I could eat nothing they had. It was good I packed some healthy snacks and was able to go home the following day. Being a vegan is foreign to many in our world. Lots of laughs between the two.

I admired Allie for her strong principals; however, it also demonstrated how when faced with survival, how people get desperate enough to cross moral and ethical lines. A heartwarming story of the kindness of others. She taught Bea so much about herself.

No one can take you on a better road trip adventure than Catherine Ryan Hyde— mixed with life messiness, emotion, heart, and lots of humor. I think we have all been close to living in our car at one time or another, in our lives when things have looked hopeless.

A good look at our broken system and how it fails the young and the old in different and similar ways. When this happens, we may not always have a family; however, there may be a guardian angel where we least expect through the kindness of a stranger.

The highs and loves of life! The cracks in life let the light through. After reading a CRH book you want to rush out and do something good for someone, or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Help someone less fortunate. You want to give back. Life changing moments. Inspiring.

In addition to the reading copy, also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Lauren Ezzo and Janet Metzger with an engaging performance for both voices. Loved the journey along the Pacific Coast. One of my favorite cities: Santa Barbara, CA! I was curious to see how these two souls from different walks of life would connect - fans will enjoy this one.

From an online interview with the author we get a glimpse into what’s coming next:

“After Allie and Bea will come a novel called The Wake-Up, about a former cattle rancher who becomes so sensitive to the emotions of others that his entire life is turned upside-down. And all this just as he’s trying to find his way with a seriously abused new stepson who can’t be trusted around his animals.” Read more

Ironically, have read many of CRH books ; however, realized this evening I have never watched or read, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s international sensation, Pay It Forward, the moving story of Trevor McKinney, a 12-year-old boy who accepts his social studies teacher’s challenge to come up with a plan to change the world. Rented it tonight on Amazon Kindle- highly recommend if you have not read the book or watched the movie. (have some Kleenex handy).

A special thank you to Lake Union and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/Allie-and-Bea
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review 2017-05-16 13:16
It's Always The Husband
It's Always the Husband - Michele Campbell

By: Michele Campbell 

ISBN: 9781250081803

Publisher:  St. Martin's Press  

Publication Date: 5/16/2017 

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars

 

Michele Campbell’s debut, IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND —is a suspenseful and intriguing twisty "whodunit" and "howdunit" of dark secrets— a web of deceit, keeping you guessing to the final conclusion.

Three college roommates at Carlisle College in New Hampshire — Aubrey, Jenny, and Kate are linked by a tragedy.

Each girl has their own desires, dreams, fears, and troubles. The complexities of friendship and acceptance. Love/hate relationships.

Kate is the wild rich girl with a father’s connections and a stepmother who gets in her way. Her family is connected to the college. Their name is on the buildings.

Aubrey is poor — on financial aid. No social friends (her family was white trash). She just wants to escape her home. Not sure how she will fit in. She is sure her life is about to change. She would make her roommates love her no matter what it took. Kate was the friend she had been waiting for her entire life.

Jenny—a townie. She grew up her in New Hampshire. Her parents own the local hardware store. She is ambitious. She soon uses Kate to move up the ladder.

Everyone is using someone.

The girls’ relationships become complex, as most do where there is a threesome. One is always left out or playing against one another. A third wheel. Each has their own agenda. Guys. One which dated the other girl years ago. Jealousy.

They say your freshman roommates become your best friends for life (or death).

“I no doubt deserved my enemies but I don’t believe I deserved my friends." – Walt Whitman

 

 


From booze, drugs, sex, jealousies, guys, lies, secrets, greed, and betrayal. If you play with fire, you eventually get burned.

Aubrey makes a decision to commit suicide with Kate, except Lucas dies instead. He had dated Jenny back in high school and Kate flaunts sleeping with him. Aubrey does everything Kate wants (her idol).

Aubrey’s mom dies and more drama here. All the while Jenny is sucking up to Kate’s father spying on Kate, yet using him for her own selfish needs. Kate has her own issues and manipulative behavior.

Of course, this tragedy links all three girls through their lifetime. A dark secret.

Then later they are all back in the same town, now married. Kate is married to a rich guy, Griff. She is using him until he loses his money.

Aubrey is married to a doctor, but she is not happy and pines for Griff. Jenny, now the mayor and married to Tim (Lucas’ cousin). These people are acting as though they are back in college.

They each have their own reasons to keep their secret. Until greed gets in the way. Again, as adults, they are each still playing their sadistic games.

When one of them actually dies at the same bridge where Lucas fell to his death twenty years earlier, suspicions point to each of them. Each person and their spouse have their own individual motives.

With many suspects, marriages are threatened, as well as friendships and families, crossing moral lines.

A twisty-page turner keeping you glued to the pages to determine the identity of the killer. These are some manipulative girls! With friends like these, who needs enemies?

There were lovers, friends, enemies, and others who had a motive. Could it possibly be the husband?

When the book begins you feel sorry for and sympathized with Aubrey. By the end of the book, you despise her, along with the other two. Not a lot of likable characters here.

Demonstrates how events and crimes from your younger years are carried into adulthood damaging future relationships, friendships, and marriages.

As other reviewers mentioned, I preferred the second half of the book, when the gals are older and the suspenseful fast-paced twisty turns.

They are the same self-centered people; however, they have advanced to murder, bribery, infidelity, revenge, and cover-ups with the assistance of their husbands. A clever ending.

Looking forward to seeing what comes next from this newfound author.

“I can be on guard against my enemies, but God deliver me from my friends!” ― Charlotte Brontë

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/12/Its-Always-the-Husband
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review 2017-05-16 05:10
Before the Rain Falls
Before the Rain Falls: A Novel - Camille Di Maio

By:  Camille Di Maio 

ISBN: 9781503939974

Publisher: Lake Union 

Publication Date: 5/16/2017

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars +


From the bestselling author, Camille DiMaio of The Memory of Us, the smashing debut landing on my Top 50 Books of 2016 returns with another stunning follow-up, equally as gripping.

An enthralling modern mystery: BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS —Beautifully written and incredibly poignant, a story of love, loss, and redemption. 5 Stars + Top Books of 2017

A tragic tale which will restore your faith and strength of the human spirit to rise despite adversity― A courageous woman who keeps a dark secret and makes tremendous "sacrifices" that will change her family forever.

Emotional and intriguing. At the same time— a timeless love story, reminding us that often in our darkest hour, hope shines a candle to light our way.

Set in humid South Texas (author's hometown San Antonio), a dual storyline (almost three), alternating between Della’s dark and horrific experiences of the 1940s; her parents: Herman and Eva, and sister Eula (the beloved songbird); and Paloma (grandmother Abuela) and Mick’s present-day search for answers―paths destined to cross, decades apart.

Two sisters. A death. Two mysterious portraits. One found, another lost. A town in need of hope and much-needed rain.

Told in alternating chapters between the 1940s and present day. A washed-up journalist and a young doctor cross paths while searching for the truth behind the mystery murder decades earlier.

Della Lee and Tomas Trujillo had been married only four hours when it happened, their newly minted future ripped apart by an ivory-handled knife.

Tomas said he understood why she’d done what she did. But the fairy tales that Della had imagined for them ever since that day were over. Someone had attempted to break that bond.

She made a choice that would change her world forever, and alter the path of someone she holds dear.

Texas 1943— Eula Lee had been murdered. The tiny border town was devastated for the second time by the Lee family. The daughter everyone cherished. Della Lee Trujillo was convicted. Guilty of murder in the death of her younger sister.

"The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling."—Lucretius



Alternating from Puerto Pesar—Present Day: Della was back in the place that consumed her memories through seventy years in prison. Now, in her nineties. Tomas had lived in the house for a few years until going off to war, but he had the foresight to take care of all the legal bits that Della never had the chance to consider.

It was not until she returned to her childhood home that phantoms and memories stirred her, making it impossible to rest. There were births, deaths, marriages, joys, sorrows that were absorbed into these walls.

Did their ghosts mingle, along with those of Herman, Eva, Tomas, and Durla—all watching her this old woman in this old house? The painting, the shrine, the beloved girl. Where was the second one?

She looked back at her life. The forties —when she learned to be a champion, catcher of greased pigs. The fifties— when she discovered a love of reading. The sixties— when she sabotaged her chance at parole. And yet they seemed like yesterday.

The days in which her sister was no longer the belle of Puerto Pesar— drawing crowds from around the country to the little church on Sunday mornings. The days instead when Eula resided six feet below the parched soil in the churchyard.

These were her Freedom Days. She would walk around without bars to block the view. That was one kind of freedom. It was the freedom in telling your secrets before it was too late. Her guilt over not being a good enough caregiver for her sister.

Della had a story and she was ready to tell it. This would be the Truth Days.

Present Day: Mick Anders, a reporter for the Daily Talk in Boston, looking for a story to revive his career. He is in Texas to research the origins of a church painting depicting a “crying girl”. He is staying at the La Palma Inn the only lodging in the small border town of Puerto Pesar. He is struggling with his own battles.

His editor wanted him to lie low regarding a fiasco with a senator (backstory here). He had been told to work his magic in this Podunk town and turn the story into a Pulitzer winner. Go to Texas until his other deal blew over. Two weeks of leave. His orders were to find a knockout story or he was finished. No per diem of course since this was not a real assignment.

His girlfriend Stephanie had taken the keys to the Lexus and kicked him out of their condo. He was going to get a story and spin straw into gold and return to the newspaper as the prodigal son.

The area had not had rain for one hundred and eighty-two days. The photo had shown rosaries and holy cards outside the church as people begged for salvation from this hell. Would he discover the mysteries of this family before the rain falls? Before the woman dies without telling her story. He wanted to be the one.

It all boiled down to this: A portrait found in a thrift store and was thought to be leaking tears. The image of a young girl about four years old. Eula Lee, whose father owned the fish cannery that had been the town’s largest employer at the time. Her sister had murdered her years later. Della Lee had gone to prison and recently returned to the family house after seventy years of incarceration.

However, what was the real story?

The people of the town had enjoyed a regional notoriety for a while. Then the heat, the drought, and skepticism sent people away. Mick had received his Hail Mary pass. “Had one mistake, one reckless grasp at advancement been worth banishment to a Hades what seemed so out of place in a civilized country?"

And could any kind of salvation be found in a convicted nonagenarian and the portrait of a long-dead girl named Eula?”

Mick meets Paloma Vega by chance, who is back in her hometown to help her grandmother recover from a heart attack. An unexpected meeting. He does not realize how this girl and her family will change his life.

Present Day: Paloma Vega. She had moved away ten years earlier. She was a bona fide New Yorker now and grew up in Puerto Pesar. She had a restless heart. She graduated from high school and received a letter from her father in Connecticut. There was a trust large enough for her college and grad school.She had to leave her sister Mercedes who was only six at the time. At nineteen she left for a new future.

Now a few months away from thirty, she was a different person. Four years at NYU, four more at Columbia for medical school, and a two- year residency and a job offer for a permanent position. Her dad would be proud.

Her sister, Mercedes was only sixteen. How was she going to communicate or help her? Who was this creature with the dark eyeliner and darker mood? How would she reach her? She is feeling guilty.

Abuela’s own mother had been a product of the Depression and learned to hoard items for reuse. She had only made four visits in ten years. Not often enough to visit the intricacies of her sister growing up or her grandmother growing old.

Puerto Pesar. Family. There was something comforting about returning home, even if you’d dreamed of leaving it. She had done what any girl from a small border would do when her upper-class father offered her a way out; escaped. She had been too young to think twice. Too starry-eyed to feel guilty.

Until recently. The hospital had agreed to hold her new position for a month so she could go home and help Mercedes take care Abuela after her heart attack. This was the woman who had raised her while her own mother flitted in and about town.

Abuela needed her, even if she denied it. So here she was. She could never repay her grandmother for all she had done raising Paloma and then Mercedes while holding down three jobs to do so. Paloma quickly realized the toll her absence had taken on her sister. What could she do about it in the short period of three weeks while here?

Past 1943: The author takes us back to Goree State Farm for Women— Della Lee Trujillo was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole in twenty years and would live out those days at Goree State Farm in Huntsville. At the prison, there she met the musical group and friends, the Goree Girls. The good, bad and ugly. Not much good.

Tomas had said he would wait for her. She drove him away.

On the way to prison, the driver had something else in mind and pulled over at the motel. She had never been with a man, not even her own husband.

Reporters wondered why she killed her sister. To others, she was not a victim help by a captor. She was a convicted murderer being lawfully transported by an agent of the state. She was now helpless. The violation. The humiliation. She could not think about the future ahead of her. No one would listen to a murderer.

While in prison . . . she was consumed with darkness. She feared for her life. She was angry with her mother for leaving, with her father for checking out, with her sister for dying. Eddie for raping her. They had all failed her, and because of them, she failed Tomas.

Everyone thought she was a murderer. It had been her wedding day. In prison, she could not read his letters. She loved him too much to make him sacrifice his happiness for her. She was stubborn. She had to raise a headstrong Eula.

It was all about Eula. It had always been about her. Della and Eula only two years apart. Essentially, momma and daughter. Eula had an effect, on everyone. She had a fearsome temper. The same look on her mother’s face on that last day at the beach with the painter. An unspoken triumph.

However, was she really a murderer? Who was she protecting?

“Regret. A word she knew intimately. Only three people knew the truth about what happened that day, and two of them resided in this cemetery.”

Present day: Paloma and Mick meet, while in town. . . Two East Coasters here for a brief time.

The scandals of the Lee family had been talked about for years. Mick and Paloma discuss speaking with Abuela to find out more about Della Lee. She would know stories to help point him in the right direction. Abuela begins telling what she remembers. She is recently home from the hospital and weak.

Where it all started: She recalls a trip where Eva and the girls and the painter went out of town. Eva packed up and left while Herman was at work and the little girls were in the house alone until he returned. Two young girls, ages six and four. Eva never came back. Herman retreated from everything except his office and the girls had to fend for themselves.

Della Lee was no murderer. Her mother had thought she was innocent. There was no proof and it was complicated by the fact Della pled guilty. However, uncle Tomas was convinced of her innocence.

Tomas came back from service defeated by Della rejection. He volunteered for combat and joined the Marines, and turned down a safe post with the army locally. Was Eula like Eva? Carrying on with the boys—rages. But to everyone else a saint?

DiMaio takes us back to the Lee family when they came to Puerto Pesar around the turn of the century. Herman fell for a local girl Eva. She was troubled, beautiful. Some said she was unfaithful. Herman Lee had money. They had a daughter, Della and a few years later another girl named Eura. The mid-twenties and Herman was a slave to keep Eva happy.

Then along came a vagabond from El Paso. He earned his keep as he went along painting landscapes and portraits. They said his name was Teddy Brown. Eva and Teddy caused quite the scandal. The husband was busy with work and she would meet him at the coast.

Herman Lee found out something about the painter Teddy Brown and he died in an airplane crash on his way to Europe. A tragedy. Two young girls left alone. Eula’s troubles started when her mother left. The paintings.

Mick is drawn into the story and, Paloma is a real distraction for him. Seeing the painting, and going to her grandmother’s house. However, he was here for a reason.

He needed to meet Della Lee, now ninety years old and lived alone. This woman seemed normal. How strange it must be for her at this age reentering the real world. He had come originally to see the portrait of her sister. Santa Bonita. He soon comes to respect this woman. Why had her mother gone away for ten years and then go find her? They lost a mother so young and a father so tragically.

“Things aren’t always as they seem. Don’t assume you know everything you might have read about me is the truth. Only I know the truth. And the only other two who did have long since died.”

 




An exclusive interview with the woman herself. Incarcerated for seven decades. He needed this knockout story. He felt alive. Difficult to think this woman could have murdered anyone. Mick must learn the mysteries behind Eula. He hoped she could hang on and have enough strength to get it all out.

"Sacrifice is sanctifying." Mick was learning this family was about religion. However, it was cryptic. What drove her to murder her sister if so much had gone into protecting her?

There were also two portraits. One of Eula and one of Della. A story which needed to be told before it could be snatched away, as so many other things in here past. Holding on to things so deeply driving you to do things that seem inexplicable.

So much fun reading about the tales of the Goree Girls All Strings Band! The friendships of these women. The letters from poor Tomas pouring out his heart. A doctor and a journalist pulled into this saga.

Two people from the East Coast, visiting a small border town, and transformed by a place that did not even show up on most maps.

At 95% was dying to learn what happened that night. This lady can write folks! She has a knack for tugging at your heart strings and never letting go.

A beautifully told, tragic tale. Women enduring facing insurmountable hardships. Loved ones separated. Choices and consequences which trickle down through generations. A sacrifice. A strong parallel between the generations.

With memorable characters, and conceptual depth, and heart-pounding tension, DiMaio’s novel is one that simply unputdownable. I love this author! From her first book, I knew this one possessed a God-given talent. A gifted storyteller.

Both timeline stories were equally developed, absorbing, and engaging. The characters jump off the page and you feel their intense pain, agony, and difficult decisions. Both heartbreaking and a very satisfying ending. This saga and its characters will remain with long after the book ends.

There are also religious tones with both her books regarding Roman Catholicism and its distinctive beliefs including certain doctrines, beliefs, and sacraments: Other distinctive Catholic practices include veneration of saints, use of the crucifix, and the use of rosary beads in prayer.

Through all the pain, loss and tragedy there is hope and life gives us surprises and something beauty out of tragedy when we least expect. For fans of historical, women’s, literary and contemporary fiction as well as romance, suspense, and modern mystery.

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Charles Martin (Long Way Gone), Richard Paul Evans, Fredrik Backman, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Karen White, Kristin Hannah, Katherine Hughes (The Secret and The Letter), Sarah Jio, Kate Morton, Lisa Wingate, and Diane Chamberlain.

I adore the author’s book trailers: They are powerful, moving, emotional and will immediately draw you into the lives of her characters. Oh, and the stunning cover . . .

View Book Trailers:
Before the Rain Falls
The Memory of Us

What a great way to spend a Saturday! Set aside the time—Unputdownable. Spectacular—another smashing hit by Camille DiMaio! Fans, you will want to pre-order BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS, now.

In the meantime, if you have not read The Memory of Us , highly recommend. Would love to see both these played out on the wide screen. Movie worthy!

A special thank you to the author, Lake Union, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 JDCMustReadBooks

 


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/08/Before-the-Rain-Falls
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review 2017-05-14 07:21
Woman No. 17
Woman No. 17 - Edan Lepucki

By:  Edan Lepucki 

ISBN: 9781101904251

Publisher: Crown 

Publication Date: 5/9/2017 

Format: 9781101904251

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

 

Edan Lepucki returns following California with her latest WOMAN NO.17 – a cleverly written twisty contemporary of motherhood, womanhood, relationships, and identity.

Infused with art in many forms, a web of deceit, dark and witty — a sinister look into a Hollywood family and complex relationships. When things are not always as they appear.

Think a "helicopter" insecure mom with a past; an impersonator, selective mutism, alcoholism, childhood traumas, a revealing photograph, narcissistic behavior, self-sabotage, social media (Twitter) obsession, time, age, a love triangle, and a bunny.

However, this is no typical “Fatal Attraction” . . . A modern contemporary saga: deeper, absorbing, and entertaining. No boiled bunny; however, a floating Peter Rabbit bunny.

An emotional powerhouse of a novel!

Being a child, daughter, and mother is painful." A burden. Told from different perspectives.

Set in Hollywood Hills, a part of the Santa Monica Mountains; a hillside neighborhood of the central region of the city of Los Angeles, California— Lady Daniels is married to Karl, a rich guy who appears to love his family and has given her the life she never had previously. Lady has not always had it so glamorous and able to live this lifestyle.

As we revisit the past, Lady was formerly married to a no-good bum, jack-ass Marcus. None of her girlfriends or anyone liked him. She gets pregnant and ready to have an abortion years earlier and Marcus wants her to keep the baby. Before their son, Seth is even a toddler, Marcus leaves with a little help and financial incentive from Lady’s mom.

Lady hated her mom. Vicious and gorgeous. They had not spoken in twenty years. A love/hate relationship. As a single mom, Lady raised her son, Seth, barely making ends meet. She is protective of him. He never speaks. Marcus never knew about his selective mutism. Then Karl comes along and they marry and are raising son Devin (age two) and Seth. He is a good father to both boys.

As the book opens, Seth is now nineteen, and Devin is a toddler. Devin is a constant chatterbox and talks non-stop, unlike his brother. Seth does not speak and talks via his iPhone, sign language, social media, and letters.

Lady and Karl have an argument regarding an incident about her son Seth. She asks Karl to leave for a trial separation; however, they have a unique relationship and still see one another. Lady does not know what she wants. She is very confused and troubled.

Lady had written an essay in Real Simple about the strains of parenting a mute child After it went viral, she landed a book contract to expand on the subject.

In her forties, she decides to hire a nanny to help take care of Devin, so she could spend her time writing. However, she goes to coffee shops among other things and never writes. She procrastinates and overthinks everything.

She hires a twenty-two-year-old girl, called “S”. S is not her real name. She connects with Lady and Devin. Immediately, Lady hires her without even doing a background check. She moves into the cottage.

Lady is needy and in desperate need of companionship. She makes crazy poor choices. She pushes Karl away, and overprotective with Seth, and does not have the patience for Devin. However, she and S soon become friends. Even though they have a twenty-year-age difference, the two have many things in common. Mainly their dysfunctional overbearing mothers. (and, Seth). The claws come out.

As the book moves on, we hear from Lady and S. We know early on, S has something up her sleeve. Lady has a past involving a photograph called Woman No. 17, taken by her sister-in-law, and nemesis, Kit. How will these three connect? (Lots of triangles in the book).

S begins working on a secretive art project and in the meantime, she becomes closer to Seth. (before/after) in reverse. They connect in more ways than none. He is working on a film plus much more. He also is a little naughty. S loves to drink as well as Lady. Lady is always hungry.

Readers learn more about Lady’s past and S’s family. Seth is mysterious with a secretive side. Lady thinks about Marco and wants him to meet (their) son. Karl is trying to get back together. Marcus is curious about his dad. Lady and S have their own secrets.

Stop. Drop. Dead. Private signs.

Twitter: @Sethconscious and @muffinbuffin41. Crazy action going on here.

Seth is a teen boy. Lady Daniel’s baby boy. He was like a wild animal, rarely seen and barely understood. He has selective mutism. Was Seth a skilled liar? Dangerous? S and Seth are both artists.

With all the drama and the deception, there are so many funny hilarious moments. One of my favorites one-liners, among many:

“Mommy,” Devin said, finally tearing himself away from the screen. “You done with your dog hair?”
I laughed and wiped my face with my sleeve. “Hair of the dog, baby."
"And, yes, I finished it. Go back to watching your show now. Mommy’s all right.”



Triangles: Seth/Lady/S, Marco/Karl/Lady, Lady/Marco/Kit, Seth/Kit/S, (Sure I am leaving out more).

A woman saddled with secrets. Guilt. Betrayal. A mother who straddles between love and doubt. A collision course. Two complex women. Secrets and lies. Lady is not as put together as she would like others to believe. WOMAN NO. 17 would make an interesting movie. (Very LA)

 



The author skillfully crafts complexities of life with a twist. A compelling portrait of motherhood. WOMAN NO. 17 is like nothing you will ever read. It is unique. The author is talented and delves into the human psyche. With flawed characters, written with a deep understanding of mothers, daughters, sons.

The best description (bullseye) and an accurate summary of the book (great review):

. . . “Despite the hint of deceit and scent of illicit canoodling in the air, Lepucki doesn’t appear to be interested in writing a trashy noir cum sly bodice-ripper, though some of the sexy scenes do get a pinch, well, rough. Pretty early on, it’s clear that she’s experimenting with exploring something deeper. Mainly: what it means to be a needy, vulnerable, passionate, discarded lover,
wife, daughter, and mother.” . . .

“Woman No. 17” is structured like a classic she-said, she-said. In odd-numbered chapters, we hear about events from Lady’s perspective —
and the scoop ain’t pretty. " . . .
San Francisco Chronicle.



Like the book based, mini- TV series, Big Little Lies, there is a façade. Twisted secrets. Friendships. Motherhood. Relationships. She was poor, lonely, and single when Lady met Karl. Did he ever really know the real Lady? Lady is coming unglued and her life is unraveling. Self-sabotage. The haunting photo.

Gripping. Provocative. Thought-provoking, and yet frustrating.

The book raises big questions about identity, ethics, art, parenthood, relationships, motherhood, social media and our modern digital age. A mix of intriguing, stimulating, unpredictable, mysterious, and utterly engaging.

I hit the literary jack box: I scored an electronic early reading copy from NetGalley, and granted an early print book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers, and purchased the audiobook, which sealed the deal!

My favorite narrator is Cassandra Campbell. I pretty much pre-order every book she narrates. Her voice is calming and soothing. She was a perfect Lady and Devin. Phoebe Strole was well-suited for the younger S! 11 hrs and 46 mins. Kept me entertained for days!

Ironically, I had just finished The Scattering (Strole) and The Book of Summer (Campbell) performing and directly afterward got to hear them both as a duo team.

Looking forward to reading more from Lepucki. Her writing is inventive, unique, sharp, fascinating, dark, mysterious and witty. I found myself dying to get back to the book. It was addictive. Strongly reminded of Ellen Meister’s The Other Life with the art connection, humor, and an honest look at the innermost thoughts of struggling women.

A special thank you to Crown, LibraryThing Early Reviewers, and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/01/01/Woman-No-17
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review 2017-05-10 12:20
The Book of Summer
The Book of Summer: A Novel - Michelle Gable

By: Michelle Gable 

ISBN: 9781250070623

Publisher: St. Martin's Press 

Publication Date: 5/9/2017 

Format: Hardcover 

My Rating: 5 Stars

 

Storyteller, Michelle Gable returns following I’ll See You in Paris and A Paris Apartment with her latest Nantucket summer charmer (her best yet): THE BOOK OF SUMMER — a multi-generational story of family, home, the courage of tenacious women and the special memories of Cliff House.

Rich in history and character, a scandalous, emotional, and witty tale of family and saving a home. The past, loss and loves, and all the lives which connect. A perfect mix of historic and contemporary.

Based on the real-life erosion of the Sankaty Bluff in Siasconset –known as Sconset—the easternmost spot on Nantucket Island, Gable was inspired by an article in Vanity Fair (very intriguing) about the grand homes, passed down between generations now falling into the sea.

Though the Cliff House bears the fictitious address of Baxter Road, it is based on Bluff House, formerly located at 87 Baxter Road.

The quintessential Nantucket manor known as Cliff House is near falling into the ocean.

However, town shaker Cissy Codman, owner of the home is determined to remain in the house, using every trick she has to keep up the fight to save her family home. She plans on going down the ship.

Cissy is a force to be reckoned with and determined to get the local government behind her to either move the house or continue with the erosion prevention efforts.

Her daughter has been sent from San Francisco, California by her father to ensure her mom moves out of the house before she dies left in the house.

Bess Codman, a physician is undergoing a messy divorce from a complete jerk (Brandon), plus she is pregnant (unplanned) and runs into her ex-high school boyfriend, Evan Mahew.

While tasked with the job of packing up her mom, Bess discovers the “Book of Summer.” A guest book filled with recollections of friends' and family's stay at the house. Entries in the book are highlighted throughout the novel, with difficulties and challenges faced by other residents.

From 2013 and the start of World War II, we hear from Ruby Packard, Bess’s grandmother, an idealistic young bride in 1939, just before the United States enters WWII and Bess.

Bess does not understand her mom Cissy’s obsession with this house; however, the more she reads she comes to understand similarities of present and past. The stubborn women who chained themselves to complex men like the house. Bess begins to understand the unspoken expectations placed on Cissy, being the only child in a troubled home.

Loss is a part of life. Giving everything she had. A costly venture, "saving a bluff." The geo-tubes.

From family drama, lies, secrets, scandals, abortions, gays, alcoholism, betrayal, abuse, infidelity, hookers, divorce, marriage, and more – loss and love, mixed with tons of fun and humor and surprises (loved the part about the pecker-hilarious) and commentary and views from blogger— Corbie Tarbox, the Island ACKtion blog.

Loved Cissy! I related to her on some many levels. What a great cast of characters, from past and present. What is not to love about Nantucket? Have had many hotel clients over the years, and almost moved there full time to run a hotel. Always a good excuse to visit.

Michelle transports you to this charming coastal town by the sea, with an engaging story, resonating with the early writings of Erin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer (which I loved), before they changed, over the past few years.

The past and present were nicely done with many connections with highly charged topics. A perfect beach read and an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussion. Can you imagine losing your house to facts beyond your control?

Gable keeps getting better and better. I enjoyed reading the book; however when I discovered Cassandra Campbell was narrating the audiobook, had to pre-order. Love Cassandra Campbell (my favorite narrator).

She was exceptional and a perfect fit for THE BOOK OF SUMMER. Engaging, absorbing, and entertaining! The audio experience, actually bumped up my review another star, making this a 5-star reading experience.

Highly recommend the book and the audio. Love the subject material with the erosion problem which I am very familiar with highly relatable issues— residing in a coastal area.

Here in Palm Beach, (Breakers Hotel), as well as the Southern area of Palm Beach (Phipps Ocean Park and Beach), the continued erosion along the project area threatens upland structures & recreational beaches. The sand placement and groin & mitigation construction cost millions and designed to last only three years. Very costly, temporary and ongoing environmental issues.

Fans of Mary Alice Monroe, Dorothea Benton Frank, Joanne DeMaio, and Hazel Gaynor will enjoy THE BOOK OF SUMMER.

A special thank you to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/02/01/The-Book-of-Summer
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