AN INTERIOR JOURNEY

Through Reading, Blogging, & Writing


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REVIEW: TRUE BLEND, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

20945746On a serene day in spring, in the lovely town of Addison, Connecticut, Amy Trewist, a widow, is running errands with her toddler daughter Grace. As they reach their destination at the bank, unknown to them, on a parallel path, George Carbone and his brother Nate are getting ready for a trip to the casino…but first, they must stop at the bank.

Suddenly chaos reigns. An armored car heist is underway, and Grace is grabbed, just as she and her mother exit the bank. Men wearing stocking masks and bearing guns now control the scene, and the spring day is no longer serene. All that Amy can remember in the moments afterwards were one man’s words: Be strong. And the warning to wait one hour before calling the police. She recalls a hand holding her down, and later will not remember any other details, except in flashbacks, when something is always missing….

The nightmare seemingly ends when a man named George Carbone finds her daughter in a parking lot of a store and brings her to the police. What happens over the summer that still simmers with the unsolved crime is how George becomes a regular part of Amy’s life. She sees him as a protector. Especially since Grace no longer speaks, and seems to be more lost by the day. Is Amy becoming too dependent on George? Or is something more happening? And what secrets is George hiding?

In this beautiful town where Amy has a vintage bridal shop and wonderful friends, she no longer feels safe. Strange things are happening…is someone stalking her, or is her memory failing? Her life is in pieces and the only person who makes her feel safe is George.

The richly drawn characters soon became part of my life, too, as I eagerly followed them through the nightmare. Amy felt like a dear friend, and George did seem like a good, strong protector. Also throughout the story, a few reminders of other books came, as Amy and her friend Celia frequented Whole Latte Life, the shop featured in another book. References to Stony Point reminded me of Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans. I love how the author weaves into this story characters and places from other books, making me remember other old friends.

True Blend is the kind of story that twists its way into your mind, as you try to imagine what will happen next, and whether or not Amy will ever feel safe again. Or feel love. Will she find the answers before her life spirals further into danger? A captivating and mesmerizing tale that left me breathless. Five stars.


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NEWS FROM THE INTERIOR: BETH HOFFMAN’S “LOOKING FOR ME” – SOON AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK

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For those who have loved Beth Hoffman’s books, here is the paperback version of Looking for Me, to be released on April 29, 2014.  I love the gorgeous new cover.  Don’t you?

I have a hard copy of the book and it was a favorite book for the year 2013.  Here’s my review.

For those who haven’t yet read the book, here is some of the relevant information, including details about the upcoming book tour.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Teddi Overman loves her family and the simple life they share on their Kentucky farm, but when high school graduation nears and her mother pushes her towards secretarial school, Teddi knows it’s time to strike out on her own and pursue her dream of working with antiques. Gifted at refurbishing furniture and possessing an uncanny knack for uncovering the beauty and history in what other people discard, Teddi leaves Kentucky in the middle of the night and makes her way to Charleston, South Carolina. There, Teddi builds a new life for herself, and makes her dream come true in a small antiques shop frequented by a cast of quirky customers and friends. But each time Teddi, now thirty-six years old, leaves Charleston and visits the farm of her youth, she’s drawn to the mysterious beauty of Red River Gorge, where her brother went missing at the age of seventeen. Though everyone believes that her beloved brother is dead, Teddi never gives up hope of finding him. When circumstances lead her to clean out the old barn, Teddi makes a discovery that challenges her in ways she never could have imagined. And while trying to fit together the pieces of her family’s shattered past, Teddi unwittingly finds herself among the ruins.

PRAISE FOR LOOKING FOR ME:
“Hoffman’s novel of a woman putting the pieces of her family’s secrets together combines a deep dramatic impact with Southern charm.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hoffman has a good ear for dialogue, and Teddie and her friends are realistic, appealing characters. Perfect for fans of family-centered women’s fiction, this book will have special appeal to readers interested in antiques and ‘shabby chic’ style.”
Booklist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beth Hoffman was the president and co-owner of an interior design studio before becoming a full-time writer. Looking For Me is her second novel. She lives with her husband and two cats in Kentucky.

Beth Hoffman’s Spring/Summer 2014 Tour:
NAPERVILLE, IL, Anderson’s Bookshop, May 1
WICHITA, KS, Watermark Books, May 6
KANSAS CITY, MO, Unity Temple (with Rainy Day Books), May 8
WOODSTOCK, GA, Foxtale Book Shoppe, May 13
FAIRHOPE, AL, Page & Palette, May 15
EVANSVILLE, IN, Vanderburgh Public Library, June 15

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REVIEW: THAT NIGHT, BY CHEVY STEVENS

51wQoo1hUTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Arrested and convicted of her younger sister Nicole’s murder when she was only eighteen, Toni Murphy spends the next fifteen years in prison. Her boyfriend Ryan was also convicted.

But they are innocent. And the rage and fear Toni suffers is intensified by the challenges she faces in prison. But will she find even more challenges once she is released?

The primary story is set in Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. That Night begins as Toni is being released from Rockland Penitentiary, to a halfway house, and alternately flashes backward and forward, revealing the many layers to this story. Like the bullying that made up a huge part of her high school experience, from a group of girls headed by Shauna McKinney. The fact that her parents saw her as a trouble-maker and her sister as the good girl. That her sister Nicole was slowly being drawn into the very circle of enemies that had tormented Toni….

Toni is our first person narrator, and as we learn more from her perspective, it is easy to be enraged by what she suffered and by the intensity of emotions she has experienced. All of which must be kept under wraps in order to survive inside. As the story unfolds, in its back and forth fashion, I had a hard time setting it down. From one minute to the next, I couldn’t wait to see what would happen. One would think that life would be better for Toni outside, but she discovers that those who are out to get her are still there, and ratcheting things up.

What will her enemies do next to ruin her life? Why are the “mean girls,” now adults, still intent on destroying her? What are the secrets they are keeping? And what was the truth about Nicole’s secret life during that last year?

A highly intense and emotional read, I felt myself pulled into the midst of the drama, completely engaged with the characters. Toni was a character that I enjoyed, despite her tough girl persona. I was rooting for her from the beginning. And in the end, it seemed as though justice would never come…but then a surprising revelation brought satisfaction. Five stars.


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REVIEW: THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, BY WILEY CASH

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A heart-warming story of family, loss, and broken connections, This Dark Road to Mercy: A Novel held my attention to the very end.

Easter, aged 12, and Ruby, 6, are two girls who find themselves in foster care after their mother’s death. Their father, Wade Chesterfield, an ex-minor league baseball player, relinquished his parental rights years before. So when he shows up at a school softball game, and strikes up a conversation with Easter, he inadvertently sets up a domino effect that will lead him, the girls, and some nefarious people on a trail leading to potential disaster.

How does an armored car heist figure into the story? What will Brady Weller, the girls’ court-appointed guardian, do when he realizes that Wade has taken the girls in the middle of the night? How will all of those trailing them find themselves in St. Louis at a baseball game?

The story begins in Gastonia, North Carolina, and travels to Charleston, SC, before heading to St. Louis. Along the way, some broken connections will be healed. Not only is Wade in search of a second chance with his daughters, but Brady Weller is trying to redeem himself after some mistakes of his own.

Will there be second chances for these characters? Narrated in alternating voices by Easter, the oldest girl; by Brady Weller; and by a character named Pruitt, this was a truly unputdownable tale that will linger in my mind for a long time. Five stars.


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HUMP DAY THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR: WAITING FOR “THE ONE AND ONLY”

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It’s that wonderful time again when we all gather together to share our eager anticipation for upcoming releases.  Check over at Breaking the Spine to see what everyone is excited about.

The One and Only, by Emily Giffin, is a story about love and loyalty, coming to readers on May 20.

 

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In her eagerly awaited new novel, beloved New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin returns with an extraordinary story of love and loyalty—and an unconventional heroine struggling to reconcile both.

Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

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I love the sound of this one…I plan to savor it!  What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 


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THOUGHTS FROM THE INTERIOR: INTROS/TEASERS – “NO BOOK BUT THE WORLD”

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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 spotlight will be on an ARC from Amazon Vine:  No Book but the World, by Leah Hager Cohen, is “a twisty and resonant tale about the price of secrets, the burden of family, the remnants of childhood we never leave behind.” —Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything and Dare Me18079817

 

Intro:  I have been too fond of stories.  Fred and me both.  If I were called before a judge, that’s the first thing I’d confess:  how quick I have been to embrace them, stories, with their deplorable tidiness.  Like a bakery box done up too tightly, bound with red-and-white string.

The second thing I’d confess:  how I am responsible for Fred’s fondness, how consequently he would have to be called blameless.

Oh, Fred.  Oh Freddy.

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Teaser:  Sometimes I wonder how things might have been different if a grown-up had read us those books.  Might it have had a mediating effect? (p. 19)

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Amazon Description:  At the edge of a woods, on the grounds of a defunct “free school,” Ava and her brother, Fred, shared a dreamy and seemingly idyllic childhood—a world defined largely by their imaginations and each other’s presence. Everyone is aware of Fred’s oddness or vague impairment, but his parents’ fierce disapproval of labels keeps him free of evaluation or intervention, and constantly at Ava’s side.

Decades later, then, when Ava learns that her brother is being held in a county jail for a shocking crime, she is frantic to piece together what actually happened. A boy is dead. But could Fred really have done what he is accused of? As she is drawn deeper into the details of the crime, Ava becomes obsessed with learning the truth, convinced that she and she alone will be able to reach her brother and explain him—and his innocence—to the world.

Leah Hager Cohen brings her trademark intelligence to a psychologically gripping, richly ambiguous story that suggests we may ultimately understand one another best not with facts alone, but through our imaginations.

***

I am eager to dive into this one…full of twists and turns and dark secrets, and mysterious events.  What are you sharing today?

 

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