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.

***

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.

***

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)

***

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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FROM THE INTERIOR: AN EAGERLY ANTICIPATED BOOK – “ALL FALL DOWN”

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It is that time again!  The moment when we share our eagerly anticipated reads.  Over at Breaking the Spine, you can see what others are sharing.

In a notebook, I keep a list of upcoming releases, and while checking online for the books on my list, I stumbled upon another one to add…and just had to share it today, as it is from a favorite author.  Jennifer Weiner’s upcoming release, All Fall Down, is coming on June 17, 2014.

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Has your drinking or drug use become a problem?

Allison Weiss got her happy ending—a handsome husband, an adorable little girl, a job she loves, and a big house in the suburbs. But when she’s in the pediatrician’s office with her daughter and a magazine flips open to a quiz about addiction, she starts to wonder whether her use of prescription pills is becoming a problem. On the one hand, it’s just prescription medication, the stuff her doctors give her. Is a Percocet at the end of a hard day really different than a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class…or after your husband ignores you?

Back in the car, with her daughter safely buckled behind her, Allison opens the Altoid tin in her purse and slips a chalky white oval underneath her tongue. The pill unties her knotted muscles, erases the grime and ugliness of the city, soothes her as she frets about the truth of her looking-good life: that her husband’s becoming distant, that her daughter is acting out, that her father’s early Alzheimer’s is worsening and her mother’s barely managing to cope. She tells herself that the pills let her make it through her days…but what if her ever-increasing drug use, a habit that’s becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

All Fall Down is the story of a woman’s slide into addiction and struggle to find her way back up again. With a sparkling comedic touch and tender, true-to-life characterizations, this tale of empowerment and redemption is Jennifer Weiner’s most poignant, timely, and triumphant story yet.

***

I can’t wait for this one!  What are you dreaming about?

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REVIEW: ELIZABETH IS MISSING, BY EMMA HEALEY

18635113What happens when an aging woman begins to lose her memory, bits and pieces at a time? When the past and the present seemingly come together until her identity slowly dissolves?

Set in England, Elizabeth Is Missing is that story, and as it unfolds in the first person narrative of Maud, the aging mother and grandmother, we are soon catapulted into her interior world, almost as if the losses are ours.

Most poignant of all is the terror and fear that Maud feels when she begins obsessively searching for her friend Elizabeth whom she is certain has been taken or spirited away. Perhaps by her son. The feelings are enhanced by intermittent memories of a time in her younger years when her sister Sukey went missing. That mystery haunts her, and as she reminisces, it is almost as if that loss is entangled with the present losses: of her best friend Elizabeth; her own independence; the memories that elude her; and the feelings of invisibility.

Why does Maud feel compelled to dig in the garden? Why does she gather odds and ends into secret containers? Is there a very real connection between the past and the present that could explain these mysterious events?

I totally empathized with Maud, especially since everyone in her life seemed to ignore her feelings and treat her like someone who no longer mattered. I felt her frustration, and even anger at her dismissive daughter Helen. Yes, I am sure Helen’s feelings and impatient behavior were mitigated by the burden of being a caretaker, and that they might also be based on her worries and fears for her mother’s safety.

So imagine our surprise to find out that some of Maud’s behavior might have a strong basis in fact, and are not just the ranting of a paranoid and obsessive old woman.

Every page I turned brought to light new pieces of the tragic events in Maud’s past and present life and her losses, and I could not wait to find out more. An unforgettable voyage that reminds us of the importance of empathy and understanding. Five stars.


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REVIEW: TWELVE TO MURDER, BY LAUREN CARR

7093e63514d7908676e4970e6a858fcc_bvcxWhen Austin and Janice Stillman are found murdered in their summer home at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, one of the suspects is Lenny Frost, a former child actor who had been represented by Janice Stillman.

But just when other suspects are brought into focus, Lenny enters a local pub and takes all the customers hostage, demanding that Mac Faraday find the true killer before midnight. Or he will start killing hostages.

From this point on, the plot thickens, twists, and turns, and numerous characters fill up the canvas, making our jaunt fun and puzzling. What, if anything, do the current murders have to do with Lenny’s kidnapping years ago when he was seventeen? Who was involved in that crime, and how does it all somehow make sense at the end of the day? Are there numerous people out to get Lenny, or is he just paranoid?

It is never a simple path to solving mysteries with Mac Faraday, David O’Callaghan, and Archie Monday and associates on the case. The fun is in trying to keep up with their theories and how they will ultimately sort through the clues. Gnarly is a great companion to any mystery in Deep Creek Lake…unless someone has fed him chili.

Another great romp that kept me riveted to the pages, Twelve to Murder: A Mac Faraday Mystery earned 4.5 stars.

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