A BABY BOOMER’S COMING OF AGE TALE…

I’ve been a fan of Joyce Maynard for many years.  Recently I read and LOVED her memoir, The Best of Us (click for my review).

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Then I searched through my Archives, and came up with an article I wrote on this blog eight years ago (July 2009), which reminded me once again why I love reading this author:

LookingBackIn 1972, an eighteen-year-old girl from New Hampshire wrote an essay for the New York Times, entitled “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life.”  Within days of the article’s publication, many letters came pouring in – requests for other articles, offers to go on television, and offers to meet with editors. One offer culminated in Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties – an expansion of the article she had written for the “Times.”

In this memoir, the young woman, Joyce Maynard, wrote about her experiences growing up in a time when the world was changing dramatically – a world shaped by political activism, war, drugs, and women’s liberation – and how such events, plus the constant media presence, dictated how a generation perceived the world.

Speaking as one person affected by these complex changes in our culture, Ms. Maynard describes coming of age in such a time as “growing old.”  Perhaps a kind of cynicism, or world-weariness from the constant barrage of images from television impacted her view of the world – and the  view shared by many of her peers.

Nevertheless, she also illustrates her growing-up years with the “normal” kinds of experiences – the same insecurities and fears – that shadow most young people. She also points out in her foreword that she does not consider herself to have been “representative” of the typical experience of youth in her time. In fact, she states that the act of writing about these experiences in a way “sets a person apart from the territory of which she speaks.”

It is impossible for me to read this book, however, and not relate to it as someone having lived through similar experiences. Not the experience of living in New Hampshire or having written a book at a young age, but the commonality of fears and insecurities that hound most young people in any time, but especially in an age (such as the sixties) when change was  dramatic and constant.

I had read this book many years ago, but in rereading it recently, I still could relate to it. Ms. Maynard’s fiction is compelling, as well, including the novel To Die For…But her memoirs (another is At Home in the World: A Memoir), are erudite studies of growing up female in the Baby Boom generation.

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Do you sometimes search your Archives for your distant thoughts…and realize that you still feel what you were feeling then?  Or do you wonder “what was I thinking?”

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COFFEE CHAT: HOT WEATHER, BAD MOOD….

Good morning!  It’s time for a Coffee Chat…and today, as always, I’m linking to Bookishly Boisterous for Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts.

  • My reading this week has been good so far, and I’ve read and reviewed two of my August NetGalley review books.  Click titles for my reviews:  Mrs. Fletcher, by Tom Perrotta; and Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafta.
  • Sadly, I broke out in the rash again after my hair appointment, so the supposedly organic dye did nothing to prevent it.  Luckily, I had some of the ointment that worked quickly last time, and it was gone in two days.
  • I am done with dye!  Going gray, folks!  Maybe I’ll do highlights (the foiled pieces seem to keep the dye away better).
  • My daughter is in denial, since she picks the dye…she thinks there is something else going on with me (never mind that the rash comes directly after the dye jobs, and my doctor agrees with me!)…and her inability to take responsibility means that I can’t risk it again!
  • The long hot summer is getting on my nerves, even aside from the rashes…I have to strip down to almost nothing in order to stand the heat, even with the oscillating fan.  I have clothes nearby…just in case I have to rush out during a fire…LOL.  (This is not a selfie!)

  • I enjoyed a barbecue on the weekend…everyone else was swimming, but I still had the rash, so, no…I sat in the shade and read my book.
  • I can’t believe that I haven’t been out to one of my lunches or dinners this week!  The rash, the heat, my mood…
  • My granddaughter Fiona has been working in Yosemite all summer.  This past week, all of her siblings gathered around for a get-together, and one of her brothers came all the way from North Dakota!  Others live in various parts of California.  And all of the grandkids were together, too!
  • I can’t remember the last time that all of my grown kids gathered together.  I think it was 1999!  I either have two of them, or even three…but not all four.
  • Two summers ago, my European son and his wife joined us…I still love the memories.  But while they visited my second son in LA and saw my daughter and me here, they didn’t make it up far north to see my youngest son.
  • Currently I am taking a break from my NetGalley books…and reading one of my purchases:  Bad Housekeeping, by Maia Chance.  I am ready for a light cozy.

  • Then I’ll pick up another NetGalley book, to be released on 8/8:  Emma in the Night, by Wendy Walker:

  • The more that I talk about heat, rashes, and not seeing all of my kids together…my mood darkens.  I should stop while I’m ahead!  LOL
  • I thought I didn’t go out at all this week, but I just remembered that I went to the mall nearby and bought two new tops!  Now I have something new to wear, which always cheers me up.

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Enjoy the week…stay cool, if you are in hot weather…and find only good books to read!

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A YOUNG GIRL’S INTERIOR WORLD: EXCERPTING “WEB OF TYRANNY”

Today I am excerpting a portion of Chapter One, from Web of Tyranny, my fifth novel.

Synopsis:  In equal parts funny and serious, Web of Tyranny by Laurel-Rain Snow is a proud, if poignant tale of Margaret Elaine Graham, a woman entangled in the trenches that epitomized her abusive childhood home only to flee into a stultifying marriage with Bob Williams. Seduced by the hope of achieving her goal of a college education and a life free from domination, she is blinded to Bob’s true qualities—and in a very real sense jumps from the pan into the fire. Oppression begets oppression and as Meg walks a thin line of human betrayal, she learns to stake her own claim to happiness—no matter how high the cost. Her fight leads to politicking during the radical antiwar movement of the 60s and 70s, which manifests as a near-compulsion, which will turn her world on end. Enticed by the possibilities open to her and chafing at the strictures of the marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow where a whole myriad of troubles await her. 

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CHAPTER ONE:  (EXCERPT)

For the first few seconds of every day, before reality hit, she felt her body floating in a cloudy tangle as she came up from her dreams. Beautiful dreams of sunny days filled with music, ice cream and lots of laughter. She could still remember a time when her days had been like that; she’d been much younger then, granted the indulgences of early childhood. Those moments usually happened in the warm, cozy rooms at Grandma’s house, when she’d had a feeling that everything would work out somehow.

 

But she was not at Grandma’s today, and as she tossed aside the heavy tangle of sheets and blankets, she knew she wouldn’t be going to Grandma’s again any time soon. Father had other plans for her. Her summer days would be full of farm chores, beginning in the early hours of the day and ending only when the last box of fruit had been emptied and the last peach had been cut and placed on the trays. In the shed, with its overhang that shielded from the hot summer sun, the smell of ripening fruit made her gag, but she had to stifle the urge. Otherwise, she could end up with a far worse punishment than cutting fruit all day.

 

Margaret shuddered as she recalled some of those punishments.

 

At least when she worked in the shed, she was surrounded by the friendly faces of aunts and cousins. Living within five miles of each other, the Graham relatives, especially the women, rallied around one another during harvest season. As she worked, she pretended to be a fly on the wall, listening to the adult’s conversations; they hardly noticed her and when they talked in those hushed tones, her ears perked up.

 

That was how she learned about Aunt Noreen’s heart condition and Aunt Molly’s foster child, the one who was expecting…When Aunt Molly’s voice fell into that whispery tone, Margaret knew that secrets were being revealed. Lola’s pregnancy and the dilemma about what would become of Lola’s baby after the birth.

 

Of all the aunts, Aunt Molly could tell a simple story and make it fascinating. Every day of her life sounded like melodrama. Even her physical ailments seemed like something out of a storybook. No matter what else was happening with her though, Aunt Molly always had a friendly word for the younger members of the family. She and Uncle Chester had only one child of their own; Charles was an oddly quiet boy who seemed misplaced in that family.

 

Before Aunt Molly had started taking in foster children, Margaret recalled summer nights when she had been allowed a sleepover at her house. In the tiny little cottage next to the meandering canal, Aunt Molly made up a bed for Margaret in the sleeping porch. While she lay there, Margaret would study the walls of the tiny room, her eyes following the pattern of the knotty pine; wide awake, she reflected on Aunt Molly’s warning words as she tucked her in. She’d spoken of the evils in the world and how Margaret had to be very careful to stay away from the field workers who roamed their farms during the summer. Because the men who worked the fields had evil intentions where young girls were concerned.

 

Aunt Molly’s warnings introduced fear into her life, like opening a door onto a dark netherworld. But in the mornings, all the blackness disappeared as Aunt Molly cheerfully served breakfast in the tiny little nook that looked just like a booth in a diner.

 

So in the summer of her tenth year, Margaret Elaine Graham paid attention to all the melodrama swirling around her and made up stories of her own to add to the mix….

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “MRS. SAINT & THE DEFECTIVES”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is one of my newer downloads:  Mrs. Saint and the Defectives, by Julie Lawson Timmer, a tale of how community can heal the brokenness in all of us.

 

 

Beginning:  It was only when Markie saw her husband’s hands clasped around another woman’s breasts that she finally acknowledged their problems weren’t ones she could hide any longer.  Except that wasn’t completely true.  Though it shamed her to confess it, the truth was that if she had seen them—his hands, the breasts that weren’t her own—in the privacy of their bedroom or in some tawdry motel room she had burst in on, she might not have admitted it still.

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56:  Markie patted his hair and kissed his cheek.  And did not set him straight.  Instead, she let him believe what his father had said, that the blame for the dissolution of their marriage, their family, Jesse’s entire world, lay at her feet.

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Blurb:  Markie, a fortysomething divorcée who has suffered a humiliating and very public fall from marital, financial, and professional grace, moves, along with her teenage son, Jesse, to a new town, hoping to lick her wounds in private. But Markie and Jesse are unable to escape the attention of their new neighbor Mrs. Saint, an irascible, elderly New European woman who takes it upon herself, along with her ragtag group of “defectives,” to identify and fix the flaws in those around her, whether they want her to or not.

What Markie doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Saint has big plans for the divorcée’s broken spirit. Soon, the quirky yet endearing woman recruits Markie to join her eccentric community, a world where both hidden truths and hope unite them. But when Mrs. Saint’s own secrets threaten to unravel their fragile web of healing, it’s up to Markie to mend these wounds and usher in a new era for the “defectives”—one full of second chances and happiness.

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What do you think?  Do the snippets grab you?

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CHATTING WITH COFFEE….

Good morning!  It’s time to grab a cup of coffee and chat about Bookish/Not So Bookish Things.  Head on over to Bookishly Boisterous to link up.

  • Last week I had my mani-pedi, and I changed up my trademark “purple” color….to this wicked red…LOL

  • Today I had coffee with a friend at Barnes & Noble…

  • Dinner with a book at The Elephant Bar…

  • Tomorrow I’m finally going to the salon to try to have my hair dyed (with an organic product) without an allergic reaction.
  • This week, I’ve enjoyed reading and reviewing three books already; click titles/covers for my reviews:

My Life to Live, by Agnes Nixon; The Marriage Pact, by Michelle Richmond;

and The Best of Us, by Joyce Maynard.

Currently I’m reading Every Wild Heart and Mean Streak.

  • I’ve been enjoying Shetland on Netflix…and saw the movie Lion there.  I loved it!  Tonight is Broadchurch again, on BBC.
  • It seems that I’ve had to leave the house every day this week for one or more errands, so I’m surprised that I’ve actually finished three of my books.
  • After tomorrow, I’m hoping to stay close to home for Friday and the weekend, as the heat is not going away.

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That’s what my life has been like since last week.  Come on by and let’s chat.

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “AFTER ANNA”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download:  After Anna, by Alex Lake, a bone-chilling psychological thriller that will suit fans of Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, Daughter, by Jane Shemilt, and The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.

 

Beginning:  (Prologue)

It was easier than you had expected.  The girl came without complaint.  You spotted her as she left the school, alone, looking around, clearly bereft of a parent to pick her up.  Who would do that?  Who would be so negligent as to leave a five-year-old in such a vulnerable position?  It was appalling, it really was.

But it was good for you.

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56:  ‘What’s going on?’ he asked, and looked back at his wife.  ‘Why’s she shouting at you?’

‘She’s trying to stop me looking for Anna,’  Julia said.

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Synopsis:  A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.

The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.

She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

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LET’S GRAB SOME COFFEE AND CHAT….

Good morning, and welcome to another morning of Coffee Chatting…and linking to Bookishly Boisterous for those Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts.

  • Let’s start with the bookish things.  I’m having another delightful reading week, thanks mostly to the HOT, HOT, HOT weather, which is keeping me indoors.  I’m almost finished with my third book, and the fourth one is eagerly waiting in the wings.   The Comfort of Others, by Kay Langdale, is winding down, and while it didn’t grab me right away, I am now eagerly immersed in the alternating storylines of an eleven-year-old boy named Max and his next-door seventy-something neighbor Minnie.    Next:  The Child, by Fiona Barton; a book I’ve been ogling since, well, forever.

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  • Today I’m having a mani-pedi, and it’s long overdue.  Well, the pedi part, anyway.  I’m thinking of changing my signature color…this is what I’ve been “wearing” for ages…Thoughts?

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  • Does anyone else think the days, weeks, and year are flying by?  If only we could banish some of the unpleasant aspects of 2017…like that guy pretending to be President…LOL.
  • I haven’t watched Netflix at all this week!  I finished Season I of Gypsy, and I want more!  Naomi Watts does a great job.  I’ve added the movie Lion to my queue, along with Shetland...and Father Brown.  I’ve heard good things.
  • My reading has captured me, although I have taken time out for the new season of Broadchurch on BBC, and a new season of The Fosters and a new show The Bold Type, both on Freeform.
  • Today I woke up thinking about what would happen if my laptop died….and how would I set up a new one, with all the various things that I have attached to this one (requiring passwords, etc.).  I do have a sheet listing my Internet passwords, locked away in a file…but I’m thinking I may have overlooked something, like my new CBS app.  Does it have a password?  LOL.
  • I was doing one of those crazy FB memes that show our personality characteristics (as if we need an Internet tool to tell us!), and not surprisingly, mine showed that I like to be in control.  Duh!  That doesn’t mean I want to control others…but I do like being in control of myself and my world.
  • Here’s another photo from my daughter’s honeymoon in Prague, etc., snapped by her photographer brother who lives in Prague.  Great backdrop, right?

 

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That’s my week….how is yours shaping up so far?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a recent download, a book I’ve been eyeing for a while:  The Bookshop on the Corner, by Jenny Colgan, a funny, moving new novel for fans of Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop.

 

Beginning:  The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.  It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, whenever you’re going through something difficult, if someone could just tap you on the shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, it’s completely worth it.  It seems like absolutely horrible crap now, but I promise it will all come good in the end,” and you could say, “Thank you, Fairy Godmother.”  You might also say, “Will I also lose that seven pounds?” and they would say, “But of course, my child.”

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56:  Nina glanced down at her phone.  A new e-mail was blinking.  She didn’t even have to open it.  “I regret to inform you…” was the first line that came across in the preview screen.

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Synopsis:  Nina is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile — a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

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What do you think?  Have you read it?  Would you keep reading?

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INTERIOR THOUGHTS ON A THURSDAY…

Good morning!  It’s time for Coffee and Chats…and today we’re joining Bookishly Boisterous for Bookish/Not So Bookish Thoughts..

  • Whew!  What a hot week so far!  Triple digits all the way.  But wait!  It is going down to 99 next Wednesday.
  • Early this morning, however, it was 80…so I went out to run an errand to Kaiser to pick up meds and get back home before noon.
  • As  long as the AC works, though, and as long as I don’t have to go out in it, I’m okay.  I got a lot of reading done last week, which was also very hot…and read FIVE books.
  • This week, I’ve read and reviewed two books so far:  The Bookshop at Water’s End, by Patti Callahan Henry (click for review), which made me feel really cool; and Love Letters, by Debbie Macomber, a book set in Cedar Cove (click to read review).

  • On Netflix, I watched Season Six of Offspring, an Australian show about a 30-something woman who is an Obstetrician, and we get to watch her crazy dysfunctional family (and crazy staff at the hospital!).
  • Then I started watching a show called Gypsy, starring Naomi Watts, a therapist who goes outside the lines to interact personally with the people in her patients’ lives.  Interesting and dangerous!  I’m halfway through the first season.
  • Has anyone ever watched a commercial that is so annoying that you want to throw things at the screen?  Here’s one that keeps showing over and over for Toujeo.  The guy wants to get back in his groove, but I just want him to stop dancing everywhere, with that goofy look on his face, even at work…LOL.
  • On the weekend, I saw the movie The Hero, starring Sam Elliott.  It’s a Sundance production, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Here’s the review I wrote about it:  Monday Potpourri:  A Surprising Sunday.
  • Before the movies, I had a salad…and this dessert.
  • The theater (which was not my neighborhood one) had been upgraded with wide aisles and reclining seats, which is the trend in theaters these days, but this was the first one I’d been in with these features. 
  •  My neighborhood theater plans to serve alcohol soon.  That could be good…or not.   I hope they put in the reclining seats, though.

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So…that’s my week so far.  What does yours look like?

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BOOKISH FRIDAY: “ANY DAY NOW”

Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I  share excerpts from books…and connect with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What a great way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is a book I just finished reading and reviewing:  Any Day Now, by Robyn Carr (click title for my review).

 

Beginning:  So, this is what a new life looks like.  Sierra Jones opened her eyes on a sunny Colorado morning to that thought.

She had given this a great deal of consideration.  Colorado had not been her only option but she decided it might be the best one.  Her brother Cal, with whom she shared a deep bond, was making a life here and he wanted her to be part of it.

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56%:  She drove with the windows down, Molly hanging her head out and letting the wind billow her lips.  She’d felt a smile inside of herself all day long.  She couldn’t help it, she felt strangely renewed.

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Synopsis:  The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan’s Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It’s a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love. 

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. 

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

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I just finished reading this book, and literally could not put it down.  Not because it is a suspense thriller, but because the characters felt like people I wanted to know.  What do you think?

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