WEEKLY UPDATES: A NEW NORMAL?

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

With January half over, I am still feeling the intensity of last year and all that it brought.  In fact, some of it has carried over into this New Year, and I hate that!  But…maybe we can begin to create our New Normal.

I had my first vaccination!  The next one comes in three weeks or so.  Hopefully.  There have been mutterings of shortages.  Why am I not surprised?Meanwhile, I am reading and blogging.  Two books, both great, and seven blog posts.  I also enjoyed some shows and movies, like the pilot of Call Your Mother, on Hulu.

Let’s grab some coffee and take a closer look.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Pretty Little Wife”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Book Love…

Wednesday Reading…

Another Book to “Dust Off”

2021 Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Ignite Your Sparks:  Fueled by Hope…

Bookish Friday: “Rachel to the Rescue”

Review:  The Wrong Family, by Tarryn FisherReview:  The Love Story of Missy Carmichael, by Beth Morrey

***

INCOMING BOOKS:

Empty physical mailbox!  I did download two e-books…

Rachel to the Rescue, by Elinor Lipman

Blood Orange, by Harriet Tyce

***

CURRENTLY READING:  The Wife Upstairs, by Rachel Hawkins

***

That was my week.  What did yours look like?  May the next week and onward bring peace and calm.

***

REVIEW: THE LOVE STORY OF MISSY CARMICHAEL, BY BETH MORREY

The world has changed around seventy-nine-year-old librarian Millicent Carmichael, aka Missy. Though quick to admit that she often found her roles as a housewife and mother less than satisfying, Missy once led a bustling life driven by two children, an accomplished and celebrated husband, and a Classics degree from Cambridge. Now her husband is gone, her daughter is estranged after a shattering argument, and her son has moved to his wife’s native Australia, taking Missy’s beloved only grandchild half-a-world away. She spends her days sipping sherry, avoiding people, and rattling around in her oversized, under-decorated house waiting for…what exactly?

The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog named Bob to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. In short order, Missy finds herself in the jarring embrace of an eclectic community that simply won’t take no for an answer–including a rambunctious mutt-on-loan whose unconditional love gives Missy a reason to re-enter the world one muddy paw print at a time.

Filled with wry laughter and deep insights, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a coming-of-old story that shows us it’s never too late to forgive yourself and, just as important, it’s never too late to love.

It was easy to like Missy, and I could relate to her feelings and her issues.

Loneliness that can disappear when new people and a needy dog fill her life with comfort and peace made The Love Story of Missy Carmichael a delightful journey.

But as time passed, we learned more and more about what happened between Missy and her children, and also about her marriage to Leo. A surprising conclusion to the Missy and Leo love story changed everything. But the friendships Missy had developed brought a satisfying turn of events. 5 stars.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: INTENSE WEEK…

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

What a week! Intensity, worry, and questions about what happens next have kept me tied up in knots…but then I turn to my books, movies, and shows. Those activities do help. I read and reviewed two great books and wrote seven blog posts.

I enjoyed my First Book of the Year read, and then grabbed a book that resonated with me during these times in which we live.

I watched a movie that took me completely out of the situation:  a new Woody Allen film on Amazon Prime, and I could totally forget (almost) all the events of the week.  A Rainy Day in New York was not spectacular, but it was definitely distracting.

Let’s take a closer peek at the week while sipping some coffee.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Bookish New Year Tasks…

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Shelter in Place”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Obsessions…

Hump Day Reading…

Another Rediscovered Book…

Coffee Chat:  Stress Activities…

Bookish Friday:  “The Wife Upstairs”

Review:  Piece of My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke – First Book of the YearReview:  Shelter in Place, by David Leavitt

INCOMING BOOKS:

Empty physical mailbox…but I downloaded four e-books!

The Wife Upstairs, by Rachel Hawkins

All the Colors of Night, by Jayne Ann Krentz

Single Mother, by Samantha Hayes

The Push, by Ashley Audrain

***

CURRENTLY READING:  The Wrong Family, by Tarryn Fisher

***

That was my week.  Let’s hope for a calmer one ahead!  I have no treats to display this week…but I will be dreaming of good movies and books.  My Mini-Me (Bitmoji) is feeling no pain.

***

COFFEE CHAT: STRESS ACTIVITIES…

Good morning!  Let’s gather around with our caffeinated beverages to chat about our weeks, our books, and our perspectives.  Join our host at Bookishly Boisterous to see what others are sharing.

On the day after the frightening events of yesterday, January 6, I am still stunned, although not really surprised, either.  We all knew that insurrection was bound to happen when #45 sent so many messages to his followers, urging them on.  Now I wonder:  will there be ANY consequences?

On the brighter side, two new Georgia senators promise changes ahead.

  • I am trying to follow my One Word of HOPE…and take it all a day at a time, too.
  • I am reading an interesting book:  Shelter in Place, by David Leavitt, in which the characters are hoping to recover from what they consider the greatest political catastrophe of their lives: the 2016 Presidential Election.   An interesting “time capsule” moment, in view of recent events.
  • I wonder how things would have transpired if that event had not happened at all?
  • Meanwhile, moving along, I finished reading and reviewing my First Book of 2021:  Piece of My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke.
  • On January 5, my youngest grandson turned 18!  Imagine that.  I still remember him fondly with his head of curly hair…Because of Covid, I wasn’t able to see him on his birthday…sigh.

  • What lies ahead for us?  Other than reading and blogging, I am trying to survive each day, alert, and without burying my head in the sand about the potential hazards, both from the virus and from the political environment.
  • I did love watching the latest episode of This Is Us.  I still love that show, after all these years.
  • A new movie is now on Netflix:  Pieces of a Woman, a film that promises to be heart wrenching.

***

My favorite activities when I am stressed:  books and viewing.  What do you look forward to during stressful times?

***

REVIEW: PIECE OF MY HEART, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK/ALAFAIR BURKE

Television producer Laurie Moran and her fiancée, Alex Buckley, the former host of her investigative television show, are just days away from their mid-summer wedding, when things take a dark turn. Alex’s seven-year-old nephew, Johnny, vanishes from the beach. A search party begins and witnesses recall Johnny playing in the water and collecting shells behind the beach shack, but no one remembers seeing him after the morning. As the sun sets, Johnny’s skim board washes up to shore, and everyone realizes that he could be anywhere, even under water.

A ticking clock, a sinister stalker, and fresh romance combine in this exhilarating follow up to the bestselling You Don’t Own Me—another riveting page-turner from the “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and her dazzling partner-in-crime Alafair Burke.

 
 
 
 

Piece of My Heart is an intense thriller with red herrings and convoluted twists and turns that takes us on an enjoyable journey, loving the familiar characters and gasping at the unexpected events. Through this final tale in the series, we are offered a final glimpse of the characters and their history.

As my First Book of 2021, I was thrilled with the engaging tale, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.

Laurie Moran and Alex Buckley are favorite characters, and I have followed every book in the Under Suspicion series, so I was especially eager to find out what we would discover along the way.

A missing boy, one with a complicated history, keeps the tale going and makes for an intense story, one that could ultimately be the centerpiece of one of Laurie’s TV productions.

A crime from the past woven into the story kept the reader drawn into the history of the television series. I was captivated to the very end, and award 5 stars to this book.

 
***
FIRST BOOK OF 2021
 
***

WEEKLY UPDATES: BRIMMING WITH HOPE…

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

This morning, as I sip my coffee, I ponder the anticipation of a new and better year ahead.  We can always hope, right?  And HOPE is my One Word for the year.

A great reading week brought three books reviewed, and I began reading my First Book of the Year. I went a little nuts with the blogging, totaling nine posts.

My viewing has included some Prime movies, like Spinster and The Nest.

I am eagerly trying to find a show on one of the outlets, something I can settle into and binge.  Any ideas?

Yesterday I cleared my space, settling my Christmas stuff into the under-the-bed storage bins.  It didn’t take long, as my decorations were minimal.

Yesterday I opened the bottle of Champagne my daughter brought a few days ago, and made a couple of mimosas.  Happy New Year!

Let’s grab some coffee and take a closer look at the week:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “The Arrangement”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Books for the Last Tuesday of the Year…

WWW:  A Week of Reading…

Hump Day Serendipity:  Past Treasures…

Plumbing the Depths…

First Book of Year Event:  2021

Monthly Wrap-Up:  Year’s End…

Bookish Friday:  “Piece of My Heart”

One Word:  Hope…

Review:  The Last Wife, by Karen HamiltonReview:  The Lies You Told, by Harriet TyceReview:  The Arrangement, by Robyn Harding

INCOMING BOOKS:

Empty Physical Mailbox!  But I downloaded three e-books.

The Wrong Family, by Tarryn Fisher

Pretty Little Wife, by Darby Kane

Shelter in Place, by David Leavitt

***

CURRENTLY READING:  My First Book of the Year:  Piece of My Heart, by Mary Higgins Clark/Alafair Burke

***

That was my very hopeful week, as I prepared to say goodbye to my least favorite year:  2020!  In the dining room, we had some delicious treats, like this cheesecake on New Year’s Eve:

***

ONE WORD: HOPE…

It has been a while since I have chosen a new One Word, but I think 2021 is the perfect year to select this new one.  HOPE is a symbol of good things, which we all need in this New Year.

HOPE is wishing and dreaming for good things, especially in dark times like we have had in 2020.  As we begin 2021, we can “cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true.”

Is it too much to wish for good things after the year we have had?  I suspect that just the act of hoping can bring about good things.

What do you wish and long for?  Do you have hope for a better year?

After I chose this word and wrote the post, I realized that I had used the same word back in 2016!  Back then, we were starting a four year journey that would be destined to suck all the hope from our souls.  We are now on a different journey, and I truly believe in the changes ahead.

***

What is your One Word for the year?

***

FIRST BOOK OF YEAR EVENT: 2021

 

 

Welcome to our eighth year of this event.  Join in and share your own chosen book.

For the First Book of 2021, I have selected another Mary Higgins Clark novel, Piece of My Heart.  This one picks up again with the Under Suspicion series.

 

In the latest thrilling collaboration from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, television producer Laurie Moran must solve the kidnapping of her fiancée’s nephew—just days before her wedding.

Television producer Laurie Moran and her fiancée, Alex Buckley, the former host of her investigative television show, are just days away from their mid-summer wedding, when things take a dark turn. Alex’s seven-year-old nephew, Johnny, vanishes from the beach. A search party begins and witnesses recall Johnny playing in the water and collecting shells behind the beach shack, but no one remembers seeing him after the morning. As the sun sets, Johnny’s skim board washes up to shore, and everyone realizes that he could be anywhere, even under water.

A ticking clock, a sinister stalker, and fresh romance combine in this exhilarating follow up to the bestselling You Don’t Own Me—another riveting page-turner from the “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and her dazzling partner-in-crime Alafair Burke.

 

 When I finish the book, I will review it here.  I’ll be visiting many other participants. Enjoy your first books!

***

REVIEW: THE LIES YOU TOLD, BY HARRIET TYCE

In the playground it’s the law of the jungle

But at the school gate, there are no rules at all…

When Sadie Roper moves back to London, she’s determined to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. First, she needs to get her daughter settled into a new school-one of the most exclusive in the city. Next, she’s going to get back the high-flying criminal barrister career she sacrificed for marriage ten years earlier. But nothing goes quite as planned. The school is not very welcoming newcomers, her daughter hasn’t made any friends yet and the other mothers are as fiercely competitive as their children. Sadie immediately finds herself on the outside as she navigates the fraught politics of the school gate.

But the tide starts to turn as Sadie begins to work on a scandalous, high-profile case that’s the perfect opportunity to prove herself again, even though a dangerous flirtation threatens to cloud her professional judgment. And when Liza, queen of the school moms, befriends Sadie, she draws her into the heart of the world from which she was previously excluded. Soon Sadie and her family start to thrive, but does this close new friendship prevent her from seeing the truth? Sadie may be keeping her friends close, but what she doesn’t know is that her enemies are closer still…

As The Lies You Told begins, we meet Sadie and her daughter Robin, starting over in London, with Robin enrolled in the same school that Sadie had attended as a child.  They are living in the home where Sadie grew up, a home with a cold, uncaring mother.  They have only returned to the house and the school in order to honor the conditions of the trust Sadie’s mother left behind.

Almost immediately, we are offered a glimpse of cold and competitive mothers, vying for their daughters’ positions in the school, and bullying everyone around them.  They were impossible to like, and by the end of the story, we are not surprised by what one or more of them have done.

Alternating between the scenes at the school are the ones showing Sadie’s job as a barrister working on a case that could have been ripped from the headlines.

Another alternate storyline shows someone in search of a lost child, racing to find answers, and as the story picks up toward the end, we learn more about the narrator and the secrets underneath the surface.

An intense thrill ride that kept me rapidly turning pages, this book definitely earned 5 stars.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: FINALLY SAYING GOODBYE TO 2020…

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at Book Date.

I hope all those who celebrate the holidays are enjoying them, despite their limitations.  Here we had a lovely Christmas lunch, although I ate things I shouldn’t have eaten.  I will show a photo of my “sinful” dessert later.

I only read and reviewed two books this week, but I enjoyed them both.  Mostly I blogged, created new blog headers (again!), and created a new look for my Bitmoji Mini-Me. (Note the new “hairstyle” on the image above).

Today I will be Skyping with my son and daughter-in-law who live in Prague.  I always enjoy these visits, which sometimes last for an hour and a half!

On Christmas Eve, my daughter arrived for a “socially distanced” visit.  She brought Champagne and Margarita mix for me to enjoy later!  Here is an unmasked photo…six feet away, of course.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that next week is our First Book of the Year event!

As we eagerly await moving on from 2020, let’s enjoy more of what we can do…and in the meantime, grab some coffee (or tea or a mimosa!), and chat.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Behind the Red Door”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Nesting Amongst My Books…

Hump Day Reading…

Dusting Off an Older Book…

Coffee Chat:  Merry Christmas!

Bookish Friday:  “This Is How It Always Is”

Friday Sparks:  A Doll Story…

Review:  Cruel Winter, by Sheila ConnollyReview:  Behind the Red Door, by Megan Collins

***

INCOMING BOOKS:

Empty mailbox!  I did download one e-book.

Home Fires, by Fiona Lowe

For fans of Liane Moriarty comes a story of a community in crisis from best-selling Australian author Fiona Lowe.

***

CURRENTLY READING:  The Last Wife, by Karen Hamilton

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

***

That was my week.  What did yours look like?  As we count down to the New Year, let’s enjoy each day…and perhaps have something sweet.  This was the dessert from our Christmas lunch:  Tuxedo Chocolate Mousse Cake.

***