REVIEW: NOT A HAPPY FAMILY, BY SHARI LAPENA

Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there, and Fred and Sheila Merton certainly are rich. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mertons are brutally murdered after a fraught Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of the siblings is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.

 

Not a Happy Family drew me in immediately, with the vicious murder and the motives that could point to several different people, but the target seems to stay on the backs of the three adult children.

Between them, there are alibis that may or may not be valid, but an absence of real evidence to point to any one of them keeps the detectives circling the potential perpetrators. Soon the target shifts to others, as more and more people who had reason to want the Mertons dead show up, several of whom are about to inherit some amount of money from them.

In the end, I was stunned as the details of what actually happened fell into place, and I then realized that the answer was no big surprise. Definitely a five star read.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: MOVING ON…

 

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post 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 great week I have had!  I’ve settled in, pretty much, and my biggest event was buying a new washer and dryer.  It has been running almost nonstop since the move because I had a lot of laundry!

I’ve also been ordering things from Amazon to set up the new kitchen, since I can actually cook in it!  My daughter brought a nice pot to get me started, lol, and a bottle of wine.

Now that I look around at my space, I see that I could use more furniture, so a nice comfy sofa will be next.  But since I have had expenses from both places this month, I’ll move carefully.  Can you believe the new apartment came up so quickly that I didn’t have enough time for a 30-day notice, so I have to pay for half of August at the old place!  It doesn’t seem right, though, since I paid for all of July, but moved out before the end of the month. Oh, well.

I only read and reviewed two books this week, but they were good ones.  My blog posts:  I wrote six.

I am enjoying my little cubby for the computer, and it approximates my previous nook in some ways.

Now I plan to start reading more, and I’m especially looking forward to that new sofa where I can truly curl up and read!

Now let’s take a closer look at my week.

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Tuesday Excerpts:  “Such a Quiet Place”

Tuesday Potpourri:  My New Life So Far…

WWW Reading…

Plumbing the Depths of the TBR…

Coffee Chat:  Settling In…

Bookish Friday:  “Not a Happy Family”

Review:  Count the Ways, by Joyce Maynard

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Review:  Such a Quiet Place, by Megan Miranda

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INCOMING BOOKS:

The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (NetGalley – 3/8/22)

Not a Happy Family, by Shari Lapena

The Good Son, by Christopher Andersen

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CURRENTLY READING:

The House Guests, by Emilie Richards

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That was my week. What did yours look like? Here is a glimpse of my new place:

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COFFEE CHAT: SETTLING IN…

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.

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I have not written a Coffee Chat post in a while, but now that I’ve moved and mostly settled into my new apartment, I am ready.  Grab some caffeine and take a peek.

Yesterday I got my new washer and dryer, bringing my settling in to a nice conclusion.  Previously I shelved books and hung pictures (or Fiona did!).

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Other parts of the apartment include favorite pieces and photos from the past:

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Now I plan to do more shopping, as I would love to have a comfy sofa. But all in good time.

Oh, and I must report that I love my new kitchen! Lots of cabinets, etc.

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I have ordered some things from Amazon, like new cookware and odds and ends for the kitchen.

I have been reading this week, too; Such a Quiet Place, by Megan Miranda, is turning out to be interesting.

How has your week unfolded?

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REVIEW: COUNT THE WAYS, BY JOYCE MAYNARD

Eleanor and Cam meet at a crafts fair in Vermont in the early 1970s. She’s an artist and writer, he makes wooden bowls. Within four years they are parents to three children, two daughters and a red-headed son who fills his pockets with rocks, plays the violin and talks to God. To Eleanor, their New Hampshire farm provides everything she always wanted—summer nights watching Cam’s softball games, snow days by the fire and the annual tradition of making paper boats and cork people to launch in the brook every spring. If Eleanor and Cam don’t make love as often as they used to, they have something that matters more. Their family.

Then comes a terrible accident, caused by Cam’s negligence. Unable to forgive him, Eleanor is consumed by bitterness, losing herself in her life as a mother, while Cam finds solace with a new young partner.

Over the decades that follow, the five members of this fractured family make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together, and often tear them apart. Tracing the course of their lives—through the gender transition of one child and another’s choice to completely break with her mother—Joyce Maynard captures a family forced to confront essential, painful truths of its past, and find redemption in its darkest hours.

A story of holding on and learning to let go, Count the Ways is an achingly beautiful, poignant, and deeply compassionate novel of home, parenthood, love, and forgiveness.

an interior journey thoughts

I am a big fan of this author and couldn’t wait to dive into Count the Ways. Not only did I love it, I connected with the characters, the story, and felt so many emotions as I read. Even as the last page approached, I didn’t want it to end. And unlike some books, I couldn’t imagine saying goodbye to any of them.

Eleanor and Cam were the kind of couple you wanted to root for, but it was apparent from the beginning that there would be no happy ending for them. I didn’t like Cam for the longest time, annoyed with how he played his “fun” dad role, contributing little to the household in money or actual effort. But when tragedy struck, I also wanted Eleanor to find forgiveness so they could continue.

But since that didn’t happen, the biggest loss, in my opinion, was how he let the children see him as the victim in the tale, and this view of events continued throughout.

Our story unfolds over decades and as time passes, the ebb and flow of life itself is shown to the reader, and I felt the sorrow, pain, and joy of their lives together and apart. A brilliant family story that earned 5 stars.

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WEEKLY UPDATES: LOVING THE CALM AFTER THE MOVE…

 

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post 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.

The move is done!  My granddaughter and her partner worked quickly and had everything moved out and over to the new place by noon!  Then they helped arrange some things…and set up my Internet and TV!  These two are rock stars!!

I must admit I was tired at the end of the day, even though I did no heavy lifting at all…just directed things, lol.  But after they left, I emptied some boxes, rearranged a few things, and collected some empties to take out to the trash and recycling.  I had very little to eat all day, as I had cleared out the fridge…and didn’t want to stop moving until we were done.  Today I’m putting in a big order with Instacart, to fill my GIANT new fridge.  I am LOVING this new space.  So many cabinets, among other things!

Meanwhile, I did read and review two books this week, but only wrote three blog posts. 

Now I am eager to settle into my New Normal, and couldn’t wait to dust off the stench of that old place, LOL.  No good Yelp reviews for them!

Now let’s take a closer look at my week.

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Tuesday Excerpts:  “Count the Ways”

Books to Love…

Another Forgotten Treasure…

Review:  Kill All Your Darlings, by David Bell

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Review:  The Stranger in the Mirror, by Liv Constantine

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INCOMING BOOKS:

Such a Quiet Place, by Megan Miranda

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CURRENTLY READING:

Still reading and LOVING Count the Ways, by Joyce Maynard

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That was my week. What did yours look like? Last Tuesday, I had dinner with my #2 son and his three adult children…and my daughter. It was a wonderful break from the hectic packing!

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WEEKLY UPDATES: MOVING DAY COMING!

 

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post 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.

Another delightful week filled with moving day plans and activities.  I will be vacating this residence for my new apartment on July 23rd, and the week has been spent with paperwork, packing, etc.  And I’ve loved the good times I’ve had with my granddaughter Fiona and her boyfriend, who have been a big help.  We collected boxes and other supplies, went to the bank, and even sent off my forwarding address notification.  Then we enjoyed lunch at Mimi’s.

While Fiona and her boyfriend packed, I spent time on the phone trying to set up Internet and TV services, and realized that everything has changed since the last time I had them installed.  We will get our modem in the mail and hook everything up ourselves.  That will be a first for me.

During the week, I also read and reviewed three wonderful books and wrote six posts.  I enjoyed another episode of The Good Fight.

I am eager to return to something resembling a normal life in the midst of the chaos, knowing that within days I will finally be in a place I believe I can enjoy.

Now let’s take a closer look at my week.

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Tuesday Excerpts:  “Skye Falling”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Book Love…

WWW Reading…

Exploring My Shelves for Forgotten Books…

Bookish Friday:  “The Stranger in the Mirror”

Friday Thoughts…

Review:  Surviving the Night, by Riley Sager

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Review:  Skye Falling, by Mia McKenzie (NG -6/22/21)

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Dark Roads, by Chevy Stevens (NG – 8/3/21)

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INCOMING BOOKS:

Count the Ways, by Joyce Maynard

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CURRENTLY READING:

Kill All Your Darlings, by David Bell

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That was my week. What did yours look like? Below is my #2 son and his three grown children, finally all together after two years apart. Aubrey, on the right, was in New Zealand through most of the Pandemic. We’ll be spending time together this week, too.

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FRIDAY THOUGHTS…

Welcome to another Friday.  What a week it has been, with lots of waiting and anxiety…and finally the good news that I got the new apartment!  I will move in next Thursday, Friday, the 23rd.  And now begins the clearing out and packing up.  My least favorite parts, but my granddaughter Fiona is stepping up to help.

 

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It has been fourteen years since I last packed up a home to move, and that one involved movers and some help with the major packing.  I am literally out of practice.

My move here, two years ago, was handled by my daughter and her friends…and while I complained about how she forgot things that I wanted, I realize that it is all more complicated when you’re in the middle of it.

I am making lists, including some important items like getting Internet and TV service at the new place.  I think I will have to get on that quickly, as being without those two things would be a disaster…lol.

I was Skyping with my eldest son the other day, and he gave me a tip about how he moves, which has been often over the years.  He uses backpacks for the things he will need right away.  Or, he said to me, you could use some of those purses (as viewed above), and a side view below.

I have also discovered that suitcases might be helpful for stashing items that I want to be able to find quickly afterwards.

It is obvious that I am overthinking a few things…or maybe not.

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Do you have tips for quick moves? What works for you?

Enjoy your weekend!

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REVIEW: DARK ROADS, BY CHEVY STEVENS

The Cold Creek Highway stretches close to five hundred miles through British Columbia’s rugged wilderness to the west coast. Isolated and vast, it has become a prime hunting ground for predators. For decades, young women traveling the road have gone missing. Motorists and hitchhikers, those passing through or living in one of the small towns scattered along the region, have fallen prey time and again. And no killer or abductor who has stalked the highway has ever been brought to justice.

Hailey McBride calls Cold Creek home. Her father taught her to respect nature, how to live and survive off the land, and to never travel the highway alone. Now he’s gone, leaving her a teenage orphan in the care of her aunt whose police officer husband uses his badge as a means to bully and control Hailey. Overwhelmed by grief and forbidden to work, socialize, or date, Hailey vanishes into the mountainous terrain, hoping everyone will believe she’s left town. Rumors spread that she was taken by the highway killer—who’s claimed another victim over the summer.

One year later, Beth Chevalier arrives in Cold Creek, where her sister Amber lived—and where she was murdered. Estranged from her parents and seeking closure, Beth takes a waitressing job at the local diner, just as Amber did, desperate to understand what happened to her and why. But Beth’s search for answers puts a target on her back—and threatens to reveal the truth behind Hailey’s disappearance…

 

an interior journey thoughts

From the beginning of Dark Roads, I was drawn into the story of missing girls and a police officer who is controlling his wife’s niece and is also seemingly following other girls.

When Hailey disappears, we get to follow her hiding out, with the help of her friend, and keeping her eye on the place she left behind.

Beth appears later, and we also watch her trying to figure out what happened to her sister…and realizing that Vaughn is someone to be wary of.

As the story moves along, I was surprised by the addition of another nefarious character who would turn out to be involved in the murders. A book I could not put down, this one earned 5 stars from me.

***My ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

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WEEKLY UPDATES…GOOD THINGS!

 

Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon and The Sunday Post 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 week was a good one.  I enjoyed reading two books and I’m halfway through a really intense third one.  I started watching Season 3 of Virgin River, and I can tell there will be some binge-watching this weekend.  I viewed another episode of The Good Fight and I wrote seven blog posts.

I had an outing this week that I am excited about.  I signed paperwork to get my new apartment, which is ready now and which I can move into by the 23rd…or sooner.  First I have to be approved, but I don’t anticipate a problem with that.  I am hopeful.

Now that I am eagerly anticipating this move, I am having a hard time sleeping, since I’m writing lists and planning things.  My granddaughter will help with the move, and will start by bringing some boxes to me so I can pack.  But after I’ve been approved, of course.

Now let’s take a closer look at my week.

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “The Fiancee”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Curling Up with New Books…

WWW Reading…

It is Not Monday, Nor Is It Raining

Another Forgotten Book…

Bookish Friday:  “Kill All Your Darlings”

Another Friday…

Review:  The Stepsisters, by Susan Mallery

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Review:  The Fiancee, by Kate White

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INCOMING BOOKS:

The Stranger in the Mirror, by Liv Constantine

Kill All Your Darlings, by David Bell

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CURRENTLY READING: Survive the Night, by Riley Sager

One of New York Times Book Review‘s “summer reads guaranteed to make your heart thump and your skin crawl”; An Amazon Best of the Month Pick; Named a must-read summer book by The Washington Post, USA Today, Vulture, BuzzFeed, Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, CNN…

I am loving this book.  It is so intense that I can’t seem to put it down.  I probably won’t get a lot of sleep this weekend!

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So…that was my week. I also enjoyed watching some old favorite movies like You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle… and got a new handbag, see below.

What did your week look like?

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ANOTHER FRIDAY…

It is Friday again, and as I ponder the week behind me, I am eagerly planning what lies ahead.

Above, note my #2 son and his three adult children, all of whom have been unavailable as a group for the past two years.  On the right is Aubrey, who has been living in New Zealand and staying safe during the Pandemic.

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As for my upcoming plans, I am excited about the possibility of a move to the apartment nearby, one that is currently available and that will finally allow for a more independent lifestyle.  It can happen soon, but now I am waiting to see if my daughter is able to help with the move.  The timing might be great. Or not.

In the meantime, I am loving Season 3 of Virgin River…and awaiting an Instacart order for the weekend.

I just finished reading and reviewing The Fiancee, by Kate White, and earlier in the week I finished The Stepsisters, by Susan Mallery.

This week I added a new doll to my collection (on the left).  Should I be doing this when I might need to pack up everything?  Oh, well, sometimes life throws unexpected curves.

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What are your weekend plans? Are you waiting for something that you are anticipating?

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