REVIEW: BLACK-EYED SUSANS, BY JULIA HEABERLIN

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What would your life be like after a traumatic event, in which you were found in a field with the remains of other girls, covered in Black-Eyed Susans? Would you find it hard to remember what happened?
Tessie (Tessa) Cartwright is that one remaining survivor, and for a while afterwards, she has lost her vision, and not just her memory. But the vision returns, even though the memories are still missing.
The grown-up Tessa has a teenaged daughter, Charlie, aged fourteen, and she is determined to protect the life she has. But will the newest efforts by the attorneys allow her to do this? The convicted killer, Terrell Darcy Goodman, may not actually be the killer. Efforts abound to find evidence to free him. Tessa herself is beginning to wonder, since someone is planting Black-Eyed Susans beneath her window…and leaving strange notes.
Narrated in the POV of young Tessie, from 1995, and present day Tessa, the story carries us along, feeding us bits and pieces of moments that will surely keep us guessing.Why has her best friend Lydia, from her teenaged years, gone missing? Has something happened to her? More and more red herrings crop up, making us wonder about everything we thought we knew. Toward the end, the story switches into Lydia’s POV, creating more doubt in the reader’s mind.

Set in Texas, with Tessa living in a bungalow in Fort Worth, we can see and feel the world around her as she struggles to move on, while trying to recapture the past. And all the while, what we believed about friends and trusted ones is lying in wait, ready to strike at just the right and convenient time. A riveting tale that I could not stop reading, Black-Eyed Susans earned five stars…and was unforgettable.

REVIEW: LITTLE BLACK LIES, BY SANDRA BLOCK

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After finishing medical school at Yale, along with her internship, Zoe Goldman has returned to her hometown of Buffalo for her psychiatry residency. But coming home has brought some baggage with it.

Years ago, Zoe lost her birth mother in a fire, and has some physical and emotional scarring from the traumatic episode. In addition, Zoe has ADHD and some issues with compulsivity. She struggles with these issues, along with how coming home has caused old feelings to resurface. And now the nightmares have begun again.

How will Zoe manage her patient load while dealing with her own issues? Why is her adoptive mother, now suffering from dementia, hiding things from her? Was everything she was told a lie, or has her mother “forgotten” the facts due to her memory issues?

Little Black Lies is a page-turner that I couldn’t put down. I loved the mix of Zoe’s personal life with the issues of her patients. Why has one particular patient, Sofia Vallano, who incidentally killed her own mother when she was fourteen, started showing up in Zoe’s nightmares? Can Zoe find the answers to her own nebulous past? Will she discover the truth behind the lies? And when, in one horrifying moment, she does learn it all, will she survive it?

Finding the answers can be life-changing. There are still too many unanswered questions, Zoe realizes, and what is the truth? What are the lies? I liked this summation Zoe made: “Maybe the truth is this: There is no truth.”

A great story for those who enjoy suspense, mixed in with family issues. 5.0 stars.

FROM THE INTERIOR: WAITING ON “EVIL NEVER DIES”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday, our special day for sharing upcoming book releases.  Hop on over to Breaking the Spine to find out what everyone else is excited about.

I am addicted to T. R. Ragan’s Lizzy Gardner series, with its gutsy heroine.  I also love the setting in Sacramento, CA, where I lived for several years.  Evil Never Dies is Book #6 in the series.  Release  Date:  8/4/15.

 

 

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Private investigator Lizzy Gardner believed in law and order once. But after losing a loved one to a killer and watching too many vicious predators game the system and walk free, she’s traded flawed justice for perfect vengeance.

Together with her tough and trusted assistants, Lizzy is tracking down a list of Sacramento’s worst offenders and dealing out the payback they deserve. But she may be lethally outmatched by a new criminal, a murderer the papers have dubbed the Sacramento Strangler. This ritualistic serial killer is dropping corpses and cryptic clues at a shocking rate—and he’s growing bolder and bloodier the longer he’s at large.

In the suspenseful finale to the Lizzy Gardner series, bestselling author T.R. Ragan’s gutsy heroine lashes out against the relentless onslaught of evil as she desperately fights to hang on to her own humanity.

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I still have some of the earlier books to finish, but I want to add this one as soon as possible.   What are you eagerly anticipating?

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MY INTERIOR WORLD: THE FINAL PHASE?

a cup of joe on a Sunday

Good morning!  I might be entering the final phase of my journey of purging and rearranging.  Or not.

A final piece of the recent plan took me back into the bedroom, where I had removed one shelf, rearranged another with the leftovers from the now empty hallway shelves….and then:  voila!  I wanted to add a final touch.

The bedroom bookcase that remained untouched had a little shelf with DVDs next to it, below:

 

 

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This week, I moved that little step-stool shelf next to another shelf, below, and it works better, as it is next to the TV/DVD player:

 

 

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And here is the now rearranged space next to the bookshelf.  Next I will probably want to clear out those baskets of magazines on the floor…LOL.

 

 

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Once you start purging, rearranging, etc., there is really no end in sight.  Do you find this to be true in your life?

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Meanwhile, I had a nice relaxing weekend, with dinner at Red Lobster with my daughter and grandson.

 

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How was your weekend?

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REVIEW: EAT THE DOCUMENT, BY DANA SPIOTTA

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The 1970s were a pivotal time for those in my generation, so I was drawn to Eat the Document: A Novel. I participated in my share of protests against the Vietnam War and the tragedy of Kent State.

From the synopsis, we learn: “In the heyday of the 1970s underground, Bobby DeSoto and Mary Whittaker — passionate, idealistic, and in love — design a series of radical protests against the Vietnam War. When one action goes wrong, the course of their lives is forever changed. The two must erase their past, forge new identities, and never see each other again.”

As the story opens, Mary has put five states between herself and what happened. She is using the name “Caroline,” and it is obviously an informal kind of name change, as we will discover later how she makes the change more permanent. And what that kind of change feels like…as if her life, as she knew it, is now definitely over.

The story sweeps back and forth between the 1970s and 80s and into the 1990s, and we see some similarities between the protests back then and those in the later era. The story spotlights some characters living in Seattle, like Nash, who manages a bookstore called Prairie Fire Books, and the store owner, Henry, who seems to have some dark urges governing his days and nights.

We focus a bit on Jason, the 15-year-old son of the newly recreated Louise (who was once Mary, then Caroline, and a few other reinvented selves). From Jason’s point of view, we see that he is struggling with what he feels are secrets his mother is keeping. He senses something.

Will Jason discover Mary’s past? Will Nash and Mary connect at some point? Who is Nash? Mary/Louise’s movements through the 1970s and onward have brought her to Washington, closer to what is happening in Seattle.

As the past converges on the present, we can look back and feel the flavors of the times as they were changing…and appreciate how, in the present, there is still something of the past that lingers. A captivating read that kept my interest, except for a few chapters that introduced some of the 1990s characters. 4.0 stars.

MY INTERIOR WORLD: DISNEY FIGURINES TAKE A HIATUS

a cup of joe on a Sunday

Welcome to another view of my Interior World, the one that has lately involved various kinds of purging and rearranging.

You have watched me haul out boxes of books, and even empty bookshelves.  But today I took a stab at lightening up some of the knick-knacks on my favorite bookshelf in my living room.  Here are two views of the shelf…BEFORE.  Notice an arrangement of some of my Disney figurines….there is little room between them.

 

 

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Here is another view of the full-length bookshelf with books and figurines:

 

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Now take a look at AFTER….I took away a few of the gorgeous creatures.  Not to worry, they are in a closet, and maybe they can be swapped out for the ones currently on the shelves…at some point.  (Below), note a close-up of a couple of the shelves, minus a few of my favorite things.

 

 

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And here is another view:

 

 

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A start, right?  I wonder when I will be satisfied?  I suspect that once I started this whole thing, I had unleashed a purging fury.

What do you think?

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Meanwhile, I am reading a rather frightening story about a family living in an isolated home in the shadowy woods…and what happens when two escaped convicts invade their home.

As Night Falls, by Jenny Milchman…

 

 

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Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. But, as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close.

In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old—smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight—keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy’s husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease.

Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he’s looking for . . . before he disappears forever.

Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.

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A scary story helps keep me from obsessing about my interiors…LOL.  For a while, anyway. 

Do you find that books distract you from what is going on in the real world?

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REVIEW: NEVER TELL A LIE, BY HALLIE EPHRON

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At long last, David and Ivy Rose are about to have their first child, after previous miscarriages. With the baby’s due date only weeks away, they are clearing out the attic of a previous owner’s belongings and having a yard sale.  They are eager to finish renovating their old Victorian in Brush Hills, MA.

In the furor of the sale, with all the comings and goings, Ivy is stunned to see a woman, also pregnant, approach and identify herself as Melinda White, an old high school friend.

Ivy knows that they were barely acquaintances, that Melinda was always on the fringes…and that she had probably longed to be part of the crowd.

Suddenly Melinda is going inside the house with David, having asked for a tour, and Ivy is consumed with other yard sale details.

What happens next will be like a nightmare that unfurls and changes everything about the life they thought they had….and with each day that passes, their lives will be reshaped by the events of that day. For Melinda White has been reported missing, and nobody can fill in what happened after she went into the house with David. Not even David.

There was evidence, including a blood-stained outfit Melinda had been wearing, stashed at their curb in a trunk they had placed out there for garbage collection. Why did the neighbor, Mrs. Bindell, report that she had seen Ivy at the trunk? How did fetal tissue get on the clothing? And why is David’s old friend Theo, who is also their attorney, acting suspicious?

Obsession, mental instability, and a very devious plan would all unfold, and as the suspense ratchets up another few notches, I was glued to the pages as it all started to make sense. Never Tell a Lie: A Novel of Suspense is a psychological thriller with characters I cared about…and an ending that I was eager to see. 5 stars.