REVIEW: AN ORDINARY LIFE, BY AMANDA PROWSE

 

Christmas Eve, 2019. Ninety-four-year-old Molly lies in her hospital bed. A stroke and a fall may have broken her body—but her mind is alive with memories.

London, 1940s. Molly is a bright young woman, determined to help the war effort and keep her head up despite it all. Life becomes brighter when she meets and falls in love with a man who makes her forget everything with one dance. But then war forces her to make an unforgettable sacrifice, and when she’s brought to her knees by a daring undercover mission with the French Resistance, only her sister knows the secret weighing heavily on Molly’s heart.

Now, lying in her hospital bed, Molly can’t escape the memories of what she lost all those years ago. But she is not as alone as she thinks.

Will she be able to find peace—and finally understand that what seemed to be an ordinary life was anything but?

 
 
 
 
An Ordinary Life opens on Christmas Eve, 2019, with 94-year-old Molly in hospital after a stroke and a fall. As she lies in the bed, her mind traipses back over the years and through the many memorable moments that have decorated her life.

As a teenager in the 1940s, she fell in love with a man she hoped to spend her life with, but that was not to be her destiny. A lovely treasure has come out of that love, but the war rages and leads to a choice that will change everything in ways she cannot undo.

I loved Molly’s journey through the war years and afterwards and felt a lump in my throat at the life she had lost. And for what would happen in the subsequent years. I kept hoping for peace and love for her at last…but would she find it?

I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the settings, events, and how she brought Molly’s little cottage to life for me. A cozy place that could somehow fill in the empty places in her life.

The characters that also filled in the gaps in her life were family members, those who could substitute for some of her losses.

The book’s title “an ordinary life” might seem like a misnomer, but by the end of the tale, one could conclude that the ordinary moments were the ones to be treasured. A 5 star read.

WEEKLY UPDATES: BOOKISH MOMENTS…

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.

Here we are, turning the page on another week.  I did read and review three books this week, so that was good.  And I wrote seven blog posts.

I am hoping to enjoy the weekend.  I started watching a Netflix movie, Behind Her Eyes, which is based on a book I enjoyed.  So far, I’m loving it.

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

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Forgive Me”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Filling My Shelves…

Wednesday Reading…

Hump Day Potpourri:  A Valentine’s Day Celebration…

Another Backlog Book…

Coffee Chat:  Sweet Goodies, Etc.

Bookish Friday:  “The Paris Library

Review:  The Push, by Claire McGowanReview:  The Perfect Guests, by Emma RousReview:  Every Waking Hour, by Joanna Schaffhausen

***

INCOMING BOOKS:

I received one Author Review Request book in the mailbox…and one NetGalley ARC.  I also downloaded three e-books.

Careful-ish, by Hone y Parker

Overeating. Oversharing. Overindulging. Over it all. Video chats. Not enough distancing. Alcohol. What could go wrong? And what are people doing when they think nobody is watching? Meet six friends who are COVID quarantining in The Greatest City On Earth.

***

Thief of Souls, by Brian Klingborg – (NG – 5/4/21)

In Brian Klingborg’s Thief of Souls, the brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing—but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim.

Downloads:

Let Her Lie, by Bryan Reardon

The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles

Consent, by Vanessa Springora

***

CURRENTLY READING:

Hadley & Grace, by Suzanne Redfearn

***

That was my week!  What did yours look like?  Here is a peek of my Valentine’s Day dinner:  Stuffed Chicken Breast.

***

REVIEW: EVERY WAKING HOUR, BY JOANNA SCHAFFHAUSEN

 

After surviving a serial killer’s abduction as a young teenager, Ellery Hathaway is finally attempting a normal life. She has a new job as a rookie Boston detective and a fledgling relationship with Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years ago. But when a twelve-year-old girl disappears on Ellery’s watch, the troubling case opens deep wounds that never fully healed.

Chloe Lockhart walked away from a busy street fair and vanished into the crowd. Maybe she was fleeing the suffocating surveillance her parents put on her from the time she was born, or maybe the evil from her parents’ past finally caught up to her. For Chloe, as Ellery learns, is not the first child Teresa Lockhart has lost.

Ellery knows what it’s like to have the past stalk you, to hold your breath around every corner.

Sending one kidnapped girl to find another could be Chloe’s only hope or an unmitigated disaster that dooms them both. Ellery must untangle the labyrinth of secrets inside the Lockhart household — secrets that have already murdered one child. Each second that ticks by reminds her of her own lost hours, how close she came to death, and how near it still remains.

 
 
 

From the first moments of Every Waking Hour, we are thrust into Ellery Hathaway’s past as she tries to cobble together a life in the present.

Reed Markham, the FBI agent who rescued her years before, is now her lover, although they are trying to keep it off the radar.

Chloe’s disappearance awakens old memories for Ellery, but she is determined to use her own experiences to help find the girl.

As a Boston PD detective, Ellery is acutely aware of the pitfalls of using her own experience to work a case, but she could also be uniquely qualified to find the answers.

I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but the author has done a great job of filling in Ellery’s background.

As we follow the clues that lead to answers, we can’t help holding our breath as each moment passes. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next to Reed and Ellery. 4.5 stars.

 
***

COFFEE CHAT: SWEET GOODIES, ETC.

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.

Good morning, and welcome to another beautiful day in 2021!  I am still moving along, putting up with things that are difficult while enjoying the possibilities ahead.  Of course, the news is full of horrible storms and the aftermath of them…and some are politicizing them.  What else is new?  But…perhaps something will change, and there will be attempts to deal with Climate Change.  Finally.

Notice my Bitmoji surrounded with chocolate.  Valentine’s Day brought out the reminders of everything sweet.

  • We had a lovely dinner on Valentine’s Day evening, here in the dining room.  This dessert topped it all off beautifully:

  • I haven’t read that many books lately…only two last week.  But I enjoyed The Push, by Claire McGowan, and now I am reading The Perfect Guests.  An interesting tale that grows more intense with every chapter.
  • Today is Thursday, so that means the gardener is here, right outside my window, using every noisy machine he can find…and I just have to accept it, trying to tune it out.  What else can we do?
  • On Facebook, I have been following my granddaughter Fiona’s many hair and makeup changes.  She is dealing with her boredom in this way.  (It has been months since she could follow her job as a massage therapist).

  • Here’s another one:

  • Her birthday is on the 21st.  Her cousin Aubrey also had a birthday this month, on the thirteenth.  They are like “twin cousins.”  They are now 24!
  • I wish I could see Fiona, at least.  Aubrey is still in New Zealand.  But recently, our facility had TWENTY residents testing positive, so our visits have been terminated.  For now.  The outbreak was in the Memory Care section, and we don’t interact with them.  But the administrators are being cautious.
  • I have had both vaccine doses…and hope that there will be protection enough at some point.  Sigh.
  • So the beat goes on…

***

How are you hanging in there?  What, if anything, helps you through the negativity of our situations?

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: SWEET THOUGHTS FOR VALENTINES EVERYWHERE…

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.

Another week has flown by, but with all the political havoc happening every day, I will be glad to turn the page on it.  I only read and reviewed two books this week, thanks to the distractions.

I’ve been loving Bridgerton, on Netflix, and hope to find more shows to binge-watch over the weekend.

I’m sipping my coffee right now…join me while we take a closer look at the week.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Hadley & Grace”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Bookish Delights…

Hump Day Reading…

Bookish Treasures…

Another Backlog Book…

Bookish Friday: “An Ordinary Life”

Review:  Pretty Little Wife, by Darby KaneReview:  Strawberry Shortcake Murder, by Joanne Fluke

***

INCOMING BOOKS:

Empty Physical Mailbox!  I did receive one NetGalley ARC…and downloaded two e-books.

The Necklace, by Matt Witten (On Sale 9/7/21)

The clock ticks down in a heart-pounding crusade for justice

***

Strawberry Shortcake Murder, by Joanne Fluke

An Ordinary Life, by Amanda Prowse

***

CURRENTLY READING:  Last week, I planned to read The Push, by Claire McGowan…and I did begin.  But then I got sidetracked by other books, one of which I did finish…so now I am finally reading it.

***

That was my week.  What did yours look like?  Since tomorrow is Valentine’s Day…we’re having a special lunch, with goodies to post.  Meanwhile…here’s something to send your way….

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: A NEW MONTH, 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.

IMG_5502

Another week and another month have flown by! I only read and reviewed two books, but I enjoyed them both. I started watching Firefly Lane on Netflix, and I’m finding it addictive.

This week, I received my second vaccine! What a relief. I hope everyone will soon follow along, eventually leading us all to a safer place. Will we soon find a New Normal?

Now I want to grab some coffee and share the details of the week.

***

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Monthly Wrap-Up

Tuesday Excerpts:  “Every Waking Hour”

Happy Books…and a Mug…

WWW Post…

A Great Rediscovery!

Coffee Chat:  A Happy February So Far…

Bookish Friday:  “The Shadow Box”

Review:  The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi PicoultReview:  The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware

***

INCOMING BOOKS: 

Empty physical mailbox!  I downloaded three e-books….

Hadley and Grace, by Suzanne Redfearn

The Shadow Box, by Luanne Rice

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, by Elle Cosimano

***

CURRENTLY READING:  Pretty Little Wife, by Darby Kane

***

That was my week!  What did yours look like?  I enjoyed this lemon yogurt cake one night.

***

COFFEE CHAT: A HAPPY FEBRUARY SO FAR…

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.

Another month and a new week have slipped by, but I am just so happy to be moving beyond some of the horrific events of early January…and the whole of 2020.

I got my second vaccine shot yesterday, and so far, no side effects of note.  The usual arm soreness.  But exercising my arm works, and I’ve done that for years after my flu shots.

Today is another shopping day with Instacart.  How did my cupboards and fridge empty out so quickly?

  • I finally finished reading The Book of Two Ways, which was tedious at times…but interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.
  • Now I am back to reading one of my print books that I started earlier in the week:  The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware.  I think it will hold my interest!
  • Yesterday I went upstairs to the hair stylist, who is now back!  For however long that lasts, lol.  I got a trim and a curl.

  • On Monday I had a “socially distanced” visit with my daughter and youngest grandson.  They didn’t want their photo taken, so I snapped it quickly.  They each made me swear not to post it on FB…so I didn’t.  Except that the blog post will show up there, lol.  Technically not on FB.

  • They brought my Happy Mugs!  Below, see my celebration by drinking out of one of them.

  • I love those mugs…they are actually thicker than my regular ones, and keep the coffee hot for a while.  My favorite photo is of how they looked at my previous residence in a favorite cupboard.  My daughter kept the bowls and plates, but the mugs are enough for me.

  • I am eager to see what February brings us.  With the second shot behind me, I am starting to feel hopeful.

***

What are you eagerly reading/viewing/and anticipating?

***

REVIEW: THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS, BY JODI PICOULT

 

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: Prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband but of a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, their beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, in which she helps ease the transition between life and death for her clients.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a career Dawn once studied for but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures that the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation to wherever they want to go. The obvious destination is to fly home, but she could take another path: return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways—the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried with them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices . . . or do our choices make us? And who would you be if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?

 

 

Immediately we are thrust into the past for Dawn Edelstein, in The Book of Two Ways. She returns to the past as she revisits the Egyptian site where she first felt the passion of studying burial sites with Wyatt Armstrong. Back in Boston, her husband Brian waits, not understanding what has happened. And her daughter Meret is struggling.

I could relate to the need to explore unfinished journeys, and even the road not taken. But is Dawn risking her present life for one that might have been?

The story flips between the past and the present, and I soon found myself not enjoying the journey into the past and wishing Dawn would stay focused on what she has in the here and now. Like this moment she experiences with a client who is dying: “Her portrait of death lives in shadows. It’s midnight blue and dusky violet and violent black, but if you stare at it hard enough, you can make out two faint profiles, a breath apart, unable to complete that kiss for eternity.”

But in parallel universes, we watch the characters flash back and forth, and the destinies that unfold are fascinating. We are kept on tenterhooks, wondering what will finally happen for them. While I often found myself preferring parts of the story more than others, in the end I couldn’t stop pushing through to the ultimate answers that might take the characters to places they should be.

A book that held me captive until the end, I soon forgot about the parts I didn’t like much…and concluded that the work was unforgettable and had earned 4.5 stars.

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: GOOD BOOKS!

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.

Another great reading week, with three books read and reviewed, each different from the other. One was a NetGalley ARC for a book to be released on 2/2, so I just got it in under the wire.

As for viewing, I finished The Queen’s Gambit, and now I am scrolling through my queue for my next binge-watch.

Yesterday was a day in the apartment while the maintenance man tried and finally succeeded in fixing my plumbing! Wow! Who knew that those kinds of issues could sideline one for a day!

I am hoping for a better day.  Meanwhile, let’s take a closer look at my week, while sipping some coffee.  Monday, my daughter has promised to bring my favorite mugs (see below)…the ones that she has had in her kitchen for almost two years!  LOL.  See with coffee, and below, lined up on the counter.

 

 

 

 

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Tuesday Excerpts:  “At the Edge of the Haight”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Celebrating Books…

Hump Day Reading…

A Backlog Book to Bring Forward!

Coffee Chat:  Pandemic Fatigue?

Thursday Sparks:  Nostalgic Moments…

Bookish Friday:  “The Perfect Guests”

Treasures from the Past…and Present

Review:  Rachel to the Rescue, by Elinor LipmanReview:  The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah – (NG-2/2)Review:  Single Mother, by Samantha Hayes

INCOMING BOOKS:

Empty physical mailbox!  But I downloaded four e-books.

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

Forgive Me, by Susan Lewis

The Perfect Guests, by Emma Rous

Every Waking Hour, by Joanna Schaffhausen

***

CURRENTLY READING: The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult

***

That was my week!  What did yours look like?  I have been dreaming of chocolate!

***

COFFEE CHAT: PANDEMIC FATIGUE?

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.

 

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post, back when I still felt the exhilaration of the Inauguration and the sight of #45’s back in the wind.  Of course that last bit hasn’t happened, and the Impeachment conviction some of us hoped for probably won’t happen either.  Sigh.  When I go to the news videos lately, I tend to scroll on past.  I don’t want to waste head space on these events!

  • In the interim, however, I am enjoying my reading and blogging.  I just finished reading and reviewing an ARC of a book that will come out next week:  The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah.
  • After I finished that rather lengthy tome, I searched my shelves to pick the next one…and actually started reading another, but then moved on to something completely different:  Single Mother, by Samantha Hayes.  I am turning the pages quickly.
  • Lately I have been staying in my apartment more and more, skipping most meals and even activities offered.  Then, on Sunday, I went to all three meals and yesterday I went to two.  But today is going to be another “hermit” day…unless something changes.  Why is this happening?  Things should be looking up, right?
  • But maybe the news alerts that hint at more violence could be at fault.  Will we never feel safe?
  • I know that Pandemic Fatigue could also be the culprit. I have had my first shot, but no word on when we will get the second one.  There are shortages…and who knows what will unfold?
  • I miss my people, like all of us do, and I also realize, as the months pass, it will soon be ONE YEAR that I have been locked down here (since March 11!), with no escape except one doctor visit in October!
  • Meanwhile, I love looking at my new Mary Engelbreit calendar.

  • It hangs next to my kitchen cabinets.
  • I have also done my usual blog changes, and created some new headers this week:  First, Potpourri:

Then I changed up my Serendipity blog header:

  • You might also notice a few tweaks in this blog header.  So that’s what I do when I feel frustrated, depressed…or just bored.

***

I would rather get a mani-pedi, though, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.  How do you deal with Pandemic Fatigue?

***