REVIEW: OUR HOUSE, BY LOUISE CANDLISH

 

When Fiona Lawson comes home to find strangers moving into her house, she’s sure there’s been a mistake. She and her estranged husband, Bram, have a modern co-parenting arrangement: bird’s nest custody, where each parent spends a few nights a week with their two sons at the prized family home to maintain stability for their children. But the system built to protect their family ends up putting them in terrible jeopardy. In a domino effect of crimes and misdemeanors, the nest comes tumbling down.

Now Bram has disappeared and so have Fiona’s children. As events spiral well beyond her control, Fiona will discover just how many lies her husband was weaving and how little they truly knew each other. But Bram’s not the only one with things to hide, and some secrets are best kept to oneself, safe as houses.

 

My Thoughts: In the opening lines of Our House, we are stunned by what Fiona Lawson sees, as she comes home after a few days away: moving vans and a strange family unloading them. They are moving into her house!

Flashback to the previous summer when Fiona caught Bram cheating on her. It wasn’t the first time. So the split would change their lives, but they thought their solution for the children was the perfect one. The so-called Birds’ Nest custody arrangement had the children permanently in the house, with the parents taking turns moving in and out. A flat nearby was where the off-duty parent would stay.

Next, our narrators take us back and forth in time: Bram’s Word doc reveals his story, while Fi’s podcast confessions on The Victim offer her perspective. Slowly we come to discover the intricacies of how Fi ended up losing her house, and what happened to Bram to take them there.

It is not a simple story, and there are so many twists and turns, with a final unexpected one at the end. But this story is not divided into villains and victims…unless we label some of the other parties. But someone has gone to a lot of trouble to unravel their lives. And both Bram and Fi have made choices that led them to this place.

Did the Birds’ Nest arrangement set this family up for what happened? Could secrets and lies from the past have added to their vulnerability? And would the final denouement leave questions unanswered, with more heartache ahead? Rapidly turning pages kept me guessing and wondering, and made me feel empathy for both Bram and Fi. They felt like people who might have been our friends and neighbors. 5 stars.***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley

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COFFEE CHAT: ANXIETY, RELIEF, & MORE BOOKS…

Welcome to another Coffee Chat in which we share some bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.   Link up at Bookishly Boisterous.

 

Good morning!  It is Tuesday, and I usually write this post on Thursday…but I woke up in a state, frustrated over a DMV issue…and then it was resolved.  I felt freed from the angst.

The problem began with my car registration, which was a mess because of the smog certificate issues….they took a couple of days to work through.  I sent off my late fee check, since I had missed the deadline.  And then waited.  Almost a month passed, with the check not making its way into my account.  Calls to the DMV.  No satisfaction.  Then, blissfully, the check went through today.  I felt freed!  I had planned to go to the field office today.  Luckily I don’t have to do that!

  • Do you ever feel frustrated, and then something happens and you get a reprieve from whatever anxiety is sitting on your shoulders, creating muscle pain with underlying emotional distress?
  • Afterwards, do you then want to celebrate?  I did, and it’s Book Release Day, so I had to find some books to download.  That’s how I celebrate when I’m at home.  Later I might go out for a martini.  LOL
  • What did  I download?  Well, two books I’ve been hearing about:  All Your Perfects, by Colleen Hoover;  and Her Pretty Face, by Robyn Harding….

 

 

 

 

 

  • Today I’m reading (and loving) Our House, by Louise Candlish, a NetGalley review book out on 8/7.  What an interesting premise:  a divorcing couple have a “birds’ nest” custody arrangement, with the kids staying in the house, and the parents moving in and out.  Then something unexpected happens.
  • Yesterday, I finished Castaway Cottage, a review book by Joanne DeMaio…(click for my review).
  • Tonight, The Bold Type is on, and I’m loving this series.  Three friends working in New York for a magazine…we watch their frustrations, their partying, and their love connections.  Does it sound boring and predictable?  Not so much.  I was surprised at how much I am enjoying it.
  • On Sunday, I watched the second episode of Sharp Objects.  I enjoyed the book, but with Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson starring, the miniseries is even more fascinating.
  • I have an episode of Dietland waiting on my DVR.  I originally started watching because Julianna Margulies (from The Good Wife) is on the show…but she plays a really nasty character.  The primary character is Joy Nash.    Check it out here
  • I’ve been watching a lot of Amazon Prime movies…and not really discovering anything to watch on Netflix.  Sigh.  I’m eager for the fourth season of Better Call Saul to arrive on AMC (in August).
  • As you can tell, I am addicted to books, movies, and shows.  But later today, I may have that celebratory martini.
  • While browsing on Facebook, I found some photos of my great-niece who just celebrated her third birthday.  Is she three already?  Here she is with her mom, my niece Emily:

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How is your week shaping up?  What creates anxiety? What gives you pleasure and/or relief?

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WEEKLY UPDATES: SAVORING THE 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.

 

Our week was hot…again.  But we’re still in the lower triple digits, for which I’m grateful.  I’ll take hot days when the AC is working and when I have a stack of tempting books.  All three of the books I read and reviewed were pretty good; two were great and one was just okay.  (Mostly because the outcome was disappointing).

Today I have “taken to the beach” (figuratively speaking) with the review book I’m reading.  I can almost feel the cool breezes as I mix it up with the characters.  More on the book later!

On Monday, I had a nice lunch with an old friend/former colleague; it was great to linger in the restaurant, the exact opposite of our hurried lunches back in our working years.   Long lunches are the opportunity to catch up, commiserate about the state of the world, and share the tidbits of our lives.

On Hulu, I finished Season II of The Handmaid’s Tale.  It will be another long wait for the third season.  Today I watched two Amazon Prime movies:  Submission, starring Stanley Tucci and Kyra Sedgwick; and Chappaquiddick, starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne.

I was scheduled to see my hair stylist (daughter) on Friday, but she texted that she is in the midst of packing for their move later this month…and then, sadly, she shared that they had to say goodbye to their dog Kaiser.  He had been ill…and there was no hope.  Goodbye, Old Boy!

On that note, let’s grab another cup of coffee…and check out last week’s details:

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Musings…

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “Left:  A Love Story”

A Week of Engaging Books…

Coffee Chat:  Reading, Ranting, & Viewing…

Thursday Sparks:  A Book about a Woman and a Trial…

Friday Sparks:  Savoring the Moments…

Bookish Friday:  “The Other Wife”

Review:  Believe Me (e-book), by J. P. Delaney – (NG-7/24)Review:  Tangerine (e-book), by Christine ManganReview:  The Ever After (e-book), by Sarah Pekkanen

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INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  I did download three purchased e-books…

Clock Dance (e-book), by Anne Tyler

The Date (e-book), by Louise Jensen

Without a Doubt (e-book), by Marcia Clark

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, I’ve “taken to the beach” in my current read. 

Castaway Cottage, by Joanne DeMaio, reunites the beloved Stony Point crew for a surprising summer by the sea, one that will leave you wanting more with the friends by the shore.

***

Then…The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware

***

That was my week…what did yours look like?  Last weekend, I spent some time reading and savoring this chocolate dessert…with a cup of Irish Coffee.

***

COFFEE CHAT: READING, RANTING, & VIEWING…

Welcome to another Coffee Chat in which we share some bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.   Link up at Bookishly Boisterous.

Another week is speeding by.  My reading has been good so far, and I’ve also had a few outings.  On Monday, I had lunch with a friend/former colleague.  We do these gatherings about once a month.  We catch up, we reminisce, and we rant a little about the state of the world.  Sometimes it is necessary to commiserate with someone who shares your views on life, family, and even politics.  Maybe especially politics.

  • I read a really great book on Monday.  Yes, I spent the whole day on nothing but that book (except for the lunch, of course)..it was that good.  Believe Me, by J. P. Delaney:  (click title for my review).  The story has so many twisty elements that I was off-balance throughout.
  • Then I read my second book…and it was also one that kept me engaged, but I was very disappointed with the ending.  Maybe because I was so hoping for a better outcome?  Tangerine, by Christine Mangan (click for review).
  • Now I’m reading (and loving) The Ever After, by Sarah Pekkanen.   A story about a marriage filled with secrets and lies.  Lots of “feels” in this book.

  • Today is the final episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, Season II.  I just watched this week’s episode…and it can’t stop there!  We must have additional seasons!
  • Tonight I was craving Mexican food, so I went around the corner to one of my favorite restaurants and had some.  Along with a margarita.

***

So…how is your week unfolding?  Reading, movies, adventures? 

***

REVIEW: BELIEVE ME, BY J.P. DELANEY

 

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions.

The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap?

But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

 

My Thoughts: I loved the twisty elements of Believe Me that always kept me a little off-balance. Claire’s first person narrative made me care about her and about her perspective. I felt myself rooting for her all along, especially when she found herself in many precarious situations, when those who were supposed to be on her side didn’t believe her version of events.

Claire’s immigration status intrigued me, as it especially resonates in this day and age. One’s life can be upended at a moment’s notice, so treading carefully is what one must do, and persons in authority can use that fear as leverage.

Trust games are part of the interactions for these characters, and we are thrown into the quandary of not knowing who to believe or what to believe.

Who killed Stella? Was it Patrick, or Claire, or someone else? And how does the dark website Necropolis play into the drama? When Patrick writes a play based on the Baudelaire book he loves, Claire is cast and sees the opportunity to finally get her green card. But is the play just an opportunity or another trap that will thrust her into more danger?

As we switch back and forth, asking ourselves what is truly real and what is Claire performing “in character,” we are still stunned by how everything plays out. An incredibly brilliant 5 star read.

***My e-ARC came from the publisher via NetGalley.

WEEKLY UPDATES: MORE HEAT, TECHNOLOGICAL GLITCHES, ETC.

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 hot week!  Luckily I stayed indoors a lot, except for an early morning hose down of the patio last weekend.  I think I need to do it again today, as the gardeners were here yesterday.  Sigh.  

For some reason, my reading was slow, once I had finished my first book (I was riveted to the pages on that one!).  I finally closed the covers on a second book…and last night, hurried to the finish line by reading and reviewing the third one.  Each book was different, so my overall reading week was a good one.

On Tuesday, the AT&T technician came to fix the lines; my signal was going out way too often.  So far, I am now enjoying my viewing without losing the signal.  Knock wood.  We’re having a free Cinemax weekend, so I set the DVR to record a few things, but I realize that I actually prefer my HBO and Showtime.  Which reminds me:  Sharp Objects starts tomorrow!  I loved the book, and I’m guessing that, with Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson starring, it should be worth staying glued to the screen.  I am DVR-ing it, however; I did the same with Big Little Lies and still enjoy watching that one again and again.

Handmaid’s Tale is dark…and I’m so hoping that poor Offred will escape.  Sigh.  I guess that might happen if we have another season.

My FB app on my iPhone 7 keeps shutting down when I scroll through the feed.  I tried a number of “fixes,” (shutting off the phone, changing the settings, etc.) with nothing working for more than a minute or two.  I even deleted the app and downloaded a new one…twice!  Nada.  I guess I’m off to the phone store…unless someone out there knows of a sure-fire fix.

So…that’s my week so far.  Let’s grab more coffee and take a closer look.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Sunday Potpourri:  Weekend Tasks & Some Fun…

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “My (Not So) Perfect Life”

Hump Day Treasures:  Current, Past, & Future Reading…

Coffee Chat:  My Thoughts from the Sidelines…

Bookish Friday:  “All We Ever Wanted”

Friday Potpourri:  Random Tidbits & Family Moments…

Review:  My Girls:  A Lifetime with Carrie & Debbie, by Todd FisherReview:  Night Moves (e-book), by Jonathan KellermanReview:  My (Not So) Perfect Life (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella

***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  I did download a Kindle Prime Freebie…and two purchased e-books.

Beautiful Exiles (e-book), by Meg Waite Clayton (Freebie)

A riveting novel based on one of the most volatile and intoxicating real-life love affairs of the twentieth century (Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn).

***

Purchases:

Three Days Missing (e-book), by Kimberly Belle

Left:  A Love Story (e-book), by Mary Hogan

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Current Read:  Finally I’m reading my NetGalley ARC that will be released on 7/24:  Believe Me, by J.P. Delaney.   I love this cover!

In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.

“A compelling read . . . redefines the concept of an unreliable narrator . . . [a] rich, nuanced, highly literary take on the Gone Girl theme.”—Booklist (starred review)

***

And then what?  I have a stack of TBR books to read….and some more review books that I need to tackle this month!

That was my week…what did yours look like?  Last Saturday, I savored this piece of Strawberry Shortcake…sigh.

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COFFEE CHAT: MY THOUGHTS FROM THE SIDELINES…

Welcome to another Coffee Chat in which we share some bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.   Link up at Bookishly Boisterous.

 

Good morning!  Did fireworks keep you awake last night?  I heard them, very loud ones, so I watched TV for a while.  Then, for some reason, I fell asleep and slept a full eight hours…the first time in ages.  I never go out to watch them anymore…I guess I’ve seen enough.

  • My day was full of movies, reading, and plans for upcoming events, like the HBO limited series of Sharp Objects.  Coming July 8, it is based on the Gillian Flynn book, which I enjoyed.  Starring Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, etc.  The hype suggests another Big Little Lies type series.
  • Other people in my family had real celebrations, like #2 Son Brett & his GF Madeline.  They spent their time in Las Vegas.

  • I started watching the Netflix series Happyish...and it kept me engaged for a while.
  • On Saturday, I finally got around to hosing off the patio.  Just sweeping it down does not quite do it anymore, plus the water cooled me off, too.  The patio is tiny, but when it is buried in leaves and cobwebs, it seems HUGE:

  • I  kept losing my signal on the TVs…so the AT&T technician came on Tuesday, and worked outside on the lines, and then inside…and so far, so good.  Knock wood.
  • I am frustrated with the darkness of The Handmaid’s Tale, and keep hoping for an escape for June (Offred)…sigh.
  • I’ve only read and reviewed one book this week (so far):  My Girls, by Todd Fisher (click for review).  I loved it, though, and it was filled with gorgeous photos that made me remember Carrie and Debbie.
  • I’m almost finished with Night Moves, by Jonathan Kellerman…a very twisty tale.
  • Next I hope to start reading My (Not So) Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella…a library book due 7/18.  So far I’ve managed to return my library books early.
  • I’ve been noticing this third book in the Devil Wears Prada series:  When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger.  I enjoyed the first book in the series; the second one, not so much.  But I’m willing to try again with this one.  I like this opening line in the blurb:  HE SET HER UP. THEY’LL BRING HIM DOWN.

***

So…these are my thoughts from the sidelines…what does your week look like so far?

***

WEEKLY UPDATES: HOT, HOT, HOT!

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.

 

It is hot, hot, hot!  It will be triple digits all weekend, and then “down” to 99 on Monday.  Why am I complaining?  I should be used to it by now.  I have lived in California’s Central Valley since the early 1970s…but I bitch and moan every summer.  LOL

On the plus side:  The AC is working well, and I don’t have to go outside that much.  Today I did want to go out on the patio and sweep away the leaves and cobwebs…and then spray it all down with a garden hose.  Maybe I’ll let the hose spray a little on me, too.

My interior world:  Three books read and reviewed this week, and 12 for the month of June.  My annual total:  77.  Not that fabulous, but I’m moving along.  I wrote 8 blog posts.  And in my non-reading time, I moved a little furniture around.  I called that exercise.

Still loving The Handmaid’s Tale, Season II...and watched one episode of Queen of the South on Netflix.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue.

I need a mani-pedi…maybe later today?  After I play around with the garden hose.

So…let’s have some more coffee and take a closer look at my reading and blogging.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Rainy Day Excerpts:  “Believe Me”

Tuesday Potpourri:  Book Purchases, Library Books, Etc.

A Week of Engaging Reads…

Hump Day Potpourri:  Randomness…

Coffee Chat:  Breaking Through the Darkness…

Into the Light…with “Interior Designs”

Bookish Friday:  “My Ex-Life”

Wrapping Up June…

Review:  Surprise Me (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella (Library Book)Review:  The Family Gathering (e-book, Sullivan’s Crossing), by Robyn Carr (Library Book)Review:  Raspberry Danish Murder (e-book), by Joanne Fluke (My TBR)

***

INCOMING BOOKS: (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Empty mailbox!  I did receive one library book, and downloaded three purchased books.

My (Not So) Perfect Life (e-book), by Sophie Kinsella (Library)

***

Purchases:

All We Ever Wanted (e-book), by Emily Giffin

The Other Wife (e-book), by Michael Robotham

Those Other Women (e-book), by Nicola Moriarty

***

WHAT’S NEXT?

Currently Reading:  Night Moves (e-book), by Jonathan Kellerman

***

And then I will go where my moods take me.  But I do want to start reading my July review books.

So, that was my week.  What did yours look like?  Any adventures?  Here is a peek at my usual week night adventure (in food).  And yes, I seem to have this Key Lime Pie a lot!

***

INTO THE LIGHT…WITH “INTERIOR DESIGNS”

On Facebook I had a reminder that it has been four years since Interior Designs came out.  It is available in Kindle and Paperback.

Here’s is a blurb:

Meet Martha Scott Cummings: an interior designer, an abandoned wife, and a newly single mother to her daughter Meadow. Now, she must begin an interior journey to reexamine the life she had, the choices she made, and find the strength to begin again.

 

She could wallow in self-pity amongst the detritus that is her life, or she could explore her feelings, study her behavior, and figure out how to redesign her life by changing the way she reacts to disappointments, betrayal, and insecurity.

 

Along the way to rediscovering who she was and who she can be, Martha reconnects with her best friend Maeve, who has been there for her in the past, but was somehow missing from her life during her darkest hour. Martha now realizes that she built walls around herself, shutting out those who could have sustained her.

 

There is strength in numbers, and her old BFF can help Martha retrieve the lightheartedness of her earlier life and even learn to laugh at and love herself again, flaws and all. Lots of girl talk, a girlfriend getaway, and new relationships characterize the days and nights of the newly redesigned Martha.

 

But will she find a new love? And if she does, how can she prevent herself from destroying it all? Taking risks, learning to trust her judgment, and finding out that mistakes are part of the learning process, Martha takes a leap of faith and finds unexpected treasures.

***

This novel is my sixth, and is a sequel to Embrace the Whirlwind.

 

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For anyone interested in reading and reviewing either (or both), please contact me for a copy.

***

 

COFFEE CHAT: BREAKING THROUGH THE DARKNESS…

Welcome to another Coffee Chat in which we share some bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts.   Link up at Bookishly Boisterous.

Last Thursday night, I went out for drinks and dinner with my granddaughter Fiona…and the dark thoughts that were following me around last week…dissipated.  What a lovely break!  I had gift cards for The Cheesecake Factory, so I didn’t even have to feel guilty about spending too much money.  Here is a photo, which I also showed in my Weekly Updates…I had Shepherd’s Pie, the treat you see on the bottom of the shot.  Our drinks were Blood Orange Margaritas.

  • I finished watching Season II of Goliath…and now I want another season!
  • I’m still watching The Handmaid’s Tale, Season II…and I was afraid last week would be the final episode of the season….but according to Google, we’ll have more, with the last one coming in July.
  • On Amazon Prime, I watched a movie called LBJ, which I had noticed before but hadn’t seen. Woody Harrelson played President Johnson, and Jennifer Jason Leigh was a very convincing Lady Bird.  They both wore prosthetic devices and the results were very realistic.
  • However…I wasn’t happy with how they portrayed Jack and Bobby Kennedy.  Not at all how I recall them from the 60s.
  • Today I have a dental appointment…they scheduled a series of three that will take me through the summer.  Sigh.
  • Yesterday I made some changes in my living area…just switched some things around:  the wicker loveseat and the pub table.  I like dealing with anxiety and restlessness by moving furniture.  LOL.  Here are a couple of views.

  • I haven’t spent much time with my other granddaughter, Aubrey, but I keep up with her activities.  Here she is enjoying Nature, which I am glad about.  A nice summer is what she needs before school starts again.  She’ll be a college senior in the fall.

***

So…this week was better than last.  Not that the dark things have vanished, but I am finding ways to distract myself…and surround myself with more positivity.  How has your week been going?

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