No one was ever supposed to see her…

When Maggie sees the beautiful Venetian blinds moving in the Caldwells’ front window, she freezes. Her favorite neighbors Cady and Josh are away, so who is in their house?

The pretty young woman who answers the door tells a convincing story. She’s Sarah. The house-sitter. Just here for a month. An old friend of Cady’s who needed a place to stay. She’s pleasant and warm, and Maggie wanders back to her house thinking she might have made a new friend. Yet she can’t help but wonder why Cady never mentioned Sarah.

What Maggie doesn’t know is that on the other side of the door, Sarah is starting to panic. No one was meant to see her at 214 Palmer Street…
an interior journey thoughts

In alternating timelines, Sarah Aden is on a mission to uncover the secrets of 214 Palmer Street. The house where her husband Kirk grew up, and where something terrible happened one night when he and his friends were teenagers, is the root of all the secrets she must discover.

She is masquerading as a house sitter for the Caldwells, who now live in that house, and they are meant to be gone for a month.

But others are also determined to keep those secrets, like Gavin, Clarice, and Kirk. What happened back then in that bomb shelter, where the kids hung out, almost as if it were a playhouse? After the terrible events of that night, Kirk’s parents covered up the bomb shelter, and everything was hidden. But what happened to Jeremy, their other friend? And how could she find out?

Rapidly turning pages, I couldn’t wait to find the answers, and as the narrators took us back and forth in time, we tried anticipating what would happen next, but nothing could prepare us for the journey to the truth. 4.5 star





It was an ordinary Monday morning on the 7:44 commuter train to London. Passengers were engaged in a variety of activities. A young woman named Lou, a people watcher, observes the intricate details of one young woman applying her makeup, while she notices that another is leafing through a glossy magazine. One couple, seemingly having a nice conversation, catches Lou’s eye: they seem nice and compatible.

The train has pulled into the station; it is raining hard outside.

And then, suddenly, the man across the aisle has vomited unexpectedly, and after saying “I’m sorry,” he clutches his chest and his head falls to the table.

Pandemonium ensues; and, while some try to call for help, others simply stare.

Within minutes, it is apparent that the man has died…and everything about that morning is no longer ordinary.

One Moment, One Morning: A Novel is the story of how, in a brief spot of time, everything changes. We follow the characters from the train, see how some of their lives intertwine, and before the ending, others will have connected.

Lou, a counsellor for troubled youth (and the people-watcher on the train) has been keeping a secret from her mother. Anna, a well put-together young woman has a troubled home life. And Karen, the wife of the now deceased man, Simon, is stunned by events and will be struggling as she tries to deal with the aftermath. Her two small children, Luke and Molly, will have to learn about the death of their father and deal with that loss.

I liked the characters and how the author showed us what their lives looked like, before and after. Little flashbacks reveal much about each of them, and I felt sad for Karen, as she recalled happier times and realizes that her dreams are now gone.

New friendships develop, however, and a support network surrounds each of the characters. A memorable story from an author I enjoy. 4.5 stars.


4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?


Today I am spotlighting an ARC from Amazon Vine, from an author I have never read.  But the blurb sold me.  The Home Place, by Carrie La Seur, a debut novel…which would explain why I’ve never read the author!






Beginning:  (Chapter One:  Sunday, 2 A.M., Mountain Standard Time

The cold on a January night in Billings, Montana, is personal and spiritual.  It knows your weaknesses.  It communicates with your fears.  If you have a god, this cold pulls a veil between you and your deity.


56:  Helen slams down her fork, or tries to.  Her hand is curled awkwardly around the implement, so that her hand bangs the table instead and she must disengage her fingers deliberately, one at a time.


Blurb:  Carrie La Seur makes her remarkable debut with The Home Place, a mesmerizing, emotionally evocative, and atmospheric literary novel in the vein of The House Girl and A Land More Kind Than Home, in which a successful lawyer is pulled back into her troubled family’s life in rural Montana in the wake of her sister’s death.

The only Terrebonne who made it out, Alma thought she was done with Montana, with its bleak winters and stifling ways. But an unexpected call from the local police takes the successful lawyer back to her provincial hometown and pulls her into the family trouble she thought she’d left far behind: Her lying, party-loving sister, Vicky, is dead. Alma is told that a very drunk Vicky had wandered away from a party and died of exposure after a night in the brutal cold. But when Alma returns home to bury Vicky and see to her orphaned niece, she discovers that the death may not have been an accident.

The Home Place is a story of secrets that will not lie still, human bonds that will not break, and crippling memories that will not be silenced. It is a story of rural towns and runaways, of tensions corporate and racial, of childhood trauma and adolescent betrayal, and of the guilt that even forgiveness cannot ease. Most of all, this is a story of the place we carry in us always: home.


This one sounds like a book that will keep me hooked all the way through.  What are your thoughts?



widow's storyOn an early morning in February 2008, Joyce Carol Oates took her husband to the ER at the Princeton Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He would recover and be released in just a few days, they were told. But then unexpectedly, he developed a secondary infection and died, just a couple days before he was due to be discharged.

What an astounding loss! And in A Widow’s Story: A Memoir, we follow the author, known for her prolific literary fiction and who reveals little of her personal life or feelings in those tomes, into a part of her world that is now open to us. Showing us her interior life, from the struggling first moments afterwards, when she must take her husband’s “personal belongings” home to the “death-duties” that overwhelm her in the early days, weeks, and months. Back to a world (her home) full of empty spaces that now seemingly define her life.

And then there are the numerous deliveries and phone calls; bags and bags of letters; intrusions from well-meaning friends and acquaintances. And next come the first tentative efforts to rejoin the world and discovering the vast number of emotional “sinkholes” that seek to pull her into a hell of loss and hopelessness. Insomnia and depression accompany her on her journey, even as she reflects about the life that “was.”

Throughout her story, the author shares moments from the past, revealing bits and pieces of the partnership that was “Raymond and Joyce Smith,” and what it was like to be conjoined with such a supportive person for nearly half a century. Reading this story created an ache within, as I could only imagine such a loss, never having lived in the Land of Widowhood. It does seem to be a universe all on its own, and the people who were most helpful to the author during that first year were those who had been in that very Land.

I very much enjoyed reading about friends of the author’s whose work I’ve also admired, like Gail Godwin, Philip Roth, Margaret Drabble…and more. In such a charmed literary circle, there should be some kind of sheen that surrounds these folks and protects them. But we learn that nobody is immune to this kind of pain.

The writing reveals the depth of the love between these two individuals: Ray and Joyce Smith. We see it in the pain of loss and in how the treasured moments between them are lovingly revealed. And in the end, the widow can proudly say: “I kept myself alive.” Five stars.