Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

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My thoughts:  This is the fourth Ruth Ware novel I've read.  There are definitely some similarities between books, but somehow the settings and the issues the characters encounter are varied enough to still be interesting.  This one may just be my favorite of the four or else it is just my most recent.

Hal is lost, her mother died a few years before.  She has no friends, still lives in the flat she shared with her mother and runs her Tarot Card reading table at a local pier.  Right after her mother's death she borrowed some money from a loan shark who is now demanding a repayment of 6 times what she borrowed, which she doesn't have.  Then, she receives a notice saying she has an inheritance from a grandmother.  Except the name of her grandmother is wrong, last name is good, but the names her mother told her were different.  But, she is broke and hopes that maybe she will get enough to pay back the loan and maybe take a small vacation or get ahead, so she boards a train to go to the funeral and will reading.

She meets her three uncles, but not uncles as she doesn't believe she is the daughter of their sister as they think, and finds herself in a drafty, huge country house relegated to an attic room with no heat and locks on the outside of the door and bars on the window even though it is on the top floor of the house.  A crusty old housekeeper who hates everyone and some odd events.

When the will is read and she has inherited the whole estate there are issues, guilt on her part and disbelief on the part of the uncles.  Then odd things happen, her light bulb and that in the hallway to her room are smashed.  The housekeeper warns her away.  Her uncle gives her an old  photo that contains the uncles as well as their sister and a distant cousin and her mother is in the picture!  Her mother was there, but it doesn't make sense.

Pieces keep getting put together and it is like you can almost feel her reaching an aha moment as calamities occur and you wonder exactly who is working against her and why. 

I enjoyed the suspense and found myself wanting to keep listing to see what she discovered next!  I owned a copy of this book and had in on my shelf for about a year,  but ended up borrowing the audio version from the library and finishing it in just a few days!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Chances Are by Richard Russo


My thoughts: I read this book for an upcoming book club and when I checked it out of the library I wasn't sure I was looking forward to reading it.  I would read a bit before bed each night, but never felt like it was hard to put down and even mixed up the three main characters a bit.  The beginning was a lot more telling than showing and letting you get to know the characters in their own time, but then I got into it.  I know a lot of people wouldn't have pushed past the beginning, but I am glad I did.  Three men in their sixties meet on Martha's Vineyard for the weekend at the end of the summer in 2015, which is how they ended their time at college at the beginning of the summer in 1971, except that time the woman they were all in love with was there with them.  The college friend who was a part of their group of Musketeers, but also the one they all hoped to be with.

After that weekend she disappeared and no one knew what had become of her and her memory haunts the men more than it has in years because it feels like her ghost is there, maybe actually there if some theories are to be believed.

Going into this I did not realize  it was going to be a mystery that they were going to be unraveling.  Each of them had crystal clear memories of some things and had forgotten others, but together they worked to put the pieces together.  Each of the chapters is written from one of the men's pov, so you get to see how they think and what their inner life is like.

I had a lot of questions about how the women of their mother's generations had lived their lives and if it was by choice or due to the habits and attitudes of the time they were born and grew into. 

I went from easily putting this book down to reading the second half over the course of a day because I wanted to find out what really happened and put all the pieces together.  I've never read one of Russo's books before and I see in other reviews that some readers feel like this is different than his other books,  but I may give another one a try.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Happy New Year!

You know how we all set goals for the new year and then you hear that most people stop attempting to meet them by the fourth day of the year?  I must miss that memo every year, because I keep working all the way to the end of the year.  I don't always make the goal, there are times I fall short or have set backs, maybe I make it half way and then somehow turn the other direction, but I am still working towards the goal even with the back sliding.  This year I set a goal to read 75 books and to also keep better track of my reading.  In 2019 I read at least 55, but I think it was more and my tracking methods were off.  I have a new way of tracking on paper and two apps so we'll see if I am able to keep up this year!  As of this morning I reached 10 books finished in 2020.  10 out of 75!  So, right now it is looking to be an achieveable goal.  Who knows, maybe I will get busy and barely have time to read or maybe I will read so much I will exceed my goal.  So along with that goal, I also want to actually make the time to share what I've read and what I think about it.  This is a goal I've set and fallen short of quite a few times, but again, maybe this time is the time it will stick!