Weekend Reading

I don’t give out many five star reviews on Goodreads but this one deserved it. Believe Me by JP Delaney might just be my favorite book in 2018 so far! I was completely hooked from page one and the pace just got better and better until I HAD to finish it.. way past my bedtime. The author does a perfect job with a tight plot and sympathetic, yet weird, characters. I read this in TWO sittings. Everything else was blocked out as I delved into this gripping story.
I’ve mentioned how I enjoy psychological thrillers and this one is a MUST READ for my fellow literary thrill seekers.
Here’s the synopsis:

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?

Some of the book was slightly confusing but I kept reading and the mystery unraveled. Maybe we, the readers, are supposed to be a little confused. When I finished the book, I was sad there isn’t an entire body of work by this author to get through. If you haven’t read The Girl Before, read it now! This novel will be published in July.
I love a good memoir as much as I love a good thriller and this one caught my eye. Educated by Tara Westover promises to be a fantastic book and I am so eager to start it.
Here is what you need to know:

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far if there was still a way home.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

This calls to mind North of Normal, The Glass Castle, Chanel Bonfire, some of my favorite memoirs from years past. I cannot wait to start it.
I am a sucker for old Hollywood glamour and I do like a good a coming of age story, when the two merge in a novel, well then, I just have to read it. I’m several chapters into The Magnificent Esme Wells by Adrienne Sharp and enjoying it. It’s so fun to read the descriptions of Hollywood and Las Vegas from the early 40s/50s.
The author’s writing is great, very detailed and the story is moving along. I am intrigued so far and look forward to reading more of this book.

Esme Silver has always taken care of her charming ne’er-do-well father, Ike Silver, a small-time crook with dreams of making it big with Bugsy Siegel. Devoted to her daddy, Esme is often his “date” at the racetrack, where she amiably fetches the hot dogs while keeping an eye to the ground for any cast-off tickets that may be winners.
In awe of her mother, Dina Wells, Esme is more than happy to be the foil who gets the beautiful Dina into meetings and screen tests with some of Hollywood’s greats. When Ike gets an opportunity to move to Vegas—and, in what could at last be his big break, to help the man she knows as “Benny” open the Flamingo Hotel—life takes an unexpected turn for Esme. A stunner like her mother, the young girl catches the attention of Nate Stein, one of the Strip’s most powerful men.
Narrated by the twenty-year-old Esme, The Magnificent Esme Wells moves between pre–WWII Hollywood and postwar Las Vegas—a golden age when Jewish gangsters and movie moguls were often indistinguishable in looks and behavior. Esme’s voice—sharp, observant, and with a quiet, mordant wit—chronicles the rise and fall and further fall of her complicated parents, as well as her own painful reckoning with love and life. A coming-of-age story with a tinge of noir, and a tale that illuminates the promise and perils of the American dream and its dreamers, The Magnificent Esme Wells is immersive, moving, and compelling.

A definite must-read for those who enjoy historical fiction.

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