A Little Bird by Wendy James

EXCERPT: She hadn’t thought, hadn’t worried. That had always been her major failing, this failure to see into the future, this ability to shrug off the consequences, to wait until it was too late to remedy. That was how she’d ended up pregnant and married in the first place. It was how she’d ended up pregnant to a man she’d known for only a few days.

It was how she ended up dead.

ABOUT ‘A LITTLE BIRD’: Running from a bad relationship, journalist Jo Sharpe heads home to Arthurville, the drought-stricken town she turned her back on years earlier. While some things have changed—her relationship with her ailing, crotchety father, her new job at the community newspaper—Jo finds that her return has rekindled the grief and uncertainty she experienced during her childhood following the inexplicable disappearance of her mother and baby sister.

Returning to Arthurville has its unexpected pleasures, though, as Jo happily reconnects with old friends and makes a few new ones. But she can’t let go of her search for answers to that long-ago mystery. And as she keeps investigating, the splash she’s making begins to ripple outward—far beyond the disappearance of her mother and sister.

Jo is determined to dig as deep as it takes to get answers. But it’s not long before she realises that someone among the familiar faces doesn’t want her picking through the debris of the past. And they’ll go to any lengths to silence the little bird before she sings the truth.

MY THOUGHTS: Wendy James has been called ‘Queen of Australia’s domestic thriller’ and ‘master of suburban suspense’. I would have to agree. I read A Little Bird in one sitting, it’s characters and setting enchanting me, the plot captivating me.

Set in a small town on the Western Plains of NSW, Australia, Arthurville was a once thriving community. Now, in the grip of a relentless drought and as a result of young people moving to the cities for work, it’s once bustling main street is mostly boarded up, and the young who have remained in town are mostly unemployed and addicted to drink and or drugs. But it is also a town stuck in some kind of time warp. One where relationships and family breeding are still important; where old social traditions still matter; where a hierarchy is still in place and where some people will kill rather than have their secrets revealed.

A Little Bird is quietly brilliant, very much a character based mystery set over two timelines: the 1990’s through Miranda’s (Merry’s) eyes; and 2018 when Jo, Merry’s daughter, having lost both her relationship and her job in Sydney, returns home to be with her father while he receives treatment for cancer – not that he’s grateful – and as the only paid employee of the local paper, where she is only allowed to write ‘good news’.

The characterisation is strong with much of the story resting firmly on Jo’s shoulders. It’s a story that examines the bonds of family and friendship and long term relationships; the fact that they are not always as they seem; that our memories can deceive us.

These are characters that I could see and hear; I could feel that infernal red dust that leaves a fine layer over everything; and enjoyed the atmosphere of the pub where the locals go to escape the relentless heat.

James writing is vivid, the plot compelling, the outcome shocking.

She has previously written a novel called Where Have You Been, which is a good question. Where have I been that I have never before read this author?

⭐⭐⭐⭐.6

#ALittleBird #NetGalley

I: @wendyjamesbooks @amazonpublishing

T: #wendyjamesbooks @AmazonPub

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Wendy James is the celebrated author of eight novels, including the bestselling The Mistake and the compelling The Golden Child, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Ned Kelly Award for crime. Her debut novel, Out of the Silence, won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for first crime novel, and was shortlisted for the Nita May Dobbie award for women’s writing. Wendy works as an editor at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation and writes some of the sharpest and most topical domestic noir novels in the country.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Little Bird by Wendy James for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt

EXCERPT: We stand together in the silence of the night, in the clearing in the woods. Our breathing is the only thing I can hear.

We are as one, but only because we’ve agreed to cover up what’s happened.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. When is killing someone ever a satisfactory solution? This was just a momentary lapse of concentration. A burst of anger. A fist of infuriation. Hands squeezing something they shouldn’t have.

But now the body is buried. We’ve hidden the crime. If anyone finds out, we’ll make up lies and pretend it never happened. No one will ever know the truth.

Because I won’t let them find out.

ABOUT ‘THE LIFE SHE WANTS’: From behind the curtains, Sarah spotted the man coming out of the house, followed by the woman. It would be strange seeing people in the property. She wondered how much it would change their lives. For now, she would bide her time and hopefully get to know them better. She needed to gain their trust.

When I met Richard, I fell for him instantly. He was able to give me everything I had always wanted, the dream house, security and above all, love like I’d never known. We lived a quiet life in the middle of nowhere; we didn’t need anyone else.

So, when the empty house next door is sold, I am wary. Will our neighbours invade the perfect life Richard has built for us? As soon as I meet Juliette and Danny, I am reassured. Overwhelmed by grief after the death of their young daughter, they have moved in search of a quiet life and a chance to start again. Over dinner one evening, we hit it off instantly and I know they are just the neighbours we need.

All is well until Juliette spots a young girl in our garden. Richard convinces her that she is seeing things, that it’s the grief taking over. But Juliette won’t let it go. She is sure she saw a child. She believes that Richard is threatening her. She starts to think that I’m not safe.

I need to convince Juliette that she’s imagining it. I need to keep Richard happy. If I am to protect everything I have built for myself, she must never find out the truth.

That my perfect life is built on the deadliest lie.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a book that you really need to concentrate on as you read because it is not always obvious just whose point of view you are reading. There is also a fair bit of jumping about in the timeline, also not always apparent. I think that had I listened to the entire audiobook instead of reading the first 80% and listening to the last 20%, it may have been a little clearer. But, in the end, it all makes sense. It’s just a little frustrating getting to that point.

Although The Life She Wants packs a punch, I didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable experience. There are characters that I absolutely hated; sly, nasty and manipulative. They left a nasty taste in my mouth. I really found it difficult to connect with any of the characters other than Juliette and her husband. And I found the child totally unbelievable, although very little is seen and absolutely nothing heard from her. So very wrong on all levels.

The book reminds me a little in format of the old western movies, where you have the good guys and the bad guys. The good guys are really, really good, and the bad guys are really, really bad. There’s a whole heap of tussling and wrangling and jostling for position going on, and the good guys appear to be coming off worst until the very end, when justice prevails, albeit usually with a few bodies strewn about along the way. But did justice prevail here? I’ll let you make up your own mind.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheLifeSheWants #NetGalley

I: @mel_sherratt @bookouture

T: @writermels @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: write police procedurals, psychological suspense and women’s fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as I call it.

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes liberal use of my hometown as a backdrop for some of my books.

I also write women’s fiction under the pen name of Marcie Steele.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC and an audio ARC of The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt and narrated by Emma Gregory, for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It is not quite an hour until the supercars kick off for the Bathurst 1000 so will get my post done now as I will be glued to the TV for the rest of the day. We watched the top ten shoot out for pole position last night and if today’s race is anywhere near as exciting, we’re in for a great day of motor racing.

Currently I am reading Prose and Cons by Wendy Corsi Staub. Although it’s #4 in this cozy mystery series and I haven’t read any of the previous books, I fell right in love with Bella and her six year old son Max, and their resident ghost, the mischievous and sometimes malevolent Nadine, along with the psychic cat Chance they seem to have inherited.

I am also reading The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown where the theme of inherited animals continues. Sissy has inherited her aunt’s cockatoo and a rooster along with Aunt Blanche’s home. Another book where I have simply fallen in love with the characters, particularly Gussie and Ina Mae, Blanche’s friends for over sixty years.

I am listening to Outback Creed by Jonathan MacPherson, narrated by Steve Shanahan. It’s set in the Kimberly region of Western Australia and I think that a big city lawyer is about to learn an important lesson from a young aboriginal boy about paying it forward.

This week I am planning on reading Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

1941. Steven Katz is the son of prosperous landowners in rural California. Although his parents don’t approve, he’s found true friends in Nick, Suki, and Ollie, sons of field workers. The group is inseparable. But Steven is in turmoil. He’s beginning to acknowledge that his feelings for Nick amount to more than friendship.

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor draws the US into World War II, Suki and his family are forced to leave their home for the internment camp at Manzanar. Ollie enlists in the army and ships out. And Nick must flee. Betrayed by his own father and accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he turns to Steven for help. Hiding Nick in a root cellar on his family’s farm, Steven acts as Nick’s protector and lifeline to the outside world.

As the war escalates, bonds deepen and the fear of being different falls away. But after Nick unexpectedly disappears one day, Steven’s life focus is to find him. On the way, Steven finds a place he belongs and a lesson about love that will last him his lifetime. 

And The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Brighton, 1965

When theatrical impresario Bert Billington is found dead in his retirement home, no one suspects foul play. But when the postmortem reveals that he was poisoned, suspicion falls on his wife, eccentric ex-Music Hall star Verity Malone.

Frustrated by the police response to Bert’s death and determined to prove her innocence, Verity calls in private detective duo Emma Holmes and Sam Collins. This is their first real case, but as luck would have it they have a friend on the inside: Max Mephisto is filming a remake of Dracula, starring Seth Bellington, Bert’s son. But when they question Max, they feel he isn’t telling them the whole story.

Emma and Sam must vie with the police to untangle the case and bring the killer to justice. They’re sure the answers must lie in Bert’s dark past and in the glamorous, occasionally deadly, days of Music Hall. But the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they find themselves in… 

And to start listening to Why She Left by Leah Mercer

Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years wondering why her daughter Isobel left. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her family’s bright future which vanished in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a teenage grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of relief. Despite the years of hurt she never stopped loving Isobel and wants to help rebuild her life. Enrolling her grandson at the school, Ruth wants to make sure they stay for good.

Isobel has spent her life running from a painful secret. A secret which could have destroyed her family. Now, as she flees a bad relationship, she knows that her childhood home is the only place where she can be safe.

But as Isobel looks at her son in his crisp new uniform, she is taken straight back to the reason she ran all those years ago. Soon it becomes clear that she is not the only one tormented by the past. Someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth and Isobel hold dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

I have only two new ARCs this week – they are A Secret at Tansy Falls by Cate Woods

And The Library by Bella Osborne

The cars are lined up on the start line, so I’m going to bid you farewell.

The Mark by Matt Brolly

EXCERPT: They’d left the body in a place where it could be found. The man hadn’t deserved to die. He was a warning – no more than that; his fate heralded her return. Whether or not the others understood that, she didn’t care. They would find out soon enough.

And as for the branding itself.

She sucked in the hot air of the bar, reveling in the memory of lighting the iron and making that delicious mark.

Her mark.

ABOUT ‘THE MARK’: In the quiet seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, a man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol carved into his skin. The victim―a local drug addict―has no recollection of who attacked him or how he got there.

The sleepy coastal community is sent into shock. And when another victim branded with the same vicious mark dies from his wounds, DI Louise Blackwell realises she is dealing with a sadistic serial killer.

But why is the twisted attacker targeting Weston’s most vulnerable people? And what is the meaning behind the mysterious symbol? Still struggling to overcome her own demons in the wake of her brother’s death, Blackwell must stay one step ahead of both the killer and corrupt DCI Finch, whose meddling in the investigation makes her more determined than ever to bring him down for good.

As the body count rises, and her feud with Finch puts her own life in danger, Blackwell faces a race against time to discover the dark crime that unites the victims and put an end to the carnage―before someone puts an end to her.

MY THOUGHTS: I expected to like The Mark by Matt Brolly more than I did. It has been an interesting and exciting series to date and the plot of The Mark definitely continues in this vein. BUT, I felt the characters were a bit flat; they didn’t ‘speak’ to me, and there was very little personal development.

I am glad that the feud with Finch is done and dusted; it was becoming wearing and had outlived its usefulness. It will be interesting to see how Louise develops without Finch’s manipulations and interference.

There’s a good mix of old and new characters in The Mark, and dare I hope that Louise is embarking on a new relationship? It may bring a little more balance to her life, although I doubt it. For Louise, her job will always come first.

I look forward to reading the next in this series. There are big changes ahead for Louise and her team, and I am sure that there will be some new characters introduced. I definitely look forward to Louise and Tracey working more closely together. They have always made a great team both in the workplace and as friends.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheMark #NetGalley

I: #brollymatt #amazonpublishing

T: @MattBrollyUK @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Following his law degree, where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers, Dead Time and Dead Water and the Lynch and Rose thriller The Controller. In addition, he is the author of the acclaimed near-future crime novel Zero. The first novel in the Detective Louise Blackwell crime series, The Crossing, was published in 2020. Matt also writes children’s books as M. J. Brolly. His first children’s book is The Sleeping Bug. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Mark by Matt Brolly for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon,Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

EXCERPT: AGATHA

I am not the most important person in this story. That honor belongs to Meg, who is married to Jack, and they are the perfect parents of two perfect children, a boy and a girl, blond and blue-eyed and sweeter than honey cakes. Meg is pregnant again and I couldn’t be more excited because I’m having a baby too.

Leaning my forehead against the glass, I look in both directions along the pavement, past the greengrocer and hairdressing salon and fashion boutique. Meg is running late. Normally she has dropped Lucy at primary school and Lachlan at his preschool by now and has joined her friends at the café on the corner. Her mothers’ group meets every Friday morning, sitting at an outdoor table, jostling prams into place like eighteen-wheelers on the vehicle deck of a ferry. One skinny cappuccino, one chai latte, and a pot of herbal tea . . .

A red bus goes past and blocks my view of Barnes Green, which is opposite. When it pulls away again I see Meg on the far side of the road. She’s dressed in her stretch jeans and a baggy sweater, and carrying a colorful three-wheeled scooter. Lachlan must have insisted on riding to his preschool, which would have slowed her down. He will also have stopped to look at the ducks and at the exercise class and at the old people doing tai chi who move so slowly they could almost be stop-motion puppets.

Meg doesn’t appear pregnant from this angle. It’s only when she turns side-on that the bump becomes a basketball, neat and round, getting lower by the day. I heard her complaining last week about swollen ankles and a sore back. I know how she feels. My extra pounds have turned climbing stairs into a workout and my bladder is the size of a walnut.

Glancing both ways, she crosses Church Road and mouths the word “sorry” to her friends, double-kissing their cheeks and cooing at their babies. All babies are cute, people say, and I guess that’s true. I have peered into prams at Gollum-like creatures with sticky-out eyes and two strands of hair, yet always found something to love because they’re so newly minted and innocent.

ABOUT ‘THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS’: Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever…

MY THOUGHTS: This is the third book by Michael Robotham that I have read and loved. He writes women so convincingly and realistically, describing our fears and insecurities very accurately and with empathy.

The Secrets She Keeps is an emotionally charged domestic/psychological thriller that focuses on two women: Meghan with the seemingly perfect life; and Agatha who has nothing. Their paths cross and Agatha hatches a plan that will give her what she wants. The story is told from the points of view of both Agatha and Meghan, and what begins as an apparently accidental and innocent friendship soon develops into tension filled drama.

I didn’t like Agatha. She is needy, manipulative and mentally unstable, but I felt for her. Robotham has crafted magnificently believable characters. Even Jack, Meghan’s apparently devoted sportscaster husband is brilliantly depicted. The only character I couldn’t really get a handle on was Hayden, the supposed father of Agatha’s baby.

The story is peppered with surprises and skillfully placed twists and I never quite knew what was going to happen next. I am a firm fan of this author and am reading everything of his that I can get my hands on.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSecretsSheKeeps

I: @michaelrobotham

T: @michaelrobotham

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Michael Robotham was born in Australia in November 1960 and grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he worked for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Europe, Africa and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies.

His first novel ‘THE SUSPECT’, a psychological thriller, was chosen by the world’s largest consortium of book clubs as only the fifth “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries.

Since then, Michael’s psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-five languages and his Joe O’Loughlin series is are currently in development for TV by World Productions. A six-part TV series based upon his standalone novel THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS was aired on BBC1 in 2020, and a second series begins filming in 2021.

Michael lives in Sydney with his wife and a diminishing number of dependent daughters.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to the Waitomo District Library for providing a copy of The Secrets She Keeps for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Instagram and my webpage

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan 

EXCERPT: It would be the easiest thing in the world to lose everything, Furlong knew. Although he did not venture far, he got around – and many an unfortunate he’d seen around town and out on the country roads. The dole queues were getting longer and there were men out there who couldn’t pay their ESB bills, living in houses no warmer than bunkers, sleeping in their coats. Women, on the first Friday of every month, lined up at the post office wall with shopping bags, waiting to collect their children’s allowances. And farther out the country, he’d known cows to be left bawling to be milked because the man who had their care had upped, suddenly, and taken the boat to Fishguard. Once, a man from St Mullins got a lift into town to pay his bill, saying that they’d had to sell the car as they couldn’t get a wink of sleep knowing what was owing, that the bank was coming down on them. And early one morning, Furlong had seen a young schoolboy eating from a chip bag that had been thrown down on the street the night before.

ABOUT ‘SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE’: It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.

MY THOUGHTS: It is no small thing that coal and fuel merchant William (Bill) Furlong does. 1985 was a time of great hardship. Bill, although not wealthy, is doing all right for himself and is able to provide for his family – wife Eileen and his five daughters, through careful money management.

Bill Furlong has come from nothing, less than nothing really. But he and his mother were shown great kindness and that is something Billy is dwelling on this Christmas. When Billy discovers someone being treated cruelly and inhumanely, and discovers that his beloved Catholic church is covering it up, he faces a dilemma. Does he help, as his mother was helped? Or does he take heed of the warning and walk away?

For such a short book (128 pages), Small Things Like These packs a solid punch. While a work of fiction, the truth is that many thousands of girls and women were incarcerated and forced to work, hidden in disgrace behind church walls, never to be spoken of nor seen again. The children were adopted out, sold, or simply disappeared. Records were nonexistent or destroyed.

Small Things Like These is a powerful book about family, love, and trying to do the right thing. It is not a read that I am likely to forget in a hurry.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#SmallThingsLikeThese #NetGalley

I: #clairekeeganfiction @groveatlantic

T: @CKeeganFiction @GroveAtlantic

#fivestarread #christmasfiction #historicalfiction #irishfiction #novella

THE AUTHOR: Claire Keegan was born in County Wicklow, the youngest of a large family. She travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was seventeen, and studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992 and lived for a year in Cardiff, Wales, where she undertook an MA in creative writing and taught undergraduates at the University of Wales.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

A Life Without Regrets by Marci Bolden

EXCERPT: Judith couldn’t quite understand why her daughter chose to sell almost everything she owned to live full-time in an RV. Sometimes, Carol secretly wondered why too, but she couldn’t bring herself to fully admit that she’d started to doubt the decisions she’d made in the last six months. In all honesty, Carol was starting to question every decision she’d made over the past year since she’d been widowed.

She missed her house. Up until she’d sold it, she could pretend that Tobias wasn’t gone. She could, somewhere in the back of her mind, tell herself he was on a trip or working late. She could act like her life hadn’t been upended. She could sit at the little table in his garden, sipping her wine and reliving the many times she’d watched him tend his flowers.

The downside of that was the heart-stopping recollection she’d have when reality set in and she’d remember Tobias was dead. Not on a trip. Not working late. He was gone, and he’d never come home. He’d never tend his flowers again.

ABOUT ‘A LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS’: Since losing her husband, Tobias, in a tragic accident, Carol Denman has been on a journey of self-growth. She’s taken steps to finally grieve her daughter’s death, forgive her first husband, and mend her broken relationship with her mother. The one heartbreak she can’t seem to come to terms with is losing her husband.

As Carol continues her travels, family, old friends, and new confidants want to help her heal. However, this is a path Carol must travel alone. She knows her husband would want her to be happy again. She just has to figure out how to move forward.

Carol must dig deep to find a way back to the peace and happiness she once had in her life with Tobias. Coming to terms with being a widow isn’t going to be easy, but with the support from her loved ones and a few strangers, Carol embarks on her most poignant journey yet—finding a life without regrets.

MY THOUGHTS: The end of the series. *sigh* I am going to miss Carol Denman. I have enjoyed my jaunts with her around the tourist spots of the USA.

The story is told from Carol’s point of view in the present time and with flashbacks to different periods of her life. These flashbacks give us a deeper understanding of the traumas she has endured.

Carol has lost everything: she’s lost her daughter; she’s lost her husband; she’s lost her way; she’s lost confidence in her ability to cope. She’s lost. And everyone else thinks they have the perfect map for Carol to find her way back to a fulfilling life . . .

I have become very fond of Carol over the three books in this series. She is, in her own way, a very strong person. Misguided, but strong. Not that she recognizes her strengths.

There are some wonderful characters in this book. Some we meet only briefly, like Harold who is also on the road, and widowed from his wife of fifty years. Carol’s sister-in-law, Lara, who loves Carol like a sister, and her mother-in-law, and Mary, who just has to be the most wonderful mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law ever!

This is another emotional read, and the last in the series, which leads to my only disappointment – (view spoiler) I really and honestly believe there was another book there, but try as I might I just can’t come up with a title for it!

Thank you Marci Bolden for sharing Carol’s amazing and heartbreaking journey with us. I am sure the tissue manufacturing companies also thank you.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#ALifeWithoutRegrets #NetGalley

I: #marciboldenauthor #pinksandpress

T: @BoldenMarci #PinkSandPress

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: THE AUTHOR: As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading women’s fiction and romance novels.

Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pink Sand Press via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of A Life Without Regrets by Marci Bolden for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I am almost finished reading The Mark by Matt Brolly, and hope to get it finished and my review written tonight. I am also reading The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt. I also have this on audiobook and was planning a read/listen, but that won’t happen until my new ipod arrives, hopefully tomorrow.

But I will need to finish listening to The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham first

I somehow scheduled seven reads for this week, and I can tell you now that that’s not going to happen. 🤦‍♀️ So the ones I have selected are:

A Little Bird by Wendy James, an Australian mystery/thriller

Running from a bad relationship, journalist Jo Sharpe heads home to Arthurville, the drought-stricken town she turned her back on years earlier. While some things have changed—her relationship with her ailing, crotchety father, her new job at the community newspaper—Jo finds that her return has rekindled the grief and uncertainty she experienced during her childhood following the inexplicable disappearance of her mother and baby sister.

Returning to Arthurville has its unexpected pleasures, though, as Jo happily reconnects with old friends and makes a few new ones. But she can’t let go of her search for answers to that long-ago mystery. And as she keeps investigating, the splash she’s making begins to ripple outward—far beyond the disappearance of her mother and sister.

Jo is determined to dig as deep as it takes to get answers. But it’s not long before she realises that someone among the familiar faces doesn’t want her picking through the debris of the past. And they’ll go to any lengths to silence the little bird before she sings the truth. 

And Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie, another Australian crime/mystery/thriller, the ARC for which I received this week.

Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn’t particular about who she sleeps with … as long as they pay before leaving.

Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can’t touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she’s a witness to his death …

Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier – but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights … but they may be too late … 

I received four new ARCs this week, including Unforgiven. The other three are: Lily Harford’s Last Request by Joanna Buckley

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

Nine Lives by Peter Swanson

I still have 25 requests pending, probably half of which are already published.

This week I have been on the road travelling USA tourist spots in Arizona, Archer’s national park in Utah, St Louis, Houston and the Ozarks in Missouri. I have also been to Montreal, Canada, where it seemed to rain every day, and Bath and Weston-Super-Mare in England.

This week I seem to have done nothing but work. I did have Saturday off and Dustin came down with his chainsaw and took a dead tree and a couple of out of control box out for me. I have been wanting to get rid of them ever since we moved in over two years ago. There were some lovely native trees struggling behind them, so now they will have a chance to grow, and I will plant a kowhai this autumn.

Another busy week this coming week as New Zealand changes to the traffic light system and, as well as scanning into venues, anyone entering a hospitality venue must be double vaccinated and present their individual QR code and also scan that. So as well as figuring out how to operate the system myself, I also have to train the staff, not to mention our members!

But on a positive note, the only unvaccinated member of our family, our second son Les, has finally agreed to go get his first vaccination tomorrow. We had a long phone conversation this afternoon and we discussed all the issues he was concerned about, but it is the safety of his young daughter that swung it. So pleased and relieved, especially with this new variant starting to spread through the world.

So wherever you are, please stay safe, stay home and read. 😉❤📚