What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

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EXCERPT: She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut. There was a pleasantly satisfied breakfast taste in her mouth of bacon and coffee and possibly croissants. She lifted her chin and the morning sun shone so brightly on the water, she had to squint through spangle of light to see her feet in front of her. Her toenails were each painted a different colour. Red. Gold. Purple. Funny. The nail polish hadn’t been applied very well. Blobby and messy. Someone else was floating in the water right next to her. Someone she liked a lot, who made her laugh, with toenails painted the same way. The other person waggled multi-coloured toes at her companionably, and she was filled with sleepy contentment. Somewhere in the distance a man’s voice shouted, ‘Marco?’ and a chorus of children’s voices cried back, ‘Polo!’ The man called out again, ‘Marco, Marco, Marco?’ and the voices answered, ‘Polo, Polo, Polo!’ A child laughed; a long, gurgling giggle, like a stream of soap bubbles. A voice said quietly and insistently in her ear, ‘Alice?’ and she tipped back her head and let the cool water slide silently over her face.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one of those books that simply took over my life. My poor long-suffering husband probably thought I had amnesia when I was reading it … because I don’t think I was fully present until after I closed the cover for the final time.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have ten years missing from my memory. Just gone. People die. Babies are born. Friends/family divorce. And remarry. People move away. Technology changes. When I think about all the changes in my life over the past ten years, if I had to wake up and face all that at once….well, I think I would have a meltdown. And if I had mortally offended people during that time, as Alice has done, well … where would I turn?

Liane Moriarty has, as is her trademark, written an emotional rollercoaster of a story. Absolutely fascinating with very real characters whom you won’t always like but will find very easy to relate to, What Alice Forgot will have you chuckling one moment, sobbing quietly the next.

Five very brightly shining stars!

THE AUTHOR: Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers, The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies.

Her breakout novel The Husband’s Secret sold over three million copies worldwide, was a number 1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and has been translated into over 40 languages. It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. CBS Films has acquired the film rights.

With the launch of Big Little Lies, Liane became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on Big Little Lies is currently in production, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Writing as L.M. Moriarty, Liane has also written a children’s book series, The Petrifying Problem with Princess Petronella, The Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble and The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy.

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, from the Waitomo District Library. 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

All Our Summers by Holly Chamberlain

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EXCERPT: The distinct sound of a key in the front door caused Bonnie to turn from the table of photographs. It was probably Nicola, Bonnie thought, though her niece usually knocked before entering when she saw her aunt’s car in the drive.

‘Hello!’ Bonnie called out as she made her way to the door. She felt a smile come to her face. She always felt like smiling when Nicola was around.

The door creaked loudly as it opened inward and a woman’s figure stepped inside. The dustcloth Bonnie had been holding fell to the floor. She felt her stomach drop along with it. Her right hand went to her heart.

‘What are you doing here?’ she gasped.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It came as no surprise to anyone in Yorktide when glamorous Carol Ascher fled the little Maine town for New York City. While Carol found success as an interior designer, her younger sister, Bonnie, stayed behind, embracing marriage and motherhood. She even agreed to take in Carol’s teenage daughter during a tumultuous patch. Now both their girls are grown and Bonnie, recently widowed, is anticipating the day she’ll retire to Ferndean House, the nineteenth-century family home on the rocky Maine coast.

But forty-five years after leaving Yorktide, Carol suddenly announces that she’s moving back—into Ferndean. Bonnie is indignant. She’s the one who kept the homestead in order and tended to their dying mother. Now Carol expects to simply buy her out? As far as Bonnie is concerned, Ferndean is part of their heritage—not just another of Carol’s improvement projects, to be torn apart and remade according to her whim.

The entire Ascher family is in flux, uncovering secrets that upend their relationships. Carol’s longing to be welcomed home is fueled by a painful truth she’s carried for years. It will take an extraordinary
summer—in a remarkable place—to lead these women back to each other, buoyed by the tides of friendship and forgiveness.

MY THOUGHTS: If you are looking for an uplifting read, it isn’t All Our Summers by Holly Chamberlain, despite the beautiful cover. I usually love this author’s books, but All Our Summers is full of bitterness, envy and despair. I could feel my insides curdling in places as I read. It is a downright depressing read. Even the ending wasn’t enough to redeem this in my eyes. Had it not been such a quick read, I may well have abandoned it.

There is not one likeable nor interesting character amongst them, except for Judith whose role it seems is to restore some semblance of family ties to this resentful bunch. Bonnie and Carol are sisters in their sixties, Bonnie a widow, Carol retired, who are squabbling over the family home. Personally, I couldn’t understand Bonnie’s desire to leave her lovely cottage, full of memories of her happy times with husband Ken, to live in a rambling, old homestead, hard to heat (this is Maine!), and requiring a lot of maintenance. Now, before I am shot down in flames, I love old homes and have owned and lived in a number of them and, unless you have unlimited funds, they are not the sort of place you want to spend your final years in, particularly when on your own. Now, there are some obvious solutions to this problem, but none that either sister is prepared to consider.

No one in this family is speaking to everyone else, or if they are, it ain’t nice. Bonnie and Carol don’t have a nice word to say to one another; Bonnie’s daughter Julie isn’t speaking to her husband; their teenage daughter Sophie is fed up with the antics of both her parents; Carol’s daughter Nicole wants nothing to do with her mother. Really? This was like watching the Jeremy Kyle show 🤷‍♀️ Exit stage left in high dudgeon to the sound of a slamming door.

And that enticingly beautiful cover had nothing to do with anything.

🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

#AllOurSummers #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Holly Chamberlin is a native New Yorker, but she now lives in Portland, Maine – the aftermath of stumbling across Mr. Right at the one moment she wasn’t watching the terrain. She’s been writing and editing – poetry, children’s fantasies, a romance novel or two, among many other genres and projects – her entire life. She has two cats, Betty and Cyrus, and when she’s not writing her hobbies include reading, shopping, and cocktails at six.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of All Our Summers by Holly Chamberlain 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my Goodreads.com

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

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EXCERPT: When Rory died, Jessie’s one consolation was that she’d never again have to live through something as bad. Her Dad’s passing was painful. Her mother’s was worse. The wound of having been cut out of the Kinsella inner circle had taken a while to heal. Giving up on having a sixth child had, for a patch, been oddly unbearable. But nothing had ever come close to the visceral punch of Rory ceasing to exist.

Over the years, whenever a big drama had blown up, her second or third thought was, I’ve already survived the worst thing that could happen.

It had made her feel safe. Almost lucky. But this – tonight – was as bad as Rory, that same light-headed combination of disbelief and stone-cold certainty: something terrible had happened. She didn’t want it to be true, but everything had already changed forever. Once more, the jigsaw of her life had been thrown up in the air and she had no idea where the pieces would land.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together–birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie–who has the most money–insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Still, everything manages to stay under control–that is, until Ed’s wife, Cara, gets a concussion and can’t keep her thoughts or opinions to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, and Cara starts spilling all their secrets.

As everything unravels, each of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s–finally–the time to grow up.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this mad book about this absolutely mad family. But it took me a little while to get there. About 20% of the book, in fact.

There is an absolutely wonderful cast of characters and paradoxically, they are one of the problems. Because there are a lot of them, and I struggled to keep them straight, who was married to whom, and where all the children belonged. Now, to be absolutely fair, there is a family tree, but because I have a digital ARC of Grown Ups, in which the formatting is less than wonderful, I couldn’t make sense of it. But eventually I managed to get all the relationships straight in my mind.

Another thing that I adored about Grown Ups is the absolute Irishness of it. And there’s another problem. It would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary of Irish terms, and a bit of a guide to pronunciation. Now, I live in New Zealand, so I am going to throw Ngaruawahia at you, and see how you get on with pronouncing that. My Australian husband, who has lived in New Zealand for fifteen years, still can’t get his mouth around it! And I have similar problems with some of the Irish words, and particularly with the name Saoirse. I would be grateful if someone could enlighten me. But please don’t leave them out Ms Keyes. They are an integral part of the character of this book.

But putting all that aside, this is a brilliant read. The writing is excellent (thanks for restoring my faith in you Ms Keyes), well paced, the plot absorbing and entertaining. I laughed and cried, and laughed and cried, and did both some more.

It is the characters that really drive this novel. Jessie, slowly bankrupting herself and husband Johnny with her largesse, frightened that if she doesn’t pay for everything, the ‘spensie’ stuff, no one will love her. Cara, reservations manager at an exclusive hotel, married to Johnny’s younger brother Ed, who hides a dangerous secret. Finally there is Nell, artistic and enviably comfortable in her own humanitarian and environmentalist skin, married to the youngest brother, Liam. Then there is a dead husband, the numerous children, an ex-wife (Liam’s), parents, parents-in-law, ex-parents-in-law, cousins, friends, partners, business associates, Karl Brennan – who defies description, workmates, a barman named Gilbert and, no, on reflection, I don’t think there was a milkman.

The book begins with Johnny’s birthday dinner, and Cara’s cataclysmic revelations. It then goes back six months and we learn of all the things leading up to the eruption.

There is love and lust, secrets and deceit, grief and loss, envy and just about any emotion you care to name. In summary, a novel about people living up to others expectations of them and, in doing so, losing sight of themselves and what is truly important.

❤❤❤❤.4

#GrownUps #NetGalley

‘He’d had dementia and just faded away, like a picture left in the sun.’

‘You get one precious life. Why not try to have a contented one.’

THE AUTHOR: Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin Random House, Doubleday Canada for providing a digital ARC of Grown Ups by Marian Keyes 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading…

As the Covid-19 numbers continue to escalate around the world, I am very grateful that we live in virtual isolation here in New Zealand. Even our closest neighbour, Australia, continues to have escalating outbreaks, particularly in Melbourne currently, so I guess that there’s little chance of the borders being opened between here and there any time in the near future. But as the Pacific Islands continue to remain Covid free, I would hope that the borders between us and our island neighbours will soon reopen. I would love a week in the Cook Islands to shake off the midwinter blues. In the meantime, I guess we just carry on and read!

Currently I am reading Grown Ups by Marian Keyes. Although I wasn’t too sure about this to begin with, largely due to the sheer number of characters in this mad family, I am now loving it.

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I am listening to All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White.

Sorry, the cover photo just would not download. I think I had the same problem with my audiobook cover last week, which is just downright weird.

This week I am planning on reading All Our Summers by Holly Chamberlain

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It came as no surprise to anyone in Yorktide when glamorous Carol Ascher fled the little Maine town for New York City. While Carol found success as an interior designer, her younger sister, Bonnie, stayed behind, embracing marriage and motherhood. She even agreed to take in Carol’s teenage daughter during a tumultuous patch. Now both their girls are grown and Bonnie, recently widowed, is anticipating the day she’ll retire to Ferndean House, the nineteenth-century family home on the rocky Maine coast.

But forty-five years after leaving Yorktide, Carol suddenly announces that she’s moving back—into Ferndean. Bonnie is indignant. She’s the one who kept the homestead in order and tended to their dying mother. Now Carol expects to simply buy her out? As far as Bonnie is concerned, Ferndean is part of their heritage—not just another of Carol’s improvement projects, to be torn apart and remade according to her whim.

The entire Ascher family is in flux, uncovering secrets that upend their relationships. Carol’s longing to be welcomed home is fueled by a painful truth she’s carried for years. It will take an extraordinary
summer—in a remarkable place—to lead these women back to each other, buoyed by the tides of friendship and forgiveness.

And The Life She Left Behind by Nicole Trope

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You tell him everything. The husband you adore, the father of your child, your best friend. He knows, just by looking at your sage-green eyes, when something is wrong. The two of you can communicate with a glance, or a touch of the hand. Except what if you can’t? What if your happy marriage has plastered over one huge lie? A lie you have even started to believe yourself, in order to survive? What if you have a secret, something you have hidden from your beloved husband and your strawberry-scented baby girl, to keep them safe? What if the guilt has kept you up, night after night, for as long as you can remember? What happens when suddenly, after twenty-eight years, that secret refuses to stay buried? What will you do now everyone you love, everything you cherish, is in harm’s way?

I did a little better with my requesting this week, and have received only four new ARCs, but what a mixed bag!

No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O’Callaghan

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Still Life by Val Mcdermid

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My Mother’s Choice by Ali Mercer

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and finally, The Shore House by Heidi Hotstetter

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Happy Independence Day to all my American friends. Celebrate safely.

Cheers
Sandy

The Stepdaughter by Debbie Howells

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EXCERPT: Hollie isn’t coming back.

I saw the single car, its blue light flashing as it passed me on its way to Deeprose House, its siren breaking the silence. There was a fluttering in my veins as I watched, motionless, even before the unmarked ambulance made its way slowly along the same route, half an hour later, sending a chill through me, because I recognize it.

It’s the kind of ambulance they send when someone’s dead.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: “I live in a village of stone walls and tall trees, a place of cold hearts and secrets . . .”

When Elise Buckley moved with her family to Abingworth, it was supposed to be a new start. She hoped the little English village, with its scattering of houses, pub, and village church, wouldn’t offer enough opportunity for her doctor husband, Andrew, to continue having affairs. Apparently, she was wrong. Now Elise’s only goal is to maintain the façade of a happy homelife for their teenage daughter, Niamh.

When the body of Niamh’s best friend, Hollie, is found, the entire village is rocked. Elise, though generally distrustful since Andrew’s infidelity, believed that Hollie was loved by her father and stepmother. Yet there was something unsettling beneath the girl’s smile. As the police investigation stalls amid disjointed evidence, it’s Niamh who unknowingly holds the key . . .

Flitting between the villagers’ lives, silent and unseen, Elise is learning about the relationships and secrets that surround her—including those close to home. And as her daughter edges closer to a killer, Elise realizes that the truth may eclipse even her worst suspicions…

MY THOUGHTS: I am having a hard time settling on a rating for The Stepdaughter by Debbie Howells. The publicity blurb for this book isn’t at all indicative of the contents, a dark domestic thriller centred around various forms of abuse. There is everything from physical violence to psychological abuse and even child pornography, although the latter is only referred to and not gone into in any detail.

None of the characters are particularly likeable, even the victims. I felt for Elise, and for Niamh, but not as much as I should have. My favourite character would have to be DI Nicki May, supportive both practically and emotionally as she does her job.

The story is told from three points of view, that of Elise, Niamh’s mother, Niamh herself, and DI Nicki May.

I didn’t find The Stepdaughter particularly suspenseful. I think that this has something to do with the author’s writing style, which doesn’t resonate with me. The sentences are often too long and clumsy, not conducive to suspense. I was quite surprised, in the author’s acknowledgments at the end, to discover that this is her 5th novel. It reads more like a first. I cottoned on to a couple of the major twists early on. Perhaps I am finally getting more astute at reading the clues.

Personally, I would have liked this book to have begun with Dylan and Hollie’s story and to have omitted the child pornography ring altogether. There was enough domestic drama/noir to have carried the book without the addition of a criminal element. Another instance of trying to cram too much into one plot. I would also have liked a little more depth to the characters. We know nothing about them outside of the confines of the time period of the book.

The blurb states ‘When Elise Buckley moved with her family to Abingworth, it was supposed to be a new start’, and yet one of the major twists hinges on an extremely long running relationship between two characters. Is this why they moved to the village? 🤷‍♀️ It just doesn’t quite gel for me.

If the cover art is meant to reflect the stepdaughter, Hollie, it doesn’t. She had dark hair….

A disappointed 🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️.6 stars

#TheStepdaughter #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Debbie self-published three commercial women’s fiction novels before writing The Bones of You, her first psychological thriller.
Three more have followed, the most recent of which is Her Sister’s Lie.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Stepdaughter 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean by Mira Robertson

For some unknown reason, the cover photo just won’t download. 🤬
But the cover isn’t important, as eye catching as it may be. It’s what is between the covers that is the treat…

EXCERPT: Passengers moved along the platform, opening carriage doors and saying their goodbyes. Emily leaned out of the train window. She gave her father an especially pleading look.

‘There are snakes and spiders, and I’m allergic to sheep. Please don’t make me go.’

She knew it was hopeless – the train was due to leave at any moment – but she had to make one last attempt. If nothing else, she wanted her father to feel guilty about bundling her off against her will.

‘Don’t be silly,’ he replied, impervious to her tragic countenance. ‘No-one is allergic to sheep. Fresh air, sunshine and the splendors of nature. You’ve always enjoyed it.’

But that was on her last visit, ages ago. She’d been thirteen then, and knew no better.

‘I can’t go. Mummy needs me.’

She wished she hadn’t said ‘Mummy’ as it sounded immature, and now it was she who felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that it wasn’t about helping her mother at all, but the thought of spending weeks with ancient relatives in the middle of nowhere.

Further up the platform, the stationmaster blew his whistle. Carriage doors slammed shut as her father reached out and patted her arm.

‘Send my love to your Grandmother and the others,’ he said, ignoring her last words. ‘Make yourself useful and don’t be a burden. And don’t forget to collect your suitcase when you arrive at the station. As soon as things are back to normal, I’ll come for you.’

But when would that be?

ABOUT HIS BOOK: In 1944 Emily Dean is dispatched from Melbourne to stay with relatives in rural Victoria. At the family property, Mount Prospect, she finds that Grandmother is determined to keep up standards despite the effects of the war, while Della, the bible-quoting cook, rules the kitchen with religious fervour. If only Emily’s young aunt – the beautiful, fearless Lydia – would bestow her friendship, but that seems destined never to occur. Emily can’t wait to go home.

But things start to improve when she encounters Claudio, the Italian prisoner of war employed as a farm labourer. And become more interesting still when William, Lydia’s brother, unexpectedly returns from the war, wounded and bitter. He’s rude, traumatised, and mostly drunk, yet a passion for literature soon draws them together.

MY THOUGHTS: The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean is a delightfully funny, wry, and touching story of a girl transitioning to a young woman who is packed off from her home to relatives in the country after her mother, who appears to suffer from bi-polar disorder (or manic-depressive disorder as it used to be called), is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a recuperative stay.

She discovers great literature, and Fanny Hill. She learns about love, sensuality and desire, about hope and despair, and about the consequences of lying. Her uncle, invalided home from the war suffers from PTSD, and her Aunt Lydia who is engaged to a serving soldier, appears to be dispensing her favours elsewhere. This is a summer of discovery for Emily, about life and love, socially acceptable behaviour and impropriety, but most of all about herself.

This is another sterling example of the wonderful fiction currently coming out of Australia.

****

THE AUTHOR: Mira Robertson is an award winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction. Her feature film credits include the multi award winning films Only the Brave and Head On, co-written with director Ana Kokkinos. The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean is her first novel. She lives in Melbourne.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean, written by Mira Robertson, and narrated by Zoe Carides, published by Whole Story Audiobooks. 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Angels by Marian Keyes

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EXCERPT: I’d always lived a fairly blameless life. Up until the day I left my husband and then ran away to Hollywood, I’d hardly ever put a foot wrong. Not one that many people knew about, anyway. So when, out of the blue, everything just disintegrated like wet paper, I couldn’t shake a wormy suspicion that this was long overdue. All that clean living simply isn’t natural.

Of course, I didn’t just wake up one morning and skip the country, leaving my poor, sleepy, fool of a husband wondering what that envelope on his pillow was. I’m making it sound much more dramatic than it actually was, which is strange because I never used to have a penchant for dramatics. Or a penchant for words like ‘penchant,’ for that matter. But ever since that business with the rabbits, and possibly even before that, things with Garv had been uncomfortable and weird. Then we suffered a couple of what we chose to call ‘setbacks.’ But instead of making our marriage stronger – as always seemed to happen to the other luckier setback souls who popped up in my mother’s women’s magazines – our particular brand of setbacks did exactly what it said on the tin. They set us back. They wedged themselves between myself and Garv and alienated us from one another. Though he never said anything, I knew Garv blamed me.

And that was okay, because I blamed me too.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Maggie has always been the white sheep of the Walsh family.Unlike her comically dysfunctional sisters,Rachel(heroine of Rachel’s Holiday) and Claire (heroine of Watermelon), she married a decent man who adored her and found herself a solid career. Where Rachel was reckless and Claire dramatic, Maggie settled early for safety. Or so she believed until she discovers that her husband is having an affair and her boss is going to fire her. Suddenly, her perfectly organized life has become a perfect mess.

Devastated, she decides the only thing to do is to run for the shelter of her best friend, Emily, who lives in Los Angeles. There, with the help of sunshine and long days at the beach, she will lick her wounds and decide where life will take her next.But from the moment she lands in the City of Angels, things are not quite what she expected. Overnight, she’s mixing with movie stars,even pitching film scripts to studios.Most unexpectedly of all,she finds that just because her marriage is over,it doesn’t mean her life is. In the end neither the City of Angels nor Maggie Walsh will ever be the same again.

MY THOUGHTS: I have had a love/hate relationship with the Walsh family series. I loved Watermelon; my sides ached from laughing when I first read it, and then read it again regularly over the years. I detested Rachel’s Holiday. Just. Did. Not. Like. It. One. Little. Bit. I had high hopes for Angels, #3 in the series. Loved the beginning, but our relationship went downhill from there, and even though the ending was almost decent, by then I was over it.

The problem was everything between the beginning and the end. Very little happened. I didn’t enjoy the endless days Maggie spent hanging out doing n0thing (the zero instead of o is quite intentional).

There are a lot of mixed messages in the plot. It’s like Keyes is trying to please everyone, and not offend anyone, and it’s just plain annoying! I can’t even remember raising a chuckle during this read. I am a Marian Keyes fan, but really, she missed the boat with this one. But I do love the cover!

**

THE AUTHOR: Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

DISCLOSURE: I purchased my copy of Angels by Marian Keyes, published by William Morrow paperbacks, but have since donated it to our local charity shop along with Rachel’s Holiday. I still have my well thumbed, falling to bits copy of Watermelon. 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 sandysbooksday.wordpress.com

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

To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan

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EXCERPT: ‘Your work is compromised because it’s commercial. You gave up any integrity your writing might have had when you decided to write for this market. It’s so disappointing. And don’t even get me started on Detective Sergeant Eliza Grey. She’s a cliche if I ever met one.’

‘Are you finished?’ I asked.

‘Do you not see it? How can you not see it? Don’t you ever despair that you’ve sold out? Or perhaps you can’t see it. I wonder about that sometimes.’

I stared at him, hoping there was a way those words could just retreat right back into his mouth and down into his stomach where the acid would fry them. I was outraged that he would sit here in this house, that he’d bought with my money, and suggest that writing thrillers was any easier than any other kind of novel, that I was a lesser writer because of it. That I was inferior to him. That Eliza was inferior. That my readers were.

I stood and picked up my plate. It gave me sweet pleasure to hurl it at the wall. Dan ducked out of the way dramatically as it flew past him, though it would never have hit him, I’m certain it wouldn’t.

My towering outrage flew through the air with the plate, frisbeed alongside it, helped it create a deep dent in the plasterwork before shattering on the floor beside it, creating an unaccountable number of tiny shards like sharpened grains of spilled rice. The steak landed on the kitchen surface with a dull smack and peppercorn sauce dripped down the handmade tiles. I watched, with satisfaction, and thought, if this was in a book, depending on the scene, I might describe those as ‘glutinous rivulets’ and that would be okay with my readers and me.

I hated Dan so very much in that moment.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: To tell you the truth . . . everybody lies.

Lucy Harper’s talent for writing bestselling novels has given her fame, fortune and millions of fans. It’s also given her Dan, her needy, jealous husband whose own writing career has gone precisely nowhere.

Now Dan has vanished. But this isn’t the first time that someone has disappeared from Lucy’s life. Three decades ago, her little brother Teddy also went missing and was never found. Lucy, the only witness, helplessly spun fantasy after fantasy about Teddy’s disappearance, to the detectives’ fury and her parents’ despair. That was the start of her ability to tell a story—a talent she has profited from greatly.

But now Lucy’s a grown woman who can’t hide behind fiction any longer. The world is watching, and her whole life is under intense scrutiny. A life full of stories, some more believable than others. Could she have hurt Teddy? Did she kill Dan? Finally, now, Lucy Harper’s going to tell the truth.

Cross her heart.

And hope to die.

MY THOUGHTS: This is my first encounter with Gilly Macmillan, and it won’t be my last! I read this over two nights – it would have been one had my three year old grandson not kept me occupied all day – my mind spinning, wondering, is this woman mad? Did she kill her little brother? Did she kill her husband? Are we ever going to know the truth? I didn’t know if I could trust what she was telling me, or if she lived in the fantasy world where she creates her books.

The inability to trust plays a huge role in this book. People Lucy thought she could trust, turn on her. Even Eliza seems to be playing games with her. And those neighbours…they all seem to have their own agendas. ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not watching you.’ Sometimes it seems like everyone is watching Lucy. And just who is #MrElizaGrey?

Gilly Macmillan can certainly create atmosphere. To Tell You the Truth is an excellent piece of writing. The ending is unexpected and well done, the chapters short and taut.

❤❤❤❤

#ToTellYoutheTruth #NetGalley

We humans like to look at the dark side of things, don’t we? At the most twisted things. We like that feeling of shock and horror. It makes addicts of us.

THE AUTHOR: She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Gilly lives in Bristol, UK with her family and writes full time.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House, UK, Cornerstone, for providing a digital ARC of To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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