Watching what I’m reading . . .

BRILLIANT BOOK ALERT! This book, which I finished today – a one day read – has earned every star in the Galaxy from me.

I am too emotional at the moment to write a review about this book, but please watch for it in the coming days. I cried, and laughed, and cried some more. I now want to read everything this author has written.

Currently I am reading The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin

I am continuing with my read of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths with #4, A Room Full of Bones.

and doing a read/listen of Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza, which I am loving in both formats.

This week I have six books to read for review in addition to The Sisters We Were. They are:

A Winter Grave by Peter May

It is the year 2051. Warnings of climate catastrophe have been ignored, and vast areas of the planet are under water, or uninhabitably hot. A quarter of the world’s population has been displaced by hunger and flooding, and immigration wars are breaking out around the globe as refugees pour into neighboring countries.

By contrast, melting ice sheets have brought the Gulf Stream to a halt and northern latitudes, including Scotland, are being hit by snow and ice storms. It is against this backdrop that Addie, a young meteorologist checking a mountain top weather station, discovers the body of a man entombed in ice.

The dead man is investigative reporter, George Younger, missing for three months after vanishing during what he claimed was a hill-walking holiday. But Younger was no hill walker, and his discovery on a mountain-top near the Highland village of Kinlochleven, is inexplicable.

Cameron Brodie, a veteran Glasgow detective, volunteers to be flown north to investigate Younger’s death, but he has more than a murder enquiry on his agenda. He has just been given a devastating medical prognosis by his doctor and knows the time has come to face his estranged daughter who has made her home in the remote Highland village.

Arriving during an ice storm, Brodie and pathologist Dr. Sita Roy, find themselves the sole guests at the inappropriately named International Hotel, where Younger’s body has been kept refrigerated in a cake cabinet. But evidence uncovered during his autopsy places the lives of both Brodie and Roy in extreme jeopardy.

As another storm closes off communications and the possibility of escape, Brodie must face up not only to the ghosts of his past, but to a killer determined to bury forever the chilling secret that George Younger’s investigations had threatened to expose.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

The Village Vicar by Julie Houston

Three devoted sisters… One complicated family.

When Rosa Quinn left her childhood home in Westenbury, she never expected to return over a decade later as the village vicar. But after a health scare and catching her boyfriend cheating, Rosa jumps at the chance to start over and live closer to her triplet sisters Eva and Hannah.

But Rosa’s isn’t the only old face in the village, and when her role in the parish throws her into the path of her ex, she begins to wonder if she’s made a terrible mistake. Meanwhile, Eva and Hannah face their own troubles, as secrets about their family threaten to emerge.

Can Rosa make a life for herself in Westenbury? Or will the sisters discover you can’t run away from the past?

That Night at the Beach by Kate Hewitt

As mothers we never dare to delve into our worst-nightmare scenarios. What if… we might murmur to each other, and then shake our heads, telling ourselves it’ll never happen to us if we’re just good enough mothers. Yet here we are. And the steady beep of the heart monitor is the only evidence the child in front of us is alive…

It’s Labor Day weekend, so of course we went to the beach. Like we do every year. For a barbecue picnic with my best friend Rose. It’s the perfect tradition—drinks, games, burgers, music, laughter. Together with our husbands, my two teenage sons and her two daughters, we all arrived as the sun was still shimmering over the water, the whole evening ahead of us.

But nothing goes to plan. Old secrets emerge, tempers flare. And so we parents decide to leave the beach, telling the teenagers to enjoy themselves, reassuring them someone will be back to collect them in an hour or two.

But when I return a little while later, I know something is really wrong. Our teens are slurring their words, stumbling to the car. It’s clear they have been drinking and I’m shocked. I never expected our kids to behave this way. I’m bracing myself to have firm words with them in the morning, but the next day my concerns fade to nothing, when seventeen-year-old Bella claims my son Finn assaulted her.

Finn insists he would never do that. And I so want to believe him. Because I brought my son up right. Because a mother would know, wouldn’t she?

What I don’t know is that the answer to what happened that night on the beach may be a matter of life and death for one of our beloved children… 

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell

The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

One Day With You by Shari Lowe

One day, five lives, but whose hearts will be broken by nightfall?
It started like any other day in the picturesque village of Weirbridge.

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

One Day with You – two fateful goodbyes, two unexpected hellos, and 24 hours that change everything. 

I have received two new ARCs from Netgalley for review this week.

the audiobook The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake and narrated by Aiofe McMahon

A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

I have 17 requests pending. I have had lot of requests declined this week. 🤷‍♀️

My husband is undergoing major surgery this week, so I am not going promise to post regularly, nor to interact with other bloggers to my normal level. Please keep Pete in your prayers. ❤

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Well here we are, 8 days into 2023. 2022 shot by in some respects, and dragged in others. It’s my friend Jayne’s birthday today, but it seems like only weeks ago we were all laughing around the table in a local restaurant celebrating her 60th. Yet it seemed to take years, but in reality was a matter of months, when I was pulled out of retirement and back into my old job to sort out the chaos my replacement had created. Time is such a funny thing.

It’s going to be interesting to see just how long Charlie has been away from his regular life when, and if, he escapes from Empis in one of my current reads, Fairy Tale by Stephen King. He sure hasn’t lost his touch!

I am also reading Picking Up The Pieces by Amanda Prowse

and listening to Better the Blood by Michael Bennett, a New Zealand crime novel, incorporating present day racial tensions with its roots going back to the colonisation of New Zealand.

This week I am planning on reading Sunrise With the Silver Surfers by Maddie Please

Newly single at sixty, Elin Anderson decides it’s finally time for an adventure of her own. With her marriage to tedious Tom now officially over, Elin plans to visit the family she hasn’t seen in years. First stop: Australia!

But going home is harder than Elin thought. Everywhere she turns Elin sees brightness and colour, which only makes her own life seem even more drab and beige. How has she let herself fade away?

Determined to have some fun, Elin reluctantly agrees to join The Silver Surfers – a group of seniors who travel the coast, only caring about their next big adventure. Because life’s too short to watch the ocean when you could be making waves…

There’s only one catch – her road trip companion, Kit Pascoe. Kit is a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word fun and makes it clear to Elin that this adventure will be subject to his own strict rules.

But with every new day, Elin slowly begins to rediscover who she really is. And she’s certain that rules are meant to be broken…aren’t they?

Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza

When Private Investigator Kate Marshall is rushed to hospital after being pulled into a riptide current in the sea, the near-death experience leaves her shaken. During her recovery, she befriends Jean, an elderly lady on the same ward. Jean tells the harrowing story of how her three-year-old grandson, Charlie, went missing eleven years ago during a camping trip on Dartmoor.

By the time Kate is well enough to go home, she’s agreed to take on the case, but when Kate and her trusty sidekick Tristan start to look at the events of that fateful night, they discover that Jean has a dark past that could have put Charlie in jeopardy.

Was Charlie abducted? Or did he fall into Devil’s Way? A rushing river that vanishes into a gorge close to where they were camping.

When Kate and Tristan discover that a social worker who flagged concerns about Jean and her daughter was found brutally murdered shortly after Charlie vanished, it makes them question everything they thought they knew about the family…

And We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self? Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’

So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.

I received three new ARCs from Netgalley in the past week – The Wrong Good Deed by Caroline B. Cooney

A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis

And The Mistress Next Door by Lesley Sanderson which I am very excited about.

Luke is coming to stay Tuesday night for the rest of the week, so it will be a busy week for me as I am also working. I will cram as much work as I can into Monday and Tuesday so that hopefully I will only need to go in for a few hours Friday morning.

Have a great week of reading. I’m off to plan my menus for the week and make a shopping list. ❤📚

The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley

EXCERPT: As soon as I woke this morning, I imagined myself going through Tony’s things. I thought about it at the hairdressers while the girl tried to curl my straight white hair, and while I made up my face and wrestled myself into my black wool dress, and again when Carol arrived with her husband to take control of the day. I was still thinking about it when Tony’s coffin disappeared behind the curtain. While I should have been focused on the enormity of never seeing him again, never sharing another meal, a conversation, a bed with the man I’d been married to for fifty-five years, I’d actually been imagining myself coming home, kicking off my shoes and walking straight into his study to rifle through his possessions. With good reason it would seem.

ABOUT ‘THE SECOND CHANCE HOLIDAY CLUB’: Evelyn Pringle isn’t the sort to make rash decisions. Or any decisions, really – she’s always left that sort of thing up to her husband. But he’s been found dead, wearing his best suit, with a diamond ring in his pocket that doesn’t fit her. When Evelyn finds a letter addressed to a woman on the Isle of Wight, she decides to deliver it. By hand.

So begins a very unusual holiday, and an adventure no one could have predicted – least of all Evelyn herself. With the help of some unexpected new friends, and a little effort on her part, Evelyn discovers that it is never too late to have a second chance at life and forge friendships that are well-worth living for.

MY THOUGHTS: The Second Chance Holiday Club is an entertaining and amusing later-life story about it never being too late to change the habits of a lifetime and chase your dreams.

Evelyn is staid and stuck in her ways. So she is somewhat surprised at herself for booking a ‘Tinsel and Turkey’ coach tour getaway to the Isle of Wight – anything to avoid Christmas with her sister Carol and her family! But there’s a reason Evelyn has chosen the Isle of Wight.

Cynthia is an overly-made-up, outgoing woman with a bung knee who sits beside Evelyn on the bus, noisily sucking sweets and talking to all and sundry. She drives Evelyn insane! And Evelyn knows she is a liar.

Joy is an attractive but quiet woman with more secrets than the bruises she is trying to hide. Why, for instance, does she need two phones?

So, how do these three overcome their differences and become friends? Read The Second Chance Holiday Club to find out. Enjoyable, entertaining, but with some real ‘wakeup’ calls to us senior citizens and the not so senior citizens amongst us, The Second Chance Holiday Club is an amusing read with some good life lessons cleverly woven into the fabric of the plot.

Even the supporting cast of characters are a breath of fresh air – Alan, the bus driver, on his last tour before taking retirement; Liam, the young student helping out at the ‘hotel’ (take that description very loosely!) and who wants a career in hospitality; Carol, Evelyn’s sister, who Carol resents; and Sarah, the woman Evelyn finds when she’s looking for Margaret.

This is a stellar debut novel, one that will not only entertain, but will give you food for thought.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheSecondChanceHolidayClub #NetGalley

I: @kategalley1 @ariafiction

T: @KateGalley1 @AriaFiction

#ageing #contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #friendship #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Kate Galley is a debut author who lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children and Meg, their Patterdale Terrier. Much of Kate’s inspiration comes from the many varied lives of her clients as a mobile hairdresser, and the inspiration for this book came from one woman’s tale of a hilarious Christmas coach trip.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus, Aria, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley 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 . . .

Happy holidays my bookish friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day filled with love and laughter. Our Christmas Day was quiet, but fun. Then Boxing Day we had an open house and friends dropped by throughout the day. It was a fun day and good to catch up with people we hadn’t seen for a while.

Currently I am reading The Girls by Bella Osborne which was published earlier this year. I am only a few pages in, so no comment as yet.

Four old friends. Thrown back together after fifty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a flat and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?

No One Saw it Coming by Susan Lewis, due to be published early January 2023. I h also only just started this.

Secrets lie at the heart of every family…

When the unthinkable happens…

Hanna’s world is crumbling.

An unimaginable crime has been committed, and everyone’s looking for someone to blame. Her loved ones are under suspicion.

Now Hanna must work out who is threatening her family – before it’s too late.

No one could have seen this coming…

And I am listening to The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley, purely for pleasure. I have listened to quite a bit of this today as I have been pottering around the house and garden. It’s shaping up nicely.

It has been twenty-four years since a young Helena spent a magical holiday in Cyprus, where she fell in love for the first time. When the now crumbling house, ‘Pandora’, is left to her by her godfather, she returns to spend the summer there with her family.

Yet Helena knows that the idyllic beauty of Pandora masks a web of secrets she has kept from William, her husband, and Alex, her son. At the difficult age of thirteen, Alex is torn between protecting his beloved mother, and growing up. And equally, he is desperate to learn the truth about his real father . . .

When Helena meets her childhood sweetheart by chance, a chain of events is set in motion that threatens to make her past and present collide. Both Helena and Alex know that life will never be the same, once Pandora’s secrets have been revealed.

I again don’t have any reads for review scheduled for the week ahead so will just be picking reads at random from my backlist and perhaps making a start on my January reads for review.

I have received three new ARCs for review since my last Watching what I’m reading post ten days ago. They are:

The Doctor’s Wife by Daniel Hurst. I have just finished my second book by this author, Til Death Do Us Part, and it was great. I’m really looking forward to this.

The Island of Longing by Anne Griffin, a new author to me.

And The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell, another author new to me.

So, that’s my week all nicely wrapped up. Enjoy your holiday break and make marvellous memories with your loved ones. ❤📚🎄

Watching what I’m reading . . .

You’re going to think it never does anything but rain on a Sunday where I live, and today you might be forgiven for that. We’ve had heavy rain off and on – more on than off – since sometime last night. Though we have so far been spared the forecast thunderstorms. It’s meant to clear by 4pm, but it’s after 3.30 now and by the look of the sky, that’s not likely to happen.

Currently I am reading The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor, my first book by this author. This is a ‘purely for pleasure’ read.

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

I featured this as my First Lines Friday selection this week, so if you missed it, you can find it here: https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/2022/12/09/first-lines-friday-10/

and All That We Are (Wyndham Beach #3) by Mariah Stewart which is due for publication Dec 13th 2022. You can trust Mariah Stewart to just rip your heart clean out of your chest!

In the decade since Emma Dean’s husband died, she’s maintained a peaceful and organized life in her hometown of Wyndham Beach—until she finds evidence of her husband’s longtime affair. How, Emma wonders, can a man who’s been gone for ten years still break her heart?

Still reeling from the betrayal, Emma must focus on the group of artists she’s invited to take up residence at the art center she founded, one of whom is secretly seeking refuge from her abusive ex. Toss in a charming businessman who’s returned to town with eyes for only Emma, and it’s becoming a most interesting summer.

And the biggest surprise of all is about to ring Emma’s doorbell and turn her life completely upside down yet again.

As Emma struggles between what was and what is, she discovers that the life she really wants—however unexpected—is just within reach, if she’s willing to fight for it. 

I am still listening to The Angel Tree by Lucinda Riley, which I am also loving.

This week, in addition to All That We Are by Mariah Stewart which I have already started, I have two other books to read for review. They are: The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland

A serial killer is stalking the elderly of Southbourne. The only clue left behind is a domino in the hand of each victim — with a name scratched on the back.

Eighty-six-year-old Sarah Brown is found dead in her hallway one morning by her delivery man. She was stabbed in the back.

Fiona, Sue and Daisy, volunteers at the local charity shop, Dogs Need Nice Homes, can’t believe their favourite customer is dead. The ladies vow to bring the killer to justice.

With plenty of tea and cake along the way, and despite squabbles with their rivals, the Cats Alliance across the street, the Charity Shop Detective Agency is born.

And Shadow Sands (Kate Marshall #2) by Robert Bryndza

When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was the victim there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown?

Kate is certain there is more to this case than meets the eye. As she and her research assistant Tristan Harper dig deeper, they discover a bloody trail that points towards an active serial killer hiding in plain sight. People have been silently disappearing for years, and when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate. 

This is a backtitle that I am reading playing catch up on this series before I read #4 which is being published in January 2023.

I received 3 new ARCs from Netgalley in the past week. They are: A Winter Grave by Peter May

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea

A Cryptic Clue by Victoria Gilbert

and I still have 22 requests pending.

It’s been a bit of a disastrous week this week. There’s been a young man riding an unregistered trail bike up and down our street, no protective gear, revving the engine loudly, usually on a Saturday afternoon, but also at other random times including in the middle of the night. I know several people in our street have complained, including us and the hospital across the road as he sometimes rode through the hospital as well. Last Sunday, he was riding on the riverbank, came up onto the road without looking, swerved to miss a car and instead crashed into a concrete power pole. He is now in a critical condition still in hospital. Why are these young men such idiots?

Monday my debit card was hacked. Nothing I did, I’m glad to report and I will be getting all the money back, but it took until midday Friday to sort out and gave me a real fright. I’ve always been paranoid about security on my devices and not shopping online unless it’s a known and trusted site, so I thought that it couldn’t happen to me. But the bank assured me that it can happen anyway. Now I’m just waiting on my new card which, as it’s coming via New Zealand Post, could take weeks.

Tuesday, my son in Western Australia wound up in hospital overnight after getting concussion playing touch rugby and had to have scan to discount damage to his

Wednesday a good friend and Pete’s fishing mate died suddenly following a cardiac arrest. Stan was a great guy and will be missed. It was a very large and very sad funeral on Saturday. Now we are concerned for his wife who suffers from Parkinson’s disease as Stan cared for her.

I am glad to see the end of this week.

Happy reading my friends and stay safe. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. Pete and I have been working in the yard this afternoon. Other one small corner still needing to be weeded, it’s looking really nice again.

I have enjoyed getting back into walking with my neighbour Helen, and going back to aquarobics this week. I finally feel like I have beaten off the last of the flu. It’s nice to have some energy again.

Currently I am reading Wake by Shelley Burr, a debut Australian crime thriller which I am finding difficult to put down. I featured this novel on my First Lines Friday post this week. You can check it out here if you missed it: https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/2022/12/02/first-lines-friday-9/

I am also reading The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley, another debut novel that I am loving.

And I am listening to The Angel Tree by Lucinda Riley.

Thirty years have passed since Greta left Marchmont Hall, a grand and beautiful house nestled in the hills of rural Monmouthshire. But when she returns to the Hall for Christmas, at the invitation of her old friend David Marchmont, she has no recollection of her past association with it – the result of a tragic accident that has blanked out more than two decades of her life. Then, during a walk through the wintry landscape, she stumbles across a grave in the woods, and the weathered inscription on the headstone tells her that a little boy is buried here . . .

The poignant discovery strikes a chord in Greta’s mind and soon ignites a quest to rediscover her lost memories. With David’s help, she begins to piece together the fragments of not only her own story, but that of her daughter, Cheska, who was the tragic victim of circumstances beyond her control. And, most definitely, not the angel she appeared to be . . .

This week I only have two reads for review to complete, so hopefully I’ll read a couple of backtitles as well. Just which titles they will be is yet to be decided. My next read will be The Whispering Dead by David Mark

Cordelia Hemlock is teetering on the verge of joining MI6 when she meets the enigmatic Walt, a high-ranking member of the Secret Intelligence Service, who tells her: They won’t want you to do well. They won’t ever trust you. They don’t trust me and I’m one of them. She takes this as a challenge rather than a warning. She wants to protect the nation. Serve Queen and country. Who would turn down such a glorious opportunity?

Fourteen years later, Cordelia is desk-bound after finishing an undercover operation and going quietly mad with boredom. So when the call comes through on the top-secret Pandora line – so-called after the locked-box the telephone is kept in – she answers it.

It’s Walt. No longer officially MI6, he still inhabits the murky world of intelligence, where information always comes with a price. He tells her he has a secret to share with her – and only her. And once she knows it, nothing will ever be the same again . . .

Followed by So Long Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

Lewis Madigan is young, gay, out of work, and getting antsy when he’s roped into providing end-of-life care for his insufferable homophobic neighbor, Chester Wheeler. Lewis doesn’t need the aggravation, just the money. The only requirements: run errands, be on call, and put up with a miserable old churl no one else in Buffalo can bear. After exchanging barbs, bickering, baiting, and pushing buttons, Chester hits Lewis with the big ask.

Lewis can’t say no to a dying wish: drive Chester to Arizona in his rust bucket of a Winnebago to see his ex-wife for the first time in thirty-two years—for the last time. One week, two thousand miles. To Lewis, it becomes an illuminating journey into the life and secrets of a vulnerable man he’s finally beginning to understand. A neighbor, a stranger, and a surprising new friend whose closure on a conflicted past is also just beginning.

I received only one new ARC for review from Netgalley this week, which is a bit of a relief after seven last week! It is Ever Since that Day by Sara James.

Well that’s me for the week. I hope you have had an enjoyable week of reading. I’m off now to make salads for our bbq dinner tonight. Happy reading. ❤📚

Just Like Family by Barbara Casey

EXCERPT: Cora could feel the excitement bubble inside her. Of course she wanted to see the property. Vince had explained that it was big enough for each of them to have all the privacy they needed, and that with a little paint and wallpaper and a few new downspouts, and maybe some shutters, he could make it into a showplace. But Cora believed that houses put out auras just like people. There were friendly houses and there were unfriendly houses. And she sure didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in an unfriendly house. She would be able to tell once she walked through it as to which kind of house it was. And then, assuming the house had a friendly aura, and Suong was agreeable, and the four of them felt like they could get along with each other all living under the same roof, then it might work out.

ABOUT ‘JUST LIKE FAMILY’: All in one day, thirty-five-year-old Hallie Marsh learns that the man she loves, works for, and is living with has found someone else-and that she no longer has a job, a place to live, or a car since she crashed it into a hedge. Her feelings of rage and desire for revenge are soon replaced by a fascination with her new neighbors-four peculiar, elderly people who decide to buy an old run-down estate, fix it up, and live in it “just like family.”

MY THOUGHTS: I love the cover, and I wish it reflected the tone of the book, but it doesn’t.

I went into Just Like Family with high hopes and finished it feeling disappointed. The premise for the plot held plenty of potential, but its execution was borderline ridiculous.

The characters are cardboard cutouts with no depth and no relation to realility.

There is far too much lead in introducing the characters before the story gets underway, and by the time we got to that point I had lost interest.

Sorry to all concerned, but I won’t be recommending this book.

⭐.7

#JustLikeFamily #NetGalley

T: @svpublishing

#contemporaryfiction #friendship #romance

THE AUTHOR: Barbara Casey lives on a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband, her miniature dachshund named Fitz, and Benton, a hound-mix who adopted her.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Speaking Volumes via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Just Like Family by Barbara Casey 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 . . .

We’ve had no power so no internet all day. Power was restored just a little after 4pm. Thank goodness for the BBQ – I boiled water on it for coffee and made toast on it (not quite as successful) for breakfast and made cheese toasties (much nicer than in the sandwich press) for lunch. This morning was beautiful and sunny and warm, but it was raining again just after lunch and is still raining. I am feeling soggy. Everything is waterlogged and plants are looking miserable. I picked a big bunch of roses this morning before the wind and rain wrecked them. They look lovely on the table. There’s few more days of this weather forecast before we get a high pressure system and some sun. It feels like it’s been raining forever!

Currently I am reading and loving Table for Eight by Tricia Stringer – a purely for pleasure read.

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Isla Evens, a Netgalley 2021 backtitle I was motivated to read as it’s one of the Goodreads.com Aussie Reader’s Group reads for November. So far it’s a fun read about some serious issues.

Two women abduct and hide out with their four-year-old granddaughter Avery, who they suspect is being harmed. They both love Avery … shame they can’t stand each other. A wise and witty novel for readers of Sophie Green and Brooke Davis.

What would you do to protect a child?

Beth’s daughter Cleo and Shirley’s son Daniel used to be married. Now Cleo is in gaol for supposedly contravening a family violence order, and Daniel has full-time care of their four-year-old daughter, Avery.

When Shirley suspects that Daniel is harming Avery, she enlists Beth to abduct their own granddaughter, even though the two women can’t stand each other. They are joined on the run across country Victoria by Winnie, Shirley’s own 89-year-old tech-savvy mother, and Harthacnut, Beth’s miniature schnauzer.

The abduction gives rise to crises both personal and social, as Shirley’s large and interfering family – including her toxic son – struggle to come to terms with her actions, amid a whirl of police investigation and media excitement. This heartfelt, wise, witty and wholly original novel explores of the lengths we may go to for those we love, and the unintended damage folded into daily life. 

I am listening to The Book of Cold Cases written by Simone St. James and narrated by Brittany Pressley , Kirsten Potter , and Robert Petkoff .

In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect – a rich, eccentric 23-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017, Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases – a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?

This week I have four books to read for review, which should be able to achieve. They are: Isabel Puddles Abroad by M.V. Byrne

Isabel has crafted a life she loves in her Lake Michigan hometown, but she’s eager to use her golden years to make up for missed opportunities. That’s why she’s traveling to England for the first time to visit her pen pal, Teddy Mansfield, an acclaimed mystery writer who lives just outside the village of Mousehole, Cornwall. First impressions are charming–Isabel is staying in the guest cottage on the grounds of Teddy’s beautiful country manor, and Mousehole is home to an assortment of characters as colorful as any in Teddy’s books.

Teddy’s housekeeper, Tuppence, is a dab hand at baking–her scones are regularly runner-up in the village bake-off, and this year she’s determined to scoop top prize. But it appears that other, possibly more dangerous rivalries have been brewing in Mousehole. And when a resident is found pushing up daisies in a flowerbed, Isabel is drawn into an investigation that will require all of her newly honed skills to solve–and to survive . . .

The Hemsworth Effect by James Weir

It started with the Hemsworths. Now, Byron Bay local, Aimee Maguire, is about to lose everything because she can’t afford to pay the rent. Her engagement is also on an official time-out since her fiancé doesn’t know what he wants. The last thing she needs is a surprise visit from her micro-influencer niece looking to ‘build her brand’.

Her arrival sets off a chain of events that ends with Aimee tangled up with a group of influencers-turned-reality TV stars, exposing her to the absolute worst of humanity. But somewhere amid this mother of all messes there just might be a silver lining Aimee has been searching for. All she needs to do is embrace the one thing she’s been fighting so hard against – change.

Cashed-up celebs, desperate wannabes, cranky Karens and cringe-worthy hashtags – it’s all here in this hilarious novel about the celebrification of Byron Bay and the power of letting go. 

The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley

Evelyn Pringle isn’t the sort to make rash decisions. Or any decisions, really – she’s always left that sort of thing up to her husband. But he’s been found dead, wearing his best suit, with a diamond ring in his pocket that doesn’t fit her. When Evelyn finds a letter addressed to a woman on the Isle of Wight, she decides to deliver it. By hand.

So begins a very unusual holiday, and an adventure no one could have predicted – least of all Evelyn herself. With the help of some unexpected new friends, and a little effort on her part, Evelyn discovers that it is never too late to have a second chance at life and forge friendships that are well-worth living for.

The Devil Stone (DCI Christine Caplan #1) by Caro Ramsay

In the small Highland village of Cronchie, a wealthy family are found brutally murdered in a satanic ritual and their heirloom, ‘the devil stone’, is the only thing stolen. The key suspects are known satanists – case closed? But when the investigating officer disappears after leaving the crime scene, DCI Christine Caplan is pulled in to investigate from Glasgow in a case that could restore her reputation.

Caplan knows she is being punished for a minor misdemeanour when she is seconded to the Highlands, but ever the professional, she’s confident she can quickly solve the murders, and return home to her fractious family. But experience soon tells her that this is no open and shut case.

She suspects the murder scene was staged, and with the heir to the family estate missing, there is something more at play than a mythical devil stone. As she closes in on the truth, it is suddenly her life, not her reputation that is in danger! Will Caplan’s first Highland murder case be her last?

Seven new ARCs from Netgalley made their way into my inbox during the past week 😬😊 They are:

No One Saw It Coming by Susan Lewis

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

The audiobook of The Vanishing of Margaret Small written by Nick Alexander and narrated by Annie Aldingham

Death Comes to Marlow (Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood

The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin

Sunrise With the Silver Surfers by Maddie Please

The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown

I’m off to cook dinner – chicken burgers with rosemary parmesan roast potato cubes. Have a wonderful week – reading and generally. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. I spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday afternoon, and was planning on doing the same today but we keep having heavy downpours – brief but heavy – so I have given up and have started researching upgrading the bathroom instead. Currently we have a separate toilet, separate shower room, and a separate bathroom. We’re planning on knocking out the walls and making it into one room. There are so many options it is mind-boggling! If you have any advice, something you didn’t do but wish you had, or something you did but wish you hadn’t, I’d love to hear about it. At the moment I just feel confused.

Currently I am reading Outback (DS Walker #1) by Patricia Wolf

Two missing backpackers. One vast outback.

DS Lucas Walker is on leave in his hometown, Caloodie, looking after his dying grandmother. When two young German backpackers vanish from the area on their way to a ranch, he finds himself unofficially on the case. But why all the interest from the Federal Police, when they have probably just ditched the heat and dust of the outback for the coast?

As the number of days the couple are missing climbs, DS Walker is joined by the girl’s sister. A detective herself from Berlin, she is desperate to find her before it’s too late.

Walker remains convinced there is more at play. Working in the organised crime unit has opened his eyes to the growing drug trade in Australia’s remote interior. Could this be connected?

As temperatures soar, the search intensifies to a thrilling crescendo against the unforgiving backdrop of the scorching Australian summer. 

Death at the Auction by E.C. Bateman

Murder stalks the cobbles in England’s finest Georgian town…

When an accident forces Felicia Grant back to her family’s auction house in Stamford, she vows it’ll only be a flying visit. But as the gavel falls on the final lot, a hidden secret is revealed—the body of her father’s business rival, murdered during the packed sale!

Soon, Felicia is swept into a mystery that has everyone in the community as a potential suspect―including her.

As the body count rises and with the people she loves under threat, Felicia takes matters into her own hands. But even the most picturesque place has its secrets… 

And I am listening to Forgive Me by Susan Lewis

I can’t forgive myself. Not after what I did. Could you?

This is Claudia Winters’s last chance for a fresh start. Changing her name and leaving her old life behind, she has fled to the small town of Kesterly with her mother and daughter. Here, she hopes they can be safe for the first time in years.

But the past can’t stay hidden forever. And even as Claudia makes new friends and builds a new life, she can’t help feeling it’s all about to catch up with her… Until one disastrous night changes everything forever.

This week, in addition to Outback and Death at an Auction, I have two other books to read for review.

Hidden Crimes (DCI Sophie Allen #11) by Michael Hambling

Exploring a foggy Wiltshire hill path, a walker hears a distant scream and calls the police, but the attending officers find nothing.

Two days later, a farmworker comes across a woman’s body, her head bashed in. The victim is quickly identified as Bridget Kirkbride, who lived alone in a small cottage in a pretty nearby village.

Detective Sophie Allen is called in. It’s her first major case as head of the newly-formed Wessex Serious Crime Unit — and she’s under pressure to get a quick result.

Bridget was a mainstay of village life, always ready to help out her neighbours. No one has a bad word to say about her.

So who killed her?

Her supposedly devoted son, Grant, has disappeared without trace.

Then a body is pulled out of a reed bed in the River Severn.

Sophie and her team are in a race against time to uncover the truth before anyone else pays the ultimate price.

And Just Like Family by Barbara Casey

All in one day, thirty-five-year-old Hallie Marsh learns that the man she loves, works for, and is living with has found someone else-and that she no longer has a job, a place to live, or a car since she crashed it into a hedge. Her feelings of rage and desire for revenge are soon replaced by a fascination with her new neighbors-four peculiar, elderly people who decide to buy an old run-down estate, fix it up, and live in it “just like family.”

This week I received six new titles for review via Netgalley, including Hidden Crimes by Michael Hambling. They are:

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

The Collector by Anne Mette Hancock

The Whispering Dead by David Mark

The Murder Garden by Alice Castle

And The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland

Is there anything there that interests you?

Happy reading and have a wonderful week! ❤📚

The Bullet That Missed (Thursday Murder Club #3) by Richard Osman

EXCERPT: Bethany Waites understands that there is no going back now. Time to be brave, and to see how this all plays out.

She weighs the bullet in her hand.

Life is about understanding opportunities. Understanding how rarely they come along, and then rising to meet them when they do.

‘Come and meet me. I just want to talk.’ That’s what the email had said. She has been playing it over in her mind ever since. Should she?

One last thing to do before she decides: send Mike a message.

Mike knows the story she is working on. He doesn’t know the details – a reporter has to keep her secrets – but he knows it’s a risky one. He’s there if she needs him, but there are some things you have to do alone.

Whatever happens tonight, she would be sad to leave Mike Waghorn behind. He is a good friend. A kind and funny man. That’s why the viewers love him.

But Bethany dreams of more, and maybe this is her chance. A dangerous chance, but a chance all the same.

She writes her message and presses send. He won’t reply tonight; it’s late. That’s probably for the best. She can hear his voice now: ‘Who texts at ten p.m.? Millennials and sex pests, that’s who.’

Here we go then. Time for Bethany to spin the wheel of fortune. Will she live or will she die?

She pours herself a drink, and takes one final look at the bullet. Really, she has no choice at all.

To opportunities.

ABOUT ‘THE BULLET THAT MISSED’: It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal.

Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A local news legend is on the hunt for a sensational headline, and soon the gang are hot on the trail of two murders, ten years apart.

To make matters worse, a new nemesis pays Elizabeth a visit, presenting her with a deadly mission: kill or be killed…

While Elizabeth grapples with her conscience (and a gun), the gang and their unlikely new friends (including TV stars, money launderers and ex-KGB colonels) unravel a new mystery. But can they catch the culprit and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

MY THOUGHTS: I’m putting my name down for the next vacancy at Coopers Chase!

The Bullet That Missed is a fun, clever piece of escapism featuring an ex-spy, an ex-boxer, a perfectly ordinary but extremely clever woman called Joyce who likes to write in her diaries, an EX-FBI agent, a money-launderer, and a television news reader amongst others. Yes, the whole gang is back along with a few new faces.

The Thursday Murder Club meets every Thursday at 11am in the jigsaw room – except for one notable Thursday when they met at 8am, much to Ibrahim’s consternation – to solve murders. They manage to do this rather well, although they usually manage to produce a few more bodies along the way. And it doesn’t hurt that they have a couple of tame police officers in their outer circle.

I love these characters: Elizabeth whose husband Stephen is slowly succumbing to dementia; Joyce and her dog Alan; Bogdan who provides muscle when needed and unobtrusively babysits Stephen when Elizabeth is otherwise occupied.

I haven’t had so much fun since I read the last book in this series! It’s a book that I read with a smile on my face, although I admit to holding my breath a couple of times when the situation got more than a little sticky, and to having a tear in my eye when Stephen confided his fears to Bogdan, and again when . . . well, when you get there, you’ll know.

The Thursday Murder Club #4 is due for publication this time next year. I can’t wait!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheBulletThatMissed

I: @misterosman @penguinrandomhouse

T: @richardosman @PenguinUKBooks

THE AUTHOR: Richard Thomas Osman is an English comedian, producer, television presenter, writer, and the creator and co-presenter of the BBC One television quiz show Pointless.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman. 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