The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: His teachers call him ‘spirited’, or ‘full of energy’, sometimes ‘boisterous’. They have a lot of different words for what he really is in class, which is disruptive and occasionally rude. Too disruptive? Too rude? She feels like there’s some sort of memo she missed on raising a child. The other mothers at the school gates seem to know exactly what to do in any situation. She watches them, listens to them, while she waits for Riley, her ears tuned for exchanges of information she’s reluctant to ask for. They would be friendly enough, she supposes, if she just stepped forward and said ‘Hello,’ but she worries about saying the wrong thing, about giving too much away.

She can see the way they look at her when Riley calls her ‘Mum’. ‘My goodness,’ his teacher from last year said on parent-teacher night, ‘and how old-‘

‘Twenty,’ Beverley replied before the teacher could finish the question. ‘I was twenty when I had him.’ It’s a lie. She was actually only eighteen, but people tend to look at teenage mothers a certain way, make an assessment a certain way. A single teenage mother is met with pursed lips and narrowed eyes. It’s why she works so hard at getting everything right, at making sure Riley arrives at school with a full lunch box and a clean uniform every day. She makes sure that he never leaves homework undone and that he’s always got his hat and sports kit on sports days. Things that other mothers brush off, like forgetting to send in money for an excursion, bother Beverley because they make her feel that she’s falling. She cannot fail at this.

ABOUT ‘THE MOTHER’S FAULT’: I am cooking spaghetti, his favourite, while he plays in the garden. But when I look up, he’s gone. I call the police, my hands shaking so much that I hit the wrong digits twice. ‘My son is missing.’

When the police turn up, I’m trapped in the web of my lies.

I have hidden the truth from eight-year-old Riley, my little boy who loves climbing trees and always has scraped knees. I have hidden my secret from everyone.

Riley knows his father is dead but he has no idea why. He doesn’t know his dad’s real name, and there are no pictures in the house. Not a single person knows what happened eight years ago.

I love my son more than anything but the truth is, I have always feared for him. When the first gift arrived in our mailbox, wrapped in blue paper with silver stars, I realised I was right to be afraid.

Now, I can see the question in the detectives’ eyes. Am I a mother with a missing child or a mother with a lot to hide? I need them to save my son – but how much can I tell them without losing him forever?

MY THOUGHTS: A quick, easy and enjoyable read that certainly won’t overwork the little grey cells, although there was one twist that I was not expecting.

The story is told mainly by Beverley, her son Riley, and in latter parts, an unknown narrator. There is plenty of misdirection to keep the reader on their toes, and although the perpetrator is decidedly ‘unbalanced’ I am not convinced that this is a true psychological thriller. Personally I would have liked a little more subtle manipulation to ramp up the tension and a little less of the soap-opera style drama.

Sam and his dog ‘Scotty’ were my favourite characters.

I know that I can always rely on Nicole Trope for a good read, and The Mother’s Fault definitely doesn’t disappoint, although I do feel that it would have been better titled ‘The Mother’s Lie.’ This is a book that will fly off the shelves.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheMothersFault #Bookouture

I: @nicoletropeauthor @bookouture

T: @nicoletrope @Bookouture

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth

THE AUTHOR: Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.
The idea for her first published novel, The Boy under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope 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 Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou

EXCERPT: Heavy footsteps were soon around her ears, hands on her hair pulling backwards, dragging her limp body further east. They were leaving the oval, heading for the copse of gum trees behind the scoreboard. Dry sheets of sharp bark clawed at her skin, leaving dark red whiplashes across her milky white back. The next sound was of her spine crunching against one of the thick trunks as she was moved into position and fixed with a thick roll of gaffer tape around her shoulders, breasts, torso, thighs, ankles.

She was left there for some time – several minutes. Ample opportunity for her to be found had it not been such a late hour or desolate part of town. She hung there, strung like a puppet. Something began to crawl up her leg.

ABOUT ‘THE STONING’: A small town in outback Australia wakes to a crime of medieval savagery.

A local schoolteacher is found taped to a tree and stoned to death. Suspicion instantly falls on the refugees at the new detention centre on Cobb’s northern outskirts. Tensions are high, between whites and the local indigenous community, between immigrants and the townies.

Still mourning the recent death of his father, Detective Sergeant George Manolis returns to his childhood hometown to investigate. Within minutes of his arrival, it’s clear that Cobb is not the same place he left. Once it thrived, but now it’s a poor and derelict dusthole, with the local police chief it deserves. And as Manolis negotiates his new colleagues’ antagonism, and the simmering anger of a community destroyed by alcohol and drugs, the ghosts of his past begin to flicker to life.

MY THOUGHTS: Set in the fictional town of Cobb, somewhere in outback Australia, The Stoning is a richly atmospheric story of the brutal stoning to death of a young woman, a much loved and admired teacher in the community.

DS Georgios Manolis is sent out from ‘the city’ to oversee the investigation, the local police force of three being largely inept and mostly drunk, with the exception of Kate Kerr, the only female on the force. Even she carries a baseball bat in the boot of her car to ward off unwanted attention and even she, initially, resents Manolis’ intrusion.

Manolis, a man used to doing things by the book and following procedures, struggles with policing in this small town where there’s no chain of command and no recognition given to the need to preserve the scene of the crime or establish a chain of evidence.

The people are a mystery to him. Angry, resentful and bigoted, they seem content to blame Molly’s death on the inmates of the local refugee detention centre. After all, it’s their sort of crime. But for Manolis, there’s a few things that just don’t seem to add up.

As much as I loved this story, there were a few things that didn’t add up for me either. Molly must have had some friends amongst the townspeople. No mention is made of them, the question is never asked, and thus no one, other than the principal of the school where she worked, is interviewed about her.

Small towns like this thrive on gossip. That is never tapped. And believe me, the men gossip just as much as the women. Georgios could have done with spending a bit more time on a bar stool in the top pub, shouting a few rounds, with his ears open.

And speaking of women, where are they? Other than the dead Molly, Kate the copper, Ida the old gin soak and newspaper thief who found Molly’s body, and Vera from the holiday park, there are no women!

I would also have liked a better sense of place. Beyond the fact that we’re in the Australian outback, which is two-thirds of Australia, a bloody big place, we have no idea where we are.

But, beyond that, the writing is superb. Manolis portrays an impoverished and dying town, badly impacted by the detention centre meant to bring jobs and prosperity to the area, but which has instead brought crime and drugs and hostility.

I loved the underlying thread of Manolis’ family background that runs through this story. In the course of the investigation into Molly’s death, he learns more about his own family, and clears up a mystery from his childhood.

The ending to The Stoning was unexpected, but strangely satisfying.

I believe this to be the first in a series featuring Georgios Manolis. I will definitely be in line for the next.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheStoning #NetGalley

I: @petepapathanasiou @quercusbooks

T: @peteplastic @QuercusBooks

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Peter Papathanasiou was born in northern Greece in 1974 and adopted as a baby to an Australian family. His debut book, a memoir, was published in 2019 as “Son of Mine” by Salt Publishing (UK) and “Little One” by Allen & Unwin (Australia). His debut novel, a work of crime fiction, was published in 2021 as “The Stoning” by MacLehose Press (UK) and Transit Lounge (Australia), and in 2022 by Polar Verlag (Germany). Peter’s writing has otherwise been published by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Guardian UK, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Good Weekend, ABC and SBS. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from City, University of London; a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from The Australian National University (ANU); and a Bachelor of Laws from ANU specialising in criminal law. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thanks to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Stoning 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 currently reading a very atmospheric piece of Australian fiction, The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou. I keep expecting my furniture to be covered in a fine layer of red dust whenever I surface from this read.

I am listening to Trick or Treat by Katerina Diamond, which I have only just started, and which received this week.

This week I am planning on making a start on my Christmas reads, with A Lighthouse Christmas by Jenny Hale. I have heard such wonderful things about this author and am looking forward to reading this.

When her beloved grandmother passes away, Mia Broadhurst returns to the snow-covered seaside village of Winsted Cape, where Grandma Ruth ran the lighthouse overlooking the golden beach.

This will be Mia’s first Christmas without her, and she can’t bear to part with the lighthouse that has been in their family for generations. As she steps into it, childhood memories rush back to her. She can almost hear them playing tag on the steps… But her life is back in New York, dedicated to a busy PR firm, and she has no choice but to sell.

With the snow falling, turning the grounds into a winter wonderland, Mia works with real estate agent Will Thacker. As they restore the historical building, she tries not notice how handsome he is. After all, she’s only home for Christmas… And Will’s deep blue eyes, as stormy as the Atlantic Ocean, tells her he has his own heartbreak to contend with.

Warmed by a crackling fire, Mia packs up Grandma Ruth’s belongings with the help of her mother and sister. But waiting for them is a black-and-white photograph with a faded inscription. The mysterious message is the key to a family secret that has been hidden for decades––one that changes everything.

When Mia finds out the truth, will it save the precious lighthouse and show Mia where her heart belongs? Or will it tear her from Winsted Cape––and Will––for ever?

And The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope, an author I always enjoy.

I am cooking spaghetti, his favourite, while he plays in the garden. But when I look up, he’s gone. I call the police, my hands shaking so much that I hit the wrong digits twice. ‘My son is missing.’

When the police turn up, I’m trapped in the web of my lies.

I have hidden the truth from eight-year-old Riley, my little boy who loves climbing trees and always has scraped knees. I have hidden my secret from everyone.

Riley knows his father is dead but he has no idea why. He doesn’t know his dad’s real name, and there are no pictures in the house. Not a single person knows what happened eight years ago.

I love my son more than anything but the truth is, I have always feared for him. When the first gift arrived in our mailbox, wrapped in blue paper with silver stars, I realised I was right to be afraid.

Now, I can see the question in the detectives’ eyes. Am I a mother with a missing child or a mother with a lot to hide? I need them to save my son – but how much can I tell them without losing him forever? 

I have 9 new ARCs this week, two of them audiobooks, one of which, Trick or Treat, I have started listening to. I still have 31 requests pending.

My new ARCs are: The Maid by Nita Prose

The Heretic by Liam McIlvanney

A Surprise for Christmas and Other Seasonal Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay which, when I requested it, I was unaware was #13 in a series!

A Body at the Altar by Dee MacDonald. I also have the previous book in this series, A Body at the Tea Rooms to catch up on.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Put Out to Pasture by Amanda Flower

and the audiobook Touching Strangers by Stacey Madden

Thank you to all my enabler friends who provided fodder for my book list this week. You know who you are. ❤📚

My posting has been a bit irregular this week for a number of reasons starting with the brutal, senseless and cowardly murder of one of my husband’s workmates last weekend while we were away. Antz was an all round good guy and father of six who will be greatly missed. We are grateful that two suspects have been apprehended.

I have also been helping to care for a friend who started chemotherapy this week and who has had a very violent reaction to it.

And we went back into lockdown at midnight on Thursday night. So Friday was spent going through all the lockdown procedures as we have no idea how long this will be for. It doesn’t affect the whole of New Zealand, just from the middle of the North Island, north. Case numbers are continuing to rise daily with an alarming number not connected to current cases. We had our Club’s 75th Jubilee scheduled for the last weekend this month and, depending on the news tomorrow afternoon, are probably going to have to postpone it again. We were meant to have it last year, but the same thing happened. Maybe we should just wait for the 80th now!

I had planned to go to visit my son and grandson this past week, but they went into lockdown a week ahead of us, so I am having to make do with videocalls. Aren’t we lucky to have this technology available to us. I also had a long videocall with my son in Western Australia earlier today. It was lovely to be able to see and talk to him.

So that was my week. I didn’t get all the reading done that I had planned, but that’s life and I am grateful that I and all my loved ones are safe. I hope your week wasn’t as eventful as mine.

Happy reading all. ❤📚

At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski

EXCERPT: May 2019 – On the day she is due to fly home to Australia, Miriam Squires is sitting at a table in the hotel restaurant, sipping her second cup of coffee and staring at the English Channel, which is so still it looks more like a lake than the sea. It’s the end of her annual visit to the UK, always a month or six weeks with her sister Alice in Oxford, followed by a few days of nostalgia here in Brighton, where they had grown up. The town, with its stony beach and two piers, one thriving, the other now a wreck, always lures her back. But now – at seventy-five, with painful mobility problems – the prospect of long queues, struggles with baggage and long hours in the air is daunting. Today, she thinks, is probably the last time she will see the place where she was born. It’s not just the misery of the journey itself, but her increasing disenchantment with England. Beautiful villages have become ugly towns bordered by industrial estates; unique country pubs have been swallowed up by hospitality chains, and those shops who can’t withstand the shift to online shopping are disappearing, leaving high streets sadly diminished.

‘Even Marks and Spencer’s is fading away,’ Alice had told her. ‘Imagine no M and S knickers or bras! And then there’s Brexit. England’s a basket case – it’ll be a disaster if we leave the EU. You’re so lucky with that Jacinda Adern.’

‘She’s the Prime Minister of New Zealand,’ Mim had said, ‘but I do think you’d love Australia. You should come and stay with me, Al.’ She has issued the invitation many times over the years.

‘I’ll think about it,’ Alice had said. ‘I really will.’ That’s what she always said.

ABOUT ‘AT THE END OF THE DAY’: When Mim Squires and Mathias Vander are stranded together on a disrupted flight home to Perth, they are surprised to find that they have much in common. Mim owns a bookshop, Mathias is a writer, and both are at turning points in their lives. Mim’s childhood polio is taking a toll on her life. Mathias is contemplating a cross-continent move to be nearer his daughter.

But life back in Perth is not smooth sailing, with their respective family members going through their own upheavals. As Mim and Mathias both struggle to adjust to the challenges of being in their late seventies, secrets from the past that neither wishes to face rise to the surface, challenging their long-held beliefs in their independence and singularity.

At the end of the day, can they muster the wisdom and the courage they need to change?

MY THOUGHTS: Immersing myself in a Liz Byrski book is my happy place. At the End of the Day is a beautifully written story of family, love, friendship and making peace with the past.

Liz’s characters are loveable – people I could be friends with, realistic people with quirks and faults, having to make decisions that many of us will face in our lives. She writes with a gentle humour and an obvious affection for her characters.

2019 is a time of turmoil for both families. Mim is acknowledging her health problems which are again beginning to impact on her life. She wonders if she will ever see her sister Alice again, and how she is going to cope with running her bookstore, Life Sentence, in the future. An accident causes friction between her and Jodie, whom she treats like the daughter she never had, and she feels like she is losing control of her life.

Mathias is at a crossroads in his life. Lifelong friend Luc, is dying, he seems to have lost his motivation to write, and an incident from his past that has haunted him all his life is causing debilitating panic attacks. On top of all that, his daughter Carla has broken up with her partner, who Mathias never much liked anyway, and is wondering if she will ever find anyone to share her life with.

We follow these two families as friendships are forged, fears are faced, and secrets revealed. Not all questions are answered, but that’s okay, because that’s just the way life works. Covid-19 gets a fleeting mention as this story concludes in early 2020.

At the End of the Day tugged at my heartstrings. It shows that how we remember the past isn’t always how it happened. It demonstrates that there is always hope for the future, and that independence isn’t always the prize it is made out to be.

This read was made even more poignant when, reading the author’s acknowledgments, I discovered that Liz Byrski had suffered a stroke during the writing of At The End of The Day, and finished it post-stroke, a feat to be admired. I wish you a full recovery Liz, and many happy and healthy years to come.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AttheEndoftheDay #NetGalley

I: @lizbyrski @macmillanaus

T: @LizByrski @MacmillanAus

#aging #contemporaryfiction #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Liz was born in London and spent most of her childhood in Sussex. As an only child she spent a lot of time alone, much of it buried in books. She began her working life as a secretary and later moved into journalism working as a reporter on a local newspaper until she took up freelance writing when her children were born. Before moving to Western Australia she also worked as an appeals organiser for Oxfam.

After moving to Perth with her family in 1981 she once again established a freelance career writing for Australian publications including The Australian, Homes and Living, Cosmopolitan and Weekend News.

Liz lives between Perth and Fremantle and in addition to enjoying the company of family and friends, she spends most of her time reading, writing and walking. She has two adult sons and twin grandsons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski 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 . . .

Thank you all for your good wishes for our weekend away. It was long drive in unpleasant conditions, and a detour to avoid a road closure due to an accident, but it was worth it to catch up with my brother. We share a passion for wine and I brought a few bottles home from his collection, plus the leftovers from the very delicious white chocolate cheesecake Rachel made for dessert. I am going to have to spend some time on my cross trainer this week as a result.

Currently I am reading 1979 by Val McDermid. I only started this before work this morning, but I am hooked.

I am listening to Our House by Louise Candlish which I am enjoying.

This week I am planning on reading Bad Apples by Will Dean – my second book title featuring apples in as many weeks.

It only takes one…

A murder

A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated

A festival

A cultish hilltop community ‘celebrates’ Pan Night after the apple harvest

A race against time

As Visberg closes ranks to keep its deadly secrets, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Powerful forces are at play and no one dares speak out. But Tuva senses the story of her career, unaware that perhaps she is the story…

And The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou, Australian fiction by a new author to me.

A small town in outback Australia wakes to a crime of medieval savagery.

A local schoolteacher is found taped to a tree and stoned to death. Suspicion instantly falls on the refugees at the new detention centre on Cobb’s northern outskirts. Tensions are high, between whites and the local indigenous community, between immigrants and the townies.

Still mourning the recent death of his father, Detective Sergeant George Manolis returns to his childhood hometown to investigate. Within minutes of his arrival, it’s clear that Cobb is not the same place he left. Once it thrived, but now it’s a poor and derelict dusthole, with the local police chief it deserves. And as Manolis negotiates his new colleagues’ antagonism, and the simmering anger of a community destroyed by alcohol and drugs, the ghosts of his past begin to flicker to life.

Six new ARCs this week – where did they come from?🤷‍♀️ And, oh dear, 33 requests still pending.

Two titles from Marci Bolden, both read now – A Life Without Regrets (Thank you Susan of susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com )

And Hidden Hearts

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Echo Man by Sam Holland

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

And The Perfect Neighbour by Susanna Beard

I still have two reviews to write, so I had better crack on.

Stay safe. Covid Delta has escaped Auckland and there are cases just an hour up the road. Where my son and grandson live is now off limits to us . . . They are both fine, and Dustin is fully vaccinated so hopefully they will be fine.

Happy reading!❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon everyone!

I have just started reading The Parents by Claire Seeber, a new author to me.

I am 2/3 through listening to Stranded by Sarah Goodwin. The jury is still out. I do see the resemblance to Lord of the Flies, which I never particularly liked, but there is still a third of the book to go, and it sounds like there’s still plenty to happen.

This week I am planning on reading My Daughter’s Mistake by Kate Hewitt, an author I know I can depend on for an emotionally wrenching read.

I look at my daughter. My darling girl. I remember her tiny hand in mine, her first smile. I recall her tears when she’d tumble over, healed instantly with a band-aid and a little kiss. I have to keep her safe. Even if it means someone else gets hurt…

In the pretty, privileged college town of Milford, New Hampshire, everyone is friendly, everything is safe. And on this cold autumn day, as red and yellow leaves begin to fall from the trees, and everyone wraps up for the first time, it would be easy to believe nothing bad could ever happen here.

Until a screech of tires is heard, a thud, a child’s scream. The crash that sees Jenna’s six-year-old daughter Amy Rose being hit by a car driven by seventeen-year-old Maddie.

Maddie’s mother, Ellen—a college professor with a warm, approachable reputation—insists it must have been an accident. Her daughter is always safe on the road—and she’s vulnerable herself.

But as Amy Rose lies unconscious in hospital, the town begins to take sides. With Ellen, who just wants to defend her daughter. Or with Jenna, a single mother with a past, whose child hovers between life and death…

The truth is that both mothers have secrets they’re trying to keep. And, with Amy Rose’s life hanging in the balance, one of them will stop at nothing to protect the person she loves—her daughter.

And Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer, another new author to me.

Eve has been a partner in a Wallaby Bay fishing fleet as long as she can remember. Now they want her to sell – but what would her life be without work? She lives alone, her role on the town committee has been spiked by malicious gossip and she is incapacitated after surgery. For the first time in her life she feels weak, vulnerable – old.

When her troubled god-daughter Julia arrives at Wallaby Bay, she seems to offer Eve a reprieve from her own concerns. But there is no such thing as plain sailing. Eve has another house guest, the abrasive Lucy, who is helping her recuperate and does not look kindly on Julia’s desire for Eve’s attention.

But Lucy, too, has demons to battle and as each woman struggles to overcome their loss of place in the world, they start to realise that there may be more that holds them together, than keeps them apart.

But will these birds of feather truly be able to reinvent what family means? Or will the secrets and hurts of the past shatter their precarious hold on their new lives … and each other? 

During the past week I have been: Stranded on Buidseach Island off the Scottish Coast; in the poverty stricken suburb of Mattapan, Boston; to the tea shop in Charon’s Crossing, wherever that may be; and I am currently in the football obsessed village of Tenderton, Kent. Have we crossed paths this week? Where have you been?

I have eight new ARCs this week: At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski, an English born Australian author I love.

Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling

The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

A Life Without Water by Marci Bolden which I was declined for back in 2019 when it was first released. I found it as ‘read now’ when I was browsing the Netgalley shelves.

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou, another Australian author also new to me.

A Lighthouse Christmas by Jenny Hale, an author I have been wanting to read for some time.

Every Little Lie by Lesley Sanderson, an author I enjoy.

And finally, The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

and I still have 29 requests pending. 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️❤📚

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

EXCERPT: The waitress approached the table . . . noting how they each sat in the same distinctive way, with their ankles locked around the front legs of their chairs, as if to prevent them from sliding away.

‘Excuse me?’

They didn’t hear her. They were all talking at once, their voices overlapping. They were definitely related. They even sounded similar: low,deep, husky-edged voices. People with sore throats and secrets.

‘She’s not technically missing. She sent us that text.’

‘I just can’t believe she’s not answering her phone. She always answers.’

‘Dad mentioned her new bike is gone.’

‘What? That’s bizarre.’

‘So . . . she just cycled off down the street and into the sunset?’

‘But she didn’t take her helmet. Which I find very weird.’

‘I think it’s time we reported her missing.’

‘It’s over a week now. That’s too long.’

‘Like I said, she’s not technically -‘

‘She is the very definition of missing because we don’t know where she is.’

The waitress raised her voice to the point where it was perilously close to rude. ‘Are you ready to order yet?’

They didn’t hear her.

‘Has anyone been over to the house yet?’

‘Dad told me please don’t come over. He’s “very busy”.’

‘Very busy? What’s he so busy doing?’

The waitress shuffled alongside them, in between the chairs and the wall, so that one of them might see her.

‘You know what could happen if we reported her missing?’ The better looking of the two men spoke. He wore a long sleeved linen shirt rolled up to the elbows; shorts and shoes without socks. He was in his early thirties, the waitress guessed, with a goatee and the low-level charismatic charm of a reality star or a real estate agent. ‘They’d suspect Dad.’

‘Suspect Dad of what?’ asked the other man, a shabbier, chunkier, cheaper version of the first. Instead of a goatee, he just needed a shave.

‘That he . . . you know.’ The expensive version brother drew his finger across his neck.

The waitress went very still. This was the best conversation she’d overheard since she’d started waitressing.

‘Jesus, Troy.’ The cheaper version brother exhaled. ‘That’s not funny.’

The other man shrugged. ‘The police will ask if they argued. Dad said they did argue.’

‘But surely – ‘

‘Maybe Dad did have something to do with it,’ said the youngest of the four, a woman wearing a short orange dress dotted with white daisies over a swimsuit knotted at the neck. Her hair was dyed blue (the waitress coveted that exact shade), and it was tied back in a sticky, wet, tangled knot at her neck. There was a fine sheen of sandy sunscreen on her arms as if she’d just that moment walked off the beach, even though they were at least a forty minute drive from the coast. ‘Maybe he snapped. Maybe he finally snapped.’

ABOUT ‘APPLES NEVER FALL’: The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

MY THOUGHTS: Apples Never Fall is an excellent family drama/mystery that delves into family dynamics with disarming honesty and more than a little humour. I laughed as I recognized shades of myself and my three brothers in these conversations. Even Savannah was startlingly familiar. Though the cuckoo in our nest was called Sharilyn, and she was far more benign than Savannah.

Moriarty has a definite talent for characterisation. Her characters are vibrant and alive, and tend to leap off the page and move into your life for the duration of the book. This, combined with her devious mind which conjures up intriguing mysteries, guarantees a read that just can’t be put down.

Like an onion, the layers of the Delaney family are peeled back one by one, revealing their insecurities, their resentments, their petty jealousies, their disappointments, their fears. Like most families, they have wallpapered over the cracks in their lives, given up on their dreams, settled for second best, all the time telling themselves that it’s just life, that this is the reality of adulthood. But when Savannah intrudes and Joy goes missing, the plasters are ripped off, the wounds and battle scars exposed for all to see. There are some shocking revelations and surprises!

Although the mystery of Joy’s disappearance is always there, it is not the main focus of the story. It is merely a vehicle for the dissection of a family unit under pressure; an examination of their values, their loyalties, their coping strategies. I would be interested to learn if Brooke ever has another migraine.

Apples Never Fall had me laughing and, at one point, snivelling into a fistful of tissues. Moriarty put my emotions through the wringer. Apples Never Fall is an irresistible read. It’s charming, and surprising, just what I have come to expect from one of my favourite authors.

What I wasn’t expecting was that final chapter. Stunning!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#ApplesNeverFall #NetGalley

I: #lianemoriarty @macmillanaus

T: #LianeMoriarty @MacmillanAus

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery

THE AUTHOR: She lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. When she’s not writing she can be found reading, demanding coffee, being taken for a brisk walk by her Labrador, skiing like she’s thirty years younger than she is, recovering from skiing injuries, talking to old friends about getting old, and begging her children for help with technology.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty 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 . . .

Well, my requesting finger went into overdrive this week because I have eleven (yes 11) new ARCs on my shelf. As they say, it never rains, but it pours!

Amazon are currently not accepting my reviews because I haven’t spent enough money with them. Apparently the books I buy for Pete don’t count. 🤷‍♀️ So I have had a flurry of purchases over the past few days, but still no joy. Maybe I will have to wait until Monday USA time for it to update.

Currently I am reading Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life? 

And Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty, one of my new ARCs this week.

The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light. 

I am enjoying both these books immensely.

I am listening to The Unheard by Nicci French, another this week’s ARCs. Also excellent.

Maybe Tess is overprotective, but passing her daughter off to her ex and his new young wife fills her with a sense of dread. It’s not that Jason is a bad father–it just hurts to see him enjoying married life with someone else. Still, she owes it to her daughter Poppy to make this arrangement work.

But Poppy returns from the weekend tired and withdrawn. And when she shows Tess a crayon drawing–an image so simple and violent that Tess can hardly make sense of it—-Poppy can only explain with the words, “He did kill her.”

Something is horribly wrong. Tess is certain Poppy saw something–or something happened to her–that she’s too young to understand. Jason insists the weekend went off without a hitch. Doctors advise that Poppy may be reacting to her parents’ separation. And as the days go on, even Poppy’s disturbing memory seems to fade. But a mother knows her daughter, and Tess is determined to discover the truth. Her search will set off an explosive tempest of dark secrets and buried crimes–and more than one life may be at stake.

This week I am planning on reading The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club #2) by Richard Osman

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

I am working the next two weeks straight as I have staff away on leave, so am not overcommitting myself.

The ARCs I received this week, in addition to Apples Never Fall and The Unheard, are:

A Letter From Nana Rose by Kristin Harper

The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope

Survivor’s Guilt by Michael Wood

Past Life by David Mark

Where There’s a Will by Sulari Gentill

The Devil’s Choir by Michael Michaud

Many Deadly Returns, 21 stories celebrating 21 years of the Murder Squad

Stranded, an audio ARC written by Sarah Goodwin and narrated by Esme Sears

Another audio ARC, The Best Mystery Stories of 2021

The Geometry of Holding Hands by Alexander McCall Smith

and, finally, an Australian novel, A Little Bird by Wendy James

Thank you to all the enablers out there whose reviews I have read and decided that I can’t live without reading that book, and whose TBR piles have revealed gems that I simply must read. No need to name you all – you know who you are.

I still have 21 pending requests. 🤦‍♀️

This week I have been to Barcelona, Spain; North Devon, England, Austria, France and Panama (1914 – 1935) ; Stamford, Connecticut; and Weybridge in Surrey. Have we crossed paths? Where have your travels taken you this week?

Have a wonderful week of reading, and stay safe my friends ❤📚

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard

EXCERPT: I couldn’t blame him for taking off. He was fourteen, and avoiding showdowns with his volatile mother would be high on his list of priorities. For a second I was tempted to follow. But I was seventy, not fourteen, and I’d be blowed if I’d let my only daughter-in-law get the better of me.

I ran a comb through my hair. Who was that old woman in the mirror, scowling back at me? Whoever she was, she was in dire need of a hairdresser. And look at all those wrinkles. There hadn’t been nearly as many a year ago.

I smoothed on my favourite lipstick, rolling my lips together with a smacking sound. Better to face the enemy with war paint on. Nevertheless, butterflies flitted about in my stomach. I perched on the side of the bed to wait. And wait. The waiting was always the worst.

ABOUT ‘ALL ABOUT ELLA’: At 70, and widowed, Ella is about to find out that blood is not always thicker than water. A wise and warm-hearted story about aging, family and community for readers of Tricia Stringer and Liz Byrski.

At 70, Ella’s world is upended, leaving her at odds with her three adult children, whose attention is fixed more firmly on her money than her ongoing welfare. After an argument with her son Anthony, she flees his Adelaide home for Cutlers Bay, a seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula. There she befriends Angie, a 40-year-old drifter, and becomes an irritant to local cop Zach. He’s keen to shift Ella off his turf, because Anthony phones daily, demanding his mother be sent home. And besides, Zach just doesn’t trust Angie.

Ella warms to Cutlers Bay, and it warms to her. In a defiant act of self-determination, she buys an entirely unsuitable house on the outskirts of town, and Angie agrees to help make it habitable. Zach is drawn to the house on the clifftop, and finds himself revising his earlier opinions of Ella, and Angie.

MY THOUGHTS: All About Ella is a warm and engaging book about the vulnerability of aging and the greed of families. It is also a book about friendship, loyalty and learning to stand your ground.

I am always excited when I see that Meredith Appleyard has a new book out. She writes about very real situations using realistic and relatable characters, ones that you could move right in with, or live next door to.

Ella’s husband of fifty years has died. Quickly the children organize the sale of the family home and move Ella in with her eldest son, Anthony, and his wife and family saying that they will use her money to build a ‘granny flat’ onto their house for her. But as the weeks roll on, there’s no building, not even a plan to be seen. You can see where this is going, can’t you . . .

Ella has the daughter-in-law from hell. Volatile doesn’t even begin to describe Kirsten, who throws tantrums and issues ultimatums. Husband Anthony is well under her thumb, his mantra being ‘anything for a quiet life.’ Ella’s other two children are no help either, not living close, and being fed misinformation from Anthony and Kirsten. Is it any wonder Ella leaves home? And so her adventures begin . . .

I was rooting for Ella all the way through. She is a delightful character, one who has devoted her life to husband and family, and is now bewildered that they have turned on her. Though they term it ‘as knowing what’s best’ for her. I did wonder about a few of her rather rash decisions early on, but eventually she has the chance to review and fine tune them.

Along the way she picks up some staunch supporters and new friends. Angie is forty, footloose and fancy free, or rootless, depending on your point of view. Not everyone is convinced that she is trying to help Ella. Some are worried that she is only there to see what she can get from the old lady. One of the doubters is Zach, local copper in Cutlers Bay where Ella finds herself and decides to put down roots for a while. Zach has had his heart broken and doesn’t trust women generally, never mind these blow ins. And Ella is just trouble from the moment she arrives . . .

There are plenty of other interesting characters too: Leon, the local publican; Claire, the 80 year old ex-community nurse; Henry, Zach’s father; and Ruth, who owns the cafe to name a few.

The story is told from the points of view of Ella, Angie, and Zach, giving a balanced and diverse overview. I loved this story set in a small rural South Australian coastal town. I loved the characters Meredith has peopled her story with. I love her attention to detail, and that she addresses the topic of aging independently in a forthright and honest manner.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AllAboutElla #NetGalley

I: #meredithappleyard @harlequinaus

T: #MeredithAppleyard @HarlequinAUS

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia, two hours north of Adelaide. As a registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has done agency nursing in London and volunteer work in Vietnam. After her first manuscript was rejected, she joined a writers’ group, attended workshops and successfully completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing with the Adelaide College of the Arts. And she kept working. When she isn’t writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers’ Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Daisy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ and MIRA via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard 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

Friday funny . . .

With thanks, as always, to my good friend Grumps.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

WALKING THE DOG  

 A WOMAN was flying from  Melbourne to Brisbane ..

Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sydney along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.  

Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was Blind. The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her Seeing Eye Dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight.

He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the Pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said, ‘Kathy, we are in  Sydney for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?’

The blind lady replied, ‘No thanks, but maybe Max would Like to stretch his legs.’

Picture this: 

All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a Seeing Eye dog! The pilot was even🕶wearing sunglasses. 
People scattered.

They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!


True story… Have a great day and remember…

 
 …THINGS AREN’T ALWAYS AS THEY APPEAR‼️ 
A DAY WITHOUT LAUGHTER IS A DAY WASTED!!!