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. ❤📚

First Lines Friday

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Happy Friday and welcome to First Lines Friday hosted by Reading is my SuperPower.

Think back. The signs were there. What were they?

They all asked themselves the same question afterwards. ‘How did it come to this? Could we have stopped it?

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to keep reading?

Pick up a copy of Exiles by Jane Harper.

At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems.

Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.

Day’s End (Paul Hirschausen #4) by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: Out in that country, if you owned a sheep station the size of a European principality you stood tall. If you were a rent paying public servant, like Hirsch, you stood on the summit of Desolation Hill.

Not much of a hill – but it was desolate. It overlooked patches of saltbush and mallee scrub and a broad, red-ochre gibber plain that stretched to the horizon; wilted wild-flowers here and there, deceived by a rare spring shower.

It also overlooked an image of Wildu, the spirit eagle, carved into the plain: spanning three kilometres from wingtip to wingtip and poised to strike. And Desolation Hill was one of the last places Willi Van Sant had visited before he disappeared.

ABOUT ‘DAY’S END’: Hirsch’s rural beat is wide. Daybreak to day’s end, dirt roads and dust. Every problem that besets small towns and isolated properties, from unlicensed driving to arson. In the time of the virus, Hirsch is seeing stresses heightened and social divisions cracking wide open. His own tolerance under strain; people getting close to the edge.

Today he’s driving an international visitor around: Janne Van Sant, whose backpacker son went missing while the borders were closed. They’re checking out his last photo site, his last employer. A feeling that the stories don’t quite add up.

Then a call comes in: a roadside fire. Nothing much—a suitcase soaked in diesel and set alight. But two noteworthy facts emerge. Janne knows more than Hirsch about forensic evidence. And the body in the suitcase is not her son’s.

MY THOUGHTS: Day’s End is the fourth book in Garry Disher’s Paul Hirschhausen series, and may very well be the best so far – although having said that, two others have also been five star reads. Although Day’s End is part of a series it works well as a stand alone. The author provides enough background information without overwhelming the storyline to enable this.

Day’s End is set during Covid, but again Disher doesn’t let it overwhelm the storyline either, just works it in matter of factly, making good used of the differences in people’s beliefs and the tensions that prevailed.

I love Hirsch’s caring nature. He makes monthly sweeps of the outlying areas, calling in to remote dwellings to check on the occupants, alleviate their loneliness, and to observe. Most places he is welcome, some he isn’t.

Tiverton, like most small remote towns, has fallen victim to the scourge of drugs. Unemployment is high, there’s nothing for the youth to do other than to amuse themselves with petty, and not so petty, crime and get off their faces on whatever is to hand. In direct contrast to this is the lives lead by the privileged and wealthy in the area – new SUVs, a helicopter or two, boarding schools, and horses.

As is normal, there are several threads to this story: A missing man and his girlfriend; Hirsch’s ongoing relationship with high school math teacher Wendy; bullying; racial tensions – I love the character of Aunty Steph! – including white supremacy; drugs; thefts; graffiti; and assaults. But there’s also something big going down – Hirsch is ordered to pull his head in by the Federal Police who have suddenly appeared in his little corner of the world. Yet not one thread overwhelms another – they all meld seamlessly to create a masterful portrait of Hirsh’s life.

I was immediately immersed in Hirsch’s world from the first paragraph and was delighted to remain there until closing the cover on that final, and dramatic, ending.

Disher is an author who paints pictures with his words and brings his characters to life.

Favorite Line: ‘Their high achiever was Jacob. Arrested for stealing a car, he’d arrived at his magistrate’s hearing in a car he’d stolen to get himself there.’

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#DaysEnd #NetGalley

I: @text_publishing

T: @GarryDisher @text_publishing

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Day’s End by Garry Disher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

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 Tilt by Chris Hammer

EXCERPT: Rural Homicide. A huge career leap. And Dubbo is so much bigger than her previous posting in Bourke, with a cinema, a library, a base hospital, air and rail links through to Sydney. Positively cosmopolitan. And now she’s not just a detective, but a homicide detective. The crėme de la crème. But she’s learnt not to let her eagerness show, knowing how it rankles with Ivan. He believes he’s been sidelined, warehoused, demoted in all but rank. For him, Dubbo is to be endured, survived.

Nell eats her roll, looking past Ivan. The streetscape seems vaguely familiar, the outer reaches of her childhood. But all the towns out here look the same: roads that are too wide, trees that are too far apart, air that is too dry.

She’s heading home. Her family is there, unaware of her imminent arrival, but she feels them waiting just the same. She’s not sure how she feels about that. She knows she should have called ahead, but in the rush to get going she didn’t have the chance. That’s what she tells herself. Ivan had only called her this morning, first thing, and she’d rushed to pack. And she doesn’t want to call from the car, not with him listening. Better to separate the personal from the professional.

ABOUT ‘THE TILT’: A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

MY THOUGHTS: Geologic tilting, also known as tectonic tilting, occurs when the earth’s surface layers begin to tilt or slant irregularly.

The Tilt is a complex multigenerational story set over three time periods: the 1940s, the 1970s and the present day. The storyline gradually unfolds when newly promoted Nell Buchanan and her boss Ivan Lucic are called in to investigate the discovery of a skeleton when a water regulator is sabotaged. Neither Nell nor Ivan have high hopes of solving this historic case, but then a second and more recent body is discovered close by.

Hammer interweaves environment issues with great dexterity into the body of this thriller set on the shores of the once great Murray River. The action takes place variously in an Italian POW camp, a car dismantling yard, and a small town currently inhabited by Twitchers, crazy right wingers and Neo-Nazis.

Nell’s investigation stirs up old family feuds and rearranges a family tree. Parts of this investigation are very personal to Nell’s own family.

Although this is a complex storyline, it is a compelling read. I did feel that the terrorist thread was probably a step too far. The plot would have been perfectly fine without it.

I must be getting used to narrator, Dorje Swallow, as I found his narration much smoother than previously.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheTilt #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @thehammernow @wfhowes

T: @hammerNow @WFHowes

#audiobook #australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #smalltownfiction #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than 30 countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

Retribution by Sarah Barrie

EXCERPT: The cold envelops me. It takes a moment to figure out up from down, then the boat propeller kicks in too close to me and I push my arms out and kick my legs to send me backwards, out of the way. I push up for air, but my sleeve has caught on something. I exhale sharply at the unexpected jolt. I fling my body in all directions trying to get free from whatever it is I’m attached to. Something shifts. I feel the bump as it rises level with me then I’m staring as two cloudy eyes gaze sightlessly back at me from a damaged, discoloured face. The body it belongs to hovers inches from me, hair floating around the face, reaching out to mine, surrounding me with death.

ABOUT ‘RETRIBUTION’: Ace hacker, ex-prostitute, Jack Daniels drinker and part-time vigilante Lexi Winter returns, now working with the police – mostly – with a new enemy in the target and an old foe at the back of her mind.

Most probationary constables would baulk at chasing a drug dealer into a train tunnel in the dead of night. Not Lexi Winter. She emerges injured but alive, to face the wrath of her boss. Lexi may now be in uniform, but she has as much trouble with authority as ever, and is quietly using her hacking skills to investigate a notorious drug-dealing Sydney crime family with links to her old prey, the paedophile Damon Vaughn.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Finn Carson investigates a death on a Sydney building site … which oddly enough, leads him to the picturesque Wondabyne station on the Hawkesbury River, and Inspector Rachael Langley oversees an investigation that could tie it all together. Lexi holds the key … if only she’ll toe the line …

MY THOUGHTS: Whew! I feel like I have just run a marathon after reading the second half of Retribution in one sitting. Talk about intense and action packed – I couldn’t put it down, not until I knew, for sure, what the outcome was.

I have to admit that during the first half of this book Lexi’s being a cop didn’t sit easily with me, but then she also struggles with the change in her profession – often. She finds it hard to ‘play nice’ with the others, to be part of a team. She doesn’t like to share unless she’s getting something in return. But I have to admire her grit, her determination; but the things she does, the lengths she goes to, the risks she takes, scare me.

I also missed Dawny, who only makes a remote appearance in the very last paragraph. But I am predicting that she will make a reappearance in the next book.

There’s also a lovely cat rehomed after his owner disappears, called Gizmo. We’ll also be seeing more of him.

The setting of this book, the Central Coast in New South Wales, is an area I am familiar with and I enjoyed those, ‘Oh, I’ve been there!’ moments.

There is a lot of violence in Retribution, but there are also some beautifully touching moments, like when Lexi discovers a memorial site at an abandoned dam in the bush. Slightly creepy, but touching. There are also some humorous moments, most of them coming from Lexi’s mouth. She has a wicked sense of humour.

I can’t wait to see where Sarah Barrie is going to take Lexi next, because this is not over yet. Not by a long shot.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.6

#Retribution #NetGalley

I: @authorsarahbarrie @harlequinaus

T: #AuthorSarahBarrie @HarlequinAUS

#australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #mystery #policeprocedural #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Barrie is a bestselling Australian author writing suspense in rural settings, with a generous splash of romance. Her debut bestselling print novel, Secrets of Whitewater Creek, earned her a spot as one of the Top 10 breakthrough authors of 2014, and her next three books, the Hunters Ridge series, also reached best seller status. She has finaled in several major awards, twice in the RUBY, the Romance Writers of Australia’s premier award, and three times in The Australian Romance Readers Award for favourite Romantic Suspense.

In other incarnations, Sarah has worked as a teacher, a vet nurse, a horse trainer and a magazine editor. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her ferrying children to soccer or gymnastics, or trudging through paddocks chasing cattle, sheep, chickens or the Houdini pig that never stays put very long. Occasionally, she’ll attempt to ride her favourite horse who’s quite a bit smarter than she is, and not always cooperative.

Her favourite place in the world is the family property, where she writes her stories overlooking mountains crisscrossed with farmland, bordered by the beauty of the Australian bush, and where, at the end of the day, she can spend time with family, friends, a good Irish whiskey and a copy of her next favourite book. (Australianfictionauthors.com)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ, for providing a digital ARC of Retribution by Sarah Barrie 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 my webpage

Happy Publication Day – The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell

EXCERPT: Putting her items on the belt, Julia realised she’d never considered the possibility of running into old ghosts. Really, it was inevitable. This was where she’d spent the first twenty years of her life, and though she’d moved farther and farther away over the years – to a flat near the train line, then a share house on the coast, and then to the Eastern States – there were plenty who hadn’t. When Goldie was still alive, there were always stories of who she’d seen at the shop or the park, what the gossip was at the community hall and the library and the playing fields. It was like an invisible fence penned in most of the kids Julia and Paul had grown up with, restricting them to the immediate area or a few suburbs away, at most. Even if they had managed to escape, their parents were still in the family home, just like Don, acting surprised when their adult kids had to move back in because they couldn’t afford real estate.

On her trips to Perth with Rowan and Evie, she’d never bumped into people she knew, but then they’d only really used Don’s house as a base. As soon as they woke in the mornings, they were in the Commodore, driving to the city or the beach, wandering around Fremantle or Subiaco or Hillary’s, day trips to the hills or the Swan Valley. Acting like tourists, and tourists never knew anyone.

Driving home, Julia sat erect, hands at ten and two like a police car was breathing down her neck. Her eyes roamed the footpaths for other blasts from the past. In the taxi from the airport, she’d been preoccupied by all the things that seemed to have changed; what she should have been aware of was everything that hadn’t.

ABOUT ‘THE GLASS HOUSE’: Julia Lambett heads across the country to her hometown where she’s been given the job of moving her recalcitrant father out of his home and into care. But when Julia arrives at the 1970s suburban palace of her childhood, she finds her father has adopted a mysterious dog and refuses to leave.

Frustrated and alone, when a childhood friend crosses her path, Julia turns to Davina for comfort and support. But quite soon Julia begins to doubt Davina’s motivations. Why is Davina taking a determined interest in all the things that Julia hoped she had left behind? Soon Julia starts having troubling dreams, and with four decades of possessions to be managed and dispersed, she uncovers long-forgotten, deeply unsettling memories.

MY THOUGHTS: The Glass House is a quietly absorbing story, one that takes us on a journey with Julia as she is cleaning out her 92 year old father’s house in preparation for him entering a retirement home.

Despite Don being a bit of an old curmudgeon at times, I quite liked him. He is kind and loyal, and on the odd night that Julia goes out to meet friends, he still waits up for her. He knows he can’t continue to live on his own, and has agreed to downsize to assisted living, but he’ll do it on his terms and in his own timeframe.

Julia sees dealing with her father’s problems as a welcome break from her own – a struggling marriage to Rowan and her seeming inability to have a child.

Old friends make an unexpected reappearance in her life and trigger some repressed memories that she struggles to make sense of.

I love that the author doesn’t tie everything up in a nice neat bow at the end. The ending is perfect, just as it is.

This is a quietly meandering book about life, friendship, and the changing nature of relationships throughout a lifespan. I enjoyed it greatly and will certainly be lining up to read more from this author.

The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell is due for publication 1st November 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheGlassHouse

I: @brooky.brooks @fremantlepress

T: #BrookeDunnell @ FremantlePress

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Brooke Dunnell lives in Perth, where she is completing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Western Australia. Her short stories have appeared in Voiceworks, the University of Canberra Monitor and on the Harper’s Bazaar website. Her story ‘Buddhas’ featured in the collection Allnighter and was read on ABC Radio National.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Fremantle Press for providing a copy of The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell 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 will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Welcome to a wet and windy New Zealand Sunday afternoon. The wind howling around the house, the heavy rain and the thunder and lightning kept me awake last night. Today is a lot calmer, I’m pleased to say.

Unusually for me, I am not currently reading anything! Sorry, should I have warned you to be sitting safely down before I made that statement? But be reassured, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I finished reading two books this morning: The novella Foster by Claire Keegan

A small girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm in rural Ireland, without knowing when she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And then a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realizes how fragile her idyll is.

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry, A Garden Squad Mystery #5

Ever the quintessential New England town, Goosebush, Massachusetts, truly shines in springtime, but when an underhanded undertaker digs herself an early grave, only Lilly Jayne and her Garden Squad can unearth the cryptic killer . . .

With spring’s arrival in Goosebush, Lilly and the Beautification Committee turn their eyes to new projects. A cleanup of the historic Goosebush Cemetery may be in order, after Lilly and Delia find the plots there sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. Lilly soon discovers that Whitney Dunne-Bradford snapped up custodianship of the graveyard once she inherited Bradford Funeral Homes. But before Lilly can get to the bottom of the tombstone tampering, she stumbles upon Whitney’s body at the Jayne family mausoleum . . .

Though at first it appears Whitney died by suicide, Lilly has doubts, and apparently, so does Chief of Police Bash Haywood, who quickly opens a murder investigation. Plenty of folks in town had bones to pick with Whitney, including her stepdaughter, Sasha, and funeral home employee, Dewey Marsh–all three recently charged with illegal business practices. But when the homicide inquiry suddenly targets an old friend, Lilly and the Garden Squad must rally to exhume the truth before the real killer buries it forever . . . 

I have written reviews for both of these, and I also finished listening to The Tilt by Chris Hammer, but am still to write my review on this Australian crime thriller.

A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

I actually read all the books that I had planned to read for the week (1 dnf) , a definite bonus of having a chest infection.

I have loaded Day’s End by Garry Disher, #4 in the Paul Hirschausen series, to start reading when I have finished this post.

Hirsch’s rural beat is wide. Daybreak to day’s end, dirt roads and dust. Every problem that besets small towns and isolated properties, from unlicensed driving to arson. In the time of the virus, Hirsch is seeing stresses heightened and social divisions cracking wide open. His own tolerance under strain; people getting close to the edge.

Today he’s driving an international visitor around: Janne Van Sant, whose backpacker son went missing while the borders were closed. They’re checking out his last photo site, his last employer. A feeling that the stories don’t quite add up.

Then a call comes in: a roadside fire. Nothing much—a suitcase soaked in diesel and set alight. But two noteworthy facts emerge. Janne knows more than Hirsch about forensic evidence. And the body in the suitcase is not her son’s.

I have also loaded The Work Wives by Rachel Johns to start.

For work wives Debra and Quinn, it’s a case of opposites attract. They are each other’s lifelines as they navigate office politics and jobs that pay the bills but don’t inspire them.

Outside work, they are also friends, but where Quinn is addicted to dating apps and desperate to find love, Deb has sworn off men. Although Deb is not close to her own mother, her teenage daughter is her life and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect her. But Ramona has other ideas and is beginning to push boundaries.

Life becomes even more complicated by the arrival of a new man at the office. One woman is attracted to him, while the other hoped she’d never meet him again.

But when Deb, Quinn and Ramona are forced to choose between friends, love and family, the ramifications run deeper than they could ever have expected.

And No Strangers Here (County Kerry Mystery #1) written by Carlene O’Connor, and narrated by Emily O’Mahony, to listen to.

On a rocky beach in the southwest of Ireland, the body of Jimmy O’Reilly, sixty-nine years old and dressed in a suit and his dancing shoes, is propped on a boulder, staring sightlessly out to sea. A cryptic message is spelled out next to the body with sixty-nine polished black stones and a discarded vial of deadly veterinarian medication lies nearby. Jimmy was a wealthy racehorse owner, known far and wide as The Dancing Man. In a town like Dingle, everyone knows a little something about everyone else. But dig a bit deeper, and there’s always much more to find. And when Detective Inspector Cormac O’Brien is dispatched out of Killarney to lead the murder inquiry, he’s determined to unearth every last buried secret.

Dimpna Wilde hasn’t been home in years. As picturesque as Dingle may be for tourists in search of their roots and the perfect jumper, to her it means family drama and personal complications. In fairness, Dublin hasn’t worked out quite as she hoped either. Faced with a triple bombshell—her mother rumored to be in a relationship with Jimmy, her father’s dementia is escalating, and her brother is avoiding her calls—Dimpna moves back to clear her family of suspicion.

Despite plenty of other suspects, the guards are crawling over the Wildes. But the horse business can be a brutal one, and as Dimpna becomes more involved with her old acquaintances and haunts, the depth of lingering grudges becomes clear. Theft, extortion, jealousy and greed. As Dimpna takes over the family practice, she’s in a race with the detective inspector to uncover the dark, twisting truth, no matter how close to home it strikes . . .

Other books that I have to read for review this week are: Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Millie Partridge desperately needs a party. So, when her (handsome and charming) ex-colleague Nick invites her to a Hebridean Island for New Year’s Eve, she books her ticket North.

But things go wrong the moment the ferry drops her off. The stately home is more down at heel than Downton Abbey. Nick hasn’t arrived yet. And the other revellers? Politely, they aren’t exactly who she would have pictured Nick would be friends with.

Worse still, an old acquaintance from Millie’s past has been invited, too. Penny Maybury. Millie and Nick’s old colleague. Somebody Millie would rather have forgotten about. Somebody, in fact, that Millie has been trying very hard to forget.

Waking up on New Year’s Eve, Penny is missing. A tragic accident? Or something more sinister? With a storm washing in from the Atlantic, nobody will be able reach the group before they find out.

One thing is for sure – they’re going to see in the new year with a bang.

The Next Best Day by Sharon Sala

A fresh start for a young teacher to build the life she’s dreamt of
A second chance at romance for a single dad
The warm and uplifting small-town community cheering them on

After two back-to-back life-changing events, first grade teacher Katie McGrath left Albuquerque for a fresh start in Borden’s Gap, Tennessee. She is finally back in the classroom where she belongs, but it will take a little while for her to heal and feel truly like herself. She’ll need to dig deep to find the courage it takes to try again—in life and in love—but with some help from her neighbor Sam Youngblood and his adorable daughters who bring her out of her shell, her future is looking brighter than she dared imagine. 

A Body at Lavender Cottage, (A Kate Palmer mystery #6) by Dee MacDonald

Nurse Kate Palmer is Cornwall’s answer to Miss Marple! But when a body turns up in her own garden can Kate solve the crime? Or is the murder a bit too close to home?

Kate Palmer is stunned when she wakes up one morning to discover the body of a man in the beautiful garden of Lavender Cottage. She’s spent the last few years renovating her cozy, clifftop cottage with its gorgeous views of the sparkling Cornish sea. And a death right under her nose is more than a little unsettling…

When Woody Forrest, Kate’s new husband and the village’s retired detective inspector, takes a closer look he realises the victim is none other than Frank Ford – Woody’s old nemesis. Now, Frank is lying dead amongst the daisies… strangled with Woody’s blue police tie.

Kate is certain the man she loves is not a murderer and is determined to prove his innocence. But who would want to kill Frank and frame Woody? As Kate investigates, Frank’s family seem to be the obvious suspects. Could it be Jason Ford, the youngest son, who has an odd obsession with birdwatching? Sid Kinsella, the angry father-in-law? Or Sharon Mason, the troublesome daughter?

When another member of the Ford family bites the dust while Woody is tending his allotment, it’s clear the killer is determined to bury Woody’s reputation. But when a chance conversation on Bluebell Road provides Kate with a clue, she must find a woman named Rose, who could hold the answers Kate is looking for.

But Kate needs to dig up the truth – and fast! – before poor Woody is thrown behind bars. Can she solve the case and save her husband before it’s too late?

I received six new ARCs from Netgalley this week, including the audio of No Strangers Here. They are: Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza

Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

On Spine of Death by Tamara Berry

Tell Me Lies by Teresa Driscoll

And the audiobook, The Couple in the Cabin, written by Daniel Hurst and narrated by Eilidh Beaton and Matt Bates

Do you have any of these on your tbr shelf?

Before I go, does anyone have a nice, tasty pumpkin pie recipe that they don’t mind sharing? I love pumpkin pie, but there are so many recipes out there it’s mind boggling!

Have a great weekend.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

This will be a short post today as I am laid low with ‘flu and can’t concentrate for long.

Currently I am reading The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell, due for publication 01 November.

Julia Lambett heads across the country to her hometown where she’s been given the job of moving her recalcitrant father out of his home and into care. But when Julia arrives at the 1970s suburban palace of her childhood, she finds her father has adopted a mysterious dog and refuses to leave.

Frustrated and alone, when a childhood friend crosses her path, Julia turns to Davina for comfort and support. But quite soon Julia begins to doubt Davina’s motivations. Why is Davina taking a determined interest in all the things that Julia hoped she had left behind? Soon Julia starts having troubling dreams, and with four decades of possessions to be managed and dispersed, she uncovers long-forgotten, deeply unsettling memories. 

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

Dave Beckett is a wide-eyed young man when he joins the police department in a small town in Southern California. His naivete allows him to believe in his world, a vision where the cops are the good guys championing the rights of the wronged. He learns quickly that crime is not black and white, and the bad guys aren’t always the ones committing the crimes. This is the story of a victim turned predator, a young man who grows up too fast and becomes an apt pupil in the pursuit of criminals on both sides of the fence. 

And listening to The Tilt by Chris Hammer

A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

This coming week I have six books to read for review. They are:

The Missing by Lisa Childs

Drawn to the former Bainesworth Manor in the wake of a murder, reporter Edie Stone wants answers. It’s been over forty years since the psychiatric hospital on Bane Island shut down, and the mystery of women vanishing there remains unsolved. But the exclusive retreat isn’t just protected by the dark pine forests and crashing waves of Maine’s rocky coast—it’s surrounded with silence. Everyone on the island is keeping secrets.

Especially the Dr. Elijah Cooke, grandson of the man who headed Bainesworth Manor and the psychiatrist-proprietor of a new wellness resort on the same premises. His desire to help people seems at war with his fierce loyalty to his family. He’s sure the world is out to get him. And as the accidents and coincidences pile up, Edie becomes convinced someone is trying to kill them both. But if she’s close enough to be a threat, she must be close to the truth . . . 

The Dark Room by Lisa Gray

Ex–crime reporter Leonard Blaylock spends his days on an unusual hobby, developing forgotten and discarded rolls of film. He loves the small mysteries the photographs reveal to him. Then Leonard finds something no one would ever expect, or want, to see captured on film—the murder of a young woman.

But that’s impossible, because the woman is already dead. Leonard was there when it happened five years earlier.

He has never been able to shake his guilt from that terrible night. It cost Leonard everything: his career, his fiancée, his future. But if the woman didn’t really die, then what actually happened? 

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry (A Garden Squad Mystery #5)

With spring’s arrival in Goosebush, Lilly and the Beautification Committee turn their eyes to new projects. A cleanup of the historic Goosebush Cemetery may be in order, after Lilly and Delia find the plots there sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. Lilly soon discovers that Whitney Dunne-Bradford snapped up custodianship of the graveyard once she inherited Bradford Funeral Homes. But before Lilly can get to the bottom of the tombstone tampering, she stumbles upon Whitney’s body at the Jayne family mausoleum . . .

Though at first it appears Whitney died by suicide, Lilly has doubts, and apparently, so does Chief of Police Bash Haywood, who quickly opens a murder investigation. Plenty of folks in town had bones to pick with Whitney, including her stepdaughter, Sasha, and funeral home employee, Dewey Marsh–all three recently charged with illegal business practices. But when the homicide inquiry suddenly targets an old friend, Lilly and the Garden Squad must rally to exhume the truth before the real killer buries it forever . . .

The Locked Attic by B.P. Walter

There’s something in my neighbour’s attic.

Something steeped in shadows. A secret to everyone. Seen by no one…

He stands sometimes at the window. Hidden in the corner of my eye.

I know he’s there. I know he’s watching.

Now my son is dead. My neighbour is not.

And I’m going to find out why.

Silent Victim (DCI Matilda Darke #10) by Michael Wood

A CENSURED DETECTIVE WITH NO LEADS

DCI Matilda Darke and her team have been restricted under special measures after a series of calamitous scandals nearly brought down the South Yorkshire police force.

A BRUTAL ATTACK WITH NO WITNESSES

Now Matilda is on the trail of another murderer, an expert in avoiding detection with no obvious motive but one obvious method.

A DEPRAVED KILLER WHO LEAVES NO TRACES

When his latest victim survives the attack despite her vocal cords being severed, Matilda is more convinced than ever of the guilt of her key suspect. If only she had a way to prove it… 

Retribution by Sarah Barrie

Ace hacker, ex-prostitute, Jack Daniels drinker and part-time vigilante Lexi Winter returns, now working with the police – mostly – with a new enemy in the target and an old foe at the back of her mind.

Most probationary constables would baulk at chasing a drug dealer into a train tunnel in the dead of night. Not Lexi Winter. She emerges injured but alive, to face the wrath of her boss. Lexi may now be in uniform, but she has as much trouble with authority as ever, and is quietly using her hacking skills to investigate a notorious drug-dealing Sydney crime family with links to her old prey, the paedophile Damon Vaughn.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Finn Carson investigates a death on a Sydney building site … which oddly enough, leads him to the picturesque Wondabyne station on the Hawkesbury River, and Inspector Rachael Langley oversees an investigation that could tie it all together. Lexi holds the key … if only she’ll toe the line …

I received only one ARC via Netgalley this past week – have they put me on drip-feed or something? It is Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

Have a wonderful weekend. I’m going back to sleep. 🤒😷😴

Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer

EXCERPT: ‘It seems to me that keeping things quiet only causes angst later.’

‘What are you referring to?’

‘Everything and nothing.’ Vince shrugged.

Briony glared at him, but he met her look with one of quiet resignation.

‘Buried secrets, love … they have a way of working their way to the top.’

ABOUT ‘KEEPING UP APPEARANCES’: Privacy is hard to maintain in Badara, the kind of small Australian country town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. So discovers single mum Paige when she and her three children arrive from the city seeking refuge. Paige’s only respite from child care and loneliness is the Tuesday gym club, where she had feared the judgement of the town matriarchs, but she is met only with generosity and a plethora of baked goods. Besides, both the brusque Marion and her polished sister-in-law Briony are too busy dealing with their own dramas to examine hers.

Well-to-do farmer’s wife and proud mother Briony is in full denial of her family’s troubles. Even with her eldest daughter’s marriage in ruins and her son Blake’s recent bombshell. Suddenly Briony and husband Vince have a full house again – and the piles of laundry aren’t the only dirty linen that’s about to be aired.

For Marion, the unearthing of a time capsule – its contents to be read at the Celebrate Badara weekend – is a disaster. She was only a teenager when she wrote down those poisonous words, but that doesn’t mean she won’t lose friends and family if they hear what she really thinks of them – especially as the letter reveals their darkest secrets to the world.

When the truth comes out for Badara, keeping up appearances may no longer be an option for anyone …

MY THOUGHTS: Keeping Up Appearances is a great title for this novel. Most of us are influenced to some extent by the thought of what other people will think of us. And that is fine to a certain extent, but Briony takes it to a whole other level. Her life and actions are ruled by worrying about what other people think, and her inability to put this aside and accept the reality of situations may just be the thing that tears her family apart. After all, truth will always out.

Tricia Stringer writes captivating family dramas. Her characters, by the end of the book, feel like old friends; although I have to admit that it took me some time to settle into this read. But once I did, I was frantically flipping pages to see how the problems that the various characters faced would be resolved – if they were to be resolved at all.

Issues include a single mum on the run from her family with her three children; a woman who can’t accept that her children aren’t living the perfect lives she envisaged for them; a woman afraid to face her friends again after a family scandal not of her making; and a woman whose teenage actions come back to bite her on the you-know-where.

Unusually for Stringer’s characters, initially they mostly irritated me. I really didn’t warm to any of them. But as their pasts were revealed I began to understand and empathise with them. Briony was the most irritating. I really just wanted to pull that poker right out of her ass. I loved Sarah. She just exudes love, warmth and generosity; and I loved how she took Paige under her wing.

Despite a bit of a shaky start, I ended up enjoying this read. It’s not my favourite of her books – that honour goes to The Family Inheritance, closely followed by Birds of a Feather – but it’s ultimately a rewarding read.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#KeepingUpAppearances #NetGalley

I: @triciastringerauthor @hqstories

T: @tricia_stringer @HQstories

THE AUTHOR: Tricia lives in the beautiful Copper Coast region of South Australia, often exploring Australia’s diverse communities and landscapes, and shares this passion for the country and its people through her authentic stories and their vivid characters.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer 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