Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Good afternoon from a damp and drizzly New Zealand. My garden and all the farmers will be loving this weather. It’s cool, but not cold and the rain hasn’t been so heavy that it will run off the baked hard ground instead of sinking into it. And I believe that we’ve been forecast rain for the week. That’ll make the weeds grow!

Less than a week now until Kyle arrives home. I pick him up from the airport on Friday. I’m excited and counting down!

I have just finished The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain. It was an overnight read for me. I couldn’t put it down. Watch for my review.

I am also reading Before the Storm by Di Morrissey. This is a title from my backlist and I am really enjoying it. It’s been far too long since I last read anything by this author.

and I am listening to The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon. Etti is a hoot! Who wouldn’t love her?

I have five books to read for review in the coming week, but I doubt I will get through them all because of work commitments and Kyle coming home. Rest assured, I will do my best!

Long Lost Girl by Jill Childs

The little girl you lost is back… but who is she really?

When three-year-old Sara disappeared from their lives, it tore the Turner family apart. Years later, they are still startling at every knock, convinced it is Sara at the door. But the only trace of the cherished little girl is a fading photo in the hall, a single white knitted baby shoe tucked behind the frame.

Then, one day, as they pick at sandwiches in a crowded local café, a beautiful girl approaches, claiming to be Sara. With her wide green eyes and soft, straight hair, could she really be their long-lost girl? But where has she been all this time, and what happened to stop her from coming home?

Soon, Sara is turning up for Sunday lunch, and then moving her things into the little bedroom upstairs. But as Sara makes herself at home, not everyone is happy that she’s back in their lives once more. Long-held secrets are threatening to surface, and someone in this tight-knit family doesn’t want them to be told…

Gone But Still Here by Jennifer Dance

Coming to terms with advancing dementia, Mary has no choice other than to move into her daughter’s home. Her daughter, Kayla, caught between her cognitively impaired mother and her belligerent teenage son, soon finds caregiving is more challenging than she imagined. Sage, the family’s golden retriever, offers comfort and unconditional love, but she has her own problems, especially when it comes to dealing with Mary’s cat.

Throughout it all, Mary struggles to complete her final book — a memoir, the untold story of the love of her life, who died more than forty years earlier. Her confused and tangled tales span Trinidad, England, and Canada, revealing the secrets of a tragic interracial love story in the 1960s and ’70s. But with her writing skills slipping away, it’s a race against time.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The moment she laid eyes on Heather Wisher, Tully knew this woman was going to destroy their lives.

Tully and Rachel are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact that Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is in a care facility with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win Tully and Rachel over – particularly while carrying the shameful secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, her soon-to-be stepdaughters have secrets of their own.

The announcement of Stephen and Heather’s engagement threatens to set off a family implosion, with old wounds and dark secrets finally being forced to the surface.

A garage full of stolen goods. An old hot-water bottle, stuffed with cash. A blood-soaked wedding. And that’s only the beginning… 

Good Neighbours by Mary Grand

was meant to be a safe place to start again…

In need of an escape from her failing marriage, Nia agrees to house-sit her aunt’s cottage on the Isle of Wight. She feels sure the cosy close in a quaint harbour town will be a safe place to hide and figure out what to do next.

But things are not all as they seem in the close, and the neighbours who welcome her with open arms, are keeping secrets. When Nia finds the body of one of her new friends lying on the beach, she feels sickeningly sure that the killer is dangerously near to home.

Who killed her friend and why did she have to die? And if Nia discovers the answers she’s looking for, is she next on their hit list? Good neighbours may become good friends, but they can also make deadly enemies…

And I have the audiobook of The Island written by Adrian McKinty and narrated by Mela Lee

After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.

When they discover remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.

But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.

When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.

Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.

Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.

I overextended myself yet again. The Netgalley fairies dropped six new ARCs onto my Kindle . . .

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza

His Other Wife by Nicole Trope

The Party Guest by Amanda Robson

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

The Lost Children by Michael Wood

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen-Marie Wiseman

Do we have any books in common this week?

Have a great week. I am planning on taking a sabbatical while Kyle is home so once we get to Friday (New Zealand time) I will be offline until June.

Happy reading!

Forgotten by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: Malia is certain that if she can pinch herself hard enough she will wake up from this nightmare. She came to the 7-Eleven for milk, and now her baby is missing and she is surrounded by police. The sun’s heat increases minute by minute and assures her that she is, indeed, in hell.

ABOUT ‘FORGOTTEN’: In a single day, a simple mistake will have life-altering consequences for everyone involved.

A moment of distraction, an unlocked car and a missing baby. How on earth could this happen?

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

MY THOUGHTS: Nicole Trope writes family dramas like no one else. She has my heart pounding, then stopping, my breath caught in my throat. At one point I felt like I had been punched in the gut, all the breath just went wooshing out of me.

Forgotten encompasses so many issues including mental health, gambling addiction, and child abuse all neatly tied into one tense and riveting story which is told from the viewpoints of four women: Malia, the mother of baby Zach who is abducted from his car seat; Ali, the detective who has a young child of her own; Edna, the elderly and childless resident of a boarding house; and Jackie, newly released from prison also resident in the same boarding house as Edna.

Forgotten is a hard-hitting, fast paced read that kept me engrossed from beginning to end. All the emotions get an airing with this read!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#Forgotten #NetGalley

I: @nicoletropeauthor @allenandunwin

T: @nicoletrope @AllenAndUnwin

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #suspense

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 Allen and Unwin via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Forgotten 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Read to the sound of ‘Lazy Sunday Afternoon’ by the Small Faces.

Last night I started reading A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon. I will finish it this afternoon. Linda is a fascinating character and I have absolutely no idea where Joanna Cannon is headed.

I am also reading Forgotten by Nicole Trope from my backlist (2017) Trope is an author who never fails to pack an emotional punch.

I am almost finished listening to Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke. A good mystery with a denouement I never expected.

I have four books to read for review this week.

Death in a Blackout by Jessica Elliott

The first in a brand-new WWII historical mystery series introduces WPC Billie Harkness – a female police officer who risks her life to protect the home front in the British coastal city of Hull. 1940. Britain is at war. Rector’s daughter Wilhelmina Harkness longs to do her duty for her country, but when her strict mother forbids her to enlist, their bitter argument has devasting consequences. Unable to stay in the village she loves, Wilhelmina – reinventing herself as Billie – spends everything she has on a one-way ticket up north. Hull is a distant, dangerous city, but Billie is determined to leave her painful memories behind and start afresh, whatever the cost. The last thing Billie expects on her first evening in Hull, however, is to be caught in the city’s first air raid – or to stumble across the body of a young woman, suspiciously untouched by debris. If the air raid didn’t kill the glamorous stranger, what did? Billie is determined to get justice, and her persistence earns her an invitation to the newly formed Women’s Police Constabulary. But as the case unfolds, putting her at odds with both high-ranking members of the force as well as the victim’s powerful family, Billie begins to wonder if she can trust her new friends and colleagues . . . or if someone amongst them is working for the enemy. 

Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

Never knowing his parents, eleven-year-old Stewie Little and his brother have been raised on a farm by their older sister. Stewie steadfastly tends the chickens left by his beloved late grandmother. And every day Stewie goes door to door selling fresh eggs from his wagon—a routine with a surprise just around the corner. It’s his new customer, Marilyn. She’s prickly and guarded, yet comfortably familiar—she reminds the grieving Stewie so much of the grandmother he misses more than he can express.

Marilyn has a reason for keeping her distance: a secret no one knows about. Her survival tactic is to draw a line between herself and other people—one that Stewie is determined to cross. As their visits become more frequent, a complicated but deeply rooted relationship grows. That’s when Stewie discovers how much more there is to Marilyn, to her past, and to challenges that become more pressing each day. But whatever difficult times lie ahead, Stewie learns that although he can’t fix everything for Marilyn or himself, at least he’s no longer alone.

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.


They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him. 

And Beneath Cruel Waters by John Bassoff

Holt Davidson, a Kansas firefighter, hasn’t been back to his hometown of Thompsonville, Colorado, for more than two decades, but when he learns that his estranged mother has taken her own life, he returns for the funeral, hoping to make peace with her memory. He spends the night at his childhood home, rummaging through each room, exploring the past. But instead of nostalgic souvenirs, he discovers a gun, a love letter, and a Polaroid photograph of a man lying in his own blood.

Who is the dead man? Was his mother the one who killed him, and, if so, why? Who sent the love letter? And what role did his sister, institutionalized since she was a teenager, play in this act of violence? As his own traumatic memories begin to resurface, Holt begins an investigation into his mother’s and sister’s pasts—as well as his own.A wrenching psychological thriller in the vein of Tana French’s In the Woods, Jon Bassoff’s Beneath Cruel Waters reminds us that the sins of the mothers are the sins of the sons.

Only three new ARCs this week (thank goodness!)

Girl Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

Mad, Bad and Dead by Sherryl Clark

Yours, Mine, Ours by Sinead Moriarty

I have been taking part in the Goodreads.com All About Books extended April readathon which started Easter Friday and ended midnight 30th April. During that period I read 5,319 pages.

Enjoy what is left of your weekend. I’m off to finish A Tidy Ending. I need to know why Linda is where she is . . .

Happy reading!❤📚

Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer

EXCERPT: He comes to a cordoned off passage, orange plastic webbing strung across its entry, the sort used on roadworks. The tunnel is supported by a roughly made wooden framework. There’s a piece of cardboard, ripped from a carton, with one word scrawled: UNSTABLE. He moves past it, past a blower hole, the vacuum tube still hanging from it where McGee has been sucking out his fill. He must be getting closer.

Past the hole, the smell grows markedly worse. His stomach turns and the hairs on the back of his head come alert. Something is wrong here. Very wrong. He knows this smell, from another time, another land, an endless war.

He passes a mining machine, an excavator. He’s close now.

And then he sees it. Sees him. Jonas McGee, dead eyes staring, something small and black crawling from the corner of his mouth. The man is not just dead, he’s been crucified, nailed to a timber frame, metal spikes through his wrists, black blood congealed around them, a ratter’s drill placed by his feet like an offering. Crucified. Christ-like: except here the face holds no ecstasy, the eyes no rapture.

ABOUT ‘TREASURE AND DIRT’: In the desolate outback town of Finnigans Gap, police struggle to maintain law and order. Thieves pillage opal mines, religious fanatics recruit vulnerable young people and billionaires do as they please.

Then an opal miner is found crucified and left to rot down his mine. Nothing about the miner’s death is straightforward, not even who found the body. Sydney homicide detective Ivan Lucic is sent to investigate, assisted by inexperienced young investigator Nell Buchanan.

But Finnigans Gap has already ended one police career and damaged others, and soon both officers face damning allegations and internal investigations. Have Ivan and Nell been set up and, if so, by whom?

As time runs out, their only chance at redemption is to find the killer. But the more secrets they uncover, the more harrowing the mystery becomes, as events from years ago take on a startling new significance.

For in Finnigans Gap, opals, bodies and secrets don’t stay buried for ever.

MY THOUGHTS: Chris Hammer is an author I have only recently discovered – I know, where have I been? – but one I have quickly come to appreciate.

I admire the way Hammer creates an atmosphere, capturing the heat, the flies, the dust, but most important of all, the characters. It takes a special sort of person to live somewhere so remote. Usually, you’re either under the influence of opal fever, or you’re wanting to stay under the radar. The outback is a great place for assuming a new identity. A lot of people in places like Finnegan’s Gap are characters, real characters. I have seen many unusual things over the years I was in these communities, but never a pink tutu wearing mayor. It makes me want to go back and take another look, see what I missed.

The town of Finnegan’s Gap is a character in its own right. It’s a town where people struggle to make ends meet. It’s a town where dreams come to die. Mostly mined out of opals the town now relies on a nearby coal mine for its survival.

DS Ivan Lucic, sent out from Sydney to investigate the unusual death, is a man with a big reputation and a big gambling habit. Separated from his usual partner, he is assisted in the investigation by DC Nell Buchanan who has previously spent three years assigned to the town. She knows the people, but they also know her, and it doesn’t always work in her favour.

The various threads in this mystery, and there are a number, focus on revenge and greed – personal, corporate and political.

Chris Hammer has competently written an intricate and complex crime novel, one that kept my interest from beginning to end. I will be reading more from this author.

Narrator Dorje Swallow did a pretty good job of the narration, my only criticism being the same one that I levelled in my review of another book he narrated, and that is that he pauses in odd places, irrespective of the punctuation, which I found disconcerting at times.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

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.

Watching what I’m reading…

Tomorrow, Monday 25 April, is a national day of remembrance observed in both Australia and New Zealand. Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War (1914–1918). Now it commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “acknowledges the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. My father served in the peace-keeping J-Force in Hiroshima. He loved his time in Japan and always wanted to return.

Autumn is definitely making its presence felt now. Our temperatures are down in single digits overnight and there is a very cool and gusty south-westerly blowing today. The trees are beginning to change colour and the grass growth has slowed down significantly. We’ve collected firewood this weekend and trimmed all the hedges.

Luke has been with us during the week and we took him home this morning. He starts school when it goes back in May. He seems to have grown up all of a sudden.

currently I am reading The Widow’s Husband by Lesley Sanderson

Forgotten by Nicole Trope, a title from my backlist.

and listening to One of Us is Dead by Geneva Rose

This week I have, again, overcommitted myself. My reads for review due are: In Bloom, a spring themed anthology by Fern Michaels, Carolyn Brown and Lori Foster

AMAZING GRACIE * Fern Michaels

After years spent traveling the world as a flight attendant, Gracie Walden is ready to stay a little closer to her roots, starting with two weeks at home in Amarillo, Texas. But there’s unexpected turbulence between her mother, Ella, and her older sister, Hope—and it will lead to a revelation that changes Gracie’s life in amazing ways . . .

THE MOTHER’S DAY CROWN * Carolyn Brown

Monica Allen still hasn’t forgiven Tyler Magee for breaking her heart when they were teenagers. Ten years on, they’re back in Luella, Texas, visiting their respective grandmothers. and there’s just a white picket fence and a whole lot of awkwardness between them. Will two weeks be long enough for Monica to learn to stop holding a grudge—and hold on to love?

MEANT TO BE * Lori Foster

When Cory Creed was just a little girl, she knew she’d grow up to marry Austin Winston—and she made the mistake of telling him so. Tired of watching him avoid her ever since, Cory has decided it’s time to leave Visitation, North Carolina, and Austin, behind. But Austin has finally realized what Cory was once so sure of, and now it’s his turn to prove they belong together . . . with a little help from their mothers.

No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’

It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca.

Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women in the town start to go missing.

If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever… 

A Body on the Beach (Kate Palmer #5) by Dee MacDonald

it’s

Tinworthy village’s summer fete: a brass band, cream teas, gentle gossip… and a body on the beach? The party’s just getting started for super sleuth Kate Palmer!

Kate Palmer thought spending the day at Tinworthy’s annual summer party would involve sea air, sunshine and Cornish cream cake – how very wrong she was! When Kate goes for a cliff-top walk she is shocked to spot the body of Sienna Stone – Cornwall’s biggest gossip – on the sandy beach below.

Rumours swirl around the close-knit community and all eyes are on Kate. Half the village saw her arguing with Sienna at the party earlier that day. It was the usual bickering between neighbours, but when Kate finds herself in the frame can she – and her new husband Woody Forrest – solve the puzzling death and clear her name?

There’s a long list of people who might have wanted to push Sienna – her long-suffering husband Irvin, her jealous younger sister Sally and Timmy Thomson, the man who idolised her, not to mention all the villagers who felt the sharp end of her tongue. Finding out the truth isn’t going to be easy…

Just as Kate thinks she’s getting closer to an answer, an unexpected afternoon visitor shares some curious information over tea and scones that sets her on an entirely different path. And soon she starts to wonder if she might be in real danger too…

Can Kate solve the curious case before the murderer declares the party over? Or have her days of sleuthing come to an end?

The Patient by Jane Shemitt

When Rachel meets Luc, the attraction is instant.
But she is a doctor, and he is her patient.
She gives him the drugs he needs – but in doing so, risks everything.
And when a secret is exposed, they’re both in the firing line.
Not all patients are telling the truth.

The Removal Man by R.J. Parker

Rose is moving. For her and her son, Noah, this is going to be a fresh start.

She’s almost finished packing but Noah is determined to spend one last night camping out in the garden like he used to. Rose agrees as long as he wraps up warm inside their small tent.

Four hours later she’s woken by a frantic banging on the window.

It’s Noah.

There’s someone in the garden.

That’s when Rose picks up the kitchen knife. 

And the audios Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke

From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away, and he and Grace have never been close – he was always their parents’ favourite.

Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured by the choices they’ve made.

And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. Grace can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything. 

The Bletchley Women written by Patricia Adrian, narrated by Imogen Wilde and Antonia Whillans

In a different world, Evie Milton would have accepted her fate, married an aristocrat, and become the doyenne of one of England’s finest estates, just like her mother.

In a different world, Rose Wiley would have married her fiancé, David, established a modest homestead, and brought up a brood of babies, just like her mother.

But this isn’t a different world and these women are not their mothers. Rose dreams of a life filled with more than family and duty to her husband – a life of purpose – and Evie dreams of a life far away from her rarefied existence. Now, as they perform vital work at Bletchley Park decoding intercepted Luftwaffe messages, their role in turning the tide of war in the Allies favour shows Evie and Rose they don’t have to settle for the life once laid out before them. 

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim (Yorkshire Escape #2) written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon

Ettie is trying to figure out her future.

Dominic’s just trying to forget his past.

But with the help of some unlikely friends, young and old, a secret lake hidden in the grounds of a beautiful estate and a scruffy dog, a new community is formed – right when they all need each other the most.

I received eight new ARCs for review this week. They are: The Murder Book by Mark Billingham

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

A Wedding at Sandy Cove by Bella Osborne

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Good Neighbours by Mary Grand

Lying Beside You by Michael Robotham

and the audio ARC of The Island written by Adrian McKinty and narrated by Mela Lee

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Easter to you all.

Currently I am reading The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. I adore Isabel Dalhousie and had a sudden urge to visit with her despite not having finished all my reads for review for the week.

I am almost finished listening to Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer which is set in a mining community in the west of New South Wales, Australia.

This week I have four titles to read for review. They are A Rose Petal Summer by Katie Fforde

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO FALL IN LOVE…

Caro Swanson has taken a job in a remote part of Scotland.

She’s answered an ad in The Lady: being a companion to an elderly gentleman who lives in a country estate could be perfect! Surely it’s time to make a change and do something different for a while?

The fact that she may also see Alec, the young man who she met some years previously and who she has always thought of as her ‘one who got away’, is of course purely incidental.

Soon Caro is falling in love – not only with Alec but with the stunning country house she’s now living in. But the estate is in financial difficulties, and Caro soon realises there’s only one way to rescue it.

So begins a magical romantic summer, one that will take Caro from Scotland to London and the south of France, in search of a classic lost perfume that might just restore all their fortunes.

The Beach House by Beverley Jones

When Grace Jensen returns to her home in the ocean-front town of Lookout Beach one day, she finds a body in a pool of blood and a menacing gift left for her: a knife, a coil of rope and handcuffs.

The community of Lookout Beach are shocked by such a brutal intrusion in their safe, close-knit community – particularly to a family as successful and well-liked as the Jensens – and a police investigation begins to find the trespasser.

But Grace knows who’s after her. She might have changed her name and moved across the world, deciding to hide on the Oregon coast, but she’s been waiting seventeen years for what happened in the small Welsh town where she grew up to catch-up with her.

Grace might seem like the model neighbour and mother, but nobody in Lookout Beach – not even her devoted husband Elias – knows the real her. Or how much blood is on her hands.

The Widow’s Husband by Lesley Sanderson

For seven years I believed my husband was dead – until the note arrived this morning…

The day her husband Tom disappeared, Rachel’s life fell apart. Childhood sweethearts with two young children, they’d done everything together. And then, suddenly, Tom was gone. Without a word, without a note, without a single sign of where he might be, leaving Rachel to survive alone.

Now, nearly seven years later, Rachel has come to terms with life as a single mother, caring for their children who still secretly long for their father’s miraculous return.

But in his absence, Tom’s hidden life started to emerge, and Rachel has discovered things a wife should never have to. A secret life that betrayed everything Rachel thought she knew. Not knowing where he’d gone was no longer the main worry keeping her awake at night – it seemed much more likely he’d been silenced. Forever.

Until today, when – with just one month until Tom is to be declared legally dead – Rachel receives a note in handwriting she recognises with dread:

My darling, I’ve missed you so much. Give me a chance to explain. I’m coming home.

The husband she’d lost is alive.

And so are all his secrets… 

And Other People’s Lives by J.E. Rowney

“Let me ask you. Are you worried that someone is watching you, or are you worried that you think someone is watching you?”

Sophie Portman has lost her husband, and she thinks she may be losing her mind.

She seeks the help of psychiatrist Andrew Thacker, but as she starts to open up, the truth begins to unravel and nothing is quite as it seems.

I have received eleven new reads for review this week 😱🤯

Six Graves (DI Kim Stone #16) by Angela Marsons

Beneath Cruel Waters by John Bassoff

Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater

The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott

And four audio ARCs. After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen and narrated by Tiffany Phillips

The Bletchley Women by Patricia Adrian, narrated by Imogen Wilde and Antonia Whillans

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim by Jules Wake narrated by Laura Brydon

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hildebrand narrated by Erin Bennett

I think that I have had some older requests from my pending list approved at the last moment as a couple of these are published next week. I now have nine books to read for review in the last week of April. I still have 28 titles on my pending list despite using that wonderful new button that removes your request.

Have a happy Easter everyone and I hope the Easter Bunny has been kind to you. He seems to have lost my address . . . .

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Greetings from the house of Covid. I tested positive Thursday, and Pete yesterday. Other than feeling tired, I’m fine. Pete has the flu like symptoms.

Currently I am reading and loving Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley.

The Scholar, #2 in Cormac Reilly series, by Dervla McTiernan

And I am listening to Treasure & Dirt by Chris Hammer

I’ve got another full week of reading ahead of me with the following titles due to be read and reviewed:

The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegel

Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chauvet home in the affluent suburban community of Maisons-Larue, watching as the family’s American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge. The grieving mother believes the caretaker is to blame, and the neighborhood is thrown into chaos, unsure who is at fault–the enigmatic, young foreigner or the mother herself, who has never seemed an active participant in the lives of her children.

The truth lies with six women: Geraldine, a heartbroken French teacher struggling to support her vulnerable young students; Lou, an incompetent au pair who was recently fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother’s attention; Holly, a socially anxious au pair yearning to belong in her adopted country; and finally, Alena, the one accused of the crime, who has gone to great lengths to avoid emotional connection, and now finds herself caught in the turbulent power dynamics of her host family’s household.

Set during the weeks leading up to the event, The Caretakers is a poignant and suspenseful drama featuring complicated women. It’s a sensitive exploration of the weight of secrets, the pressures of country, community, and family–and miscommunications and misunderstandings that can have fatal consequences.

The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson

Aidan holds the winning Powerball numbers.

Is today the best day of his life… or the worst?

Aidan Marlowe is the superstitious type—he’s been playing the same lottery numbers for fifteen years, never hitting the jackpot. Until now. On the day of his wife’s funeral.

Aidan struggles to cope with these two sudden extremes: instant wealth beyond his imagination, and the loss of the only woman he’s ever loved, the mother of his twin children. But the money gives him and his kids options they didn’t have before. They can leave everything behind. They can start a new life in a new town. So they do.

But a huge new house and all the money in the world can’t replace what they’ve lost, and it’s not long before Aidan realizes he’s merely trading old demons for new ones. Because someone is watching him and his family very closely. Someone who knows exactly who they are, where they’ve come from, and what they’re trying to hide. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want…

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

THE PLACE: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea.

THE CRIME: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace.

THE DETECTIVE: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.

One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:

Make
Them
Stop.

What happens next?

A Village Secret by Julie Houston

When Jennifer goes up to Cambridge University with her head full of the Romantic Poets, she never dreams that she will find her very own Byron. But then she meets gorgeous actor Laurie Lewis, and finds herself living a real-life love poem.

Fifteen years and two children later, Jennifer and Laurie’s relationship is starting to feel more like an epic tragedy. After a series of revelations turn her world upside down, Jennifer will do anything to keep her family together – even if it means moving hundreds of miles away to Laurie’s childhood home in Westenbury, Yorkshire.

As she reluctantly enters into village life – complete with interfering in-laws, new friends and a surprise delivery of alpacas – Jennifer is amazed to find herself feeling happy for the first time in years. But the village holds one last, devastating secret and Jennifer must decide once and for all what she wants her future to hold.

First Born by Will Dean

Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.

The Girls by Bella Osborne

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

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

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

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

I have only added two new titles to my ARC mountain this week:

Long Lost Child by Jill Childs

And an audiobook Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke and narrated by Katy Federman

I hope you’re all having a great weekend and that you’ve had great week’s reading. I’m off to Facetime Luke. He had his fifth birthday party yesterday, a week before actual birthday, and we had miss it. I did ask him to save me a piece of birthday cake, so I need to check that he did. We’ll be out of isolation Saturday (his actual birthday) so hopefully we will be able to deliver his gifts and the Easter egg.

Have wonderful week. I’m going to put my feet up and finish Other People Manage. Homemade Tomato Chili Soup with garlic bread for dinner tonight.

Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer

EXCERPT: ‘It’s good you’re here for a while, Julia. She needs someone. She’s changed. I guess we all have, but she’s . . . she won’t bend.’

‘I am a bit concerned she’s avoiding anything much to do with the town. She used to be involved with half the things that went on there. Is this self-imposed exile something to do with Audrey?’ Julia had tried to bring up the topic of Audrey before Eve left for Adelaide but the conversation had been diverted.

‘Pretty much the whole thing is to do with Audrey. Has Eve talked to you about it?’

Julia shook her head.

‘It’s a bit of a story . . .’

ABOUT ‘BIRDS OF A FEATHER’: 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?

MY THOUGHTS: The story focuses on three women of different ages who are thrown together by circumstance. Eve, Julia and Lucy, although of different generations, are decidedly similar – they are all strong, independent women used to making their own decisions and who resent being told what they should do and how to do it, and none of them are comfortable with accepting help, no matter how badly it is needed.

Birds of a Feather is about female friendship, the unlikely places it can be found and the strength in letting go – of secrets, of resentments, of fear.

It’s a quick and enjoyable read, heartwarming, and I loved the small town setting of Wallaby Bay, South Australia.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#BirdsofaFeather #NetGalley

I: @triciastringerauthor @hqstories

T: @tricia_stringer @HQstories

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife #smalltownfiction

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 Birds of a Feather 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

The Stepchild by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: I left the house, I followed him, studied him. He used to be the cat, tormenting little mouse me. I had to be watchful and wary whenever I left my safe space, in case he was waiting to pounce. But now this little mouse has not returned to her safe house, although perhaps I should have. Perhaps then I wouldn’t be avoiding the news right now for fear of seeing his wife’s distress, knowing what I know. She has no idea how much worse things could get.

ABOUT ‘THE STEPCHILD’: Three-year-old Millie Everleigh disappears on a crisp winter’s day, and nothing is as it seems…

It’s the phone call every mother dreads.

I’m climbing into the car after a trip to the grocery store. As the engine starts, my phone rings. It’s my stepdaughter, Shelby, who is babysitting my three-year-old little girl Millie.

‘I only went upstairs for a second,’ she says through her sobs. ‘She’s gone.’

I race home to find my blue-eyed baby girl missing, and my heart ripped out of my chest.

When the police turn up, Shelby’s story starts to unravel. What is she hiding?

Then I get a message saying, ‘Your husband is not who you think he is.’ Could he be lying?

Suddenly, my family feel like strangers. Everyone has a secret – even me.

No one knows why I was late coming back from the store, and the guilt I’ve been feeling ever since…

Once the truth comes out, all of our lies exposed, will it be too late to save my precious child?

MY THOUGHTS: The Stepchild takes a turn in a most unexpected direction – certainly not what I was expecting, but it’s very relevant and timely. What started out as a fairly prosaic and predictable story soon took a welcome turn to the darker as Trope explored the subject of teenage grooming.

None of my predictions held any water as secret after secret was revealed. You may think Trope gives you the whole story in the beginning but, believe me, she doesn’t.

The story is told from the points of view of three women: Leslie, Millie’s mother; Shelby, Leslie’s stepdaughter; and Ruth, whose connection to the story I am not going to reveal.

Trope examines the dynamics of the blended family, and the pressure on the child who now finds herself having to negotiate living with two separate families; of having to watch what she says to her mother who is resentful and jealous, and try to deflect her inquisitions. She is also having to cope with getting to know her mother’s new husband, and a very demanding friend who doesn’t want Shelby to have any other friends.

The more you read, the more chilling and complex the story becomes. Secrets are slowly picked apart, but it is not initially evident just who is the bad guy in all of this. Trope is a master of misdirection!

The Stepchild quickly became hard to put down. Despite there being no graphic descriptions of anything, there were several places in the book where I found myself holding my breath, or crossing my fingers. Definitely a read that will have you experiencing all the emotions.

⭐⭐⭐.9

#TheStepchild #NetGalley

I: @nicoletropeauthor @bookouture

T: @nicoletrope @Bookouture

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #mystery

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 Stepchild 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 Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell

EXCERPT: This wasn’t how she’d pictured her life ending. With the red light looming ahead and the car showing no signs of slowing, she prayed it would be a swift and painless exit. Hilary had contemplated death as often as any woman of her age, she imagined, but she’d always envisaged slipping away peacefully in her sleep. In the event of an accident she would have preferred something more glamorous and befitting a woman of her worldliness, say negotiating a hairpin bend in the mountains above Monaco, being eaten by a lion on a private safari or mauled by a polar bear on an arctic cruise. Not in the passenger seat of a thirty-year-old Ford at the hands of her own sister.

ABOUT ‘THE TEA LADIES OF ST. JUDE’S HOSPITAL’: The Marjorie Marshall Memorial Cafeteria has been serving refreshments and raising money at the hospital for over fifty years, long after anybody can remember who Marjorie Marshall actually was. Staffed by successive generations of dedicated volunteers, the beloved cafeteria is known as much for offering a kind word and sympathetic ear (and often unsolicited life advice) as for its tea and buns.

Stalwart Hilary has worked her way up through the ranks to Manageress; Joy has been late every day since she started as the cafeteria’s newest recruit. She doesn’t take her role as ‘the intern’ quite as seriously as Hilary would like but there’s no doubt she brings a welcome pop of personality. Seventeen-year-old Chloe, the daughter of two successful surgeons, is volunteering during the school holidays because her mother thinks it will look good on her CV.

Chloe is at first bewildered by the two older women but soon realises they have a lot in common, not least that each bears a secret pain. When they discover the cafeteria is under threat of closure, this unlikely trio must band together to save it.

MY THOUGHTS: What wonderful characters! But then that’s Joanna Nell’s forte – engaging, endearing, relatable characters enmeshed in everyday situations which are dealt with with empathy and humour.

Hilary is Manageress of the hospital cafeteria, staffed by volunteers, which raises money for various projects around the hospital. Once ‘a lady who lunches’, she has fallen on harder times but is determined not to let standards slip. She micromanages, certain that no one knows better than her. But she may just have met her match in Joy, who lives up to her name and who knows that there’s more than one way to skin a cat or, in this case, make changes for the better in a cafeteria that’s stuck in a time warp. They’re assisted by student Chloe, volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, a girl with little self confidence but a range of talents that will come to the fore in the battle to save their workplace.

These three very different women, who all have their own problems, unite to preserve a piece of the hospital’s history when firstly it’s threatened by the opening of a cafè chain against whom they must complete, and then by total closure. While the fate of the cafeteria may seem inevitable, it is not something that these three are willing to accept so they muster their meagre resources to take on the hospital hierarchy, making startling discoveries about themselves and their loved ones in the process.

The Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s is a heartwarming story about human resilience and determination served with lashings of humour and plenty of Joy’s light fluffy scones. I loved it. In between bouts of laughter, my heart bled for each of these women, I cheered on each of these women, and when I finished this book I did so with a tear in my eye, a smile on my face, and wondering if we will get to read about Joy’s adventures in the future.

Highly recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheTeaLadiesofStJudesHospital #NetGalley

I: @joanna_nell_writer @hodderbooks

T: @jo_nell_writer @HodderBooks

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #sliceoflife

The Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell is available in paperback, Kindle/ebook, and audio formats.

THE AUTHOR: Joanna Nell was born in the Midlands and graduated from Oxford University with a medical degree in 1991.

In 2003 she moved to Australia where she now works as a GP with a passion for women’s health and care of the elderly.

Joanna writes character-driven stories of self-discovery for women of a certain age, creating young-at-heart characters who break the rules and defy society’s expectations.

She lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her husband and two children. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell 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