Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I tried to take Luke to the library to borrow some books a couple of weeks ago, but he told me he wanted to keep the books forever, so we didn’t go. I had a book to return yesterday, so I took him with me and he brought 4 books home, and suddenly it’s a really good idea to borrow books then take them back and swap them for new ones. These were his selections:

Currently I am reading and loving Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham. I can see myself reading late into the night tonight despite having an early start tomorrow so that I can get done what I need to before going for my Covid vaccination.

I am also reading A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, a new author for me. I have to admit it was the cover that first attracted me. I just wanted to plonk myself down on the sand and soak up the view. The Adirondack chair? Am I the only person earth who finds these uncomfortable? It probably has something to do with my short legs…. But however I came select this, I am enjoying this warm, gentle read.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, but I have All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss ready to go.

Deep in the tobacco land of North Carolina, nothing’s the same since the boys shipped off to war and worry took their place. Thirteen-year-old Lucy Brown is curious and clever, but she can’t make sense of it all. Then Allie Bert Tucker comes to town, an outcast with a complicated past, and Lucy believes that together they can solve crimes. Just like her hero, Nancy Drew.

That chance comes when a man goes missing, a woman stops speaking, and an eccentric gives the girls a mystery that takes them beyond the ordinary. Their quiet town, seasoned with honeybees and sweet tea, becomes home to a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp—and more men go missing. The pair set out to answer the big question: do we ever really know who the enemy is?

This week I am planning on reading Stolen by Tess Stimson

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

And The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

If you hear it, it’s too late. Can two sisters save us all?

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse .

I received 8 new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh – I was excited by this as I have been requesting this author for some time, and this is my first approval.

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

Darkness Falls by David Mark

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Plus Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver. This is an excellent novella which I read last night. Watch for my review later this week.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker which I am reading this week

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, which I am currently reading

And the audiobook All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, which I will start tomorrow.

I have travelled mainly in USA this week, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Porto Rico; Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts; Martinsville County, also Massachusetts; with side trips to Porthteal,Cornwall; and Hendon, a suburb of London. Where have you travelled this week?

Have you read any of the books I have coming up, or are they on your TBR? Or have I tempted you to add them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and keep on reading!❤📚

The Dating Duel by Christine Cameron

EXCERPT: ‘Come on. You’re missing this. He’s great.’

I thanked Margaret under my breath as I pulled layers of sparkly tulle around my face and peeked up at the stage. Garth Underwood, aka Jackson Ames, my husband and the reason I didn’t do country music, was too close for comfort. Dark brown hair hanging in soft waves above winter-grey eyes, an open smile and deep dimples you couldn’t help but touch had made him irresistible to me then.

It was still making a good case.

And at the front of the stage, at least a dozen of the women who’d undone another button hoping to catch his eye would find their partners lacking after tonight.

We hadn’t seen each other in five years and time hadn’t hurt him; almost six feet, with broad tattooed shoulders, jeans that fit so tight they should be illegal, and God help me, still wearing that damn hat.

ABOUT ‘THE DATING DUEL’: What are the chances?

Three weeks before her wedding to all-round good guy Kieran, Christy is dragged out for her hen’s night by flatmate and best friend, Sophie. The entertainer is none other than Jackson Ames, the man she met and married in a quickie wedding in Nashville, Tennessee. He was gone in the morning, and she has never seen him again, until now. What is he doing in Glasgow? And why now?

But, most important of all, are they still married?

MY THOUGHTS: Chic-lit is not my normal genre, but I loved this hysterical romp with Christy, Kieran and Jackson. A great alternate title for this would be ‘The Dilemma’, because that’s just what Christy finds herself in.

I loved the characters. Christy is impulsive but kind, and confused. Sophie puts her own life on hold to try and sort out Christy’s love life. But Christy is not the only one who has been keeping secrets; Sophie has a few of her own, and a definite bias towards one Christy’s suitors.

And the men? Well only one of them can win the hand and the heart of the woman they both love. But which will it be? Solid, dependable Kieran, who has dreams Christy knows nothing about? Or the charismatic Jackson, who has never forgotten the woman he married?

The Dating Duel is the third book I have read and loved by this as yet unpublished author. Yes, unpublished! If anyone reading this is in publishing, please take a look at her work. Christine never fails to entertain, amuse and delight me with her writing. It needs to be more widely read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheDatingDuel

I: @booksshoeschocolateandcoffee

T: @Cinnamonhill11

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Cameron is an as yet unpublished author who divides her time between Scotland and Crete.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Christine Cameron for providing a digital ARC of The Dating Duel 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 and Instagram

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I didn’t do very well with my reading target last week, mainly because the company who made my kitchen suddenly moved the installation date forward from the end of this month to the end of this coming week! So my house was full builders, taking out the old kitchen and removing another wall, and plumbers and electricians moving everything ready for the installation of the new kitchen. Because I had move the sink and the dishwasher and the fridge. I think the only new appliance being installed in the same place as the old one is the oven. But the result will be that I have a decent amount of bench space, which I didn’t previously have. Plumbers and electricians are back on Monday, then the builders Tuesday and Wednesday to reline the walls and put the ceiling in. Thursday the kitchen arrives and installation begins. This is so exciting!

Anyway, because of all this, I got very little reading done. Instead I was fetching and carrying, making decisions and morning and afternoon teas coffees, and cleaning up behind everyone while I was home. And, of course, I was also working. So the books on my planned reading list last week will reappear this week. 🤦‍♀️

Currently I am reading Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl. Halfway through and it has suddenly taken an extremely interesting turn.

I am almost finished listening to Know No Evil (DI Denning and DS Fisher #1) by Graeme Hampton. This has the makings of really good series. I will certainly be putting my hand up for #2.

This week I am planning on reading Silver Tears by Camilla Lackberg, #2 in her

She’s had to fight for it every step of the way, but Faye finally has the life she believes she deserves: she is rich, the business she built has become a global brand, and she has carefully hidden away her small family in Italy, where Jack, her ex-husband, can no longer harm them. She even has the wherewithal to occasionally turn a business trip to Rome into a steamy tryst. But when several major investors–women Faye had trusted implicitly–suddenly sell off their shares in the company, and the police officer who helped search for her daughter discovers the dark secret of Faye’s childhood, and she learns that Jack is no longer locked behind bars, Faye has no choice but to return to Stockholm. Not only does she have to fight again to keep her family safe, but now, at long last, she is forced to face the truth about her past. In this bold, mesmerizing story of seduction, deceit, and female power, a woman’s secret cannot stay buried forever.

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

And The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

Let’s see how well I can do.

I received five new ARCs this week, and was declined for five (perhaps just as well!) I received The Library by Bella Osborne

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

The Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman

About Us by Sinead Moriarty

And finally, The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry

I didn’t travel overly much in the past week. I left Baltimore for Stonesend, a lovely village near Oxford in England, and am currently dividing my time between East London, and Oslo in Norway.

What have you been reading this week? What are planning on reading? And where have you been on your reading travels?

Have a wonderful week of reading!

A Family Affair by Julie Houston

EXCERPT: Aunty Pam smiled. ‘You know, Frankie, when I look back at my twenty-year-old self, I am totally filled with admiration for her. If he and Marco didn’t agree with this, I told Angelo I was going back to my parents immediately; Consettia wouldn’t see anything of her grandchild – I knew your grandmother wouldn’t allow Angelo to get away with that – and I would spill the beans…’

ABOUT ‘A FAMILY AFFAIR’: Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…

MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely love Julie Houston’s writing, but I have to admit that I initially had a few issues with A Family Affair. It seems that every book now has to be written over more than one timeline and from multiple points of view. And in A Family Affair, Julie has taken this path. When I started reading, I wasn’t convinced that this was going to work. Even halfway through, I wasn’t convinced this was working. But in the end, the author tied it together beautifully and I exited this book with a sigh of contentment.

I love Julie Houston’s characters. They are so real, so down to earth. But for me, this story wasn’t about Frankie and her disastrous love life – it’s Aunty Pam who stole my heart.

And while I may have initially thought that I knew where this story was heading, I was wrong on every count. Julie Houston bested me. And I am happy about that. I should have known better . . .

This author writes with humor and empathy. A delightful read.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#AFamilyAffair #NetGalley

I: @juliehoustonauthor @ariafiction

T: @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance

THE AUTHOR: Julie Houston is Yorkshire born and bred. She lives in Huddersfield where her novels are set and her only claims to fame are that she taught at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old school, her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris and her friend is about to marry Tracy Emin’s cousin! Oh, and she was rescued by Frank Bough when, many years ago, she was ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’ at the Kensington Hilton in London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria & Aries via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Village Affair by Julie Houston 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 . . .

We’re having another dismal weekend. It’s been damp and foggy. Luke has been with us for the weekend and I think that the weather is even getting him down. He certainly hasn’t been his normal bouncy self. He’s quite happy to snuggle up with a book or Paw Patrol. I hope that he is not coming down with anything else!

I didn’t travel quite so widely with my reading this past week, Nantucket and Maryland in the USA, and London, Devon and the village of Westenbury in England. Have you been anywhere exciting or exotic?

I am currently reading A Family Affair by Julie Houston



And

And I am also reading The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, the first book in the Detective Matthew Venn series, the second of which, A Heron’s Cry, I received last week.

This week I am planning to read Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

And Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

Only her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

And I am going to be listening to The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re husband and wife – till death do them part…

I have five new ARCs this week:

The One to Blame by S.E. Lynes

The Evidence by K.L. Slater

Invisible Victim by Mel Sherratt

The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker

and The Devil’s Choir by Martin Michaud

So, as you can see, my resolve to request less than what I have read didn’t last long, thanks in a large part to Carla of Carlalovestoread.wordpress.com If you haven’t visited her site, pop over and see what she is reading.

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’Flanagan

EXCERPT: ‘I’ve no car and no way of getting around.’

‘But I have a car,’ said Grace. ‘And I have an itinerary. I also have more clues to be deciphered. We’ve already seen that two heads are better than one. Why don’t you come with me?’

‘On all your stops? Through France and Spain?’ Deira looked at her in astonishment.

‘Why not?’ said Grace. ‘To tell you the truth, you’d be doing me a favour. My elder daughter thinks I’m off my rocker doing this trip on my own. If I tell her I have company, she might stop worrying about me and asking me to share my location with her so she can check up on me without me even realizing it.’

‘I’m not sure . . .’

‘We still haven’t worked out the full La Rochelle clue,’ said Grace. ‘Besides, I’d love your company.’

‘Really?’

‘Why not?’ repeated Grace.

Why not indeed, thought Deira. Why not do something even madder than her original plan and travel with a woman she hardly knew, following a treasure hunt set by a dead man?

ABOUT ‘THE WOMEN WHO RAN AWAY’: Deira is setting out on the holiday she’d planned with her long-term partner Gavin… only she’s on her own. Gavin will not be amused when he finds out she’s ‘borrowed’ his car, but since their brutal break-up Deira’s not been acting rationally. Maybe a drive through beautiful France will help her see things differently…Grace is also travelling alone, each stage of her journey outlined in advance by her late husband. Ken was head of the household when he was alive, and it seems he’s still in charge. His last decision was a surprise – could there be more surprises to come? There’s only one way to find out, galling though it is to dance again to Ken’s tune…Thrown together by chance, Deira and Grace are soon motoring down the French highways, sharing intriguing stories of their pasts, as they each consider the future…

MY THOUGHTS: Don’t you just love that cover! Especially now when we’re still all restricted to armchair travel, I can just imagine strolling through that open gate, feel the sand between my toes and the water lapping at my ankles.

Unfortunately I liked the cover better than the story. I found it difficult to readily connect with both main characters, but Deira in particular. It could be an age thing, but I don’t really think so. I enjoyed the story, but never became fully invested in it. I did love the travelling aspect, and O’Flanagan’s descriptive powers are excellent. I loved learning about the history of some of the locations Grace and Deira travelled to and the references to famous historical literary and artistic characters. I found the map coordinates at the beginning of the chapters frustrating. I would rather have had dates and locations.

The idea behind the plot is excellent. It covers some serious subjects: terminal illness, grief, loss, suicide, and infidelity. But don’t go thinking that this novel is full of doom and gloom, because it isn’t. It is a novel of hope, friendship and personal growth.

I’m not quite sure why I didn’t love this. I usually do love O’Flanagan’s books. This is a nice, quick, easy read, just not one that left me enchanted and missing the characters when I closed the covers.

⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheWomenWhoRanAway #NetGalley

@sheilaoflanagan @hachetteaus

‘One thing I’ve learned about life is that no matter how shitty a time you are having, it does pass. And then you look back and say, that was a terrible week, or month, or year. But you’ve got to remember that it’s only a tiny bit of your whole life. It’s important to put it into perspective.’

THE AUTHOR: As you can see, a Dubliner all my life. My parents owned a grocery shop in the Iveagh Markets, in the Liberties area of the city and I guess city blood runs through my veins.

As a child I enjoyed reading and telling stories and everyone thought that I end up in a job which had something to do with books and literature. But though I applied for a job in the library all of the job offers I got were in commerce.

I turned down lots of them before my mother accepted one for me (I was on holiday at the time). It was in the Central Bank of Ireland and that’s how my career in financial services began.

But I still loved reading and writing (which I did in my spare time) and I desperately wanted to write my own book. I guess I never quite got over the fact that I was never offered the library job! In my thirties I decided that it was now or never and I sat down, stuck Chapter 1 on a page, and started. I wrote the whole thing before sending it off.

I was offered a publishing deal (with no advance) by an Irish company but only if I wrote a different book! So back to the drawing board, I started again. It was another two years before it was published. It wasn’t until I’d written a few books and was offered a contract (this time with an advance!) from another publisher that I felt able to give up my trading job and write full time. So, even though it took a long time, I eventually realised my dream of being a full-time writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’Flanagan 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

Olive by Emma Gannon

The audiobook of Olive by Emma Gannon is due for publication 09 March 2021. The Kindle edition is available now.

EXCERPT: When I was twelve in 1999, I remember being obsessed with snipping cut-outs from my Mum’s old Argos catalogues and sticking them into the blank pages of my notepads. Notepads were the only present people bought me or put in my stocking, because I was always doodling as a tiny kid. I would have stacks of them: beaded ones, velvet ones, bright pink ones, furry ones, holographic ones and secret ones with a lock and key. But I had stopped writing and started making collages instead. I would neatly cut around pictures of products I found interesting from the flimsy thin pages of Argos and Pritt-stick them inside the blank pages. Navy blue patterned plates. A big wooden rolling pin. Hand painted tea cups. A garden slide. A stylish armchair. A woollen throw for a sofa. A picture frame designed for four landscape shaped photos. I would trim carefully around each one with big kitchen scissors, in circular motions, around the plates, bowls, crockery. I would stick them into the blank pages, designing my life in detail from an early age. I believed I would have these perfect things in my home when I was older. I would have a garden. I would live in a big house, bigger than my mum’s. I would have a husband. I would have a baby too, probably. Or two. Or three! Because that’s what you do. My friends would come round with their babies. They would all play together. We would go to the beach and tell them not to eat the sand, while we drank tea in flasks and reminisced about the good old days. That’s what grown ups did. When I am an adult, I would think, everything will be good. I will finally be free. Adulthood = Freedom.

I painted a picture of my Big Bright Future through the lens of an old Argos catalogue, and today I am inside that distant future; in the painting, living and breathing it. But I don’t have the hand painted tea cups, or the navy blue patterned plates. I don’t have a garden slide. And I don’t have the baby either.

ABOUT ‘OLIVE’: Independent.
Adrift.
Anxious.
Loyal.
Kind.
Knows her own mind.

OLIVE is many things, and it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

MY THOUGHTS: Oh where do I start? This is chic-lit, but not chic-lit. It is funny, and serious at the same time. Olive explores many things, but mainly the dilemma of the woman who chooses not to have a child. (No, I am not talking about abortion.) While Olive’s friends are all madly nesting, and procreating, or trying to procreate through IVF, Olive makes the decision to remain ‘child-free’.

Emma Gannon has written a humorous, searching, thoughtful and honest book about Olive’s decision and how it impacts her life, her relationship, her friendships, particularly those with her three best friends: Bea, who has it all – the husband, the house, and 2.4 children (3 actually); Cec, who is pregnant with her first child; and Isla who is struggling with infertility and the impact it’s having on her marriage.

Olive demonstrates how easily we can feel threatened by other people’s life choices, how we become so defensive of our own, and how our life choices can affect our friendships.

I didn’t always like Olive, or her friends, but sometimes I loved them, a reflection on how friendships wax and wane. All of these friends are, at various times, self-obsessed, dismissive, judgemental, supportive, and loyal. They were definitely fun.

Sian Clifford made an excellent narrator of the audiobook.

Olive is both entertaining and thought provoking, a lighthearted look at some serious subjects.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#Olive #NetGalley
T: @AndrewsMcMeel @emmagannon
I: @andrewsmcmeel @emmagannon

#audiobook #chic-lit #contemporaryfiction #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Emma Gannon is a Sunday Times bestselling author, speaker, novelist and host of the no. 1 careers podcast in the UK, Ctrl Alt Delete.

Emma started her career in digital marketing at agencies and then at Condé Nast as social media editor. She has been a columnist for The Times, Telegraph and Courier magazine on the topics of business, creativity and the future of work.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Andrews McMeel Publishing via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Olive by Emma Gannon for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

EXCERPT: I closed my eyes and tried to pretend I was in Nantucket.

The house we’d rented every year there had a widow’s walk – a square porch on the roof, where the wives of sea captains were supposed to have watched for their husband’s ships. At night, we’d hear creaks and moans. Once I thought I heard footsteps pacing the widow’s walk. You could feel the ghosts in that house, scaring you in the best way.

If there were any ghosts in this one, they weren’t moaning about husbands lost at sea but slamming doors over modern, trivial matters, such as not being allowed to go water skiing.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING’: Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, and relationships as well as the treacherous waters of the workplace. With an unforgettable comic touch, Bank skillfully teases out issues of the heart, puts a new spin on the mating dance, and captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to be a young woman coming of age in America today.

MY THOUGHTS: I was actually looking for something else when I came across this, stuck behind some other books on my shelf. I remember reading this not long after it was first published, somewhere around 2000, twenty years ago now, so I thought that I would give it a reread and see how it has stood the test of time. And I am delighted to say that it has stood up well.

Now I am not a chic lit lover. But I needed something light and easy to read, something where I wasn’t going to have to remember 93 characters and their relationships with one another, where I wasn’t going to have to remember a complicated plotline with numerous twists. The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing ticks all those boxes.

The chapters are all separate stories, so it’s a good book for picking up and putting down again. Although I have to admit to reading it over a twenty four hour period, stretched out on the sofa watching the rain beating against the windows and catching a few zzzzzzzs every now and then.

I liked Jane’s character. There’s a lot more depth to her than your average Chic Lit heroine. She’s kind, funny, smart and sassy, even if she doesn’t always have much confidence in herself. And I like her relationship with her family. And despite the light hearted tone, the author does deal with some serious issues, and does so with empathy.

I had originally planned to read then discard this, but somewhere along the line, I changed my mind. It is now tucked back in its little hideyhole, ready for me to rediscover and hopefully enjoy again in a few more years.

And for what it’s worth, IMHO The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing leaves Bridget Jone’s Diary for dead.

⭐⭐⭐.7

THE AUTHOR: Melissa Bank (born in 1961 in Philadelphia) is an American author. She has published two books, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, a volume of short stories, and The Wonder Spot,” a novel, which have been translated into over thirty languages. Bank was the winner of the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton.

Bank was born in Philadelphia; her father, a neurologist, died of leukemia in his late 50s. Bank attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges,and has an MFA from Cornell University.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank. I obtained it from the Gateway Book Exchange, Gosford, NSW, Australia, probably somewhere around 2001/2. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

EXCERPT: We reach the end of the narrow street and look out on the market square in front of us. It’s like a Christmas card, just as I imagined. A quiet town, with tall half-timbered buildings all around, dark wood beams, tiny windows and very pointy red roofs. There are little chalet-type huts all the way around the square and even a carousel with painted horses and carriages. It’s beautiful and so peaceful. It actually brings tears to my eyes. Maybe it’s tiredness, but suddenly I’m gripped with fear. Part of me wants to turn around and head home. What if Heinrich is nothing like he is on Messenger? What if . . . what if he isn’t like I’ve imagined him to be? What if this is one big mistake, like last time?

ABOUT ‘FINDING LOVE AT THE CHRISTMAS MARKET’: Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

MY THOUGHTS: A lovely simple romantic Christmas read, with no surprises. There were things I liked, and things I didn’t . . .

There is a lot of dialogue at the beginning, so I found it very hard to get a sense of the characters. Information is doled out in little parcels throughout the story, but it would have been nice to have a little of it at the start.

The author portrays the old German town beautifully, capturing the atmosphere of the surroundings. Particularly enticing were her descriptions of the food! I could smell the spices, taste the hot chocolate made with real chocolate, not the powder! I was busily looking up recipes as I read. The final publication will have recipes included, but as I read an ARC, this section was blank.

I didn’t feel that the author had the same dexterity when it came to the characters. None of the characters seemed particularly real to me. There was the potential for some delightful characters amongst Connie’s group, unfortunately it wasn’t developed. I couldn’t connect with Connie at all. She seemed very immature thinking that after chatting online, and a brief meeting, that she would be engaged to be married. The two contenders for Connie’s heart are as different as they could be, diametric opposites in fact even down to their appearance, which didn’t work for me. I guessed the outcome from the start, which was more than a little disappointing. I would have liked a little more uncertainty in the outcome, some serious will she/won’t she moments. Fritz, the deaf dog, had the biggest character of all
– he was definitely my favourite! This read was a little too sweet and predictable for this cynic.

If you are looking for a sweet, Christmas romance, this will swell your stocking.

⭐⭐⭐.2

#FindingLoveattheChristmasMarket #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Hello, I’m Jo Thomas. I write romances about food, love, family and fun and believe every story should have a happy ending. Welcome to my world.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Corgi for providing a digital ARC of Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas 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

You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley

EXCERPT: So that was the official word on the incident: a tragic accident.

And that’s it. Almost. There is just one more mention, easy to miss, had I not, out of habit, set the dates as wide as possible for my search, from before the fire to the present day. You never want to overlook any detail.

And that’s how I found it, the final link chaining the dead past to this house’s living present. It is not a news story but a marriage announcement, dated eight years ago.

Mr J.C. Hayes and Miss O.E. Vane
The engagement is announced between Joshua, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hayes of Richmond, London, and Olivia, daughter of the late Mr. Alexander Vane and Mrs. Vane of Annersley, Cheshire.

And that’s why I am sitting here, flicking through the cuttings before the session ahead, my stomach twisting in anticipation of what I must address.

She is Olivia Hayes. But once she was Olivia Vane.

This is her house. Her family. Her story.

ABOUT YOU CAN TRUST ME BY EMMA ROWLEY: YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HER.
BUT SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU.
Olivia is the domestic goddess-turned-internet sensation who has won millions of followers by sharing her picture-perfect life online. And now she’s releasing her tell-all autobiography.

Nicky is the ghostwriter tasked with coaxing out the full story – including details of the tragic accident that blighted Olivia’s golden childhood.

But, as she delves into Olivia’s life, Nicky discovers cracks appearing in the glamorous façade. From money worries to Olivia’s strained relationship with her handsome husband, the truth belies her perfect image.

As Olivia becomes increasingly hostile to the woman she’s let into her life, Nicky becomes ever more relentless in her hunt for the truth.

Has Olivia really escaped the ghosts of her past – or will Nicky find there are more sinister reasons she wants to leave an old tragedy well alone?

MY THOUGHTS: There are two sides to every story, everyone knows that. But what matters in the end, is who gets to tell it.

The story is told from two perspectives: Nicky, the ghostwriter charged with telling Olivia’s story, and from that of Olivia herself. Of the two, I greatly preferred Olivia’s narrative. But, in reality, You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley largely fell flat for me. In the places that should have been suspenseful, I felt nothing. Come on! A hidden cellar in the cellar, that ought to be supremely creepy; I should have been holding my breath in anticipation, but it wasn’t, and I wasn’t.

The story dragged in parts and, although there were places where the pace would pick up, they were brief and insubstantial. It felt disjointed and incomplete, even at the end. There are two major twists in the story, one of which I guessed when one particular facet of Olivia’s background was being studiously ignored, and once that was exposed, the second was a given.

Overall, I was disappointed. I felt that the plot had far more potential than was explored.

⭐⭐.7

#YouCanTrustMe #NetGalley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emma Rowley is a writer, ghostwriter and editor with a background in journalism – formerly of the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. A graduate in Classics and English at Oxford University, she trained as a journalist on the prestigious City University course. Emma has spent considerable time in the courts and covering major crime stories. She lives in London. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley 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