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

I went to the second hand bookstore Tuesday…..

I took ten books in,

And came out with twenty.

Just doing my bit for the economy.

🤣😂❤😍📚☕🍪

Watching what I’m reading…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. We have fine weather today and I have been making the most of it. The laundry is all up to date, and I have had a couple of hours in the garden. It’s starting to cloud over now and the wind is picking up so I decided to come inside. Good timing as the Supercar racing out of Australia – Townsville, Queensland. I have only driven through there a couple of times, but I think that once travel restrictions are eased that it is somewhere I am going to have to visit. We have friends who live there so it would be great to catch up with them too.

I am currently reading The First to Lie by Frank Phillipi Ryan, my first book by this author and it is certainly keeping my attention!

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I finished listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers earlier today and have yet to download another audiobook.

This week I am planning to read Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

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In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage. A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead–which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade”–this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.

and Night Whistler by Greg Woodland. This is a debut novel by this Australian author. Love the cover – creepy!

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It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

I have had 5 ARCs approved this week. Most excited about The Survivors by Jane Harper. I have requested every book that she has written, and this is the first time I have been approved!

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Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O’Connor

The Bluebell Girls by Barbara Josselsohn (thanks Carla and Susan!)

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The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter

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and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

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I also have a beta read – Cognac and Confessions by Christine Cameron.

Happy reading everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Cheers
Sandy

Watching What I’m Reading

I can’t believe it is 5 days since I last posted. I have had a bout of bronchopnuemonia and it knocked the stuffing out of me. All I have done is sleep…I tried reading but would fall asleep again and then, when I woke, was unable to remember what I had read.

So I have read very little in the past few days, and requested nothing… though a couple of my pending requests were approved. Hopefully as I continue to improve so will my powers of concentration. I have to admit to struggling with writing this. My brain really doesn’t want to function. I tried and failed yesterday, which is why this is a day late.

Currently I am reading an Australian novel, Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer. It is set initially in Perth, Western Australia, then moves to the southwest coast somewhere in the region of Albany. I am enjoying this domestic drama/romance set in a slightly warmer climate than my own.

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I am listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers, but like reading at the moment, I keep having to rewind and listen again. This is no reflection on the quality of the book or the narration, purely the fault of my cotton wool brain!

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This week I am planning on reading The Bad Sister by Kevin O’Brien

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TOO CLOSE
The site of the old campus bungalow where two girls were brutally slain is now a flower patch covered with chrysanthemums. It’s been fifty years since the Immaculate Conception Murders. Three more students and a teacher were killed in a sickening spree that many have forgotten. But there is one person who knows every twisted detail. . . .

TO SEE
Hannah O’Rourke and her volatile half-sister, Eden, have little in common except a parent. Yet they’ve ended up at the same small college outside Chicago, sharing a bungalow with another girl. Hannah isn’t thrilled—nor can she shake the feeling that she’s being watched. And her journalism professor, Ellie Goodwin, keeps delving into Hannah and Eden’s newsworthy past. . . .

THE DANGER
When Hannah and Eden’s arrival coincides with a spate of mysterious deaths, Ellie knows it’s more than a fluke. A copycat is recreating those long-ago murders. Neither the police nor the school will accept the horrific truth. And the more Ellie discovers, the more she’s convinced that she won’t live to be believed. . . .

This week I have received two new ARCs, again more by circumstance than good management.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

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and, Ransomed by M.A. Hunter, for which I was sent a widget.

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Have a wonderful week all. I will post when I can, but right now I am snuggling back down for another nap.

Watching what I’m reading…

Hi all! Well the worst of the weekend is over and I have finished work for the day. Pete and I went out for a late lunch together. We started out by heading to our favourite cafe in the next town south, but it was packed to capacity and a line of people waiting to be seated, so we headed almost an hour further south to a little coastal pub in Awakino. We had a lovely lunch, an open Gurnard sandwich for me with homemade tartare, salad and capers. It was delicious. As was Pete’s beef burger which featured a good sized tasty homemade beef patty. I took some photos on the way down, mainly of the single lane tunnel which is going to be bypassed. My boys used to love the echoes of the car horn in the tunnel and we sounded the horn all the way through the tunnel as a farewell salute today. Not that we needed to, as traffic lights mean there’s no chance of meeting anyone in the middle coming from the other direction. I had intended to take more on the way back, but the rain was too heavy. Once I remember how to download the photos from my phone to my tablet, I will share them. Too tired this afternoon to even think about it…Pete is currently asleep in his chair in front of the footy.

Anyway, on to what I’m reading….

I have started Rachel Joyce’s Miss Benson’s Beetle.

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I am at 30% and, honestly, am not yet feeling the love. To be quite honest, I am finding it slightly ridiculous. I hope that is not going to be my final opinion. I absolutely adored The Love Songs of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and liked but did not love The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I am currently listening to The Chess Men by Peter May. This is the second book in his wonderful Lewis trilogy. As always with this author, I was instantly absorbed.

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This week I am planning on reading The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson

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Two friends go on holiday. Only one comes back.

Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.

This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?

But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

and The Descent by Matt Brolly

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Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

And nine, yes 9, new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

I have two titles by Hannah Mary McKinnon,

The Secret Son

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and The Neighbors

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What Became of Us by Anna Mansell

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Good Will by Tiffany W. Killoren

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When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

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Glimmer As You Can by Danielle Martin

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The Wife by Shalini Boland

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Stolen Children by Michael Wood

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And, The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

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Well, after that haul, there’s only one thing that I can do….READ!

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I am ordering dinner in tonight so that I don’t lose any reading time!

Happy reading and stay safe and healthy.

Cheers
Sandy

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

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EXCERPT: When Rory died, Jessie’s one consolation was that she’d never again have to live through something as bad. Her Dad’s passing was painful. Her mother’s was worse. The wound of having been cut out of the Kinsella inner circle had taken a while to heal. Giving up on having a sixth child had, for a patch, been oddly unbearable. But nothing had ever come close to the visceral punch of Rory ceasing to exist.

Over the years, whenever a big drama had blown up, her second or third thought was, I’ve already survived the worst thing that could happen.

It had made her feel safe. Almost lucky. But this – tonight – was as bad as Rory, that same light-headed combination of disbelief and stone-cold certainty: something terrible had happened. She didn’t want it to be true, but everything had already changed forever. Once more, the jigsaw of her life had been thrown up in the air and she had no idea where the pieces would land.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together–birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie–who has the most money–insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Still, everything manages to stay under control–that is, until Ed’s wife, Cara, gets a concussion and can’t keep her thoughts or opinions to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, and Cara starts spilling all their secrets.

As everything unravels, each of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s–finally–the time to grow up.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this mad book about this absolutely mad family. But it took me a little while to get there. About 20% of the book, in fact.

There is an absolutely wonderful cast of characters and paradoxically, they are one of the problems. Because there are a lot of them, and I struggled to keep them straight, who was married to whom, and where all the children belonged. Now, to be absolutely fair, there is a family tree, but because I have a digital ARC of Grown Ups, in which the formatting is less than wonderful, I couldn’t make sense of it. But eventually I managed to get all the relationships straight in my mind.

Another thing that I adored about Grown Ups is the absolute Irishness of it. And there’s another problem. It would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary of Irish terms, and a bit of a guide to pronunciation. Now, I live in New Zealand, so I am going to throw Ngaruawahia at you, and see how you get on with pronouncing that. My Australian husband, who has lived in New Zealand for fifteen years, still can’t get his mouth around it! And I have similar problems with some of the Irish words, and particularly with the name Saoirse. I would be grateful if someone could enlighten me. But please don’t leave them out Ms Keyes. They are an integral part of the character of this book.

But putting all that aside, this is a brilliant read. The writing is excellent (thanks for restoring my faith in you Ms Keyes), well paced, the plot absorbing and entertaining. I laughed and cried, and laughed and cried, and did both some more.

It is the characters that really drive this novel. Jessie, slowly bankrupting herself and husband Johnny with her largesse, frightened that if she doesn’t pay for everything, the ‘spensie’ stuff, no one will love her. Cara, reservations manager at an exclusive hotel, married to Johnny’s younger brother Ed, who hides a dangerous secret. Finally there is Nell, artistic and enviably comfortable in her own humanitarian and environmentalist skin, married to the youngest brother, Liam. Then there is a dead husband, the numerous children, an ex-wife (Liam’s), parents, parents-in-law, ex-parents-in-law, cousins, friends, partners, business associates, Karl Brennan – who defies description, workmates, a barman named Gilbert and, no, on reflection, I don’t think there was a milkman.

The book begins with Johnny’s birthday dinner, and Cara’s cataclysmic revelations. It then goes back six months and we learn of all the things leading up to the eruption.

There is love and lust, secrets and deceit, grief and loss, envy and just about any emotion you care to name. In summary, a novel about people living up to others expectations of them and, in doing so, losing sight of themselves and what is truly important.

❤❤❤❤.4

#GrownUps #NetGalley

‘He’d had dementia and just faded away, like a picture left in the sun.’

‘You get one precious life. Why not try to have a contented one.’

THE AUTHOR: Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin Random House, Doubleday Canada for providing a digital ARC of Grown Ups by Marian Keyes 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

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