Murder at an Irish Bakery by Carlene O’Connor

EXCERPT: The O’Farrell’s had operated this flour mill, and now bakery, for several generations. Fia O’Farrell was the last living member, and given she was single and past middle age, many wondered what she envisioned for its future. The back room, which used to house events, and the ground, middle and top floors of the mill, which used to be open for tours, had all been closed to the public for over a decade. But it was still a gorgeous structure, and the bakery, which was housed in the very front portion of the building, was as cheerful inside as it was out. Siobhán took in the outdoor tables with colourful umbrellas, flowers beaming from planters along the front of the building, and the banner above the wooden doors that read: WELCOME IRISH BAKERS!

ABOUT ‘MURDER AT AN IRISH BAKERY’: In Kilbane, opinions are plentiful and rarely in alignment. But there’s one thing everyone does agree on–the bakery in the old flour mill, just outside town, is the best in County Cork, well worth the short drive and the long lines. No wonder they’re about to be featured on a reality baking show.

All six contestants in the show are coming to Kilbane to participate, and the town is simmering with excitement. Aside from munching on free samples, the locals–including Siobhan–get a chance to appear in the opening shots. As for the competitors themselves, not all are as sweet as their confections. There are shenanigans on the first day of filming that put everyone on edge, but that’s nothing compared to day two, when the first round ends and the top contestant is found face-down in her signature pie.

The producers decide to continue filming while Siobhan and her husband, Garda Macdara Flannery, sift through the suspects. Was this a case of rivalry turned lethal, or are their other motives hidden in the mix? And can they uncover the truth before another baker is eliminated–permanently . . .

MY THOUGHTS: This is the second book I have read in this series and I enjoyed it far more than the first.

Murder at an Irish Bakery is a delightfully Irish cosy-mystery featuring a husband and wife garda team, both of whom have a sweet tooth.

You’re going to have to suspend a bit of belief with this but, hey, it’s a cosy, not a police procedural. Similarly, there’s no great depth to any of the characters. But I had great fun trying to figure out who was behind the killings, and there’s a praiseworthy twist or two to confuse the issue.

WARNING: stock up with snacks before you settle down with Murder at an Irish Bakery, because the beautiful pastries, cakes and desserts described in the course of this book will have you salivating and your stomach rumbling.

BONUS: There’s a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake at the end with a link to the recipe published in the New York Times.

Murder at an Irish Bakery is easily read as a stand-alone.

⭐⭐⭐.9

#MurderatanIrishBakery #NetGalley

I: @writergirlchi @kensingtonbooks

T: #CarleneOConnor @KensingtonBooks

#cosymystery #contemporaryfiction #detectivefiction #irishfiction #murdermystery #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Born into a long line of Irish storytellers, Carlene O’Connor’s great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland filled with tales in 1897 and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places she’s wandered across the pond, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork, the setting of her Irish Village Mystery series.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books for providing a digital ARC of Murder at an Irish Bakery, written by Carlene O’Connor 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 . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to have heavy rain all day, but other than a couple of light drizzly showers, there’s been nothing, so I have had to water the vege garden. I picked another seven cucumbers for Luke’s roadside stand, but I fear that’s the last of them. It doesn’t look as though there are many feijoas on the tree, and there’s no sign yet of mandarins, so he may have a bit of a dry spell for a while. Dustin and Luke have been down for the afternoon and have just left to go back home so that they’ve time to give Timmy a run before it’s dark. Daylight saving ends here next week, so it will get dark even earlier.

Helen and I went and investigated the two new antique shops in the area Friday morning. We had a lovely time and finished with coffee out.

Currently I am reading, and almost finished, The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish. I’m not over-enamoured, but reserving my final opinion as she often pulls something out of the hat right at the end.

I am still listening to the family saga, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.


I am not quite caught up with my March reads yet, hopefully this week. I have two reads for review due this week: Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .

And A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall, which I can’t wait to get to. I loved the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up with Liz, Pat and Thelma again.

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

Only one publisher’s Widget this week, and one ARC. The widget is Summer at the Cornish Farmhouse by Linn B. Halton

And ARC is The Widow of Weeping Pines by Amanda McKinney

I am back at work fulltime from Monday. Hopefully not for too long. I will still be going to aquarobics, but other interests will be taking a back seat while I deal with the end of the financial year and training someone new for my job. *sigh* I have a meeting with the outgoing manager tomorrow. She walked off the job at lunchtime Friday after having, only days earlier, agreed to work through to the end of March. 🤷‍♀️

Enjoy however much remains of your weekend. I’m making toasted sandwiches for dinner tonight – ham, cheese, mustard. Then I will sort out the menu for the rest of the week and make a shopping list. We’re a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard here as I haven’t done a grocery shop for two weeks.

Happy reading!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’re currently having lovely warm days and very cold nights, something I can live with. But we have more rain forecast next week and apparently a cold spell as well that may see me hibernating.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand has been hit by a swarm of earthquakes over the past 36 hours. To all my bookish friends in that region, my thoughts are with you and I hope you are all safe.

I am currently reading A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, set in the 1950s. It took me a wee bit to settle into, but now I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s not quite a murder-mystery as we meet the murderer making confession early in the book, but it’s the police and the Priest to whom he confessed trying to ascertain just who he is, and then trying to find him, that provides the entertainment.

I am also reading #1 in a New Zealand crime/detective series by Vanda Symon, Overkill. I read the 5th in the series last week and loved it so much that I decided to begin at the beginning. Loving it. At this point it’s looking like another 5 star read.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

I am listening to The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Emilia Fox. This was originally published as The Shifting Fog.

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets – some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

I, again, have only one read for review due this week, just as well as I am still reading books that were published two weeks ago. Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni is due for publication 23rd March, and hopefully I will be caught up by then.

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master’s deadly match? A twisting novel of suspense by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family’s failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family’s reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career.

Keera’s chance to play in the big leagues comes when she’s retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There’s little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple’s impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera’s former lover, who’s eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense.

As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that’s more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family’s legacy, and her own future.

I have received two publishers widgets this week, and one ARC via Netgalley. The Netgalley ARC is Summer Nights at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I’m excited about this as I haven’t previously been approved for any of her books.

The two publishers widgets are: Black Thorn by Sarah Hilary

And The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood. This is a series that has consistently been 5 star reads.

I’ve done quite well with my posting this week. I’m not promising the same for this week.

I’ve a shoulder of lamb in the oven for tonight’s dinner and it smells delicious. The vegetables are just waiting to be tipped into the roasting dish. I’ll be sneaking a slice or two before I dish up and putting between two slices of the fresh bread I bought from the bakery today slathered in butter, salt and pepper. That’s one of life’s guilty pleasures for me.

Enjoy your weekend!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon. We’ve had a lazy weekend and have accomplished very little. I don’t even have to think about dinner tonight as we’re off to a friend’s later this afternoon to watch the Supercar racing out of Australia and staying for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it.

I didn’t manage to accomplish much reading wise over the past week either. I have only managed to finish one of my six reads for review for the week, but will probably finish the second tonight.

Currently I am reading The Summer

And a book by a new to me New Zealand author, Vanda Symon. Loving it!

A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…


The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’ s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

I am listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I am hoping to catch up on the reads I didn’t get to last week as I have only one read for review due this week. It is Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams.

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

There’s something strange about the scene . . . Famous artist Elaine appears to have passed peacefully in her sleep as she rested against a tree in the garden of her home, the Willows. Her legs are outstretched, hands tenderly clutching a small blue flower.

But upon closer inspection, things don’t add up. Where is Elaine’s trusty walking stick? Why did she choose to slumber on the ground when there is a comfortable lounge chair nearby? Where did that blue flower come from? . . . not from her garden, that’s for sure.

The clues soon point to murder. Elaine was beloved by the community, who would do such a thing? Her grandson is determined to uncover the truth and hires Rina to investigate.

The trail leads Rina to a series of shocking secrets, stretching back over twenty years. And a murderer who has unfinished business . . . Can our favourite amateur sleuth catch this killer before it’s too late?

Suddenly, because I decided to stop requesting ARCs for review, several that were on my pending list were approved, and I received three widgets from publishers!🤣🤣🤣 Is someone in the great library in the sky trying to tell you something?

The three publishers widgets are:

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins

The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

And Don’t Look Back by Jo Spain

Other ARCs I received via Netgalley are:

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

A Cornish Seaside Murder by Fiona Leitch

A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun by David Putnam

and The Lucky Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

Oh, well, I was obviously meant to have these. 🤷‍♀️❤📚

Thanks to all of you who have been asking after Pete. We’re back to Oncology Monday when they will plot a detailed map of the cancer for the radiation treatment which will be starting in the next two to three weeks.

Have a great week of reading and I’ll be popping in whenever I can. 🤗❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It’s been a lovely autumn day here in New Zealand. Cool overnight, which is lovely for sleeping, and in the mornings, but beautifully warm days. The evenings are also cool. The leaves are also starting to turn, much earlier than usual.

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Currently I am reading Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry – lovely atmospheric Irish fiction.

And listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt.

This week I have seven titles to read for review and I know that I am not going to be able to complete them all, but I will do my best.

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson, which I am excited about.

There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity becomes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive.

The Summer House by Keri Beevis

Mead House was once our childhood home.

Despite my fears, I always knew we would have to return to face the demons of our past.

Back to the place where it happened, to where, as carefree teenagers, we lost our elder sister in the most brutal of circumstances.

As executors of our grandmother’s will, my twin brother, Ollie, and I needed to empty the house for resale.

What I didn’t expect to discover was my sister’s secret journal that contained her most private thoughts and shocking dark secrets.

Now I am questioning everything that I saw that night. Did I get it wrong, who I saw?

Did my evidence send an innocent man, my then boyfriend’s brother, to jail for the last 17 years?

I know I have no choice. If I want to find answers, I will have to go back to that fateful night my sister died. When she made her last visit to the summer house.

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea

Ariel Shepherd is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown French château they’d visited on their honeymoon four years ago. With finances tight she has no choice but to swap her Manhattan apartment and city lifestyle for a renovation project in a peaceful French village.

When Ariel hires an expert to help her uncover the legacy of her beautiful ruin, life only becomes more complicated. Christiane, the historian, is found dead in the moat, and although the local police aren’t suspicious, Ariel is. She joins two other ex-pats, Pippa and Katherine, to investigate, but with plenty of workmen – and errant tools – around the château, many people had the means, but who had the motive? Why would anyone want to kill a historian?

Ariel begins to suspect that her French village life will be anything but peaceful! Can she solve the suspicious murder and make her château in Burgundy the perfect new home?

A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis – a new author to me.

On a hot Saturday night in Manhattan, Father Duffy sits in a confessional, growing alarmed as he listens to the voice of a distraught young man who speaks of bloody hair and a dead woman and a compulsion to do things with a hammer that he does not understand. Before the priest can persuade the man to confess to the police, the killer flees, still clutching the hammer.

The next day, Father Duffy learns that a high-class call girl on the East Side has been savagely murdered, and no suspect has been found. As he searches for the disturbed young man who he fears will kill again, cerebral New York Police detective Sergeant Ben Goldsmith takes the lead in the investigation of the call-girl murder, racing against the clock to catch a very clever killer who, when enraged, cannot control his need to swing a hammer.

Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin, another new author.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, Kate meticulously plans a dinner party – from the fancy table setting to the perfect baked alaska waiting in the freezer. But by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests are gone, and Kate is spinning out of control.

Set between from the 1990s and the present day, from Carlow to Dublin, the family farmhouse to Trinity College, Dinner Party is a beautifully observed, dark and twisty novel that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish, an author I love.

Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong man.
 
Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most sociable guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
 
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
 
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
 
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed. It still isn’t.
 
No one else could have done it. Could they?

Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins, yet another new author to me.

Twenty-six-year-old Rory rarely leaves her apartment, though her little dog Buster keeps her company. Days are spent working for her aunt’s PI business, and watching and imagining histories for the homeless men, the Dossers, across the road. At night she walks Buster on the roof, gazes at the stars and wonders.

The night before New Year’s Eve, one of the Dossers is murdered, an incident which brings the world – police, new neighbours, her dark past and new possibilities – crashing through Rory’s front door.

She thought she was keeping her fears at bay. But has her sanctuary turned into her prison? Or is it safer for everyone if Rory stays locked away?

I have had no new ARCs this week. I haven’t requested any, and I have deleted a number titles from my pending list. I have also deleted a number of titles from my ARC list, but still have somewhere around 240 to read for review. But these are titles I really want to read.

After the video conference with Pete’s care team on Friday we now know that there is more cancer in his face, mainly in the area under his right eye. Because of the proximity to his eye it is going to require a multi-faceted approach. We have an appointment with the oncologist this coming Friday and, in conjunction with the surgeon, a plan of attack will be finalised.

Because of this, and increasing pressures at work, I have decided to take a break from posting every day. I hope to be able to continue with my weekly catch up, and to post reviews as I finish a read. I am currently only reading two books a week as I am so tired from running around and stress. I will still try to interact with you all, but it may not be possible every day, so please cut me some slack.

Thank you all for your understanding, and happy reading my friends.

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Greetings from a sun-soaked but devastated New Zealand. While our area escaped this week’s cyclone virtually unscathed, the small west coast communities north of Auckland and the Hawkes Bay Region of the North Island have been decimated. Eleven are dead, including two firefighters killed when a house they were evacuating slid over the cliff. There are many still missing. To all my New Zealand bookish friends, I hope that you and your loved ones are all safe.

I haven’t had much time to read during the week and doubted, at one point, that I was going to finish even one read for the week. But it is now late Sunday afternoon and over yesterday and today I managed to finish three of my four reads.

Currently I am reading Blind Eye by Aline Templeton, #5 in the DI Kelso Strang series.

I am still reading The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling.

And I am listening to Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

This coming week I have two books to read for review – Getting Even by Lisa Jackson

Trask McFadden is back.” Those are words that Tory has been waiting to hear, half in dread, half with longing. It’s been five years since Trask landed her father behind bars for horse swindling, using things she’d told him in confidence. Her father died there, but now Trask insists he has information that could help prove who was really responsible for the crime, not to mention his own brother’s death. Trask needs her help. But he won’t get it, not after destroying her family, her ranch, and the love they shared.

Lauren Regis’s ex-husband has kidnapped her children. There’s nothing she won’t do to get them back, including hiring Zachary Winters. The unconventional attorney has made a name for himself by locating people–especially those who don’t want to be found. But he’s got a darker reputation too, and there are rumors swirling about the fate of his ex-wife. How much is Lauren willing to trust him–or to lose?

Murder at an Irish Bakery by Carlene O’Connor

The picturesque village of Kilbane in County Cork, Ireland, is the perfect backdrop for a baking contest–until someone serves up a show-stopping murder that only Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan can solve.

In Kilbane, opinions are plentiful and rarely in alignment. But there’s one thing everyone does agree on–the bakery in the old flour mill, just outside town, is the best in County Cork, well worth the short drive and the long lines. No wonder they’re about to be featured on a reality baking show.

All six contestants in the show are coming to Kilbane to participate, and the town is simmering with excitement. Aside from munching on free samples, the locals–including Siobhan–get a chance to appear in the opening shots. As for the competitors themselves, not all are as sweet as their confections. There are shenanigans on the first day of filming that put everyone on edge, but that’s nothing compared to day two, when the first round ends and the top contestant is found face-down in her signature pie.

The producers decide to continue filming while Siobhan and her husband, Garda Macdara Flannery, sift through the suspects. Was this a case of rivalry turned lethal, or are their other motives hidden in the mix? And can they uncover the truth before another baker is eliminated–permanently . . .

In the past week I have received four new ARCs for review.

Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams, a new author to me, but one I have heard only good things about.

The Rush by Michelle Prak

The Fall by Louise Jensen

And Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne – I adore Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. I still have my original copy of this from when I was a child. It is greatly treasured.

To all my bookish friends who have been asking about my husband, Pete, thank you. I appreciate your support and concern. He is feeling well in himself and is returning to work on Monday on light duties while we wait to hear when he starts chemotherapy.

Have a wonderful week my friends and happy reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Today it almost feels like autumn is already here. Cool and breezy, it’s been ideal weather for mowing the lawn. Afterwards I went out on the deck to enjoy a sandwich and a cup of coffee, but it was unpleasantly cool and I had to move back inside. Please, no autumn yet – we’ve hardly had a summer!

Currently I am reading The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown

For Grace Dalton, her sister, Sarah, and her cousin Macy, the Devine Doughnut Shop is a sweet family legacy and a landmark in their Texas town. As the fourth generation to run the Double D, they keep their great-grandmother’s recipe secret and uphold the shop’s tradition as a coffee klatch for sharing local gossip, advice, and woes. But drama brews behind the counter, too.

Grace is a single mother struggling with an unruly teenage daughter. Heartbroken Sarah has sworn off love. Macy’s impending wedding has an unexpected hitch. And now charming developer Travis Butler has arrived in Devine with a checkbook and a handsome smile. He wants to buy the shop, expand it nationally, and boost the economy of a town divided by the prospect.

With the family’s relationships in flux, their beloved heritage up for grabs, and their future in the air, it’s amazing what determination, sass, a promise of romance, and a warm maple doughnut can do to change hearts and minds.

And doing a read/listen to The Mistress Next Door by Lesley Sanderson

<i>I know what you did. You destroyed my life. Now I’m going to take everything from you, starting with your husband. I’m your worst nightmare, and I’m closer than you think.</i>

Oliver, my husband and the father of our three little girls, used to be my rock. But recently he’s been behaving strangely, staying out late, working weekends and emotionally absent even when home. Now as I clutch a receipt for a hotel room and champagne for two, hidden away in his coat pocket, I’m devastated. What else can I assume other than he’s cheating?

I’ve risked everything for the life I have now, a life that’s a million miles from… before. Not that Oliver would know anything about that. I would do anything to hold on to the perfect future I so dearly long for. A future that is now about to come crashing down.

Because Oliver’s cheating isn’t the only threat to my family. This morning I received an anonymous note. One that changes everything. The past isn’t just haunting me, it’s coming back to destroy me. It seems that someone in our close-knit community of Prospect Close knows my secret. Someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get their revenge. They’ve already stolen my husband. How much further will they go? And what can I do to stop them…?

This week I have only one other book to read for review – The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan

After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.

After that I want to read the next book in Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series and hopefully I will fit in at least one title from my backlist.

I have received five new ARCs from Netgalley and a publisher’s widget this week to read for review. They are:

Blind Eye by Aline Templeton

The Holiday Home by Daniel Hurst

The Summer House by Keri Beevis

A Fatal Affair by A.R. Torre

Murder at an Irish Bakery by Carlene O’Connor

And the publisher’s widget is I’ll Leave You With This by Kylie Ladd

And that’s where I will leave you for the day. I have a review to write, laundry to bring in off the line and dinner to prepare.

It’s Waitangi Day here in New Zealand tomorrow, and today is the wedding anniversary of a young couple who are very dear to my heart. Happy anniversary Dan and Nettie. It was wonderful catching up with you. ❤💐🥂

Happy reading my bookish friends. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’ve had a particularly vicious tropical storm through the North Island of New Zealand over the past couple of days and it seems it’s not finished with us yet. Personally, we have escaped unscathed. My cousin and her husband are marooned in their home, they can’t get down their drive due to flooding, and if they did they’d be unable to go anywhere as their road is closed in both directions. The Mangaokewa burst its banks yesterday afternoon and houses along the riverside were evacuated. But if we think we got it bad, Auckland had it much worse with three confirmed dead and one still missing. It’s the heaviest rainfall recorded in 24 hours since records began. Although clean up has begun, it is going to be a long slow process with rain being forecast for all the coming week.

Currently I am reading One Day With You by Shari Low

One day, five lives, but whose hearts will be broken by nightfall?
It started like any other day in the picturesque village of Weirbridge.

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell #coverlove

The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

And listening to The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake

Tess Morgan has finally made her dream of restoring beautiful Kilfenora House and Gardens into a reality.

But during rehearsals for the play that forms the opening weekend’s flagship event, her dream turns into a nightmare when a devastating accident looks set to ruin her carefully laid plans.

There are rumours that Kilfenora House is cursed, but this feels personal, and becomes increasingly terrifying when more than one body is discovered. Could someone be closing in on Tess herself?

Clarissa Westmacott, ex star of stage and screen, certainly believes so, particularly when she learns that purple-flowered aconite has been picked from the Poison Garden. And Clarissa will stop at nothing to protect the friend she has come to see as a daughter…

Four tragic accidents. Or four brutal murders? Unravel The Mystery of Four . .

This week I am planning to read The Doctor’s Wife for which I have both an audio and digital ARC.

My husband is a doctor. He’s smart and charming and everybody trusts him. Except me.

On the surface, it looks like I have it all – the perfect marriage, the perfect husband, the perfect life. But it’s far from the truth.

Doctor Drew Devlin is not the respectable figure he makes out to be. The reason we moved to this beautiful, old property with a gorgeous view of the sea was because we needed to put our past behind us. It should’ve been a fresh start for us both.

Except I’ve discovered my husband has been lying to me again. He’s using the power he has in his job to mess with people’s lives, and to get exactly what he wants – no matter who it hurts.

But he’s underestimated me. I’ve had plenty of time, in this big, isolated house, to think about all of his mistakes.

And my husband has no idea what’s about to happen next…

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.

Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.

Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

In the two weeks since I last posted, I have received seven ARCs for review. They are:

Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry

The Last Passenger by Will Dean

Beginning of Forever by Catherine Bybee

The Edinburgh Mystery by Martin Edwards

The Little Board Game Cafè by Jennifer Page

The Last Dance by Mark Billingham

Do you have any of these titles on your reading radar?

Thank you to all my bookish friends who offered moral support during my husband’s recent surgery. It was greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, they have found more cancer and further surgery is on the horizon, so I will be disappearing again at some point in the reasonably near future.

Have a wonderful week of reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

BRILLIANT BOOK ALERT! This book, which I finished today – a one day read – has earned every star in the Galaxy from me.

I am too emotional at the moment to write a review about this book, but please watch for it in the coming days. I cried, and laughed, and cried some more. I now want to read everything this author has written.

Currently I am reading The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin

I am continuing with my read of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths with #4, A Room Full of Bones.

and doing a read/listen of Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza, which I am loving in both formats.

This week I have six books to read for review in addition to The Sisters We Were. They are:

A Winter Grave by Peter May

It is the year 2051. Warnings of climate catastrophe have been ignored, and vast areas of the planet are under water, or uninhabitably hot. A quarter of the world’s population has been displaced by hunger and flooding, and immigration wars are breaking out around the globe as refugees pour into neighboring countries.

By contrast, melting ice sheets have brought the Gulf Stream to a halt and northern latitudes, including Scotland, are being hit by snow and ice storms. It is against this backdrop that Addie, a young meteorologist checking a mountain top weather station, discovers the body of a man entombed in ice.

The dead man is investigative reporter, George Younger, missing for three months after vanishing during what he claimed was a hill-walking holiday. But Younger was no hill walker, and his discovery on a mountain-top near the Highland village of Kinlochleven, is inexplicable.

Cameron Brodie, a veteran Glasgow detective, volunteers to be flown north to investigate Younger’s death, but he has more than a murder enquiry on his agenda. He has just been given a devastating medical prognosis by his doctor and knows the time has come to face his estranged daughter who has made her home in the remote Highland village.

Arriving during an ice storm, Brodie and pathologist Dr. Sita Roy, find themselves the sole guests at the inappropriately named International Hotel, where Younger’s body has been kept refrigerated in a cake cabinet. But evidence uncovered during his autopsy places the lives of both Brodie and Roy in extreme jeopardy.

As another storm closes off communications and the possibility of escape, Brodie must face up not only to the ghosts of his past, but to a killer determined to bury forever the chilling secret that George Younger’s investigations had threatened to expose.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

The Village Vicar by Julie Houston

Three devoted sisters… One complicated family.

When Rosa Quinn left her childhood home in Westenbury, she never expected to return over a decade later as the village vicar. But after a health scare and catching her boyfriend cheating, Rosa jumps at the chance to start over and live closer to her triplet sisters Eva and Hannah.

But Rosa’s isn’t the only old face in the village, and when her role in the parish throws her into the path of her ex, she begins to wonder if she’s made a terrible mistake. Meanwhile, Eva and Hannah face their own troubles, as secrets about their family threaten to emerge.

Can Rosa make a life for herself in Westenbury? Or will the sisters discover you can’t run away from the past?

That Night at the Beach by Kate Hewitt

As mothers we never dare to delve into our worst-nightmare scenarios. What if… we might murmur to each other, and then shake our heads, telling ourselves it’ll never happen to us if we’re just good enough mothers. Yet here we are. And the steady beep of the heart monitor is the only evidence the child in front of us is alive…

It’s Labor Day weekend, so of course we went to the beach. Like we do every year. For a barbecue picnic with my best friend Rose. It’s the perfect tradition—drinks, games, burgers, music, laughter. Together with our husbands, my two teenage sons and her two daughters, we all arrived as the sun was still shimmering over the water, the whole evening ahead of us.

But nothing goes to plan. Old secrets emerge, tempers flare. And so we parents decide to leave the beach, telling the teenagers to enjoy themselves, reassuring them someone will be back to collect them in an hour or two.

But when I return a little while later, I know something is really wrong. Our teens are slurring their words, stumbling to the car. It’s clear they have been drinking and I’m shocked. I never expected our kids to behave this way. I’m bracing myself to have firm words with them in the morning, but the next day my concerns fade to nothing, when seventeen-year-old Bella claims my son Finn assaulted her.

Finn insists he would never do that. And I so want to believe him. Because I brought my son up right. Because a mother would know, wouldn’t she?

What I don’t know is that the answer to what happened that night on the beach may be a matter of life and death for one of our beloved children… 

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell

The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

One Day With You by Shari Lowe

One day, five lives, but whose hearts will be broken by nightfall?
It started like any other day in the picturesque village of Weirbridge.

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

One Day with You – two fateful goodbyes, two unexpected hellos, and 24 hours that change everything. 

I have received two new ARCs from Netgalley for review this week.

the audiobook The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake and narrated by Aiofe McMahon

A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

I have 17 requests pending. I have had lot of requests declined this week. 🤷‍♀️

My husband is undergoing major surgery this week, so I am not going promise to post regularly, nor to interact with other bloggers to my normal level. Please keep Pete in your prayers. ❤

The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland

EXCERPT: Sarah Brown was in her hallway face down. Ted swore and rushed in, assuming she’d had a fall.

In a second he was by her side. ‘Sarah! Sarah! Can you hear me?’ Her lack of response led him to believe she must have hit her head and knocked herself out.

Ted flinched, panicked, not knowing what to do. He felt her neck for a pulse. He’d seen it a million times on the TV. That was what they did first, wasn’t it? Fumbling with two fingers, he sought out Sarah’s carotid artery.

All he found was cold skin. Then he noticed the damp, dark patch below one shoulder blade. In it’s centre, a deep narrow wound, wet with blood.

His breath caught in his throat. Hands shaking, he reached for his phone. As he fumbled to dial for an ambulance, something made him jump.

A small, dark object slid out of her left hand.

A domino, with a name scratched onto it.

ABOUT: THE CHARITY SHOP DETECTIVE AGENCY: A serial killer is stalking the elderly of Southbourne. The only clue left behind is a domino in the hand of each victim — with a name scratched on the back.

Eighty-six-year-old Sarah Brown is found dead in her hallway one morning by her delivery man. She was stabbed in the back.

Fiona, Sue and Daisy, volunteers at the local charity shop, Dogs Need Nice Homes, can’t believe their favourite customer is dead. The ladies vow to bring the killer to justice.

With plenty of tea and cake along the way, and despite squabbles with their rivals, the Cats Alliance across the street, the Charity Shop Detective Agency is born.

Fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Janice Hallett, Simon Brett, Ian Moore and Sarah Yarwood-Lovett will adore this exciting new voice in cozy crime.

THE DETECTIVE – Level-headed Fiona has found a quiet sanctuary volunteering at the local charity shop, Dogs Need Nice Homes. And she’s found firm friendship with the strong-willed Partial Sue (she’s ever so partial to a cup of tea) and the kindly — and surprisingly tech-savvy — Daisy. Together, these ladies, with Simon Le Bon, Fiona’s scruffy haired terrier cross, investigate murders as the utterly charming Charity Shop Detective Agency.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a light hearted murder mystery which, it seems, is going to become a series.

I enjoyed the storyline, although the writing was a little stilted at times. There doesn’t seem to be a clear motive for the murder, which is quickly followed by another, and another.

Fiona, Sue and Daisy have all kinds of theories, which they try to make what little evidence they have, fit. This gets them into a fair bit of trouble with the investigating officers, and they become dispirited and consider giving up their quest. But a new discovery soon has them back on the trail, reinvigorated. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I didn’t find the characters particularly realistic. While they stopped just short of being caricatures, they weren’t really relatable either. Just like this is almost, but not quite a ‘cute’ cosy,neither is it quite an intelligent one.

Even though the three main characters aren’t particularly relatable, they are likeable. Fiona is normally a logical sort of person, resolute and self assured, but the business of trying to find a murderer makes her quite indecisive, and she frequently feels out of her depth. Partial Sue, so named because partial is her favourite word, had been a talented accountant before retirement. She has more money than Fiona and Sue put together but is a master in the art of frugality. And hoarding . . . Daisy is just Daisy. Warm-hearted she is a surprising technology whiz.

I liked this, but didn’t love it and I’m unsure, if it does develop into a series, whether I will continue to read it.

I did enjoy author Peter Boland’s own story of his writing career in the acknowledgments.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#THECHAITYSHOPDETECTIVEAGENCY #NetGalley

I: #peterboland @joffebooks

T: @PeterBoland19 @JoffeBooks

#contemporaryfiction #cosymystery #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: I have a confession to make. When I wrote this book, I was on the brink of giving up. You see, my writing career hadn’t exactly gone to plan. After fifteen years trying my hand at all sorts of genres, the rejections had stacked up.

‘Why am I bothering?’ was a question I was asking myself more and more often. I made a decision. I’d have one last crack with writing a cosy, and if that didn’t work then I’d call it a day. And here I am . . .

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland 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