Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy weekend everyone!

My son and grandson have been in the South Island this week. They couldn’t have picked a much worse week in summer. The weather has been diabolical. Cold, wet and windy, with snow on two days. But they have had a wonderful time despite the weather and have sent us photos of their adventures each evening. They were going whale watching in Kaikoura this morning and flying home from Christchurch this afternoon. It is still quite windy, but not gusting like it was this morning, so hopefully the trip home won’t be too bumpy.

Couldn’t tell what time it was!

Currently I am reading Exit by Belinda Bauer. She is an author I always enjoy.

And I am listening to Dry Bones (Enzo #1) by Peter May.

This week I am planning on reading The Rosary Garden by Nicola White

It was Ali who found the body of a murdered newborn baby, hidden in the garden of her convent school. In an Ireland riven by battles of religion and reproduction, the case becomes a media sensation, even as the church tries to suppress it. But this is not the first dead baby Ali has found.

For Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine, the pressure to discover the identity of the dead child is little help against a community with secrets to protect. Gina knows all too well how many of Ireland’s girls are forced to make difficult decisions in terrible circumstances, silenced by shame. Is Ali one of those girls? Because what evidence there is, points to Ali herself…

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

At just sixteen, Nancy leaves the small island of Cape Clear for the mainland, the only member of her family to survive the effects of the Great Famine. Finding work in a grand house on the edge of Cork City, she is irrepressibly drawn to the charismatic gardener Michael Egan, sparking a love affair and a devastating chain of events that continues to unfold over three generations. Spanning more than a century, Life Sentences is the unforgettable journey of a family hungry for redemption, and determined against all odds to be free.

I have received two ARCs from Netgalley this week: Win by Harlan Coben

And Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I l❤ve that cover!

So that is all from me today. I hear Belinda Bauer calling my name!

Have a wonderful week. Take care and be kind. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What a tumultuous week it has been around the world! I am so grateful to be living in New Zealand. ❤ I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and healthy.

Currently I am reading Trafficked (The Missing Children Case Files #3) by M. A. Hunter. This was published earlier this week.

I have also started reading The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I have only read the prologue and already I am enthralled! I love this author.

I am almost finished listening to Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the world of books and bookstores, a Netgalley audiobook ARC. There are some excellent stories in this collection. My favourite so far would have to be The Book of Virtues by Ken Bruen.

This week I am planning on reading The Ocean House: Stories by Mary-Beth Hughes.

Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith’s family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore.

And, The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison.

There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.

When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.

But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:

Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.

Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.

Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…

I have four new ARCs from Netgalley this week: The Gorge by Matt Brolly

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

Forgotten Victim by Helen H. Durrant

And, The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

I have requested a couple of audiobooks, but my approvals don’t seem to be in any hurry to come through. 🤷‍♀️

I am not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but needs must. There were so many things I was planning on doing during the two weeks I had off work, and so many things that are still on my list, uncompleted or, worse still, not even started. I always overestimate what I can do in the time I have available. My Netgalley back list is evidence of this failing!

Look after yourselves my friends and stay safe.

Pop in tomorrow check out my review of a book that I didn’t really expect to love, but ended up being a five star read for me!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

EXCERPT: When Eudora Honeysett hears the flip-clunk of her letterbox on this particular Thursday morning, her heart skips before she pulls it back down to earth like a rapidly descending hot air balloon. It will be junk mail as usual. Unsolicited junk. As she struggles to a standing position, retrieves her stick and anchors herself to gravity, Eudora marvels, not for the first time, at humanity’s ability to fill the world with unwanted junk. The oceans are stuffed with plastic, the landfills with broken three-year-old fridges, and her doormat with an endless littering of pizza leaflets, advertisements for retirement homes, and flyers from individuals offering to re-pave a driveway she doesn’t have. Occasionally, she casts a critical eye over the expensively produced retirement home brochures filled with photographs of smiling elderly couples toasting their successful move to the old person’s equivalent of a Premier Inn. Eudora can’t imagine anything worse. She was born in this house, and intends to die in this house, hopefully sooner rather than later.

ABOUT ‘EUDORA HONEYSETT IS QUITE WELL, THANK YOU’: Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

MY THOUGHTS: Initially I didn’t particularly like Eudora Honeysett. We’ve all known an elderly woman like her, self-contained, forever correcting grammar and pronunciation, and complaining about everything. She doesn’t join in with anything, doesn’t associate with anyone. Her routine is rigid. She is lonely, but would never admit it. But as her life story was revealed, I began to understand her. By the end of the audiobook, I admired her.

This is the story of an elderly woman facing death, on her terms. This is not a depressing story. It is a story of hope. It is confirmation that it is never too late to start living, or to make friends.

It would have been easy to over-sentimentalise this tale, but Annie Lyons has adroitly avoided this trap. Instead it is poignant and touching, honest and realistic.

The character of Rose, the child next door, who inveigles herself into Eudora’s life, is a breath of fresh air. Rose is full of life, of joy de vivre. She is a force to be reckoned with, impossible to resist. She is a child who prefers the company of adults after being bullied at school. Her family adopts Eudora, and Rose and Stan, the man who rescues Eudora after a fall, slowly broaden Eudora’s horizons.

We all think about death and, naturally at her age, so does Eudora. Annie Lyons uses Eudora’s story to introduce us to the concept of the death doula, and the option of the arranged death. There is a lot of information contained in this story, unbiased and unemotionally presented.

Narrator Nicolette McKenzie does a wonderful job of the many different voices and I will be watching for her name on other recordings.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#EudoraHoneysettisQuiteWellThankYou #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: After a career in bookselling and publishing, Annie Lyons published five books including the best-selling, Not Quite Perfect. When not working on her novels, she teaches creative writing. She lives in south-east London with her husband and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Audio UK, One More Chapter via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You, written by Annie Lyons and narrated by Nicolette McKenzie. 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 Neighbours by Hannah Mary McKinnon

EXCERPT: I forced my eyes open.

And I saw him.

‘Tom.’ My own voice this time, barely a whisper. ‘Tom.’ A little stronger, louder.

My brother lay a few meters away in what had been my blue Ford Capri, but which was now an upturned carcass of broken glass and mangled steel. The flashing of the hazard lights illuminated Tom’s bloody face every few seconds, a perverse freak show. He hung upside down. Unlike me, he was still in the car, somewhere between the front and back seats, his arms and legs bent at impossible angles. Eyes wide and glazed. Staring at me. Desperate. Begging.

ABOUT ‘THE NEIGHBOURS’: Abby looks forward to meeting the family who just moved in across the street—until she realizes they’re the one couple who could expose her deepest secrets

After a night of fun back in 1992, Abby is responsible for a car crash that kills her beloved brother. It’s a mistake she can never forgive, so she pushes away Liam, the man she loves most, knowing that he would eventually hate her for what she’s done, the same way she hates herself.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the driver who first came upon the scene of Abby’s accident, the man who pulled her to safety before the car erupted in flames—the man who could not save her brother in time. It’s this guilt, this regret, that binds them together. They understand each other. Or so Nate believes.

In a strange twist of fate, Liam moves into the neighborhood with his own family, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the terrible secrets they’ve both been carrying…

MY THOUGHTS: Told from the points of view of Abby and Nate, Nancy and Liam, and extracts from Sarah’s diary, The Neighbours is an excellent and intriguing piece of domestic noir that spans two timelines.

‘Ashes to ashes.
Dust to dust.
Lies stay secret.
And so they must.’

Abby has had a lot to contend with: her father’s abandonment; estrangement from her mother; the belief that she’s never deserved Nate’s ‘no strings attached’ love and that she is unable to reciprocate it; her failure to bond with her daughter and her need to spy on her; causing the death of her brother; and walking away from the one man she truly loved.

Abby believes that she has left her tragic past behind. She has a husband who adores her and, as he says, he loves enough for both of them. But what happens when your past moves in next door? Is Abby strong enough to resist, or will she give in to temptation?

The characters are well depicted. Abby is a ‘closed off’ type of person who doesn’t like to let anyone get close, not even Nate, her husband, who adores her and cherishes her. Sarah, their daughter, is very close to her dad, and barely tolerates her mother. Sarah is also extremely resourceful. Nancy is insecure and lives in the shadow of her successful and charming husband, Liam. Abby and Liam have met before, but they’re keeping that a secret…

The Neighbours is an exciting read that will keep you turning the pages as secret after secret is revealed, taking the reader full circle, back to the car crash that begins this story.

The ending is clever and cataclysmic. This is a story filled with betrayal, lies, secrets and love. There are twists that, in the spirit of Christmas, just keep on giving.

This is my second book by this author, and I am hooked. So why not 5 stars? Nate has only ever kept one secret from Abby and he has always sworn that he wouldn’t add to the list. He does, and we know what the second secret is, but we never find out what the first was. And I want to know!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

‘Whatever happens, spring and summer will always come. Things will always get better.’

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the UK and grew up in Switzerland. Unsurprisingly I love chocolate, mountains and cheese, and books, of course.

When I moved to Canada with my husband and three sons in 2010 I went through an (early) mid-life crisis. Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion; writing – and never looked back.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin, MIRA, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Neighbours by Hannah Mary McKinnon 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 Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: I rip the takeaway menus off the cork noticeboard on the wall to make space for a Grace collage. The dark images from outside her flat and the light ones from the brightly lit department store. There’s room for plenty more.

I wonder what she’ll think of my photos. But my collection isn’t ready yet. I want to win her over first before I surprise her with my work and she sees how good it is. I thought she might be in touch after seeing me this morning, but my phone stays silent. I’ll give her a bit more time and if I don’t hear from her I’ll send another photo to stop her forgetting me. The photo board looks good on the wall, makes the flat look more like home. Grace’s eyes follow me around the room, warming me inside. The adult Grace has taken over from the teenager who used to live in my head, whose face I was afraid of forgetting. My favourite photo is the one where she looked up and saw me this morning. When our eyes met across the room. I’ve captured the haunted look that flitted across her face.

I won’t stop haunting her until she gives me what I want.

ABOUT ‘THE ORCHID GIRLS’: They called them the Orchid Girls.

Grace. Charlotte. Molly.

One of them is in love.

One of them is a liar.

One of them is dead.

One day, three became two – and no one knows the truth. What really happened that summer?

MY THOUGHTS: This is not the ‘breathless, gripping and twisty story of love, obsession and dark secrets’ that the promotional blurb promises, at least not for me. Initially I felt that there was a more palpable air of menace present than in this author’s most recent book, The Birthday Weekend, which I read last week. But the story quickly becomes slower and quite repetitive. There is a distinct lack of suspense, and at times the writing appears quite disordered.

The plot holds great promise, and had the author been able to inject some suspense into her writing, and organize her thoughts a little better, this could have been a really good read. There are certainly some interesting concepts that could have been better developed.

The story is told over two timelines, 2002, and the current day from the points of view of Molly and Grace. This is interspersed with extracts from the diaries of all three girls, and newspaper reports.

I honestly didn’t feel that the diary extracts added much, if any value, to the story. They felt like filler. The newspaper reports were far more informative.

(view spoiler)

I loved The Woman at 46 Heath Street, but the other books I have read by this author have failed to live up to it. I hate to say it, but I think that my reading relationship with this author may be at an end.

⭐⭐⭐.2

THE AUTHOR: Lesley attended the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 The Orchid Girls (then On The Edge) was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson 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 my webpage

Watching what I’m reading…

Only a few days to go, and Christmas will be all over again. We aren’t seeing Dustin and Luke until Boxing Day, so we have invited a few other empty nesters for Christmas. It will be a fairly laid back affair; lots of nibbles, salads and bbq.

I don’t seem to have read much this week, a combination of work and my ongoing health issues. I have to learn not to overdo it when I am having a good day because I inevitably crash and burn the following day.

I am currently reading The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson, which is a backlist title from Netgalley. I have had it since 2018,so it’s good to get it read. One less bank-title to feel guilty about. I am much preferring it to The Birthday Weekend which I finished this week.

I am almost finished A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride, another back-title from Netgalley.

And I have just finished listening to The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7) by Elly Griffiths.

I have yet to download something new to listen to. I also need to write my review, which I will post tomorrow.

I have nothing from Netgalley that needs reading for review this week, but another member of my local library book club has passed on a new release she thought I would like, Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden. Betty really enjoyed it. Another new Australian author for me.

You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.

As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…

And I have a copy of The Dry by Jane Harper, so I would also like to read that this week.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

I only have two new ARCs from Netgalley this week (Susan stop rolling your eyes!)

Eudora Honeysett is Just Fine Thank You by Annie Lyons is my first audiobook download, which has been beset by problems. Like my ipod is too old to support the Netgalley Shelf app! So I guess I will be buying a new ipod tomorrow.

I have also received The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

My posting may well be a bit erratic again this week, so I will wish you all a happy, healthy and safe festive season now, just in case.

Btw, my tree looks NOTHING like this!

The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: I go back downstairs. Daisy is in the kitchen with Amy. They both look startled to see me, as if I’ve disturbed something.

‘What’s up?’ Daisy’s posture is rigid and Amy is twisting a curl around her finger.

‘You tell her,’ Daisy says.

‘It’s Sam,’ Amy says. ‘He’s going to be arriving much later than he said.’

‘That’s okay,’ I say. ‘We already knew that, and it doesn’t really matter -‘

‘No, it isn’t okay.’ Daisy’s sharp tone takes me by surprise, makes me flinch.

‘Sorry.’ I hold up my hands. ‘Nothing to do with me.’

‘It’s not that,’ Amy says. ‘It’s the reason he’s late. He isn’t working, like he said he was.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘He’s at the police station.’

‘Oh no.’ I sit down with a bump on the hard wooden chair. Images of police cars, ambulances, a broken body flash into my mind. ‘Has he had an accident?’

‘He’s been called in to answer some questions.’ Amy looks at me as she says this, and a chill envelops my body. I know what she’s going to say. Hannah. The journalist. Blackwood Forest. My mind is on fast-forward, willing her to spit it out. ‘About what he was doing the day Hannah disappeared.’

ABOUT ‘THE BIRTHDAY WEEKEND’: Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.

Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They’ve not met as a group since. Until now.

As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.

MY THOUGHTS: Better than average, but not great.

Amy, Kat, Louise and Daisy were a tight bunch at university, along with Hannah whose death was ruled a suicide. For Louise, going to university was a big adventure. For Kat, it was the chance to escape a miserable home life. Amy had a passion for knowledge. Daisy wanted to be on stage, the star of the show. All Hannah had ever wanted was to be loved. These five gravitated towards one another and formed a tight knit group until Hannah’s death. Although her death is ruled a suicide, and this suits each of them for one reason or another, none of them have ever really believed it.

The thing that I had most difficulty with was that if they were all so close, wouldn’t they have turned to each other for support after Hannah’s death? ‘They’ve never met as a group since.’ I find that more than odd. And they’ve never talked about it together? Really? That is just downright strange! Even stranger, Louise has never told her husband Theo about Hannah’s death. This is a major life event! Could you just blithely sail on through the rest of your life and never mention your friend’s name again? I couldn’t.

Then there’s a journalist who is introduced into the story and then . . . nothing. What was the point?

I guessed reasonably early on who was responsible for Hannah’s death, and I was mostly right, but there was an unexpected twist to the denouement.

I mostly enjoyed The Birthday Weekend, but it doesn’t measure up to the two other books I have read by this author.

The Birthday Weekend was originally to have been released as Our Little Secret but has undergone a prepublication title change.

⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheBirthdayWeekend #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lesley attended the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 The Orchid Girls (then On The Edge) was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading…

Currently I am sitting on the deck enjoying the view and the birdsong. There is a gentle breeze, it’s not overly hot, and I feel very relaxed (lazy!) Peter mowed the lawns and tidied the vegetable garden while I was at work this morning, there is a cake baking in the oven, and my neighbour has dropped over some bok choy which I will use in a stir fry for dinner tonight. My Christmas shopping is all sorted, just the wrapping to do now. Oh yes, and find the Christmas lights, which are who knows where….I haven’t actually seen them in the eighteen months since we moved.

Currently I am reading Consolation by Garry Disher, #3 in the excellent Australian crime series based around country cop Paul Hirschausen.

I am also almost half way through A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride. I love his dark humour.

And I am listening to The Ghost Fields #7 in Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series.

I only have one read for review due this week, The Birthday Weekend, previously titled Our Little Secret, by Lesley Sanderson. I will read this after I finish Consolation.

Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.

Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They’ve not met as a group since. Until now.

As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.

Time permitting, I will read a few more back titles and get a few more of those overdue ARCs off my Netgalley shelf.

After having a few weeks of only one or two new ARCs, I have seven this week. What can I say? They are my Christmas present to myself! Plus Carla of https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com and Susan of https://susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com have a lot to answer for. I have my Netgalley search for titles page open ready and waiting as I read their posts!

My new ARCs are: Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths, #13 in the Ruth Galloway series

The Art of Death by David Fennell

And, finally, A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker

That’s my lot for today. I am off to take a look at this cake then take a look in the garage in case the lights are down there. We went away over Christmas and New Year last year, so never put them up…

Have a happy Sunday.

Cheers

Sandy

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

EXCERPT: On a Tuesday morning in the middle of September, Olive Kit­teridge drove carefully into the parking lot of the marina. It was early—she drove only in the early hours now—and there were not many cars there, as she had expected there would not be. She nosed her car into a space and got out slowly; she was eighty-two years old, and thought of herself as absolutely ancient. For three weeks now she had been using a cane, and she made her way across the rocky pathway, not glancing up so as to be able to watch her foot­ing, but she could feel the early-morning sun and sensed the beauty of the leaves that were turned already to a bright red at the tops of the trees.

Once inside, she sat at a booth that had a view of the ocean and ordered a muffin and scrambled eggs from the girl with the huge hind end. The girl was not a friendly girl; she hadn’t been friendly in the year she’d worked here. Olive stared out at the water. It was low tide, and the seaweed lay like combed rough hair, all in one direction. The boats that remained in the bay sat graciously, their thin masts pointing to the heavens like tiny steeples. Far past them was Eagle Island and also Puckerbrush Island with the evergreens spread across them both, nothing more than a faint line seen from here. When the girl—who practically slung the plate of eggs with the muffin onto the table—said, hands on her hips, “Anything else?,” Olive just gave a tiny shake of her head and the girl walked away, one haunch of white pants moving up then coming down as the other haunch moved up; up and down, huge slabs of hind end.

ABOUT ‘OLIVE AGAIN’: Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Elizabeth Strout’s writing. I loved Olive Kitteridge, but I love Olive Again even more. While Strout meanders through Olive’s life and the lives of those around her, she brings back memories of our own lives, things we have done, and people we have known. She makes us look at our own relationships, the way we treat people, and our expectations of them.

In Olive Again, Strout examines aging, loss, grief, loneliness, and the ways in which we have to adapt both physically and mentally to these challenges. She treats the breaking down of our bodies with empathy and humor. After all, as Olive says, ‘ That’s life, nothing you can do about it.’

I like Olive. More than like her. And I plan on visiting with her frequently.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Olive Again written by Elizabeth Strout, narrated by Kimberley Farr, and published by Random House Audio. 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me. I had a bit of a relapse mid week, which while not bad enough to put me back in hospital, certainly knocked the stuffing out of me. I have read only two books this week, which is pretty much unheard of! I just kept falling asleep 😴😴😴😴😴😴

Friday and Saturday I spent with my grandson. We had morning tea with his other grandma, and her mother whom he calls Granny. We had a lovely catch up, then Luke and I went home and had a rest before heading off to his daycare Christmas party. That was lots of fun and I took plenty of photos

We were both pretty tired after that and went home and lay on our beds and read until dinner. Saturday morning and he had a birthday party to attend, and after I collected him it was a replay of Friday afternoon. Rest and read. I am back home today and just taking it easy. Pete is out fishing, so hopefully we will have nice fresh fish for dinner tonight.

Currently I am reading Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher, an Australian author. This is the first book in his Paul Hirschausen series, of which I have the second and third books, Peace, and Consolation, from Netgalley to read. Loving this so far.

I am also reading Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristen Harper.

I have just this morning finished listening to Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. Watch for my review tomorrow.

Not sure what I am going to listen to next, but I have lots of wonderful suggestions from Carla to follow up on. Check out her blog https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com , she is the queen of audiobooks!

This week I am planning on reading The Open House by Sam Carrington

Everyone’s welcome. But not everyone leaves…

Nick and Amber Miller are splitting up and selling their Devon family home. But despite the desirable location, the house isn’t moving. Not a single viewing so far.

When their estate agent suggests an open house event, Amber agrees, even as she worries about their gossiping neighbours attending and snooping around their home.

But Amber has more to worry about than nosy neighbours. Because thirteen people enter her house that afternoon, and only twelve leave.

And I would like to start Peace by Garry Disher, which is my idea of a Christmas read. 😉

Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work-welfare checks and working bees-is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful.

Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.

Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

I have only two new ARCs from Netgalley this week:

An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

Oh! Isn’t that a beautiful cup and saucer set!

And The Day My Husband Left by Amy Miller

That’s my lot for today. I shall try to post more regularly this week, which means taking better care of myself. The problem is that I am so used to doing certain things at work that I just do them automatically without thinking, and then pay the price later. I guess I will learn with time!

Stay safe everyone!