The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller

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EXCERPT: The photo was a little crumpled around the edges, but – please excuse my lack of modesty – there was no denying the quality. It was a tight headshot in black and white of three pretty young women: Rose on the left, smiling and looking sideways at Bear next to her; me on Bear’s right, looking simultaneously pleased and harassed. Setting up the camera timer and making sure everyone stayed in the right place was a bit stressful. With film, you couldn’t keep trying again and again until you got it right. You had to get everything in place, then hold your breath and hope.

The photo was from the one visit to Australia that Rose and I took together, during our gap year, when we were still in our teens. When everything in life was there to be looked forward to, and it was too early for us to have made any mistakes. Before I met Richard, or David; before I got pregnant and crashed out of my degree. I looked again at our unlined, hopeful faces. So beautiful, so young.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

MY THOUGHTS: This was an enjoyable read. I laughed, and I shed a few tears. And I remembered a similar exit from my first marriage to my ‘practice husband’ as I now affectionately call him. So yes, this read brought back memories, some good, some bad, but the thing that struck me most was how well Beth Miller has captured the emotions, how she has transferred them onto paper without, at any point, making them seem trite or hackneyed. She has written with flair and humour, unafraid to dissect a marriage, to examine the relationships between a mother and daughter, between lifelong friends.

She had me wondering, at times, if Kay really knew what she was doing, what she ultimately wanted, if she had really thought this through.

Ultimately this is a story about love, about friendship, about loss, and about not losing sight of the things that matter to you. It is beautifully written; sad, funny and inspiring.

This is the second book I have read by this author, and I am developing a real liking for her work.

😢❤😂.5

#TheMissingLettersOfMrsBright #NetGalley

Some of my favourite lines from The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright:

‘You go through life, you make choices they lead to other choices, and before you know it, you’re in a place you wouldn’t have started from.’

‘I enjoy speaking English very much, but sometimes it is too English. Italian is the language of romance.’

THE AUTHOR: have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that’s how I’d like you to picture me.

I’ve published three novels, with one more about to be born, in January 2020. I’ve also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.

Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students’ unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I’ve been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won’t really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.

Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I’m now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3085457231?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Summer has returned to New Zealand after a week of very strong winds and cooler temperatures. The wind has browned off all the grass and everything is very dry . Even the lawn in our backyard has big cracks running through it. The farmers will be hoping for rain , and my garden could certainly use it, but please can we have it at night…😂🤣😂🤣

I am currently reading

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And listening to

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This week, despite the fact that I can only read my Kindle when it is connected to the power as it won’t hold a charge, I am planning on reading

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You are waiting for your husband to join you on holiday. But when he arrives, you know it’s not him…

This clever, twisty psychological thriller explores identity and pretence, paranoia and the disturbing notion that we are all, at some level, impostors.

They say she’s a murderess. She claims she’s innocent. But Lucy has been known to tell lies…

1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.

In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.

In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.

Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

I have received 4 new ARCs this week

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That’s my lot for the week.
Wishing you a happy and safe week.

Cheers and happy reading
Sandy
❤😍📚

The Daughter’s Promise by Sarah Clutton

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EXCERPT:…he said, ‘I was thinking about the house in Tasmania.’

‘Me too,’ she said.

‘I was thinking about who the woman might be.’

Willa could hear the hint of forced cheer in his voice.

‘Yes, me too.’

‘I…I know you won’t want to hear this, but I think there’s only one person who it can be,’ said Hugo. He turned and looked at her, and Willa looked back. She could see his love, his open trusting heart, but beneath all that she could see a hint of fear, and she almost couldn’t bear it.

He squeezed her gloved hand.

Willa was holding the coffee cup with her other, bare hand and focused on the warmth of it in her palm, the cold air against her knuckles. She reached down and placed it at her feet.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I suppose you’re right.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two years after a family tragedy, and still consumed by her grief, Willa receives a strange letter from halfway across the globe. She has inherited a house in Australia, in a town she’s never heard of, from a woman she doesn’t know…

Following the mystery to the inviting shores of Sisters Cove, Willa is entranced by the dilapidated old Chapel House she now owns, perched high on a windy cliff within the grounds of Merrivale Estate. As Willa’s suspicions grow about her connection to the place, she begins to look amongst the dusty artwork and sealed boxes of papers left to her, and it becomes clear that the truth is not at all what she expected.

At Merrivale, social butterfly Annabelle is alarmed by Willa’s arrival. Why did her old friend and confidante Lillian leave her home to this stranger? As the two women’s lives intersect in the small, insular world of Sisters Cove, neither realises the dark truth that connects them until it’s too late. And when that terrible secret is exposed, it could destroy the lives of everyone involved…

MY THOUGHTS: What begins as a quietly charming read about a family still devastated by the unexpected death of their teen aged daughter two years previously, slowly turns into a slightly darker read when secrets, lies, betrayals and worse are brought to light by Willa’s presence in Tasmania.

I enjoyed this book. It was touching, sad and heartwarming. There is a lot of grief in this book, beyond the obvious. And yet it is not a depressing read. There is also a lot of love, not of the sickly, romantic kind, but a deep enduring love. The characters are well portrayed, all of them with multiple layers, hidden depths.

The story is told from multiple points of view – Willa, Sylvia and Annabelle – over two timelines, currently and the 1970’s.

This was not a quick read, it is one I lingered over, enjoying the author’s depiction of the characters, her descriptive prowess. I did not enjoy Sarah Clutton’s first book, Good Little Liars, but I could see that she had talent. She has proved that with The Daughter’s Promise. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

The Daughter’s Promise is due to be published January 8, 2020.

****

#TheDaughtersPromise #NetGalley

A few of my favorite snippets from The Daughter’s Promise:

‘Kilometers made so much more sense. There were more of them for a start, so you felt better about how much exercise you’d achieved.’

‘Stars were sprinkled through the sky like powdery gems, and out to her right, the ocean was a black mass of nothingness.’

‘She’d always liked the French attitude that her mother had explained to her as a girl – one’s appearance was a favour to other people. They were the one’s who had to look at you, so you should make an effort as a sign of courtesy.’

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Clutton is an Australian author and former lawyer who writes suspense novels packed with drama and nuanced characters. Having majored in psychology in her original degree, Sarah is fascinated by people. How does the past shape us? Can we can learn empathy? What determines the outcomes when moral and legal boundaries collide?

Sarah’s work earned her the Dymocks/Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Scholarship in 2018, a national award run by one of Australia’s most successful commercial fiction authors and sponsored by one of Australia’s largest book chains. An alumna of the Australian Writers’ Centre novel writing course, and with a mostly-finished Master of Arts (in Writing) that she has no interest in finishing because she prefers making stuff up, Sarah lives with her family in the very pretty tourist town of Bowral, near Sydney. She has lived all over Australia, and if she didn’t live in Bowral, she would live in Hobart, the most beautiful city she knows.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Daughter’s Promise by Sarah Clutton 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3085455258?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Happy New Year y’all. I hope you have had a happy and safe holiday season. I don’t know what it was like wherever you may be, but we had brilliant weather up in the Bay of Islands. I had forgotten how beautiful it is up there and we’re planning on heading back up there soon.

I have just started reading

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And OMG! What an opening chapter…I can feel an all nighter coming on.

I need to download a new audiobook fo my walk to work tomorrow, but at this point have no idea what it will be.

This week I am planning on reading

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You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

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When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.

Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.

Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.

Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years.

Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.

As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…

I have received five new ARCs since I last posted, just prior to Christmas.

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Happy reading my friends.
Cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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EXCERPT: Molly stared at the house through her Ray-Bans. ‘So weird,’ she said. ‘Just to think, you lived there, all of you, you were all just, like, normal kids, going to school and stuff, having friends and then, one by one you all left her and she died, you know, completely alone in, like, the Worst House in Britain, or whatever.’ She shook her head solemnly. ‘Weird,’ she said again. ‘I mean, can you imagine that happening to us? Like, seriously? All four of us just leaving you there and all falling out with each other and Dad going off with some crazy woman and you just going completely mental and not letting anyone in and building, like, tunnels, out of, like, newspapers. Think of our house. Our lovely house, with all its lovely things in it and yeah, okay, it’s a bit too tidy for my liking but, you know, it’s a really nice house, and we all live there and we’re so happy and everything. And when I’m an adult I want to see my brothers all the time, you know, I want to go to their houses and stuff and have my kids play with their kids. I mean, you haven’t seen your brother and sister for, like, five years. Your actual brother and sister. Who you used to live with. And see every day. I mean, I just don’t get it. How can things go, like-‘ she turned to stare at Meg with wide blue eyes so wrong?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Meet the Bird Family

All four children have an idyllic childhood: a picture-book cottage in a country village, a warm, cosy kitchen filled with love and laughter, sun-drenched afternoons in a rambling garden.

But one Easter weekend a tragedy strikes the Bird family that is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear them apart.

The years pass and the children become adults and begin to develop their own quite separate lives. Soon it’s almost as though they’ve never been a family at all.

Almost.
But not quite.

Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.

MY THOUGHTS: I read The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell overnight. I could not put it down. I wanted it to never end. When it did, I felt bereft.

Jewell’s impeccable combination of characters and plot does that to me. I become totally immersed in her writing. Her characters are very ‘real’, they love and hate with passion, they are sensible, but do irrational things, they squabble and row, hold grudges and storm off in huffs, then turn around and support one another through tough times. They could be me, or you, our neighbours, our friends.

I, unusually for me, have not picked up another book since I finished this in the early hours of this morning. I need to gently disentangle myself from this family with whom I have laughed and cried, whose pain and joys I have shared. I don’t want to say goodbye to them. I want to see where Rory’s life goes, how Beth will cope.

But this book is definitely on my favourites list, to be revisited when I want a comfort read.

😍😍😍😍😍

Quote from The House We Grew Up In: The human memory is such a cruel, frustrating thing, the way it just discards things without asking permission, precious things.

THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The House I Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell and published by Random House from the Waitomo District Library. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1389580060

The Lies We Hide by S.E. Lynes

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Gripping, emotional and harrowing. . .

EXCERPT: A creak on the landing. She curls up. The water swishes loud in the tub; she cringes at the noise. Ted. He’s woken up. He’s woken up and he’s-

The bathroom door flies open. Ted. Eyes bloodshot and wild, blind but seeing, a look full of hate aimed only at her. His nose wrinkles, his hand shoots out in front of him, a starfish of fingers. She shrieks, folds herself smaller still, arms over her head, eyes closed. The smell of whisky goes up her nose, whisky and smoke, sweat and pubs. This is it. She has not got away with it. The punishment is now.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Thirty years ago, Nicola Watson lived with her parents and older brother in a respectable suburb. At ten years old, she didn’t yet understand why her stomach tightened when she heard her father’s heavy tread as he returned home late at night, or why it made her brother Graham’s stammer get worse, or why one night her mother Carol woke them both, wide-eyed and whispering, and took them out of their home and into the unknown.

Now a successful lawyer in the city, with a life poles apart from her dark beginnings, Nicola has returned home for her mother’s funeral. But as she stands in her mother’s house, remembering the woman who sacrificed everything for her children, Nicola has to confront the guilt that she feels for leaving her family behind. And the belief that she played a part in the events that led to her brother going to prison for murder.

All Carol wanted was to protect her children, but escaping her husband was only the beginning of the story. And when Nicola learns the truth of what her mother did, it will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

MY THOUGHTS: Gripping, emotional and harrowing. This is not an easy read. And not an easy book to review. The setting is as alien to me as if I were to wake up on Mars. A large portion of the book is set on an estate…. now a housing estate in New Zealand is a completely different concept. Lovely homes with manicured lawns on wide tree lined streets rather than cheap housing crammed in together or manky tower blocks where despair is the prevalent emotion and a culture of drugs and violence reigns supreme.

But this is not just a story of abuse and despair. It is a story of a mother’s love for her children, her determination that they will have a better life than hers, and the lengths she will go to to make that happen. It is a story of love and redemption, of learning to grieve, to forgive ourselves, and the lesson that what we see is not always the reality of a situation. It is also a story of how, despite our best intentions and efforts, things can still go terribly wrong.

I spent much of this read in tears. So be warned, a box of tissues is mandatory.

😪😲😳😟

#TheLiesWeHide #NetGalley

My favourite passage: Maybe love comes in different flavours, like ice-cream. And maybe she is allowed a second scoop.

THE AUTHOR: S.E. Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL.
After graduating from Leeds University, Susie lived in London before moving to Aberdeen where she worked as a producer at the BBC before moving with her husband, Paul, and two young children to Rome.
In Rome, she began to write, snatching time where she could. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.
She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing. She has also published two children’s books in Italy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Lies We Tell by S.E. Lynes 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 and

Watching What I’m Reading…

Only ten days until Christmas and I am not even remotely organised! But I guess it will happen whether I am organised or not. We held the children’s Christmas party at the local pools today and all 63 of them seemed to have a great time. The only tears were caused by a stubbed toe. So that’s a major that I can cross off my to do list.

I managed to sneak in an extra read again this week which was

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This was a thrilling five star read and I will be publishing my review tomorrow . Although if you want a preview you can find it at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3035904538

My next read is

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When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.

The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?

I am not as much of an Agatha Raisin fan as I am of the Hamish Macbeth series, but I do enjoy Beaton’s writing .

I am also planning on reading

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Ten years have passed since the events described in The Vanishing Box. Edgar Stephens is now a Superintendent and married to former DS Emma Holmes. Edgar’s wartime partner in arms, magician Max Mephisto, is a movie star in Hollywood, while his daughter Ruby has her own TV show, Ruby Magic.

The funeral of Stan Parks, aka Diablo, actor and wartime comrade to Edgar and Max, throws the gang back together. The reunion sparks all sorts of feelings. Bob Willis, now a DI, is dealing with the disappearance of local schoolgirl Rhonda Miles. Emma, frustrated by living the life of a housewife and mother, keeps thinking how much better she would run the case. She is helped by Sam Collins, a woman reporter also hampered by sexism at work. Sam notices a pattern with other missing girls. Edgar listens to the theory but doesn’t give it much credence. He is preoccupied with the threatened invasion of Brighton by Mods and Rockers on the May Bank Holiday.

The case takes a more sinister turn when one of the missing girls is found dead. Then Ruby fails to turn up for a rendezvous and it becomes clear that she too has disappeared. Emma takes risks to track down the killer herself while Edgar is working flat out dealing with violent clashes between rival gangs on Brighton’s seafront. With tension and anger hitting him on all sides, Edgar must keep the coolest of heads to track down the killer.

I have received seven (my lucky number!) new ARCs from Netgalley this week. .😂🤣

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Now all I need in my Christmas stocking is a desert island so that I can read in peace.

Stay calm and read on my friends.

❤😍📚