Magic Lessons (Practical Magic #0.1) by Alice Hoffman

EXCERPT: Hannah came around from the apothecary garden as Maria was studying the pin that had been cast into the tall grass. In the girl’s hands, the silver turned black in an instant, as if brushed with dark paint, though the rubies shone more brightly because of her touch. Hannah clutched the leeks she had gathered more tightly to her chest, and felt an ache inside her bones. The wide-brimmed straw hat she wore to protect her from the sun fell from her head, and she didn’t bother to go after it. What she had long suspected had now been shown to be true. She’d felt it from the start, that first day under the junipers when she spied the baby in her basket, a rare sight that had spread cold pinpricks along her spine. As she’d unwrapped Maria from her blanket, she’d spied an unusual birthmark in the shape of a star, hidden in the crease of the girl’s inner elbow. Right away she wondered if this was the cause of the child’s abandonment, for bloodline witches were said to be marked in such sly, concealed places, on the scalp, upon the small of the back, at the breastbone, along the inner arm. It was one thing to learn magic, but quite another to be born with it.

ABOUT: MAGIC LESSONS (PRACTICAL MAGIC 0.1) – Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

MY THOUGHTS: Love potion #9? There’s a recipe contained in Magic Lessons. But there is a tenth love potion, an enchantment only fit for those so desperate that they do not fear the consequences. There are always consequences.

It is said that love makes the world go round. But some swear by revenge. It must always be remembered though, that whatever you cast out into the world will come back to you threefold. Cast a spell in haste? Repent at leisure.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned . . . from remedies for fevers, salves for cuts, scrapes and infections, a cure for colic, and for dysentery, (no recipes, but it makes for interesting reading) to spells for all manner of things.

But this is mere embroidery for the cloth of the story, of how it all began, the heritage and the legacy of the Owen women.

Despite that we are told the story, rather than experiencing it, it did not take long for Hoffman’s beautiful writing to enchant and bewitch me. The descriptions are vivid, as are the characters. It is an intense blend of history, love and family saga. The witch trials of Salem are touched on, as is the inhumane treatment of women in the 1600s, usually at the hands of men who felt threatened by them, or who simply saw it as a sport.

Prepare to have your heart shattered, and shattered again. Neither the characters nor the plot are predictable. Having just finished Magic Lessons, I am not sure that I am ready to be reimmersed in the 21st century. I may need to brew some calming tea. Oh, and I must remember not to cut my parsley with a knife; to add Hyssop and Horehound to my shopping list; and to buy my own paper copy of Magic Lessons.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.6

#MagicLessons #NetGalley

These are the lessons to be learned:
Drink chamomile tea to calm the spirit.
Feed a cold and starve a fever (I remember both my Nan and my Mum telling me that).
Read as many books as you can.
Always choose courage.
Never watch another woman burn.
Know that love is the only answer.

THE AUTHOR: Alice Hoffman is an American novelist and young-adult and children’s writer, best known for her 1995 novel Practical Magic, which was adapted for a 1998 film of the same name. Many of her works fall into the genre of magic realism and contain elements of magic, irony, and non-standard romances and relationships. (Wikipedia)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for providing a digital ARC of Magic Lessons (Practical Magic #0.1) 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 . . .

Happy Sunday! I have been at work this morning, came home and tussled with a few weeds in the back yard. The jury is still out on who won that round! I swear they grow faster than I can deal to them. I can almost feel them nipping at my heels on the ground I have just cleared. Such are the joys of a warm wet spring!

Currently I am reading Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman.

This is a series that has been written back to front – the first book published was Practical Magic, published in 1995 (Practical Magic #1). I have yet to read this. The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic #0.2) followed in 2017. I was captivated and enchanted. Magic Lessons (Practical Magic #0.1) was published October 2020, and tells of the beginning of the Owen’s family bloodline.

I have just started listening to Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr. I only discovered this author earlier this year.

This week I am planning to read A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen (Jack Taylor #16)

Jack Taylor has finally escaped the despair of his violent life in Galway in favor of a quiet retirement in the country with his friend Keefer, a former Rolling Stones roadie, and a falcon named Maeve. But on a day trip back into the city to sort out his affairs, Jack is hit by a truck in front of Galway’s Famine Memorial, left in a coma but mysteriously without a scratch on him.

When he awakens weeks later, he finds Ireland in a frenzy over the so-called “Miracle of Galway.” People have become convinced that the two children spotted tending to him are saintly, and the site of the accident sacred. The Catholic Church isn’t so sure, and Jack is commissioned to help find the children to verify the miracle or expose the stunt.

But Jack isn’t the only one looking for these children. A fraudulent order of nuns needs them to legitimatize its sanctity and becomes involved with a dangerous arsonist. Soon, the building in which the children are living burns down. Jack returns to his old tricks, and his old demons, as his quest becomes personal.

And, The Searcher by Tana French

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door

This week I received three new ARCs from Netgalley:

Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristen Harper (thank you to my major enablers, Carla and Susan, for this one!) Isn’t the cover gorgeous!

The Boy Between by Josiah Hartley and Amanda Prowse

and The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean

No doubt after I have read Susan’s, Carla’s, and Carol’s posts today, I will be rushing back to Netgalley, my requesting finger quivering in anticipation.

Happy reading my friends. Sitting here in the relative safety of New Zealand, I am worried for all my reading friends scattered around the world where Covid-19 is raging out of control. Take care my friends. Stay home in safety and read.

Sandy

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Elevation by Stephen King

EXCERPT: That was a gorgeous late October in Castle Rock, with day after day of cloudless blue skies and warm temperatures. The politically progressive minority spoke of global warming; the more conservative majority called it an especially fine Indian summer that would soon be followed by a typical Maine winter; everyone enjoyed it. Pumpkins came out on stoops, black cats and skeletons danced in the windows of houses, trick-or-treaters were duly warned at an elementary school assembly to stay on the sidewalks when the big night came, and only take wrapped treats. The high schoolers went in costume to the annual Halloween dance in the gym, for which a local garage band, Big Top, renamed themselves Pennywise and the Clowns.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

MY THOUGHTS: King has, in his own relaxed and enjoyable style, written an enigmatic medical mystery. No, there’s no beautiful nurses, but there is one elderly, retired physician, Doctor Bob Ellis, who initially believes that Scott Carey is playing some kind of prank on him. For Scott can stand on the good doc’s scale in his heaviest winter clothes with his pockets full of rocks and weigh the same as he does buck naked. But that’s not all . . . but then it never is with Mr King, is it?

This is not a horror story, so don’t be afeared that monsters are going to lure little kiddies down drains, or that evil clowns are going to pop out of them. This is a story that I read with a smile on my face, and finished with a tear in my eye.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

‘Everyone should have this, he thought, and perhaps, at the end, everyone does. Perhaps in their time of dying, everyone rises.’

‘He thought he had discovered one of life’s great truths (and one he could have done without): the only thing harder than saying goodbye to yourself, a pound at a time, was saying goodbye to your friends.’

THE AUTHOR: Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels

DISCLOSURE: I own my paperback copy of Elevation by Stephen King, published by Hodder. I purchased it during the initial stages of the New Zealand Covid-19 lockdown, but it has only just called to me to be read. I have this strange relationship with Mr King’s books. I buy them as soon as they are released, then place them on my bedside table where I see them first thing in the morning and last thing at night, where I smile at them and think of the joy of reading them, and occasionally trail my fingers lovingly across the covers, until one day they seem to say to me, ‘All right, just get on with it, will you!’ And I do.

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 is Father’s Day here in New Zealand so happy father’s day to all the dads out there. It’s a fairly dismal day, wet and windy, so we have postponed the plans we had made for this afternoon until next week. Currently we are waiting for the Supercar racing out of Townsville, Queensland, Australia to start. There is the delicious aroma of curried sausages (Chelsea Winters – Eat) simmering away in the slow cooker drifting through to the lounge. All is well in our little world.

I have had a good reading week, although I deviated from my reading plan as you may have noticed if you have been following my reviews during the week.

I am currently reading Cry Baby by Mark Billingham, #17 in the Tom Thorne series. This story is set in 1996 and is the prequel to Sleepyhead which was the first book I ever read by Billingham.

I am listening to an audiobook by a New Zealand author, Katherine Hayton, called The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton which is set in the South Island of New Zealand.

You may have a feeling of deja vu as you read on regarding what I plan on reading this week.

Night Whistler by Greg Woodland.

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

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

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

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

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

My copy of Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian McKinty, #6 in the Sean Duffy has finally arrived, so I want to read that also.

Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece.

I have 6 new ARCs from Netgalley this week . . . so I guess you could say that once again, I have fallen off the wagon!

I have Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, but I plan to read Practical Magic before I start this. I read and loved The Rules of Magic last year.

Peace by Garry Disher, Australian fiction.

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Stolen Children by Michael Wood

And Living Ayurveda by Claire Ragozzino. I have been going to Ayurveda yoga classes over the winter and have really enjoyed them, so couldn’t resist this title when I saw it. Even the cover invokes a feeling of calm and peace.

Have a wonderful week my friends. I hope that, wherever in the world you are, the Covid-19 situation is easing. Keep calm and read on. In our local library, even the books are put into quarantine when they are returned!

Happy reading!

Sandy ❤😍📚☕🍪

The Fireman by Joe Hill

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EXCERPT: His newfound calm did not entirely surprise her. Terror was a fire that held you trapped in the top floor of a burning building; the only way to escape it was to jump. He had been stoking himself up to this last leap for weeks. She had heard it in his voice, every time they talked on the phone, even if she didn’t recognize it at the time. He had made his choice at last and it had brought him the peace he was looking for. He was ready to go out the window; he wanted only to be holding her hand on the way down.

What did surprise her was her own calm. She wondered at it. In the days before the earth began to burn, she had carried anxiety to work with her every morning and brought it home with her every night; a nameless, inconsiderate companion that had a habit of poking her in the ribs whenever she was trying to relax. And yet in those days there was nothing really to be anxious about. Her head would spin at the thought of defaulting on her student loans, of getting into another yelling match with her neighbour about his dog’s habit of tearing open garbage and spreading it all over her lawn. And now she had a baby in her, and sickness crawling on her skin, and Jakob was crazy, sitting there watching her with his gun, and there was only this quiet readiness, which she irrationally believed had been waiting for her all her life.

‘At the end, I get to be the person I always wanted to be,’ she thought.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

MY THOUGHTS: I said it after reading NOS4A2,and I will say it again, ‘Joe Hill is definitely his father’s son. He writes with the same easy narrative flow and sardonic wit.’

Reading Joe Hill’s writing is like sitting down and having a good yarn with someone who has led the most fascinating life. It’s an immersive experience. I forgot I was reading. I experienced every step of Harper’s journey. I smelled the burning, felt the heat, and even imagined the beautiful glowing lacy patterns across my own skin.

Hill has written a chilling novel about a global pandemic long before the advent of Covid-19. Instead of a pneumonia-like infection, this spore causes spontaneous combustion, which threatens to reduce civilisation to ashes. But what if there was a way to harness it, to make it work for you, rather than against you? Enter the Fireman, aka John Rookwood. But are his skills enough to save his group from the Cremation Squad, a group of the uninfected determined to exterminate the infected.

He is aided by the pregnant nurse, Harper, a fan of Mary Poppins. ‘She had all her life longed for a world that operated like an early sixties Disney musical, with spontaneous song and dance routines to celebrate important events like sharing a first kiss or getting the kitchen spick and span.’ Despite these fantasies, this woman has a heart of gold and a core of steel.

There are a lot of parallels between the situations in The Fireman and our current situation. The chaos. The fear. The misinformation. The justification of certain actions – ‘The people in charge can always justify doing terrible things in the name of the greater good. A slaughter here, a little torture there. It becomes moral to do things that would be immoral if an ordinary individual did ‘em.’

But there are some wonderfully ‘good’ characters in this book to counterbalance the bad, the evil, the misguided. The hard part is working out who is who.

There are multiple musical references as well as literary ones. I have made a ‘Joe Hill – The Fireman’ playlist to go alongside my ‘Adrian McKinty – Sean Duffy’, and ‘Ken Bruen- Jack Taylor’ playlists.

I finished this read with tears seeping from my eyes. It doesn’t end how I expected. But the ending is perfect. The Fireman contains many lessons for us. I hope we learn them.

‘So much kindness. So many people looking after us. They don’t know a thing about us except that we’re in need….we need kindness like we need to eat. It satisfies something in us we can’t do without.’

Brilliant, beautiful, terrifying, sad and uplifting.

❤❤❤❤❤

#TheFireman #NetGalley

‘There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone always dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your children. Or your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.’

THE AUTHOR: Joe Hill, born in 1972 as Joseph Hillstrom King, is an American writer of speculative fiction. Hill is the second child of the authors Stephen and Tabitha King. His younger brother Owen King is also a writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Orion Publishing Group via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Fireman by Joe Hill 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

South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

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Magical!

EXCERPT: It was the kind of day in Buttonwood, Alabama, where trouble slipped into town with the breeze, jarring awake sleepy springtime leaves on the massive oaks and sky-high hickories. It scraped parched dirt, sending dust skittering along the trail like it was running for cover. It whistled its warning, plain as day to anyone who cared to listen.

If anyone could recognize the cautionary tune, it was me.

I was a Bishop after all. My family name was practically synonymous with the word ‘trouble’. Daddy, Twyla, and my three brothers had embraced trouble like long-lost kin, consequences be damned. And look where that had landed them – each now dead and buried.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Blue Bishop has a knack for finding lost things. While growing up in charming small-town Buttonwood, Alabama, she’s happened across lost wallets, jewelry, pets, her wandering neighbor, and sometimes, trouble. No one is more surprised than Blue, however, when she comes across an abandoned newborn baby in the woods, just south of a very special buttonwood tree.

Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton is at a crossroads. She has always tried so hard to do the right thing, but her own mother would disown her if she ever learned half of Sarah Grace’s secrets.

The unexpected discovery of the newborn baby girl will alter Blue’s and Sarah Grace’s lives forever. Both women must fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love. In doing so, they uncover long-held secrets that reveal exactly who they really are–and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of family.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘What’s that Dahl quote? ‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’

I found magic in this wonderful book. By the end of the first page, I knew that I had found something special. Heather Webber, whom I have never read before, reached out and touched my heart, enchanted my mind, and kept me enamored right through to the last page.

The characters are depicted so clearly and cleverly that they are never anything less than real. ‘Sarah Grace…..if she were a book, her binding would be pristine, and her pages glued together to hide what was inside.’ ‘If there were a personification of Southern Gothic, it would be Oleta. Dressed in one of her overly starched, vintage short-sleeve shirtwaist dresses with matching pillbox hat, she was altogether nightmarish with her nearly skeletal figure, short grey hair, black eyes, sharp cheekbones, barbed tongue, and utter self-righteousness.’

The writing is gentle and enthralling. It is Southern. I could hear the characters in my mind. The story of this abandoned baby tore at my heartstrings and misted my eyes. Notice that I didn’t say ‘unloved.’ Baby Flora is loved greatly, by a large number of people.

There is a lot of love in this book. Not romance. Love. Blue’s love for this tiny baby left for her to find. Her love for her family, the notorious Bishops. Marlo and her love for her husband Moe, now suffering from dementia. And magic. The magic of love.

There is also a good dose of mystery in South of the Buttonwood Tree, and it’s not confined to the identity of the baby’s mother.

If you need a little magic in your life, or you want a wonderful read that will make you forget the current troubles in the world, this is the book that will do it.

❤❤❤❤.6

‘In the book of life, everyone has chapters they don’t like reading out loud.’

THE AUTHOR: Heather Webber, aka Heather Blake, is the author of more than twenty-five novels. She loves to read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, and bake. She currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hard at work on her next book.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber 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 Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy

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EXCERPT: ‘the truth is, everyone is winging it.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

MY THOUGHTS: I received this book for my birthday from my good friend Gayel, who has an extraordinary talent for finding me books that I love that I would never have picked out for myself. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is one such book. I can already think of a few people for whom I am going to gift copies.

It is beautifully illustrated, reminiscent of the style of the illustrations in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books and written with the same down to earth wisdom. Perfect for the days when you’re not quite….., and the world is a bit daunting/overwhelming/scary.

Delightful and enchanting, this book is ageless, and written for all ages. It is inspiring, comforting. And there is cake.

💝💖💞💖💝

‘Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlie Macksey was born during a snowy winter in Northumberland. He has been a cartoonist for The Spectator and a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. He has collaborated with Richard Curtis for Comic Relief, and Nelson Mandela on a lithograph project, ‘The Unity Series.’ Collectors of Mackesy’s works include Elizabeth Gilbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Roger Waters, Richard Curtis, The Murdoch Freuds, Tim Bevan, M. Night Shyamalan, Bear Grylls, Howard Goodall, Harry Enfield and Sting. He has lived and painted in South Africa, Southern Africa, and New Orleans. He co-runs a social enterprise, Mama Buci, in the Zambian copperbelt, which helps families of low and no income to become beekeepers.

DISCLOSURE: I own my very beautiful copy of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy, published by Ebury Press. 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading…

It is a hot summer day here in my little corner of New Zealand. It is not often that you will hear me say this, but it’s actually too hot to be out in the garden. It was the same yesterday, and apparently we have a whole week of this lovely weather to look forward to. Bring on summer…this is my kind of weather. It is lovely sitting out on the deck in the shade, my book in one hand and a nice cold drink in the other.

I actually squeezed an extra book in last week

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Which I read last night. Watch for my review.

I am about to begin

And I am listening to

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the follow up to The Lilac Girls.

This week I am planning on reading

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When Nick’s wife Kerry falls ill and dies, he realises for the first time how fragile his happiness has always been, and how much he’s been taking his good life and wonderful family for granted. Now, he suddenly finds himself navigating parenthood alone, unsure how to deal with his own grief, let alone that of his teenage son, Olly.

In the depths of his heartbreak, Nick must find a way to navigate life that pleases his son, his in-laws, his family and his friends—while honouring what Kerry meant to them all. But when it comes to his own emotions, Nick doesn’t know where to begin. Kerry was his childhood sweetheart—but was she really the only one who could ever make him happy?

And in the aftermath of tragedy, can Nick and his son find themselves again?

And hopefully I will also be able to start

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Louise Bridges has the perfect life.

A loving husband, Patrick. Two adorable children. A comfortable home.

So when PC Becca Holt arrives to break the news that Patrick has been killed in an accident, she thinks Louise’s perfect world is about to collapse around her.

But Louise doesn’t react in the way Becca would expect her to on hearing of her husband’s death. And there are only three plates set out for dinner as if Louise already knew Patrick wouldn’t be home that night…

The more Becca digs, the more secrets she uncovers in the Bridges’ marriage – and the more she wonders just how far Louise would go to get what she wants…

Is Louise a loving wife – or a cold-hearted killer?

And I have seven new ARCs from Netgalley….well what can I say? There are currently just so many tempting titles out there begging to be read. And those of you who know me well will know that I can resist everything but temptation 🤣😂🤣😂

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I also bought two books this week…

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So I had better go get some reading done! I hope you got some lovely books to read this week….

Happy reading my friends
❤😍📚

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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EXCERPT: May 19, 1924
It had started when Hattie was a little girl.

She’d had a cloth-bodied doll with a porcelain head called Miss Fentwig. Miss Fentwig told her things – things that Hattie had no way of knowing, things that Hattie didn’t really want to hear. She felt it deep down inside her in the way that she’d felt things all her life.

Her gift.

Her curse.

One day, Miss Fentwick told her that Hattie’s father would be killed, struck by lightening, and that there was nothing Hattie could do. Hattie tried to warn her daddy and her mother. She told them just what Miss Fentwick had said. “Nonsense, child,” they’d said, and sent her to bed without supper for saying such terrible things.

Two weeks later, her daddy was dead. Struck by lightening while he was putting his horse in the barn.

Everyone started looking at Hattie funny after that. They took Miss Fentwig away from her, but Hattie, she kept hearing voices. The trees talked to her. Rocks and rivers and little shiny green beetles spoke to her. They told her what was to come.

‘You have a gift,’ the voices told her.

But Hattie, she didn’t see it that way, Not at first. Not until she learned to control it.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home–wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks–she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.

MY THOUGHTS: This wasn’t chilling, but it was a good listen. It didn’t give me goosebumps, or night horrors, or any sort of horror really, but it kept me interested.

Really this is a family drama with a little paranormal thrown in. It centres on greed, obsession and jealousy, and the effects it has on people. Which is a lot scarier than ghosts, any day.

😱😱😱.5

THE AUTHOR: I’m the author of seven suspense novels, including Promise Not to Telll, The Winter People, and most recently, The Night Sister . I live in central Vermont with my partner and daughter, in an old Victorian that some neighbors call The Addams Family house.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Invited by Jennifer McMahin, narrated by Amanda Carlin and Justine Eyre, published by Random House Audio, via Overdrive. 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, and other reviews, are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3031299201?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

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EXCERPT: Her father was a great rabbi, but she was the one who had a true talent. For the thousandth time she wished she were a boy. She had no interest in marriage or babies, only in the world of scholars, from which she was prohibited. She could taste the bitter dirt as they finished digging, and she nearly choked on it. It occurred to her that once she broke the rules of her family and her faith, there would be no going back. But on this morning, all she knew was that she wanted to live.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman.

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Once upon a time something happened that you never could have imagined, a spell was broken, a girl was saved, a rose grew out of a tooth buried deep in the ground, love was everywhere, and people who had been taken away continued to walk with you, in dreams and in the waking world.’

This is a book that can’t be buttonholed into one or even two categories. Historical, magical, fantasy, love, family drama doesn’t even begin to describe The World That We Knew.

The author’s introduction is one of the most moving that I have read. Please don’t skip it. It tells how this book was born. And the relationship between fairytales and real life. If you don’t think there is one, then you really do need to read it.

The magical aspects of Hoffman’s writing does nothing to dilute the horrors of the Holocaust; in fact, if anything, it heightens the inhumanity of man against man. She writes beautifully and lyrically about one of the darkest periods in the history of man, holding nothing back, but always there is hope that shines like a beacon.

I was a history student, and WWII was one of my pet subjects, but I have learned more from Hoffman’s writing than I ever did in school. It is far easier to relate to and has far greater significance when it is on a more personal level.

I finished The World That We Knew last night and I have written a dozen reviews in my head during the day, all of which were far more eloquent and reflective than this. I had highlighted dozens of passages in an effort to capture the essence of this book. But after reading and rereading them, I stayed with the first; the one that says ‘all she knew was that she wanted to live.’ There is no greater desire in life than to live and to keep your loved ones safe. ‘If you are loved, you never lose the person who loved you. You carry them with you all your life.’ And the reverse is true, that if you love someone, you can never lose that person. You carry them with you all your life. And that, to me, is the essence of The World That We Knew; the magic of love.

❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is The World That We Knew. She lives near Boston.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The World That We Knew 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 or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2941683080?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1