Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce

EXCERPT: It was too early for birdsong. Harold lay beside her, his hands neat on his chest, looking so peaceful she wondered where he travelled in his sleep. Certainly not the places she went: if she closed her eyes, she saw roadworks. Dear God, she thought. This is no good. She got up in the pitch-black, took off her nightdress and put on her best blue blouse with a pair of comfortable slacks and a cardigan. ‘Harold?’ she called. ‘Are you awake?’ But he didn’t stir. She picked up her shoes and shut the bedroom door without a sound. If she didn’t go now, she never would.

ABOUT ‘MAUREEN FRY AND THE ANGEL OF THE NORTH’: Ten years ago, Harold Fry set off on his epic journey on foot to save a friend. But the story doesn’t end there. Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make.

Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband Harold after his iconic walk across England. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again, and this time it is Maureen’s turn to make her own journey.

But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she’ll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this beautifully written novella. Rachel Joyce is back to writing what she does best.

I enjoyed this every bit as much as The Love Songs of Queenie Hennessy, and rather more than The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. BTW, you will need to read the preceding two books or this will make very little sense to you.

Maureen isn’t the easiest person to like. There is no way she could be described as a ‘people person’. She is rigid in both her beliefs and actions. What other people think matters very much. And yet, like her I did. I was mortified for her over her little ‘accident’. I cringed along with her at Kate’s living conditions. I wanted to grab her and make her sit down and properly take in Queenie’s garden. But of course, I couldn’t.

When Maureen sets out on her journey, she doesn’t realise that she’s going to find her true self, but ultimately that is what she does.

A wonderful read that had me in tears at times but left me smiling.

My favourite quote: ‘It wasn’t that he was losing his mind, rather that he was deliberately taking things out of it that he no longer needed.’

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#MaureenFrysOnHerWay #NetGalley

I: @rachelcjoyce @randomhouse @transworldbooks @doubledayukbooks

T: @randomhouse @transworldbooks @doubledaybooks

#contemporaryfiction #friendship #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Rachel Joyce has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman’s Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Doubleday for providing a digital ARC of Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce 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 . . .

Welcome to a wet and windy New Zealand Sunday afternoon. The wind howling around the house, the heavy rain and the thunder and lightning kept me awake last night. Today is a lot calmer, I’m pleased to say.

Unusually for me, I am not currently reading anything! Sorry, should I have warned you to be sitting safely down before I made that statement? But be reassured, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I finished reading two books this morning: The novella Foster by Claire Keegan

A small girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm in rural Ireland, without knowing when she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And then a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realizes how fragile her idyll is.

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry, A Garden Squad Mystery #5

Ever the quintessential New England town, Goosebush, Massachusetts, truly shines in springtime, but when an underhanded undertaker digs herself an early grave, only Lilly Jayne and her Garden Squad can unearth the cryptic killer . . .

With spring’s arrival in Goosebush, Lilly and the Beautification Committee turn their eyes to new projects. A cleanup of the historic Goosebush Cemetery may be in order, after Lilly and Delia find the plots there sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. Lilly soon discovers that Whitney Dunne-Bradford snapped up custodianship of the graveyard once she inherited Bradford Funeral Homes. But before Lilly can get to the bottom of the tombstone tampering, she stumbles upon Whitney’s body at the Jayne family mausoleum . . .

Though at first it appears Whitney died by suicide, Lilly has doubts, and apparently, so does Chief of Police Bash Haywood, who quickly opens a murder investigation. Plenty of folks in town had bones to pick with Whitney, including her stepdaughter, Sasha, and funeral home employee, Dewey Marsh–all three recently charged with illegal business practices. But when the homicide inquiry suddenly targets an old friend, Lilly and the Garden Squad must rally to exhume the truth before the real killer buries it forever . . . 

I have written reviews for both of these, and I also finished listening to The Tilt by Chris Hammer, but am still to write my review on this Australian crime thriller.

A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

I actually read all the books that I had planned to read for the week (1 dnf) , a definite bonus of having a chest infection.

I have loaded Day’s End by Garry Disher, #4 in the Paul Hirschausen series, to start reading when I have finished this post.

Hirsch’s rural beat is wide. Daybreak to day’s end, dirt roads and dust. Every problem that besets small towns and isolated properties, from unlicensed driving to arson. In the time of the virus, Hirsch is seeing stresses heightened and social divisions cracking wide open. His own tolerance under strain; people getting close to the edge.

Today he’s driving an international visitor around: Janne Van Sant, whose backpacker son went missing while the borders were closed. They’re checking out his last photo site, his last employer. A feeling that the stories don’t quite add up.

Then a call comes in: a roadside fire. Nothing much—a suitcase soaked in diesel and set alight. But two noteworthy facts emerge. Janne knows more than Hirsch about forensic evidence. And the body in the suitcase is not her son’s.

I have also loaded The Work Wives by Rachel Johns to start.

For work wives Debra and Quinn, it’s a case of opposites attract. They are each other’s lifelines as they navigate office politics and jobs that pay the bills but don’t inspire them.

Outside work, they are also friends, but where Quinn is addicted to dating apps and desperate to find love, Deb has sworn off men. Although Deb is not close to her own mother, her teenage daughter is her life and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect her. But Ramona has other ideas and is beginning to push boundaries.

Life becomes even more complicated by the arrival of a new man at the office. One woman is attracted to him, while the other hoped she’d never meet him again.

But when Deb, Quinn and Ramona are forced to choose between friends, love and family, the ramifications run deeper than they could ever have expected.

And No Strangers Here (County Kerry Mystery #1) written by Carlene O’Connor, and narrated by Emily O’Mahony, to listen to.

On a rocky beach in the southwest of Ireland, the body of Jimmy O’Reilly, sixty-nine years old and dressed in a suit and his dancing shoes, is propped on a boulder, staring sightlessly out to sea. A cryptic message is spelled out next to the body with sixty-nine polished black stones and a discarded vial of deadly veterinarian medication lies nearby. Jimmy was a wealthy racehorse owner, known far and wide as The Dancing Man. In a town like Dingle, everyone knows a little something about everyone else. But dig a bit deeper, and there’s always much more to find. And when Detective Inspector Cormac O’Brien is dispatched out of Killarney to lead the murder inquiry, he’s determined to unearth every last buried secret.

Dimpna Wilde hasn’t been home in years. As picturesque as Dingle may be for tourists in search of their roots and the perfect jumper, to her it means family drama and personal complications. In fairness, Dublin hasn’t worked out quite as she hoped either. Faced with a triple bombshell—her mother rumored to be in a relationship with Jimmy, her father’s dementia is escalating, and her brother is avoiding her calls—Dimpna moves back to clear her family of suspicion.

Despite plenty of other suspects, the guards are crawling over the Wildes. But the horse business can be a brutal one, and as Dimpna becomes more involved with her old acquaintances and haunts, the depth of lingering grudges becomes clear. Theft, extortion, jealousy and greed. As Dimpna takes over the family practice, she’s in a race with the detective inspector to uncover the dark, twisting truth, no matter how close to home it strikes . . .

Other books that I have to read for review this week are: Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Millie Partridge desperately needs a party. So, when her (handsome and charming) ex-colleague Nick invites her to a Hebridean Island for New Year’s Eve, she books her ticket North.

But things go wrong the moment the ferry drops her off. The stately home is more down at heel than Downton Abbey. Nick hasn’t arrived yet. And the other revellers? Politely, they aren’t exactly who she would have pictured Nick would be friends with.

Worse still, an old acquaintance from Millie’s past has been invited, too. Penny Maybury. Millie and Nick’s old colleague. Somebody Millie would rather have forgotten about. Somebody, in fact, that Millie has been trying very hard to forget.

Waking up on New Year’s Eve, Penny is missing. A tragic accident? Or something more sinister? With a storm washing in from the Atlantic, nobody will be able reach the group before they find out.

One thing is for sure – they’re going to see in the new year with a bang.

The Next Best Day by Sharon Sala

A fresh start for a young teacher to build the life she’s dreamt of
A second chance at romance for a single dad
The warm and uplifting small-town community cheering them on

After two back-to-back life-changing events, first grade teacher Katie McGrath left Albuquerque for a fresh start in Borden’s Gap, Tennessee. She is finally back in the classroom where she belongs, but it will take a little while for her to heal and feel truly like herself. She’ll need to dig deep to find the courage it takes to try again—in life and in love—but with some help from her neighbor Sam Youngblood and his adorable daughters who bring her out of her shell, her future is looking brighter than she dared imagine. 

A Body at Lavender Cottage, (A Kate Palmer mystery #6) by Dee MacDonald

Nurse Kate Palmer is Cornwall’s answer to Miss Marple! But when a body turns up in her own garden can Kate solve the crime? Or is the murder a bit too close to home?

Kate Palmer is stunned when she wakes up one morning to discover the body of a man in the beautiful garden of Lavender Cottage. She’s spent the last few years renovating her cozy, clifftop cottage with its gorgeous views of the sparkling Cornish sea. And a death right under her nose is more than a little unsettling…

When Woody Forrest, Kate’s new husband and the village’s retired detective inspector, takes a closer look he realises the victim is none other than Frank Ford – Woody’s old nemesis. Now, Frank is lying dead amongst the daisies… strangled with Woody’s blue police tie.

Kate is certain the man she loves is not a murderer and is determined to prove his innocence. But who would want to kill Frank and frame Woody? As Kate investigates, Frank’s family seem to be the obvious suspects. Could it be Jason Ford, the youngest son, who has an odd obsession with birdwatching? Sid Kinsella, the angry father-in-law? Or Sharon Mason, the troublesome daughter?

When another member of the Ford family bites the dust while Woody is tending his allotment, it’s clear the killer is determined to bury Woody’s reputation. But when a chance conversation on Bluebell Road provides Kate with a clue, she must find a woman named Rose, who could hold the answers Kate is looking for.

But Kate needs to dig up the truth – and fast! – before poor Woody is thrown behind bars. Can she solve the case and save her husband before it’s too late?

I received six new ARCs from Netgalley this week, including the audio of No Strangers Here. They are: Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza

Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

On Spine of Death by Tamara Berry

Tell Me Lies by Teresa Driscoll

And the audiobook, The Couple in the Cabin, written by Daniel Hurst and narrated by Eilidh Beaton and Matt Bates

Do you have any of these on your tbr shelf?

Before I go, does anyone have a nice, tasty pumpkin pie recipe that they don’t mind sharing? I love pumpkin pie, but there are so many recipes out there it’s mind boggling!

Have a great weekend.

The Bullet That Missed (Thursday Murder Club #3) by Richard Osman

EXCERPT: Bethany Waites understands that there is no going back now. Time to be brave, and to see how this all plays out.

She weighs the bullet in her hand.

Life is about understanding opportunities. Understanding how rarely they come along, and then rising to meet them when they do.

‘Come and meet me. I just want to talk.’ That’s what the email had said. She has been playing it over in her mind ever since. Should she?

One last thing to do before she decides: send Mike a message.

Mike knows the story she is working on. He doesn’t know the details – a reporter has to keep her secrets – but he knows it’s a risky one. He’s there if she needs him, but there are some things you have to do alone.

Whatever happens tonight, she would be sad to leave Mike Waghorn behind. He is a good friend. A kind and funny man. That’s why the viewers love him.

But Bethany dreams of more, and maybe this is her chance. A dangerous chance, but a chance all the same.

She writes her message and presses send. He won’t reply tonight; it’s late. That’s probably for the best. She can hear his voice now: ‘Who texts at ten p.m.? Millennials and sex pests, that’s who.’

Here we go then. Time for Bethany to spin the wheel of fortune. Will she live or will she die?

She pours herself a drink, and takes one final look at the bullet. Really, she has no choice at all.

To opportunities.

ABOUT ‘THE BULLET THAT MISSED’: It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal.

Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A local news legend is on the hunt for a sensational headline, and soon the gang are hot on the trail of two murders, ten years apart.

To make matters worse, a new nemesis pays Elizabeth a visit, presenting her with a deadly mission: kill or be killed…

While Elizabeth grapples with her conscience (and a gun), the gang and their unlikely new friends (including TV stars, money launderers and ex-KGB colonels) unravel a new mystery. But can they catch the culprit and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

MY THOUGHTS: I’m putting my name down for the next vacancy at Coopers Chase!

The Bullet That Missed is a fun, clever piece of escapism featuring an ex-spy, an ex-boxer, a perfectly ordinary but extremely clever woman called Joyce who likes to write in her diaries, an EX-FBI agent, a money-launderer, and a television news reader amongst others. Yes, the whole gang is back along with a few new faces.

The Thursday Murder Club meets every Thursday at 11am in the jigsaw room – except for one notable Thursday when they met at 8am, much to Ibrahim’s consternation – to solve murders. They manage to do this rather well, although they usually manage to produce a few more bodies along the way. And it doesn’t hurt that they have a couple of tame police officers in their outer circle.

I love these characters: Elizabeth whose husband Stephen is slowly succumbing to dementia; Joyce and her dog Alan; Bogdan who provides muscle when needed and unobtrusively babysits Stephen when Elizabeth is otherwise occupied.

I haven’t had so much fun since I read the last book in this series! It’s a book that I read with a smile on my face, although I admit to holding my breath a couple of times when the situation got more than a little sticky, and to having a tear in my eye when Stephen confided his fears to Bogdan, and again when . . . well, when you get there, you’ll know.

The Thursday Murder Club #4 is due for publication this time next year. I can’t wait!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheBulletThatMissed

I: @misterosman @penguinrandomhouse

T: @richardosman @PenguinUKBooks

THE AUTHOR: Richard Thomas Osman is an English comedian, producer, television presenter, writer, and the creator and co-presenter of the BBC One television quiz show Pointless.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

This will be a short post today as I am laid low with ‘flu and can’t concentrate for long.

Currently I am reading The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell, due for publication 01 November.

Julia Lambett heads across the country to her hometown where she’s been given the job of moving her recalcitrant father out of his home and into care. But when Julia arrives at the 1970s suburban palace of her childhood, she finds her father has adopted a mysterious dog and refuses to leave.

Frustrated and alone, when a childhood friend crosses her path, Julia turns to Davina for comfort and support. But quite soon Julia begins to doubt Davina’s motivations. Why is Davina taking a determined interest in all the things that Julia hoped she had left behind? Soon Julia starts having troubling dreams, and with four decades of possessions to be managed and dispersed, she uncovers long-forgotten, deeply unsettling memories. 

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

Dave Beckett is a wide-eyed young man when he joins the police department in a small town in Southern California. His naivete allows him to believe in his world, a vision where the cops are the good guys championing the rights of the wronged. He learns quickly that crime is not black and white, and the bad guys aren’t always the ones committing the crimes. This is the story of a victim turned predator, a young man who grows up too fast and becomes an apt pupil in the pursuit of criminals on both sides of the fence. 

And listening to The Tilt by Chris Hammer

A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

This coming week I have six books to read for review. They are:

The Missing by Lisa Childs

Drawn to the former Bainesworth Manor in the wake of a murder, reporter Edie Stone wants answers. It’s been over forty years since the psychiatric hospital on Bane Island shut down, and the mystery of women vanishing there remains unsolved. But the exclusive retreat isn’t just protected by the dark pine forests and crashing waves of Maine’s rocky coast—it’s surrounded with silence. Everyone on the island is keeping secrets.

Especially the Dr. Elijah Cooke, grandson of the man who headed Bainesworth Manor and the psychiatrist-proprietor of a new wellness resort on the same premises. His desire to help people seems at war with his fierce loyalty to his family. He’s sure the world is out to get him. And as the accidents and coincidences pile up, Edie becomes convinced someone is trying to kill them both. But if she’s close enough to be a threat, she must be close to the truth . . . 

The Dark Room by Lisa Gray

Ex–crime reporter Leonard Blaylock spends his days on an unusual hobby, developing forgotten and discarded rolls of film. He loves the small mysteries the photographs reveal to him. Then Leonard finds something no one would ever expect, or want, to see captured on film—the murder of a young woman.

But that’s impossible, because the woman is already dead. Leonard was there when it happened five years earlier.

He has never been able to shake his guilt from that terrible night. It cost Leonard everything: his career, his fiancée, his future. But if the woman didn’t really die, then what actually happened? 

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry (A Garden Squad Mystery #5)

With spring’s arrival in Goosebush, Lilly and the Beautification Committee turn their eyes to new projects. A cleanup of the historic Goosebush Cemetery may be in order, after Lilly and Delia find the plots there sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. Lilly soon discovers that Whitney Dunne-Bradford snapped up custodianship of the graveyard once she inherited Bradford Funeral Homes. But before Lilly can get to the bottom of the tombstone tampering, she stumbles upon Whitney’s body at the Jayne family mausoleum . . .

Though at first it appears Whitney died by suicide, Lilly has doubts, and apparently, so does Chief of Police Bash Haywood, who quickly opens a murder investigation. Plenty of folks in town had bones to pick with Whitney, including her stepdaughter, Sasha, and funeral home employee, Dewey Marsh–all three recently charged with illegal business practices. But when the homicide inquiry suddenly targets an old friend, Lilly and the Garden Squad must rally to exhume the truth before the real killer buries it forever . . .

The Locked Attic by B.P. Walter

There’s something in my neighbour’s attic.

Something steeped in shadows. A secret to everyone. Seen by no one…

He stands sometimes at the window. Hidden in the corner of my eye.

I know he’s there. I know he’s watching.

Now my son is dead. My neighbour is not.

And I’m going to find out why.

Silent Victim (DCI Matilda Darke #10) by Michael Wood

A CENSURED DETECTIVE WITH NO LEADS

DCI Matilda Darke and her team have been restricted under special measures after a series of calamitous scandals nearly brought down the South Yorkshire police force.

A BRUTAL ATTACK WITH NO WITNESSES

Now Matilda is on the trail of another murderer, an expert in avoiding detection with no obvious motive but one obvious method.

A DEPRAVED KILLER WHO LEAVES NO TRACES

When his latest victim survives the attack despite her vocal cords being severed, Matilda is more convinced than ever of the guilt of her key suspect. If only she had a way to prove it… 

Retribution by Sarah Barrie

Ace hacker, ex-prostitute, Jack Daniels drinker and part-time vigilante Lexi Winter returns, now working with the police – mostly – with a new enemy in the target and an old foe at the back of her mind.

Most probationary constables would baulk at chasing a drug dealer into a train tunnel in the dead of night. Not Lexi Winter. She emerges injured but alive, to face the wrath of her boss. Lexi may now be in uniform, but she has as much trouble with authority as ever, and is quietly using her hacking skills to investigate a notorious drug-dealing Sydney crime family with links to her old prey, the paedophile Damon Vaughn.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Finn Carson investigates a death on a Sydney building site … which oddly enough, leads him to the picturesque Wondabyne station on the Hawkesbury River, and Inspector Rachael Langley oversees an investigation that could tie it all together. Lexi holds the key … if only she’ll toe the line …

I received only one ARC via Netgalley this past week – have they put me on drip-feed or something? It is Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six by Lisa Unger

Have a wonderful weekend. I’m going back to sleep. 🤒😷😴

Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer

EXCERPT: ‘It seems to me that keeping things quiet only causes angst later.’

‘What are you referring to?’

‘Everything and nothing.’ Vince shrugged.

Briony glared at him, but he met her look with one of quiet resignation.

‘Buried secrets, love … they have a way of working their way to the top.’

ABOUT ‘KEEPING UP APPEARANCES’: Privacy is hard to maintain in Badara, the kind of small Australian country town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. So discovers single mum Paige when she and her three children arrive from the city seeking refuge. Paige’s only respite from child care and loneliness is the Tuesday gym club, where she had feared the judgement of the town matriarchs, but she is met only with generosity and a plethora of baked goods. Besides, both the brusque Marion and her polished sister-in-law Briony are too busy dealing with their own dramas to examine hers.

Well-to-do farmer’s wife and proud mother Briony is in full denial of her family’s troubles. Even with her eldest daughter’s marriage in ruins and her son Blake’s recent bombshell. Suddenly Briony and husband Vince have a full house again – and the piles of laundry aren’t the only dirty linen that’s about to be aired.

For Marion, the unearthing of a time capsule – its contents to be read at the Celebrate Badara weekend – is a disaster. She was only a teenager when she wrote down those poisonous words, but that doesn’t mean she won’t lose friends and family if they hear what she really thinks of them – especially as the letter reveals their darkest secrets to the world.

When the truth comes out for Badara, keeping up appearances may no longer be an option for anyone …

MY THOUGHTS: Keeping Up Appearances is a great title for this novel. Most of us are influenced to some extent by the thought of what other people will think of us. And that is fine to a certain extent, but Briony takes it to a whole other level. Her life and actions are ruled by worrying about what other people think, and her inability to put this aside and accept the reality of situations may just be the thing that tears her family apart. After all, truth will always out.

Tricia Stringer writes captivating family dramas. Her characters, by the end of the book, feel like old friends; although I have to admit that it took me some time to settle into this read. But once I did, I was frantically flipping pages to see how the problems that the various characters faced would be resolved – if they were to be resolved at all.

Issues include a single mum on the run from her family with her three children; a woman who can’t accept that her children aren’t living the perfect lives she envisaged for them; a woman afraid to face her friends again after a family scandal not of her making; and a woman whose teenage actions come back to bite her on the you-know-where.

Unusually for Stringer’s characters, initially they mostly irritated me. I really didn’t warm to any of them. But as their pasts were revealed I began to understand and empathise with them. Briony was the most irritating. I really just wanted to pull that poker right out of her ass. I loved Sarah. She just exudes love, warmth and generosity; and I loved how she took Paige under her wing.

Despite a bit of a shaky start, I ended up enjoying this read. It’s not my favourite of her books – that honour goes to The Family Inheritance, closely followed by Birds of a Feather – but it’s ultimately a rewarding read.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#KeepingUpAppearances #NetGalley

I: @triciastringerauthor @hqstories

T: @tricia_stringer @HQstories

THE AUTHOR: Tricia lives in the beautiful Copper Coast region of South Australia, often exploring Australia’s diverse communities and landscapes, and shares this passion for the country and its people through her authentic stories and their vivid characters.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

First Lines Friday

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Happy Friday & welcome to First Lines Friday hosted by Reading Is My SuperPower.

 It was too early for birdsong. Harold lay beside her, his hands neat on his chest, looking so peaceful she wondered where he travelled in his sleep. Certainly not the places she went: if she closed her eyes, she saw roadworks. Dear God, she thought. This is no good. She got up in the pitch-black, took off her nightdress and put on her best blue blouse with a pair of comfortable slacks and a cardigan. ‘Harold?’ she called. ‘Are you awake?’ But he didn’t stir. She picked up her shoes and shut the bedroom door without a sound. If she didn’t go now, she never would.

Like what you’ve just read? Want to keep reading? (I did!)

The book is Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce.

Ten years ago, Harold Fry set off on his epic journey on foot to save a friend. But the story doesn’t end there. Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make.

Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband Harold after his iconic walk across England. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again, and this time it is Maureen’s turn to make her own journey.

But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she’ll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there.

Published October 20th, 2022 by Doubleday

#MaureenFrysOnHerWay

I: @rachelcjoyce @randomhouse @transworldbooks @doubledayukbooks

T: @randomhouse @transworldbooks @doubledaybooks

#contemporaryfiction #friendship #sliceoflife

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday! I worked part of today, and finished off the lawns and had general tidy-up in the yard until my weed eater battery went flat after I came home. We’re apparently in for a wet week this week, so I won’t get another chance.

I haven’t had a very productive reading week, I’ve been too busy at work and doing long hours, so I have finished none of the books that I intended to read.

Currently I am reading Wolf Pack (Tuva Moodyson #5) by Will Dean

1989 by Val McDermid

And listening to The Tilt (Ivan Lucic and Nell Buchanan #2) by Chris Hammer

A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

This week I have six titles to read for review. They are: The Murder Museum (Beth Haldane #2) by Alice Castle

Caring mother, school historian, and amateur sleuth Beth Haldane loves to while away an afternoon in the Museum of Art. But will she be next in the frame… for murder?

Beth Haldane is gazing at enchanting paintings of the rolling English countryside when her daydream is rudely interrupted: by the discovery of a teenage girl unconscious on a marble bench.

Shocked, Beth realises this is no snoozing schoolchild. Someone dastardly has carefully crossed the girls’ hands across her white dress, as if she’s in a painting herself. And the girl’s discarded red backpack found in a corner of the museum is totally empty. Is someone suspicious hiding evidence? And who would want to harm this innocent soul?

With poor Sophia in hospital, and the parents of Dulwich Village in uproar that their little darlings might be next, Beth pesters police for updates. And with her keen eye for detail and research skills, Beth is perfectly placed to do some sleuthing of her own… but why are Sophia’s gaggle of friends so close-lipped? Has some typical teenage drama taken a dark turn?

But her questions are ruffling feathers at every turn. With Sophia’s life hanging by a thread, can Beth find her attacker before it’s too late – and before the finger points at Beth herself?

This book was previously published as The Girl in the Gallery. 

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner.

The Philippines, 1941. When U.S. Navy nurse Eleanor Lindstrom, U.S. Army nurse Penny Franklin, and Filipina nurse Lita Capel forge a friendship at the Army Navy Club in Manila, they believe they’re living a paradise assignment. All three are seeking a way to escape their pasts, but soon the beauty and promise of their surroundings give way to the heavy mantle of war.

Caught in the crosshairs of a fight between the U.S. military and the Imperial Japanese Army for control of the Philippine Islands, the nurses are forced to serve under combat conditions and, ultimately, endure captivity as the first female prisoners of the Second World War. As their resiliency is tested in the face of squalid living arrangements, food shortages, and the enemy’s blatant disregard for the articles of the Geneva Convention, the women strive to keep their hope— and their fellow inmates—alive, though not without great cost.

Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce

Ten years ago, Harold Fry set off on his epic journey on foot to save a friend. But the story doesn’t end there. Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make.

Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband Harold after his iconic walk across England. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again, and this time it is Maureen’s turn to make her own journey.

But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she’ll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there.

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

Dave Beckett is a wide-eyed young man when he joins the police department in a small town in Southern California. His naivete allows him to believe in his world, a vision where the cops are the good guys championing the rights of the wronged. He learns quickly that crime is not black and white, and the bad guys aren’t always the ones committing the crimes. This is the story of a victim turned predator, a young man who grows up too fast and becomes an apt pupil in the pursuit of criminals on both sides of the fence. 

A Trace of Poison (Phyllida Bright Mystery 2) by Colleen Cambridge

Phyllida Bright, housekeeper for Agatha Christie, must uncover a killer among a throng of crime writers.

In England’s stately manor houses, murder is not generally a topic for polite conversation. Mallowan Hall, home to Agatha Christie and her husband, Max, is the exception. And housekeeper Phyllida Bright delights in discussing gory plot details with her friend and employer . . .

The neighboring village of Listleigh has also become a hub of grisly goings-on, thanks to a Murder Fête organized to benefit a local orphanage. Members of The Detection Club—a group of celebrated authors such as G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha herself—will congregate for charitable events, including a writing contest for aspiring authors. The winner gets an international publishing contract, and entrants have gathered for a cocktail party—managed by the inimitable Phyllida—when murder strikes too close even for her comfort.

When We Were Friends by Nancy Yeager

They were best friends. Sisters of the heart. Partners in crime. Until they got caught…

Five years ago, Frannie Willets committed grand larceny to help her best friend, Lexi Maddox, escape an awful situation. Now paroled and prospectless, Frannie needs to disappear from her dead-end life. To do so, she’ll need her share of the stolen money that Lexi has been hiding all these years. But Lexi has other plans.

By all appearances, Lexi is thriving, but in truth, nothing in her life is going according to plan. She can’t carry a pregnancy to term, her sweet stepdaughter hates her, and even the family’s new rescue dog knows she’s a failure. Lexi’s only path to happiness is making amends with the friend she dearly misses. But the only thing Frannie wants from Lexi is cash.

Out of desperation, Lexi offers Frannie all the money, with one catch: Frannie must stick around for one month. Stranded in their suffocating small town, Frannie gets tangled up in Lexi’s issues, her mother’s questionable dating life, a lonely kid’s desperate attempts to find friends, and a high-school crush’s fantasies about what could have been. Suddenly, leaving doesn’t look as easy as it once did. But when an old enemy surfaces, Frannie realizes her staying endangers everyone she loves. And even though she might have found her heart’s true home, there’s no guarantee she can keep it.

My hold on The Bullet That Missed (The Thursday Murder Club #3) by Richard Osman also came due so I collected that Thursday and really need to get it read before Book Club on Wednesday.

It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal.

Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A local news legend is on the hunt for a sensational headline, and soon the gang are hot on the trail of two murders, ten years apart.

To make matters worse, a new nemesis pays Elizabeth a visit, presenting her with a deadly mission: kill or be killed…

While Elizabeth grapples with her conscience (and a gun), the gang and their unlikely new friends (including TV stars, money launderers and ex-KGB colonels) unravel a new mystery. But can they catch the culprit and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

I received only two new ARCs this week. Improbably Yours by Kerry Anne King from Netgalley

And exciting book mail from Fremantle Press – The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell

So, that’s what my week to come looks like. How’s yours shaping up? I hope it’s going to be wonderful. ❤📚

First Lines Friday

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Happy Friday & welcome to First Lines Friday hosted by Reading Is My SuperPower.

Bethany Waites understands there is no going back now. Time to be brave, and to see how all this plays out.

She weighs the bullet in her hand.

Like what you’ve read?

The book is The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman

It is an ordinary Thursday, and things should finally be returning to normal.

Except trouble is never far away where the Thursday Murder Club are concerned. A local news legend is on the hunt for a sensational headline, and soon the gang are hot on the trail of two murders, ten years apart.

To make matters worse, a new nemesis pays Elizabeth a visit, presenting her with a deadly mission: kill or be killed…

While Elizabeth grapples with her conscience (and a gun), the gang and their unlikely new friends (including TV stars, money launderers and ex-KGB colonels) unravel a new mystery. But can they catch the culprit and save Elizabeth before the murderer strikes again?

Guess what I’m reading this weekend?

#TheBulletThatMissed #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @misterosman @penguinrandomhouse

T: @richardosman @PenguinUKBooks

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Well, I didn’t do too well with my reading plan during the week. But I did actually manage to post each day which was more than I expected to do. Mind you, I’m making no promises for the coming week.

Currently I am reading Wolf Pack by Will Dean

Keeping up Appearances by Tricia Stringer

And am almost finished listening to

This week I am planning on reading: 1989 by Val McDermid

It’s 1989 and Allie Burns is back. Older and maybe wiser, she’s running the northern news operation of the Sunday Globe, chafing at losing her role in investigative journalism and at the descent into the gutter of the UK tabloid media. But there’s plenty to keep her occupied. The year begins with the memorial service for the victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, but Allie has barely filed her copy when she stumbles over a story about HIV/AIDS that will shock her into a major change of direction. The world of newspapers is undergoing a revolution, there’s skullduggery in the medical research labs and there are seismic rumblings behind the Iron Curtain. When murder is added to this potent mix, Allie is forced to question all her old certainties.

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth.

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction.

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong.

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered.

How to Kill Men and Get Away With It by Katy Brent

Meet Kitty Collins.
FRIEND. LOVER. KILLER.

Have you ever walked home at night, keys in hand, ready to throw a punch in self-defence? That’s how it all started. The killing spree, I mean.

I sort of tripped into this role… Literally. The first one was following me. That guy from the nightclub who wouldn’t leave me alone. I pushed him, he stumbled, and fell onto his own broken wine bottle. Oops. It was such a waste of a good house white.

But now I can’t seem to stop and nor do I want to… I’ve got a taste for revenge and quite frankly, I’m killing it.

On First Day of Christmas by Faith Hogan

When Liv Latimer says goodbye to her fellow nurses and finishes work for the holidays, she’s looking forward to a Christmas to remember with her boyfriend Eddie.

But as she leaves the hospital, tragedy strikes and Liv is faced with a choice. Will she ignore her instincts and go home as planned? Or will she stay, and potentially change the course of her life as she knows it?

Whatever choice she makes, Liv is about to discover that fate finds a way…

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith

Grace Makutsi’s husband, Phuti, is in a bind. An international firm is attempting to undercut his prices in the office furniture market. Phuti has always been concerned with quality and comfort, but this new firm seems interested only in profits. To make matters worse, they have a slick new advertising campaign that seems hard to beat. Nonetheless with Mma Ramotswe’s help, Phtui comes up with a campaign that may just do the trick.
Meanwhile, Mma Makutsi is approached by an old friend who has a troubled son. Grace and Phuti agree to lend a hand, but the boy proves difficult to reach, and the situation is more than they can handle on their own. It will require not only all of their patience and dedication, but also the help of Mma Ramotswe and the formidable Mma Potokwani in order to help the child.
Faced with more than her fair share of domestic problems, Mma Makutsi deals with it all with her usual grace. That, along with the kindness, generosity, and good sense that the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is known for, assure us that in the end, all these matters will be set right. 

A Cast of Falcons by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

When the wedding of her oldest friend ends with a shocking murder, Dr Nell Ward is once again caught up in a web of subterfuge, secrets and lies…

When her childhood friend Percy announces she’s engaged to handsome businessman Hawke McAnstruther, Dr Nell Ward rashly offers to host the wedding at Finchmere, her family’s estate. But she hadn’t anticipated Percy’s parents’ fiery disapproval of the groom.

The ceremony is barely over before Hawke’s shady personal and professional life starts to unravel, and tension ripples through the assembled guests. When the wedding night ends with a shocking death, Nell, best-friend, Rav and DI James Clarke all find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery worthy of Agatha Christie.

Surviving a terrifying threat to her own life, Nell has to face up to the truth. Not just about murder at Finchmere, but about where her heart truly lies… 

I know full well that I am not going to be able to read all of these; but where to start?????

I only received one (don’t choke, Susan!) ARC from Goodreads.com this week. It is Day’s End by Garry Disher, which I am very excited about.

I am currently having a bit of a crisis of faith as far as my reading is concerned. I have +700 books in my physical library that are unread that I want to read, and I don’t know how many on Kindle that I have purchased. That’s not even taking into account all my unread Netgalley ARCs. And I’m asking myself, ‘What am I doing, and WHY?’ If anyone has the answer, I’m interested in hearing it.

Have a wonderful week, my friends. ❤📚

A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre

EXCERPT: As I added cream and sugar, a familiar code came across the scanner.

A dead body, found. Setting down the Garfield cup, I turned the radio up, then grabbed my pen and my work notebook. Writing down the details, I glanced at the sunshine clock above the family organisation board that hung by the pantry. I pulled out my travel mug and poured my coffee into the stainless-steel vessel and screwed the lid onto the top.

I try not to be excited by a death, but this moment, before I find out the details, before I know all the answers – it’s like a shot of adrenaline. I love it.

ABOUT ‘A FAMILIAR STRANGER’: Such a quiet and ordinary wife and mother. Who will even notice what she’s done?

Lillian Smith leads an unexceptional life, writing obituaries and killing time with her inattentive husband and disconnected son. Then she meets David, a handsome stranger, in a coffee shop. Lured into an affair, she invents a new persona, one without strings, deadlines, or brooding husbands.

Lillian has never felt so reckless, unpredictable, or wanted. But as her affair with David intensifies, she withdraws from everything that’s real, even her closest friend. When evidence of her life as a secret lover finds its way onto her son’s social media, she risks ruining much more than her marriage or reputation.

As lies beget lies, Lillian’s two worlds spiral dangerously out of control. And betrayals run deeper than she imagines. Because Lillian isn’t the only one leading a double life.

MY THOUGHTS: I’m definitely classing A Familiar Stranger as a guilty pleasure read! It has many elements that I love – crime, manipulative characters, family and relationship dramas, mystery, and just a smidgen of romance. It’s twisty and unpredictable.

The characters are all multi-layered, though it certainly doesn’t seem that way at first. It’s like peeling an onion, the way the author slowly reveals their secrets, their lies, and their true natures.

Sam is Lillian’s best friend and supporter. He’s gay, a man who thinks things through to the nth degree, a compulsive listener of podcasts, and always looks like he has stepped straight out of the pages of GQ. Her other best friend is Lenny, an alcoholic groundsman at a local cemetery. There’s an extremely touching story behind this friendship. I loved the scene where Lillian meets Marcella, Lenny’s daughter, for the first time. It’s both poignant and funny.

Torres writing is seductive. I was pulled into the story from the beginning and it just never let go of me. I read the whole book with a dirty, great grin on my face, and that ending? Just perfect!

This whole read played out like a movie in my head as I was reading. In fact, this would make a great movie.

A twisty and fun read filled with secrets, suspense, drama and danger!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#AFamiliarStranger #NetGalley

I: @alessandratorre4 @thomasmerceruk

T: @ReadAlessandra @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #friendship #mystery

THE AUTHOR: A.R. Torre is a pseudonym of Alessandra Torre and is her dark alter ego. While Alessandra writes spicy romances, A.R. focuses on twisted stories filled with secrets, suspense, drama, and danger.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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