A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher

EXCERPT: ‘Willy,’ she had said, nudging her shoulder into his where they sat on the stoop together, her voice small and papery, like it might blow away. ‘I don’t think my momma likes it here no more.’

‘Now, girl,’ he said, patting her knee, ‘what makes you say such things?’ But his heart had already tightened in his chest because he’d been thinking the same thing, the very same thing. May wasn’t happy, and it didn’t seem right since he had thought for sure she would be. He had been so proud to bring her home on their wedding day, and after that first night with her, feeling so good, he couldn’t imagine she would feel any different from him.

That was just the thing that confounded him – that he could feel one way and she could feel another. Of late, when he touched her, she just lay still, not saying ‘no’ to him, but like she’d taken out her heart and set it aside. And just last night, when he’d lifted his head from the sweet-salty crook of her neck, she lay wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling, and he couldn’t go on.

It was a terrible thing, to feel connected to a woman and then find out you weren’t really touching her at all. Something like that made a man start asking questions that he didn’t want to know the answers to.

But even then, at that moment, with Lacey tucked against his shoulder and his hand patting her knee, he couldn’t possibly have imagined that May would disappear the way she did, that she could just quit the life they had like it meant nothing, leaving him and little Lacey without even so much as a ‘so long and see ya later’. Gone. Like a breath that has been inhaled and exhaled and done with.

ABOUT ‘A HAND TO HOLD IN DEEP WATER’: Willy Cherrymill and his stepdaughter Lacey are deeply bruised by a past brimming with unanswered questions. It’s been thirty years since May DuBerry, Willy’s young wife and Lacey’s mother, abandoned them both leaving Willy to raise Lacey alone.

Lacey Cherrymill is smart, stubborn and focused. She’s also a single mother to a young daughter recently diagnosed with a devastating illness. The last thing she needs to think about right now is the betrayal that rocked her childhood. Reluctantly, she has returned to her rural beginnings, a former dairy farm in the Maryland countryside, and to Willy, a man steeped in his own disappointments and all the guilt that goes with them.

Together they will pool their wobbly emotional resources to take care of Tasha, all the while trying to skirt the issue of May’s mysterious disappearance. But try as she might, Lacey can’t leave it alone. Just where is May DuBerry Cherrymill and why did she leave them, and how is it that they have never talked about the wreckage she left behind?

MY THOUGHTS: The writing in A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is beautiful, lyrical. It flows like molasses from a spoon. It is a novel that drew me in so that I was breathing the same air that the characters breathed, experiencing their triumphs, their pain, feeling their emotions, living their lives
along with them.

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water is an exploration of love – the love of a mother for her daughter, her need to protect her daughter at any cost, even that of her own happiness.

At first I thought this story belonged to Lacey and her daughter Tasha, as Tasha is diagnosed with cancer and their battle with this demon is the predominating thread, with the mystery of May surfacing only occasionally. But gradually the tables turn as Lacey faces up to her need to know just what happened to her mother, her need to know her mother and where she came from. And so she packs up Lacey and Willy and Carlotta, and they embark on a mission to find out just who May duBarry was.

The story is split between the ‘present’, being the mid-2000s, and the ‘past’ of the early 1970s. The story is interspersed with May’s diary entries. I found the telling of Tasha’s battle with cancer difficult to read. It is a brutally honest, no holds barred account. But it was worth getting through, because it is May’s story that is the crux of the book.

This is very much a character driven novel. If you are looking for action and excitement, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a beautiful, tender and heart-piercing story of family, love, sacrifice, secrets and shame, then you couldn’t do better than pick up A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher.

I both read and listened to A Hand to Hold in Deep Water. Elizabeth Evans is a wonderful narrator, and enriched my experience with this book.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AHandtoHoldinDeepWater #NetGalley

I: @shawnnocher @ blackstonepublishing

T: @shawn_nocher @BlackstonePub1

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #historicalfiction #love #mystery #sliceoflife #audiobook

THE AUTHOR: Shawn Nochers compelling short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Eunoia Review, and MoonPark Review, and she has been longlisted or won honorable mentions from both SmokeLong Quarterly and Glimmer Train.

She earned her master of arts in writing at Johns Hopkins University, has given wings to two children, and lives with her husband and an assortment of sassy rescue animals in Baltimore, Maryland, where she writes in a room of her own. This is her first novel. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and Blackstone Audio via Netgalley for providing both a digital and an audio ARC of A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher 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 Long Call by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: It had been a weird day at the Woodyard. Jonathan had come to find her in her studio with a tale of one of the day centre clients having gone missing. Although he was the boss, he called in sometimes, not to talk about work, but to drink coffee and look at her art.

‘Christine Shapland. Gentle soul. Down’s. Very quiet. A bit shy. She just seemed to disappear.’

‘Sorry. I haven’t seen her since last week.’ Gaby thought Jonathan had come to the studio to escape the panic in the rest of the building, to have a few moments of calm. He wouldn’t really expect her to have seen the woman recently. Gaby had nothing to do with the day centre, except for running an art class there once a week.

‘There seems to have been some kind of breakdown in communication. Her uncle thought her mother had picked her up and Susan, her mother, thought the uncle was doing it. Nobody’s seen her since yesterday.’ Jonathan had been standing by the window, the light catching one side of his face, turning the blond hair to silver thread. ‘It’s a bloody nightmare. Her uncle is Dennis Salter. He’s on the Board of Trustees and should have known better. He should have gone in for her, or at least looked out properly. It’ll be the Woodyard that gets the blame, though. The press will have a field day.’

He turned towards Gaby then and she thought she’d never seen him so tense, so fraught.

‘Why don’t you talk to Christopher Preece? He must be good at handling the media.’

‘Yeah, maybe.’ But Jonathan hadn’t seemed too sure. ‘I just want her found safe and well. This, on top of the murder of one of our volunteers, seems like a nightmare. I always thought of the Woodyard as a kind of a sanctuary. Not a place where terrible things happen to the people who belong here.’

ABOUT ‘THE LONG CALL’: In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

MY THOUGHTS: I picked this book up for two reasons: I love Ann Cleeves writing; and as I have recently received a digital ARC for the second in this series, The Heron’s Cry, I wanted to read The Long Call first.

Matthew Venn is going to be a worthy addition to Ann Cleeves existing stable of detectives, Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez. Gay, a bit of a loner/misfit who lacks confidence in himself and feels awkward in company, a bit anal, he has an analytical mind, and is only too aware that his past experiences with some of the people involved in this investigation may colour his perceptions. Jonathan, Venn’s husband, is manager at the Woodyard, so should Venn even be investigating this case?

Jen Rafferty, who has demons of her own is dedicated and smart, and Ross, DCI Joe Oldham’s protege, and a bit of a fashionista with an inflated opinion of himself, make up Venn’s team.

The story, definitely not as dark as many of Cleeves works, moves at a steady pace, and is told from the points of view of Matthew, Jen, and the elderly Maurice Braddick who, along with Luce his daughter, are probably my two favourite characters.

The Long Call is very much a character driven murder mystery. The murder investigation is complicated by the abductions of two of the Woodyard’s other clients, one after the other. Are these abductions connected to the murder, or is something else going on in this tight knit community? It was a definite challenge to figure out whodunit and how, and I failed, miserably.

Thank you Ann Cleeves for a new series and another wonderful whodunit. I am looking forward to reading The Heron’s Cry.

# TheLongCall

I: #anncleeves @panmacmillan

T: @AnnCleeves @PanMacmillan

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed a copy of The Long Call written by Ann Cleeves and published by Macmillan, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We have had a beautiful week of weather: cool but not actually cold nights, and gloriously sunny days with temperatures not quite reaching those of summer, but very close. But it seems that is coming to an end. We had thick fog this morning and now it is mizzling. The forecast for the week to come is rain, all week. I am glad my new dryer arrived and was installed on Friday.

We were planning on going out for lunch today at a new bar about 3/4 hour away. It has Heineken on tap and I have heard only good things about the food. But I was much longer at work this morning than I thought I was going to be, and then I got home to find friend had called in, so lunch out has been postponed for a couple of weeks. I made us all toasted sandwiches instead, and we caught up on each other’s news before he had to head off again. If he hadn’t been travelling in the opposite direction, we would have suggested he join us.

I have had a wonderful week’s reading based mainly in England, with a little time in Wales. Have you been anywhere interesting?

Currently I am reading The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Intriguing!

I am also reading Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben. I only started this yesterday, and am almost finished.

And I am about to begin listening to If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan and narrated by Kristen James

This week I am planning to read Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant

Twenty-five years ago a schoolgirl was attacked by three bullies in her home where she lived with her grandmother.

Now, the mother of one of those bullies is found murdered on the Hobfield housing estate. Written on the wall in the victim’s blood is the word, “sorry.”

There is a link to the discovery of bones at an old house up in the hills — the home of the teenage girl who was attacked.

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss have more than this puzzling case on their hands. Arch-villain Lazarov is threatening Calladine’s granddaughter and a valuable hoard of Celtic gold is coming to a local museum.

The pressure is on, and this time Calladine is cracking . . .

Discover an absolutely unputdownable crime thriller from a best-selling author.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

DEAD SORRY is book eleven of a new series of detective thrillers featuring DS Ruth Bayliss and DI Tom Calladine.

What readers are saying about the series
“I read it in one sitting.” Aileen

“This books has lots of twists and turns throughout and with a cracking ending to this brilliant book.” Nessa

“Really enjoyed this book.” Nerys

“Kept me guessing till the end.” Anna Maria

“I finished it in twenty-four hours and enjoyed every page.” Joan

THE DETECTIVES
Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape.

Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.

THE SETTINGThe fictional village of Leesdon is on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home.

The Vacation by John Marrs

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth.

Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood.

But for eight strangers at a beach front hostel, there is far more on their mind than an extended vacation.

All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep…

I went to my local library last week to return a book. Honest. I had no intention of picking up anything new to read. You will understand why when you see the number of ARCs I received this week. And sitting there, right beside the return slot, is a shelf of recent releases – and if that’s not fighting dirty, I don’t know what is! – and New Zealand author Paul Cleave’s latest, The Quiet People. But it wasn’t just sitting there, quietly. Oh no. It was fluttering it’s pages alluringly at me, whispering seductively, ‘How about I come home with you. I can show you a really good time’ . . . Then it literally (no pun intended) threw itself at me and manoeuvred me to checkouts. I know when I’m beaten and gave in quietly. So this week I will also be reading

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? 

I had a day during the week when I was feeling quite overwhelmed by an accumulation of different things. So that night when I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t concentrate on my reading, I took refuge in Netgalley with result that I received twenty-seven (yes, Susan. 27.) ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️ I don’t know whether to be appalled or excited.

As well as the audiobook If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan, Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant, and The Vacation by John Marrs, I received:

What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor

My Mother’s Children by Annette Sills

In Another Light by A.J. Banner

The Darkest Flower by Kristin Wright (thank you Michael David https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/)

The Beauty of Fragile Things by Emma Hartley

Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

The Crooked Shore by Martin Edwards

The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan

One Left Behind by Carla Kovach

The Shut Away Sisters by Suzanne Goldring

The Grandmother Plot by Caroline B. Cooney

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Slough House by Mick Herron

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water (audiobook) by Shawn Nocher, narrated by Elizabeth Evans

The Third Grave by Lisa Jackson

And two more audiobooks, Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton, narrated by Julie Maisey

And, The Man I Married by Elena Wilkes, narrated by Colleen Prendergast

I have never had that many ARCs in one week before. I bet that does a bit of damage to my review ratio! What is the most ARCs you have received in any one week?

Now I have two reviews to write so I had better get writing and get them done before dinner. Nice fresh snapper tonight with an avocado salsa and salad.

Happy reading my friends. ❤📚

Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

EXCERPT: I’m running out of time . . . I will never have the job of my dreams and take to the air like lucky Daniel . . . Gone is the prospect of great sex with someone who is yet to discover me and who will in turn help me discover myself . . . I’m running out of time to make amends . . . And with each year my kids slip further from my reach . . . falling into the arms of their life partners who they put before me and I know that’s how it should be, but I find it hard to be happy about it . . . because it leaves Mario and me on our own.

ABOUT ‘WAITING TO BEGIN’: 1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

MY THOUGHTS: Whenever I finish a book by Amanda Prowse, I am emotionally bruised, battered and totally wrung out. Waiting to Begin was no exception.

This is a story of actions and consequences, something few teenagers think about. Bessie is one of those teenagers who let her hormones rule her brain. As a result her life becomes a trainwreck.

Fast forward to 2021 and Bess is suffering empty nest syndrome. On top of that she feels that her marriage to Mario has become stale. Things she used to think were cute, now drive her insane. They aren’t close anymore, the loving communication and meaningful discussions, along with affectionate gestures have disappeared. She is at that stage of her life when she wonders, ‘is this all there is?’ She wants to be loved, adored; she wants to feel special, to feel that glimmer of attraction, a frisson of excitement. She wants to feel alive instead of tired and worn out by the repetitiveness of her life.

I didn’t always like Bess, but I have to admit that I could see parts of myself in her at various stages of her life, which gave me food for thought, a reality check.

Prowse takes things that most of us feel at one time or another, combines them with relatable and realistic characters, and weaves a story that both compels and captivates. Tissues mandatory.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#WaitingtoBegin #NetGalley

I: @mrsamandaprowse #lakeunionpublishing

T: @MrsAmandaProwse #LakeUnionPublishing

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse 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

Entry Island by Peter May

EXCERPT: When the plane began its final descent towards Havre de Maisons, it banked left and Sime saw the storm clouds accumulating in the south-west. And as it swung around for landing, he caught a glimpse once more of Entry Island standing sentinel at the far end of the bay. A dark, featureless shadow waiting for him in the grey, pre-storm light. He had thought, just a matter of days ago, that he had seen the last of it. But now he was back. To try to resolve what seemed like an insoluble mystery. To right what he believed to be a miscarriage of justice. Something that, in all likelihood, would lose him his job.

ABOUT ‘ENTRY ISLAND’: When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal’s St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.

Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime’s destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants – the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.

Haunted by this certainty his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant past on a Scottish island 3,000 miles away. Dreams in which the widow plays a leading role. Sime’s conviction becomes an obsession. And in spite of mounting evidence of her guilt he finds himself convinced of her innocence, leading to a conflict between the professonal duty he must fulfil, and the personal destiny that awaits him.

MY THOUGHTS: Entry Island criss-crosses between a small island on Canada’s Eastern Seaboard and the Hebrides in a mystery that spans the centuries.

The plot is complex and fascinating. A murder occurs on a small isolated island with a population of only 100 people. How hard could it be to solve? The only suspect, Kirsty, the murdered man’s estranged wife, triggers a strange response in Sime, and thus begins the story of two islands in two times, two mysteries, and a love story that spans two centuries.

May, as always, writes vividly, painting pictures of his characters, the landscapes in which they dwell, and the little known but very real Highland Clearances. He is master of the claustrophobic and isolated island setting, of depicting the very special characters that choose to live there.

May had my heart pounding in places, and had me in tears in others. He wrung every conceivable emotion from me as I read Entry Island. He both thrilled me, and appalled me. He taught me of a period in history that I had known nothing about. He entertained me, superbly.

Thank you Peter May. I will continue to buy every book that you write. And will, no doubt, continue to feel that frisson of excitement as I open the cover of each for the first time.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#EntryIsland

I: @authorpetermay @riverrun_books

T: @authorpetermay @riverrunbooks

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #contemporaryfiction #historicalfiction #murdermystery #mystery #thriller

QUOTES: ‘A light wind blew high clouds across an inky sky, stars like jewels set in ebony. An almost full moon came and went in washes of colourless silver light. The air was filled with the sound of the ocean, the slow steady breath of eternity.’

‘We sow the seeds of our own destruction without ever realizing it.’

THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born and raised in Scotland and now lives in France. As well as being a prolific and award winning writer, he has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Entry Island written by Peter May and published by Riverrun, a division of Quercus. 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

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

due for publication 27 May 2021

EXCERPT: The Malibu fire of 1983 started not in the dry hills but on the coastline.

It began at 28150 Cliffside Drive on Saturday, August 27 – at the home of Nina Riva – during one of the most notorious parties in Los Angeles history.

The annual party grew wildly out of control sometime around midnight.

By 7:00 a.m., the coastline of Malibu was engulfed in flames.

Because, just as it is in Malibu’s nature to burn, so it was in one particular person’s nature to set the fire and walk away.

ABOUT ‘MALIBU RISING’: Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

MY THOUGHTS: Oh, this was fun! What’s not to love about a dysfunctional family story set in the 1980’s, an era of excess, including big hair and shoulder pads.

TJR is a natural story teller. I could feel the California sunshine, the sand between my toes, and smell the clams cooking. Her characters came alive for me as I became totally immersed in the Riva family saga.

And it is a saga! Told in the lead up to the party with flashbacks to the start, and then the duration of June and Mick’s relationship, Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit growing up,
and culminating in the party itself, this is a story set in a cauldron. I watched with bated breath as it bubbled and surged, simmered, and bubbled and surged some more until finally it boiled over. And I reveled in every moment.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#MalibuRising #NetGalley

I: @tjenkinsreid @randomhouse

T: @tjenkinsreid @randomhouse

#familydrama #historicalfiction

THE AUTHOR: Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of Malibu Rising, Daisy Jones & The Six, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, One True Loves, and three other novels. She lives in Los Angeles.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid 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

Still by Matt Nable

Due for publication May 26, 2021

EXCERPT: The snake’s head lifted, it’s hood flared and it looked at the shadowy figures, like a fighter adopting his stance. It unravelled itself and moved away, down the embankment into the large snarls of lantana and wild saltbush.

‘Stand him up.’ The voice came from a large broad-shouldered man, his shape caught briefly in the half-moon’s light. The voice wasn’t much more than a whisper, though considering where they were, it wouldn’t have mattered had he yelled. The only sign of mankind was the corona from the town’s lights to the west of them and even it had been dulled by the ocean mist. In the darkness in front of the blockish end of a derelict machine-gun post, a prone man was pulled up by his armpits. He stood, his face lifting from the shadows and into the light. His bottom lip was split in its centre and fell loosely either side of the gash.

‘You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

ABOUT ‘STILL’: Darwin, Summer, 1963.

The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.

Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn’t who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.

Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.

MY THOUGHTS: Summer. 1963. Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. It’s humid. Hot. There’s crocs, stingers and sharks. The fishing’s good. The beer’s cold. The climate rascist. Corruption rife. Women the property of their men. People went to the Territory to go missing. That’s the way it was.

Matt Nable has given us some of the most magnificent and some of the most despicable characters that I have ever encountered. Charlotte is one of the magnificent ones; a woman in an abusive relationship, the kind that was frequently the norm back then. But a woman who will rise above society’s expectations and make peace with herself and her actions. Constable Ned Potter is a ‘good bastard’. He’s not perfect, but he stands up for what he believes in, at great personal cost.

The story is dark. It flows along at its own pace. Nable spends some considerable time throughout the book creating atmosphere; the damp, stifling heat, the mosquitoes, the drinking, the bullying, which all adds to the personality of this tale. It is a tale of cruelty and abuse, of corruption and cover ups. It is violent. And, in places, shocking.

Don’t expect Still to be fast moving. It’s not. But it will keep you turning the pages in a kind of fascinated horror. Nable doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it how it was, warts and all. Incredibly realistic.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

# Still #NetGalley

I: #mattnable @@hachetteaus

T: @MattNableOnline @HachetteAus

australiancrimefiction #mystery #Darwin

THE AUTHOR: Matthew Nable is an Australian film and television actor, writer, sports commentator and former professional rugby league footballer (Manly Sea Eagles). With his wife and three children, Matt divides his time between Sydney and Los Angeles.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Still by Matt Nable 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 . . .

Well, not much reading done this week as my lovely husband whisked me away for a short break for my birthday. But more about that in Tuesday travels. We arrived back Friday night, I caught up with the laundry yesterday, Dustin and Luke came down today and we went out for lunch. It’s been a lovely birthday week.

This week I have travelled to New York, Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, and am currently in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, and Marlow on the Thames.

I am currently reading, and almost finished, Still by Matt Nable, set in Darwin in 1963.

I am still listening to The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood, but only because I didn’t take it with me. 😉 I should finish this tomorrow.

This week I am planning on reading Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins-Reid, my first by this author.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

And The Vacation by M.M. Chouinard

One of them is missing… One of them did it…

The Thanksgiving retreat was meant to be a time for them to get away from it all, miles from the secrets that threaten to tear their family apart. But they’re each hiding something:

Rose hopes the pretty house overlooking the sea is just the break her family needs. But as she gazes at the water and remembers her own childhood, she is utterly terrified.

Brandon knows his wife Rose has barely forgiven him for his affair. He’s started drinking again, a road that led him to disaster once before.

Brianna, Rose’s sister-in-law, is recovering from her fifth miscarriage, and when she looks at her adorable niece, she can’t help but see the daughter she deserves.

Then three-year-old Lily disappears from her bed in the villa. Isolated in what should have been paradise, it quickly becomes clear that one of them took her.

As one by one their secrets are uncovered, who will be destroyed next?

I also plan on listening to Legacy by Nora Roberts

The first time Adrian met her father was the day he tried to kill her…

Adrian Rizzo didn’t have the easiest childhood, to put it mildly, but she’s worked hard to put it behind her and to the outside world she is a beautiful young woman with a successful, high-profile career and a wonderful family and friends.

When, out of the blue, she receives a death threat in the post, she is shocked but puts it down to someone’s jealousy of her success and tries to forget about it. But Adrian doesn’t realise that it’s more than just spite. Someone is very, very angry about her happy life and will stop at nothing to bring it all crashing down.

and I did a little better with keeping my requesting finger under control this week with only five new ARCs from Netgalley:

If Only by Angela Marsons

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand, another first for me.

Sisterhood by V.B. Grey

And an audiobook The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

Have you read any of these? Do you have any of these to read? And where have you been on your bookish travels this week? Please do stop by and let me know.

Happy reading!

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I have had an extraordinary reading week! Three five star reads!!! This is totally unprecedented. Anyone who follows me regularly knows that I don’t hand out five stars willy-nilly. They have to be earned.

Currently I am reading The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. Mind-boggling! I read 60% in the first sitting last night and only stopped because I needed sleep before I went to work this morning.

I absolutely agree with Joe Hill!

I am halfway through listening to The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood and loving it.

And I am almost finished listening to the enigmatic Entry Island by Peter May. This is a little different to anything else I have read by this author, but oh so good!

This week I am planning on reading The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene—in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.

And The Marriage by K.L. Slater

Ten years ago he killed my son. Today I married him.

Ten years ago my darling son Jesse was murdered and our perfect family was destroyed. My strong, handsome boy, so full of life, became a memory, a photo I carried with me everywhere.

But today I’m finally close to finding happiness again. My ash-blonde hair has been curled into ringlets. Carefully placed white flowers frame my delicate features. The small, drab chapel has been prettied up with white satin, and there are tiny red hearts scattered on the small table where I will soon sign the register with my new husband.

The man who killed my son.

My friends and family can’t understand it. My neighbours whisper in the street whenever I walk past. How can I love a man like Tom?

They don’t really know me at all…

And I am afraid that my requesting finger ran amuck again this week – it does that when I am tired and my resistance levels are low (or nonexistent!) and I have 8 new ARCs from Netgalley. They are:

The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt. I love this author, but this will be the first historical novel I have read by her.

Safe From Harm by Leah Mercer

One Way Street by Trevor Wood

Happily Ever After by Alison James

The Child in the Photo by Kerry Wilkinson

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher

An Unwelcome Guest by Amanda Robson

And Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley

I can’t wait to get started!

This past week I have travelled to Decatur, Georgia, Wasjington Woods, and Long Island in the USA, Halesowen and Marlow in England, as well as Entry Island in Canada with brief forays into the Outer Hebrides off Scotland. Where have you been this week?

Have a wonderful week of reading. I am hurrying back to Needless Street. 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️ ❤📚

The Girls From Alexandria by Carol Cooper

EXCERPT: Most of Simone’s warm clothes still appeared untouched. Funny. I’d have thought she’d have needed them in Europe. There at the back was a well-loved teddy bear. So much for her claim of having got rid of all soft toys by the age of ten. The yellow ribbed cardigan next to it was actually mine. A cigarette burn went through the right elbow. Well, that would explain why she had never returned it. I sniffed the cardigan and picked up a faint scent of Femme de Rochas which, in Mother’s opinion, reeked of sharmouta. I returned the cardigan to the drawer alongside a stack of monogrammed handkerchiefs and Mother’s ubiquitous cotton bags for socks and tights.

Inside the white painted bedside table, I found various nail varnishes, a Mary Quant lipstick, and a lipstick brush. In the drawer lay a few 45 rpm records. Bobby Azzam’s big hit would never be the same again now that Simone had gone. I sang ‘Ya Mustafa’ softly to myself, willing the tune to work its magic and bring her back.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRLS FROM ALEXANDRIA’: Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

MY THOUGHTS: Other than odd passages, such as the one above, The Girls From Alexandria is strangely detached. I expected a little, no, to be truthful, A LOT more emotion.

Although I found the history of Egypt, and particularly Alexandria, interesting, I sometimes wondered if the author were more interested in imparting that, than solving the mystery of where Simone had disappeared to. It ought to have been an interesting backdrop to the main story, but at times overwhelmed it. Although I have to admit that at times, as I was reading, I would exclaim, ‘I remember that happening!’

I also found the constant shifts in the timeline from the past (1950s onwards) to more recent times a little hard to follow as they jumped all over the place, but I guess that this was forgivable as we were remembering through Nadia’s muddled mind.

I liked the character of Nadia, but never connected with her, or really got to know her. I did, however, develop an interest in Alexandria and Googled it to find out more. If I ever get to travel to Egypt, I will certainly head there. The author’s knowledge of and love for Alexandria shone through her writing, as did her medical knowledge.

Reading through my review, it sounds as though I really didn’t like this book at all. But I did. A little. I would love to have liked it a whole lot more.

⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheGirlsFromAlexandria #NetGalley

I: @drcarolcooper @agorabooksldn

T: @DrCarolCooper @AgoraBooksLDN

THE AUTHOR: Dr Carol Cooper is a practising family doctor, journalist, and mother of twins. She writes for The Sun newspaper and teaches medical students at Imperial College. Her non-fiction books include a number of parenting titles and an award-winning medical textbook. She is honorary consultant in family medicine to Tamba (the Twins & Multiple Births Association), and gives regular talks to those expecting twins, triplets, or more. Carol also broadcasts on TV and radio, and is President of the Guild of Health Writers. She has two novels to her name.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girls From Alexandria by Carol Cooper 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