The Will by Rebecca Reid

EXCERPT: Roxborough House is an enormous house. Too big, really. Every person who has lived there in the last two hundred years has claimed that they will be the last, that no one could possibly want to be saddled with this place. Fifteen bedrooms. Servants’ quarters. A library, two kitchens, a small sitting room, a large sitting room, a drawing room, a dining room – the list goes on. Running Roxborough is no joke. It’s a full-time job. A burden. A millstone. Inheriting it means tying one’s entire life to the place.

And yet, they all want it.

ABOUT ‘THE WILL’: The Mordaunts aren’t like most families . . .

For one, their family home is Roxborough Hall – a magnificent, centuries-old mansion in the Norfolk countryside. For another, the house isn’t passed down from parent to child – but rather to the family member deemed most worthy.

Cecily Mordaunt is dead. On the evening of her funeral, her family will gather for dinner and each will be given a letter, revealing who is the next custodian of Roxborough Hall.

The house is a burden, a millstone, a full-time job . . . but they all want it. And some are willing do anything to get it.

One family. Eight letters. Who will get what they deserve?

MY THOUGHTS: I found The Will to be compelling reading. I became totally immersed in the relationships and machinations of the Mordaunt family and read this book in less than twenty four hours.

This is my first book by author Rebecca Reid, but it certainly won’t be the last. Next on my to do list after writing this review is to track down copies of her other books.

There characters in this book are brilliantly depicted from the sweet and gentle Violet who, as it turns out, has hidden depths, to the overachieving Briony who envisages her husband’s family home as an exclusive girl’s school with herself at the helm.

The story of this family told over several timelines, non-linear, but beautifully executed. Not once did I feel confused. The timelines range from the recently deceased matriarch Cecily’s childhood through to the present time encompassing her funeral and the entailment of the family homestead.

Grant is the favoured younger son, an aging playboy with a taste for much younger women. Grant’s adopted son Jonty is a vet and the only family member who lives locally. David is Cecily’s elder son, weighed down by his successful second wife’s expectations, a desire to do right by his two daughters from his first marriage, and perplexed by a son he doesn’t understand, the result of his second marriage. Willa, a lawyer who has an eating disorder her family prefers to ignore, and Lizzie, a free spirit, are David’s two daughters and Cecily’s adored granddaughters. Cecily’s own daughter, Elspeth, has been estranged from her mother for many years. And finally there is Violet, Cecily’s constant companion and friend since Cecily turned twenty-one. One of these people will inherit Roxborough Hall. But who? And why?

The narrative of this tale is full of amazing revelations – secrets, so many secrets! There are secret liaisons, relationships, desires and dreams.

I was enormously entertained throughout this fun read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheWill #NetGalley

I: @rebeccacnreid @randomhouseuk @transworld @penguinuk

T: @RebeccaCNReid @RandomHouseUK @Transworld @PenguinUK

#contemporaryfiction #familysaga #fivestarread #friendship #historicalfiction #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Reid is a journalist based in London. She is a columnist for the Telegraph women’s section and for Metro. She writes regularly for Marie Claire, The Guardian, Telegraph online, the Saturday Telegraph, The Independent, Grazia, Stylist, and the iPaper, and she appears regularly on Good Morning Britain, where she argues with everyone from Piers Morgan to Jameela Jamil about gender politics, social class, and sex and relationships.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld, Penguin via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Will by Rebecca 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Foster by Claire Keegan

EXCERPT: With my mother it is all work: us, the butter making, the dinners, the washing-up and getting up and getting ready for Mass and school, weaning calves and hiring men to plough and harrow the fields, stretching the money and setting the alarm. But this is a different type of house. Here there is room, and time to think. There may even be money to spare.

ABOUT ‘FOSTER’: 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.

MY THOUGHTS: Claire Keegan writes with a poetic beauty that reminds me of calm waves lapping at the shore. Although the reality of where this young girl has come from, and will be returned to, is harsh and stark, Keegan’s writing is anything but.

There is a stunning emotional depth in this novella. Keegan conveys much in very few pages. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here on how to treat a child, and the blossoming of this girl away from a life of overcrowded poverty, just one of many children, in a place where she is recognised and cherished as a person in her own right, is a wonderous experience.

I have been awed by everything I have so far read by this author.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Foster #NetGalley

I: #clairekeeganfiction @groveatlantic

T: @CKeeganFiction @GroveAtlantic

#fivestarread #historicalfiction #irishfiction #novella #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Claire Keegan was born in County Wicklow, the youngest of a large family. She travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was seventeen, and studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992 and lived for a year in Cardiff, Wales, where she undertook an MA in creative writing and taught undergraduates at the University of Wales.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Foster by Claire Keegan 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

The Tilt by Chris Hammer

EXCERPT: Rural Homicide. A huge career leap. And Dubbo is so much bigger than her previous posting in Bourke, with a cinema, a library, a base hospital, air and rail links through to Sydney. Positively cosmopolitan. And now she’s not just a detective, but a homicide detective. The crėme de la crème. But she’s learnt not to let her eagerness show, knowing how it rankles with Ivan. He believes he’s been sidelined, warehoused, demoted in all but rank. For him, Dubbo is to be endured, survived.

Nell eats her roll, looking past Ivan. The streetscape seems vaguely familiar, the outer reaches of her childhood. But all the towns out here look the same: roads that are too wide, trees that are too far apart, air that is too dry.

She’s heading home. Her family is there, unaware of her imminent arrival, but she feels them waiting just the same. She’s not sure how she feels about that. She knows she should have called ahead, but in the rush to get going she didn’t have the chance. That’s what she tells herself. Ivan had only called her this morning, first thing, and she’d rushed to pack. And she doesn’t want to call from the car, not with him listening. Better to separate the personal from the professional.

ABOUT ‘THE TILT’: 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?

MY THOUGHTS: Geologic tilting, also known as tectonic tilting, occurs when the earth’s surface layers begin to tilt or slant irregularly.

The Tilt is a complex multigenerational story set over three time periods: the 1940s, the 1970s and the present day. The storyline gradually unfolds when newly promoted Nell Buchanan and her boss Ivan Lucic are called in to investigate the discovery of a skeleton when a water regulator is sabotaged. Neither Nell nor Ivan have high hopes of solving this historic case, but then a second and more recent body is discovered close by.

Hammer interweaves environment issues with great dexterity into the body of this thriller set on the shores of the once great Murray River. The action takes place variously in an Italian POW camp, a car dismantling yard, and a small town currently inhabited by Twitchers, crazy right wingers and Neo-Nazis.

Nell’s investigation stirs up old family feuds and rearranges a family tree. Parts of this investigation are very personal to Nell’s own family.

Although this is a complex storyline, it is a compelling read. I did feel that the terrorist thread was probably a step too far. The plot would have been perfectly fine without it.

I must be getting used to narrator, Dorje Swallow, as I found his narration much smoother than previously.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheTilt #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @thehammernow @wfhowes

T: @hammerNow @WFHowes

#audiobook #australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #smalltownfiction #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than 30 countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries

EXCERPT: Taken from ‘The Second Murder at the Vicarage’ by Val McDermid

‘I’m afraid . . .’ I stopped, not feeling entirely comfortable delivering my news among the gladioli and the dahlias and the talk of romance.

I often underestimate the steel under the tweeds when it comes to my older female parishioners. ‘Mary’s not sulking, my dear. Mary’s been murdered,’ Miss Marple said, her tone entirely lacking in drama.

Miss Hartnell’s jaw dropped, revealing large yellow teeth that would have been more at home in the mouth of Colonel Bantry’s favourite hunter.

‘Mary? Murdered? There must be some mistake, Jane. What motive could anyone have for murdering Mary? It’s not as if she’s got the brains to be a threat to anyone. Or enough personality to provoke a murderous thought.’

It appeared that the concept of never speaking ill of the dead fell into abeyance when the dead were of the servant class.

ABOUT ‘MARPLE: TWELVE NEW MYSTERIES’: A brand-new collection of short stories featuring the Queen of Mystery’s legendary detective Jane Marple, penned by twelve remarkable bestselling and acclaimed authors.

This collection of a dozen original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.

Naomi Alderman
Leigh Bardugo
Alyssa Cole
Lucy Foley
Elly Griffiths
Natalie Haynes
Jean Kwok
Val McDermid
Karen M. McManus
Dreda Say Mitchell
Kate Mosse
Ruth Ware

Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Agatha Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Miss Marple and largely enjoyed this collection of short stories involving my favourite knitting sleuth penned by both some of my favourite authors and some that were new to me.

The stories focus on Miss Marple’s ability to detect evil in the most ordinary of people with some surprising results.

The three stories that really stood out for me were:
Evil in Small Places by Lucy Foley;
The Second Murder at The Vicarage by Val McDermid; and
The Disappearance by Leigh Bardugo.
All of them five stars. These three seemed to have a little more substance and depth than the others, no mean feat in a short story! The others ranged from 3 – 4 stars, with only one at 2.5 stars.

If you are in the market for a collection of short stories in the mystery genre, you really can’t do better than Marple.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#MarpleTwelveNewStories #NetGalley

I: @harperfiction

T: @HarperFiction

#historicalfiction #mystery #shortstories

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins, Harper Fiction, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Marple: Twelve New Stories 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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

So much for spring 🤷‍♀️ it seems that we have jumped straight into summer. After squally heavy rain showers yesterday and even a hailstorm, we have 22°C today. I have been out in the garden for most of the day, but now I’m starting to tire and stiffen up, so thought it was time I came inside. There’s always tomorrow!

Currently I am reading The Three Loves of Sebastian Cooper by Zoë Folbigg

And I have started a new cosy-mystery series of which I have all seven books. If they are all as good as the first, which I started last night and will finish tonight, then I am in for a real treat. The Murder Mystery (A Beth Haldane Mystery #1) by Alice Castle is a quick, easy read which has kept me intrigued. I’m over 80% through and still have no idea who the murderer is.

I am listening to Aftermath by Peter Robinson, (Inspector Banks series #12).

This week I am planning on reading A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre.

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. 

Next in Line (William Warwick #5) by Jeffrey Archer

London, 1988. Royal fever sweeps the nation as Britain falls in love with the ‘people’s princess’.

Which means for Scotland Yard, the focus is on the elite Royalty Protection Command, and its commanding officer. Entrusted with protecting the most famous family on earth, they quite simply have to be the best. A weak link could spell disaster.

Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick and his Scotland Yard squad are sent in to investigate the team. Maverick ex-undercover operative Ross Hogan is charged with a very sensitive—and unique—responsibility. But it soon becomes clear the problems in Royalty Protection are just the beginning. A renegade organization has the security of the country—and the Crown—in its sights. The only question is which target is next in line… 

The Party Guest by Amanda Robson

A birthday to remember. But would they rather forget…?

Ralph is turning 45, and the only gift he wants this year is his ex-wife.
Gemma, his trophy girlfriend, is trying to ignore this.
Sarah, the ex-wife, has agreed to attend Ralph’s birthday party, but with her new man in tow.
And Jack, Sarah’s partner, is keen to accompany Sarah to keep an eye on the proceedings.

It’s a birthday trip like no other. The whole extended family in a villa on the beautiful Amalfi coast. But under the politely strained surface, every party guest harbours their own agenda.

By the end of the trip, two people will be dead. But while Ralph unwraps his presents, will anybody be able to unwrap the truth…?

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

DS Cassie Fitzgerald has a secret – but it’s one she’s deleted from her memory. In the 1990s when she was at school, she and her friends killed a fellow pupil. Thirty years later, Cassie is happily married and loves her job as a police officer.

One day her husband persuades her to go to a school reunion and another ex-pupil, Garfield Rice, is found dead, supposedly from a drug overdose. As Garfield was an eminent MP and the investigation is high profile, it’s headed by Cassie’s new boss, DI Harbinder Kaur. The trouble is, Cassie can’t shake the feeling that one of her old friends has killed again.

Is Cassie right, or was Garfield murdered by one of his political cronies? It’s in Cassie’s interest to skew the investigation so that it looks like the latter and she seems to be succeeding. 

I have received 3 new Netgalley ARCs this week: Stephen King – a complete exploration of his work and influences by Bev Vincent

The Work Wives by Rachael Johns

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

I had a grandstand view of the steam train as it came through town heading north this afternoon. My maternal grandfather was a stoker/fireman on the railway when he was young, and that is what brought him and my Nana to this town – and they never left. The steam engine is coming back heading south next weekend and Dustin and Luke will be on it. Luke will be staying on with us for the first week of the school holidays, and Dustin will be heading back to Hamilton on a diesel train.

Have a wonderful week!❤📚

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

EXCERPT: Walking through the tunnel, I can just see the edges of the court. The crowd is already loud.

The lights are on, barely brighter than the evening air. When I get to the opening, I pull my shoulders down. I roll my neck. I wipe my shoes.

I inhale sharply. I let the air leave my body like a deflating balloon. I am loose. I am ready.

ABOUT ‘CARRIE SOTO IS BACK’: Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

In spite of it all, Carrie Soto is back, for one epic final season.

MY THOUGHTS: TJR has aced this!

By the time I had finished reading, I swear I had played every shot along with Carrie Soto. Do I play tennis? Not unless you count hitting the ball against the garage wall. Do I watch tennis? Only with one eye when it’s on the news.

So what’s the fascination? It’s the writing. TJR writes with rhythm and style. With her heart and soul. Her characters are bigger than life. They dominate. Enchant. Enthrall.

I didn’t like Carrie Soto at the beginning of this book; by the end I was her biggest fan.

But this book is not just about tennis. It’s also about Carrie’s relationships – with her father; with the other players; with herself. We are privy to her fears and insecurities; her triumphs, and her loneliness.

I cried a lot during the latter part of Carrie Soto is Back. Not great, noisy, ugly crying; just tears sliding silently down my cheeks, usually over a particularly poignant piece of writing.

Carrie Soto is Back is a read that engendered almost every emotion. When I closed the covers for the final time I felt like I had won a Grand Slam. I was buzzing. Bouncing. Energised. Elated.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#CarrieSotoIsBack #NetGalley

I: @tjenkinsreid @randomhouse

T: @tjenkinsreid @randomhouse

#historicalfiction #romance

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 Carrie Soto is Back 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

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

EXCERPT: As she neared the double doors of the bus station, she slowed. Help wanted ads, business cards, and what seemed like a hundred missing kid flyers covered a bulletin board next to the door – row after row of innocent smiling faces lined up like faded yearbook photos. She’d always hated those photos: the word MISSING all in caps knocking you between the eyes, the grainy photos taken on happier days before the kids were abducted, when everyone was still blissfully unaware that they’d be stolen from their families some day. The flyers were plastered all over Staten Island, inside the grocery stores and post offices, outside the bowling alleys and movie theaters, on the mailboxes and telephone poles. Something cold and hard tightened in her chest. Would her twin sister’s face be on one of those damn flyers too? And where were all those poor innocent kids? What horrible things had they endured? Were they dead? Still suffering? Crying and terrified, wondering why their parents, the people who had promised to love and protect them forever, hadn’t saved them yet? She couldn’t imagine a worse fate.

ABOUT ‘THE LOST GIRLS OF WILLOWBROOK’: Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: I am torn by this book and may revise my rating once I have thought on it some more.

I honestly think a better title may have been ‘The Lost Souls of Willowbrook’.

I worked in a government mental institution in New Zealand in the 1970s and I am happy to report that it was mostly nothing like Willowbrook. There was the occasional ‘old school’ attendant or nurse who could be cruel and uncaring, but mostly we were bright young men and women who had learned respect and were intent on improving the lot of the residents by providing the best care possible. The only ‘locked wards’ were the ones that housed the criminally insane or the extremely violent. Our wards, even the old ones, were bright and clean, the residents well fed and, where possible, their independence nurtured. It wasn’t perfect, but it was ‘home’ to many long term residents, and a welcome refuge for acute admissions.

So Willowbrook came as a bit of a shock to me. After I finished listening to the audiobook I read some of the archived articles and examined the photos. I couldn’t get over the sheer size of Willowbrook, and the design of the building made it eminently unsuitable for housing the disabled, the ‘feeble-minded’. Mr Dewey, what were you thinking? There was obviously a demand, a need for accommodation and care; but just as obviously Willowbrook was not the answer.

Now, onto the book that I am reviewing. While I admire what the author set out to do, it just didn’t resonate for me. I didn’t like the plot and failed to feel anything at all for the characters. I think that I may have enjoyed this more had Sage been a more likeable character.

The language used to describe the conditions Sage encounters in Willowbrook is repetitious. I felt like the author was trying too hard to shock me, and it all felt ‘over-exposed’. And y’all that know me know that I prefer not to be belted about the ears with a piece of 4 x 2 when you’re trying to get your point across. Less is more.

There are numerous holes in the plot (view spoiler)

This should have been an atmospheric and chilling read but, sadly for me, it felt mostly flat.

⭐⭐.9

#TheLostGirlsofWillowbrook #NetGalley

I: @ellenmariewiseman @kensingtonbooks

T: @EllenMarieWise @KensingtonBooks

#comingofage #historicalfiction #humanrights #mystery #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: A first-generation German American, Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and two spoiled Shih-tzus, Izzy and Bella. When she’s not busy writing, she loves spending time with her children and grandchildren.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books for supplying a digital ARC and to RB Media for supplying an audio ARC of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook written by Ellen Marie Wiseman and narrated by Morgan Hallett 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 Line Friday

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

<i>’Deep within me, a sense of dread buzzes and crackles, an electrical wire threatening to short.'</i>

Does this opening sentence inspire you to read on?

The book this belongs to is

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon, and to all the Dads out there, happy Father’s Day.

Currently I am reading Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly, and finding it enthralling.

THIS REUNION WILL TEAR A FAMILY APART…

Summer, 2021.
 Nell has come home at her family’s insistence to celebrate an anniversary. Fifty years ago, her father wrote The Golden Bones. Part picture book, part treasure hunt, Sir Frank Churcher created a fairy story about Elinore, a murdered woman whose skeleton was scattered all over England. Clues and puzzles in the pages of The Golden Bones led readers to seven sites where jewels were buried – gold and precious stones, each a different part of a skeleton. One by one, the tiny golden bones were dug up until only Elinore’s pelvis remained hidden.

The book was a sensation. A community of treasure hunters called the Bonehunters formed, in frenzied competition, obsessed to a dangerous degree. People sold their homes to travel to England and search for Elinore. Marriages broke down as the quest consumed people. A man died. The book made Frank a rich man. Stalked by fans who could not tell fantasy from reality, his daughter, Nell, became a recluse.

But now the Churchers must be reunited. The book is being reissued along with a new treasure hunt and a documentary crew are charting everything that follows. Nell is appalled, and terrified. During the filming, Frank finally reveals the whereabouts of the missing golden bone. And then all hell breaks loose.

And listening to Rock, Paper, Scissors by Alice Feeney

Think you know the person you married? Think again…

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife.
Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.

This week I have seven books to read for review, all due ffor publication this week. They are:

The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

As a little girl raised amid the hardships of Michigan’s Copper Country, Fenna Vos learned to focus on her own survival. That ability sustains her even now as the Second World War rages in faraway countries. Though she performs onstage as the assistant to an unruly escape artist, behind the curtain she’s the mastermind of their act. Ultimately, controlling her surroundings and eluding traps of every kind helps her keep a lingering trauma at bay.

Yet for all her planning, Fenna doesn’t foresee being called upon by British military intelligence. Tasked with designing escape aids to thwart the Germans, MI9 seeks those with specialized skills for a war nearing its breaking point. Fenna reluctantly joins the unconventional team as an inventor. But when a test of her loyalty draws her deep into the fray, she discovers no mission is more treacherous than escaping one’s past.

Women Like Us: A Memoir by Amanda Prowse

Amanda Prowse has built a bestselling career on the lives of fictional women. Now she turns the pen on her own life.

I guess the first question to ask is, what kind of woman am I? Well, you know those women who saunter into a room, immaculately coiffed and primped from head to toe?

If you look behind her, you’ll see me.

From her childhood, where there was no blueprint for success, to building a career as a bestselling novelist against all odds, Amanda Prowse explores what it means to be a woman in a world where popularity, slimness, beauty and youth are currency—and how she overcame all of that to forge her own path to happiness.

Sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious and always entirely relatable, Prowse details her early struggles with self-esteem and how she coped with the frustrating expectations others had of how she should live. Most poignantly, she delves into her toxic relationship with food, the hardest addiction she has ever known, and how she journeyed out the other side.

One of the most candid memoirs you’re ever likely to read, Women Like Us provides welcome insight into how it is possible—against the odds—to overcome insecurity, body consciousness and the ubiquitous imposter syndrome to find happiness and success, from a woman who’s done it all, and then some.

In Little Stars by Linda Green

In a divided northern England, love and hate are about to collide . . .

Sylvie and Donna travel on the same train to work each day but have never spoken. Their families are on different sides of the bitter Brexit divide, although the tensions and arguments at home give them much in common.

What they don’t know is that their eldest children, Rachid and Jodie, are about to meet for the first time and fall in love. Aware that neither family will approve, the teenagers vow to keep their romance a secret.

But as Sylvie’s family feel increasingly unwelcome in England, a desire for a better life threatens Rachid and Jodie’s relationship. Can their love unite their families – or will it end in tragedy? 

Becoming Beth by Meredith Appleyard

Since adolescence, 58-year-old Beth has lived her life with blinkers on, repressing the memory of a teenage trauma. Her mother, Marian, took control of that situation, and of all else in their family life – and as much as she could in the small town of Miner’s Ridge as well.

Now Marian is dead, and Beth, unemployed and in the middle of a humiliating divorce, is living with her gentle-hearted father in the family home. Beth feels obliged to take over her mother’s involvement in the local town hall committee, which becomes a source of new friendships, old friendships renewed, and a considerable amount of aggravation.

Researching town hall history, Beth finds photographs that show Marian in a surprising light; sorting through Marian’s belongings, she realises that her mother has left a trail of landmines, cruel revelations that knock the feet out from under her supposed nearest and dearest. Beth struggles to emerge from the ensuing emotional chaos … in middle age, can she really start anew?

The Night Watch by Neil Lancaster

A lawyer is found dead at sunrise on a lonely clifftop at Dunnet Head on the northernmost tip of Scotland. It was supposed to be his honeymoon, but now his wife will never see him again.

He’ll hunt you.
The case is linked to several mysterious deaths, including the murder of the lawyer’s last client – Scotland’s most notorious criminal… who had just walked free. DS Max Craigie knows this can only mean one thing: they have a vigilante serial killer on their hands.

He’ll leave you to die.
But this time the killer isn’t on the run; he’s on the investigation team. And the rules are different when the murderer is this close to home.

He knows their weaknesses, knows how to stay hidden, and he thinks he’s above the law… 

The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

A notebook full of secrets, two untimely deaths – something sinister is stirring in the perfect seaside town of Morranez…

It’s summer and holidaymakers are flocking to the idyllic Brittany coast. But when first an old traveller woman dies in suspicious circumstances, and then a campaign of hate seemingly drives another victim to take his own life, events take a very dark turn.

Mila Shepherd has come to France to look after her niece, Ani, following the accident in which both Ani’s parents were lost at sea. Mila has moved into their family holiday home – The Sea House – as well as taken her sister Sophie’s place in an agency which specialises in tracking down missing people, until new recruit Carter Jackson starts.

It’s clear that malevolent forces are at work in Morranez, but the local police are choosing to look the other way. Only Mila and Carter can uncover the truth about what’s really going on in this beautiful, but mysterious place before anyone else suffers. But someone is desperate to protect a terrible truth, at any cost… 

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood

The Santa Killer is coming to town…
One night less than two weeks before Christmas, a single mother is violently assaulted. It’s a brutal crime at the time of year when there should be goodwill to all. When DI Barton begins his investigation, he’s surprised to find the victim is a woman with nothing to hide and no reason for anyone to hurt her.

A few days later, the mother of the woman attacked rings the police station. Her granddaughter has drawn a shocking picture. It seems she was looking out of the window when her mother was attacked. And when her grandmother asks the young girl who the person with the weapon is, she whispers two words.

Bad Santa.

The rumours start spreading, and none of the city’s women feel safe – which one of them will be next?

He’s got a list. It’s quite precise. It won’t matter even if you’re nice. 

I received seven new ARCs this week, three of them publishers’ widgets.

In addition to The Skeleton Key, which I have already started, and Becoming Beth, which is on this week’s reading list, I received:

Just Like Family by Barbara Casey (thank you Susan)

Wolf Pack by Will Dean (Publisher’s widget)

The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley

The Village Vicar by Julie Houston (Publisher’s widget)

And Silent Victim (DCI Matilda Darke #10) by Michael Wood also a publisher’s widget

That’s me for the weekend. Now that the wind has dropped I want to do a few jobs in the garden before it starts cooling off out there.

Have a great week and happy reading my friends. ❤📚


	

Sandy’s August 2022 Reading Roundup

Wow! Where did August go? It’s the meteorological first day of spring here in New Zealand, and it has been a beautiful spring day, but now – late afternoon – it’s clouded over and is cooling off. The daffodils and daphne are almost finished flowering, but the freesias look and smell beautiful; the hyacinths are about to flower, closely followed by the tulips. The kowhai trees are flowering – I planted two more over winter – and so the tui are back. I love listening to them; they are such clever mimics.

I started August with seventeen books to read for review, and managed not to add any during the month. That’s a first! I managed to complete twelve and am currently reading and almost finished three more. I will probably finish all three tonight. That’s an 88% completion rate. I read two more books purely for pleasure, but didn’t get to any of the titles on my backlist. So that was a total of seventeen books read during August.

One of the titles I am currently reading is a debut author – And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke.

Two of the books I read in August were by new to me authors. They were: The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd ⭐⭐⭐.8





And one of my reads for pleasure, The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

The two books I didn’t get read during August were Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah

and Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I intend to start tonight.

I only had one five star read in August – The New House by Tess Stimson. I loved this so much I had a huge book hangover afterwards which lasted until almost the end of the month.

I have somehow managed to collect twenty-five books for review in September 🤦‍♀️ – I’m sure that request button operates on its own volition while I’m asleep!🤷‍♀️

So, I’m off to finish my three almost finished titles. Happy September reading!❤📚