Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston

Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston

EXCERPT: ‘Don’t worry,’ Ginny whispered as she kissed her sister goodbye outside the Advocate’s house. ‘I shan’t come to any harm. She’s exaggerating.’

Emily didn’t argue because there wasn’t time, and because Maman might hear it and, in any case, she was too drained by the emotion of the last few minutes to want to provoke any more outbursts. She simply kissed Ginny’s cheek and said a private prayer for her safety. But she was still cold with dread and she went on feeling afraid for the rest of the day; when she finally got into bed, she carried her unspoken fears into nightmares.

Lacerated with rage, Ginny ran to the station. To say such things just at the very moment when she was packed and ready to go! It was hateful. And unnecessary. She felt upset all the way to Paris, justifying her anger with her mother and pushing pity to one side, concentrating on feeling aggrieved and hurt so that she didn’t have to face the possible truth of what had been said. Because it couldn’t be true. She wouldn’t let it be true. It was too horrible.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: ‘Nobody is to know where we are. You must forget England. That part of your lives is over.’

Twins Ginny and Emily Holborn have everything they could ever need in their Wolverhampton home: a loving family, a garden to play in and a staff waiting to attend to their every need. Until, one summer day in 1926, they disappear without a trace.

Ten years later, bright-eyed solicitor Charlie Commoner is given his first job: track down the still-missing Holborn twins. Despatched to France, he’s left to unravel a web of infidelity, mystery, and terrifying family secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: I almost abandoned this book at one early point, but I am so very glad that I didn’t. I ended up heavily invested in the lives, struggles and very different romances of the Holborn twins.

This is not a short read, but the appeal for me was two-fold: Beryl Kingston is an author I remember my mother enjoying immensely; and I have recently found myself enjoying historical fiction set around the two world wars.

The story travels from a wealthy beginning in England, to poverty and almost destitution in France. The contrast in life-styles is immense. It is told mostly from four points of view: that of Hortense, the young French wife of the only son of a wealthy industrialist and mother to the twins; Agnes her sister-in-law, married to the social climbing Claude; and the twins themselves, Virginia and the blind Emily.

The mystery is really not that mysterious; in fact, I thought it rather obvious. I also thought that Charlie should have made the connection between the missing heiresses and Jeannie a lot sooner. That, I felt, was a little too drawn out. The constant string of near misses became somewhat irritating. Perhaps the story would have had more appeal had we begun with the death of the twins grandfather, and the resulting search for them, and learned their earlier history in flashbacks. But we must also remember that this book was written and first published almost thirty years ago.

It was an interesting read, and I might be tempted to read another by this author at some point in the future.

☺☺☺.5

THE AUTHOR: BERYL KINGSTON has been a writer since she was seven when she started producing ‘poetry’ which, according to her, was very, very bad. She was evacuated to Felpham at the start of WWII, igniting an interest in one time resident poet William Blake (which later inspired her novel The Gates of Paradise). She was a school teacher until 1985, but became a full-time writer when her debut novel became a bestseller. Kingston lives in west Sussex, and has three children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2701023084

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Watching What I’m Reading. . .

Happy Sunday everyone. I have been to work this morning, now home and making Quince Jelly. So while it is simmering away, I will talk about what I am currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what new approvals I have received.

Currently I am reading

Two Silver Crosses: A heartwarming family saga of love and war

I remember my mother enjoying this author. I blew hot and cold on this book for the first third, but now 2/3 through I am enjoying it.

In 1926 the Holborn twins, Ginny and her blind sister Emily, disappear from their comfortable home in Wolverhampton. Why? No one knew. Ten years later, aspiring solicitor Charlie Commoner is dispatched to France to track them down. What he finds instead is a mystery, a tragedy and a love affair.

But as the Second World War darkens over Europe, so, too, does the legacy from a terrifying disease that holds the family in its grip . . .

I need to download a new audiobook book, but as we are going away Thursday, I probably won’t bother until we get back.

As you may have gathered, I have not yet started on

Run Away

which was on last week’s list. . .

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, quite by chance, you see her busking in New York’s Central Park.

But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is wasted, frightened and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And

The Woman I Was Before

The perfect picture hides the darkest lies.

A new home can be a happy ending. Or a fresh start. Or a hiding place…

Kate Jones is running away. She has left her old life behind, changing both her own name and her daughter’s. No-one must ever connect Kate with the mistake that destroyed her life.

Starting afresh on Parkview Road – a brand new street full of newly built houses – Kate looks at the other women on the street with envy. They seem to have it all: Gisela with her busy life, full house and successful children, Sally with her exciting spontaneous marriage, her glamorous holidays, her high-flying career. The pictures that Kate’s new friends post online confirm their seemingly perfect existence, whilst Kate hides from the world at all costs.

Until one day, everything changes. Kate is called to the scene of a devastating accident, which is about to test everything the women thought they knew about each other, and themselves.

My requesting finger has been a bit out of control this week. . .this week I have received

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

The Dark Bones (A Dark Lure, #2)

Picture of Innocence

A Family of Strangers

So much for only two requests a week so that I can reduce my huge pile of back titles. I have no self control when it comes to books, okay?!

Tomorrow  is the first day of the new financial year here in New Zealand, so between stocktaking, closing off the financial records for the year, setting up for the new financial year, and doing rollover of our membership records, and getting everything set up for my relief staff while I am away,  I am unlikely to get anything posted, possibly for a couple of days.

So until next time, happy reading my friends. 💕📚

 

 

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Firstly I must apologize for my absence over the past few days. We had wedding #2 of the three family weddings in 9 weeks. The weather gods were kind to us, the bride was radiant, and everyone had fun. Now a little less than three weeks to wedding #3, for which we will be heading to Australia.

Now onto the real reason we are here. . . Books! Currently I am reading

My Daughter's Secret

for which I gave you a sneak preview last Tuesday. I can’t wait to see where this is going. Only started this last night, and very intrigued.

I am listening to

The Dead Tracks (David Raker, #2)

I have been wanting to get into this series for some time now.

This week I am planning on reading

Two Silver Crosses: A heartwarming family saga of love and war

In 1926 the Holborn twins, Ginny and her blind sister Emily, disappear from their comfortable home in Wolverhampton. Why? No one knew. Ten years later, aspiring solicitor Charlie Commoner is dispatched to France to track them down. What he finds instead is a mystery, a tragedy and a love affair.

But as the Second World War darkens over Europe, so, too, does the legacy from a terrifying disease that holds the family in its grip . . .

Run Away

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs. 

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.

I have to admit to not particularly liking the cover of this one.

This week I have received four ARC approvals from NetGalley.

The Bones She Buried (Detective Josie Quinn #5)

The Last Thing She Remembers

Tomorrow's Bread

Pray for the Girl

I hope you have had a wonderful week’s reading, and that you have another lined up ahead of you. 💕📚

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

The Masterpiece by Fiona  Davis

EXCERPT: New York City, April 1928

Clara Darden’s illustration class at the Grand Central School of Art, tucked under the copper eaves of the terminal, was unaffected by the trains that rumbled through ancient layers of Manhattan schist hundreds of feet below. But somehow, a surprise visit from Mr Lorette, the school’s director, had the disruptive power of a locomotive weighing in at thousands of tons.

Even before Mr Lorette was a factor, Clara had been anxious about the annual faculty exhibition set to open at six o’clock that evening. Her first show in New York City, and everyone important in the art and editorial worlds would be there. She’d been working on her illustrations for months now, knowing this might be her only chance.

She asked her class to begin work on an alternate cover design for Virginia Woolf’s latest book, and the four ladies dove in eagerly, while Wilbur, the only male and something of a rake to boot, sighed loudly and rolled his eyes. Gertrude, the most studious of the five members, was so offended by Wilbur’s lack of respect that she threatened to toss a jar of turpentine at him. They were still arguing vociferously when Mr Lorette waltzed in.

Never mind that these were all adults, not children. Whenever Wilbur made a ruckus, it had the unfortunate effect of lowering the entire class’s maturity level by a decade. More often than not, Clara was strong enough to restore order before things went too far. But Mr Lorette seemed possessed of a miraculous talent for sensing the rare occasions during which Clara lost control of the room, and he could usually be counted upon to choose such times to wander by and assess her skills as an educator.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece–an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

MY THOUGHTS: I was excited to begin listening to The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis. I have listened to both The Dollhouse and The Address, and loved them both.

But immediately, I found the narrator’s voice and delivery to be annoying. Smug is the word that comes to mind. Why, oh why did they change narrators? I far preferred Saskia Maarleveld.

And then as I got into the story, I had the thought that this was just like the other two books – exactly the same format, just change names and locations. Kind of like writing by numbers.

I had trouble warming to either of the main characters, Clara in the late 1920’s, and Virginia in the 70’s. There seemed to be a lot of extraneous material in the plot that could have been done without and not harmed the storyline. I did enjoy the twist at the end.

In retrospect, I may have enjoyed The Masterpiece more had I read it rather than listened to it. I think my dislike of the narrator may have soured the whole experience for me. I am not ruling out reading the book at some point in the future, to see if I enjoy it more, and I will definitely read more by this author. But the operative word here is ‘read’, not listen.

😑😑.5

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of THE MASTERPIECE, THE DOLLHOUSE and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook version of The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, published by Penguin Audio via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2310913461

Watching What I’m Reading

It is late Sunday afternoon here in New Zealand and I have just gotten home after a busy weekend of fundraising for Te Reina Worsley. We had a brilliant day yesterday that continued late into the night, and then today our Euchre section hosted a tournament and the Club in general celebrated St Patrick’s Day. It was an enjoyable and, although I haven’t finished tallying everything up, successful weekend putting Te Reina several thousand dollars closer to the surgery she needs. If you haven’t done so yet, please check out her page at givealittle.co.nz

Of course, everything has been overshadowed by the terrible shootings at the Christchurch mosques. I simply do not understand the hatred. My sympathy and condolences to all those affected by this atrocity. I never thought we would have anything like this happen in New Zealand.

I have just started reading

Only Daughter
Kat experiences every mother’s worst nightmare when her only child’s body is found lifeless in an overgrown, abandoned quarry.

Desperate to find out what happened, Kat questions those closest to her as she tries to piece together the last days of Grace’s life. But as a darker side to her little girl begins to unravel, Kat wonders if she ever really knew Grace.

As Kat is drawn into a twisted game of lies, is she also in terrible danger? And will she be able to unlock her daughter’s final shocking secret?

Even if the truth is unthinkable

and just started listening to

The Dead Tracks (David Raker, #2)

The Dead Tracks” is the second in the David Raker series from Tim Weaver. A serial killer more terrifying than you could ever imagine…Seventeen-year-old Megan Carver was an unlikely runaway. A straight – a student from a happy home, she studied hard and rarely got into trouble. Six months on, she’s never been found. Missing persons investigator David Raker knows what it’s like to grieve. He knows the shadowy world of the lost too. So, when he’s hired by Megan’s parents to find out what happened, he recognizes their pain – but knows that the darkest secrets can be buried deep. And Megan’s secrets could cost him his life. Because as Raker investigates her disappearance, he realizes everything is a lie. People close to her are dead. Others are too terrified to talk. And soon the conspiracy of silence leads Raker towards a forest on the edge of the city. A place with a horrifying history – which was once the hunting ground for a brutal, twisted serial killer. A place known as the Dead Tracks…Hot on the heels of “Chasing the Dead”, “The Dead Tracks” by Tim Weaver revisits David Raker and his complex missing persons cases. Fans of Mo Hayder’s “Gone” and Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Straw Men” should look this way. Praise for Tim Weaver: “Impressive debut…Fans of Mo Hayder will be in seventh hell”. (“Guardian”). “Perfect plotting, great characterisation, and the kind of payoff that a thriller of this calibre deserves”. (Bookgeeks). “A taut thriller”. (Barry Forshaw). Tim Weaver was born in 1977. At eighteen, he left school and started working in magazine journalism, and has since gone on to develop a successful career writing about films, TV, sport, games and technology. He is married with a young daughter, and lives near Bath. “Vanished” is Tim’s third David Raker novel, which follow his highly acclaimed debut “Chasing the Dead” and its sequel, “The Dead Tracks”. Tortured by his wife’s early death, David Raker is one of the most charismatic, sensitive and unique missing persons investigators in current crime fiction.

This week I am planning on reading

In the Blink of an Eye

Originally titled Sixty Seconds

A deeply emotional drama that explores a family’s path to forgiveness and redemption in the aftermath of a tragedy.

The Brennans — parents, Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby — have made a sea change, from chilly Hobart, Tasmania, to subtropical Murwillumbah, New South Wales. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they’re still adjusting to work, school, and life in a sprawling purple clapboard house, when one morning, tragedy strikes.

In the devastating aftermath, the questions fly. What really happened? And who’s to blame? Determined to protect his family, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah — his innocence lost — faces a sudden and frightening adulthood where nothing is certain.

And I hope to start

My Daughter's Secret

My baby girl, I’ll never forget you – your smile, your laugh, the way your hair sparkles in the sun. I cannot comprehend this pain. I cannot breathe through it.

In the middle of the night, Claire wakes up to discover that her beloved daughter, Julia, is dead – and life, as she knows it, is over.

Searching for answers, Claire stumbles upon a pile of letters, hidden under Julia’s bed in an old, battered shoebox, and feels closer to her daughter than ever before. They tell her that Julia was happy, that she was thriving at university, that she was in love.

But as the letters go on, Claire starts to feel uneasy at something hidden between the lines. Even as she grieves, she must prepare to face a shocking discovery. Because Julia was hiding a terrible secret – and when it’s uncovered, it will devastate a family already torn apart by tragedy.

Two very similar covers there !

Three approvals this week from NetGalley

The Family Lie

What She Saw

Black Light

And one publisher’s request

The Return of Mister Campion

I wish you all a wonderful week’s reading. Please, pick up a book, not a gun.

💕📚

 

Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence

Death Of A Doll by Hilda Lawrence


EXCERPT: She went back to the night before, to the afternoon that was just over. She retraced every step. I don’t think she knew me at first, she decided. Because of my glasses. I was wearing glasses before. But she knew me this afternoon. Maybe I have a special way of turning my head or using my hands. . . She looked at her hands and saw they were clenched. Maybe I did that this afternoon. Maybe I did that the other time.

She went back to the other time. She saw an office, richly furnished, saw two hatted men with hard eyes, saw another man, hatless, sitting in a leather chair behind an ornate desk. She saw the other girl, her face twisted with fury. She heard the voice again, low and quiet at first, then screaming: ‘I’ll kill you for this. Someday we’ll meet and I’ll kill you with my bare hands.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Hope House, a New York boarding home for women, has led a rather sleepy existence in terms of emergencies. One wastepaper basket fire surely doesn’t count as a five-alarm fire. That is until new tenant Ruth Miller’s limp and lifeless body is found in the courtyard after plummeting to her death.

In a clandestine and hot-chocolate infused meeting, the heads of the house decide Ruth’s death couldn’t possibly have been foul play: no, she must have fallen or jumped. Shy and mousy, it seems Ruth had no friends to question… or ask uncomfortable questions.

But this was no accident: upon Ruth’s arrival, the atmosphere of this happy house shifted, her paranoia was catching, and her last days were filled with dread. If the heads thought a scandal could be averted, they were wrong. It turns out Ruth did have a friend… and she’s out for justice.

This claustrophobic and tense mystery is heralded as Hilda Lawrence’s best. Equal parts cosy and suspenseful, it’s sure to captivate lovers of all genres of classic crime.

Death of a Doll was first published in 1947 and is the third in the Mark East Series:

Mark East
1. Blood Upon the Snow (1944)
2. A Time to Die (1945)
3. Death of A Doll (1947)

MY THOUGHTS: This book is a bit of a mixed bag of tricks. It brought to mind old movies where the private eye wears a fedora and always has a lit cigarette in his mouth, the women are all dames or dolls, and people have a ‘swell’ time. In that sense, it was very enjoyable. I could see and hear most of this playing out just like one of those old movies, and the dialogue is superb, if occasionally a little hard to follow, but only because our speech has changed greatly in the last seventy years. As has the writing style.

There are some delightfully odd characters to enjoy, Bessy and Beulah, for example. Mark East says of them, ‘With his own eyes he had seen them find needles in haystacks and thread them with camels’.
Two ladies of indeterminate age, independently wealthy (I should imagine that ten thousand a year was a great deal back then), and who don’t mind a tipple or two, they provide a great deal of color.

The plot is dated, but perhaps all the more appealing because of that. It would not work in a modern setting where young working women no longer live in heavily chaperoned boarding houses, required to sign in and out if going anywhere other than work. It brought to mind living in the nurses home when I started my training. We were all required to ‘live in’ for our first year. But back to the plot – I got a little lost once or twice and had to retrace my steps to see if I had missed something. But no, it is just the writing style, deliberately obscure at times.

All in all, an enjoyable read, and definitely recommended if you enjoy atmospheric period ‘whodunnits’. But I would also recommend that you read this series from the beginning to get a better knowledge of the main characters.

😊😊😊.5

THE AUTHOR: Hilda Lawrence was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1894. An avid reader of crime fiction, she wrote her first novel, Blood upon the Snow, in 1946. The novel introduced her three main series characters: Manhattan private investigator Mark East and sleuthing New England spinsters Miss Beulah and Miss Bessy. By combining these characters Hilda Lawrence’s novels are a clever mixture of the hardboiled and softboiled styles of detective fiction. Hilda Lawrence wrote only four novels, all in the 1940s. Death of a Doll, which was published in 1947, is considered her masterpiece. She died in Manhattan, New York, in 1976.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2736313799

The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

EXCERPT: ‘She said something just before she died. Something I didn’t understand.’

‘What?’

She said there were babies at the bottom of the garden. She asked me to look after her babies. ‘

For the first time I saw Mum’s face crack. Her eyes widened, and her bottom lip trembled. ‘I wouldn’t take any notice of her. She were probably losing her mind by then.’

‘She wasn’t, though. I asked her if she meant her fairy statues, but she was adamant they were babies.’

‘She were probably thinking about angels. She used to believe in angels, you know. She told me once her angels would be waiting for her at the end.’

I stepped outside. Maybe Mum was right. It made more sense than anything I could come up with. It was only after I’d shut the door behind me and heard the anguished sob from the other side that I wondered if she might not be able to tell me the truth, even if she wanted to.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?

MY THOUGHTS: By the time I got to the end of this book, I was blubbering and had burned a tray of biscuits I was making for the bake sale. I am still feeling rather emotional, and have no idea how to put my feelings about The Last Thing She Told Me onto (virtual) paper.

Teenage pregnancy. Date rape. Illegitimacy. Blended families. Family rifts. Generational relationships. All these topics are part of the book, but definitely not the sum. We learn the story of Nicola’s family mainly from her point of view, interspersed with letters from William, a Canadian airman stationed in England during WWII, to Nicola’s grandma, Betty. There is also historical input from two other people involved in the story, whose identities are not revealed until almost the end.

I have long had a fascination with graveyards and love to wander the older sections, trying to decipher the inscriptions on the long neglected stones, and wondering about the lives of the people buried there. Now I will also be wondering about the secrets that have been buried with them.

WARNINGS: Tissues mandatory. Do not read and bake without fire extinguisher at hand.

💕💖💕💖

THE AUTHOR: I was born in North London in 1970 and brought up in Hertfordshire. I wrote my first novella, the Time Machine, aged eight, shortly after which I declared that my ambition was to have a novel published (I could have been easy on myself and just said ‘to write a novel’ but no, I had to consign myself to years of torture and rejections). I was frequently asked to copy out my stories for the classroom wall (probably because my handwriting was so awful no one could read my first draft), and received lots of encouragement from my teachers Mr Roberts, Mrs Chandler (who added yet more pressure by writing in my autograph book when I left primary school that she looked forward to reading my first published novel!) and Mr Bird.

My first publication came when I was thirteen and my Ode to Gary Mabbutt won second prize in the Tottenham Weekly Herald ‘My Favourite Player’ competition. At fifteen I won the Junior Spurs Football Reporter of the Year Competition and got to report on a first division football match from the press box at White Hart Lane (I got lots of funny looks and none of the journalists spoke to me.)

At sixteen I embarked on ‘A’ levels and a journalism course at De Havilland College, Hertfordshire, and my college magazine interview about football hooliganism with local MP and football club chairman David Evans made a double page spread in Shoot! magazine (they never paid me) and back page headlines in several national newspapers (only a nice man at the Daily Star bothered to check the story with me).

I joined my local newspaper, the Enfield Gazette, as a trainee reporter at eighteen. During a ten year career in regional journalism I worked as a reporter on the Birmingham Daily News, news editor on the Birmingham Metro News and Chief Feature Writer on the Coventry Evening Telegraph, winning Highly Commended in the Feature Writer of the Year category of the 1997 Press Gazette Regional Press Awards.

I loved working on regional newspapers but by 1998 my features were getting too long and the urge to write a novel had become too great so I left my staff job to write my first novel and work as a freelance journalist. I have written for The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The Times Educational Supplement, The Big Issue, Wanderlust and Community Care Magazine. I’ve also had a short story published in Best magazine

I found the writing and working from home a very solitary process so also worked as co-ordinator of the Birmingham Bureau of Children’s Express, a national charity which runs a learning through journalism programme for young people and taught journalism to schoolchildren for the National Academy of Writing. After I moved north in 2001 I qualified as an adult education tutor and taught creative writing classes to students aged between 18 and 82 for the Workers Educational Association across Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

After more than a hundred rejections from agents for my first novel (and more rewrites than I care to remember) I finally got an agent but still couldn’t get a publisher. I started work on my second novel I DID A BAD THING in 2003, finished the first draft and gave birth to my son Rohan in 2004, rewrote the novel and got a new agent in 2005, obtained a two-book deal with Headline Review in 2006.

I Did a Bad Thing was published in paperback in October 2007, made the top thirty official fiction bestsellers list (and number 3 in Tesco!) and has so far sold more than 77,000 copies. 10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love was published in paperback in March 2009, reached no 22 in the official fiction bestseller charts (and no 4 in Tesco) and has so far sold more than 80,000 copies. Both novels were also long-listed for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Following the success of my first two novels I got another two-book deal from Headline Review, with Things I Wish I’d Known being the first of these. I am currently working on my fourth novel.

I enjoy travelling.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2718399363