Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy weekend everyone!

My son and grandson have been in the South Island this week. They couldn’t have picked a much worse week in summer. The weather has been diabolical. Cold, wet and windy, with snow on two days. But they have had a wonderful time despite the weather and have sent us photos of their adventures each evening. They were going whale watching in Kaikoura this morning and flying home from Christchurch this afternoon. It is still quite windy, but not gusting like it was this morning, so hopefully the trip home won’t be too bumpy.

Couldn’t tell what time it was!

Currently I am reading Exit by Belinda Bauer. She is an author I always enjoy.

And I am listening to Dry Bones (Enzo #1) by Peter May.

This week I am planning on reading The Rosary Garden by Nicola White

It was Ali who found the body of a murdered newborn baby, hidden in the garden of her convent school. In an Ireland riven by battles of religion and reproduction, the case becomes a media sensation, even as the church tries to suppress it. But this is not the first dead baby Ali has found.

For Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine, the pressure to discover the identity of the dead child is little help against a community with secrets to protect. Gina knows all too well how many of Ireland’s girls are forced to make difficult decisions in terrible circumstances, silenced by shame. Is Ali one of those girls? Because what evidence there is, points to Ali herself…

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

At just sixteen, Nancy leaves the small island of Cape Clear for the mainland, the only member of her family to survive the effects of the Great Famine. Finding work in a grand house on the edge of Cork City, she is irrepressibly drawn to the charismatic gardener Michael Egan, sparking a love affair and a devastating chain of events that continues to unfold over three generations. Spanning more than a century, Life Sentences is the unforgettable journey of a family hungry for redemption, and determined against all odds to be free.

I have received two ARCs from Netgalley this week: Win by Harlan Coben

And Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I l❤ve that cover!

So that is all from me today. I hear Belinda Bauer calling my name!

Have a wonderful week. Take care and be kind. ❤📚

The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison

Published 15 January 2021

EXCERPT: Rockland, Maine, 1st November 2017

Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? I don’t want you to even forget not one day goes by when I don’t want to get you back for what you did. You’re not welcome in Mullaghmore ever again. So, don’t ever think you can come home with your new wife. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.

ABOUT ‘THE BOATMAN’S WIFE’: There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.

When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.

But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:

Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.

Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.

Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…

MY THOUGHTS: The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison is an interesting story spread across two timelines, 1992 in Mullaghmore, Ireland, and 2017 in Rockland, Maine. It took me most of the book to figure out the connection and solve the mystery, although I did have glimmers of suspicion from time to time. I particularly liked the sections set in Ireland, somehow relating more to Niamh, whose character seemed far more realistic, than Lily, although once Lily gets to Ireland her story and character became more interesting to me.

The Boatman’s Wife has an interesting and complicated plot involving family relationships, love, loss, grief, and the Irish ‘troubles’.

This is a beautifully written and emotional story, was a full 4 star read for me until almost the very end, which disappointed me. Everything was wrapped up nicely and quickly in pretty paper with a large bow on top. It was just a little too perfect.

So, if you like a dish of warm fuzzies with a side of intrigue and mystery, The Boatman’s Wife is ideal. And just for the record, the title has two completely different meanings, both relevant to the story.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheBoatmansWife #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: pseudonym: Evie Blake

Born in London, I moved to Ireland in 1991, shortly afterwards setting up the theatre company Aurora. I have written four stage plays, Northern Landscapes, Black Virgin, Runaway Wife and The Good Sister, and one short film, Blue Void. I have also written extensively on visual art in Ireland, contributing to various journals and artists’ catalogues over the years. I currently live in Bergen in Norway.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What a tumultuous week it has been around the world! I am so grateful to be living in New Zealand. ❤ I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and healthy.

Currently I am reading Trafficked (The Missing Children Case Files #3) by M. A. Hunter. This was published earlier this week.

I have also started reading The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I have only read the prologue and already I am enthralled! I love this author.

I am almost finished listening to Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the world of books and bookstores, a Netgalley audiobook ARC. There are some excellent stories in this collection. My favourite so far would have to be The Book of Virtues by Ken Bruen.

This week I am planning on reading The Ocean House: Stories by Mary-Beth Hughes.

Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith’s family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore.

And, The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison.

There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.

When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.

But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:

Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.

Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.

Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…

I have four new ARCs from Netgalley this week: The Gorge by Matt Brolly

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

Forgotten Victim by Helen H. Durrant

And, The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

I have requested a couple of audiobooks, but my approvals don’t seem to be in any hurry to come through. 🤷‍♀️

I am not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but needs must. There were so many things I was planning on doing during the two weeks I had off work, and so many things that are still on my list, uncompleted or, worse still, not even started. I always overestimate what I can do in the time I have available. My Netgalley back list is evidence of this failing!

Look after yourselves my friends and stay safe.

Pop in tomorrow check out my review of a book that I didn’t really expect to love, but ended up being a five star read for me!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

The Searcher by Tana French

EXCERPT: He’s halfway through his second pint before he tunes into the argument going on down the bar. It catches his ear because it sounds unusual. Mostly the arguments in here are the well-worn kind that can be made to stretch for years or decades, resurfacing periodically when there’s nothing fresh to discuss. They involve farming methods, the relative uselessness of local and national politicians, whether the wall on the western side of the Strokestown road should be replaced by fencing, and whether Tommy Moynihan’s fancy conservatory is a nice touch of modern glamour or an example of jumped-up notions. Everyone already knows everyone’s stance on the issues – except Mart’s, since he tends to switch sides regularly to keep things interesting – and is eager for Cal’s input to mix the conversation up a little.

This argument has a different ring to it, louder and messier, like it’s one they haven’t practiced. ‘There’s no dog could do that,’ the guy at the end of the bar is saying stubbornly. He’s little and round, with a little round head perched on top, and he tends to wind up on the wrong end of jokes; generally he seems okay with this, but this time he’s turning red in the face with vehemence and outrage. ‘Did you even look at them cuts? It wasn’t teeth that done that.’

ABOUT: THE SEARCHER – Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.

Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.

MY THOUGHTS:For some unknown reason, I haven’t read anything by Tana French for several years. But I am glad I decided to resume our relationship with The Searcher, very much a character driven mystery.

Her characters are ‘characters’: from Cal, fresh out of Chicago who came looking for a small place, a small town in a small country, settling on Ireland because at least he wouldn’t have to learn a new language; to Noreen who runs the shop in the brief double line of buildings that counts as Ardnakelty village, and who won’t order the cookies Mart likes because of a complicated saga that took place in the 1980s and involved her uncles and Mart’s father and grazing rights.

The townsfolk are insular, almost feudal. They will look out for and protect one another, even punish one another, but are slow to accept change or new people into their midst. The ‘bush telegraph’ is alive and well in Ardnakelty. At one point, Cal concedes that ‘a guy can’t pick his nose around here without the whole town telling him to wash his hands.’ The pub, Sean Og’s, is the social centre of village life, along with Noreen’s store, where you will be served a healthy slice of gossip along with your grocery order. Unless, of course, you’re on the outer, in which case all you will get is misdirection and obfuscation at best; at worst, stony silence and a withering stare. Or, a warning.

The beauty of The Searcher lies in its characters, who come very much alive with French’s skilful depiction. There are many laugh out loud moments, but also moments of deep emotional complexity. This was a slow read, in the context that I took my time and lingered over passages, enjoying the depth of the characters and the complexity of their thought processes.

This is not a thriller. The Searcher is an atmospheric mystery underpinned with a lurking menace. It is a portrait of a small village determined to protect itself. It is an immensely satisfying read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSearcher #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Tana French, born 1973 in Burlington, Vermont, is an American-Irish writer and theatrical actress. She is a longstanding resident of Dublin, Ireland. Her debut novel In the Woods, a psychological mystery, won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for best first novel. She lives in Dublin with her family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin General UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Searcher by Tana French for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

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

Currently I am reading Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, The Searcher by Tana French

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

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

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

This week I received three new ARCs from Netgalley:

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

The Boy Between by Josiah Hartley and Amanda Prowse

and The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean

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

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

Sandy

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

EXCERPT: As they walked to the front door, she looked up at the old house, the ivy covered walls and the lights in the windows. It was such a welcoming house, and each time she stepped inside, she felt as if the house put its arms around her. ‘Home is where the heart is,’ she thought, ‘even if it has been broken.’ But this house was only a temporary home for her. Would she ever find one of her own?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Kate O’Rourke takes up a temporary position as a doctor in Sandy Cove, she hopes spending time in the place where her father was from will help her find herself again. Ever since his passing she has felt lost, but she imagines the calming sound of the sea on the Irish coast will allow her to heal.

Kate immediately feels at home in the old surgery, and as she takes walks beside the camellia bushes along Wild Rose Bay and meets every resident in the tiny village, she feels like this is where she’s meant to be. And when she’s told about local healer Cormac O’Shea, she’s excited to learn even more about the history of the area, and meet the man who every woman in town says is so charming.

But Kate quickly realises that she and Cormac have different ideas about how their patients should be treated. Kate is efficient and well-organised, whilst Cormac is wild and spontaneous, passionate about his ancestors’ reliance on Irish healing. And their differences cause more sparks than Kate is prepared to admit.

Just as Kate and Cormac begin to understand one another, Kate’s old life threatens to call her away from Sandy Cove forever. And she is finally forced to decide what life she wants to lead, and what kind of person she wants to be…

MY THOUGHTS: Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary is a pleasant romance set on the west coast of Ireland, Sandy Cove in County Kerry.

Although this is a series, each book can be read as a stand-alone as it features different people.

The author’s descriptions of the scenery are enticing and if I could visit this location, I would. It sounds rugged but beautiful.

There is not a lot of depth to the characters, but probably enough for the author’s purpose. Kate can be quite dogmatic in her opinions, and can also be a little fiery when crossed. Two men cross her path when she takes up her position as assistant GP with the elderly and wanting to retire Dr Pat. The first is famous actor, Mick O’Dwyer, son of Dr Pat who is home for an extended period while he works on writing a play. The two have an easy relationship and enjoy tramping together. The second is Cormac O’Shea, a gentle quiet man who works as a healer and herbalist at the local wellness centre. He and Kate clash as they each regard the other as a threat to their professions, and yet there is an unsettling attraction between them.

I loved the characters of Dr Pat and his nurse/general factotum, Bridget, but while Dr Pat’s wife Helen was an interesting character, she wasn’t at all likeable.

There are lots of descriptions of lovely food, so don’t start reading this book when you are hungry!

Memories of Wild Rose Bay is a quick, easy and pleasant read, if not totally predictable. It is a little too lightweight for my personal taste, but I enjoyed it more than not.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#MemoriesOfWildRoseBay #NetGalley

‘Your path is determined by the choices you make, and those choices depend on your thoughts and feelings and the personality you’re born with.’
‘It’s written in the stars, you mean?’
He laughed. ‘No, it’s all in your own demeanour. And the people you meet and the circumstances you get thrown into. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but it’s up to you to put the pieces in the right places.’

THE AUTHOR: Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of 22 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She has been the wife of a diplomat (still is), a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a ramshackle house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, featured in Full Irish), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary 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