Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Dusk on Good Friday.

It’s Easter Sunday today, and despite the Easter Bunny forgetting me, it’s been a beautiful day, a beautiful weekend after a week of thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

Currently I am reading Hummingbird Lane by Carolyn Brown. This is the second book that I have read by this author and she is definitely on my favourites list. Her characters are superb.

I am listening to A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo, #10 in the Kate Burkholder series.

This week I am planning on reading The Best of Friends by Alex Day.

Susannah is rebuilding her life…
Susannah has had a tough year. After a sticky divorce and losing the life she had grown accustomed to, moving to a small town in the south of England with her two sons is exactly the fresh start she needs.

Charlotte seems to have it all…
Charlotte is delighted when Susannah moves in. Charlotte may appear to have the perfect husband, the perfect family, the perfect house, but deep down she’s lonely, and she needs someone to confide in.

But one of them is not who they pretend to be…
The two women instantly become best friends. But underneath the surface, secrets, lies and betrayals are all hiding. And when the truth comes out, not everyone will live to tell the tale…

That is probably all I will get read this week as I am training my new staff member plus have a number of functions on including a lunch for our over 60s group, an engagement party and the speedshear. We have travelled up to our son in Hamilton each day this week to help get his new workshop ready to move into. He had been planning the move for this weekend but delays in the electrical cabling for the hoists has put him behind. I have spent the weekend sanding down and painting the offices, customer area, lunch room, bathrooms and library. One final coat tomorrow and at least that area will be ready. I could hardly move when I got out of bed this morning. I have found muscles that I’d forgotten I had!

I received 4 new Netgalley ARCs this week, all of them from Carla and Susan’s lists from last week.

A Road Trip to Remember by Judith Kleim. Isn’t that cover delicious! I could do with some time at the beach right now.

A Bucket List to Die For by Lorraine Fouchet

The Lost Girls of Ireland by Susanne O’Leary

And Little Boy Lost by Ruhi Choudhary.

I am going to leave you with this morning’s sunrise. If you look closely you will see the Easter Cross lit up between the trees on the skyline.

Happy Easter, and happy reading my friends.

A Weekend to Remember by Esther Campion

EXCERPT: ‘We could have gone to Bali!’ Aisling was on one of her moaning rolls as the two friends strode along Freers Beach under a milky blue sky that promised another hot day in Tasmania. ‘Why did I let Mick’s family decide how we’d spend our anniversary?’

Heather was already well versed in the circumstances that had led to the latest drama in the Fitzgerald’s lives, but Aisling went over it again just to blow off steam.

‘The indignity of it! Spending a week in the bogs of Ireland when we could be in some idyllic resort, drinking cocktails at one of those swim up bars.’ But as Aisling knew only too well, the gift from her in-laws, or outlaws as she liked to call them, was as much a present for Mick’s forthcoming fortieth as it was for their anniversary. If it had been left to her, there’d have been a big party. But no, Lilian Fitzgerald had other ideas. She’d give her son a holiday in West Cork and she’d have a few weeks with the grandchildren all to herself in Tasmania.

Aisling had all manner of fantastic ideas for surprise parties, but although loath to admit it, Mick would have hated that. So in the end, Lily Fitz got her way.

ABOUT ‘A WEEK TO REMEMBER’: Whether it was the lure of the rugged coastline or the comforting image of the house, he wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken a holiday. . .

With its brightly painted front door, white-sash windows and garden path sweeping down toward the sea, Lizzie O’s guesthouse promises a welcome escape from the world. Aisling and Mick Fitzgerald are travelling all the way from Tasmania to celebrate their wedding anniversary, but Aisling is burdened with a secret that could ruin their marriage. Declan Byrne, exhausted from an unhealthy routine of long hours, takeaway and too much red wine, has spontaneously taken the week off to visit the village of his childhood summers. Katie Daly returns to West Cork after an absence of 35 years to care for her ageing mother only to find she must confront her painful past. Finally, Mia Montgomery is taking this holiday without telling her husband.

Each of this group of strangers is at a crossroads. And one week in the middle of winter may change all of their lives.

MY THOUGHTS: A Week to Remember is a lovely, lovely read reminiscent of a Maeve Binchy. It was a delight to read this beautifully written story of a disparate group of people, all at a crossroads in their lives, thrown together in a guest house on the Irish coast. The subplot follows Lilian Fitzgerald as she looks after Mick and Aisling’s two children in Tasmania.

Campion writes with humour and feeling, and A Week to Remember enveloped me from the start. She describes both cultures and landscapes eloquently and accurately. I could smell the Aussie BBQ every bit as clearly as I could hear the lilting Irish voices.

There are a lot of issues dealt with in this gentle drama, both current and historic. There’s a marriage or two on the brink, burnout, infidelity, caring for an aging infirm parent, and in the past, abuse, rape, and the shunting off to a home for unwed mothers of a pregnant teenager. There are tragic pasts to overcome, and present problems to conquer.

I loved this book from start to finish and I will definitely be reading more from this author who blends the Australian and Irish essences seamlessly.

Don’t be put off by the twee cover. A Week to Remember is anything but.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

‘Life (is) far too unpredictable to miss an opportunity to eat icecream on a searing hot day with someone you love.’

#AWeekToRemember #NetGalley @hachetteaus @esther_campion_

#contemporaryfiction #australianfiction #irishfiction #domesticdrama #romance #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Esther Campion is from Cork, Ireland and currently lives in north-west Tasmania. She attended North Presentation Convent in Cork and has degrees from University College Cork and the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Esther and her Orcadian husband have lived in Ireland, Scotland, Norway and South Australia. They have a grown-up daughter in Adelaide and the two youngest at home in Tassie with an over-indulged chocolate Labrador and two horses, which Esther firmly believes are living proof that dreams really can come true.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Week to Remember by Esther Campion 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 . . .

Won’t take long this week! I apologise for missing posts this week. I had a busy 6 day week at work with three extra-long days in there and, unfortunately, this week looks like being more of the same.

I am currently reading A Caller’s Game by JD Barker, which I started last night. Diabolical and riveting!

I am also reading The Ex by Nicola Moriarty and, at this point, I am not entirely convinced that it is the ex who is the problem. Intriguing.

I am still listening to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron, which is not as gritty as I would have liked.

I am probably only going to read one other book after A Caller’s Game this week. But as I have 4 more books scheduled as read for review this week, and they are all appealing, I have no idea which one it will be. I think that I will have to select by lucky dip. The contenders, which are all due for publication this week are:

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

A converted stone farmhouse on the Irish coast is about to receive its first guests in this warmly captivating story for fans of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney

Whether it was the lure of the rugged coastline or the comforting image of the house, he wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken a holiday. . .

With its brightly painted front door, white-sash windows and garden path sweeping down toward the sea, Lizzie O’s guesthouse promises a welcome escape from the world. Aisling and Mick Fitzgerald are travelling all the way from Tasmania to celebrate their wedding anniversary, but Aisling is burdened with a secret that could ruin their marriage. Declan Byrne, exhausted from an unhealthy routine of long hours, takeaway and too much red wine, has spontaneously taken the week off to visit the village of his childhood summers. Katie Daly returns to West Cork after an absence of 35 years to care for her ageing mother only to find she must confront her painful past. Finally, Mia Montgomery is taking this holiday without telling her husband.

Each of this group of strangers is at a crossroads. And one week in the middle of winter may change all of their lives.

The Gorge by Matt Brolly

DI Louise Blackwell is still reeling from her brother Paul’s murder when she is brought back from enforced leave and tasked with solving a strange new case—the slaughter of wild sheep at Cheddar Gorge, a place shrouded in mystery and folklore.

When a man is brutally attacked with a machete on the clifftop and a young girl disappears, Louise realises that the horror is just beginning. Rumours of a mythical presence near the gorge are spreading fast, and why is a local environmental cult resisting all attempts to solve the case? With the investigation into Paul’s death about to be shelved and her bereaved niece to care for, Louise is under pressure—and running out of time. Can she find the girl and catch the kidnapper before her worst fears come true?

Drawn deeper into the dark and shocking truth behind the crimes, she soon finds she isn’t the only one with secrets to hide. 

One Perfect Grave (Nikki Hunt #2) by Stacy Green

She didn’t see the patch of black ice until it was too late. The car started to spin, and as it veered off into the deep ditch and the mounds of snow beside the road, she saw him. The little boy frozen in the ice.

When the remains of two bodies are found in an open grave along a desolate highway in Stillwater, Minnesota, Special Agent Nikki Hunt knows exactly who they are. The bright blue jacket lying on the frozen earth belongs to Kellan Rhodes, the missing boy she’s desperately been trying to find for the last two days. The other body is his mother Dana, who had been Nikki’s lead suspect.

Although the wounds on Dana’s body suggest she murdered her son and took her own life, Nikki finds evidence that suggests she was a victim too. Dana was desperately trying to regain custody of Kellan, and Nikki finds boot prints at the scene that belong to someone else.

When another child is reported missing, local journalist Caitlin Newport claims the cases are linked: Zach Reeves was taken away from his own mother in a custody battle, just like Kellan was.

Caitlin once helped Nikki find out the truth about her own parents’ murders, but her desire for a story nearly cost Nikki her life. Now, Nikki must decide if she can trust Caitlin again, before time runs out to find the killer and bring Zach home alive…

And The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…

So that’s the selection. Instead of a lucky dip, why don’t you pick my next read for me. Put your selection in the comments and whichever book has the most votes when I am ready to start my next read will be it.

I am going to have the same problem the following week….my New Year’s resolution this year was to schedule only 2 Netgalley reads each week so that I can catch up on my backlist and also read some books that I have been wanting to read for some time. The biggest problem is

Only 1 ARC this week (no time to go browsing!) Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay.

Have an awesome week my friends, and don’t forget to tell me what you want me to read next.

Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

EXCERPT: Nancy (1868)
When I was a child, my mother often told me that we’d been a hundred generations on Clear Island, one branch or another of us, and on the day the last one of us left, the island would sink out of grief to the bottom of the sea. And at sixteen, as I sat in the prow of the Sullivan brothers’ boat, wanting more than anything to risk a backward glance, those words kept me afraid. For the entire crossing, my mother’s voice sang loud inside me and so truthful sounding that, had I turned my head, I felt sure I’d see the cliffs crumbling in on themselves and their blankets of gorse and heather flushing the stony grey water with shades of pink and gold. And worse still, that there’d be scatterings of my dead watching after me from the strand, thin-shouldered and forlorn, knowing I’d never return, that this was the end.

ABOUT ‘LIFE SENTENCES’: 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.

MY THOUGHTS: The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan was one of my top five reads of 2018. So I looked forward to Life Sentences with great anticipation. It’s not that I didn’t like it, because I did. I didn’t love it.

There is a family tree at the beginning of the book which helps to make sense of it all. This is the author’s own family, and Billy is the ‘Bill, who’s seven now’ of the extract, son of Liam O’Callaghan and Gina Murphy.

The book (not the story, the book) begins in 1920 with Jer drowning his sorrows at the death of his sister, Mamie. We learn Jer’s story in the first third of the book, his service in WWI, his love for his wife and children, the poverty, the desperation.

The narrative then moves back in time to the 1800s, and we learn Nancy’s story. After the famine and the death of all her family, she leaves the island of Clear and moves to the mainland, where after living as an itinerant picking up seasonal farm work, she falls into a job in service. It is here she meets Michael Egan the man who will father her two children but will never be her husband.

Finally we get Nellie’s story, Jer’s daughter and Billy’s grandmother.

Quite why it was written in this format, I don’t know. It didn’t add to the appeal. For a while there I thought that somehow I had downloaded the wrong book. Although Life Sentences is a scant 250 pages, it is a long story. In the author’s notes, Billy O’Callaghan writes: ‘What’s here in Life Sentences is a skin of fiction laid over a considerable amount of fact and truth drawn from things I’d been told over the years.’

Although the writing is quite beautiful and lyrical in places, in others it just dully recounts events, some of them quite horrific, in the history of this family. It probably is heart-rending, all the more so because of the truth of it, but I was left unmoved, and I don’t know why.

⭐⭐⭐.4

#LifeSentences #NetGalley

‘When the night turns still, what keeps us awake, what haunts us, are the things we’ve done more so than the things we’ve had done to us.’

‘Hell might be the ceaseless repetition of who we are in our lowest moments, with our mistakes, the ones that have defined our lives, playing over and over…’

‘Nobody dies, not really, not when their same blood runs through ever younger bones.’

THE AUTHOR: Billy O’Callaghan is an Irish short fiction writer and author. He was born in Cork in 1974, and grew up in Douglas village, where he still resides.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Vintage via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan 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 Rosary Garden by Nicola White

EXCERPT: She pushed the door open, Fitz was standing in the middle of the shed, her face as pale as milk and her fingers at her mouth. A smear of lipstick trailed across one cheek. She appeared to be standing in a nest of gardening tools – hoes, rakes and loppers meshed around her ankles. Her eyes were fixed on the floor: on a wire basket filled with smaller tools. Ali picked up a fallen rake that blocked her way, propped it against the wall. As she turned back she noticed a large mushroom or egg nestled among the tools in the basket. She wanted to go to Fitz, to free her from the tangle of handles – but she couldn’t make sense of this thing. She stepped closer, wondering at the fuzzy halo around the edge of the egg.

Downy hair on a head.

ABOUT ‘THE ROSARY GARDEN’: 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…

MY THOUGHTS: I liked but did not love The Rosary Garden by Nicola White. This is a new revised edition and prequel to ‘A Famished Heart’ which I have not read. This book was previously published as ‘In the Rosary Garden, Vincent Swan #1).

Set in Ireland in the mid-eighties, this is the story of Ali, who has just graduated school and is awaiting her leaving results. She is next on the scene after her friend Fitz finds the body of a baby in a garden shed. But this is not the first baby’s body that Ali has encountered, which is suspicious for a start. Is Ali an innocent caught in the crossfire of other people’s desperate acts, or is she more deeply involved?

This mystery is set before the time of the internet, mobile phones and DNA testing. The police (Gaarda) have to rely on investigative footwork for their results. This is an Ireland of no contraception, abortion is illegal and even sex education in schools is sketchy at the best. Girls ‘in the family way’ are bundled off to relatives in the country or homes for unwed mothers, while the men involved escape relatively unscathed. It is not uncommon for unwanted babies to wind up in slurry pits, or buried in gardens.

Despite the numerous twists and red herrings, the mystery failed to fully engage me. The cast of suspects is relatively small, with the same faces appearing again and again, which is in no way a criticism, but I felt little in the way of suspense or apprehension.

This is a family that has many skeletons in the closet, and one or two under the bed. Secrets are kept and perpetuated, with drastic measures taken to ensure that they are never revealed.

I wish I could have liked this more. I was excited by the beginning, by the premise, but as the book progressed, my interest steadied and settled. This is a better than average read, but not a memorable one.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheRosaryGarden #NetGalley
#historicalfiction #familydrama #mystery #irishfiction

THE AUTHOR: Nicola White grew up in Ireland and New York and graduated from Trinity College, Dublin. She lived in London and Belfast before moving to Glasgow to work as a contemporary art curator, moving on to produce arts documentaries for BBC radio and television.
Nicola currently splits her time between Glasgow and the Highlands, which means she lives mostly on the A9.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Serpent’s Tail /Profile Books, Viper for providing a digital ARC of The Rosary Garden by Nicola White 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 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

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