Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley

EXCERPT: I stared at the clock on the wall. It said one-thirty, but surely it wasn’t the afternoon already.

I sunk further into the sagging back of the chair. I felt small and sad and very sorry for myself. Things that had previously consoled or even gladdened me were no longer doing the trick. I felt out of kilter, like a crooked painting on the wall, or a cheese straw without paprika. A house with no windows. A dog with one ear. I could go on. I could go to the library and look up section 400-499 English Language to find the perfect metaphor, but would it actually fix anything? I glanced at the clock again. It was still one-thirty. Had the clock stopped? Who knew? All I did know was that I was frozen in time, shackled to my self-pity, my grief, my fears. I was like the ‘i’ in the middle of my name, trapped between other letters, unable to break free. I wanted to be alone, yet I was lonely. I wanted to stay home, yet I felt isolated. I wanted to be with my husband, but he was dead. Tears sprung forth as if I was chopping onions, and my heart flapped so vigorously that, had it been windy outside with no roof over the house, I may have taken off. I couldn’t bear the sight of the clock looming over me, reminding me of my fate, any longer.

With a surge of adrenalin and rage, I exploded from the armchair, my focus solely on pulling the wooden-framed clock with its black numbers and unmoving hands off the wall. I saw nothing else, not even Jack. I should have, because there he was, in the way. My foot clipped the underside of the suitcase and got stuck. I upended the wheels, lost my balance, and floundered. A flaying arm knocked the christmas tree, the suitcase handle right-jabbed my chin and I fell as if in slow motion, landing with a thud on the living room floor, two suitcase wheels and five christmas tree branches needling me in the back. My right ankle was at a wrong angle and my left wrist in pain. And it was still one-thirty.

ABOUT ‘GERALDINE VERNE’S RED SUITCASE’: Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months.

It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose.

As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this book. I loved Geraldine. I loved Lottie. I enjoyed every tear I shed as I was reading, and every laugh that escaped my lips. And there was plenty of both. I even loved the chapter titles: 306.7 Love; Apple Crumble Days; Toilet Paper; Whisky and Cake . . .

Divided into four parts, the story is told entirely from the perspective of Geri (Geraldine), mostly in a linear timeline with occasional flashbacks in the form of memories. It is a story of grief, the grief of a woman who has lost the love of her life after more than 50 years together. Geraldine describes their relationship as being like a pair of shoes, one left, one right. They were not the same but complemented one another, they worked well together. But now that she is only one shoe . . . well, you see her problem.

She thinks that if she just pretends he’s still there, and he is, then everything will be all right. She still makes him cups of tea, puts out biscuits for him, dances with him. And if she can shut out the world that is going to remind her that he’s not there, all the better. But the world has other plans for Geri, as did ‘Jackie-Boy’.

Geri is one stubborn lady. I have to admit to seeing more than a little of myself in her. I loved her kind heart, her sense of humor. I loved her devotion to Jack. I loved Jack.

Even the supporting characters are ‘characters’. I am sure that we all know a Len, a Crystal and a Sue.

The first part of this book is sad. I cried a lot, and laughed a little. The second part I laughed a lot and cried a little. Parts three and four are mostly humorous, heartwarming and just occasionally sad.

This is the second book by this author, but the first that I have read. I will be seeking out her first.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#GeraldineVernesRedSuitcase #NetGalley

I: #JaneRiley #AmazonPublishingUK

T: @JaneRileyAuthor

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #mentalhealth #mystery #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Hi, I’m Jane Riley!

I was born and raised in New Zealand. After graduating from Auckland University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in French and English literature, I headed to Europe to practise my French, got waylaid in Germany and ended up in Australia.

I have had a varied career in public relations, publishing, freelancing as a writer and editor, and launching an online e-commerce business, which involved writing a design blog interviewing makers and creators. When The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock was published, I achieved my dream of becoming a full-time author.

I live in Sydney with my husband, an energetic but scared-of-heights Australian cattle dog-staffy cross, and two daughters old enough to not be living at home anymore. I volunteer as an English language tutor for the Adult Migrant English Program, am learning the piano and teaching myself Italian.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK for providing a digital ARC of Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley 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 Quiet People by Paul Cleave

EXCERPT: As Waverley and Woodley make their way through the house, Lisa and myself get to work phoning everybody. We have similar conversations – ‘Hi, it’s Cameron/Hi, it’s Lisa, Zach has run away, have you seen him? Please let us know if you do. No, I’m sure he’s fine. No, I’m sure it’s just kids being kids. Yes, we’ll let you know when he’s back.’ – We do this, and the police officers look into the nooks and crannies of our house, all the places a small child could hide, and I suspect all the places a small child could be hidden – I’m not oblivious to the fact that when small children go missing, it’s the parents the police first suspect. The patrol car that escorted me earlier is now parked opposite the house. Original High Jumper and Original Wrestler are talking to the neighbours, all of whom are easy to find since they’re outside watching what’s going on. Another car pulls up and a man in a suit gets out, probably one of the detectives. He crosses the road and steps onto the yard and the angle changes so that I can no longer see him.

We keep making calls. To family. To teachers. To parents. To neighbours. I pace the lounge. I tap out phone numbers and try to sound calm. My body is a mess. Some organs are tightening and some organs are loosening and my brain is on fire. Lisa won’t look at me. I’m the one who should have looked in on Zach last night. I’m the one who should have known he was going to run away. I’m the one who made light of it when he said he would.

That makes me responsible for all of this.

‘And you’re the one responsible if he never gets found.’

I tell Mr What If to shut up, and he does.

At least for now.

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

MY THOUGHTS: What a rollercoaster of a read! I cried in several places, and my jaw dropped in several others. My heart pounded, and my breath caught in my throat.

Paul Cleave has been firmly ensconced in my top five authors ever since I read his first book a number of years ago. He never fails to shock, appal and enthrall me.

I found it really easy to relate to this particular storyline. Who has a child who hasn’t threatened to run away? Who has a child who hasn’t actually done it? It is heart in the mouth stuff. And Cameron’s reaction to Zach’s threat was very similar to mine. This could have been my story, only I was lucky. My son came home.

The Quiet People is told from the points of view of Cameron, Zach’s dad, and Detective Rebecca Kent and takes place over the period of one week. The dual points of view provide the reader with the viewpoints of both the police and the parents. Both points of view are entirely logical, plausible, possible, but are conflicting.

The characters are entirely plausible and realistic. Although some reactions of the characters are extreme, it is an extremely fraught situation. I really enjoyed the inclusion of ‘Mr What If’, that little voice that nags at us all. I call mine ‘my mother’.

This is a book that I recommend you go into blind. The Quiet People is heartbreaking, shocking, and oh so good. Better than good. Absolutely excellent. Just read this.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheQuietPeople

I: @paul.cleave @upstart_press

T: @PaulCleave @upstartpressnz

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #mystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Paul Cleave is an internationally bestselling author who is currently dividing his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. He has won the Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel in New Zealand, he won the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year in France, has been shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Barry Award in the US, and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly award in Australia. When he’s not writing, he spends his time swearing on a golf course, swearing on a tennis court, or trying to add to his list of 25 countries where he’s thrown his Frisbee.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Quiet People, written by Paul Cleave, and published by Upstart Press, from Waitomo District Library because I couldn’t wait to read the copy I have on order from my local bookstore. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Really enjoyed this book.” Nerys

“Kept me guessing till the end.” Anna Maria

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

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

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

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

The Vacation by John Marrs

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor

My Mother’s Children by Annette Sills

In Another Light by A.J. Banner

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

The Beauty of Fragile Things by Emma Hartley

Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

The Crooked Shore by Martin Edwards

The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan

One Left Behind by Carla Kovach

The Shut Away Sisters by Suzanne Goldring

The Grandmother Plot by Caroline B. Cooney

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Slough House by Mick Herron

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

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

The Third Grave by Lisa Jackson

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

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

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

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

Happy reading my friends. ❤📚

I Need a New Bum by Dawn McMillan, illustrated by Ross Kinnaird

EXCERPT: I need a new bum! Mine’s got a crack …..

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A young boy suddenly notices a big problem — his butt has a huge crack! So he sets off to find a new one. Will he choose an armor-plated butt? A rocket butt? A robot butt? Find out in this quirky tale of a tail, which features hilarious rhymes and delightful illustrations. Children and parents will love this book — no ifs, ands, or butts about it!

MY THOUGHTS: A huge thank you to Carla Johnson-Hicks who posted a video clip of a Scottish woman reading this to her wee grandson on her webpage carlalovestoread.wordpress.com – it was hilarious, I had tears of laughter running down my cheeks and I almost wet myself. It is honestly, the funniest thing that I have ever seen. (Other than Billy Connolly live). Maybe it’s the Scottish thing…..

Luke didn’t have quite the same reaction, but he still thought it was pretty darned funny and we all had to take turns at reading it to him. In the end, he couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted a rocket bum or a robo bum.

😂🤣😂🤣

THE AUTHOR: Kia ora

I live in an amazing place, on the Thames Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand.

I work from a little studio in my back garden. I look out my studio window across the park to the beach. Many of my stories are about the sea, or about nature. We have the bush close by and I love to walk alongside the Waiomu Stream, right up to a grove of magnificent Kauri.

But not all my stories come from nature. I keep a watch on what’s happening around me and I listen to what people say. Sometimes a joke can give me an idea. But most of my stories come from my own experience…the happy times, the sad times, and the special people I’ve known.

You’ll see that I do a lot of readers for schools. I enjoy doing these. They’re like a story and a puzzle combined. The story is the most important part but there are lots of reading level challenges to get right too. The readers go all over the world, with some of them translated into other languages.

Come and see us sometime. Bring your swimming gear and your fishing rods. If you let me know you’re coming I’ll make you some hokey-pokey biscuits.

DISCLOSURE: I purchased I Need a New Bum written by Dawn McMillan and illustrated by Ross Kinnaird, published by Oratia from my local bookstore, PaperPlus. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and my grandson Luke’s personal opinions.

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

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

The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton by Katherine Hayton

EXCERPT: A man walked through the double doors, wavering on his feet as the suction from the closing doors pulled him off balance. The mother and grandmother each made an initial movement, as if to help, then sat back, staring at the ground. The little girl jabbed her chair at him, once, twice – the world’s smallest lion tamer – then retreated to her mother’s lap.

Ngaire understood why. Every pore of the man’s body exuded death. He reminded her of an autumn leaf left to mummify in the dry winter air – no substance, no flesh to his bones. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. With no offers of assistance, he crept forward, his feet never leaving the carpet. Minutes passed.

The thick plastic panels that enclosed Ngaire behind the front counter formed her excuse not to help. To walk around to the other side, she’d have to unlock two doors with her passkey – and then what? Let him stand and tremble while she walked back?

The man still had a meter to go when she manufactured a broad smile and asked, ‘Can I help you?’ In training, an officer had instructed her to channel Gold Coast surfers when she faced the public, a method sure to produce a happy grin with no concerns. Far more tiring than ‘resting bitch’ face, but also more likely to yield positive results.

He reached the counter at last and pulled a passport out of his jacket pocket with shaking fingers. He tried to give it to Ngaire, but she nodded at the desk tray. When he dropped it in there, she picked it up and flipped through the front pages, stopping at the photograph.

In the picture, a gray scale man with thick hair kept a straight face for the camera, although happy, upturned lines still radiated from the corners of his eyes and mouth. The name was Paul Worthington, and Ngaire worked out his age from his date of birth: fifty three. She pushed the book back to him, thinking ‘Surf, sun, sand. Smile, girl.’ The poster child for cancer returned her stare, his face blank, and she tried to swallow past her sympathy, her pity. Her eyebrows raised in inquiry.

‘My identification,’ he said. ‘So you know I’m serious.’ He leaned forward until her nostrils filled with mild acid and dank grapes. ‘I want to confess to a murder.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Magdalene Lynton died forty years ago: a vivacious teenager who fell victim to a grotesque, accidental drowning. The coroner’s office issued a verdict of death by misadventure and filed her case. The farming commune she’d lived within, splintered apart. Her body was left behind in a small, private cemetery encircled by acres of fallow ground.

Until Paul Worthington confessed to her murder.

Magdalene’s case lands with Ngaire Blakes, a Maori detective recovering from a brutal stabbing. After fighting for the resources to investigate, Ngaire discovers that Paul’s confession doesn’t fit with the facts of Magdalene’s death. The trouble is, neither does the original verdict.

Together with her partner, Deb, Ngaire digs deeper into the case to uncover inconsistencies, lies, and mortal danger.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a good twisty tale set in and around Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, and the first in a series of three books about a female, Maori detective who seems to be a magnet for trouble.

We don’t learn much about Ngaire, or any other of the characters that are likely to appear in the other books in this series, which is a pity. The characters need a little rounding out. We know far more about the characters connected with this forty year old crime, and we are unlikely to come across them again in the series, except, perhaps, for William (aka Billy) the lawyer. But there are some interesting characters, very interesting characters, some with hidden depths, others with hidden secrets. It’s not immediately clear who falls into which camp.

I did notice a few Americanisms creep in: e,g. Mom, instead of the kiwi ‘Mum’, which particularly annoyed me.

But, that aside, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton is an interesting story. Nothing is simple, nothing quite what it seems. The plot is well constructed, and kept my interest throughout. The mystery unfolds quite slowly, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing happening. We learn everything as the investigative team does. The ending was certainly not what I expected. Either time. But it was spectacularly perfect.

😊😊😊.7

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Christchurch, known for its English heritage, is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Flat-bottomed punts glide on the Avon River, which meanders through the city centre. On its banks are cycling paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens. In 2010 and 2011, earthquakes destroyed many of the historic centre’s stone-built buildings. These earthquakes are referred to in The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton.
The Waimakariri River is one of the largest rivers in Canterbury, on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It flows for 151 kilometres in a generally southeastward direction from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

THE AUTHOR: Katherine Hayton is a middle-aged woman who works in insurance, doesn’t have children or pets, can’t drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and resides a two-minute walk from where she was born.

For some reason, she’s developed a rich fantasy life.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Katherine Hayton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton 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 . . .

It is Father’s Day here in New Zealand so happy father’s day to all the dads out there. It’s a fairly dismal day, wet and windy, so we have postponed the plans we had made for this afternoon until next week. Currently we are waiting for the Supercar racing out of Townsville, Queensland, Australia to start. There is the delicious aroma of curried sausages (Chelsea Winters – Eat) simmering away in the slow cooker drifting through to the lounge. All is well in our little world.

I have had a good reading week, although I deviated from my reading plan as you may have noticed if you have been following my reviews during the week.

I am currently reading Cry Baby by Mark Billingham, #17 in the Tom Thorne series. This story is set in 1996 and is the prequel to Sleepyhead which was the first book I ever read by Billingham.

I am listening to an audiobook by a New Zealand author, Katherine Hayton, called The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton which is set in the South Island of New Zealand.

You may have a feeling of deja vu as you read on regarding what I plan on reading this week.

Night Whistler by Greg Woodland.

It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

My copy of Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian McKinty, #6 in the Sean Duffy has finally arrived, so I want to read that also.

Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece.

I have 6 new ARCs from Netgalley this week . . . so I guess you could say that once again, I have fallen off the wagon!

I have Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, but I plan to read Practical Magic before I start this. I read and loved The Rules of Magic last year.

Peace by Garry Disher, Australian fiction.

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Stolen Children by Michael Wood

And Living Ayurveda by Claire Ragozzino. I have been going to Ayurveda yoga classes over the winter and have really enjoyed them, so couldn’t resist this title when I saw it. Even the cover invokes a feeling of calm and peace.

Have a wonderful week my friends. I hope that, wherever in the world you are, the Covid-19 situation is easing. Keep calm and read on. In our local library, even the books are put into quarantine when they are returned!

Happy reading!

Sandy ❤😍📚☕🍪

The Cook School Recipes by Jo Seager

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EXCERPT: My favorite recipe is Ginger, Sweet Chili and Coconut Cream Chicken, served with Jasmine rice and Bok Choy. It is equally as nice made with tofu instead of chicken.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Jo Seagar’s Cook School is attached to her fabulous cafe and shop in Oxford, New Zealand. It’s incredibly successful, being booked out at least nine months ahead of time. There, Jo teaches how to make a variety of impressive dishes really easily — sticking to her philosophy of ‘Minimum effort for maximum effect’.

This book gathers together all of those recipes plus the tips, tricks and information you need to make them successfully in one gorgeous book. The recipes are arranged by course and include delicious things like caper berries in crispy cheese pastry, blueberry lemon friands, red wine risotto with rocket and blue cheese, tofu, mushroom and kumara salad, one pot chicken with spinach, lentils and lemon, sneaky homemade creme brulee and mini Florentine bites.

Featuring wonderful photography by Jae Frew, this book will become a much-loved and well-thumbed staple of the cook book shelf.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Jo Seager. Her recipes are easy and flavoursome.

There are a lot of classic Kiwi recipes with Jo’s own particular twist added, plus a diverse range of recipes she has gathered over the years.

I use this often, and plan on making her Lemon Drizzle Cake this weekend.

THE AUTHOR: Jo Seagar — dubbed ‘cook of the nation’ by Next magazine — is the hugely successful bestselling cookbook author and TV cook, famed for her catch-cries of ‘Easy peasy’ and ‘Maximum effect for minimum effort’.

Trained as a cordon bleu chef in Paris and London, for many years Seagar was a columnist for North & South magazine, while running popular Hartley’s restaurant in Auckland. She also wrote for the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. ‘Real Food for Real People’ saw her move into television, and this series was a followed by ‘Jo Seagar Cooks’, bringing the chef to a wider audience.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Cook School Recipes by Jo Seager, published by Random House New Zealand.

A Bigger Digger by Brett Avison

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EXCERPT: They were doing no harm
On Mum’s little farm,
Just digging around in the shade.
With Oscar’s front paws
And Bryn on all fours,
Working hard with his bucket and spade.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Right there in the backyard, Oscar and Bryn struck something hard. What they discover as they dig deeper will surprise everyone. Join these little adventurers and a whole parade of diggers as they uncover a very big find.

MY THOUGHTS: If you’re a fan of The Little Yellow Digger, you are just going to love A Bigger Digger. My 3 year old grandson certainly did. We have another two of this author’s books, Stuck in the Muck and Pigs Might Fly, both of which he also loves.

Simply and beautifully illustrated, A Bigger Digger has enough detail in the pictures to provide plenty of conversation, but that only adds to, not detracts from, the story of Bryn and Oscar’s find.

Highly recommended both by Luke and myself.

THE AUTHOR: Writing a book is a bit like giving birth, the Havelock children’s author says.

Brett says he often lets ideas foment for a while before writing. While the writing process itself is fairly quick, editing and revising his stories takes a lot longer, he says

Brett and his partner Lorain Day moved to Marlborough from Auckland four-and-a-half years ago, and they were both involved in The Gallery in Havelock.

Being an author was a low-key pursuit, and Brett found he could do everything in Havelock that he could do in Auckland.

DISCLOSURE: This book is owned by my grandson. Thank you Luke for allowing me to borrow A Bigger Digger written by Brett Avison, illustrated by Craig Smith, and published by Imagination Press Ltd, for review. All opinions expressed are those of an excited three year old and his Nana.

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It’s late Sunday evening here in New Zealand. I have, rather reluctantly, been at work this afternoon working with our management committee setting up the practical aspects of reopening the business after the easing of our Covid restrictions. Although I have been back at work for the past week, I haven’t been doing full days, so this coming week is going to be a bit of a shock to my system. But I am lucky, and still have a job to go back to.

I got more reading done this week than I expected and accomplished all my goals set in last weeks Watching What I’m Reading post, but no more. I have a fairly big week at work ahead so am keeping my reading goals for the week very realistic.

Currently I am reading, and am totally consumed by, Dear Child by Remy Hausmann. If I hadn’t had to go to work today I would have finished it. I read over half of it in one sitting! And this is the debut novel by this author. Amazing!

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I haven’t yet selected a new audiobook to listen to after finishing The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and am almost finished The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup.

My next read is going to be Brave Girl, Quiet Girl by Catherine Ryan-Hyde.

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Brooke is a divorced single mom, financially strapped, living with her mother, and holding tight to the one thing that matters most: her two-year-old daughter, Etta. Then, in a matter of seconds, Brooke’s life is shattered when she’s carjacked. Helpless and terrified, all Brooke can do is watch as Etta, still strapped in her seat, disappears into the Los Angeles night.

Miles away, Etta is found by Molly, a homeless teen who is all too used to darkness. Thrown away by her parents, and with a future as stable as the wooden crate she calls home, Molly survives day to day by her wits. As unpredictable as her life is, she’s stunned to find Etta, abandoned and alone. Shielding the little girl from more than the elements, Molly must put herself in harm’s way to protect a child as lost as she is.

Out of one terrible moment, Brooke’s and Molly’s desperate paths converge and an unlikely friendship across generations and circumstances is formed. With it, Brooke and Molly will come to discover that what’s lost—and what’s found—can change in a heartbeat.

The second book I am planning on reading this week is Little Whispers by K.L. Slater

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Janey Markham is thrilled to be moving with her family to Buckingham Crescent, the smartest address in a desirable suburban town.

Worried she’ll be excluded by the glossy local mothers, Janey is thrilled when she meets Tanya, the kind of woman she has always looked up to. Tanya takes Janey under her wing, and her teenage daughter Angel is amazing with Janey’s little boy. As Janey and Tanya grow closer, Janey feels she can finally leave her troubled past behind.

But then everything changes…

In a weak moment over a bottle of wine, Janey finds herself telling Tanya her most shocking secret. Why wouldn’t she trust her new friend?

The following day, Janey sees Angel, with a man old enough to be her father, pushing someone into a car. The next day a body is found and police appeal for witnesses – and share a picture of the same car…

When Janey tells Tanya she is going to the police, Tanya turns threatening. She’ll stop at nothing to defend Angel, even if her daughter is guilty. If Janey says anything, Tanya will make sure that her dark secret gets out.

Janey faces an impossible choice. Stay quiet about what she saw that terrible day. Or speak up, and destroy the family she has worked so hard to protect.

If I finish these two reads with time to spare before starting next weeks schedule I will pick something at random from my backlist. I thought I might have made a dent in my backlist over lockdown, but it just never happened.

And OMG! I have 14, yes 14 ARCs landed in my inbox this week. Susan and Carla, just stop laughing right this moment! A good number of these are down to my browsing your reading lists. And Tina, you are just as big a (good) bad influence. It didn’t help that I am stressed about going back to work, so instead of resorting to drugs or alcohol, I buy and request books!

The Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo

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The Sunset Sisters by Cecelia Lyre

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My Darling by Amanda Robson

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To Tell You the Truth by Gilly Macmillan

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The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

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Murder, Forgotten by Deb Richardson-Moore

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The Bad Sister by Kevin O’Brien

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Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yoerg

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Secrets of a Serial Killer by Rosie Walker

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When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard

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Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

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Bloodline by Jess Lourey

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The Baby Group by Caroline Corcoran

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And finally, Gone in Seconds by Ed James

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What was I thinking????

Happy reading. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be kind.

Cheers
Sandy
😷❤😍📚

A Taste of. . . A Fence Around the Cuckoo by Ruth Park. . . Tuesday

A Fence Around The Cuckoo

I remember reading this autobiography many years ago, and rediscovered it while unpacking my books after our last move. Ruth grew up in my home town, but had left many years before I was born. She still has family in the area. This was a really good read and I am looking forward to revisiting Ruth.

EXCERPT: What I am doing, I think, is walking softly behind this child as she creeps down a hallway. Her aunts are in the kitchen, the only warm room in the house, and she is going to eavesdrop.

She doesn’t know me, and I doubt whether I know her. One thing I do understand, she is very frightened. If I could put my hand on her bony little shoulder, I would feel her trembling.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: This first volume of Ruth Park’s autobiography is an account of her isolated childhood in the rainforests of New Zealand, her convent education which encouraged her love of words and writing, and the bitter years of the Depression.She then entered the rough-and-tumble world of journalism and began a reluctant correspondence with a young Australian writer.

In 1942, Park moved to Sydney and married that writer, D’Arcy Niland. There she would write The Harp in the South, the first of her classic Australian novels. A Fence Around the Cuckoo is the story of one of Australia’s best storytellers and how she learnt her craft.

…. I see that, like Phar Lap, Pavlova and Crowded House, Australia has claimed Ruth for their own! 😂😅😂😅

Happy reading my friends 💕📚