Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I am currently reading a very atmospheric piece of Australian fiction, The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou. I keep expecting my furniture to be covered in a fine layer of red dust whenever I surface from this read.

I am listening to Trick or Treat by Katerina Diamond, which I have only just started, and which received this week.

This week I am planning on making a start on my Christmas reads, with A Lighthouse Christmas by Jenny Hale. I have heard such wonderful things about this author and am looking forward to reading this.

When her beloved grandmother passes away, Mia Broadhurst returns to the snow-covered seaside village of Winsted Cape, where Grandma Ruth ran the lighthouse overlooking the golden beach.

This will be Mia’s first Christmas without her, and she can’t bear to part with the lighthouse that has been in their family for generations. As she steps into it, childhood memories rush back to her. She can almost hear them playing tag on the steps… But her life is back in New York, dedicated to a busy PR firm, and she has no choice but to sell.

With the snow falling, turning the grounds into a winter wonderland, Mia works with real estate agent Will Thacker. As they restore the historical building, she tries not notice how handsome he is. After all, she’s only home for Christmas… And Will’s deep blue eyes, as stormy as the Atlantic Ocean, tells her he has his own heartbreak to contend with.

Warmed by a crackling fire, Mia packs up Grandma Ruth’s belongings with the help of her mother and sister. But waiting for them is a black-and-white photograph with a faded inscription. The mysterious message is the key to a family secret that has been hidden for decades––one that changes everything.

When Mia finds out the truth, will it save the precious lighthouse and show Mia where her heart belongs? Or will it tear her from Winsted Cape––and Will––for ever?

And The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope, an author I always enjoy.

I am cooking spaghetti, his favourite, while he plays in the garden. But when I look up, he’s gone. I call the police, my hands shaking so much that I hit the wrong digits twice. ‘My son is missing.’

When the police turn up, I’m trapped in the web of my lies.

I have hidden the truth from eight-year-old Riley, my little boy who loves climbing trees and always has scraped knees. I have hidden my secret from everyone.

Riley knows his father is dead but he has no idea why. He doesn’t know his dad’s real name, and there are no pictures in the house. Not a single person knows what happened eight years ago.

I love my son more than anything but the truth is, I have always feared for him. When the first gift arrived in our mailbox, wrapped in blue paper with silver stars, I realised I was right to be afraid.

Now, I can see the question in the detectives’ eyes. Am I a mother with a missing child or a mother with a lot to hide? I need them to save my son – but how much can I tell them without losing him forever? 

I have 9 new ARCs this week, two of them audiobooks, one of which, Trick or Treat, I have started listening to. I still have 31 requests pending.

My new ARCs are: The Maid by Nita Prose

The Heretic by Liam McIlvanney

A Surprise for Christmas and Other Seasonal Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay which, when I requested it, I was unaware was #13 in a series!

A Body at the Altar by Dee MacDonald. I also have the previous book in this series, A Body at the Tea Rooms to catch up on.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Put Out to Pasture by Amanda Flower

and the audiobook Touching Strangers by Stacey Madden

Thank you to all my enabler friends who provided fodder for my book list this week. You know who you are. ❤📚

My posting has been a bit irregular this week for a number of reasons starting with the brutal, senseless and cowardly murder of one of my husband’s workmates last weekend while we were away. Antz was an all round good guy and father of six who will be greatly missed. We are grateful that two suspects have been apprehended.

I have also been helping to care for a friend who started chemotherapy this week and who has had a very violent reaction to it.

And we went back into lockdown at midnight on Thursday night. So Friday was spent going through all the lockdown procedures as we have no idea how long this will be for. It doesn’t affect the whole of New Zealand, just from the middle of the North Island, north. Case numbers are continuing to rise daily with an alarming number not connected to current cases. We had our Club’s 75th Jubilee scheduled for the last weekend this month and, depending on the news tomorrow afternoon, are probably going to have to postpone it again. We were meant to have it last year, but the same thing happened. Maybe we should just wait for the 80th now!

I had planned to go to visit my son and grandson this past week, but they went into lockdown a week ahead of us, so I am having to make do with videocalls. Aren’t we lucky to have this technology available to us. I also had a long videocall with my son in Western Australia earlier today. It was lovely to be able to see and talk to him.

So that was my week. I didn’t get all the reading done that I had planned, but that’s life and I am grateful that I and all my loved ones are safe. I hope your week wasn’t as eventful as mine.

Happy reading all. ❤📚

Wednesday’s Weather and a bookish conundrum . . .

It’s more autumn than spring this morning in Te Kuiti, New Zealand with morning mist, drizzle, and it’s cold out there!

We are in the first day of Level 2 – Delta style today. 🤞

I was clearing my emails over my morning coffee, and there was one from a certain publisher who shall remain nameless, declining my request for an ARC because my feedback ratio is too low – 67%. Okay, I thought, fair enough. BUT it was for a book in a series of which I have read and reviewed all the earlier books.

The following email was from the same publisher, offering me a widget – for the same book 😂🤣😂🤣 Yes, I downloaded it very quickly before they changed their minds again.

Has anyone else had this happen?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!🥂

New Kitchen Bliss!

Apart from a few finishing touches, like the glass splashback behind the gas hobs, the shelves in the corner above the sink, and the toe kicks under the cabinetry needing to be installed, my kitchen is finished and I cooked in it for the first time last night.

We have laid a new bleached ash floor through the dining and kitchen area, and painted the walls in Resene Thor. I also now have space for my cookbook collection, and will be able to display my nice platters on the shelves above.

I chose to have a corner sink installed because it then doesn’t break up my workspace. My dishwasher is still on a ship somewhere on the high seas. It was originally meant to be delivered mid-July, then mid-August, now it’s early September. I still have my old dishwasher installed in my old laundry, I installed a new laundry downstairs, which I set up as a temporary kitchen while the new one was being installed. That will now be gutted and made into my office.

Once the splashback and the shelves are installed in 3 – 4 weeks time, I will post more photos.

This photo is of my old kitchen, the original from when the house was built in 1970. The microwave sits on top of the dishwasher, there’s very little workspace, the fridge was right next to the oven, and there was a breakfast bar in the corner facing a blank wall 🤷‍♀️ In this photo we had already ripped the wall out between the kitchen and dining room to open it up. Previously there was a full wall there with a door into the kitchen. Cooking was a very isolated experience.

Thursday Travels

Before Covid kicked off, we went up north for a family holiday. While we were based in Paihia, we stopped at Waipu on our way home. It is where my grandmother came from, and there’s quite a bit of Mackay family history in the local museum. It’s a beautiful spot, as is the nearby beach of Ruakaka. We went there for a wedding some years ago and have always intended to return.

I found this article on my newsfeed this morning and thought it would be nice to share a little more of our beautiful New Zealand countryside with you. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/go-nz-what-to-do-in-bream-bay-northland-in-winter/LESQYGYFPOC5WLUSH6DZBGUB2M/

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

Wednesday in Wellington, New Zealand

Finally, here are some of the photos from our few days in Wellington last month. We travelled both ways by train which is an extremely relaxing way to travel. We didn’t get many photos on the way down as it rained quite heavily most of the way, but we were extremely lucky with the weather while we were there. It was raining again when we left Wellington, but cleared about an hour into our journey home.

This was the view from our hotel room balcony. We could see from Oriental Bay, to our right, the marina was immediately in front of us, and the port off to our left. So there was always something to watch as we sat on the balcony and and rested our weary feet in the late afternoon.

These are some of the lovely old homes that line Oriental Parade in Oriental Bay.

Situated on the hill above Oriental Bay, Saint Gerard’s Monastery and Church, built in 1932 and 1908 respectively, are considered a historic landmark. After 113 years, St Gerard’s Church held its final mass at the end of May. It closed over “safety concerns” but the fate of the buildings remains unclear.

The Wellington Cable Car is a funicular railway in Wellington, New Zealand, between Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, and Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city, rising 120 m (394 ft) over a length of 612 m (2,008 ft).

There are a number of viaducts spanning the rivers between Te Kuiti and Wellington. This photo was taken from one in the Manawatu.

New Zealand farmland.

Home to three active volcanic mountains, and iconic and majestic landscapes, Tongariro National Park has attracted adventurers of all ages since 1887. This is Mount Ruapehu.

The main reason for doing this train trip was to travel the Raurimu Spiral, which my grandfather worked on when he first came to Te Kuiti as a young man.

The only way of really appreciating the engineering excellence and sinuous beauty of the Raurimu spiral is to see it from the air. The spiral was devised by Department of Public Works engineer Robert Holmes in 1898. His design was a clever solution to a major problem – the land between between Raurimu and National Park dropped significantly and was too steep for a train to travel along directly. Holmes’s spiral increased the distance between these two locations to by employing sweeping curves and tunnels, which allowed the railway track to follow a manageable incline. It was constructed between 1905 and 1908. The Historic Places Trust registered the spiral as a category one historic place in 2005. (Te Ara, Govt. New Zealand)

My next mission is to view it from the air.

Thank you for sharing my journey.