Watching what I’m reading . . .

What a lovely almost summery day we’ve had. I’ve had all the doors windows wide open until late this afternoon. The washing all dried on line, and after I’d caught up with my cousin for coffee this morning, I spent the remainder of the day in the garden. Not that you can actually see where I’ve been. We’ve apparently got another four days of this, but as I have a big week at work this week, I’m unlikely to be able to take advantage of the lovely weather.

We took a drive to the beach yesterday and had a lovely lunch at the Awakino Hotel before going for a walk on the beach. We were stunned by the amount of damage this winter’s storms have wreaked. The locals were out in force clearing trees and driftwood from the beach. There’s going to be one massive Guy Fawkes bonfire! Quite what they are going to be able to do about the erosion, I don’t know.

Currently I am reading The Ex by S.E. Lynes. Deliciously evil!

What She Found (Tracy Crosswhite #9) by Robert Dugoni

And I am doing a read/listen of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman which is one of the six reads for review (what was I thinking?) that I have to read for review this coming week.

Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined.

The other five reads for review I need to complete by the end of the week are: And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke

When Allison Montgomery’s beloved father-in-law and long-time confidant passes away, her mother- in-law, Margaret, ‘temporarily’ moves in. From rearranging the furniture and taking over the kitchen, to undermining and embarrassing Allie at every turn, including funding her daughter’s escape, throwing a hissy fit at the mall, and publicly equating Allie’s glass of Chardonnay to full blown alcoholism, Margaret turns Allie’s life upside down causing her to bounce between a sincere desire to support her grieving mother-in-law and an intense urge to simply push her out of the nearest window. Feeling annoyed, trapped and even a little childish, Allie struggles to avoid a complete meltdown with help from her fearless and audacious best friend, a plan for reinventing herself and enjoying a second act, and, yes, a few glasses of Chardonnay. Along the way, Allie discovers the reasons behind Margaret’s attitude toward her all these years. Does it help? Maybe…

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

The first book in the Escape to France series, Light Through the Vines by Fiona Valpy. This was previously published as The French for Love and includes editorial revisions.

Gina’s London life lies in tatters: she has lost her father, her steady job as a wine buyer and her suave but unfaithful boyfriend. When she also suffers the loss of her beloved aunt, a silver lining dawns in the shape of an unexpected legacy: Aunt Liz has left Gina her beautiful, if slightly ramshackle, house in the heart of Bordeaux wine country. With nothing left to lose, Gina takes a chance on a fresh start.

Throwing herself into her new life in the beautiful French countryside, Gina discovers the warmth of a close-knit—sometimes too close-knit—rural community and the exhausting exhilaration of the grape harvest under the late-summer sun. But just as she is beginning to feel like she belongs in her crumbling but charming home, she uncovers a long-hidden secret that makes her question the one person she used to trust the most. While she’s worrying that this is a sign to pack her bags and run, a storm blows a hole in the roof, and Gina finds herself with nowhere else to turn except her neighbour’s capable son for help.

Before long Gina finds herself admiring handsome Cédric for more than just his stonemasonry skills…But everyone she’s ever held dear has left her or betrayed her. And as the grapes ripen on the vine, can Gina find her way to forgiveness, and could it finally be time for her to open her heart to love again?

Another in the Escape to France series, The Season of Dreams by Fiona Valpy.

Once upon a time, in an ancient château nestled above a golden river among the vineyards of Bordeaux, Sara and Gavin opened a wedding venue where fairy tales come true…But when Sara discovers Gavin in the arms of a wedding guest, their own happiness crumbles to dust. Faced with five beaming couples yet to say ‘I do’, she realises it’s up to her to host the rest of their first make-or-break season alone.

For the summer to go off without a hitch, Sara must bury her broken heart and her fear that she’ll soon be packing her bags for London, and lean on her local team of helpers. So when handsome Thomas Cortini, wine salesman and amateur DJ, crosses her path, Sara’s thrilled to draft in further reinforcements—and finally dares to hope the summer might not be a total disaster…

But with her life savings at stake, can Sara pull off a successful season, save her budding business and—just maybe—find her own happy-ever-after before the summer ends?

And, because I thought that if I was virtually travelling to France, I may as well stay for as long as possible, I also have The Recipe for Hope by Fiona Valpy to read, which is both another book in the Escape to France series and a Christmas read.

Evie’s running away: from her soon-to-be ex-husband’s shiny new life, from the devastating loss of her baby last year, from a memory-filled London and, most particularly, from Christmas. A remote cottage in the South of France seems like the perfect peaceful place to soothe her sorrows.

But the countryside soon proves anything but quiet, from the rooster crowing at dawn to the barn owl hooting through the night—not to mention Evie’s handsome neighbour, doctor Didier, who works away in his garage at all hours.

Unexpectedly, the sights and sounds of life amid the sparkling beauty of the Dordogne give Evie a renewed sense of inspiration, and with her French grandmother’s recipe book for company, she begins to rediscover her love of cooking. Soon, the tight-knit community begins to enfold her, reminding Evie what really matters in life.

But are Didier’s gorgeous blue eyes on more than Evie’s delicious dinners? And can a cancelled Christmas—complete with a Not-Christmas feast for two—heal her heart?

After my deluge of ARCs last week I am pleased to be able to report that I have only received two this week. They are: The Next Best Day by Sharon Sala

And Outback by Patricia Wolf

Now I need to get dinner. Homemade chicken burgers tonight. Pete has just been told he has a 4am start in the morning, which means that he’ll be up before 3am. So he needs to eat and get some sleep.

Have a wonderful week everyone. ❤📚

First Line Friday

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

This the first line from the next book I am going to read:

December 2021

It’s over three months now since Sam Moore was pictured on the <i>Lyme Times website</i> for reasons no one would ever have wanted.

Does that line tempt you to pick up this book?

It is . . .

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I wrote this post late last night when I got home from work, hit ‘PUBLISH’ and the whole damned thing disappeared into the never-never.🤷‍♀️ Although I know it autosaved along the way, there’s not a trace of it anywhere. So, sorry, but you’re not going to get all the gossip about how I spent my weekend (was that a sigh of relief I heard?), as I am on my lunch hour this will be brief.

Currently I am reading The Night Ship by Jess Kidd. Almost finished and I’m not really sure what to make of it . . .

I am also reading After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl – isn’t that a stunning cover!

And I am listening to Wild Place by Christian White

This week I have three ARCs to read for review: Mad, Bad and Dead by Sherryl Clark

A

dead employee. A missing child. Anonymous phone calls in the dead of night. Judi Westerholme’s troubles aren’t over…

Already struggling to juggle co-running Candlebark’s pub/bistro along with her new childcare responsibilities, what Judi doesn’t need right now is more stress. Yet, as usual, it arrives in spades: she starts receiving threatening, late night phone calls before discovering one of her best employees, Kate, shot dead in her bed.

Once again, Judi finds herself at the center of a murder investigation, as well as the hunt for the Kate’s fourteen year-old daughter who has been missing since the murder. Add in the uncertainty of her relationship with D.S. Heath and the fact that her estranged mother’s nursing home keeps calling to urge her to visit, and Judi might finally be at breaking point.

One Good Turn and Other Stories by Angelo Marcos

They say that one good turn deserves another, but what about the opposite kind?

From the author of psychological thrillers The Artist and Sleep No More, One Good Turn is an electrifying collection of three separate but interlinked short stories, all set in London on the same fateful night.

You’ve Got a Friend
Mark is on nightshift duty on the You’ve Got a Friend Helpline. Unfortunately for the callers, his idea of help is very different to theirs.

One Good Turn
Two young tourists London find themselves on the last train out of the city, and begin to wonder if they’ll ever get to their hotel…

Fare Game
An illegal cab driver picks up an old, confused man and offers him a lift home. It’ll be a journey they both may regret.

And The Ex by S.E. Lynes

The love of your life… or your biggest mistake?

It’s hard, meeting your ex after so much time apart. You remember the hurt, the tears and accusations, but you try not to show it. You smile politely, even while your heart beats faster.

You watch as he looks down into the stroller, at the beautiful blond-haired blue-eyed baby kicking his little legs in the sunshine, whose innocent smile lights up your world.

You see his face change. You know what he’s thinking.

The next day he calls. His voice is shaking. He wants the truth. Is it his child?

You hesitate, your throat dry, good and bad memories swirling in your mind. You’ve missed him so much… but can you ever trust him again?

After a sleepless night, you arrange to meet, agreeing that the most important thing is doing what’s right for baby Tom.

But months later, when the sirens wail in the night, you have to admit: you never thought either of you would go this far…

I got twelve new titles for review this week, including all seven books of a cosy mystery series. My new titles are:

The Three Loves of Sebastian Cooper by Zoë Folbigg

We Spread by Ian Reid

Marple: Twelve New Stories by Agatha Christie; Naomi Alderman; Leigh Bardugo; Alyssa Cole; Lucy Foley; Elly Griffiths; Natalie Haynes; Jean Kwok; Val McDermid; Karen M. McManus; Dreda Say Mitchell; Kate Mosse; Ruth Ware

The Rise by Shari Low and Ross King

And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke

And finally all seven books in the Beth Haldane series by Alice Castle

So that’s negated all the gains I made on my TBR shelf over the past few weeks. But, hey, we all enjoy a challenge, right? 🤣🤣

Happy reading my friends!

First Line Friday

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

This is the first line from the next book I am going to read:

<i> Working nights in forbidding areas never bothered Lisa Childress.</i>

Does that line tempt you to pick up this book?

It is . . .

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday. Is it my imagination or are Sundays coming around much faster than they used to?

Currently I am reading The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark. Interestingly, this house is also a funeral home. I read the first 75% of this in one sitting. It’s a far more intriguing read than the blurb suggests.

A secluded island. A missing child. A home built on lies.

On the death of her aunt Gwyn, Lowri returns once more to Gwyn’s home on the remote island of Anglesey, Wales, with young daughter Ruby in tow. Lowri hadn’t seen her aunt in years, but this beautiful island offers a fresh start.

Yet right away, strange things begin to happen. Ruby insists an old woman is visiting her when no one else is watching, and a tattered old doll keeps being left for Ruby to find.

Then Ruby goes missing. Desperately seeking answers no one seems to have, Lowri looks to her dark family past for clues. But the secrets she uncovers suggest that Ruby is not the only one in danger, and time is running out – for both of them…

I also started The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd on my tablet while my Kindle was charging. Another intriguing read. I’m a little over halfway and I’m not entirely certain Bernard is telling the whole truth. Add to that the strange things that happen when Sara visits his home – a haunted pepper-grinder! – and I am hooked.

While I am walking to and from work on the nice days, we’ve had a few this week – I am listening to The Enigma of Room 622 written by Joël Dicker and narrated by Chris Harper. Although I initially found this quite ‘dry’, there have been a couple of interesting curveballs introduced which have revived my interest.

One night in December, a corpse is found in Room 622 of the Hotel Verbier, a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. A police investigation begins without definite end, and public interest wanes with the passage of time. Years later, the writer Joel Dicker, Switzerland’s most famous literary ingenue, arrives at that same hotel to recover from a bad breakup, mourn the death of his longtime publisher, and begin his next novel. Little does Joel know that his expertise in the art of the thriller will come in handy when he finds himself investigating the crime. He’ll need a Watson, of course: in this case, that would be Scarlett, the beautiful guest and aspiring novelist from the next room, who joins in the search while he tries to solve another puzzle: the plot of his next book. Meanwhile, in the wake of his father’s passing, Macaire Ebezner is set to take over as president of the largest private bank in Switzerland. The succession captivates the news media, and the future looks bright, until it doesn’t. The bank’s board, including a certain Lev Levovitch-Geneva’s very own Jay Gatsby-have other plans, and Macaire’s race to the top soon becomes a race against time.

This week, in addition to The Last House on the Cliff, I am planning to read: After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl (Love this cover!)

Liv loves her son, Adrian. That’s why she keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.

Anastasia’s life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan and starts modelling. Suddenly, she’s rich. She’s desired. But then she begins to see the dark side of her new life: the high-pressure catwalk shows; the glamorous, drink-fuelled after-parties; the sun-baked Italian palazzos owned by powerful men. She will do anything to escape

Selma is a feature journalist in Oslo. She’s horrified to uncover an unsavoury and dangerous underworld when she writes an article looking into the modelling industry. Then, a woman goes missing in Sandefjord… 

A Cornish Recipe for Murder by Fiona Leitch (Nosy Parker Mysteries #5)

When popular TV baking contest and national institution ‘The Best of British Baking Roadshow’ rolls into town and sets up camp in the grounds of Boskern House, a historic stately home near Penstowan, former police officer Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker finds herself competing to represent Cornwall in the grand final.

But with a fellow contestant who will stop at nothing to win and a drag queen host with secrets of their own, Jodie discovers that the roadshow doesn’t just have the ingredients for the perfect showstopper cake, but also for the perfect murder…

And when a body is found in the grounds of the house, Jodie is drawn into another high-stakes case along with local DCI Nathan Withers.

I only received one new ARC this week so my TBR pile should shrink just a little. I was invited to read Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer by the publishers. I accepted instantly as I love this Australian author’s books.

It’s been beautiful weather here the past few days so I have, as I said earlier, been walking to and from work. Pete didn’t work this weekend either so he’s caught up on the lawns, and I have been weeding the garden and have pruned all the hydrangeas. I still have the roses to do.

When I roasted a leg of lamb for dinner last night, I doubled up on the vegetables and gravy, so we are having more of the same tonight.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is what I am currently reading. This author really knows how to create an atmosphere!

I am listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, an author I have been wanting to read for some time, but I am never approved for her ARCs on Netgalley. It’s definitely another atmospheric and suspenseful read.

I have only managed to complete two of my seven scheduled reads for the week, so I am carrying them over into this week where I only have one other read for review scheduled. It is Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah. Thank you to the author for kindly providing me with a copy for review.

As he stared at the corpse’s face, he realized an endless dark cavity beneath the dead skin. There’s no one there. Even if he shouted with all his might, it was not the echo that would greet him but the silence that engulfed his voice.

– SOLACE

In “Good Friends,” a little girl collects dolls her family can’t afford from the neighbor’s trash bin. But who is the ghostly figure sharing them with her? A mysterious married woman reaches out to an ojek driver in “Confide,” and a young man’s attempt to kill himself goes awry in “Zombie.” In “The Crains” a new wife discovers her in-laws’ dangerous forays into black magic, and “Solace” follows a young man with a terrifying secret in his bedroom… These are just some of the spine-tingling stories of Solace and Other Stories, a surreal collection sure to keep you up at night! 

I have received five new Netgalley ARCs this week. They are: Mothered by Zoje Stage. I don’t know about you, but I find that cover chilling! The possibilities . . .

This is Us by Helen McGinn

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood (my nod to Christmas)

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

My post is short and sweet today as I have to prepare some entrees for a friend’s birthday this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week workwise, but I am trying not to slip back into my old work habits and made sure to take some time for myself. I went swimming on Tuesday afternoon. Hilarious! My spirit was willing but my muscle memory was not cooperating. Floundering might be a more apt description of what I actually did. Thursday morning I went to aquarobics with my cousin which was not only a great workout but lots of fun. I have convinced another friend to come with us this coming week.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What an odd afternoon! Looking east, south and west, the sky is black, promising more of the heavy rain that we’ve had all week; north, and the sky is clear and blue, and the sun is shining! Let’s hope the sun wins out, at least for a day or two. The weather forecast is predicting fine weather tomorrow but beyond that it’s rain, and more rain! Speaking of which, it’s just started again. I’m not getting much walking in; I have managed to walk to work only twice in the past three weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk tomorrow morning.

Currently I am reading and loving the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber. Honestly, if I could open the pages and jump in with these characters, I would.

by Heather Webber

I am also reading The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone. Isn’t this another stunning cover!

And I am listening to The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny.

This week I have an absolute mountain of books to read for review. They are: The Carnival is Over by Greg Woodland

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.

The New House by Tess Stimson

Three couples.

About to purchase their dream home.

How far would you go to get the perfect life?

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…

When she was five years old, without proof, Maggie announced that someone in the remote village of Blairmore in the Outer Hebrides had murdered a local man, sparking a media storm.

Now, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, Maggie’s own life is in danger…

Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

The media have descended on Garrett Island, a small, isolated community that is the setting of a visionary experiment. All the residents’ cars were sent to the mainland and for the past month the islanders have been “driving” the Arrival, a revolutionary autonomous vehicle. With a simple voice command, an Arrival will take you wherever you want to go and, because the fleet is networked and aware of one another, car travel is now 100% safe. The future, it seems, has arrived.

As the excitement reaches a fever pitch, Sandra Montrose – islander, single mom, and public relations executive – prepares for Arrival Inc.’s flashy press event. Sandra is more than ready for this new world. Her husband died after falling asleep at the wheel and she’s relieved that her two teens, Archie and Katie, will never need driver’s licenses.

But as the celebratory day gets underway, disaster strikes. A visiting journalist has vanished, possibly murdered. Before long, the Arrivals run amok, no longer taking orders from their passengers. They’re starting to organize. They’re beginning to hunt. And they seem hell-bent on killing any human they encounter.

Is this all just a tragic accident, a technological malfunction with deadly consequences? Or were the vehicles programmed to act this way in a cruel act of corporate sabotage? Or could it be that the Arrivals have a mind of their own?

Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd

It was meant to be a summer of love. Then came the confession . . .

Sara Tempest has been alone since her husband died and daughters left home. But over the course of one summer she meets and falls in love with the charming Bernard. The years of heartache and loneliness are finally behind her.

She quickly moves into his beautiful home on the wind battered cliffs of Hastings. But, after a while, she begins to wonder if Bernard is all he seems.

He’s barely in touch with his children and with stifling reminders of his wife everywhere Sara looks, the walls begin to close in.

Then comes Bernard’s confession and Sara’s newfound happiness starts to crumble around her . . .

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

Only two new ARCs this week. They are: All That We Are by Mariah Stewart

And Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

I still have several reviews to write . . . I try not to get behind with that but I have been so tired this week that I’ve found it difficult to string a sentence together. Hopefully I will catch up this week, although I will probably finish both In the Middle of Hickory Lane and The Other Girlfriend today, so there’s another two reviews to be written 😬

Wherever in the world you are, I hope you are safe from all the weather extremes. Keep calm and read on. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good afternoon from a cold, windy, grey New Zealand. We have more rain and storms on the way. Yay!!!!

Currently I am reading After the Flood by Dave Warner, a wonderful piece of Australian crime fiction.

I am also reading The Murder Book, #18 in the Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham.

And listening to The Cabin in the Woods written by Sarah Alderson and narrated by Stephanie Cannon

This week, in addition to The Murder Book, and After the Flood, I still have the following books to read for review:

In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Emme Wynn has wanted nothing more her whole life than to feel like part of a family. Having grown up on the run with her con artist mother, she’s been shuffled from town to town, drawn into bad situations, and has learned some unsavory habits that she’s tried hard to overcome. When her estranged grandmother tracks her down out of the blue and extends a job offer—helping to run her booth at an open-air marketplace in small-town Sweetgrass, Alabama—Emme is hopeful that she’ll finally be able to plant the roots she’s always dreamed of. But some habits are hard to break, and she risks her newfound happiness by keeping one big truth to herself.

Cora Bee Hazelton has her hands full with volunteering, gardening, her job as a color consultant and designer, and just about anything she can do to keep her mind off her painful past, a past that has resulted in her holding most everyone at arm’s length. The last thing she wants is to form close relationships only to have her heart broken yet again. But when she’s injured, she has no choice other than to let people into her life and soon realizes it’s going to be impossible to keep her heart safe—or her secrets hidden.

Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott

A rash of poison pen letters has enveloped the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva in cloud of suspicion and paranoia. But when rampant aspersions culminate in murder, enquiry agents Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport must stamp out the evil-minded epistles . . .

What began for two dear if very different friends–an American adventuress and a prim and proper Brit–as a creative response to the lean times following the Great War has evolved into a respectable private enquiry business. So much so that Constable Gibbs calls upon Beryl and Edwina to solve a curious campaign of character assassination.

A series of anonymous accusations sent via post have set friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. In her new position as magistrate, Edwina has already had to settle one dispute that led to fisticuffs. Even Beryl has received a poison pen letter, and while she finds its message preposterous and laughable, others are taking the missives to heart. Their headstrong housekeeper Beddoes is ready to resign and one villager has attempted to take her own life.

The disruption of the peace goes far beyond malicious mischief when another villager is murdered. Now it’s up to the intrepid sleuths to read between the lines and narrow down the suspects to identify the lethal letter writer and ensure that justice is delivered . . . 

The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone

She loves him…

Lizzie Green once loved Tom Murphy with a passion that bordered on obsession. All she wanted was his love to be returned. Then one night something terrible happened and Tom left Lizzie broken hearted. She swore she would never let him hurt her again….

She loves him not.

Now, ten years later, Tom turns up on Lizzie’s doorstep still as charming as ever. Lizzie knows he still has the power to break her heart and destroy her life again. But Lizzie can’t say no to him….

Can she?

And Mother of all Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

Her freedom, her sanity, her life. How much will a young mother sacrifice to protect her secrets?

Sleep deprived and overwhelmed, first-time mom Jenn is struggling to adapt to her new role. Frustrated with her loving but preoccupied husband and still grieving the death of her own mother, she feels isolated and depressed. It’s only when she joins a new-moms’ group that she starts to think she’s finally getting back on track.

Until Isabel, the group’s leader, suddenly disappears.

Now Jenn’s baby isn’t the only reason she can’t sleep. Consumed with worry over Isabel, Jenn is teetering on the edge of obsession. Concern turns to paranoia when Jenn finds clues that force her to look at herself, her marriage, and the women in her support group, who have more in common than Jenn realized. Much more.

Saving Isabel means unearthing secrets that were supposed to stay buried forever, and Jenn has to decide what she’s willing to risk to help a woman she barely knows. With each revelation, she gets closer to a slow-burning act of retribution that could easily and irrevocably draw her into the flames.

This week I received seven new ARCs via Netgalley and one book in the mail from Freemantle Press who very kindly sent me another copy of the book that was missing from my parcel a couple of weeks back. It is Blood & Ink by Brett Adams

The ARCs I received from Netgalley are: In Little Stars by Linda Green

On the First Day of Christmas by Faith Hogan

Isabel Puddles Abroad by M.V. Byrne

The Ex by S.E. Lynes

Next in Line (William Warwick #5) by Jeffrey Archer

The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

Bleeding Heart Yard (Harbinder Kaur #3) by Elly Griffiths

We have friends coming for dinner tonight, so will go and get everything prepped, then go make myself pretty.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend and happy reading my friend!

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Firstly, I have to apologise for lack of a post on Friday (NZ time). Our internet went down at lunchtime Friday and wasn’t restored until 2 am Saturday.

Currently I am reading One Last Day of Summer by Shari Lowe. I started this in the early hours of this morning and am really enjoying it.

As a flight to St Lucia leaves the runway, four passengers meet for the first time.

After escaping her controlling husband, Bernadette Manson is taking the first extravagant holiday of her new life. But when her best friend cancels, will she be strong enough to fly solo?

Tadgh Donovan is about to jet off to his destination wedding when he sees a shocking text. Has his bride-to-be written her wedding vows… or already broken them?

Hayley Ford is the wife of a top fertility specialist yet her battle to get pregnant has almost broken her marriage. Can a trip to the sun heal their relationship or should she brace for a crash landing?

Dev Robbins is crossing oceans to track down the woman he fell in love with at first sight. Will it be a one way trip to happy ever after or a return journey to singledom?

One Last Day of Summer is due for publication July 19th 2022.

I am also reading Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster. 

This is certainly a chilling read and will also be published July 19th, 2022.

After the Flood by Dave Warner. I was so excited to receive some real book mail, although the excitement was somewhat tempered by one of the three books missing out of the parcel. NOT the publisher’s fault. The bag had obviously been tampered with. Kudos and a huge thank you to Freemantle Press for sending out the missing book.

A disturbing, seemingly ritualistic murder on a remote North-West cattle station has Detective Inspector Dan Clement and his Broome police officers unnerved and baffled. Other local incidents – the theft of explosives from mine site, social justice protests at an abattoir, a break-in at an early childhood clinic- seems mundane by comparison.

But as Clement starts to make troubling connections between each crime, he finds himself caught in terrifying race. In a landmass larger than Western Europe, he must identify and protect an unidentified target before it’s blown to bits by an unidentified terrorist.

Now, don’t usually read books about terrorism, but this has me enthralled.

and I am listening to A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood (Matilda Darke #3) This is a backtitle read for me from 2017. Currently at 55% through, it’s looking like five star read.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

This week, in addition to Black Mouth and One Last Day of Summer, both of which I already reading, I have The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell scheduled for review.

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing and was excited to receive an ARC for this.

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

This week I received eight new ARCs from Netgalley plus two from Freemantle Press, one being After the Flood by Dave Warner. The second book I received from Freemantle Press is The Ghost of Gracie Flynn by Joanna Morrison. Did I already mention how exciting it is to receive REAL book mail?

And from Netgalley I have received Foster by Claire Keegan

Lovely Girls by Margot Hunt

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Dead Real by Helen H. Durrant

The Stranger Vanishes by Wendy Corsi Staub, a Lily Vale Mystery

And the last is a publiher’s widget, There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

Have you read, or do you have any of these to read?

Have a wonderful week!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Sunday afternoon; the fire is lit, the day wet and gloomy. We are stretched out in our chairs watching the supercar racing from Townsville, Queensland, where the skies are gloriously blue and everyone is wandering about in t-shirts and sunglasses.

This morning I started Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please, and I can’t put it down. I have abandoned my other reads in favour of this.

I am also reading We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry

And listening to Death of a Green-Eyed Monster (Hamish Macbeth #34) by M.C. Beaton and R.W. Green

In the coming week I have three books to read for review, two of which I have already started. They are:

We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry

Emily made a mistake, a mistake midwifes can’t afford to make. Escaping to her dad’s home in Devon to regroup and check in on him – his dementia has been worsening, and her guilt along with it – she is surprised when a beautiful stranger answers the door. Francoise is her dad’s new carer, but Emily’s father seems to have deteriorated under her care.

Emily doesn’t trust Francoise – but she doesn’t trust herself either. Each has a secret. And one of them will kill to keep it.

Rejected Goddesses by Natalie Watson and Nina Holmes

“Every woman is a rejected goddess at some point in her life … but it’s okay to be rejected as long as you feel like a Goddess.”— Robyn Ryan and Cat Romano.

I’m Robyn Ryan.
I’m thirtyish and I’m a third-generation caffeinated Irish. I’m a journalist turned baker on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m a mommy to a dog with a huge attitude.
My personal life sucks.

I’m Catarina Romano, shortly Cat.
I’m thirtyish and I’m a third-generation fiery-tempered Italian with a nuclear explosive and overprotective family.
I’m a notorious male-basher. No wonder I’m single.
I’m also an author of the worstseller “Italian Connections.”

We are two best friends in a temporary rut of our lives in Mystic Oak, MA.

Can our ginormous dreams come true in the smallest town on earth? 

And Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please

Divorced and on a deadline, bestselling novelist Bea Pinkerton has a serious case of writer’s block. With her agent breathing down her neck, Bea will do ANYTHING to avoid writing another word.

So an invite to a reunion with her old school friends at a beautiful chateau in France, is Bea’s perfect chance to escape. Surely here, relaxing with old friends and drinking cold fizz, Bea will find inspiration?
But as soon as Bea arrives, she realises this is not going to be the peaceful getaway she anticipated. Her old school friends Gin and Audrie are in various states of marital distress and to top it off a camera crew has arrived to film the goings on at Chateau De St Cyr. Far from being calm, the trip is total chaos!

Thank goodness for Bea’s new French neighbour Laurent Sinclair – handsome, charming and perhaps exactly the romantic muse she needs to get her mojo back. But is Bea brave enough to take a second chance at love at her age? Perhaps with a little help from her friends… 

Only two new ARCs this week. They are:

The Missing by Lisa Childs

and The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn Brown

I am picking Luke up on Tuesday and bringing him home to stay for a few days. It’s the first week of the school holidays and the forecast for the whole week is rain, rain and more rain! If it does clear up we will visit the Kiwi House. I’m planning on taking him to the library Wednesday where we will borrow as many books and jigsaws as we can.

We are currently having a Covid resurgence here in New Zealand so I have stocked up on a few treats for him as I really don’t want to be taking him out shopping.

Happy reading my friends ❤📚