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. ❤📚