Saving Noah by Lucinda Berry

Saving Noah by Lucinda Berry
Saving Noah 
by Lucinda Berry (Goodreads Author)

 

EXCERPT: Noah being charged as a sex offender sucker punched our entire suburban community. Child molesters were adults – dirty old men who lured children into their cars with promises of candy and treats. They weren’t A-honor roll students who ran varsity track and went to mass every Sunday.

THE BLURB: Not since Lionel Shriver brought us We Need to Talk About Kevin has a writer delved into the complexities of a disturbed mother/son relationship. Until now.

Meet Noah—an A-honor roll student, award-winning swimmer, and small-town star destined for greatness. There weren’t any signs that something was wrong until the day he confesses to molesting little girls during swim team practice. He’s sentenced to eighteen months in a juvenile sexual rehabilitation center.

His mother, Adrianne, refuses to turn her back on him despite his horrific crimes, but her husband won’t allow Noah back into their home. In a series of shocking and shattering revelations, Adrianne is forced to make the hardest decision of her life. Just how far will she go to protect her son?

Saving Noah challenges everything you think you know about teenage sexual offenders. It will keep you up at night long after you’ve read the last page, questioning beliefs you once thought were true.

MY THOUGHTS: Child molestation. Bullying. Suicide. Family relationships. Secrets and lies. Author Lucinda Berry, a clinical psychologist specialising in childhood trauma, tackles some difficult subjects with sensitivity. That is not to say she pussy-foots around them, because she certainly doesn’t do that! She tackles everything head on, bravely, but with great sensitivity.

How did a boy who seemed so good do something so bad?

The story of Noah’s fall from grace is told mainly from his mother, Adrianne’s point of view, and that of Noah himself. It chronicles the fallout following 15 year old Noah’s shock admission that he has molested two young girls, the wedge it drives between the family members themselves, their friends and community. It chronicles Noah’s treatment and rehabilitation back into ‘society’ and school. But it doesn’t end there . . .

I don’t quite know what I was expecting when I began Saving Noah, but I got far more than I bargained for. I don’t quite know how to review this book without major spoilers, so I won’t. Nor do I know how to do it justice. Let me just say that it is one of the most touching, emotionally intense and sad books that I have recently read.

Thank you to Rise Press for providing a digital copy of Saving Noah by Lucinda Berry for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2237496491

Friday Favorite – The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

I read a publishers ARC of a book this week called Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood, which I will be talking about closer to its March publication date. Although their plots are nothing alike, there was something about the ambience of the book that brought to mind The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce, which I loved. So here is the Friday Favorite for this week  –

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
Reviewed by

30817744

EXCERPT: Your letter arrived this morning. We were in the dayroom for morning activities. Everyone was asleep.

Sister Lucy, who is the youngest nun volunteering in the hospice, asked if anyone would like to help with her new jigsaw. Nobody answered. “Scrabble?” she said.

Nobody stirred.

“How about Mousetrap?” said Sister Lucy. “That’s a lovely game.”

I was in a chair by the window. Outside, the winter evergreens flapped and shivered. One lone seagull balanced in the sky.

“Hangman?” said Sister Lucy. “Anyone?”

A patient nodded, and Sister Lucy fetched paper. By the time she’d got sorted, pens and a glass of water and so on, he was dozing again.

Life is different for me at the hospice. The colors, the smells, the way a day passes. But I close my eyes and I pretend that the heat of the radiator is the sun on my hands and the smell of lunch is salt in the air. I hear the patients cough, and it is only the wind in my garden by the sea. I can imagine all sorts of things, Harold, if I put my mind to it.

Sister Catherine strode in with the morning delivery. “Post!” she sang. Full volume. “Look what I have here!”

“Oh, oh, oh,” went everyone, sitting up.

Sister Catherine passed several brown envelopes, forwarded, to a Scotsman known as Mr. Henderson. There was a card for the new young woman. (She arrived yesterday. I don’t know her name.) There is a big man they call the Pearly King, and he had another parcel though I have been here a week and I haven’t yet seen him open one. The blind lady, Barbara, received a note from her neighbor—­Sister Catherine read it out—­spring is coming, it said. The loud woman called Finty opened a letter informing her that if she scratched off the foil window, she would discover that she’d won an exciting prize.

“And, Queenie, something for you.” Sister Catherine crossed the room, holding out an envelope. “Don’t look so frightened.”

I knew your writing. One glance and my pulse was flapping. Great, I thought. I don’t hear from the man in twenty years, and then he sends a letter and gives me a heart attack.

THE BLURB: When Queenie Hennessy discovers that Harold Fry is walking the length of England to save her, and all she has to do is wait, she is shocked. Her note had explained she was dying. How can she wait?

A new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything. In confessing to secrets she has hidden for twenty years, she will find atonement for the past. As the volunteer points out, ‘Even though you’ve done your travelling, you’re starting a new journey too.’

Queenie thought her first letter would be the end of the story. She was wrong. It was the beginning.

MY THOUGHTS: I didn’t want this book to end……I quite fell in love with Miss Queenie Hennessey and the other residents of the hospice.

This book moved me to tears, made me laugh, made me think about me relationship with my mother, with my grandmothers, with my sons.

It made me remember how selfish we are as young adults, so uncertain in ourselves, but so certain that we know so much more than our parents.

It brought back memories, both good and painful. This delightful book is a journey in itself.

Queenie has had to move into the hospice to die – she is removed from her beloved house by the sea and her sea garden, her garden of tribute to those she has loved, her garden of memories.
Faced by her imminent death, she writes to Harold Fry, her unrequited love, and he sets out to walk the length of England to be with her. Scared that she will not live long enough to see him, she takes up the challenge when a new volunteer at the hospice suggests that Queenie should write again; only this time she must tell Harold everything.

His unlikely pilgrimage captivates the other hospice residents, with whom Queenie – who has kept herself apart since her arrival – slowly makes friends.

I will be seeking out Rachel Joyce’s other works. An unreserved recommendation from me.

I own my copy of this book. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1206539049

My Man Jeeves & Thank You, Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse

While I have been working around the yard over the past week, I have been listening to audiobooks, primarily books in the Jeeves series, which are light and amusing. Here are my reviews.

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by

30817744

EXCERPT: Jeeves – my man, you know – is really a most extraordinary chap. So capable. Honestly, I shouldn’t know what to do without him. On broader lines he’s like those chappies who sit peering over the marble battlements in the Pennsylvania Station in the place marked ‘inquiries’. You know the Johnnies I mean. You go up to them and say: ‘When’s the next train for Melonsquashville, Tennessee?’ and they reply, without stopping to think, “Two-forty-Three, track Ten, change at San Francisco.” And they’re right, every time. Well, Jeeves gives you the same impression of omniscience.

THE BLURB: Who can forget our beloved gentleman’s personal gentleman, Jeeves, who ever comes to the rescue when the hapless Bertie Wooster falls into trouble. My Man Jeeves is sure to please anyone with a taste for pithy buffoonery, moronic misunderstandings, gaffes, and aristocratic slapstick.

Contents:
“Leave It to Jeeves”
“Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest”
“Jeeves and the Hard-boiled Egg”
“Absent Treatment”
“Helping Freddie”
“Rallying Round Old George”
“Doing Clarence a Bit of Good”
“The Aunt and the Sluggard”

MY THOUGHTS: I had, of course, heard of Jeeves, but until I was sick in bed some time ago and had the great fortune to discover the TV series playing, I had never encountered Wodehouse’s paragon of virtue. Had Stephen Fry not been playing Jeeves, I probably would have flicked on past. Thankfully I didn’t.

This is my first encounter with Jeeves off screen, and a thoroughly enjoyable encounter it was. I loved the good natured but bumbling Bertie, and Georgie Pepper, an earlier prototype for Bertie Wooster. The stories simply reinforce a belief of mine that no good deed goes unpunished.

British humour at its best.

I listened to My Man Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse, narrated by Simon Pebble, produced by Blackstone Audio, courtesy of OverDrive.

Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: About three months before, noting a certain liveliness in my Aunt Agatha, I had deemed it prudent to pop across to New York for a space to give her time to blow over. And about halfway through my first week there, in the course of a beano of some description at the Sherry-Netherland, I made the acquaintance of Pauline Stoker.

She got right in among me. Her beauty maddened me like wine.

THE BLURB: Thank You, Jeeves is the first novel to feature the incomparable valet Jeeves and his hapless charge Bertie Wooster – and you’ve hardly started to turn the pages when he resigns over Bertie’s dedicated but somewhat untuneful playing of the banjo. In high dudgeon, Bertie disappears to the country as a guest of his chum Chuffy – only to find his peace shattered by the arrival of his ex-fiancée Pauline Stoker, her formidable father and the eminent loony-doctor Sir Roderick Glossop. When Chuffy falls in love with Pauline and Bertie seems to be caught in flagrante, a situation boils up which only Jeeves (whether employed or not) can simmer down…A display of sustained comic brilliance, this novel shows Wodehouse rising to the top of his game.

MY THOUGHTS: I have been having a bit of a Wodehouse/Jeeves fest this week. You really can’t beat a bit of bumbling Bertie and the dry acerbic wit of Jeeves. The British do the ‘comedy of manners’ superbly well. I will be listening to more episodes of the series.

I listened to the audiobook Thank You, Jeeves recorded live by L. A. Theatre Works via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. These reviews and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page

Death Makes a Prophet by John Bude

Death Makes a Prophet by John Bude
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: . . . a ferment was at work; small hostilities were growing; vague jealousies were gaining strength; little intrigues swelling into obsessions. And far off, no more than a dark speck beyond a distant horizon, wasn’t there a nebulous hint of approaching tragedy in the air? Big oaks from little acorns grow, and viewing events in retrospect there seems little doubt that the jumping off point of this tragedy was Alicia Hagge-Smith’s “vision”. Without her “vision” circumstances favorable to a murder would never have materialised. And without a murder, Inspector Meredith would never have heard of the Children of Osiris. As it was, he always considered it to be one of the most interesting, bizarre, and exacting of all his cases.

THE BLURB: Welworth Garden City in the 1940s is a forward-thinking town where free spirits find a home – vegetarians, socialists, and an array of exotic religious groups. Chief among these are the Children of Osiris, led by the eccentric High Prophet, Eustace K. Mildmann. The cult is a seething hotbed of petty resentment, jealousy and dark secrets – which eventually lead to murder. The stage is set for one of Inspector Meredith’s most bizarre and exacting cases.

MY THOUGHTS: I have read and enjoyed two of John Bude’s previous novels, the very first novel he wrote in 1935, The Cornish Coast Murders, and the first of his Inspector Meredith novels, The Lake District Murder.

Although Death Makes a Prophet is the 11th in the series, don’t feel you need to read the back books. Unlike the detectives in our modern novels, we learn little, if anything, about Meredith’s private life. The focus is entirely upon the events leading up to the crime, the crime itself, and the steps taken to solve it.

Bude is an author from the ‘Golden Age’ of detectives who is guaranteed to provide you with a reliable and atmospheric read. In Death Makes a Prophet, Bude gives rein to his sense of humour, providing the reader with a few chuckles along the way, but never does he overstep the mark, as some authors do, into stupidity.

Bude’s descriptions of both his characters and the scenery are delightful, e.g. Irish, tough, blue-eyed, broad humorous mouth, and a lilt in his voice that would have made poetry of the telephone directory.

John Bude wrote more than 30 detective novels, and I look forward to reading more of them.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Death Makes a Prophet by John Bude. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2235190592

The Wanted by Robert Crais

The Wanted by Robert Crais
Reviewed by

30817744

Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones

Dec 31, 2017  
really liked it

bookshelves: 2017netgalley-arc4-starcontemporary-fiction,crimesandy-s-ng-nirvanasandy-s-reading-retreatsuspensethriller

Read 2 times. Last read December 28, 2017 to December 31, 2017.


EXCERPT: “…these kids leave prints and DNA everywhere.”
The world slowed when I heard him.
I said, ” Kids.”
“They’re kids. Three morons.”
I said it again, just to be sure.
“Kids.”
“Teenagers, young adults, whatever. A female and two males. I’m not saying they’re little children.”
I stared out the window. Wilcox described big nasty mothers and multiple burglaries.
“How many burglaries are we talking about?”
“Seventeen, eighteen, something like that. The number’s in play. The task force is playing connect-the-dots with fingerprints.”
“A task force has the case?”
“This is big, brudda man. You mess with rich people, you get the fullcourt press.”
“They have prints and DNA, but no IDs.”
“It happens. Never been busted, so they aren’t in the system. They hood up, they’re good about ducking the cameras, but the one kid, he finally screwed up. Unknown Male Numero Uno. We got him. First Tier got his face.”
Dave was so proud of himself he laughed.
“Can I see his picture?”
“Sure. On the way.”
My phone chimed when the picture arrived.
I knew who I would see even before I opened Dave’s email.

THE BLURB: It seemed like a simple case before the bodies starting piling up. Investigator Elvis Cole and his partner, Joe Pike, take on the deadliest case of their lives, in the new masterpiece of suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author
When single mother Devon Connor hires private investigator Elvis Cole, it’s because her troubled teenage son Tyson is flashing cash and she’s afraid he’s dealing drugs. But the truth is devastatingly different. With two other partners in crime, he’s been responsible for a string of high-end burglaries, a crime spree that takes a deadly turn when one of them is murdered and Tyson and his girlfriend disappear.

They stole the wrong thing from the wrong man. Determined to get it back, he has hired a team that is smart and brutal, and to even the odds, Cole calls in his friends Joe Pike and Jon Stone. But even they may be overmatched. The hired killers are leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. A few more won’t make any difference.

MY THOUGHTS: In the almost four years since I joined Goodreads.com, so many people have told me that I must read/will enjoy Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series. They were right. Sometimes I am a little slow . . .

Yes, I know that I have joined the series at #17, but it really doesn’t matter. The book is written so that it can be read as a stand alone. References to past history are few and well explained.

The Wanted is fast paced, action filled, and yet is remarkably tender when dealing with the emotions of the teenagers. And the teenagers are teenagers. They play follow the leader; the leader being the most assertive, the one who knows best, the one who is sure that the adults know nothing, the one who can manipulate, the emotionally damaged one.

As I said, this was my first encounter with the Cole/Pike team. It won’t be my last. I am joining their massive fan club.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Wanted by Robert Crais for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2199349164

The Rose in Winter by Sarah Harrison

The Rose in Winter by Sarah Harrison
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: 1953 – Barbara flitted across the hall and paused – face to the wall, breath held. Silence lay in the dim rooms all around, rain roared on the windows. She gasped and ran again, pattering along the passage to the kitchen on wings of fear, quick and light as a moth. If she didn’t breathe, if her feet scarcely touched the ground, perhaps she would be invisible. Everywhere in the house was unseasonably dark because of the rain, which had been falling all day long and showed no sign of abating. The downpour would obscure the view of anyone looking in, but would it hide them from her too? How would she know who was out there? And where?

THE BLURB: What if the one that got away comes back? Barbara Delahay’s past returns to haunt her in this compelling novel of romantic suspense.

1929. 17-year-old Barbara Delahay was a beauty, a young and untouched English rose, enjoying the social whirl of the debutante season. It was inevitable she would attract male attention. However, Barbara caught the eye of someone charismatic but wholly unsuitable. Someone damaged. Drawn under his spell, she almost succumbed, but escaped just in time to marry the decent but dull Brigadier Govan, a man 25 years her senior.

Now in 1953, the day of the new Queen’s coronation, in an empty house with the rain rushing down the windows, the widowed Barbara is cowering in fear. For she knows who’s out there, calling her name, seeking her out ? Her past has returned to claim her, and this time it won’t be so easy to deny.

MY THOUGHTS: I remember being totally enamored by The Flowers of the Field by Sarah Harrison back in the 1980s when it was first published, so I was excited to discover her latest offering, The Rose in Winter. Even more so when it was described as a historical romantic suspense. Just what I needed!

Now, other than the opening paragraphs, there is not a lot of suspense. Nor is there a great deal of romance, at least not in the traditional sense. What we do get however, is a solid story of the life of a woman over two timelines, the late 1920s/early 1930s, and 1953.

Life in this era was vastly different than today, particularly for a woman. They did not have the freedom of choice that we have and Sarah Harrison portrays this social clime very well. Barbara Delahay’s story would have been very different set in modern times.

While The Rose in Winter may not deliver great chunks of romantic suspense, it is a good read, and one that is not going to slot easily into any particular genre other than historical fiction, and perhaps social commentary. After finishing this, I am eager to reread some of her earlier works.

3.5☆ The Rose in Winter is due to be published January 01, 2018 by Severn House.

Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rose in Winter by Sarah Harrison for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2227483932?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Friday Favorite – Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Didi wanted to speak but found she was made speechless by her heart ramming itself against her chest. She didn’t need to turn around. She recognized his voice. It was the manin the jacket. She felt slightly nauseated.

‘Did you hear me, ma’am?’ the voice said. ‘You shouldn’t be carrying those heavy bags. It’s not good for the baby.’

Didi turned around.

The man was standing in front of her, hands in his jacket pockets. The heat index was up to 120 and he was wearing a jacket over his white shirt. The incongruity of the jacket hadn’t registered in the cool mall, but now it seemed distinctly out of place.

She stared directly at him without averting her gaze. His upturned nose made him look petulant, as if he’d been waiting for a bus too long. His mouth was upturned too, in a semblance of a smile. It looked as if he was grimacing, stretching his thin lips upward, toward eyes that weren’t smiling. They were blue and they were cold, and she saw that they lacked something essential. The expression in the eyes, like the jacket, did not belong in a mall parking lot on a hot summer day.

Didi held onto the bags as she and the man stared at each other. She tried to focus, but all she saw was dark spots instead of his face. Wait, wait, she said to herself, narrowing her mental vision. Think! It’s not so bad. Maybe he is really concerned about the bags. Remember? He said the same thing to me in the mall.

Wait a second. Who said he’d followed her? Maybe he hadn’t followed her. Maybe his own car was parked here and he was on his way home.

Didi had been silent too long. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was too dry and her heart was beating too fast.

‘You don’t need to help me. My car is right . . .’ She stopped, already regretting what she had been about to say. Take it back, fool, take it back. Why would she want him to know they were in front of her car?

The man said “What I ‘d like to do is help you to my car.’

Didi lost her breath and opened her mouth.

‘I’d rather not do that,’ she said, her voice breaking. ‘I’m meeting my husband for lunch.’ Her knees began to shake. To steady herself, she leaned against the minivan.

The man stretched his lips sideways, exposing his teeth. ‘I think he’ll be eating alone today,’ he said.

THE BLURB: One pregnant woman.
One deranged man.
Eleven hours of hell.

Abducted from a shopping mall in Dallas, Didi Wood, in her ninth month of pregnancy, is taken on the most dangerous, horrifying ride of her life, as a madman drives her across Texas. While her husband and the FBI try furiously to track them down, they can only hope to find Didi — and her unborn child — alive.

MY THOUGHTS: I love this book.
The sun beats down on the parking lot of a Texas shopping mall.
Heavily pregnant and not at all comfortable in the relentless heat, Didi Wood is moving through her rgular routine of shopping before leaving to meet her husband for lunch.
And then she is kidnapped and bundled into a car by a desperate young man.
Who is he?
What does he want?
Where are they going?
This book is taut and gripping.
It is the book by which I measure all others in this genre.
The story telling alternates between Didi herself trapped by a sometimes violent but always unpredictable kidnapper, and her husband Rich with Scott, the FBI agent assigned to catch the kidnapper.
I re-read this book every few years.
Neither the magic nor the suspense ever dims.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/999393317

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King
Sleeping Beauties 
by Stephen King (Goodreads Author)Owen King (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The Avon Lady who was not the Avon Lady walked away from the trailer and back toward the meth lab. The smell of propane grew stronger with each step until the air was rancid with it. Her footprints appeared behind her, white and small and delicate, shapes that came from nowhere and seemed to be made of milkweed fluff. The hem of her borrowed shirt fluttered around her long thighs.

In front of the shed she plucked up a piece of paper caught in a bush. At the top, in big blue letters, it announced EVERYTHING IS ON SALE EVERY DAY! Below this were pictures of refrigerator units both large and small, washing machines, dishwashers, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, Dirt Devils, trash compactors, food processors, more. One picture showed a trim young woman in jeans smiling knowingly down upon her daughter, who was blond like Mom. The pretty tyke held a plastic baby in her arms and smiled down upon it. There were also large TVs showing men playing football, men in racing cars, and grill setups beside which stood men with giant forks and giant tongs. Although it did not come right out and say so, the message of this advertising circular was clear: women work and nest while men grill the kill.

THE BLURB: In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

MY THOUGHTS: Ummmmmmm. . .

When I started to read Sleeping Beauties, a collaboration between Stephen King and son Owen, I felt sure that I was getting into another 5☆ masterpiece. The first third kept my interest levels high, although I often had to abandon it in favor of Netgalley reads that needed to be reviewed because they were due for publication. I usually push them to one side in favor of Mr King, but not this time. The second third continued to intrigue me, but perhaps not quite as much. I felt like my wheels were spinning a little. And the final third? Well, the whole warfare episode – shoot ’em dead, blow ’em up – I could have done without. It kind of felt like they were cheating, taking the easiest way out. I have to admit to finally skimming large tracts of this section. It was that or throw the book away. And the ending? My jury is still out on that decision.

It is an exceedingly long read at 714 pages, which I have come to expect from Mr King. But I also expect a little more quality than I got here. Sleeping Beauties could easily have been quite a bit shorter. I am not going to apportion blame for either the length or the warfare, because I don’t know the logistics of how this was written. But I would like to know. Did they collaborate to the extent that they squabbled over the keyboard? Did they write alternating chapters? Had they each written a similar story that they merged? I don’t know. I thought that they may have discussed this in the authors’ note, but they don’t. I haven’t previously read any of Owen King’s work. I need to do so.

I have wavered over my rating. 2.5 ☆? 3☆? 3.5☆? It is better than 2.5-stars. Better than average. 3.5? Probably not quite . . . although I am a little more wary of the cobwebs that cling stubbornly to the outside of our house. And those innocent looking little brown moths that swarm around the porch light at night? No way are they coming inside. So some things have lingered. 3.25☆ seems fair to me.

I wish I could have liked Sleeping Beauties better.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2115799585?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

An Off-Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

An Off-Piste Christmas by Julie Houston
An Off-Piste Christmas 
by Julie Houston

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Enid Blyton?’ Vienna gave a tinkling little laugh reminiscent of the bells round the necks of the mountain goats I’d seen this morning, their vacant eyes appraising me as I’d stepped down from the minibus on our way here knowing that, if I didn’t stop and get air, I’d be calling God into a plastic bag. ‘Bless you. Enid Blyton? Claudia did the whole Enid Blyton thing years ago. We’re reading Airman by Eoin Colfer at the moment: it’s a swashbuckling adventure set in a futuristic Ireland about a rebel boy who has to escape from prison to clear his name. Terribly exciting. Claudia has read all the classics: Black Beauty, Swallows and Amazons, Lorna Doone. . .’ Vienna was interrupted mid-sentence by Luca calling us to dinner, otherwise I reckon we’d have had a whole junior library shoved down our throats. I was beginning to think the woman was one book short of a library herself.

THE BLURB: From the author of #1 Humour Bestsellers GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME, THE ONE SAVING GRACE and LOOKING FOR LUCY, a brand new festive novella to make you laugh and warm your heart…

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace’s, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.

Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces’ class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town… But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles…

MY THOUGHTS: I haven’t read a Christmas themed book in years, but having chatted with author Julie Houston on Twitter, then receiving notification from Amazon that An Off-Piste Christmas was one of the daily deals, I felt that I was fated to read this. And I am so glad I did!

Julie Houston has packed so much into this novella of 127 pages, that it has enough plot and engaging characters for a full length novel. Houston writes with a tongue-in-cheek humour that kept me smiling, although there are definitely some heart-wrenching moments in there.

I read An Off-Piste Christmas in one sitting. It was the perfect antidote to the disappointment of a miserably wet and windy Boxing Day and the cancellation of a planned trip to the races.

Although this novella fits into a series that I haven’t yet read, it is perfectly able to be read as a stand alone as all the relationships are well explained. And yes, I will be reading the series, because I want all the gritty details and nuances of what has gone before.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2226996570?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Blame by Nicole Trope

Blame by Nicole Trope
Blame 
by Nicole Trope (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: You’re not supposed to bury your child. . . . . And when you do, it feels. . . it feels like one of those movies where the characters realise they’re about to die because a tsunami is on the way and there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. It feels like it is literally the end of the world (and) you’re not supposed to survive the end of the world.

THE BLURB: ‘I am here because they suspect me of something. I am here because I am a suspect. I know that, she knows that. Everyone knows that.’ Anna

‘It wasn’t my fault. None of this is my fault!’ Caro

Caro and Anna are best friends… they were best friends. Over a decade, Caro and Anna have bonded while raising their daughters, two little girls the same age but living two very different lives. The women have supported each other as they have shared the joys and trials of motherhood, but now everything has changed.

There’s been a terrible car accident, an unimaginable tragedy that leaves both families devastated. Over two days as Caro and Anna each detail their own versions of events, they are forced to reveal hidden truths and closely guarded secrets.

The complicated lives of wives and mothers are laid bare as both women come to realise that even best friends don’t tell each other everything. And when hearts are broken, even best friends need someone to blame.

A hard- hitting, provocative and gripping read from the queen of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a heart-wrenching read. At first it all seemed so simple. Caro, driving drunk, has run over and killed her best friend Anna’s daughter Maya. An open and shut case? Not quite.

Trope does a wonderful job telling each woman’s story, interweaving them, entangling the story lines and emotional responses. I became so heavily invested in Blame that I read it in one sitting, then sat stunned. Even thinking about it now, some months later, I can feel my pulse quicken and my chest tighten. Nicole Trope is an author to follow.

4.5 shimmering stars

Thank you to Allen & Unwin via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Blame by Nicole Trope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on Goodreads.com https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2046645516