Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

EXCERPT: As they walked to the front door, she looked up at the old house, the ivy covered walls and the lights in the windows. It was such a welcoming house, and each time she stepped inside, she felt as if the house put its arms around her. ‘Home is where the heart is,’ she thought, ‘even if it has been broken.’ But this house was only a temporary home for her. Would she ever find one of her own?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Kate O’Rourke takes up a temporary position as a doctor in Sandy Cove, she hopes spending time in the place where her father was from will help her find herself again. Ever since his passing she has felt lost, but she imagines the calming sound of the sea on the Irish coast will allow her to heal.

Kate immediately feels at home in the old surgery, and as she takes walks beside the camellia bushes along Wild Rose Bay and meets every resident in the tiny village, she feels like this is where she’s meant to be. And when she’s told about local healer Cormac O’Shea, she’s excited to learn even more about the history of the area, and meet the man who every woman in town says is so charming.

But Kate quickly realises that she and Cormac have different ideas about how their patients should be treated. Kate is efficient and well-organised, whilst Cormac is wild and spontaneous, passionate about his ancestors’ reliance on Irish healing. And their differences cause more sparks than Kate is prepared to admit.

Just as Kate and Cormac begin to understand one another, Kate’s old life threatens to call her away from Sandy Cove forever. And she is finally forced to decide what life she wants to lead, and what kind of person she wants to be…

MY THOUGHTS: Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary is a pleasant romance set on the west coast of Ireland, Sandy Cove in County Kerry.

Although this is a series, each book can be read as a stand-alone as it features different people.

The author’s descriptions of the scenery are enticing and if I could visit this location, I would. It sounds rugged but beautiful.

There is not a lot of depth to the characters, but probably enough for the author’s purpose. Kate can be quite dogmatic in her opinions, and can also be a little fiery when crossed. Two men cross her path when she takes up her position as assistant GP with the elderly and wanting to retire Dr Pat. The first is famous actor, Mick O’Dwyer, son of Dr Pat who is home for an extended period while he works on writing a play. The two have an easy relationship and enjoy tramping together. The second is Cormac O’Shea, a gentle quiet man who works as a healer and herbalist at the local wellness centre. He and Kate clash as they each regard the other as a threat to their professions, and yet there is an unsettling attraction between them.

I loved the characters of Dr Pat and his nurse/general factotum, Bridget, but while Dr Pat’s wife Helen was an interesting character, she wasn’t at all likeable.

There are lots of descriptions of lovely food, so don’t start reading this book when you are hungry!

Memories of Wild Rose Bay is a quick, easy and pleasant read, if not totally predictable. It is a little too lightweight for my personal taste, but I enjoyed it more than not.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#MemoriesOfWildRoseBay #NetGalley

‘Your path is determined by the choices you make, and those choices depend on your thoughts and feelings and the personality you’re born with.’
‘It’s written in the stars, you mean?’
He laughed. ‘No, it’s all in your own demeanour. And the people you meet and the circumstances you get thrown into. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but it’s up to you to put the pieces in the right places.’

THE AUTHOR: Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of 22 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She has been the wife of a diplomat (still is), a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a ramshackle house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, featured in Full Irish), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

EXCERPT: His best friend these days was Gus, a seventy year old black man who lived down the road. They had met a couple of weeks after Noah had bought the house, when Gus had shown up with some homemade liquor and Brunswick stew, and the two had spent their first evening together getting drunk and telling stories.

Now Gus would show up a couple of nights a week, usually around eight. With four kids and eleven grandchildren in the house, he needed to get out of the house now and then, and Noah couldn’t blame him. Usually Gus would bring his harmonica, and after talking for a little while, they’d play a few songs together. Sometimes they played for hours.

He’d come to regard Gus as family. There really wasn’t anyone else, at least not since his father died last year. He was an only child; his mother had died of influenza when he was two, and though he had wanted to at one time, he had never married.

But he had been in love once, that he knew. Once and only once, and a long time ago. And it had changed him forever. Perfect love did that to a person, and this had been perfect.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast begins the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned from the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.

Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes.

MY THOUGHTS: I had just written this review, hit enter . . . and it disappeared – ‘Poof!’ So here we go again . . .

Although I am not particularly fond of the story, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks holds a very special place in my heart. This was the very first book that my now husband ever gave me. I like to take it out every now and then and reread it, not because of the story, but because of the precious memories it inspires.

Books can do that. Bring back wonderful memories. If I was rating The Notebook on that alone, it would earn 5 stars plus from me. But as for the actual story, it earns a little over three stars. It is a bit too sweet for my taste, but perfect for those times when you want a read that you can enjoy without having to think too much.

BTW, this is not the book he would choose for me now. He is the romantic in this relationship. He cries every time he watches ‘Titanic’. I have yet to sit through it.

***.2

THE AUTHOR: Sparks lives in North Carolina. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, published by Grand Central Publishing. It definitely isn’t in pristine condition; it is well traveled and well loved. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday everyone!

TMOTH went fishing yesterday and had a good haul, so all our friends and family now have nice fresh fish. It was a beautiful day, and I spent it in the garden. I have almost finished the steps up to the top level of the section. Another full day should see me finished. Today we went out for lunch to a cafe I often go into for coffee, or take the grandchildren in for hot chocolate, but I had never eaten there. We had a beautiful lunch and will be going back there again. We went through some display homes looking at kitchens, but came away totally uninspired. We also took some fresh vegetables from our garden and visited our son and grandson. So it has been a lovely weekend! (Even if I have done very little reading.)

Currently I am reading Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty. This is currently the final book in the Sean Duffy series. I do hope that it is not the final final one, and that there will be more to come.

I am also reading Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall. I’m not sure quite how I feel about this yet, although I’m almost 80% done with it. There is an awful lot of introspection by the three main characters. It is a book that I can easily put down and walk away from, but I have not considered abandoning it. I hope that the ending is going to clarify things for me.

I am currently listening to The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

This week I am planning on reading Final Cut by S.J. Watson.

For generations Blackwood Bay, a quaint village in northern England, has been famous only for the smuggling that occurred along its coastline centuries ago, but then two local girls disappear bringing the town a fresh and dark notoriety. When Alex, an ambitious documentary filmmaker, arrives in Blackwood Bay, she intends to have the residents record their own stories as her next project. But instead of a quaint community, Alex finds a village blighted by economic downturn and haunted by a tragedy that overshadows every corner.

Alex pushes on with her work, but secrets old and new rise to the surface, raising tensions and suspicions in a town already on edge. Alex’s work takes her to dark places and uncomfortable truths which threaten to lead to a deadly unravelling.

And Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

When Kate O’Rourke takes up a temporary position as a doctor in Sandy Cove, she hopes spending time in the place where her father was from will help her find herself again. Ever since his passing she has felt lost, but she imagines the calming sound of the sea on the Irish coast will allow her to heal.

Kate immediately feels at home in the old surgery, and as she takes walks beside the camellia bushes along Wild Rose Bay and meets every resident in the tiny village, she feels like this is where she’s meant to be. And when she’s told about local healer Cormac O’Shea, she’s excited to learn even more about the history of the area, and meet the man who every woman in town says is so charming.

But Kate quickly realises that she and Cormac have different ideas about how their patients should be treated. Kate is efficient and well-organised, whilst Cormac is wild and spontaneous, passionate about his ancestors’ reliance on Irish healing. And their differences cause more sparks than Kate is prepared to admit.

Just as Kate and Cormac begin to understand one another, Kate’s old life threatens to call her away from Sandy Cove forever. And she is finally forced to decide what life she wants to lead, and what kind of person she wants to be…

Only three new ARCs from Netgalley this week 😊

When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt

Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

I hope that those of you who live in that part of the world with weekend still ahead of you, enjoy! I am off to cook supper – farm fresh eggs on toast.

Be careful. Be kind. Happy reading!

Report for Murder by Val McDermid

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Glorious cover!

EXCERPT: Lindsay Gordon put murder to the back of her mind and settled down in the train compartment to enjoy the broken greys and greens of the Derbyshire scenery. Rather like home, she decided. Except that in Scotland, the greens were darker, the greys more forbidding. Although in Glasgow, where she now lived, there was hardly enough green to judge. She congratulated herself on finishing the detective novel just at the point where Manchester suburbia yielded place to this attractive landscape foreign to her. Watching it unfold gave her the first answer to the question that had been nagging her all day: what the hell was she doing here? How could a cynical socialist lesbian feminist journalist (as she mockingly described herself) be on her way to spend a weekend in a girl’s public school?

Of course, there were the answers she’d been able to use to friends: she’d never visited this part of England and wanted to see what it was like; she was a great believer in ‘knowing thine enemy’, so it came under the heading of opportunities not to be missed; she wanted to see Paddy Callaghan, who had been responsible for the invitation. But she remained unconvinced that she was doing the right thing. What had made her mind up was the realisation that, given Lindsay’s current relationship with the Inland Revenue, anything that had a cheque as the end product couldn’t be ignored.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Freelance journalist Lindsay Gordon is strapped for cash. Why else would she agree to cover a fund-raising gala at a girls’ public school? But when the star attraction is found garrotted with her own cello string minutes before she is due on stage, Lindsay finds herself investigating a vicious murder.

Who would have wanted Lorna Smith Cooper dead? Who had the key to the locked room in which her body was found? And who could have slipped out of the hall at just the right time to commit this calculated and cold-blooded crime?

MY THOUGHTS: A great start to a series first published in 1987 from an author I love. There are lots of secrets and resentments amongst the cast of suspects, any one of which could be a motive for murder – long buried affairs, greed, envy and hatred amongst them.

The plot is solid, the suspects numerous, the sleuthing of the good old fashioned variety.

Lindsay is a rather prickly character, quick to take offense, and someone for whom it would be difficult to do a favour. She also finds it difficult to apologise. She is headstrong, tenacious and fiercely independent. These traits work both in her favour and against her. There were moments during this read that I wanted to slap her as, at times, she comes across as arrogant and very rude.

This was a fun and satisfying read. The narration, by Caroline Guthrie, was excellent. I loved listening to her soft Scottish bur and will be looking for other audiobooks that she has narrated.

😊😊😊😊.2

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: the majority of time is spent in Derbyshire, with forays to Glasgow and London.

THE AUTHOR: Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award.

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Report for Murder, written by Val McDermid, narrated by Caroline Guthrie and published by Avid Audiobooks via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Fireman by Joe Hill

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EXCERPT: His newfound calm did not entirely surprise her. Terror was a fire that held you trapped in the top floor of a burning building; the only way to escape it was to jump. He had been stoking himself up to this last leap for weeks. She had heard it in his voice, every time they talked on the phone, even if she didn’t recognize it at the time. He had made his choice at last and it had brought him the peace he was looking for. He was ready to go out the window; he wanted only to be holding her hand on the way down.

What did surprise her was her own calm. She wondered at it. In the days before the earth began to burn, she had carried anxiety to work with her every morning and brought it home with her every night; a nameless, inconsiderate companion that had a habit of poking her in the ribs whenever she was trying to relax. And yet in those days there was nothing really to be anxious about. Her head would spin at the thought of defaulting on her student loans, of getting into another yelling match with her neighbour about his dog’s habit of tearing open garbage and spreading it all over her lawn. And now she had a baby in her, and sickness crawling on her skin, and Jakob was crazy, sitting there watching her with his gun, and there was only this quiet readiness, which she irrationally believed had been waiting for her all her life.

‘At the end, I get to be the person I always wanted to be,’ she thought.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

MY THOUGHTS: I said it after reading NOS4A2,and I will say it again, ‘Joe Hill is definitely his father’s son. He writes with the same easy narrative flow and sardonic wit.’

Reading Joe Hill’s writing is like sitting down and having a good yarn with someone who has led the most fascinating life. It’s an immersive experience. I forgot I was reading. I experienced every step of Harper’s journey. I smelled the burning, felt the heat, and even imagined the beautiful glowing lacy patterns across my own skin.

Hill has written a chilling novel about a global pandemic long before the advent of Covid-19. Instead of a pneumonia-like infection, this spore causes spontaneous combustion, which threatens to reduce civilisation to ashes. But what if there was a way to harness it, to make it work for you, rather than against you? Enter the Fireman, aka John Rookwood. But are his skills enough to save his group from the Cremation Squad, a group of the uninfected determined to exterminate the infected.

He is aided by the pregnant nurse, Harper, a fan of Mary Poppins. ‘She had all her life longed for a world that operated like an early sixties Disney musical, with spontaneous song and dance routines to celebrate important events like sharing a first kiss or getting the kitchen spick and span.’ Despite these fantasies, this woman has a heart of gold and a core of steel.

There are a lot of parallels between the situations in The Fireman and our current situation. The chaos. The fear. The misinformation. The justification of certain actions – ‘The people in charge can always justify doing terrible things in the name of the greater good. A slaughter here, a little torture there. It becomes moral to do things that would be immoral if an ordinary individual did ‘em.’

But there are some wonderfully ‘good’ characters in this book to counterbalance the bad, the evil, the misguided. The hard part is working out who is who.

There are multiple musical references as well as literary ones. I have made a ‘Joe Hill – The Fireman’ playlist to go alongside my ‘Adrian McKinty – Sean Duffy’, and ‘Ken Bruen- Jack Taylor’ playlists.

I finished this read with tears seeping from my eyes. It doesn’t end how I expected. But the ending is perfect. The Fireman contains many lessons for us. I hope we learn them.

‘So much kindness. So many people looking after us. They don’t know a thing about us except that we’re in need….we need kindness like we need to eat. It satisfies something in us we can’t do without.’

Brilliant, beautiful, terrifying, sad and uplifting.

❤❤❤❤❤

#TheFireman #NetGalley

‘There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone always dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your children. Or your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.’

THE AUTHOR: Joe Hill, born in 1972 as Joseph Hillstrom King, is an American writer of speculative fiction. Hill is the second child of the authors Stephen and Tabitha King. His younger brother Owen King is also a writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Orion Publishing Group via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Fireman by Joe Hill for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer

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EXCERPT: ‘This is amazing,’ said Ash, her head turning to watch the bushes that went past her window. Hard waxy leaves of all shapes and sizes, made to endure the coastal winds and Aussie summers.

They started to climb up, bouncing through large holes in the track until they finally hit the summit. Micky pulled up next to Luke where the track had widened for a small passing lane or a parking spot.

‘Oh, wow.’

Ash gaped and so did Nikki even though she had seen this view a long time ago. In front of them the green shades of vegetation fell away until it hit the ocean edge and then for miles all nothing but the dark blue of water to the horizon.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ashley has recently lost her husband. Daughter Emily is being bullied online.

Best friend Nikki is holding a huge secret. And why is husband, Chris, receiving so many text messages lately?

Their teenage children are glued to technology, be it PlayStation, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat . . .

The two women hatch a plan: for three weeks, both families will stay in a rustic, remote coastal camp with no phone reception. While the teenagers struggle to embrace this new world of self-entertaining in the rugged bushland, the adults are trying to maintain a certain facade. Soon, around the flames of the camp fire, their tiny white lies might just begin to be exposed.

MY THOUGHTS: Tiny White Lies delivered so much more than I expected. Palmer paints a portrait of deep friendship between two women. Yet, despite this bond, there are things, secrets and fears, that they are keeping to themselves. Things that they paper over with tiny white lies…

Palmer doesn’t back away from the difficulties of ordinary life, she tackles her subjects head on, but with great empathy. Ash’s husband committed suicide and, because of this, his insurance policy won’t pay out. She is struggling to make ends meet with a mortgage, a teenage daughter, and an unfulfilling job. Then, on a random check of her daughter’s social media, she discovers Em is being bullied….’If you died, no one would care.’, and ‘Just kill yourself already u know u want to just like your daddy!!!’ And then Ash is told that she is being made redundant. How much can one woman take?

Best friend Nikki has problems that she is not about to share with anyone. What she will share though is that she believes her husband, Chris, is having an affair. Her teenage children are glued to technology. Chloe has no ambition in life other than to be an ‘influencer.’ Josh will play video games all night. Desperate for some time to think, and to give their children some new and real experiences, the two families head to a wilderness retreat at Bremer Bay in southwestern Australia. No internet, no phones, no pressure.

What they are about to learn is that you can’t run away from your problems. Wherever you go, they come along with you. And those secrets and tiny white lies might not be quite so easy to conceal at close quarters.

I picked Tiny White Lies for two reasons. One, I was in need of a little Australiana. I got it in spades. From the beautifully depicted landscapes, to the dialect and slang, the food, right down to my favourite Australian movie ‘Red Dog,’ it was there. I think the only thing I missed was prawns on the barbie – my absolute favourite! And the movie Red Dog? If you ever get the chance, watch it. Tissues mandatory. Even my husband cries at this one. The second reason was the astonishing amount of excellent fiction currently coming from Australian authors, and Palmer definitely doesn’t disappoint there either. I will be reading more from this author.

The storyline is honest and emotional, the characters realistic and engaging. Tiny White Lies is a wonderful domestic drama/romance that I read in one sitting in between naps.

😍😍😍😍.4 Highly recommended.

‘I don’t like it. It’s like having a night sky with no stars.’

THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Perth, Western Australia https://www.australia.com/en/places/p…
and Bremer Bay https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/Attract…

Fiona Palmer mentions several of the features and attractions of both Perth and Bremer Bay in Tiny White Lies.

THE AUTHOR: Before becoming an author, Fiona Palmer was a speedway driver for seven years and now spends her days writing both women’s and young adult fiction, working as a farmhand and caring for her two children in the tiny rural community of Pingaring, 350 km from Perth, Western Australia.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Tiny White Lies for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching What I’m Reading

I can’t believe it is 5 days since I last posted. I have had a bout of bronchopnuemonia and it knocked the stuffing out of me. All I have done is sleep…I tried reading but would fall asleep again and then, when I woke, was unable to remember what I had read.

So I have read very little in the past few days, and requested nothing… though a couple of my pending requests were approved. Hopefully as I continue to improve so will my powers of concentration. I have to admit to struggling with writing this. My brain really doesn’t want to function. I tried and failed yesterday, which is why this is a day late.

Currently I am reading an Australian novel, Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer. It is set initially in Perth, Western Australia, then moves to the southwest coast somewhere in the region of Albany. I am enjoying this domestic drama/romance set in a slightly warmer climate than my own.

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I am listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers, but like reading at the moment, I keep having to rewind and listen again. This is no reflection on the quality of the book or the narration, purely the fault of my cotton wool brain!

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This week I am planning on reading The Bad Sister by Kevin O’Brien

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TOO CLOSE
The site of the old campus bungalow where two girls were brutally slain is now a flower patch covered with chrysanthemums. It’s been fifty years since the Immaculate Conception Murders. Three more students and a teacher were killed in a sickening spree that many have forgotten. But there is one person who knows every twisted detail. . . .

TO SEE
Hannah O’Rourke and her volatile half-sister, Eden, have little in common except a parent. Yet they’ve ended up at the same small college outside Chicago, sharing a bungalow with another girl. Hannah isn’t thrilled—nor can she shake the feeling that she’s being watched. And her journalism professor, Ellie Goodwin, keeps delving into Hannah and Eden’s newsworthy past. . . .

THE DANGER
When Hannah and Eden’s arrival coincides with a spate of mysterious deaths, Ellie knows it’s more than a fluke. A copycat is recreating those long-ago murders. Neither the police nor the school will accept the horrific truth. And the more Ellie discovers, the more she’s convinced that she won’t live to be believed. . . .

This week I have received two new ARCs, again more by circumstance than good management.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

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and, Ransomed by M.A. Hunter, for which I was sent a widget.

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Have a wonderful week all. I will post when I can, but right now I am snuggling back down for another nap.

Watching what I’m reading…

Hi all! Well the worst of the weekend is over and I have finished work for the day. Pete and I went out for a late lunch together. We started out by heading to our favourite cafe in the next town south, but it was packed to capacity and a line of people waiting to be seated, so we headed almost an hour further south to a little coastal pub in Awakino. We had a lovely lunch, an open Gurnard sandwich for me with homemade tartare, salad and capers. It was delicious. As was Pete’s beef burger which featured a good sized tasty homemade beef patty. I took some photos on the way down, mainly of the single lane tunnel which is going to be bypassed. My boys used to love the echoes of the car horn in the tunnel and we sounded the horn all the way through the tunnel as a farewell salute today. Not that we needed to, as traffic lights mean there’s no chance of meeting anyone in the middle coming from the other direction. I had intended to take more on the way back, but the rain was too heavy. Once I remember how to download the photos from my phone to my tablet, I will share them. Too tired this afternoon to even think about it…Pete is currently asleep in his chair in front of the footy.

Anyway, on to what I’m reading….

I have started Rachel Joyce’s Miss Benson’s Beetle.

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I am at 30% and, honestly, am not yet feeling the love. To be quite honest, I am finding it slightly ridiculous. I hope that is not going to be my final opinion. I absolutely adored The Love Songs of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and liked but did not love The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I am currently listening to The Chess Men by Peter May. This is the second book in his wonderful Lewis trilogy. As always with this author, I was instantly absorbed.

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This week I am planning on reading The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson

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Two friends go on holiday. Only one comes back.

Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.

This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?

But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

and The Descent by Matt Brolly

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Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

And nine, yes 9, new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

I have two titles by Hannah Mary McKinnon,

The Secret Son

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and The Neighbors

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What Became of Us by Anna Mansell

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Good Will by Tiffany W. Killoren

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When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

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Glimmer As You Can by Danielle Martin

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The Wife by Shalini Boland

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Stolen Children by Michael Wood

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And, The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

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Well, after that haul, there’s only one thing that I can do….READ!

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I am ordering dinner in tonight so that I don’t lose any reading time!

Happy reading and stay safe and healthy.

Cheers
Sandy

Watching what I’m reading…

Chilly, overcast and windy here in my little patch of New Zealand. But at least the washing on the line is drying! I’ve had a lovely day, with my son and grandson calling in for lunch. They had been away for the weekend. They went to Rotorua and saw the boiling mud (it’s stinky, Nana.), and went on the luge and the gondola. They spent the night in Taupo with friends and were to go to the prawn farm this morning but it was simply too cold. They went to Huka Falls (I didn’t like the waterfall Nana. There was too much water and it was too noisy), and drove around Lake Taupo. Unfortunately the cloud was a little too low to get a good view of the mountains. We had a lovely vegetable curry with Indian spiced rice for lunch. Then Luke and I kicked the ball around the back yard for a while, then we pulled some carrots and picked mandarins for them to take home. Luke wasn’t very happy about going home, he wanted a sleepover. So I have promised that he can come and stay once we are through our AGM and first committee meeting. He was also disappointed that Nana hadn’t done any baking for him, but Nana just hasn’t had time. He didn’t like my lemon drizzle cake. But a packet of snack packs of smarties soon made up for the lack of cookies. And I have promised I will bake and bring cookies up when I next visit. And while he was here he discovered his Christmas presents that I thought I had hidden so carefully.🤦‍♀️ I had to do some very fast talking! I did let him have one of the two books in the box. It was a Little Golden Book in the Sesame Street series called The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. This was a great favourite with both my boys when they were little.

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Now, on to my books! Currently I am reading The Silent Dolls by Rita Herron.

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And I am about to start listening to Long Lost (#4.5 in the Kate Burkholder series)

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This week I am planning on reading The Shore House by Heidi Hotstetter

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When the Bennett family arrive at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately need to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping moment on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

And, South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

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Blue Bishop has a knack for finding lost things. While growing up in charming small-town Buttonwood, Alabama, she’s happened across lost wallets, jewelry, pets, her wandering neighbor, and sometimes, trouble. No one is more surprised than Blue, however, when she comes across an abandoned newborn baby in the woods, just south of a very special buttonwood tree.

Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton is at a crossroads. She has always tried so hard to do the right thing, but her own mother would disown her if she ever learned half of Sarah Grace’s secrets.

The unexpected discovery of the newborn baby girl will alter Blue’s and Sarah Grace’s lives forever. Both women must fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love. In doing so, they uncover long-held secrets that reveal exactly who they really are–and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of family.

Six new ARCs from Netgalley this week…that’s a movement of two in the wrong direction 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ and no doubt there will be more after I have read Susan’s, Carla’s, and Tina’s posts.

This week I received – Winter Honeymoon: Stories by Jacob M. Appel

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The Next Widow by C.J. Lyons, #1 in the Jericho and Wright series.

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Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

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Nothing Good Happens After Midnight, a Suspense Magazine anthology

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Close to the Bone by Susan Wilkins, the second book in the Detective Megan Thomas series

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and finally The Push by Claire McGowan

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Happy reading everyone.

Stay calm and read.

Cheers
Sandy

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

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EXCERPT: Wearing nothing but their father’s old seersucker pajama tops over their panties, the four girls pushed Genevieve’s convertible to the end of the long drive before Vivi climbed behind the wheel and started it. There was only a dollop of gas in the tank so they couldn’t get far.

‘I just know we shouldn’t be doing this,’ Necie said as they journeyed into the night. ‘We should have at least put on pajama bottoms.’

‘Necie, this is not a mortal sin, you know,’ said Teensy.

‘I do not recall it being listed in the Baltimore Catechism,’ Vivi said.

‘Moses didn’t utter one word about pajama bottoms when he came down from the mountain,’ said Caro.

‘Well,’ Necie said, ‘I guess these tops do cover more of our bodies than our swimsuits do.’

As Vivi drove, it seemed that not only the Ya-Yas’ bodies but the earth and sky were sweating. The very air they breathed was almost a juice. Moonlight spilled down into the convertible, onto the four friends’ shoulders and knees and on the tops of their heads, so that their hair seemed to have little sparks shooting off it. ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered ‘ played on the radio. Vivi had no idea at all where she was headed, but she knew that whatever direction she went, her friends would go with her.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she’s directed, her mother gets described as a “tap-dancing child abuser.” Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The beauty of imperfect love.’ That is the essence of the series of books that begins with Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

On the surface, this is a story of friendship, love and survival. But it goes so much deeper than that. Wells explores the mother daughter bond, with all its misunderstandings and misconceptions, hurt feelings and petty feuds, and the underlying love that ultimately overshadows everything else.

This is not a subtle story. It is big and loud and blowsy. Flamboyant. Southern. It is full of emotion from full-blown histrionics to studied indifference. It’s characters love and hate with equal abandon, they drink, and cuss, and appear to neglect their children. But they have a bond, seemingly unbreakable, so that when something threatens one of them, they circle their wagons and protect one another.

But what happens when that threat, that danger, comes from inside? Siddalee Walker is about to find out. A few careless words to a reporter about her mother may have just exiled her from her family forever….

I love this book. Adore it. It is my favourite of the three in the series. Tattered is how I would describe its condition. Definitely beyond well worn. I read it often and I find it extremely difficult to put into words how much this book makes me feel. I laugh (a lot) and cry (not quite so much) every time I read it. It invokes memories, pleasant and not so pleasant, of my own childhood. Every time I read this, I get something different from it. Definitely one of my lifetime top ten books.

❤❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Wells was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. “I grew up,” she says, “in the fertile world of story-telling, filled with flamboyance, flirting, futility, and fear.” Surrounded by Louisiana raconteurs, a large extended family, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s Parish, Rebecca’s imagination was stimulated at every turn. Early on, she fell in love with thinking up and acting in plays for her siblings—the beginnings of her career as an actress and writer for the stage. She recalls her early influences as being the land around her, harvest times, craw-fishing in the bayou, practicing piano after school, dancing with her mother and brothers and sister, and the close relationship to her black “mother” who cleaned for the Wells household. She counts black music and culture from Louisiana as something that will stay in her body’s memory forever.

In high school, she read Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric,” which opened her up to the idea that everything in life is a poem, and that, as she says, “We are not born separately from one another.” She also read “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg’s indictment of the strangling consumer-driven American culture he saw around him. Acting in school and summer youth theater productions freed Rebecca to step out of the social hierarchies of high school and into the joys of walking inside another character and living in another world.

The day after she graduated from high school, Rebecca left for Yellowstone National Park, where she worked as a waitress. It was an introduction to the natural glories of the park—mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers—as well as to the art of hitchhiking.

Rebecca graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, where she studied theater, English, and psychology. She performed in many college plays, but also stepped outside the theater department to become awakened to women’s politics. During this time she worked as a cocktail waitress–once accidentally kicking a man in the shins when he slipped a ten-dollar bill down the front of her dress—and began keeping a journal after reading Anais Nin, which she has done ever since.

DISCLOSURE: I own my own copy of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, published by Harper Collins. And do not ever try to part me from it.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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