Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I tried to take Luke to the library to borrow some books a couple of weeks ago, but he told me he wanted to keep the books forever, so we didn’t go. I had a book to return yesterday, so I took him with me and he brought 4 books home, and suddenly it’s a really good idea to borrow books then take them back and swap them for new ones. These were his selections:

Currently I am reading and loving Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham. I can see myself reading late into the night tonight despite having an early start tomorrow so that I can get done what I need to before going for my Covid vaccination.

I am also reading A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, a new author for me. I have to admit it was the cover that first attracted me. I just wanted to plonk myself down on the sand and soak up the view. The Adirondack chair? Am I the only person earth who finds these uncomfortable? It probably has something to do with my short legs…. But however I came select this, I am enjoying this warm, gentle read.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, but I have All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss ready to go.

Deep in the tobacco land of North Carolina, nothing’s the same since the boys shipped off to war and worry took their place. Thirteen-year-old Lucy Brown is curious and clever, but she can’t make sense of it all. Then Allie Bert Tucker comes to town, an outcast with a complicated past, and Lucy believes that together they can solve crimes. Just like her hero, Nancy Drew.

That chance comes when a man goes missing, a woman stops speaking, and an eccentric gives the girls a mystery that takes them beyond the ordinary. Their quiet town, seasoned with honeybees and sweet tea, becomes home to a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp—and more men go missing. The pair set out to answer the big question: do we ever really know who the enemy is?

This week I am planning on reading Stolen by Tess Stimson

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

And The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

If you hear it, it’s too late. Can two sisters save us all?

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse .

I received 8 new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh – I was excited by this as I have been requesting this author for some time, and this is my first approval.

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

Darkness Falls by David Mark

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Plus Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver. This is an excellent novella which I read last night. Watch for my review later this week.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker which I am reading this week

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, which I am currently reading

And the audiobook All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, which I will start tomorrow.

I have travelled mainly in USA this week, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Porto Rico; Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts; Martinsville County, also Massachusetts; with side trips to Porthteal,Cornwall; and Hendon, a suburb of London. Where have you travelled this week?

Have you read any of the books I have coming up, or are they on your TBR? Or have I tempted you to add them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and keep on reading!❤📚

The Dating Duel by Christine Cameron

EXCERPT: ‘Come on. You’re missing this. He’s great.’

I thanked Margaret under my breath as I pulled layers of sparkly tulle around my face and peeked up at the stage. Garth Underwood, aka Jackson Ames, my husband and the reason I didn’t do country music, was too close for comfort. Dark brown hair hanging in soft waves above winter-grey eyes, an open smile and deep dimples you couldn’t help but touch had made him irresistible to me then.

It was still making a good case.

And at the front of the stage, at least a dozen of the women who’d undone another button hoping to catch his eye would find their partners lacking after tonight.

We hadn’t seen each other in five years and time hadn’t hurt him; almost six feet, with broad tattooed shoulders, jeans that fit so tight they should be illegal, and God help me, still wearing that damn hat.

ABOUT ‘THE DATING DUEL’: What are the chances?

Three weeks before her wedding to all-round good guy Kieran, Christy is dragged out for her hen’s night by flatmate and best friend, Sophie. The entertainer is none other than Jackson Ames, the man she met and married in a quickie wedding in Nashville, Tennessee. He was gone in the morning, and she has never seen him again, until now. What is he doing in Glasgow? And why now?

But, most important of all, are they still married?

MY THOUGHTS: Chic-lit is not my normal genre, but I loved this hysterical romp with Christy, Kieran and Jackson. A great alternate title for this would be ‘The Dilemma’, because that’s just what Christy finds herself in.

I loved the characters. Christy is impulsive but kind, and confused. Sophie puts her own life on hold to try and sort out Christy’s love life. But Christy is not the only one who has been keeping secrets; Sophie has a few of her own, and a definite bias towards one Christy’s suitors.

And the men? Well only one of them can win the hand and the heart of the woman they both love. But which will it be? Solid, dependable Kieran, who has dreams Christy knows nothing about? Or the charismatic Jackson, who has never forgotten the woman he married?

The Dating Duel is the third book I have read and loved by this as yet unpublished author. Yes, unpublished! If anyone reading this is in publishing, please take a look at her work. Christine never fails to entertain, amuse and delight me with her writing. It needs to be more widely read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheDatingDuel

I: @booksshoeschocolateandcoffee

T: @Cinnamonhill11

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Cameron is an as yet unpublished author who divides her time between Scotland and Crete.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Christine Cameron for providing a digital ARC of The Dating Duel 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 is also published on Twitter and Instagram

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

I’m late!

It’s been a hectic few days. A stomach bug has been raging through town. My neighbour and friend Helen is down with it. My husband came home from work today with it. I have staff off work with it which resulted in my working 11 1/2 hours yesterday. Fingers crossed that I can avoid it.

So, although it’s Monday, here’s my Sunday post.

Currently I am reading The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

Set in north Queensland outback, I am enjoying this read. Thanks Elise from the Waitomo District Library book group for recommending this. I will be reading more from this author.

I am also reading The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. It’s excellent!

And A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer which I have only just started. This was previously titled Safe From Harm.

I am listening to Safe Witness by Karin Slaughter

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game–and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined–even with damage from a fire decades before–but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

And The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

The only relationship she can’t save is her own . . .
Alison is a marriage counsellor. Her job is to help couples who fear they have reached the end of the line. But the trouble with spending your time sorting out other people’s problems is that you tend to take your eye off your own. Even when her husband’s ex Lydia arrives on the doorstep demanding to see her son, Alison thinks she can handle it. But what Alison doesn’t realise is that Lydia is the one person who has the ability to destroy their perfect family. And sometimes the cracks can run so deep that even a marriage mender can’t repair them . . . 

I received only three new ARCs this week, two Kindle format and 1 audiobook, False Witness by Karin Slaughter, which I started this morning.

Summer Island Sisters by Ciara Knight

And The Little Island Secret by Emma Davies

This week I have been to The Isle of Shura in Scotland, briefly to Riva in Italy, and Stockholm, Sweden. Where have your reading travels taken you this week?

Happy reading!

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I didn’t do very well with my reading target last week, mainly because the company who made my kitchen suddenly moved the installation date forward from the end of this month to the end of this coming week! So my house was full builders, taking out the old kitchen and removing another wall, and plumbers and electricians moving everything ready for the installation of the new kitchen. Because I had move the sink and the dishwasher and the fridge. I think the only new appliance being installed in the same place as the old one is the oven. But the result will be that I have a decent amount of bench space, which I didn’t previously have. Plumbers and electricians are back on Monday, then the builders Tuesday and Wednesday to reline the walls and put the ceiling in. Thursday the kitchen arrives and installation begins. This is so exciting!

Anyway, because of all this, I got very little reading done. Instead I was fetching and carrying, making decisions and morning and afternoon teas coffees, and cleaning up behind everyone while I was home. And, of course, I was also working. So the books on my planned reading list last week will reappear this week. 🤦‍♀️

Currently I am reading Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl. Halfway through and it has suddenly taken an extremely interesting turn.

I am almost finished listening to Know No Evil (DI Denning and DS Fisher #1) by Graeme Hampton. This has the makings of really good series. I will certainly be putting my hand up for #2.

This week I am planning on reading Silver Tears by Camilla Lackberg, #2 in her

She’s had to fight for it every step of the way, but Faye finally has the life she believes she deserves: she is rich, the business she built has become a global brand, and she has carefully hidden away her small family in Italy, where Jack, her ex-husband, can no longer harm them. She even has the wherewithal to occasionally turn a business trip to Rome into a steamy tryst. But when several major investors–women Faye had trusted implicitly–suddenly sell off their shares in the company, and the police officer who helped search for her daughter discovers the dark secret of Faye’s childhood, and she learns that Jack is no longer locked behind bars, Faye has no choice but to return to Stockholm. Not only does she have to fight again to keep her family safe, but now, at long last, she is forced to face the truth about her past. In this bold, mesmerizing story of seduction, deceit, and female power, a woman’s secret cannot stay buried forever.

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

And The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

Let’s see how well I can do.

I received five new ARCs this week, and was declined for five (perhaps just as well!) I received The Library by Bella Osborne

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

The Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman

About Us by Sinead Moriarty

And finally, The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry

I didn’t travel overly much in the past week. I left Baltimore for Stonesend, a lovely village near Oxford in England, and am currently dividing my time between East London, and Oslo in Norway.

What have you been reading this week? What are planning on reading? And where have you been on your reading travels?

Have a wonderful week of reading!

The Hope Chest by Carolyn Brown

EXCERPT: ‘You haven’t changed a bit.’ Flynn slapped her hand away. ‘I think they mixed us all up as babies. I should have been born the preacher’s son, and you should have been the daughter of the greatest smart-ass in Texas.’

‘That’s pretty much what my daddy told me this very morning. You wouldn’t have lasted overnight in the house I grew up in.’ Nessa went back to the stove and browned some more toast in the big cast-iron skillet.

‘As bossy as you are Nessa, and as smug as you are Flynn, y’all would have wilted and died if you’d grown up here,’ April said. ‘Nanny Lucy was a wonderful lady, but she could put a guilt trip on a person that went all the way to the bottom of the soul, and believe me when I tell you that she knew very well how to wield a switch. Ten licks was the minimum.’

‘Are you serious?’ Nessa was stunned.

‘Y’all knew her as a sweet nanny for two weeks. Somehow you being here was when she had good days,’ April answered. ‘But I was the bastard offspring of the daughter who had disappointed her and then died four days after I was born. At least once a day, and more in the days after y’all left and went back home, she reminded me that I had my mother’s genes, and I knew that was a bad thing by her tone. It didn’t seem to matter if she was having a good or a bad day. I was always a thorn in her side.’

Nessa could well understand what April was saying. Looking back, she’d always felt like one of those thorns for her father. ‘I guess that’s where my daddy got his ability to make me feel guilty about even the air I breathe.’ Nessa talked as she cooked breakfast. ‘He could put a guilt trip on Jesus, and he practiced on me almost daily.’

Both women glanced over at Flynn.

‘Hey, my dad was always too busy either chasing women, marrying them then chasing women, or getting divorced because his wife caught him chasing women to ever even talk to me.’ Flynn shrugged. ‘I was just a bratty kid that he didn’t want to raise but had to when my mama died. I did pretty much what I wanted from the time I went to live with him – no questions asked except on payday, when he held out his hand for half of what I made to pay for my room and board in his house.’

‘We should call that childhood the O’Reilly curse.’

ABOUT ‘THE HOPE CHEST’: An inheritance has reunited three estranged cousins. Their grandmother Lucy left Nessa, Flynn, and April her home nestled in the woods near Blossom, Texas, as well as a hope chest to be unlocked after they complete a special task. Together, they must hand-stitch a cherished quilt Lucy left unfinished. It meant everything to her. And now, to three people struggling with their own patchwork pasts…

To Nessa, the house has always been an escape from her strict parents—a home away from home. Flynn has followed a profligate path into adulthood, never guessing it would lead him here. And the town of Blossom only stirs up a lifetime of disappointments for April. Lost and with nowhere to go, her last chance is helping fulfill Nanny Lucy’s final wish.

Thread by healing thread, Nessa, Flynn, and April bond over the quilt and all it represents. As they discover the family they’ve been looking for in one another, they share more than memories. They share the hope of new beginnings.

MY THOUGHTS: The Hope Chest is a warm and comforting read. Carolyn Brown writes wonderful characters, interesting characters that have the reader firmly in their camp, rooting for the best possible outcome for them.

Nessa, Flynn, and April have all had terrible childhoods and have each reacted in different ways, but ways that have brought them no happiness. Flung together by fate in the form of Nanny Lucy’s last will and testament, they are initially resentful and wary of one another. The Hope Chest charts their journey through repairing both their childhood relationships with one another, and their damaged self image.

Although described as a romance, The Hope Chest is so much more. There is mystery surrounding Nanny Lucy’s past, and a heartwarming thread involving the rebuilding of family relationships, and forgiveness. Brown also touches on mental illness in the forms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the damage caused when it goes undiagnosed.

I have loved everything I have read by this author, and The Hope Chest is no exception.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheHopeChest #NetGalley

I: @carolynbrownbooks #montlake

T: @thecarolynbrown #Montlake

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Hope Chest by Carolyn Brown 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’ve done quite a lot of travelling through my reading this week. I’ve been to Mauritius, London and Sydney; Blossom, Texas; Maryland; and Berlin. Now I think I am a little jet-lagged. Where have you been in your reading travels this past week?

I have just started reading The Evidence by K.L. Slater.

and am two-thirds of the way through the audiobook A Hand to Hold in Deep Water written by Shawn Nocher and narrated by Elizabeth Evans.

This week I am planning on reading Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

After being injured in a freak accident, novelist Gerry Andersen lies in a hospital bed in his glamorous but sterile apartment, isolated from the busy world he can see through his windows, utterly dependent on two women he barely knows: his young assistant and a night nurse whose competency he questions.

But Gerry is also beginning to question his own competency. As he moves in and out of dreamlike memories and seemingly random appearances of a persistent ex-girlfriend at his bedside, he fears he may be losing his grip on reality, much like his mother who recently passed away from dementia.

Most distressing, he believes he’s being plagued by strange telephone calls, in which a woman claiming to be the titular character of his hit novel Dream Girl swears she will be coming to see him soon. The character is completely fictitious, but no one has ever believed Gerry when he makes that claim. Is he the victim of a cruel prank—or is he actually losing his mind★ There is no record of the calls according to the log on his phone. Could there be someone he has wronged★ Is someone coming to do him harm as he lies helplessly in bed★

Then comes the morning he wakes up next to a dead body—and realizes his nightmare is just beginning… 

And Insider by Owen Mullen

Someone’s playing both sides and now they have a score to settle…
When the family business is crime, you can never be sure who to trust. And when three of their businesses are hit in one night, the notorious Glass family close ranks. Either someone is sending them a message or a war is coming…

With trouble coming from all sides, the heads of the Glass family have more than enough to deal with, but all bets are off when a stranger from the past enters the game, causing division and mistrust.

Crooked cops, rival gangs and old enemies are bad enough, but when the trouble comes from the inside, loyalties are tested, with deadly consequences.

And the approvals resulting from my requesting spree a couple of weeks are still arriving in my inbox. Six this week.

Darkness Falls by Robert Bryndza

The Butterfly Garden by Sophie Anderson (thank you Carla)

Stupid Things I Won’t Do When I Get Old by Steven Petrow (thanks again Carla), although I wonder if reading this might not be a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted . . .

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard. I believe I coveted this from Shelleyrae’s list last week.

Barefoot in the Sand by Holly Chamberlain (Susan? Carla? Both? I really can’t remember….)

and Mrs March by Virginia Feito

What new reads have you received this week?

Whatever you are reading, have a wonderful week!

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We have had a beautiful week of weather: cool but not actually cold nights, and gloriously sunny days with temperatures not quite reaching those of summer, but very close. But it seems that is coming to an end. We had thick fog this morning and now it is mizzling. The forecast for the week to come is rain, all week. I am glad my new dryer arrived and was installed on Friday.

We were planning on going out for lunch today at a new bar about 3/4 hour away. It has Heineken on tap and I have heard only good things about the food. But I was much longer at work this morning than I thought I was going to be, and then I got home to find friend had called in, so lunch out has been postponed for a couple of weeks. I made us all toasted sandwiches instead, and we caught up on each other’s news before he had to head off again. If he hadn’t been travelling in the opposite direction, we would have suggested he join us.

I have had a wonderful week’s reading based mainly in England, with a little time in Wales. Have you been anywhere interesting?

Currently I am reading The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Intriguing!

I am also reading Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben. I only started this yesterday, and am almost finished.

And I am about to begin listening to If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan and narrated by Kristen James

This week I am planning to read Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant

Twenty-five years ago a schoolgirl was attacked by three bullies in her home where she lived with her grandmother.

Now, the mother of one of those bullies is found murdered on the Hobfield housing estate. Written on the wall in the victim’s blood is the word, “sorry.”

There is a link to the discovery of bones at an old house up in the hills — the home of the teenage girl who was attacked.

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss have more than this puzzling case on their hands. Arch-villain Lazarov is threatening Calladine’s granddaughter and a valuable hoard of Celtic gold is coming to a local museum.

The pressure is on, and this time Calladine is cracking . . .

Discover an absolutely unputdownable crime thriller from a best-selling author.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

DEAD SORRY is book eleven of a new series of detective thrillers featuring DS Ruth Bayliss and DI Tom Calladine.

What readers are saying about the series
“I read it in one sitting.” Aileen

“This books has lots of twists and turns throughout and with a cracking ending to this brilliant book.” Nessa

“Really enjoyed this book.” Nerys

“Kept me guessing till the end.” Anna Maria

“I finished it in twenty-four hours and enjoyed every page.” Joan

THE DETECTIVES
Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape.

Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.

THE SETTINGThe fictional village of Leesdon is on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home.

The Vacation by John Marrs

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth.

Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood.

But for eight strangers at a beach front hostel, there is far more on their mind than an extended vacation.

All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep…

I went to my local library last week to return a book. Honest. I had no intention of picking up anything new to read. You will understand why when you see the number of ARCs I received this week. And sitting there, right beside the return slot, is a shelf of recent releases – and if that’s not fighting dirty, I don’t know what is! – and New Zealand author Paul Cleave’s latest, The Quiet People. But it wasn’t just sitting there, quietly. Oh no. It was fluttering it’s pages alluringly at me, whispering seductively, ‘How about I come home with you. I can show you a really good time’ . . . Then it literally (no pun intended) threw itself at me and manoeuvred me to checkouts. I know when I’m beaten and gave in quietly. So this week I will also be reading

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? 

I had a day during the week when I was feeling quite overwhelmed by an accumulation of different things. So that night when I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t concentrate on my reading, I took refuge in Netgalley with result that I received twenty-seven (yes, Susan. 27.) ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️ I don’t know whether to be appalled or excited.

As well as the audiobook If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan, Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant, and The Vacation by John Marrs, I received:

What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor

My Mother’s Children by Annette Sills

In Another Light by A.J. Banner

The Darkest Flower by Kristin Wright (thank you Michael David https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/)

The Beauty of Fragile Things by Emma Hartley

Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

The Crooked Shore by Martin Edwards

The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan

One Left Behind by Carla Kovach

The Shut Away Sisters by Suzanne Goldring

The Grandmother Plot by Caroline B. Cooney

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Slough House by Mick Herron

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water (audiobook) by Shawn Nocher, narrated by Elizabeth Evans

The Third Grave by Lisa Jackson

And two more audiobooks, Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton, narrated by Julie Maisey

And, The Man I Married by Elena Wilkes, narrated by Colleen Prendergast

I have never had that many ARCs in one week before. I bet that does a bit of damage to my review ratio! What is the most ARCs you have received in any one week?

Now I have two reviews to write so I had better get writing and get them done before dinner. Nice fresh snapper tonight with an avocado salsa and salad.

Happy reading my friends. ❤📚

A Family Affair by Julie Houston

EXCERPT: Aunty Pam smiled. ‘You know, Frankie, when I look back at my twenty-year-old self, I am totally filled with admiration for her. If he and Marco didn’t agree with this, I told Angelo I was going back to my parents immediately; Consettia wouldn’t see anything of her grandchild – I knew your grandmother wouldn’t allow Angelo to get away with that – and I would spill the beans…’

ABOUT ‘A FAMILY AFFAIR’: Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…

MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely love Julie Houston’s writing, but I have to admit that I initially had a few issues with A Family Affair. It seems that every book now has to be written over more than one timeline and from multiple points of view. And in A Family Affair, Julie has taken this path. When I started reading, I wasn’t convinced that this was going to work. Even halfway through, I wasn’t convinced this was working. But in the end, the author tied it together beautifully and I exited this book with a sigh of contentment.

I love Julie Houston’s characters. They are so real, so down to earth. But for me, this story wasn’t about Frankie and her disastrous love life – it’s Aunty Pam who stole my heart.

And while I may have initially thought that I knew where this story was heading, I was wrong on every count. Julie Houston bested me. And I am happy about that. I should have known better . . .

This author writes with humor and empathy. A delightful read.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#AFamilyAffair #NetGalley

I: @juliehoustonauthor @ariafiction

T: @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance

THE AUTHOR: Julie Houston is Yorkshire born and bred. She lives in Huddersfield where her novels are set and her only claims to fame are that she taught at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old school, her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris and her friend is about to marry Tracy Emin’s cousin! Oh, and she was rescued by Frank Bough when, many years ago, she was ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’ at the Kensington Hilton in London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria & Aries via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Village Affair by Julie Houston 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

Legacy by Nora Roberts

EXCERPT: The first time Adrian Rizzo met her father, he tried to kill her.

ABOUT ‘LEGACY’: Adrian Rizzo was seven when she met her father for the first time. That was the day he nearly killed her—before her mother, Lina, stepped in.

Soon after, Adrian was dropped off at her grandparents’ house in Maryland, where she spent a long summer drinking lemonade, playing with dogs, making a new best friend—and developing the stirrings of a crush on her friend’s ten-year-old brother. Lina, meanwhile, traveled the country promoting her fitness brand and turning it into a billion-dollar business. There was no point in dwelling on the past.

A decade later, Adrian has created her own line of yoga and workout videos, following in Lina’s footsteps but intent on maintaining creative control. And she’s just as cool-headed and ambitious as her mother. They aren’t close, but they’re cordial—as long as neither crosses the other.

But while Lina dismisses the death threats that Adrian starts getting as a routine part of her daughter’s growing celebrity, Adrian can’t help but find the vicious rhymes unsettling. Year after year, they keep arriving—the postmarks changing, but the menacing tone the same. They continue after she returns to Maryland and becomes reacquainted with Raylan, her childhood crush, all grown up and as gorgeously green-eyed as ever. Sometimes it even seems like the terrifying messages are indeed routine, like nothing will come of them. Until the murders start, and the escalation begins…

MY THOUGHTS: What an attention grabbing opening line! – right?

It certainly grabbed my attention and made me sit up and take notice. I was excited to read this. But, by a third of the way through I was wondering if Nora Roberts was ever going to get to the point. I felt like I had been reading forever, and the story was really going nowhere v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. I honestly debated abandoning this. I was bored. But at the exhortations of various other readers, I kept going. By the 50% point, I was getting into the rhythm, but still wasn’t completely enamoured. By 75%, I was enjoying it, and continued to do so right to the end. But I will stick with my original comment, why did the author take so long to get to the point? Yes, I like to know the background of the characters, and I like to have some build-up to the story, but this was taking it to the extreme. This novel really is too damned long!

I have a few more minor niggles like the stereotyped characters, and the plot predictability, but there was an indefinable something in the second half of Legacy, missing from the first, that kept me reading to the end. I mostly liked the characters. I could understand why Adrian was so disciplined and liked to have control. I liked the way Raylan loosened her up. I liked her friends and family, though I reserve judgement on her mother Lina. I particularly liked her grandfather. And I loved her house. Hell, I covet her house! Relationships are the core of Legacy. It is very light on suspense and thrills.

January Lavoy, narrator, does an amazing job with the characters voices. She is very talented and a pleasure to listen to.

Overall, only a satisfactory read for me. If it’d had all the extraneous stuff cut from it to make it a tighter read, it would have rated higher.

⭐⭐⭐.4

#Legacy #NetGalley

I: @norarobertsauthor @hachetteaudio

T: #NoraRoberts @HachetteAudio

#contemporaryfiction #audiobook #familydrama #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Nora Roberts also writes the ‘In Death’ series under the name J.D. Robb.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Legacy by Nora Roberts 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 my webpage

Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand

Due for publication June 1st 2021

EXCERPT: The song changes to opening guitar chords that seize Vivi’s attention. It’s ‘Stone in Love’ by Journey. Vivi almost trips over her own shoes. She stops and stares at her phone’s screen. What is this song doing on the Nine Pound Hammer playlist? Did Carson add it? But Carson hates classic rock; she calls it ‘music from beyond the grave.’

Vivi is spooked. This song brings back such intense memories of high school that she feels if she turns her head, she’ll see Brett Caspian standing in the middle of Kingsley Road. She nearly pushes the skip button, but she does love the song, despite her complicated history with it, and it’s been so long since she heard it. When she starts running again, she sings along, ‘Burning love comes once in a lifetime.’

Her eyes are closed and by the time she realises something is wrong, it’s too late – Vivi’s neck snaps; her heart feels like a stick of dynamite exploding. Vivi is airborne, she’s flying – until her head slams against the ground. Her leg. Something is wrong with her leg.

A tinny, faraway voice sings, ‘Golden Girl, I’ll keep you forever.’ Then the music stops. The dark turns to velvety black. The quiet becomes silence.

ABOUT ‘GOLDEN GIRL’: Golden Girl follows Nantucket novelist Vivi, who gets one final summer — after she is killed in a hit-and-run accident — to protect her secrets and learn from her mistakes while her loved ones still on earth try to solve the mystery of her death.

Vivian Howe, author of 13 beach novels and mother of three young adults, is killed in a hit and run car accident while jogging near her home in Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she’s assigned to a Person named Martha, who agrees Vivi’s death was unfair. Martha allows Vivi to watch what happens below with her children, her best friend, and her ex-husband.

Martha gives Vivi the use of three “nudges” so that she might influence the outcome of events in the world of the living. Vivi discovers her children’s secrets, watches the investigation of her death (headed by Chief Ed Kapenash from The Perfect Couple) and worries about a secret from her youth, fictionalized in her novel, coming to light.

MY THOUGHTS: The ocean beach, mouthwatering food, incredibly interesting characters, and a plot that had me entranced – Elin Hildebrand had me hooked from page one.

This is the first book that I have read by this author, and now I understand why everyone has been telling me ‘You have to read her!’ The blurb doesn’t do this book justice. I am glad that I didn’t reread it before I started. I probably would have nudged this read further down the pile.

Elin Hildebrand not only entranced me, she amazed me with Golden Girl. I was expecting a fairly predictable family drama/romance/paranormal tale, but there is nothing predictable about Golden Girl. The wonderful characters and plotting made sure of that! From the first page I felt like I had stepped right into this novel and was right there amidst the action and drama.

The story is told from multiple points of view, mainly in the present, but with forays into Vivi’s past. And what a past she had! I loved her character. She has dignity and fortitude.

I became totally invested in this family, and I shed a tear or two at Vivi’s death, and again while reading Savannah’s amazing tribute to her best friend.

I love sandwiches. I could live on sandwiches, and there’s some delicious ones described in here. I have bookmarked them and intend to eat my way through them.

Make sure that you read the author’s note at the end. It explains a lot. Elin Hildebrand is definitely an author whose backtitles will be finding a place on my shelves right beside Golden Girl.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#GoldenGirl #NetGalley

I: @elinhildebrand #hodderstoughton

T: @HodderBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #paranormal #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket with her husband and their three young children. She grew up in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, and traveled extensively before settling on Nantucket, which has been the setting for her five previous novels. Hilderbrand is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the graduate fiction workshop at the University of Iowa.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder &Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand 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