The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

EXCERPT: ‘… if they can’t stand to see a young woman exercise her rights, then maybe they need an education in how the modern world works.’

The waiter turned on his heel and left, and my mother began to collect her things. I reached out and put my hand on hers. ‘Where are you going, Mama? Don’t let them bully us into leaving.’

‘It’s not them,’ she said softly. ‘It’s you.’ I saw her eyes fill with tears. ‘Your manners, your lack of etiquette, of decency – living here with a man you’ve only just met – even your lovely hair . . .’ She reached out and tucked a piece of my cropped hair behind my ear. ‘It’s all gone.’

She stood, pushed in her chair and gently placed her handbag on her arm. ‘Olive, you’re forgetting who you are.’

‘You’re wrong, Mama,’ I said, almost in a whisper. ‘For the first time in my life I know exactly who I want to be.’

ABOUT ‘THE SHOW GIRL’: It’s 1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer, it takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. And once she does, all the glamour and excitement is everything she imagined and more–even worth all the sacrifices she has had to make along the way.

Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy–the only man she’s ever met who seems to accept her modern ways–her independent nature and passion for success. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage he starts to change his tune, and Olive must decide if she is willing to reveal a devastating secret and sacrifice the life she loves for the man she loves.

MY THOUGHTS: Spanning 1927 to 1929, and encompassing the beginning of the great depression, The Show Girl is an exciting and balanced blend of history, drama, and romance.

Harrison has captured the excitement of the end of the roaring twenties; a time of changing social mores, a time of desperate need for excess as people tried to block out the devastation and decimation of the first world war. There is a frantic need for enjoyment, and social boundaries are pushed as women begin to assert their independence.

This is the backdrop to a story of a young woman with ambition, a dream that, despite all the obstacles placed in her way, she is determined to attain. Young and naive in New York City, this is both a coming of age story and a social commentary. I hope I am not making this sound dull, because it is anything but. It is brimming with life, love, and drama.

Harrison’s characters are very true to life. Olive comes from a very traditional family; a rigidly strict father, and a mother who stays at home to care for the children. Their plans for Olive were more along the lines of a nice little job in a department store until she marries, than a scantily clad show girl!

Olive is not always a likeable character. Sometimes, like most of us, she doesn’t even like herself. But Olive is determined, and very single-minded; totally focused on reaching her goal even if she is abandoned by her family along the way. And she is the star of this story. The spotlight never leaves her.

I found this a fascinating read. On my bucket list is a trip to Paris to see the Follies Bergére, and it is on this famous troupe that Ziegfield based his own troupe of dancers in New York. So between that, and The Show Girl being written by Nicola Harrison, I just knew I had to read this book. I was not disappointed.

⭐⭐⭐.9

#TheShowGirl #NetGalley

I: @nicolaharrisonauthor @stmartinspress

T: @NicolaHAuthor #StMartinsPress

#historicalfiction #romance

THE AUTHOR: I’m originally from Hampshire, England, and moved to California when I was 14. I studied Literature at UCLA and received an MFA in creative writing at Stony Brook University. Soon after college I moved to NYC and worked in magazine publishing. I was the fashion and style staff writer for Forbes and had a weekly column at Lucky Magazine. I spent many summers in Montauk, which inspired my first novel, but after 17 years in the Big Apple I recently moved back to California and have settled in Manhattan Beach with my husband, two sons and two chihuahuas. When I’m not writing I love to paddle board, do yoga and get outside with my boys.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison 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, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone

EXCERPT: It wasn’t going to work. Annie sat in the jeep that she’d parked on the clamshell driveway once she was back at the Inn. From there she could see two gray-haired ladies on the patio chatting with the young honeymooners, all of whom were drinking what looked like lemonade, all gazing toward the harbour and the sailboats and the lighthouse and it’s beacon that blinked red every sixty seconds. From where she sat, she could tell that the conversation was upbeat, the pleasant white noise of summer vacation.

But Annie wasn’t on vacation; this was her life. And she knew that her plan to focus on her book promotions, at the exclusion of her other responsibilities, simply would not work. Not this week, anyway, which promised to be as busy as the week of the 4th of July, with its pulse set to quicken the next day when Simon arrived. He and his assistant (whoever it was) would total seven guests, with the honeymoon couple, Mary Beth Mullen, and the Indiana sisters. Adding the four year-round tenants – two singles and one couple – the count increased to eleven people who’d be depending on Francine by day and Earl by night – both of whom, of course, must be worn out by now. Annie wished she’d paid closer attention to the state of their wellbeing.

And as upset as she was about Kevin having taken off, she suddenly realised that she hadn’t been carrying her share of the load, either; she’d selfishly expected that the place would run smoothly with her barely lifting a finger.

Shutting off the ignition, she faced the facts. The Inn was thriving, but she could not sit back while two people she loved were being run into the waterfront property ground. Her writing life would never – could never – be more important than her Island family.

ABOUT ‘A VINEYARD CROSSING’: Martha’s Vineyard may be picturesque and peaceful, but even there, happily-ever-after has its dark side . . .

Annie Sutton is not only a bestselling mystery author, she’s the proprietor of the newly opened Vineyard Inn. Recently engaged to local police sergeant John Lyons, instead of making wedding plans, Annie’s fighting with him about his older daughter, a troubled teen who has moved home—bringing chaos in her wake. With Annie’s beloved brother away on a troublesome journey of his own, Annie needs a friend. She begins to confide in one of the Inn’s guests, a mysterious stranger named Mary Beth Mullen. Her mix of kindness and vulnerability makes Annie trust her—until Mary Beth shares a secret that leaves Annie torn between family loyalty and a promise she made.

When a handsome, internationally acclaimed journalist checks into the Inn, he too unpacks a boatload of trouble for Annie, triggered by a provocative photo, covertly snapped—and posted on the internet. Intrigued, as tensions mount between her and John, Annie decides to eschew the police and get involved herself—enlisting Mary Beth’s help. But Annie is soon questioning whether anyone on the Vineyard this season is who they seem—and realizing that any chance of happiness rests in finding out just who her real friends are . . .

MY THOUGHTS: Although this is #4 in the Vineyard series, and I have read none of the previous three books, I had no problem, I had no problem with character backstories, or plot development. A Vineyard Crossing can easily be read as a stand-alone.

This is a wonderful summer read set in the renowned Martha’s Vineyard, a place I long to visit. The main characters are fully fleshed out, interesting, vibrant and very realistic. There are squabbles, jealousies, mysteries and
secrets. There is romance, but this is secondary to the mystery and family relationships.

I haven’t read Jean Stone before, but I really enjoyed her style of writing. It flows nicely, and I never lost interest in either the characters or the plot. I liked Annie’s nosiness and her penchant for interfering.

I am keen to read this series from the beginning, and will definitely be requesting any further books.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#AVineyardCrossing #NetGalley

I: @kensingtonbooks

T: @KensingtonBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: With a career that has spanned over 25 years, Jean Stone is the author of 22 novels about the families, friends, lives, and lovers (who needs more?) of contemporary women that have been published by Kensington, Random House, and HarperCollins—10 of which take place on the celebrated island Martha’s Vineyard. A VINEYARD MORNING is the third book in her current Vineyard Series (A VINEYARD CHRISTMAS, A VINEYARD SUMMER). A fourth book in the series—A VINEYARD CROSSING—will be released in July 2021. All of her books are available in print and eBook versions; her Vineyard Series is also available in audio book format. From Germany to Japan, over a dozen countries around the world have purchased the subrights to her novels and translated them. Her titles have appeared on the USA TODAY bestseller list, Amazon eBook bestseller list, and one has been optioned for a Lifetime movie. Jean is a graduate of Skidmore College, has taught at a number of writers’ conferences, and has been a guest lecturer at many colleges and conferences. A native of New England, she has lived on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod for several years.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone 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, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

EXCERPT: ‘What’s this?’ Julie eyed her daughter’s handwriting on the front of the envelope.

‘Open it.’ Bri took a large bite, but Julie wasn’t hungry all of a sudden.

She opened the first envelope and read the single sheet.

A call to Summer Island Book Club January 14th

Julie shook her head. ‘I don’t understand.’ Her words were hollow because her brain was processing a thirty two year old message. The last time she’d seen those words, she was graduating high school. All her friends had moved on with their lives, leaving the slow, dyslexic, artsy girl behind to marry young because that was her only choice. Not that she regretted her years with Joe, not at all, but she had envied her friends worldly lives after graduation. Kat went Ivy League. Wind landed a part in a Broadway production. Trace joined some world renowned ocean conservation company and made headlines cleaning up oil spills and inventing new ways to combat the plastic problem in the oceans.

Julie had stayed in the same town, doing the same thing, for three decades. ‘No,’ she mumbled under her breath. ‘I don’t want to see them.’

ABOUT ‘SUMMER ISLAND BOOK CLUB’: Widow Julie Boone has lived her life and is content, so she thought until her daughter gives her the perfect nightmare of a fiftieth birthday gift-her three childhood besties. The arrival of her wildly successful, buttinski friends, overwhelms Julie when her life goes from peaceful to melodrama, makeovers, and matchmaking. Especially when they make her believe there is still life to be lived with one handsome sailor who’s just moved to town.

Trevor Ashford retreats from big city life to sunny Florida after a failed marriage and damaged reputation. His only wish is to open a small boat charter company in peace, but when Houdini-a mischievous pet ferret-steals an engine part and leads him on a merry chase into the arms of Julie Boone, he has to choose between being a recluse or embracing a new love.

MY THOUGHTS: Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight is a quick, easy, sweet and entertaining read, but it’s very little to do with a book club, other than historically.

I like the characters, and I like that they are an older age group than what is usually found in a romance novel. I found Julie really easy to relate to, probably because we share a lot of the same personality traits.

I liked that the love interests don’t immediately jump into bed, but I did feel that the whole ‘romance/falling in love’ scenario was extremely rushed, happening over a very short period of time, approximately two weeks, give or take, by my calculation. That was a negative for me.

And, as I mentioned, there actually isn’t a book club, or any books read, or discussed. In fact, until right at the end, there isn’t even any mention of books. Julie never sits down with a drink and a book, never reads a book on the beach . . . there’s no mention of books in her house! And I do love the cover. I could easily insert myself into it.

But, this was a fun read and one not to be taken seriously. I enjoyed it, but it is not one that I will remember for long, although I do have it’s follow up, Summer Island Sisters queued up to read.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#SummerIslandBookClub #NetGalley

I: @ciaratknight #authorcollective20

T: @ciaratknight

#contemporaryfiction #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: A friend once told me that I live eighty percent of my life in my imagination and twenty percent in the real world. I can’t deny this. I’m Ciara Knight
USA Today Bestselling author of sweet contemporary and southern romance. I’ve written almost fifty novels.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Authors Collective 20 for providing a digital ARC of Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight 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 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. ❤📚