An interview with author of The Day Henry Died, Lynda Renham

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I reviewed this wonderfully charming and unusual book at the end of May, but I haven’t been able to dislodge it from my mind. So I contacted author Lynda Renham to ask her how she came to write The Day Henry Died:

Sandy:I found this book somewhat unique. How did The Day Henry Died come about?

Lynda:Now, there’s a question. I had no plans to write a book as unusual as this. The idea came from a comment made by a neighbour. We were discussing my closest neighbour who had died. Although she was elderly, no one had been prepared for it. My neighbour happened to say something along the lines of ‘You never know, do you? One day you’re here and the next you’re reading your own obituary.’ I immediately wondered what it would be like if you woke up one morning and found yourself doing just that.

Sandy: What came to you first – the plot or the characters?

Lynda:With ‘The Day Henry Died’ the plot certainly came first and the characters grew out of that. The characters were already there somehow which sounds odd I know but it was like they had been waiting for the plot.

Sandy:Does it always work that way for you?

Lynda:Usually an idea forms and then the whole novel seems to unravel in a vague way in my head and then when I start writing, it all becomes clear.

Sandy: How well do you plan your books? Do you work out what you want to happen and then go about making it happen? Or do your characters sometimes take control?

Lynda:My characters always take control. There is no doubt about that. I usually know what I want to happen but often a character will appear that I hadn’t even considered and sometimes they can become a leading character in the story. An idea often changes in the writing. I never stick to an original idea if something better materialises in the process.

Sandy: Your characters are always very easy to relate to. Do you insert bits of yourself or people you know into them?

Lynda:I tend to write about people as I know them. I think there may be a fair amount of me in some of the characters. I like my characters to be relatable in some way, even the baddies.

Sandy: Do you, personally, believe in life after death? And how did your belief/nonbelief aid/hinder your writing of The Day Henry Died?

Lynda:I sit on the fence a bit regarding life after death. I think the book expressed differing opinions on that. Which is fairly realistic, I think. The writing of the novel gave me much to think about and I enjoyed exploring the concept of reality.

Sandy: What would you like the reader to take away from this book?

Lynda:That it is important to make the most of what you have. Not to sweat the small stuff. You can’t do any of this again. You are here the once, enjoy it and do everything you want to do.

Sandy: Are you currently working on another novel?

Lynda:Yes, I’m currently working on several in fact. I don’t know how that happened as it is sheer madness.

Sandy: What is your routine like when you are writing? Do you treat it as a job and head ‘off to the office’ at the same time every day, or do you just write when inspiration strikes you?

Lynda:It’s my job, although I am slowing down. I write from 10 in the morning until about 5. I’ve always had a writing routine and a writing place. I think routine is important even if you don’t feel like working.

Sandy: How do you feel when you have finished writing a book?

Lynda: Relieved and anxious. Relieved it’s finally done and anxious about how it will sell. When a book is slightly different to your usual style, I think the reader is unsure about reading it.

Sandy: What do you find hardest to write, dialogue or narrative? And how do you overcome this?

Lynda:I find narrative difficult. I’d like to be better at that. Dialogue is my strength, I think. I enjoy writing dialogue very much.

Sandy: Now, I haven’t read your very first book, (Croissants and Jam) , but if you were to write that book now, would it be different, and how?

Lynda:Oh yes. I would work much harder at it. I think I have learnt a lot since that book and though it was very popular, I would certainly improve on it if I wrote it now.

Thank you Lynda for taking the time to talk with me. I adored Henry, and his story, and I am eagerly awaiting your next book/s.

Here is the link to my review of The Day Henry Died
https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/2020/06/01/the-day-henry-died-by-lynda-renham/

and, for a little variety also the link to Tina’s from NovelMeals wonderful review: https://novelmeals.wordpress.com/2020/07/22/the-day-henry-died-by-lynda-renham/

If you haven’t yet read this little gem, you don’t know what you are missing!

Ten Little Words by Leah Mercer

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EXCERPT: I aimlessly flipped through the pages, running my eyes over articles on the latest summer trends and celeb weddings. Reading this newspaper made me feel like an alien from another planet. Who were these people, and why would I care? I was just about to fold it up and push it away from me when a tiny box advert in the classifieds caught my eye. The text leaped out at me, each word hammering my eyes.

I am always with you.
I will always be here.

My heart pounded and everything inside me went cold. The words echoed in my mind, growing larger and larger until they pressed on my skull. Images of my mother holding me close each night as she whispered those same ten words clawed and scratched at my soul, demanding entry, and I shoved the paper away from me.

I sat frozen for a minute, forcing air in and out of my lungs as I batted away those memories. Then I let out a little laugh. God, how silly was I? It was just ten words.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: I am always with you. I will always be here.

This was the promise Ella’s mother betrayed thirty years ago when she walked into the sea, leaving her five-year-old daughter alone in the world. Ella’s been angry ever since, building up a wall to protect herself. But that all changes the day she opens a newspaper and finds those ten little words printed in a classified ad.

Ella refuses to believe her mother could still be alive—that would mean she did want to live, just not with her daughter. So she throws herself into finding out exactly what happened all those years ago, determined to extinguish even the tiniest flame of hope—for Ella, hope is torture.

But rather than settling things once and for all, what Ella discovers shatters her world. As she pieces together the truth behind her mother’s disappearance, she learns that the words are not what she thought.

Now she knows the truth. Is it possible that Ella can allow herself to love—and be loved—once again?

MY THOUGHTS: In Ten Little Words author Leah Mercer addresses the issue of abandonment and it’s psychological effects on those left behind.

Ella’s mother Jude, suffering from a severe depression following a traumatic event, walks into the ocean when Ella is five and is never seen again.

Told over two timelines from the perspectives of Ella in the present and Jude in the early 1980s, we discover what led Jude to abandon her small daughter to the care of her childless older sister and her husband, and the effects of that abandonment on Ella’s life.

Ten Little Words is a story that grew on me as I read. It’s a quick and easy read, with a little mystery and romance and, although it is a tad predictable in places and everything is tied up rather neatly at the end, it is a satisfying and enjoyable read.

😊😊😊.7

#TenLittleWords #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Leah can’t remember a time when she didn’t love writing. From creating fake newspapers to writing letters to the editor, scribbling something was always on the agenda. Even the rejections she received after completing her first novel at age 13 didn’t dent her enthusiasm.

So it makes sense, then, that she pursued a career in anything but writing. Public relations, teaching, recruitment, editing medical journals — even a stint painting houses — until she finally succumbed once more to the lure of the blank page.

When she’s not being jumped on by her young son or burning supper while thinking of plot-lines, Leah can be found furiously tapping away on her laptop, trying not to check Twitter or Facebook.

Leah also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Ten Little Words by Leah Mercer 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…

We have a beautiful sunny, but cool breezy day here in our little valley in New Zealand. How lovely to see the sun after a long period of rain and/or fog. Hopefully we will get a few more days of this. Fingers crossed that it will last until my day off on Tuesday.

Currently I am reading Ten Little Words by Leah Mercer, a new author to me. I came into this read after two five star reads in a row, so it has a hard act to follow, but it’s coming together nicely, the mystery of Ella’s mother’s disappearance starting to unravel.

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I have just started listening to Anything Is Possible, a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Strout. If you have read My Name is Lucy Barton by this author, the two stories that I have so far listened to involved Lucy indirectly.

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This week I am planning on reading Playdate by Alex Dahl

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It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover. Now it’s an abduction.

Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight.

That was the last time she saw her daughter.

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

and Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey

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Delia Maxwell is an international singing sensation, an icon of 1950s glamour who is still riding high on the new 60s scene. Adored by millions, all men want to be with her, all women want to be her. But one woman wants it maybe a little too much…

Lily Brooks has watched Delia all her life, studying her music and her on-stage mannerisms. Now she has a dream job as Delia’s assistant – but is there more to her attachment than the admiration of a fan? Private investigator Frank is beginning to wonder.

As Lily steps into Delia’s spotlight, and Delia encourages her ambitious protegée, Frank’s suspicions of Lily’s ulterior motives increase. But are his own feelings for Delia clouding his judgement?

The truth is something far darker: the shocking result of years of pain and rage, rooted in Europe’s darkest hour. If Delia thought she had put her past behind her, she had better start watching her back.

Six new ARCs from Netgalley this week….I’m not doing any better at achieving my goal of two, am I?

Save Her Soul (Josie Quinn #9) by Lisa Regan

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Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

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One Step Behind by Lauren North

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And easing into my Christmas reads with The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

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The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal

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The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

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I think I need to take a week or two off work to catch up with my reading! Currently I am running twelve days behind schedule 😪 Then there’s the garden, and friends and family that I need to catch up with. My days are simultaneously too long, but not long enough to do all that I want to do. I am sure that I was a much nicer, more relaxed person during lockdown. But while I don’t want lockdown back, I loved having time at home, being able to read, catch up on my ‘to do’ list, garden, etc. Now I feel like I have lost all the ground that I made up over that time. Another thing that I miss is the long phone conversations with friends and family. I guess that I can’t have it all, but a little less work time, and a little more relaxation would be wonderful.

And now I feel guilty for moaning because a lot of you are still in lockdown, some for the second time.

Stay safe everyone.

Sandy

The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

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EXCERPT: The woman shook her head. ‘No, your name isn’t Victoria.’

‘Okaaay,’ Victoria raised her eyebrows, thinking she would get this conversation over as quickly as possible and make her way back into the house. Even the maudlin, quiet gathering of the pensioner bees was better than this. ‘What is it then?’ she challenged, intrigued. ‘What’s my name?’

‘Victory.’ She smiled. ‘Your name is Victory.’

The woman searched her face and Victoria saw a brief reflection of something so familiar it made her heart jump.

‘Victory?’ She bit her lip. ‘Is that right?’

‘Yes. A strong name, a name that I thought would see you through anything.’

Victoria took a step backwards.

Her heart beat loudly in her ears and her stomach flipped with nausea. Whatever this was, whatever joke, prank or deception, she was not enjoying it and wanted to be anywhere else. It was as if her feet had grown roots in the mud and, as much as she wanted to run, she felt stuck.

‘I don’t know why you would say that to me. Who are you? Who did you come with? Because I will see if they are ready to leave.’ Still she was torn between wanting to throw the woman out and being polite: it was a funeral, after all. She was aware she had raised her voice slightly.

‘Who am I?’ The woman’s tone suggested the question almost pained her.

‘Yes, who are you?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

MY THOUGHTS: Another ‘I couldn’t put it down’ read from Amanda Prowse.

I read The Day She Came Back overnight, a box of tissues handy for the second half. I cried tears of sadness, sympathy, and joy. Prowse does human emotion so eloquently, so realistically, that the reader is transported into the book alongside the beautifully crafted characters. She understands grief, and anger, and how, when someone is hurting, they lash out at the ones who love them. Which is exactly what Victoria does. Her world is turned upside down, and she is angry with everyone whose life is unaffected. She is eighteen years old, alone, vulnerable, and ripe for the picking. With the whole foundation of her life ripped out from beneath her, Victoria reacts, and reacts badly. Some version of her story is played out multiple times every day all around the world. I wanted to reach out and hug her, she became that real to me. I also, at various times, wanted to ground her, slap her, and give her a reality check or two. Very realistic characters. All of them.

The Day She Came Back is a beautifully poignant story of a young woman finding her place in the world. There is nothing predictable about Prowse’s writing. When I was expecting the storyline to go in one direction, she took it in another. The plot is as superbly crafted as the characters.

Five very tear-stained but smiling stars.

😪😍❤😪😍

#TheDaySheCameBack #NetGalley

‘I used to sit there in a warm spot like a sun-puddling cat and read.’

‘I love to see people in love. I think it is one of the most hopeful sights known to man. I think that as long as people love one another, then there is hope.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse 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

All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White

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EXCERPT: I stopped, noticing an unusual postage stamp on one of the envelopes. It was a red US airmail eight-cent stamp showing a picture of aviatrix Amelia Earhart. My name and address had been scribbled in barely comprehensible letters on the front in bold, black ink. Definitely not a graduate of a British boarding school then, so perhaps not a school friend of Kit’s offering condolences.

I looked at the top left corner to read the return address. A. Bowdoin, Esq., Willig, Williams & White, 5 Wall Street, New York, NY. I assumed Bowdoin was either a funeral director or a lawyer, having never clearly understood the difference between the two when it came to death and taxes.

Climbing the stairs, I slid my finger under the flap and began tearing the envelope, not wanting to go through the bother of retrieving a letter opener. Tucking the rest of the post under one arm, I pulled out a piece of letterhead paper and began to read.

Dear Mrs. Langford,

My condolences on the death of your late husband, Christopher Langford. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but my father, Walter, was a huge admirer and shared with me many stories of your husband’s bravery and courage during the war.

We only recently became aware of your husband’s passing when an old war friend of my father’s mailed him the obituary from the Times. It took a while to find us, which is why it has taken me so long to contact you. I realise my letter might be a surprise and might even be an imposition at best. But I hope that you might bear with me so that I might explain myself and perhaps even enlist your assistance.

In the obituary, it mentioned your husband’s brave exploits in France as well as his involvement with the French Resistance fighter known only as La Fleur. As you may or may not be aware, she has reached nearly mythical proportions in French lore – to the point where some say she never even really existed.

My slow progress up the stairs halted, and I grabbed the banister, the other envelopes slipping from their hold under my arm before gently cascading down the steps. La Fleur.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The heiress . . .
The Resistance fighter . . .
The widow . . .
Three women whose fates are joined by one splendid hotel

France, 1914. As war breaks out, Aurelie becomes trapped on the wrong side of the front with her father, Comte Sigismund de Courcelles. When the Germans move into their family’s ancestral estate, using it as their headquarters, Aurelie discovers she knows the German Major’s aide de camp, Maximilian Von Sternburg. She and the dashing young officer first met during Aurelie’s debutante days in Paris. Despite their conflicting loyalties, Aurelie and Max’s friendship soon deepens into love, but betrayal will shatter them both, driving Aurelie back to Paris and the Ritz— the home of her estranged American heiress mother, with unexpected consequences.

France, 1942. Raised by her indomitable, free-spirited American grandmother in the glamorous Hotel Ritz, Marguerite “Daisy” Villon remains in Paris with her daughter and husband, a Nazi collaborator, after France falls to Hitler. At first reluctant to put herself and her family at risk to assist her grandmother’s Resistance efforts, Daisy agrees to act as a courier for a skilled English forger known only as Legrand, who creates identity papers for Resistance members and Jewish refugees. But as Daisy is drawn ever deeper into Legrand’s underground network, committing increasingly audacious acts of resistance for the sake of the country—and the man—she holds dear, she uncovers a devastating secret . . . one that will force her to commit the ultimate betrayal, and to confront at last the shocking circumstances of her own family history.

France, 1964. For Barbara “Babs” Langford, her husband, Kit, was the love of her life. Yet their marriage was haunted by a mysterious woman known only as La Fleur. On Kit’s death, American lawyer Andrew “Drew” Bowdoin appears at her door. Hired to find a Resistance fighter turned traitor known as “La Fleur,” the investigation has led to Kit Langford. Curious to know more about the enigmatic La Fleur, Babs joins Drew in his search, a journey of discovery that that takes them to Paris and the Ritz—and to unexpected places of the heart. . . .

MY THOUGHTS: What a splendid journey through three time periods, piecing together the mystery of the identity of La Fleur and her ‘talisman’.

All the Ways We Said Goodbye celebrates the strength of women who survived the war against impossible odds while fighting covertly against the Germans. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, this saga spans two world wars, and a period of discovery. Yes, it is greatly sanitised, and relies quite heavily on the romantic aspect, but the bones of the story are good and solid. While there are no great surprises, it is an interesting read, and I will continue to follow this wonderful collaboration of authors. (Is there a term for a group of authors, I wonder?)

I would love to know the story of how these three came to write together. Personally, I find it quite amazing that three different writers can write together to produce a piece of fiction that moves seamlessly from one narrator and timeline, to another, and another. I have seen less cohesion in books written by a single author! The plot is intricate but not confusing, the characters well depicted. There are multiple narrators on this audiobook, and all are superb.

If you like multi-generational family sagas, this is a good one for you.

****.4

THE AUTHORS: Beatriz Williams is the bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Golden Hour, The Summer Wives, A Hundred Summers, and The Wicked Redhead. A native of Seattle, she graduated from Stanford University and earned an MBA in finance from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty novels, including The Summer Country, The Ashford Affair, and The English Wife, as well as the RITA Award–winning Pink Carnation series. An alumna of Yale University, she has a graduate degree in history from Harvard and a JD from Harvard Law School. She lives in New York City with her husband, kindergartner, toddler, and vast quantities of coffee.

Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-five novels, including Dreams of Falling and The Night the Lights Went Out. She currently writes what she refers to as “grit lit”—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. She is a graduate of the American School in London and has a BS in management from Tulane University. When not writing, she spends her time reading, singing, and avoiding cooking. She has two grown children and currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband and two spoiled Havanese dogs.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of All The Ways to Say Goodbye written by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White, narrated by Helen Sadler, Nicola Barber, Saskia Maarleveld, and published by Harper Audio. 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…

It’s easy to tell when I am having a bad week…I request/buy/borrow books to make myself feel better. And I have had a bad week this week; a combination of work, one son in hospital with blood poisoning, and the dismal weather have drained me, resulting in 9 new ARCs this week! Susan and Carla can stop laughing right now, I’m sure they were responsible for some of my requests.

I am about to start Dead Wicked by Helen H. Durrant, a series that I have been enjoying.

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And I am a little over half way through All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White.

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This week I am planning on reading One in Three by Tess Stimson of which Jayme of theblondelikesbooks.wordpress.com says ‘That. Was. Fun’

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Both of them loved him. One of them killed him . . .

Louise has had to watch her husband, Andrew, start a new family in the four years since he left her. The ‘other woman’ is now his wife – but Louise isn’t ready to let Caz enjoy the life that was once hers, or to let go of the man she still loves.

As Louise starts to dig into Caz’s past, the two women’s pretence of civility starts to slip. But in trying to undermine each other, they discover more about the man they both married.

And when Andrew is murdered at a family party, both women are found standing over the body.

And when Andrew is murdered during the anniversary celebrations, both women are found standing over the body.
It’s always the wife. But which one?

I also plan on reading The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse

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When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

And now (drumroll please!) my ARCs…..

Out of Her Mind by T.R. Reagan

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One In Three by Tess Stimson, and yes I know that I wasn’t going to request any more books due for publication in July or August, but I love this author…

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The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

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What’s Not Said by Valerie Taylor

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The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland

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A Pretty Deceit (Verity Kent #4) by Anna Lee Huber

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Come When I Call You by Shayna Krishnasamy

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The Ocean House by Mary Beth Hughes

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and finally, The Bone Jar by S.W. Kane

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There’s a lot of variety there, so I hope that you have found something to tempt your bookish taste buds.

Cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚☕🍪

The House on Widow’s Hill by Simon R. Green

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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones’s Reviews > The House on Widows Hill
The House on Widows Hill by Simon R. Green
The House on Widows Hill (Ishmael Jones #9)
by Simon R. Green
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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones’s reviewJul 10, 2020 · edit
really liked it
bookshelves: 2020, netgalley-arc, series, 3-star, 4-star, contemporary-fiction, crime, murder-mystery, paranormal, sci-fi

EXCERPT: ‘I don’t like the feel of the house,’ I admitted. ‘As though it’s hiding something from us.’

‘Are you feeling anything specific?’

Nothing I can put a name to. Not dread or horror, just . . . a general feeling of being watched, by unseen eyes.’

‘I am definitely feeling all of that,’ said Penny.

‘Remember the ink blot,’ I said. ‘It’s more than likely we are only feeling these things because the file told us we would.’

‘But we’re professionals,’ said Penny. ‘You are Space Boy,I am Spy Girl; we’re used to walking into dangerous situations. We don’t get nervous; we make other people nervous. And yet . . . it does feel as if something in that house is waiting for us, and rubbing its hands together in anticipation.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Set high on top of Widows Hill, Harrow House has remained empty for years. Now, on behalf of an anonymous prospective buyer, Ishmael and Penny are spending a night there in order to investigate the rumours of strange lights, mysterious voices, unexplained disappearances, and establish whether the house is really haunted.

What really happened at Harrow House all those years ago? Joined by a celebrity psychic, a professional ghost-hunter, a local historian and a newspaper reporter, it becomes clear that each member of ‘Team Ghost’ has their own pet theory as to the cause of the alleged haunting. But when one of the group suddenly drops dead with no obvious cause, Ishmael realizes that if he can find out how and why the victim died, he will have the key to solving the mystery

MY THOUGHTS: Another amusing and entertaining romp with Ishmael and Penny. Although this is a series, the books are easily enjoyed as stand alones. Author Simon R. Green gives enough information on the unique Ishmael Jones’ history to keep the reader up to speed.

While I easily guessed the murderer and motive, this in no way diminished my enjoyment.

The House on Widow’s Hill is a quick read, read easily in an afternoon, that blends a number of genres and sets us up for the next installment.

😱😱😱.5

#TheHouseonWidowsHill #NetGalley

‘Fight fire with fire. When science can’t protect you, and logic is off in a corner having a panic attack, magic is right there kicking arse and taking names.’

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Because if you do it today and you like it, you can do it again tomorrow.

THE AUTHOR: and fantasy-author. He holds a degree in Modern English and American Literature from the University of Leicester.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The House on Widow’s Hill by Simon R. Green 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 profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

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EXCERPT: She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut. There was a pleasantly satisfied breakfast taste in her mouth of bacon and coffee and possibly croissants. She lifted her chin and the morning sun shone so brightly on the water, she had to squint through spangle of light to see her feet in front of her. Her toenails were each painted a different colour. Red. Gold. Purple. Funny. The nail polish hadn’t been applied very well. Blobby and messy. Someone else was floating in the water right next to her. Someone she liked a lot, who made her laugh, with toenails painted the same way. The other person waggled multi-coloured toes at her companionably, and she was filled with sleepy contentment. Somewhere in the distance a man’s voice shouted, ‘Marco?’ and a chorus of children’s voices cried back, ‘Polo!’ The man called out again, ‘Marco, Marco, Marco?’ and the voices answered, ‘Polo, Polo, Polo!’ A child laughed; a long, gurgling giggle, like a stream of soap bubbles. A voice said quietly and insistently in her ear, ‘Alice?’ and she tipped back her head and let the cool water slide silently over her face.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.

So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes.

Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over.

MY THOUGHTS: This is one of those books that simply took over my life. My poor long-suffering husband probably thought I had amnesia when I was reading it … because I don’t think I was fully present until after I closed the cover for the final time.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have ten years missing from my memory. Just gone. People die. Babies are born. Friends/family divorce. And remarry. People move away. Technology changes. When I think about all the changes in my life over the past ten years, if I had to wake up and face all that at once….well, I think I would have a meltdown. And if I had mortally offended people during that time, as Alice has done, well … where would I turn?

Liane Moriarty has, as is her trademark, written an emotional rollercoaster of a story. Absolutely fascinating with very real characters whom you won’t always like but will find very easy to relate to, What Alice Forgot will have you chuckling one moment, sobbing quietly the next.

Five very brightly shining stars!

THE AUTHOR: Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of six internationally best-selling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story and the number 1 New York Times bestsellers, The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies.

Her breakout novel The Husband’s Secret sold over three million copies worldwide, was a number 1 UK bestseller, an Amazon Best Book of 2013 and has been translated into over 40 languages. It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list. CBS Films has acquired the film rights.

With the launch of Big Little Lies, Liane became the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. An HBO series based on Big Little Lies is currently in production, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Writing as L.M. Moriarty, Liane has also written a children’s book series, The Petrifying Problem with Princess Petronella, The Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble and The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy.

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, published by Pan Macmillan Australia, from the Waitomo District Library. 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

Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

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EXCERPT: When Rory died, Jessie’s one consolation was that she’d never again have to live through something as bad. Her Dad’s passing was painful. Her mother’s was worse. The wound of having been cut out of the Kinsella inner circle had taken a while to heal. Giving up on having a sixth child had, for a patch, been oddly unbearable. But nothing had ever come close to the visceral punch of Rory ceasing to exist.

Over the years, whenever a big drama had blown up, her second or third thought was, I’ve already survived the worst thing that could happen.

It had made her feel safe. Almost lucky. But this – tonight – was as bad as Rory, that same light-headed combination of disbelief and stone-cold certainty: something terrible had happened. She didn’t want it to be true, but everything had already changed forever. Once more, the jigsaw of her life had been thrown up in the air and she had no idea where the pieces would land.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together–birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie–who has the most money–insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Still, everything manages to stay under control–that is, until Ed’s wife, Cara, gets a concussion and can’t keep her thoughts or opinions to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, and Cara starts spilling all their secrets.

As everything unravels, each of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s–finally–the time to grow up.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this mad book about this absolutely mad family. But it took me a little while to get there. About 20% of the book, in fact.

There is an absolutely wonderful cast of characters and paradoxically, they are one of the problems. Because there are a lot of them, and I struggled to keep them straight, who was married to whom, and where all the children belonged. Now, to be absolutely fair, there is a family tree, but because I have a digital ARC of Grown Ups, in which the formatting is less than wonderful, I couldn’t make sense of it. But eventually I managed to get all the relationships straight in my mind.

Another thing that I adored about Grown Ups is the absolute Irishness of it. And there’s another problem. It would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary of Irish terms, and a bit of a guide to pronunciation. Now, I live in New Zealand, so I am going to throw Ngaruawahia at you, and see how you get on with pronouncing that. My Australian husband, who has lived in New Zealand for fifteen years, still can’t get his mouth around it! And I have similar problems with some of the Irish words, and particularly with the name Saoirse. I would be grateful if someone could enlighten me. But please don’t leave them out Ms Keyes. They are an integral part of the character of this book.

But putting all that aside, this is a brilliant read. The writing is excellent (thanks for restoring my faith in you Ms Keyes), well paced, the plot absorbing and entertaining. I laughed and cried, and laughed and cried, and did both some more.

It is the characters that really drive this novel. Jessie, slowly bankrupting herself and husband Johnny with her largesse, frightened that if she doesn’t pay for everything, the ‘spensie’ stuff, no one will love her. Cara, reservations manager at an exclusive hotel, married to Johnny’s younger brother Ed, who hides a dangerous secret. Finally there is Nell, artistic and enviably comfortable in her own humanitarian and environmentalist skin, married to the youngest brother, Liam. Then there is a dead husband, the numerous children, an ex-wife (Liam’s), parents, parents-in-law, ex-parents-in-law, cousins, friends, partners, business associates, Karl Brennan – who defies description, workmates, a barman named Gilbert and, no, on reflection, I don’t think there was a milkman.

The book begins with Johnny’s birthday dinner, and Cara’s cataclysmic revelations. It then goes back six months and we learn of all the things leading up to the eruption.

There is love and lust, secrets and deceit, grief and loss, envy and just about any emotion you care to name. In summary, a novel about people living up to others expectations of them and, in doing so, losing sight of themselves and what is truly important.

❤❤❤❤.4

#GrownUps #NetGalley

‘He’d had dementia and just faded away, like a picture left in the sun.’

‘You get one precious life. Why not try to have a contented one.’

THE AUTHOR: Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin Random House, Doubleday Canada for providing a digital ARC of Grown Ups by Marian Keyes 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