Watching what I’m reading . . .

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is what I am currently reading. This author really knows how to create an atmosphere!

I am listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, an author I have been wanting to read for some time, but I am never approved for her ARCs on Netgalley. It’s definitely another atmospheric and suspenseful read.

I have only managed to complete two of my seven scheduled reads for the week, so I am carrying them over into this week where I only have one other read for review scheduled. It is Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah. Thank you to the author for kindly providing me with a copy for review.

As he stared at the corpse’s face, he realized an endless dark cavity beneath the dead skin. There’s no one there. Even if he shouted with all his might, it was not the echo that would greet him but the silence that engulfed his voice.

– SOLACE

In “Good Friends,” a little girl collects dolls her family can’t afford from the neighbor’s trash bin. But who is the ghostly figure sharing them with her? A mysterious married woman reaches out to an ojek driver in “Confide,” and a young man’s attempt to kill himself goes awry in “Zombie.” In “The Crains” a new wife discovers her in-laws’ dangerous forays into black magic, and “Solace” follows a young man with a terrifying secret in his bedroom… These are just some of the spine-tingling stories of Solace and Other Stories, a surreal collection sure to keep you up at night! 

I have received five new Netgalley ARCs this week. They are: Mothered by Zoje Stage. I don’t know about you, but I find that cover chilling! The possibilities . . .

This is Us by Helen McGinn

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood (my nod to Christmas)

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

My post is short and sweet today as I have to prepare some entrees for a friend’s birthday this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week workwise, but I am trying not to slip back into my old work habits and made sure to take some time for myself. I went swimming on Tuesday afternoon. Hilarious! My spirit was willing but my muscle memory was not cooperating. Floundering might be a more apt description of what I actually did. Thursday morning I went to aquarobics with my cousin which was not only a great workout but lots of fun. I have convinced another friend to come with us this coming week.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

My tablet appears to be having memory issues – early onset Alzheimer’s? It’s not that old, but then I wonder about the ratio of computer years to human ones. Anyway it’s going into the computer doctor this morning because yesterday, when I was trying to take my spot on a blog tour, it kept deleting random parts of my post – being a sneaky wee beastie! Thank you to my lovely neighbour Helen, who loaned me her laptop so that I could participate. I’m back on my tablet now, so we’ll see what happens….

Currently I am reading The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney, set in the 1970s and 80s in Ireland and London, and currently in Ireland, it’s a poignant, sad and sometimes humorous read that I’m enjoying greatly.

I am also reading A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett, which I have just started.

Both are new authors to me.

I am listening to Outside Looking In by Michael Wood, (#2 in the DCI Matilda Darke series, then I think I am all caught up with it.

Books to be read for review this week are:

The Record Keeper by Charles Martin, #3 in the Murphy Shepherd series

Murphy Shepherd’s last rescue mission very nearly cost him his life. He’d like nothing more than to stay close to his wife and daughters for a while. But Bones’s brother must be stopped, and there are so many who need to know that they are worth rescuing.

As the cat-and-mouse game moves into the open, Murphy is tested at every turn—both physically and mentally. And then the unthinkable happens: his beloved mentor and friend is taken. Without a trace.

Murphy lives by the mantra that love shows up. But how can he do that when he has no leads?  With heart-stopping clarity, The Record Keeper explores the true cost of leaving the ninety-nine to find the one. 

Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries, Edited by Otto Penzler

For devotees of the Golden Age mystery, the impossible crime story represents the period’s purest form: it presents the reader with a baffling scenario (a corpse discovered in a windowless room locked from the inside, perhaps), lays out a set of increasingly confounding clues, and swiftly delivers an ingenious and satisfying solution. During the years between the two world wars, the best writers in the genre strove to outdo one another with unfathomable crime scenes and brilliant explanations, and the puzzling and clever tales they produced in those brief decades remain unmatched to this day.

Among the Americans, some of these authors are still household names, inextricably linked to the locked room mysteries they devised: John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Clayton Rawson, Stuart Palmer. Others, associated with different styles of crime fiction, also produced great works—authors including Fredric Brown, MacKinlay Kantor, Craig Rice, and Cornell Woolrich. 

All of these and more can be found in Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries, selected by Edgar Award-winning mystery expert and anthologist Otto Penzler. Featuring a delightful mix of well-known writers and unjustly-forgotten masters, the fourteen tales included herein highlight the best of the American impossible crime story, promising hours of entertainment for armchair sleuths young and old. 

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman

12-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.

When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murders, questions remain as to his guilt — questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free — or bury her deeper? 

Yours, Mine, Ours by Sinead Moriarty

What’s another branch on the family tree?

Things are finally looking up for Anna. Seventeen miserable years of marriage to man-child Connor have left her drained and ready for a new start. So when they separate, she couldn’t be more thrilled to move in with James, a handsome lecturer who is everything her ex-husband is not: kind, thoughtful, and above all, reliable.

But Anna and James’s kids hate living with the loved-up couple and the new set-up. Their teenage daughters – one a studious high achiever and the other a cool rich girl unbothered by grades or exams – have nothing in common. And Anna’s wild football-mad nine-year-old son declares war on bookish James.

Nobody said step-parenting was easy; Anna and James are about to find out exactly how complicated it can be. With exes, new partners-of-exes and money all in the mix, home life is fast becoming a minefield and their new-found happiness hangs in the balance. Do they have what it takes to make their blended family work?

I have six ARCs from Netgalley this week . . .

Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

The Way it is Now by Garry Disher

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low

1989 by Val McDermid

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry

My Darling Daughter by J.P. Delaney

Well, this has been an interesting experience. Tablet has now developed a stutter, amongst other things! I am saving each sentence as it finally appears on screen. It’s been a long and laborious process, but we’re finally here.

Have a wonderful week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It seems like an awfully long time since I last did this post,but in reality it was three Sundays ago. I had a wonderful time with Kyle while he was home. Some days we just sat around and talked, some we visited old haunts like Mokau Beach where we used to go every Christmas holidays when he was small, and other days he went and visited his friends. He’s planning on coming home again somewhere around Christmas. And we are planning to go visit him next winter. Luke was very excited to meet his Uncle Kyle again and they spent hours building Lego together. We’ve had Luke stay two nights this week as his school had a teacher only day Friday. We took him home Saturday morning and watched him play soccer before we came back home. He really enjoyed the ducks and ducklings that seem to have moved into the neighbourhood and drew pictures of them which are now on the fridge doors. As is usual when Luke stays, we read and reread many of his books, and I did very little reading for myself.

Currently I have reading The Beach Babes by Judith Keim, A Seashell Cottage Book.

Although I am enjoying the storyline, I’m finding the dialogue stilted and formal. It’s a quick, enjoyable read though.

I have just started a backlist title from February, The Wedding Murders by Sarah Linley. So far, so good.

And I am listening to The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain. Again I have only just started this, but so far, so good.

This week I have five books to read for review. They are:

Blind Justice by David Mark, #10 in the DS McAvoy series

The call comes in before DS Aector McAvoy has had time for breakfast. The news is bad: A body. Found in the woods out at Brantingham.

The reality is even worse.

The young man’s mutilated corpse lies tangled in the roots of a newly fallen tree, two silver Roman coins nailed through his sightless eyes. Who would torture their victim in such a brutal manner – and why?

DS McAvoy makes the victim a promise: I will find answers. You will know justice. But justice always comes at a cost, and this time it may be McAvoy’s own family who pay the price.

Backstory by William L. Myers Jr. I haven’t previously read this author.

In the aftermath of his wife’s apparent suicide, Jackson Robert Hunter wakes up outside a bar with a badly battered head and no memory. Revelations convince Jackson that his wife’s death wasn’t a suicide, but a murder, and he sets out to find the killer.

While hunting the villain and struggling with his amnesia, Jackson discovers that his own backstory is a dark one, littered with broken hearts and dead bodies: a wife he betrayed; a lover he abandoned; a squad of crooked cops he double-crossed; and a city that lives in fear of his name.

Jackson’s odyssey takes him from a small town in Kansas to Philadelphia, then back cross-country to Las Vegas. Along the way he encounters a sister he didn’t know he had, a niece he failed to save, and a mentor ready to lead Jackson down the darkest of paths.

Finally, at the end of his journey, Jackson discovers that it’s not another man he’s been running to, or from, but his own damning deeds, and the paradoxical redemption they might bring.

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson. This appears to be a debut novel.

Aspiring filmmaker June Masterson has high hopes for her first documentary, the true story of the disappearance of famed mystery author Greer Larkin. June learned about the vanishing at age fourteen, locked down on her family’s isolated commune. Now, the deeper she digs into the project, the darker the story gets.

Everyone has a theory. Greer’s mother, Blanche, and her best friend, Rachel, believe that Greer’s fiancé, Jonathan, is the culprit. Greer’s agent is convinced that Greer committed suicide after a debilitating bout of writer’s block. And Jonathan claims it was either Greer’s controlling mother or Rachel, whose attachment to Greer went way beyond friendship.

In desperation, Rachel gives June a suitcase full of Greer’s most personal writings in hopes of finding proof against Jonathan. Then Rachel turns up dead. As June pores over Greer’s writings, she makes a devastating discovery that could finally reveal the truth about the author’s fate. But now, June finds herself in the sights of a killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep their darkest secret. 

Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton, whose writing I love.

Elise King is a successful and ambitious detective–or she was before a medical leave left her unsure if she’d ever return to work. She now spends most days watching the growing tensions in her small seaside town of Ebbing–the weekenders renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes.

Elise can only guess what really happens behind closed doors. But Dee Eastwood, her house cleaner, often knows. She’s an invisible presence in many of the houses in town, but she sees and hears everything.

The conflicts boil over when a newcomer wants to put the town on the map with a giant music festival, and two teenagers overdose on drugs. When a man disappears the first night of the festival, Elise is drawn back into her detective work and starts digging for answers. Ebbing is a small town, but it’s full of secrets and hidden connections that run deeper and darker than Elise could have ever imagined. 

And The Gin Sisters Promise by Faith Hogan, an Irish author I have read and enjoyed previously.

When Georgie, Iris and Nola’s mother died and their father disappeared into his grief, the sisters made a pact: they would always be there for one another, no matter what.

Now, decades later, they haven’t spoken for years and can barely stand to be in the same room. As his health declines, their father comes up with a plan to bring them back to one another. In his will, he states that before they can claim their inheritance, they must spend six months living together in their childhood home in the village of Ballycove, Ireland, and try to repair their broken relationships.

As the months progress, old resentments boil over, new secrets threaten to come out and each sister must decide what matters more: their pride, or their family. Can they overcome their past and find a way to love each other once more?

And now to new ARCs I’ve received since I last posted. I’m guessing that there’s going to be quite a few!

The Dark Room by Lisa Gray

The Beach Babes by Judith Keim, which I am currently reading.

Guilt Trip by Ed James, DS Vickie Dodds #5

Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship by Willie Nelson with David Ritz

After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl

The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please, a new author to me.

The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson

The Will by Rebecca Reid, another new author to me.

Everything in Between by Valerie G. Miller, a collection of short stories on love, loss and family by another new to me author.

The Girl Who Left by Jenny Blackhurst, yet another new author to me.

And one audiobook – The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder, narrated by Dan Bittner and Khristine Hvam

So twelve books over three weeks, I haven’t gone overboard averaging four books a week. I did try to drop in occasionally to see what everyone was doing.

Have a great week of reading. ❤📚

A Few of the Girls: a collection of short stories by Maeve Binchy

EXCERPT: Taken from ‘Half of Ninety’
Kay woke up because the curtains in her bedroom were being pulled back. This hadn’t happened for a long time, not for five long years since Peter had left. It gave her a shock.

Then she heard a breakfast tray rattling and saw a big vase of flowers on a table. Her daughter Helen must have let herself into the house and was giving her a birthday treat.

‘It’s all from Nick as well,’ Helen explained, not wanting to take all the praise. ‘He delivered the flowers, reminded me to keep the half bottle of champagne cold, he would have been here if he could.’

‘Champagne!’ Kay couldn’t believe it.

She felt tears in her eyes. They were so good to her and always had been.

‘Just half a bottle and fresh orange juice – you are going to have a Bucks Fizz or a Mimosa or whatever they call it.’ Helen was struggling with the cork.

Kay sat up in bed happily. There were fresh croissants on a warmed plate and a Thermos flask of coffee. This breakfast could go on all morning if she wanted it to. And why not? Her day was her own until ten o’clock when she went to work in a nearby antique shop, and it wouldn’t really matter if she were late. They didn’t depend on her to run it, exactly.

But she wouldn’t think of that now as she sipped the fizzy orange. Alcohol at eight in the morning – whatever next?

‘I’ll just have a sip then I must go to work.’ Helen was all busy and excited. ‘Anyway, tonight Mum, it’s the birthday present. Nick and I will be here at seven o’clock to pick you up and we’ll all go to this restaurant and give you our present.’

‘But this is my present, this and the dinner, surely?’ Kay protested.

‘Nonsense. We have to do something special – after all, it’s not every day your mother makes it to half of ninety!’

ABOUT ‘A FEW OF THE GIRLS’: The Irish do love telling stories, and we are suspicious of people who don’t have long, complicated conversations. There used to be a rule in etiquette books that you should invite four talkers and four listeners to a dinner party. That doesn’t work in Ireland, because nobody knows four listeners’

Maeve Binchy’s bestselling novels not only tell wonderful stories, they also give an insight in to how Ireland has changed over the decades, but how people remain the same: they still fall in love, sometimes unsuitably; they still have hopes and dreams; they have deep, long-standing friendships, and some that fall apart. From her earliest writing to her most recent, Maeve’s work has included wonderfully nostalgic pieces and also sharp, often witty writing which is insightful and topical. But at the heart of all Maeve’s fiction are the people and their relationships with each other.

MY THOUGHTS: A Few of the Girls is a collection of short stories from much loved author Maeve Binchy that were published posthumously. They are stories focusing on relationships, both good and bad. And just as there are good and bad relationships in the stories, there are good and bad stories in this collection. Some of them show their age and others are totally relevant. A mixed, but perfectly enjoyable, bag.

⭐⭐⭐.6

THE AUTHOR: Maeve Binchy was born in County Dublin and educated at the Holy Child convent in Killiney and at University College, Dublin. After a spell as a teacher she joined the Irish Times. Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982 and she went on to write over twenty books, all of them bestsellers. Several have been adapted for cinema and television, most notably Circle of Friends and Tara Road. Maeve Binchy received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Book Awards in 1999 and the Irish PEN/A. T. Cross award in 2007. In 2010 she was presented with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gais Irish Book Awards by the President of Ireland. She was married to the writer and broadcaster Gordon Snell for 35 years, and died in 2012.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’ve had a lovely day out with Dustin today, sans Luke. We took up what are probably the last of the passionfruit and cucumber, and a bag of tomatoes. We had a tasty pub lunch and then meandered home. I don’t think either of us will be wanting dinner tonight.

We were expecting heavy rain today, but so far there’s not been a drop. The wind is strong and gusting, and while it’s not exactly cold, it’s not that warm either. Since we’ve been home, I keep putting my slippers on then, ten minutes later, take them off again.

But onto books . . . Currently I am reading, but finding it difficult to get enthusiastic about My Mother’s Gift by Steffanie Edward. This is the first of my read for reviews for the coming week.

When Erica gets a phone call to say her mother, Ione, is ill in St Lucia, she knows she must go to her, even though their relationship has always been difficult. The island – the place of her mother’s birth – is somewhere that Erica has never called home.

Even when the plane touches down in the tropical paradise, with its palm trees swaying in the island breeze, the sound of accents so like her mother’s own calling loud in the air, Erica doesn’t find herself wanting to stay a moment longer than she has to.

But stepping into her mother’s house, she is shocked by what she finds. Her mother’s memory is fading and she is having strange, erratic episodes. Erica knows the right thing to do is to stay with her, even if it means leaving everything in England behind.

Could you uproot your whole life for the person who raised you? Can a place you’ve never felt at home ever feel like where you belong? And – as you experience loss – is it ever possible to also find love and peace?

I picked out three Irish reads from my shelves to celebrate St Paddy’s Day, but actually spent the day gallivanting around various food and wine festivals in France with Peter Mayle in ‘Bon Appetit! I had finished Dervla Mctiernan’s The Rúin, excellent five star book, highly recommended, and needed something with a different focus. I have just started the second of my three Irish reads for pleasure, The Wych Elm by Tana French.

One

night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at the family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

And I am currently listening to As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner which is centred around the Spanish Flu pandemic at the end of WWI. As I have been listening, I am amazed that for all our technological advances since then, very little has actually changed.

In

1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

This week, as well as My Mother’s Gift, I am intending to read A Matter of Time (DI Birch #4) by Claire Askew

At

8am the first shots are fired.

At 1pm, the police establish the gunman has a hostage.

By 5pm, a siege is underway.

At 9pm, DI Helen Birch walks, alone and unarmed, into an abandoned Borders farmhouse to negotiate with the killer.

And The Ash Lake Murders, the first in a new series by Helen H. Durrant.

Callum is lured to an isolated boathouse by an attractive older woman. When she gets him alone, she knocks him out with a single blow. As he wakes up, her voice comes out of the darkness, “You’re a sprat to catch a mackerel.”

Surrounded by hills and lakes, Still Waters is home to a close-knit community of wealthy retirees. It’s an unlikely setting for violence. The police don’t take Callum’s disappearance seriously: he’s 24-years-old, after all. But Callum’s mother, a Still Waters resident, knows that something is very wrong.

Then a body is discovered floating in the lake. Head bashed in. But it’s not Callum.

And someone tweets:Come out to play one last time, Alice. Still Waters run deep. #MadHatter.

That’s when DCI Alice Rossi is called in. She’s back.

I received three new ARCs for review from Netgalley this week. They are: What She Found by Robert Dugoni (Tracy Crosswhite #9)

The Beach House by Beverley Jones

And finally Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries edited by Otto Penzler

So by my reckoning I have broken even this week because, although I have read more than three books in the past week, only three of them were Netgalley ARCs.

WORDLE: how many of you Wordle each day? I was a latecomer, but am an avid Wordler. I post my result on Twitter daily and tag a couple of other bookfriends who do the same to me. If you would like to join us please post your result on Twitter and tag me sandysbookaday @SandraFayJones2

Have a wonderful week!

The Girls on the Shore – A short story by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: Detective Inspector Matthew Venn walked along the track from his house, and onto the beach. The tide was low and the sand seemed to stretch almost to the opposite bank of the estuary.

From his kitchen window, he’d seen two young girls standing in the middle distance. They were holding hands and had their backs to him, staring, it seemed, towards Instow or Appledore. This was where the two North Devon rivers met and the towns stood, oddly majestic in the early morning light, marking the Torridge entrance on the opposite shore. The River Taw ran just below his house.

This wasn’t a tourist beach, and it wasn’t the time of year for children to be playing. It was January.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRLS ON THE BEACH’: It was winter. Cold and clear, a different sort of day for this coast where the westerly winds usually blew rain and cloud.
Detective Inspector Matthew Venn is standing by his kitchen window when he first spots them. Two young girls, facing away from him, seemingly staring towards something in the distance. They are holding hands, and they are alone.

Though not a natural with children, Matthew knows he must find out why the girls are here, on a school day, unsupervised. And so he meets Olivia and Imogen, a pair of sisters whose secrets Matthew must uncover if he hopes to get them home.

MY THOUGHTS: A very good, but very short, story. But it has whet my appetite for the next book in this series which we can expect when?

The second half of this is taken up by the opening two chapters of Cleeves next book to be released, The Rising Tide, an addition to the Vera Stanhope series due for release September 2022.

A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

EXCERPT: Anyway, there we were, on an early April afternoon riding along the sands when the mist came in. Or ‘fret’ as they call it in Northumberland. Daisy, being Northumbrian born and bred, was no more spooked by the fret than I was, but continued placidly on her way until we came to the rocks that mark the end of the bay.

We could not see these rocks, but there was the tang of seaweed, and the hiss and rumble of the flood tide moving in beneath the cliff. Fulmars nested on these shallow cliffs and the clammy air was rent with their strange cries. Daisy splashed through a deep sand pool and up on to the hard sand on the other side. The cliffs reared up before us, sinister in the fog, and I said to Daisy, ‘This is as far as we come,’ and started to turn her when we heard the cry. It could have been a Fulmar. I stopped and listened, and it came again.

‘Hello-o-o…?’

Daisy’s ears pricked. We stared into the fog, saw nothing.

‘Where are you-ou-ou?’

‘Here,’ I called back, and my voice sounded unfamiliar and puny and was lost in the echoes of the cliff face.

There came a scramble of falling stones. Daisy, uneasy of the unknown, whickered anxiously. I laid a hand on her neck, and her shaggy coat, beneath my palm, was beaded with damp. We waited, both straining our eyes and ears.

A movement through the fog; another stone rattled over rock, and the next moment, as though from nowhere, a figure appeared, took shape, not ten feet from where we stood. A small boy wearing jeans and a blue sweater, apparently soaking wet and all alone. – taken from the short story ‘Skelmerton’.

ABOUT ‘A PLACE LIKE HOME’: A heartwarming, escapist collection of fifteen stories from bestselling author Rosamunde Pilcher, published two years after her death, with an introduction by the now also deceased author Lucinda Riley.

In ‘Our Holiday’, a wife surprises her husband of twenty-five years with a trip full of Mediterranean sunshine, red rocks and blue seas, in an effort to rekindle the romance they had before children.

‘Skelmerton’ takes the reader to the bright spring sunshine and sparkling waves of a Northumbrian village, where old flames meet again.

In ‘A Place Like Home’, a young woman goes to recuperate in the Scottish countryside after a brief illness. The fruit orchards and fresh sea air offer refreshment and renewal – but not as much as the handsome, mysterious farmer.

Each of the stories is a perfect slice of romance written with warmth and passion, featuring some wonderfully memorable, smart and fiery female characters that will transport the reader to another time and place.

MY THOUGHTS: I am, and always have been, an ardent Rosamunde Pilcher fan and this delightful collection of fifteen short stories has only increased my admiration for this author. It has also made me realise that I am going to have to trawl the shelves of all the second hand bookstores and charity shops in order to fill in the gaps in my collection of her books.

Pilcher writes of a gentler time: a time of rambling old houses set in beautifully maintained gardens; of scones with clotted cream and jam for tea; and drinks parties where sherry is the tipple of choice.

Her characters are simple but endearing and each of these short stories is a story in its own right. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. And always, a happy ever after.

This is a collection I shall treasure and I am so grateful that it arrived just in time for Christmas.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#APlaceLikeHome #RosamundePilcher @HodderBooks

#historicalfiction #romance #shortstories #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Rosamunde Scott was born on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall, England, UK, daughter of Helen and Charles Scott, a British commander. Just before her birth her father was posted in Burma, her mother remained in England. She attended St. Clare’s Polwithen and Howell’s School Llandaff before going on to Miss Kerr-Sanders’ Secretarial College. She began writing when she was seven and published her first short story when she was 18. From 1943 through 1946, Pilcher served with the Women’s Naval Service. On 7 December 1946, she married Graham Hope Pilcher, a war hero and jute industry executive who died in March 2009. They moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she remained until her death in 2019. They had two daughters and two sons, and fourteen grandchildren. Her son, Robin Pilcher, is also a novelist.

In 1949, her first book, a romance novel, was published by Mills & Boon, under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. She published a further ten novels under that name. In 1955, she also began writing under her married name Rosamunde Pilcher, by 1965 she her own name to all of her novels. In 1996, her novel Coming Home won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by Romantic Novelists’ Association. She retired from writing in 2000 following publication of Winter Solstice. Two years later, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher and published by Hodder &Stoughton. 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, Instagram, and my Goodreads.com

Winter Honeymoon by Jacob M. Appel


Photo by mahdi chaghari on Pexels.com

EXCERPT: Both Minton plots were now occupied – Jinelle’s for three decades, Arnold’s for three days – and Sandy had been office manager at the cemetery for so long that she could locate individual graves for visitors without consulting the logbook. Temporary workers enjoyed quizzing her, flipping open the registry and asking, for example, where Maryann Lewis was interred, but Sandy would shoot back: ‘Do you mean Maryann Lewis died 1977 or Maryann Lewis died 1984?’ When the temps enquired why she had mastered what seemed to them like a morbid parlour trick, or when a feature writer for the local paper delved into Sandy’s motives, she always replied, ‘Busy hands are happy hands and an idle mind is the Devil’s workshop,’ which seemed satisfactory to everyone, although it wasn’t quite clear how memorizing maps of the dead kept one’s hands occupied. It was the sort of response people expected from a homely, church-going spinster. If she had explained her desire to preserve a living memory of the deceased – the way the Jews consecrate the legacy of the holocaust – her inquisitors might think her cuckoo. Instead they thought her upright, straight-shooting, knowledgeable, generous, witty, a lady of considerable spirit, but leading a life as lacklustre as cold porridge. Which it often was.

And now father was dead and Victoria was coming home. Victoria who had done nothing and gotten everything, while Sandy did everything and got nothing. Though you wouldn’t put it to folks that way. – Excerpt taken from The Other Sister

ABOUT ‘WINTER HONEYMOON’: From a widow pursuing an old flame to an architect caught in a collapsing relationship, WINTER HONEYMOON reminds us that life is fleeting but love, in all its forms, is a survivor. These are stories of sometimes quiet, sometimes incredible, and always complex lives that shout at us in their telling. With Jacob Appel’s devilish eye for detail, the stakes grow, the plots turn, and the reader is hit in the head as much as the heart. These are as much affirmations as they are stories, and this is an adventurous and accomplished collection by any measure

MY THOUGHTS: A collection of nine short stories from master storyteller Jacob M. Appel.

While Appel portrays the lives of ordinary people from extraordinary viewpoints, I missed the sense of ridiculousness that he normally infuses his stories with. This collection left me feeling sad, rather than with a smile on my face.

I rated the individual stories as follows:
Winter Honeymoon ⭐⭐⭐.5
The Apprenticeship ⭐⭐.5
The Other Sister ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Before the Storm ⭐⭐⭐
Iceberg Potential ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pay as You Go ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
After Valentino ⭐⭐
Fallout ⭐⭐.5

⭐⭐⭐.2

#JacobMAppel #NetGalley

#contemporaryfiction #deathanddying #historicalfiction #shortstories #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown University, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University, an M.S. in bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, an M.F.A. in playwriting from Queens College, an M.P.H. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He currently practices psychiatry in New York City.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Black Lawrence Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Winter Honeymoon by Jacob M. Appel 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 my webpage

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s a beautiful, fine,hot Boxing Day here in New Zealand. Dustin and Luke left for Lake Taupo late this afternoon, and I have been pottering around the house, pausing every now and then to read a story from A Place Like Home, a wonderful collection of short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher published posthumously.

I am almost finished Survive the Night by Riley Sager

An also almost finished listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

I haven’t got anything scheduled for read for review this week other than Twenty Years Later, so I am going to read books picked totally at random from my backlist.

I received three new ARCs this week: The Child I Never Had by Kate Hewitt

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins ( a widget from the publisher)

And Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan

A short post today as I am in holiday mode, and I am guessing that you all will be too. Happy holidays and enjoy your families and friends. And please, be kind.

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

EXCERPT: Taken from the title story, Five Tuesdays in Winter –

Mitchell’s daughter, who was twelve, accused him of loving his books but hating his customers. He didn’t hate them. He just didn’t like having to chat with them or lead them to very clearly marked sections – if they couldn’t read signs, why were they buying books? – while they complained that nothing was arranged by title. He would have liked to have a bouncer at the door, a man with a rippled neck who would turn people away or quietly remove them when they revealed too much ignorance.

ABOUT ‘FIVE TUESDAYS IN WINTER’: Told in the intimate voices of unique and endearing characters of all ages, these tales explore desire and heartache, loss and discovery, moments of jolting violence and the inexorable tug toward love at all costs. A bookseller’s unspoken love for his employee rises to the surface, a neglected teenage boy finds much-needed nurturing from an unlikely pair of college students hired to housesit, a girl’s loss of innocence at the hands of her employer’s son becomes a catalyst for strength and confidence, and a proud nonagenarian rages helplessly in his granddaughter’s hospital room. Romantic, hopeful, brutally raw, and unsparingly honest, some even slipping into the surreal, these stories are, above all, about King’s enduring subject of love.

MY THOUGHTS: Every now and then I come across an author who can take the every day, the mundane, and transform it into something beautiful. Lily King is one such author. Her stories, all but one, enchanted me.

The emotions of her characters, their reactions to the situations in which they find themselves, is refreshingly real: from the sulky teenage daughter of recently separated parents to the bookseller who finally recognizes the feelings he has for his assistant, these are people we could know or who could live in our town.

My absolute favourite from this collection is Waiting for Charlie, the story of a grandfather sitting at the bedside of his gravely injured granddaughter, closely followed by Five Tuesdays in Winter, Hotel Seattle, and Mansard. The only story I disliked was The Man at the Door.

1. Creature ⭐⭐⭐⭐
2. Five Tuesdays in Winter ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
3. When in the Dordogne ⭐⭐⭐⭐
4. North Sea ⭐⭐⭐.5
5. Timeline ⭐⭐⭐⭐
6. Hotel Seattle ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
7. Waiting for Charlie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
8. Mansard ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
9. South ⭐⭐⭐⭐
10. The Man at the Door ⭐⭐

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#FiveTuesdaysinWinter #NetGalley

I: @lilybooks @groveatlantic

T: @lilykingbooks @GroveAtlantic

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #familydrama #historicalfiction #romance #shortstories #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. After grad school she took a job as a high school English teacher in Valencia, Spain and began writing her first novel. Eight years, ten more moves all over the US, and many bookstore, restaurant and teaching jobs later, that novel was published.

In 1995 she met a guy named Tyler at her friend Bernardine’s house in Belmont, Mass. They married in 1998. They have two daughters and two dogs and live in Portland, Maine.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King 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