Bibliomysteries Volume 1 edited by Otto Penzler

EXCERPT: They’d met last night for the first time and now, mid-morning, they were finally starting to let go a bit, to relax, to trust each other. Almost to trust each other.

Such is the way it works when you are partnered with a stranger on a mission to kill. (An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffrey Deaver)

ABOUT ‘BIBLIOMYSTERIES Volume One’: If you open your dictionary, you will discover that there is no such word as “bibliomystery.” However, most mystery readers know that the word refers to a mystery story that involves the world of books: a bookshop, a rare volume, a library, a collector, or a bookseller.

The stories in this unique collection were commissioned by the Mysterious Bookshop. They were written by some of the mystery genre’s most distinguished authors. Tough guys like Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Bestsellers like Nelson DeMille, Anne Perry, and Jeffery Deaver. Edgar winners such as C. J. Box, Thomas H. Cook, and Laura Lippman.

Here you will discover Sigmund Freud dealing with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronting a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; and deadly secrets deep in the London Library; plus books with hidden messages, beguiling booksellers, crafty collectors, and a magical library that is guaranteed to enchant you. The stories have been published in seven languages—one has sold more than 250,000 copies as an e-book (“The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille)—and another won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as the Best Short Story of the Year (“The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository” by John Connolly).

MY THOUGHTS: This is a mostly excellent collection of short stories with books and mysteries at their centre. There is a mix of contemporary and historical fiction. There were a couple of stories that I felt weren’t really mysteries at all, but the high quality of the others eclipsed them.

My favourite story was ‘The Book of Virtue’ by Ken Bruen; the story I liked the least was ‘The Final Testament’ by Peter Blaumer.

The stories are: An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffrey Deaver ⭐⭐⭐
Pronghorns of the Third Reich by C.J. Box ⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Virtue by Ken Bruen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Ghosts by Reed Farrell Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Final Testament by Peter Blaumer ⭐⭐
What’s in a Name by Thomas H. Cook ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book Club by Lauren D. Estleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Death Leaves a Bookmark by William Link ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Book Thing by Laura Lippman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Scroll by Anne Perry ⭐⭐⭐.5
It’s In the Book by Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins ⭐⭐⭐.5
The Long Sonata of the Dead by Andrew Taylor ⭐⭐⭐.5
Rides a Stranger by David Bell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository by John Connolly ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
The Book Case by Nelson De Mille ⭐⭐⭐

David Thomas May did an excellent job of narrating the stories. He had an awful lot of different voices to portray and did so admirably.

Please note: some books are harmed in the telling of these stories.

Overall a ⭐⭐⭐⭐.6 rating

#BibliomysteriesVolume1HighBridgeAudio #NetGalley

EDITOR: Otto Penzler is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.

Otto Penzler founded The Mysteriour Press in 1975 and was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar-winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to HighBridge Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Bibliomysteries Volume 1 for review. Publication date 05 January 2021.

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

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

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

The Ocean House by Mary-Beth Hughes

EXCERPT: And maybe this is where the story begins. If the younger sister was the terrible middle, and the old poet, seen at long last through the eyes of love, was the end, then this, the poets began to believe – and it frightened them in its starkness – might be the start.

Who picked her stepmother up at the train station? They all did.

A huddle of poets, braced against the whipping wind off the icy river, sheltered only by each other’s warmth. The train crept in to a stop. They already felt the escaped curl on the collar. The sexy wisp. As if the old poet had bequeathed them something delicious. Alive. Breathing.

ABOUT ‘THE OCEAN HOUSE: STORIES’: Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

MY THOUGHTS: I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but I didn’t get it. And when I say ‘I didn’t get it,’ I really didn’t get it.

I love interconnecting stories. I adore Elizabeth Strout’s work. But The Ocean House didn’t work for me. The publicity blurb says ‘The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore.’ Complicated is right. I found the writing restless and fidgety. I felt confused. If ever a book needed a family tree, this is it. I couldn’t get a handle on the characters at all, let alone figure out how they were connected.

I abandoned this read at 33%. I really wanted to like The Ocean House of which, btw, the only mention made of it by the time I abandoned the read was that it was let out for the summer and Cece was expected to clean it when the tenants moved out in return for subsidized rent on her apartment.

I think the cover is exquisite. I would have liked the contents to be equally so.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from The Ocean House, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy this.

#TheOceanHouse #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Mary-Beth Hughes is the author of the bestselling novel Wavemaker II, a New York Times Notable Book, and the acclaimed collection Double Happiness, which earned a Pushcart Prize. Her latest book, The Loved Ones, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, and A Public Space. She lives in Brooklyn and Rhinebeck, New York. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Ocean House: Stories by Mary-Beth Hughes 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 . . .

What a tumultuous week it has been around the world! I am so grateful to be living in New Zealand. ❤ I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and healthy.

Currently I am reading Trafficked (The Missing Children Case Files #3) by M. A. Hunter. This was published earlier this week.

I have also started reading The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I have only read the prologue and already I am enthralled! I love this author.

I am almost finished listening to Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the world of books and bookstores, a Netgalley audiobook ARC. There are some excellent stories in this collection. My favourite so far would have to be The Book of Virtues by Ken Bruen.

This week I am planning on reading The Ocean House: Stories by Mary-Beth Hughes.

Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith’s family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore.

And, The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison.

There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.

When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.

But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:

Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.

Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.

Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…

I have four new ARCs from Netgalley this week: The Gorge by Matt Brolly

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

Forgotten Victim by Helen H. Durrant

And, The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

I have requested a couple of audiobooks, but my approvals don’t seem to be in any hurry to come through. 🤷‍♀️

I am not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but needs must. There were so many things I was planning on doing during the two weeks I had off work, and so many things that are still on my list, uncompleted or, worse still, not even started. I always overestimate what I can do in the time I have available. My Netgalley back list is evidence of this failing!

Look after yourselves my friends and stay safe.

Pop in tomorrow check out my review of a book that I didn’t really expect to love, but ended up being a five star read for me!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly

Here is the review that you never got yesterday! It is somewhat shorter than the original.

EXCERPT: And into this (pub) one day wandered a guy called Gordon, with his vertical-stripe velvet coat, his shoes that turned up at the front, his Brylcreemed hair, his Ascot tie and his violin. And a wierd look about his face. I became instantly friendly with him.

Gordon only had one eye – he’d lost the other one in a motoring accident in Spain – but that’s not when we discovered it, that came later. We found that out one day when it was somebody’s birthday in the pub. ‘Happy birthday!’ – chink-chink – ‘Happy birthday! All the best!’ – chink-chink – ‘Yeah, happy birthday to you!’ – chink-chink. And Gordon went; ‘Yeah, happy birthday!’ and he lifted his glass and chink-chinked it with his glass eye. We were amazed: ‘Did you see that? He chinked the glass off his fucking eye!’

He was a crazy bloke. He drank Guinness and when he needed to pee, he’d take his eye out and put it in the foam, because there were a lot of thieves in the pub. We called them ‘mine-sweepers’, because they’d go up and grab somebody else’s glass, saying, ‘That’s mine!’ Well, they’d try it with Gordon’s – ‘That’s mine!’ – and then they’d see this eye floating in the foam: ‘Aaaggghhh!’

Well I was walking through the pub one day, and he came in the door with his arm in a sling. I said, ‘What happened to you?’ He said, ‘You’ll never believe it. I was driving up Sauchiehill Street, I was scratching my good eye, and I ran into a bus.’ He’d thought because his artificial eye was so expensive he could see through it!

ABOUT ‘TALL TALES AND WEE STORIES’: In December 2018, after fifty years of belly-laughs, energy and outrage, Billy Connolly announced his retirement from live stand-up comedy. It had been an extraordinary career.

When he first started out in the late sixties, Billy played the banjo in the folk clubs of Scotland. Between songs, he would improvise a bit, telling anecdotes from the Clyde shipyard where he’d worked. In the process, he made all kinds of discoveries about what audiences found funny, from his own brilliant mimes to the power of speaking irreverently about politics or explicitly about sex. He began to understand the craft of great storytelling. Soon the songs became shorter and the monologues longer, and Billy quickly became recognised as one of the most exciting comedians of his generation.

Billy’s routines always felt spontaneous. He never wrote scripts, always creating his comedy freshly on stage in the presence of a live audience. A brilliant comic story might be subsequently discarded, adapted or embellished. A quick observation or short anecdote one night, could become a twenty-minute segment by the next night of a tour.

Billy always brought a beautiful sense of the absurd to his shows as he riffed on his family, hecklers, swimming in the North Sea or naked bungee jumping. But his comedy can be laced with anger too. He hates pretentiousness and calls out hypocrisy wherever he sees it. His insights about the human condition have shocked many people, while his unique talent and startling appearance on stage gave him license to say anything he damn well pleased about sex, politics or religion.

Billy got away with it because he has always had the popular touch. His comedy spans generations and different social tribes in a way that few others have ever managed.

MY THOUGHTS: I bought this book from a small independent bookstore in Russell, northern New Zealand, when we were up there on holiday over the 2019/20 Christmas/New Year period.

I love Billy Connolly and was lucky enough to see him live last time he toured New Zealand. I came out of his show with my mascara all down my face, and my sides ached for days.

Billy writes exactly as he talks, so I could hear him as I was reading. Some of the stories were familiar to me, some were new. All were entertaining. No one escapes his attention. Not his wife, daughters, friends, workmates, or the scone loving, brogue, twinset and heather coloured tweed wearing elderly ladies of Scotland.

If you’re a Billy Connolly fan, or simply need a good laugh, this is the book you need. It has joined The World of Pooh: The Complete Winnie-The-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne as my all time favourites. They are never put away on a shelf, but instead are always somewhere close at hand where I can pick one up and while away a few minutes, or hours.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: William “Billy” Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin (The Big One). His first trade, in the early 1960s, was as a welder (specifically a boilermaker) in the Glasgow shipyards, but he gave it up towards the end of the decade to pursue a career as a folk singer in the Humblebums and subsequently as a soloist. In the early 1970s he made the transition from folk-singer with a comedic persona to fully-fledged comedian, a role in which he continues. He also became an actor.

It is as a stand-up comedian that Connolly is best known. His observational comedy is idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff. He has outraged certain sectors of audiences, critics and the media with his free use of the word “fuck”. He has made jokes relating to masturbation, blasphemy, defecation, flatulence, haemorrhoids, sex, his father’s illness, his aunts’ cruelty and, in the latter stages of his career, old age (specifically his experiences of growing old). In 2007 and again in 2010, he was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.

Connolly has been married to comedian and psychologist Pamela Stephenson since 1989. In the book Billy, and in a December 2008 online interview, Connolly states he was sexually abused by his father between the ages of 10 and 15. He believes this was a result of the Catholic Church not allowing his father to divorce after his mother left the family. Due to this, Connolly has a “deep distrust and dislike of the Catholic church and any other organization that brainwashes people”. In a 1999 interview with “The Sunday Herald” Connolly condemned the SNP as “racist” and the new Scottish parliament as a “joke”.

In November 1998, Connolly was the subject of a two-hour retrospective entitled Billy Connolly: Erect for 30 Years, which included tributes from Judi Dench, Sean Connery, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Eddie Izzard.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Tall Tales and Wee Stories written by Billy Connolly and published by Two Roads. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

EXCERPT: On a Tuesday morning in the middle of September, Olive Kit­teridge drove carefully into the parking lot of the marina. It was early—she drove only in the early hours now—and there were not many cars there, as she had expected there would not be. She nosed her car into a space and got out slowly; she was eighty-two years old, and thought of herself as absolutely ancient. For three weeks now she had been using a cane, and she made her way across the rocky pathway, not glancing up so as to be able to watch her foot­ing, but she could feel the early-morning sun and sensed the beauty of the leaves that were turned already to a bright red at the tops of the trees.

Once inside, she sat at a booth that had a view of the ocean and ordered a muffin and scrambled eggs from the girl with the huge hind end. The girl was not a friendly girl; she hadn’t been friendly in the year she’d worked here. Olive stared out at the water. It was low tide, and the seaweed lay like combed rough hair, all in one direction. The boats that remained in the bay sat graciously, their thin masts pointing to the heavens like tiny steeples. Far past them was Eagle Island and also Puckerbrush Island with the evergreens spread across them both, nothing more than a faint line seen from here. When the girl—who practically slung the plate of eggs with the muffin onto the table—said, hands on her hips, “Anything else?,” Olive just gave a tiny shake of her head and the girl walked away, one haunch of white pants moving up then coming down as the other haunch moved up; up and down, huge slabs of hind end.

ABOUT ‘OLIVE AGAIN’: Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Elizabeth Strout’s writing. I loved Olive Kitteridge, but I love Olive Again even more. While Strout meanders through Olive’s life and the lives of those around her, she brings back memories of our own lives, things we have done, and people we have known. She makes us look at our own relationships, the way we treat people, and our expectations of them.

In Olive Again, Strout examines aging, loss, grief, loneliness, and the ways in which we have to adapt both physically and mentally to these challenges. She treats the breaking down of our bodies with empathy and humor. After all, as Olive says, ‘ That’s life, nothing you can do about it.’

I like Olive. More than like her. And I plan on visiting with her frequently.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Olive Again written by Elizabeth Strout, narrated by Kimberley Farr, and published by Random House 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

EXCERPT: I closed my eyes and tried to pretend I was in Nantucket.

The house we’d rented every year there had a widow’s walk – a square porch on the roof, where the wives of sea captains were supposed to have watched for their husband’s ships. At night, we’d hear creaks and moans. Once I thought I heard footsteps pacing the widow’s walk. You could feel the ghosts in that house, scaring you in the best way.

If there were any ghosts in this one, they weren’t moaning about husbands lost at sea but slamming doors over modern, trivial matters, such as not being allowed to go water skiing.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL’S GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING’: Generous-hearted and wickedly insightful, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing maps the progress of Jane Rosenal as she sets out on a personal and spirited expedition through the perilous terrain of sex, love, and relationships as well as the treacherous waters of the workplace. With an unforgettable comic touch, Bank skillfully teases out issues of the heart, puts a new spin on the mating dance, and captures in perfect pitch what it’s like to be a young woman coming of age in America today.

MY THOUGHTS: I was actually looking for something else when I came across this, stuck behind some other books on my shelf. I remember reading this not long after it was first published, somewhere around 2000, twenty years ago now, so I thought that I would give it a reread and see how it has stood the test of time. And I am delighted to say that it has stood up well.

Now I am not a chic lit lover. But I needed something light and easy to read, something where I wasn’t going to have to remember 93 characters and their relationships with one another, where I wasn’t going to have to remember a complicated plotline with numerous twists. The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing ticks all those boxes.

The chapters are all separate stories, so it’s a good book for picking up and putting down again. Although I have to admit to reading it over a twenty four hour period, stretched out on the sofa watching the rain beating against the windows and catching a few zzzzzzzs every now and then.

I liked Jane’s character. There’s a lot more depth to her than your average Chic Lit heroine. She’s kind, funny, smart and sassy, even if she doesn’t always have much confidence in herself. And I like her relationship with her family. And despite the light hearted tone, the author does deal with some serious issues, and does so with empathy.

I had originally planned to read then discard this, but somewhere along the line, I changed my mind. It is now tucked back in its little hideyhole, ready for me to rediscover and hopefully enjoy again in a few more years.

And for what it’s worth, IMHO The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing leaves Bridget Jone’s Diary for dead.

⭐⭐⭐.7

THE AUTHOR: Melissa Bank (born in 1961 in Philadelphia) is an American author. She has published two books, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, a volume of short stories, and The Wonder Spot,” a novel, which have been translated into over thirty languages. Bank was the winner of the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton.

Bank was born in Philadelphia; her father, a neurologist, died of leukemia in his late 50s. Bank attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges,and has an MFA from Cornell University.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank. I obtained it from the Gateway Book Exchange, Gosford, NSW, Australia, probably somewhere around 2001/2. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

EXCERPT: For many years Henry Kitteridge was a pharmacist in the next town over, driving every morning on snowy roads, or rainy roads, or summertime roads, when the wild raspberries shot their new growth in brambles along the last section of town before he turned off to where the wider road led to the pharmacy. Retired now, he still wakes early and remembers how mornings used to be his favourite, as though the world were his secret, tires rumbling softly beneath him and the light emerging through the early fog, the brief sight of the bay off to his right, then the pines, tall and slender, and almost always he rode with the window partly open because he loved the smell of the pines and the heavy salt air, and in the winter he loved the smell of the cold. (Taken from the short story ‘Pharmacy’)

ABOUT “OLIVE KITTERIDGE’: At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

MY THOUGHTS: I love this collection of character studies of Olive herself, her family, friends and acquaintances. If you think about where you live and the people you know, you will recognise many of the traits and personalities of Strout’s characters. It may even help you to understand them a little better. Kitteridge has chronicled the small but important incidents in their lives, incidents that often precipitate a turning point, but remain unrecognised as such.

Olive herself is not always likeable. She can be brusque and harsh in her judgements, yet she can also be kind, generous and understanding. She is a ‘smother mother,’ which she vehemently denies, and one of my favourite scenes occurs after her son’s wedding when she overhears her new daughter-in-law criticising the dress she was so proud of. She exacts her own revenge on her hapless and to be short-lived daughter-in-law.

The stories themselves are short and deceptively quiet. There are no great revelations, very few dramas. This is about people coping with their lot, their day to day lives, their decisions or lack of them. Strout takes a dissecting knife to our familiar world and places slivers of it under the microscope. We won’t always like what we see, but she has produced a startlingly honest portrait of the people of a small town.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Strout is a US-American novelist and author. She is widely known for her works in literary fiction and her descriptive characterization. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Olive Kitteridge in 2009.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Olive Kitteridge, written by Elizabeth Strout, narrated by Kimberly Farr, and published by Random House Audio via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

For some reason, today I have been thinking about the music I used to listen to as a teenager, and one song in particular came to mind – Lazy Sunday Afternoon, from the Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake album by the Small Faces.

The album cover was round – a tobacco tin. It was beautiful and I had it for many years before it got lost in one of my many moves. This particular track featuring today is probably the result of wishful thinking. It definitely wasn’t the most played track or album of my teenage years, that accolade would have gone to the Led Zeppelin II album.

I had, and still have, very eclectic music tastes.

Currently I am reading Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon. I only started this last night and I am almost finished (okay, my Kindle ran out of charge otherwise I would still be reading) and wow! What a page turner!

I am also reading Living Ayurveda. I started Ayurveda yoga earlier this year and really love it, so when I saw this book I knew I had to have it.

I am also reading it’s always the husband by Michelle Campbell

And listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I am back to work this week. Because I am still struggling with health issues, I am planning a light week commitmentwise, so am only going to commit to one other book, Her Sister’s Child by Alison James.

She rolls over and reaches for her instinctively: her baby. Her hand hits air and flaps redundantly. She stumbles out of bed and switches on the light. But this only confirms it. The baby is gone. Someone has taken her.

Sixteen years ago, Lizzie Armitage woke to find her newborn baby gone. Just days later, Lizzie was dead.

Her sister Paula swore she would do everything she could to find the child. If she hadn’t promised to keep Lizzie’s pregnancy secret, maybe the baby wouldn’t have disappeared. And maybe Lizzie would still be alive. But, in nearly a decade, Paula’s never found any trace. Until now…

When Paula bumps into an old friend from the past, she realises she wasn’t the only one who knew about her sister’s child. Someone knows what happened that day. Someone knows where Lizzie’s baby went.

But can Paula find out the truth before another family is ripped apart?

Only three ARCs this week – Susan, your 👑 is on the courier, winging its way back to you. 🤣😂👑 I am sure that you have far more new ARCs than me this week! I am sure to have many more next week after I check out Susan’s, Carla’s and Carol’s posts today.

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison

And, Ghosts by Dolly Alderton which has been sitting on my wishlist for ages. Thanks for the recommendation Ceecee.

And to finish off I would like to share a few bright spots of colour from my garden with you.

Happy Sunday everyone.

Sandy

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight collated by Jeffrey Deaver

EXCERPT: A moment later Beth heard a soft sound behind her.

Humming.

Gasping, Beth turned and, in shock, stared at Joanne, who was gazing at her sister-in-law. Her face had the same eerie, blank expression as Robert’s.

And the humming too, was the same as earlier, the notes her husband had hummed over and over again.

The notes that spelled D-E-A-D.

– A Creative Defense by Jeffrey Deaver.

ABOUT ‘NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT’: The sun sets. The moon takes its place, illuminating the most evil corners of the planet. What twisted fear dwells in that blackness? What legends attach to those of sound mind and make them go crazy in the bright light of day? Only Suspense Magazine knows…

Teaming up with New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, Suspense Magazine offers up a nail-biting anthology titled: “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight.” This thrilling collection consists of thirteen original short stories representing the genres of suspense/thriller, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, and more.

Readers’ favorites come together to explore the mystery of midnight. The ‘best of the best’ presenting these memorable tales, include: Joseph Badal, Linwood Barclay, Rhys Bowen, Jeffery Deaver, Heather Graham, Alan Jacobson, Paul Kemprecos, Shannon Kirk, Jon Land, John Lescroart, D. P. Lyle, Kevin O’Brien, and Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Take their hands…walk into their worlds…but be prepared to leave the light on when you’re through. After all, this incredible gathering of authors, who will delight fans of all genres, not only utilized their award-winning imaginations to answer that age-old question of why “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight”—they also made sure to pen stories that will leave you…speechless.

MY THOUGHTS: An interesting collection. There is not one story in this collection that I disliked. And there’s three good solid five star reads amongst the thirteen offerings. There are authors that I am familiar with, and others that I have not previously read. The title line, ‘Nothing good happens after midnight’ appears in several of the stories.

My favourite three stories, in the order that they appear in this anthology, are:

Night Shift by Linwood Barclay, who is a ‘go to’ author for me;
Midnight in the Garden of Death by Heather Graham, a new author to me, and which had my heart pounding; and
A Creative Defense by Jeffrey Deaver.

My least favourite was 12:01am by Alan Jacobson

A good collection for dipping into when you have five minutes to fill.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#NothingGoodHappensAfterMidnight #NetGalley

ABOUT JEFFREY DEAVER: #1 international bestselling author of over thirty novels and three collections of short stories. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He’s received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Suspense Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Nothing Good Happens After Midnight, collated by Jeffrey Deaver, for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Apologies for disappearing on you so suddenly last week. I was rushed off to ED in the early hours of last Sunday morning with breathing difficulties, which resulted in a five day stay in hospital. I am not yet allowed back to work, and will be going for more tests and follow up during the week ahead.

Currently I am not reading anything. I have finished two books this morning, the delightful Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson

And Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Which as well as being a Netgalley ARC, was a group read for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group.

I started listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout this morning.

This week I only have one ARC that I need to read for review which is Nothing Good Happens After Midnight: A suspense magazine anthology, with contributions by Jeffrey Deaver, Linwood Barclay and John Lescroart, amongst others.

I will use any other reading time I get to catch up on back titles.

I have received ten new ARCs over the past two weeks:

The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

The Perfect Life by Nuala Elwood

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Limelight by Graham Hurley

Our Little Secret by Lesley Sanderson

And finally I’m So Effing Tired by Amy Shah

And on that note, I am off for a nap.

Happy reading ❤📚