Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout

EXCERPT: As we drove, William suddenly made a noise that was almost like a laugh. I turned my face toward him. ‘What?’ I said.

He kept looking straight ahead at the road. ‘Do you know one time when you and I had a dinner party – well, it wouldn’t have been called a dinner party, you never really knew how to pull off a real dinner party – but we had some friends over, and long after they had gone home, way after I had gone to bed, but then I came downstairs and found you in the dining room -‘ William turned his head to glance at me. ‘And I saw -‘ Again he gave an abrupt sound of almost laughter, and he looked straight ahead again. ‘And I saw you bending down and kissing the tulips that were there on the table. You were kissing them, Lucy. Each tulip. God, it was weird.’

I looked out the window of my side of the car, and my face became very warm.

‘You’re a strange one, Lucy,’ he said after a moment. And that was that.

ABOUT ‘OH WILLIAM!’: Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. Recalling their college years, the birth of their
daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people.

MY THOUGHTS: After having read the first two Amgash books, My Name is Lucy Barton, and Anything is Possible, which focussed on Lucy’s earlier life – i.e. leading up to 63, and on people she has known at various times in her life, respectively – I was excited to pick up Oh William!, which looks at her current relationship with her ex-husband, father of her two daughters, and sometimes friend, William.

Lucy is still grieving the loss of her second husband, David, who, I feel obliged to point out, was a much nicer man than William. William liked to belittle Lucy, mainly I think to cover his own feelings of inadequacy, the reasons for which come to light in Oh William!

Sometimes, in my head, I am very much like Lucy Barton. I try not to be, although I love Lucy to bits, but I am. And that is the thing about Strout’s characters – we are able to recognise bits of ourselves in them. But the point that I am getting to is that unlike Lucy, I would have never agreed to go on a trip with my ex-husband, not even with the temptation of finding a half sister he never knew he had, and discovering more about the first marriage of his mother, another unknown. Okay, I might have been momentarily tempted, but I would never have gone. But then William and Lucy have a totally different relationship to mine which is completely non-existent and will remain that way.

We learn a lot about William which, I guess, is the whole point of this book. He is exposed, warts and all, and I was left liking him even less than I had originally.

Oh William! is, like it’s two predecessors, a book that I completely lost myself in. I hope that it is not the last in the series. I want to know if Chrissy will succeed in becoming pregnant and carry to full term. I want to know Lucy in old age. I am not yet ready to say goodbye to this family.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#OhWilliam #NetGalley

I: #elizabethstrout @penguinukbooks

T: @LizStrout @PenguinUKBooks

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteridge. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin General UK – Fig Tree via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Oh William! 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

My Daughter’s Mistake by Kate Hewitt

EXCERPT: Glancing at Amy Rose lying so still, I reach over and take her hand; it feels so tiny and lifeless, her skin dry and papery. Gently I press her fingers between mine, as if I can imbue her with my strength, my vitality. I can almost imagine her eyes opening as she smiles sleepily at me.

Hey, Mama. What are you doing here?

Hey, baby girl. You had such a big sleep.

Did I dream?

You had the best dreams, sweetheart. The very best dreams.

A choked sound escapes me, something far too close to a sob. I can picture it so perfectly; I can’t believe it’s not real, that it’s not going to happen in just a few seconds. Every morning as she sits tangle-haired before her bowl of Cheerios, Amy Rose asks me if she dreamed the night before.

It’s become a thing between us; I tell her all about the dreams she had. I make up stories about ice-cream castles and fairies with sparkly wings, and she listens, rapt, and she always wants more.

I want to tell her about her dreams now. You flew up to heaven on your sparkly wings and then you came back, baby girl, and you had such stories to tell! Up there in the sky, you saw everything there ever was – the Great Wall of China, the lions in Africa, and that big red rock in Australia you think is so cool. You saw it all, and then came back to tell me about it.

Please come back, Amy Rose, 
I plead silently. Please come back and tell me all about it.

ABOUT ‘MY DAUGHTER’S MISTAKE’: I look at my daughter. My darling girl. I remember her tiny hand in mine, her first smile. I recall her tears when she’d tumble over, healed instantly with a band-aid and a little kiss. I have to keep her safe. Even if it means someone else gets hurt…

In the pretty, privileged college town of Milford, New Hampshire, everyone is friendly, everything is safe. And on this cold autumn day, as red and yellow leaves begin to fall from the trees, and everyone wraps up for the first time, it would be easy to believe nothing bad could ever happen here.

Until a screech of tires is heard, a thud, a child’s scream. The crash that sees Jenna’s six-year-old daughter Amy Rose being hit by a car driven by seventeen-year-old Maddie.

Maddie’s mother, Ellen—a college professor with a warm, approachable reputation—insists it must have been an accident. Her daughter is always safe on the road—and she’s vulnerable herself.

But as Amy Rose lies unconscious in hospital, the town begins to take sides. With Ellen, who just wants to defend her daughter. Or with Jenna, a single mother with a past, whose child hovers between life and death…

The truth is that both mothers have secrets they’re trying to keep. And, with Amy Rose’s life hanging in the balance, one of them will stop at nothing to protect the person she loves—her daughter.

MY THOUGHTS: Am I a masochist? Whenever I pick up a Kate Hewitt book, I know that I am about to have my heart shredded into tiny little pieces; but I keep on doing it.

Hewitt will wring every possible emotion from you as you read this heart-wrenching story. Each and every copy of it should come with its own extra large, extra absorbent, box of tissues.

Two mothers, both in desperate situations, are battling head to head over an accident that has critically damaged both their daughters. My Daughter’s Mistake is told from the points of view of the two mothers, Jenna – mother of the beautiful six year old Amy Rose; and Ellen – mother of the vulnerable Maddy.

My Daughter’s Mistake is the story of two families torn apart by one tragedy. Like any tragedy, this doesn’t stop with just those in the accident. Hewitt explores how the effects ripple outwards, affecting every member of the families and beyond.

As always in her books, Hewitt presents us with a situation that could befall any of us. Her characters are very real and I could not help but experience all the emotions of the characters – I seesawed in my sympathy between Jenna and Ellen – but I also felt their love, their loss, their fear and their anger. A master of family dynamics, Hewitt also involves the fathers, the siblings, and grandparents, friends and work colleagues in a story that will leave you emotionally drained but satisfied.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#MyDaughtersMistake #NetGalley

I: @katehewitt1 @bookouture

T: @KateHewitt1 @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of many books of both historical and contemporary fiction. Under the name Katharine Swartz, she is the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell.

She likes to read women’s fiction, mystery and thrillers, as well as historical novels. She particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and two Golden Retrievers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of My Daughter’s Mistake by Kate Hewitt 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

At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski

EXCERPT: May 2019 – On the day she is due to fly home to Australia, Miriam Squires is sitting at a table in the hotel restaurant, sipping her second cup of coffee and staring at the English Channel, which is so still it looks more like a lake than the sea. It’s the end of her annual visit to the UK, always a month or six weeks with her sister Alice in Oxford, followed by a few days of nostalgia here in Brighton, where they had grown up. The town, with its stony beach and two piers, one thriving, the other now a wreck, always lures her back. But now – at seventy-five, with painful mobility problems – the prospect of long queues, struggles with baggage and long hours in the air is daunting. Today, she thinks, is probably the last time she will see the place where she was born. It’s not just the misery of the journey itself, but her increasing disenchantment with England. Beautiful villages have become ugly towns bordered by industrial estates; unique country pubs have been swallowed up by hospitality chains, and those shops who can’t withstand the shift to online shopping are disappearing, leaving high streets sadly diminished.

‘Even Marks and Spencer’s is fading away,’ Alice had told her. ‘Imagine no M and S knickers or bras! And then there’s Brexit. England’s a basket case – it’ll be a disaster if we leave the EU. You’re so lucky with that Jacinda Adern.’

‘She’s the Prime Minister of New Zealand,’ Mim had said, ‘but I do think you’d love Australia. You should come and stay with me, Al.’ She has issued the invitation many times over the years.

‘I’ll think about it,’ Alice had said. ‘I really will.’ That’s what she always said.

ABOUT ‘AT THE END OF THE DAY’: When Mim Squires and Mathias Vander are stranded together on a disrupted flight home to Perth, they are surprised to find that they have much in common. Mim owns a bookshop, Mathias is a writer, and both are at turning points in their lives. Mim’s childhood polio is taking a toll on her life. Mathias is contemplating a cross-continent move to be nearer his daughter.

But life back in Perth is not smooth sailing, with their respective family members going through their own upheavals. As Mim and Mathias both struggle to adjust to the challenges of being in their late seventies, secrets from the past that neither wishes to face rise to the surface, challenging their long-held beliefs in their independence and singularity.

At the end of the day, can they muster the wisdom and the courage they need to change?

MY THOUGHTS: Immersing myself in a Liz Byrski book is my happy place. At the End of the Day is a beautifully written story of family, love, friendship and making peace with the past.

Liz’s characters are loveable – people I could be friends with, realistic people with quirks and faults, having to make decisions that many of us will face in our lives. She writes with a gentle humour and an obvious affection for her characters.

2019 is a time of turmoil for both families. Mim is acknowledging her health problems which are again beginning to impact on her life. She wonders if she will ever see her sister Alice again, and how she is going to cope with running her bookstore, Life Sentence, in the future. An accident causes friction between her and Jodie, whom she treats like the daughter she never had, and she feels like she is losing control of her life.

Mathias is at a crossroads in his life. Lifelong friend Luc, is dying, he seems to have lost his motivation to write, and an incident from his past that has haunted him all his life is causing debilitating panic attacks. On top of all that, his daughter Carla has broken up with her partner, who Mathias never much liked anyway, and is wondering if she will ever find anyone to share her life with.

We follow these two families as friendships are forged, fears are faced, and secrets revealed. Not all questions are answered, but that’s okay, because that’s just the way life works. Covid-19 gets a fleeting mention as this story concludes in early 2020.

At the End of the Day tugged at my heartstrings. It shows that how we remember the past isn’t always how it happened. It demonstrates that there is always hope for the future, and that independence isn’t always the prize it is made out to be.

This read was made even more poignant when, reading the author’s acknowledgments, I discovered that Liz Byrski had suffered a stroke during the writing of At The End of The Day, and finished it post-stroke, a feat to be admired. I wish you a full recovery Liz, and many happy and healthy years to come.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AttheEndoftheDay #NetGalley

I: @lizbyrski @macmillanaus

T: @LizByrski @MacmillanAus

#aging #contemporaryfiction #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Liz was born in London and spent most of her childhood in Sussex. As an only child she spent a lot of time alone, much of it buried in books. She began her working life as a secretary and later moved into journalism working as a reporter on a local newspaper until she took up freelance writing when her children were born. Before moving to Western Australia she also worked as an appeals organiser for Oxfam.

After moving to Perth with her family in 1981 she once again established a freelance career writing for Australian publications including The Australian, Homes and Living, Cosmopolitan and Weekend News.

Liz lives between Perth and Fremantle and in addition to enjoying the company of family and friends, she spends most of her time reading, writing and walking. She has two adult sons and twin grandsons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski 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

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

EXCERPT: When Anton arrived the following day, he found that Delphine had set up a work table for him at the window overlooking the park.

Having never lived with a woman before, still less with one who fascinated him so much, he found it difficult to settle down to work. Panama seemed more than remote, it seemed unreal. Emerald and her devotions, Maxwell and his brandy bottle, the giant wheel that turned the lock gates lying flat in its braced iron bed . . . Perhaps he had in truth caught yellow fever and hallucinated all these things.

What was real was the smell of coffee from the kitchen next door, the sound of Delphine singing to herself as she tidied, her footsteps on the wooden floor. He went in, stood behind her and put his arms around her waist, then pressed himself against her.

ABOUT ‘SNOW COUNTRY’: 1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers.

1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick.

1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time.

MY THOUGHTS: Snow Country is a book of dreams, yearning and hope balanced against the horrors of WWI and the approach of WWII, and the struggles, both political and personal, of the period in between. The scope of this novel is huge, almost too huge, and I sometimes felt swamped by it, rather than encompassed by it as I have with other works I have read by this author.

Lena is the common thread, the character who ties the other characters to the story. She is from a poor background, poor in both money and upbringing. She was also a poor student, leaving school with few academic skills, but natural abilities in other areas. All Lena really wants is to be loved, and a good part of this story is devoted to her journey towards finding that love. It is not a smooth, nor a predictable path.

My favourite characters were those of Delphine, a Frenchwoman with whom a young and inexperienced Anton falls in love; and Martha, a therapist at the psychiatric institute. My least favourite character was Rudolf, whose only great passion is politics, and who seems incapable of recognizing human emotions in others, or of responding to them.

This is a very slow moving read with a lot of dialogue. At times I found it hard to get to grips with the characters. Even after finishing it, I am still not sure if Lena’s, Rudolf’s and Anton’s stories were merely a vehicle for the political history of Austria between the wars, or vice versa. Looking back on this reading experience it was like stumbling down a long, unfamiliar path in the dead of night, with no light, and no idea of where you are going.

I did love the section devoted to the building of the Panama Canal. It was such a huge feat, built at the cost of so many lives, and I had never before considered the logistics of the task. Faulks made this very real for me.

There is some beautiful writing in Snow Country, but this is nowhere near the author’s best work, of which my personal favourite is Birdsong.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#SnowCountry #NetGalley

I: #sebastianfaulks @randomhouseuk @hutchheinemann

T: @ SebastianFaulks @RandomHouseUK @HutchHeinemann

#comingofage #historicalfiction #mystery #romance #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Sebastian Faulks was born in 1953, and grew up in Newbury, the son of a judge and a repertory actress. He attended Wellington College and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, although he didn’t enjoy attending either institution. Cambridge in the 70s was still quite male-dominated, and he says that you had to cycle about 5 miles to meet a girl. He was the first literary editor of “The Independent”, and then went on to become deputy editor of “The Sunday Independent”. Sebastian Faulks was awarded the CBE in 2002. He and his family live in London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks 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

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard

EXCERPT: I couldn’t blame him for taking off. He was fourteen, and avoiding showdowns with his volatile mother would be high on his list of priorities. For a second I was tempted to follow. But I was seventy, not fourteen, and I’d be blowed if I’d let my only daughter-in-law get the better of me.

I ran a comb through my hair. Who was that old woman in the mirror, scowling back at me? Whoever she was, she was in dire need of a hairdresser. And look at all those wrinkles. There hadn’t been nearly as many a year ago.

I smoothed on my favourite lipstick, rolling my lips together with a smacking sound. Better to face the enemy with war paint on. Nevertheless, butterflies flitted about in my stomach. I perched on the side of the bed to wait. And wait. The waiting was always the worst.

ABOUT ‘ALL ABOUT ELLA’: At 70, and widowed, Ella is about to find out that blood is not always thicker than water. A wise and warm-hearted story about aging, family and community for readers of Tricia Stringer and Liz Byrski.

At 70, Ella’s world is upended, leaving her at odds with her three adult children, whose attention is fixed more firmly on her money than her ongoing welfare. After an argument with her son Anthony, she flees his Adelaide home for Cutlers Bay, a seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula. There she befriends Angie, a 40-year-old drifter, and becomes an irritant to local cop Zach. He’s keen to shift Ella off his turf, because Anthony phones daily, demanding his mother be sent home. And besides, Zach just doesn’t trust Angie.

Ella warms to Cutlers Bay, and it warms to her. In a defiant act of self-determination, she buys an entirely unsuitable house on the outskirts of town, and Angie agrees to help make it habitable. Zach is drawn to the house on the clifftop, and finds himself revising his earlier opinions of Ella, and Angie.

MY THOUGHTS: All About Ella is a warm and engaging book about the vulnerability of aging and the greed of families. It is also a book about friendship, loyalty and learning to stand your ground.

I am always excited when I see that Meredith Appleyard has a new book out. She writes about very real situations using realistic and relatable characters, ones that you could move right in with, or live next door to.

Ella’s husband of fifty years has died. Quickly the children organize the sale of the family home and move Ella in with her eldest son, Anthony, and his wife and family saying that they will use her money to build a ‘granny flat’ onto their house for her. But as the weeks roll on, there’s no building, not even a plan to be seen. You can see where this is going, can’t you . . .

Ella has the daughter-in-law from hell. Volatile doesn’t even begin to describe Kirsten, who throws tantrums and issues ultimatums. Husband Anthony is well under her thumb, his mantra being ‘anything for a quiet life.’ Ella’s other two children are no help either, not living close, and being fed misinformation from Anthony and Kirsten. Is it any wonder Ella leaves home? And so her adventures begin . . .

I was rooting for Ella all the way through. She is a delightful character, one who has devoted her life to husband and family, and is now bewildered that they have turned on her. Though they term it ‘as knowing what’s best’ for her. I did wonder about a few of her rather rash decisions early on, but eventually she has the chance to review and fine tune them.

Along the way she picks up some staunch supporters and new friends. Angie is forty, footloose and fancy free, or rootless, depending on your point of view. Not everyone is convinced that she is trying to help Ella. Some are worried that she is only there to see what she can get from the old lady. One of the doubters is Zach, local copper in Cutlers Bay where Ella finds herself and decides to put down roots for a while. Zach has had his heart broken and doesn’t trust women generally, never mind these blow ins. And Ella is just trouble from the moment she arrives . . .

There are plenty of other interesting characters too: Leon, the local publican; Claire, the 80 year old ex-community nurse; Henry, Zach’s father; and Ruth, who owns the cafe to name a few.

The story is told from the points of view of Ella, Angie, and Zach, giving a balanced and diverse overview. I loved this story set in a small rural South Australian coastal town. I loved the characters Meredith has peopled her story with. I love her attention to detail, and that she addresses the topic of aging independently in a forthright and honest manner.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AllAboutElla #NetGalley

I: #meredithappleyard @harlequinaus

T: #MeredithAppleyard @HarlequinAUS

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia, two hours north of Adelaide. As a registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has done agency nursing in London and volunteer work in Vietnam. After her first manuscript was rejected, she joined a writers’ group, attended workshops and successfully completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing with the Adelaide College of the Arts. And she kept working. When she isn’t writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers’ Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Daisy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ and MIRA via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard 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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Here in the southern hemisphere, spring has arrived, and we are having the most magnificent weather.

Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

Currently I am reading Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

and The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves. It’s so good to be back with Matthew and his team. I am totally perplexed as to who is behind these murders.

I am listening to Over My Dead Body by Jeffrey Archer. It’s excellent and I am listening to it every moment I can.

This week I am planning on reading The New Home by Chris Merritt

Freya loves her new home on a quiet suburban street. And her beautiful neighbour Emily is everything she’s ever wanted in a best friend. Finally, she has somebody to share her secrets with over a glass of wine. But as Freya watches her new friend setting the table for dinner one evening, she sees something shocking that makes her think that Emily’s life might not be as perfect as it seems. Days later, Emily and her daughter vanish…

When you meet Emily’s husband, you will think you know what he’s hiding.

You will ask yourself whether Emily and Freya really did meet by chance.

You will think you know what happened to Emily and her little girl the night they went missing.

But when you discover the truth, it will shake you to your core and you will lie awake at night wondering if you can ever really trust the people in the house next door…

And Now I Found You by Mila Oliver

Seven years ago, Kate Hartfield’s little sister disappeared.

An ordinary summer day of fun at the lake turned into a nightmare when young Emily Hartfield suddenly could not be found. When badly battered body parts were discovered three days later, the investigation concluded that they were Emily’s and the case was closed as an accidental drowning.

Now Kate has returned to her hometown in the Catskills for the first time since her sister’s death, for a work retreat. While at her boss’s lake house, she briefly spies a familiar face.

It’s Emily.

She’s all grown up, but Kate knows her sister’s face better than anyone. The sighting reignites the doubts Kate has always had, and forces her to revisit all the mysterious circumstances that surrounded that day. As she desperately tries to track down the girl she saw at the lake house with the help of her hometown ex-boyfriend, Kate discovers shocking secrets from the past, confronts her own guilt from that day, and becomes obsessed with uncovering the answer to one question.

What really happened to Emily? 

I haven’t got another audiobook lined up to listen to yet, as I don’t have any more Netgalley audios waiting to be reviewed. So I may be able to pick something from my discretionary list from the library.

This week I received only two new ARCs. They are: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

and The Christmas Wish by Sharon Sala

I still have 24 pending requests.

I have been very busy in the garden over the past few days while the weather has been so great, and my yard is looking quite nice at the moment. I am making the most of it, as if rumours are to be believed, I will probably be back to work Wednesday. We find out tomorrow afternoon. If we do drop another level, we still can’t operate at full capacity and there are a lot of restrictions that need to be complied with. If rumours are true, we will stay at that level until after Christmas, and Auckland will remain under lockdown for a few more weeks yet.

It is Father’s Day today in New Zealand. I had a long video call with Luke this morning as he was busy making Dustin a card. He drew a picture of himself and Dustin on the inside, and wrote his own name. The outside of the card is covered with dinosaur stickers!😂🤣🦕🦖 It was made with lots of love, as were the chocolate brownies. He also wished his Poppa a happy Poppa’s Day which pleased Pete no end.

That’s it from me for today. I am going to make a drink and sit in the sun and . . . READ!

Have a happy day all and stay safe. ❤📚

P.S. I completely forgot to write about my virtual travels via my books 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ In the past week I have been to Stillwater, Minnesota; spent more time at Chammont Point, East Virginia with Jade, Darcy and Taylor; Cutlers Bay on the York Peninsula, South Australia; Barnstaple in North Devon, England; Vienna, Austria; and Riverton Falls, New England.

Did we pass by one another during the week? I hope you have had some wonderful travels too. Stop by and let me know where you have been. ❤📚

The Selling Point (Chammont Point #2) by Marci Bolden

Doesn’t that cover just make you want to pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine, and just sit back and soak up the view!

EXCERPT: Darby was more than halfway through her thirties. Shouldn’t she have a better grasp on life by now? Shouldn’t she have a clearer idea of who she wanted to be and how to actually become that person?

Other people her age had careers, families, schedules that held them accountable. Darby had two slightly dysfunctional best friends and a disaster of an online business.

Damn it. Her life was a joke.

ABOUT ‘THE SELLING POINT’: Darby Zamora has always gotten by with work that suits her unique way of life, but success hasn’t exactly come easy. A former bridal seamstress, Darby gave up making custom gowns years ago. Her heart was always too big for her business’s pocketbook, until she comes up with a way to make an old business new again: The Un-Do Wedding Boutique.

Selling dresses online in her bridal consignment shop has merchandise flying off the virtual shelves. People are lining up not only to buy the dress overstock that Darby’s been holding onto, but she has new clients desperate for her to help them re-sell their unused wedding items.

But success comes at a steep price when ghosts from her past resurface and make Darby and her new company confront harsh realities of life and business. With the help of her friends Jade and Taylor, Darby is forced to reassess her business, rediscover herself, and ultimately find her selling point.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved The Restarting Point, the first book in this trilogy, and The Selling Point is every bit as good. I loved that this is centred on Darby, the flamboyant, fun, throwback to the 1950s.

As with the first book, I laughed, I cried, and shook my head at the antics of these three friends. Darby is one of those delightfully enthusiastic people who never stop to think things through. She jumps into her projects feet first, only to find herself neck deep in quicksand. She did it with her rental cottage, and now she’s done the same with her online bridal boutique selling wedding dresses that were never worn. Thank goodness she has the sensible Jade and practical Taylor to keep her on the straight and narrow.

I love the way these three have each other’s backs. As well as Darby’s downfall, Jade and Taylor also face their own problems and, without fail, they are always there to provide support for one another. I love the way they spend time together, strengthening their bonds, and making memories. Whether they’re eating icecream, or drinking margaritas, laughing, or mopping up tears, they are doing it together.

I would have liked to have seen a little more of Parker, who makes an appearance early on in The Selling Point, after having her baby, but then just disappears.🤷‍♀️

Although this is the second book in a series, it could be read as a stand-alone, although then you would miss out on Jade’s story . . . Just saying.

I hope that you are busily writing #3 in the Chammont Point series, Marci. I am eagerly awaiting it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheSellingPoint #NetGalley

I: @marciboldenauthor #pinksandpress

T: @BoldenMarci #PinkSandPress

#contemporaryfiction #romance #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading women’s fiction and romance novels.

Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pink Sand Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Selling Point by Marci Bolden 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

The Restarting Point (Chammont Point #1) by Marci Bolden

EXCERPT: When Nick had suggested they take a vacation to celebrate Jade’s recovery from colorectal cancer, he said they could go anywhere she wanted. He was probably expecting her to plan a trip to London or New York City, since Jade had always preferred fast-paced destinations over places like this. But she’d chosen to return to Chammont Point and the lake that had been so prominent in the photos of that first vacation many years ago.

He’d been confused over her choice until she explained how much she’d come to cherish the memories they’d made there. Xander and Owen had learned to water ski on Chammont Lake. They’d all sat by a fire and roasted marshmallows while they shared stories and jokes. Jade couldn’t remember a time when they’d felt more like a family than their time exploring the small town and playing in the water. She wanted more of that.

After her recent health scare, the bright lights of Broadway and a city filled with endless dining options no longer had the same appeal to her. She’d fought hard for this second chance. Spending it in crowded theaters and noisy restaurants seemed like a waste of time when she could enjoy the quiet lake with her husband. Of course, now she just had the quiet lake, but maybe that was better.

ABOUT ‘THE RESTARTING POINT’: Marketing executive and mother of two, Jade Kelly can now add cancer survivor to her list of successes. But while her life looks good on paper, four months out of treatment, Jade realizes she hardly knows her college-age children and she and her husband Nick are little more than housemates.

Determined to start over, Jade schedules a family vacation to a lakefront cabin. When her kids bail and Nick stays home to handle a last minute work crisis, Jade heads to Chammont Point alone, determined to dust herself off and figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

While she’s away, the life she thought she had unravels. Secrets, lies, and old wounds drive Jade into new adventures and new relationships. With the help of family and new found friends, Jade learns starting over sometimes means finding a brand new restarting point.

MY THOUGHTS: I had been looking for an uplifting, feel-good read for a couple of weeks with little success. And then I started The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden. I struck gold. This ticked all my boxes. Three wonderful, quirky, female characters, and I mean characters, not exactly in the first flush of youth, who had me laughing, crying, and shaking my head at them.

It is the characters that make this read, not that there is anything wrong with the plot. Darby is a flamboyant 1950s throwback; Taylor is more comfortable with a hammer in her hand than a lipstick; Jade is the reason they came together, and is the glue that binds them.

Each of these women has had her self-confidence shattered; each is trying to find her place in life; and each is supportive and protective of the others, that is when they aren’t squabbling or taking umbrage at something said. This trio seems to spend a lot of time at two on one; either two supporting one, or one refereeing a spat between two. These characters are absolutely delightful, relatable and realistic.

This is a story of pain and loss, of friendship, support, and beginning again.

The Restarting Point is written in an easy, heartfelt style. The story is every bit as wonderful as the beautiful cover. The plot flows easily, and I simply raced through the story, wanting to find out what happens to these three women, but not wanting the story to end.

I immediately picked up and began the sequel to The Restarting Point, and I am loving it just as much. Thank you Marci Bolden for this delightful book. You have just won over a new fan.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheRestartingPoint #NetGalley

I: @marciboldenauthor #pinksandpress

T: @BoldenMarci #PinkSandPress

#contemporaryfiction #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading women’s fiction and romance novels.

Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pink Sand Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good afternoon from an unexpectedly sunny afternoon in New Zealand, where we are still in lockdown. Areas outside of Auckland will drop to Level 3 on Wednesday, which someone has famously dubbed lockdown with takeaways. Auckland remains at Level 4 as all but 15 cases of Covid are there and new cases are still occurring at around 80 a day.

Currently I am reading The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden. What a wonderful read! With warm, unlikely friendships, and wonderful characters, I have both laughed and cried while reading this.

I am also reading Lost Angels (Nikki Hunt #3) by Stacy Green which is every bit as good as her previous books.

And I am listening to Whisper Cottage, written by Ann Wyn Clark, and narrated by Lauren Moakes. I really am on a roll this week as so far this, too, is excellent.

This coming week I am planning on reading All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard. Don’t you just love this cover!

At 70, and widowed, Ella is about to find out that blood is not always thicker than water. A wise and warm-hearted story about aging, family and community for readers of Tricia Stringer and Liz Byrski.

At 70, Ella’s world is upended, leaving her at odds with her three adult children, whose attention is fixed more firmly on her money than her ongoing welfare. After an argument with her son Anthony, she flees his Adelaide home for Cutlers Bay, a seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula. There she befriends Angie, a 40-year-old drifter, and becomes an irritant to local cop Zach. He’s keen to shift Ella off his turf, because Anthony phones daily, demanding his mother be sent home. And besides, Zach just doesn’t trust Angie.

Ella warms to Cutlers Bay, and it warms to her. In a defiant act of self-determination, she buys an entirely unsuitable house on the outskirts of town, and Angie agrees to help make it habitable. Zach is drawn to the house on the clifftop, and finds himself revising his earlier opinions of Ella, and Angie.

The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves, #2 in her new series Two Rivers. I loved the first, The Long Call, and can’t wait to get stuck into this.

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder–Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found–killed in a similar way. Matthew soon finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home.

And Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks, an author I admire greatly.

1914: Young Anton Heideck has arrived in Vienna, eager to make his name as a journalist. While working part-time as a private tutor, he encounters Delphine, a woman who mixes startling candour with deep reserve. Entranced by the light of first love, Anton feels himself blessed. Until his country declares war on hers.

1927: For Lena, life with a drunken mother in a small town has been impoverished and cold. She is convinced she can amount to nothing until a young lawyer, Rudolf Plischke, spirits her away to Vienna. But the capital proves unforgiving. Lena leaves her metropolitan dream behind to take a menial job at the snow-bound sanatorium, the Schloss Seeblick.

1933: Still struggling to come terms with the loss of so many friends on the Eastern Front, Anton, now an established writer, is commissioned by a magazine to visit the mysterious Schloss Seeblick. In this place of healing, on the banks of a silvery lake, where the depths of human suffering and the chances of redemption are explored, two people will see each other as if for the first time.

This week I received five new digital ARCs, and two audiobooks. It’s a lovely mix of new and favourite authors.

The books are: Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer

The Parents by Claire Seeber

Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood

And 1979 by Val McDermid

The two audiobooks I received are: A Dream to Die For by Susan Z. Ritz and narrated by Rachel Perry

And Over My Dead Body by Jeffrey Archer, narrated by George Blagden

Over the past week I have very briefly been in Boston, Massachusetts; spent more time in Hull, East Yorkshire; Salterley, somewhere in England; France, Belgium and Amsterdam; Stillwater, Minnesota; Chammont Point, East Virginia; and Avoncot, Wiltshire. Have our paths crossed this week? Where have you been on your bookish travels?

I still have 25 Netgalley requests pending.

Have a great week of reading, and stay safe my friends.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’re expecting cold weather this week. We don’t often get snow where we live, but it’s on the cards this week!

Currently I am halfway through reading The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker. It’s both chilling and thrilling, and I read the first half in one sitting.

I am also currently reading Mrs March by Virginia Feito, which is fascinating. And now I understand the significance of the cockroach on the cover.

I am listening to All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss. It took me a little to get into, not helped by the fact that Luke must have fiddled with the settings and I was listening to it at 1.5 x normal speed for a while, and so had completely negated the North Carolina accent.

This week I am planning on reading The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

It’s

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

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

And Slough House by Mick Herron

Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records.

Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening.

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

Only three new ARCs this week, which is a bit of a relief 😇

Buried Memories by Simon R. Green

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

and the audiobook Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece

On my book travels this week I have been to Hendon, London; North Carolina; Balham, London; St Pete’s Beach in Florida; Devon, England; Sicily; Mt Hood, Oregon; and New York City. Where in the world have you been? Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Have a safe and happy week everyone! ❤📚