Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon and – it’s still raining! Apparently we’re getting all the heavy rain out of Australia that caused the recent heavy flooding in New South Wales. We had a couple of fine days during the week and I managed to get a bit more done outside, but I have had to postpone the delivery of the river stone I had ordered for the garden as the truck won’t be able to get to where I need it dumped until after everything has dried out a bit.

Luke has gone home to collect his new pup from the breeders – a black labrador he has named Timmy after the dog in the Famous Five series which he just loves. I picked him up from school on Friday, in the midst of a downpour and I had to park quite some distance from school – and we had a very lazy day together yesterday, reading, doing puzzles and watching TV. We did pop outside to the garden during a fine spell and picked strawberries and lettuce leaves. There’s nothing nicer than strawberries fresh out of the garden!

Currently I am reading The Doctor’s Wife by New Zealand author Fiona Sussman, thanks to a recommendation from Sybil, one of our library book group members. I haven’t read this author before but have been unable to put this down.

Nothing in Stan Andino’s unremarkable life could prepare him for the day he discovers his wife in the living room, naked except for a black apron, bleaching out a stain in the carpet that only she can see. A CT scan one week later explains the seemingly inexplicable; Carmen Andino has a brain tumour. As Stan and their teenage sons grapple with the diagnosis and frightening personality changes in their wife and mother, Austin Lamb, close friend and local doctor, does everything possible to assist the family in crisis. Months later, just when it feels as though life couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Andinos, the body of Austin Lamb’s wife Tibbie is discovered at the bottom of the Browns Bay cliffs.

Hidden Crimes (DCI Sophie Allen #11) by Michael Hambling

Nine Elms (Kate Marshall #1) by Robert Bryndza, a backtitle from 2019. I have the rest of the series to read also.

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly turned into a nightmare. Traumatized, betrayed, and publicly vilified for the shocking circumstances surrounding the cannibal murder case, Kate could only watch as her career ended in scandal.

Fifteen years after those catastrophic events, Kate is still haunted by the unquiet ghosts of her troubled past. Now a lecturer at a small coastal English university, she finally has a chance to face them. A copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. Success promises redemption, but there’s much more on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim…and his successor means to finish the job.

And I am listening to Blue Lightning (Shetland Isles #4) by Ann Cleeves

Shetland Detective Jimmy Perez knows it will be a difficult homecoming when he returns to the Fair Isles to introduce his fiancee, Fran, to his parents. When a woman’s body is discovered at the renowned Fair Isles bird observatory, Jimmy must investigate the old-fashioned way.”

This week I have only two other reads scheduled: The Locked Attic by B.P. Walter

There’s something in my neighbour’s attic.

Something steeped in shadows. A secret to everyone. Seen by no one…

He stands sometimes at the window. Hidden in the corner of my eye.

I know he’s there. I know he’s watching.

Now my son is dead. My neighbour is not.

And I’m going to find out why.

And On Spine of Death (By the Book Mysteries #2) by Tamara Berry

In the aftermath of solving their first murder, bestselling author Tess Harrow and her teenage daughter Gertrude have decided to stay in Winthrop permanently. Now that they’ve made some updates to their cabin in the woods, they’re turning to the family hardware store that Tess inherited and converting it into the town’s first independent bookstore. But when renovations unearth bones from a cold case and send them toppling—literally—onto Tess’s head, the work comes to a grinding halt. With the whole town convinced that her grandfather was a serial killer, Tess has to call in a fellow horror author for reinforcements. Together, they’ll come up with a perfect story to make all the clues fit…and solve a mystery more than thirty years in the making.

I also managed to pick up a Tricia Stringer novel from the library when I was at book group that I haven’t read – Table for Eight – so I want to read that this week too. I’m looking forward to my virtual cruise around the Pacific Islands!

A cruise – no matter how magical – can’t change your life. Can it…? Clever, charming dressmaker Ketty Clift is embarking on her final cruise from Sydney before she must make serious changes in her life. Supported by the ship’s all-powerful maitre d’ Carlos, she has a mission: transform the lives of those who join her at her dining table every evening. Not only can Ketty turn Cinderellas into princesses with her legendary style–eye, but she has a gift for bringing people together. But this trip is different. As the glamour and indulgence of the cruise takes hold, and the ship sails further away from Sydney towards the Pacific Islands, it becomes clear that her fellow travelers – a troubled family, a grieving widower and an angry divorcee determined to wreak revenge on her ex – are going to be harder work than usual. As Ketty tries to deal with her own problems, including the unexpected arrival on board of her long-lost love, Leo – the man who broke her heart – as well as troubling news from home, she begins to realize this might be the one cruise that defeats her…

I received two new ARCs for review via Netgalley this week, and one publishers invite. The invite was for A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall

The two ARCs are Reef Road by Deborah Goodrich Royce

and Better the Blood by Michael Bennett, also a New Zealand author I haven’t previously read.

It’s our 18th wedding anniversary today. I have couple of nice steaks to grill for dinner and a nice bottle of French wine (red of course), but I need for the rain to ease off so I can get out to the garden for the salad ingredients. Plan B? Rosemary parmesan fries.

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Happy reading. ❤📚🥂

First Lines Friday

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Happy Friday & welcome to First Lines Friday hosted by Reading Is My SuperPower.

Like many others, I didn’t see it coming.

But William is a scientist, and he saw it coming; he saw it sooner than I did, is what I mean.

Like what you’ve just read? Want to keep reading? Pick up a copy of

From Pulitzer Prize-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout, comes Lucy by the Sea, a novel featuring Lucy Barton, the indomitable heroine of My Name is Lucy Barton and Oh William! Lucy is uprooted from her life in New York City and reluctantly goes into lockdown with her ex-husband William in a house on the coast of Maine. Strout’s new novel is a miraculous work of fiction. A brilliantly sharp evocation of the period we have just lived through, it is a novel that both resonates deeply and consoles us too.

Foster by Claire Keegan

EXCERPT: With my mother it is all work: us, the butter making, the dinners, the washing-up and getting up and getting ready for Mass and school, weaning calves and hiring men to plough and harrow the fields, stretching the money and setting the alarm. But this is a different type of house. Here there is room, and time to think. There may even be money to spare.

ABOUT ‘FOSTER’: A small girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm in rural Ireland, without knowing when she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And then a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realizes how fragile her idyll is.

MY THOUGHTS: Claire Keegan writes with a poetic beauty that reminds me of calm waves lapping at the shore. Although the reality of where this young girl has come from, and will be returned to, is harsh and stark, Keegan’s writing is anything but.

There is a stunning emotional depth in this novella. Keegan conveys much in very few pages. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here on how to treat a child, and the blossoming of this girl away from a life of overcrowded poverty, just one of many children, in a place where she is recognised and cherished as a person in her own right, is a wonderous experience.

I have been awed by everything I have so far read by this author.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Foster #NetGalley

I: #clairekeeganfiction @groveatlantic

T: @CKeeganFiction @GroveAtlantic

#fivestarread #historicalfiction #irishfiction #novella #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Claire Keegan was born in County Wicklow, the youngest of a large family. She travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was seventeen, and studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992 and lived for a year in Cardiff, Wales, where she undertook an MA in creative writing and taught undergraduates at the University of Wales.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Foster by Claire Keegan 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 . . .

Sorry, I didn’t have time post yesterday. We went to my cousin’s 80th birthday lunch, stayed at the restaurant for dinner as well, and so didn’t get home until late last night. It was a wonderful day catching up with cousins and friends that we hadn’t seen since before Covid. This morning Pete mowed the back yard and I have trimmed all edges and pulled a few rogue weeds. We’re planning a lazy afternoon and sausages, eggs and chips for dinner.

Currently I am reading A Body at Lavender Cottage by Dee MacDonald. I enjoy this series featuring Kate Palmer.

I am also reading The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn Brown

Cousins Tabby and Ellie Mae are due for a change. Running their aunt’s beachfront bed-and-breakfast in Sandcastle, Texas, is just the thing to shake things up…though their lives spin out of control in more ways than one when a hurricane barrels into the coastline. It’s a miracle it didn’t carry them off to Kansas. Not so lucky are the assisted-living center and a small eclectic group of local folks who take shelter with the cousins.

Two estranged sisters, rowdy as a circus, need a referee for a battle that goes back decades. And a pair of veterans, best friends for years, hash out bittersweet old times. There’s also handyman Alex LaSalle and his business partner, Ricky, experts at repairing the hurricane’s damage—and at making Tabby’s and Ellie Mae’s hearts beat a little faster.

And listening to The Couple in the Cabin by Daniel Hurst

They’ll do anything to get out. She’ll do anything to keep them in.

When happily married Grace comes home early one night and catches her husband, Dominic, with another woman in the cabin at the bottom of their garden, she is shocked, angry, and most of all, hell-bent on revenge. That’s why she acts quickly, locking the pair in the cabin while she decides what she wants to do to them.

While Dominic and his mistress desperately try to get free, Grace makes a plan on the outside, but it’s a plan that is formed based on her previous experiences. That’s because this might not be the first time Grace has done something like this…

Who is the real villain? The cheating husband? Or the vengeful wife? 

This week, in addition to The Couple in the Cabin and The Sandcastle Hurricane, I have 4 other books to read for review. They are:

The Murder Museum by Alice Castle (Beth Haldane #2)

Caring mother, school historian, and amateur sleuth Beth Haldane loves to while away an afternoon in the Museum of Art. But will she be next in the frame… for murder?

Beth Haldane is gazing at enchanting paintings of the rolling English countryside when her daydream is rudely interrupted: by the discovery of a teenage girl unconscious on a marble bench.

Shocked, Beth realises this is no snoozing schoolchild. Someone dastardly has carefully crossed the girls’ hands across her white dress, as if she’s in a painting herself. And the girl’s discarded red backpack found in a corner of the museum is totally empty. Is someone suspicious hiding evidence? And who would want to harm this innocent soul?

With poor Sophia in hospital, and the parents of Dulwich Village in uproar that their little darlings might be next, Beth pesters police for updates. And with her keen eye for detail and research skills, Beth is perfectly placed to do some sleuthing of her own… but why are Sophia’s gaggle of friends so close-lipped? Has some typical teenage drama taken a dark turn?

But her questions are ruffling feathers at every turn. With Sophia’s life hanging by a thread, can Beth find her attacker before it’s too late – and before the finger points at Beth herself?

The Murder Question by Alice Castle (Beth Haldane #3)

When her best friend goes missing, amateur sleuth Beth Haldane is determined to do some digging of her own… but can she crack the mystery before it becomes a murder?

Beth Haldane is worried. First her dear friend and fellow single mother Jen suddenly gets married to a new man who seems too perfect to be true, then she moves out of leafy Dulwich Village – and now seems to have disappeared without a trace.

Beth knows Jen would never leave her little daughter to handle playground predicaments or her sneaky stepmother alone. Heading to Jen’s new home for answers, Beth’s knocks on the periwinkle-blue front door go unanswered. Police are convinced the lovebirds are on an extended honeymoon: but Beth suspects Jen’s new husband is up to no good… why does no-one in Dulwich know where he came from? Are his looks hiding a dark past?

With Jen’s unpleasant ex popping up at every turn, and gruff but handsome policeman DI Harry York insisting Beth should leave things to the professionals, it’s going to take all her sleuthing skills to track Jen down. But searching Jen’s overgrown garden for clues, Beth hears a twig snap… and next thing she knows, she’s woken up in a hospital bed.

Someone in normally peaceful Dulwich Village will do anything to stop her reaching the truth. Can Beth get to the bottom of this mystery before she’s the next to disappear?

Hidden Scars (Detective Kim Stone #17) by Angela Marsons

While Jamie’s cold, lifeless body lay in the morgue, Detective Kim Stone stared at the empty board in the incident room and felt her anger boil. Why were there no photos, details, or lines of enquiry?

When a nineteen-year-old boy, Jamie Mills, is found hanging from a tree in a local park, his death is ruled a suicide. Detective Kim Stone’s instincts tell her something isn’t right – but it’s not her investigation and her temporary replacement is too busy waiting for the next big case to be asking the right questions.

Why would a seemingly healthy boy choose to end his life?
Why does his mother show no sign of emotional distress at the loss of her son?

Still mending her broken mind and body from her last harrowing case, Kim is supposed to be easing back into work gently. But then she finds a crucial, overlooked detail: Jamie had a recent injury that would have made it impossible for him to climb the tree. He must have been murdered.

Quickly taking back charge of her team and the case, Kim visits Jamie’s parents and is shocked to hear that they had sent him to a clinic to ‘cure’ him of his sexuality. According to his mother, Jamie was introverted and prone to mood swings. Yet his friend speaks of a vibrant, outgoing boy.

The clues to smashing open this disturbing case lie behind the old Victorian walls of the clinic, run by the Gardner family. They claim that patients come of their own accord and are free to leave at any time. But why are those that attended the clinic so afraid to speak of what happens there? And where did the faded restraint marks identified on Jamie’s wrists come from?

Then the body of a young woman is found dead by suffocation and Kim makes two chilling discoveries. The victim spent time at the clinic too, and her death was also staged to look like a suicide.

Scarred from an ordeal that nearly took her life, is Kim strong enough to stop a terrifying killer from silencing the clinic’s previous patients one by one? 

and The Will by Rebecca Reid

The Mordaunts aren’t like most families . . .

For one, their family home is Roxborough Hall – a magnificent, centuries-old mansion in the Norfolk countryside. For another, the house isn’t passed down from parent to child – but rather to the family member deemed most worthy.

Cecily Mordaunt is dead. On the evening of her funeral, her family will gather for dinner and each will be given a letter, revealing who is the next custodian of Roxborough Hall.

The house is a burden, a millstone, a full-time job . . . but they all want it. And some are willing do anything to get it.

One family. Eight letters. Who will get what they deserve?

I have received three new Netgalley ARCs in the past week. They are:

The Close by Jane Casey

The Dead of Winter by Stuart MacBride

And Getting Even by Lisa Jackson

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Happy reading!❤📚

Happy Publication Day – The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell

EXCERPT: Putting her items on the belt, Julia realised she’d never considered the possibility of running into old ghosts. Really, it was inevitable. This was where she’d spent the first twenty years of her life, and though she’d moved farther and farther away over the years – to a flat near the train line, then a share house on the coast, and then to the Eastern States – there were plenty who hadn’t. When Goldie was still alive, there were always stories of who she’d seen at the shop or the park, what the gossip was at the community hall and the library and the playing fields. It was like an invisible fence penned in most of the kids Julia and Paul had grown up with, restricting them to the immediate area or a few suburbs away, at most. Even if they had managed to escape, their parents were still in the family home, just like Don, acting surprised when their adult kids had to move back in because they couldn’t afford real estate.

On her trips to Perth with Rowan and Evie, she’d never bumped into people she knew, but then they’d only really used Don’s house as a base. As soon as they woke in the mornings, they were in the Commodore, driving to the city or the beach, wandering around Fremantle or Subiaco or Hillary’s, day trips to the hills or the Swan Valley. Acting like tourists, and tourists never knew anyone.

Driving home, Julia sat erect, hands at ten and two like a police car was breathing down her neck. Her eyes roamed the footpaths for other blasts from the past. In the taxi from the airport, she’d been preoccupied by all the things that seemed to have changed; what she should have been aware of was everything that hadn’t.

ABOUT ‘THE GLASS HOUSE’: Julia Lambett heads across the country to her hometown where she’s been given the job of moving her recalcitrant father out of his home and into care. But when Julia arrives at the 1970s suburban palace of her childhood, she finds her father has adopted a mysterious dog and refuses to leave.

Frustrated and alone, when a childhood friend crosses her path, Julia turns to Davina for comfort and support. But quite soon Julia begins to doubt Davina’s motivations. Why is Davina taking a determined interest in all the things that Julia hoped she had left behind? Soon Julia starts having troubling dreams, and with four decades of possessions to be managed and dispersed, she uncovers long-forgotten, deeply unsettling memories.

MY THOUGHTS: The Glass House is a quietly absorbing story, one that takes us on a journey with Julia as she is cleaning out her 92 year old father’s house in preparation for him entering a retirement home.

Despite Don being a bit of an old curmudgeon at times, I quite liked him. He is kind and loyal, and on the odd night that Julia goes out to meet friends, he still waits up for her. He knows he can’t continue to live on his own, and has agreed to downsize to assisted living, but he’ll do it on his terms and in his own timeframe.

Julia sees dealing with her father’s problems as a welcome break from her own – a struggling marriage to Rowan and her seeming inability to have a child.

Old friends make an unexpected reappearance in her life and trigger some repressed memories that she struggles to make sense of.

I love that the author doesn’t tie everything up in a nice neat bow at the end. The ending is perfect, just as it is.

This is a quietly meandering book about life, friendship, and the changing nature of relationships throughout a lifespan. I enjoyed it greatly and will certainly be lining up to read more from this author.

The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell is due for publication 1st November 2022

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheGlassHouse

I: @brooky.brooks @fremantlepress

T: #BrookeDunnell @ FremantlePress

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Brooke Dunnell lives in Perth, where she is completing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Western Australia. Her short stories have appeared in Voiceworks, the University of Canberra Monitor and on the Harper’s Bazaar website. Her story ‘Buddhas’ featured in the collection Allnighter and was read on ABC Radio National.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Fremantle Press for providing a copy of The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell 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 will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce

EXCERPT: It was too early for birdsong. Harold lay beside her, his hands neat on his chest, looking so peaceful she wondered where he travelled in his sleep. Certainly not the places she went: if she closed her eyes, she saw roadworks. Dear God, she thought. This is no good. She got up in the pitch-black, took off her nightdress and put on her best blue blouse with a pair of comfortable slacks and a cardigan. ‘Harold?’ she called. ‘Are you awake?’ But he didn’t stir. She picked up her shoes and shut the bedroom door without a sound. If she didn’t go now, she never would.

ABOUT ‘MAUREEN FRY AND THE ANGEL OF THE NORTH’: Ten years ago, Harold Fry set off on his epic journey on foot to save a friend. But the story doesn’t end there. Now his wife, Maureen, has her own pilgrimage to make.

Maureen Fry has settled into the quiet life she now shares with her husband Harold after his iconic walk across England. Now, ten years later, an unexpected message from the North disturbs her equilibrium again, and this time it is Maureen’s turn to make her own journey.

But Maureen is not like Harold. She struggles to bond with strangers, and the landscape she crosses has changed radically. She has little sense of what she’ll find at the end of the road. All she knows is that she must get there.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this beautifully written novella. Rachel Joyce is back to writing what she does best.

I enjoyed this every bit as much as The Love Songs of Queenie Hennessy, and rather more than The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. BTW, you will need to read the preceding two books or this will make very little sense to you.

Maureen isn’t the easiest person to like. There is no way she could be described as a ‘people person’. She is rigid in both her beliefs and actions. What other people think matters very much. And yet, like her I did. I was mortified for her over her little ‘accident’. I cringed along with her at Kate’s living conditions. I wanted to grab her and make her sit down and properly take in Queenie’s garden. But of course, I couldn’t.

When Maureen sets out on her journey, she doesn’t realise that she’s going to find her true self, but ultimately that is what she does.

A wonderful read that had me in tears at times but left me smiling.

My favourite quote: ‘It wasn’t that he was losing his mind, rather that he was deliberately taking things out of it that he no longer needed.’

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#MaureenFrysOnHerWay #NetGalley

I: @rachelcjoyce @randomhouse @transworldbooks @doubledayukbooks

T: @randomhouse @transworldbooks @doubledaybooks

#contemporaryfiction #friendship #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Rachel Joyce has written over 20 original afternoon plays for BBC Radio 4, and major adaptations for both the Classic Series, Woman’s Hour and also a TV drama adaptation for BBC 2. In 2007 she won the Tinniswood Award for best radio play. She moved to writing after a twenty-year career in theatre and television, performing leading roles for the RSC, the Royal National Theatre, The Royal Court, and Cheek by Jowl, winning a Time Out Best Actress award and the Sony Silver. She lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Doubleday for providing a digital ARC of Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North by Rachel Joyce 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 . . .

Welcome to a wet and windy New Zealand Sunday afternoon. The wind howling around the house, the heavy rain and the thunder and lightning kept me awake last night. Today is a lot calmer, I’m pleased to say.

Unusually for me, I am not currently reading anything! Sorry, should I have warned you to be sitting safely down before I made that statement? But be reassured, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I finished reading two books this morning: The novella Foster by Claire Keegan

A small girl is sent to live with foster parents on a farm in rural Ireland, without knowing when she will return home. In the strangers’ house, she finds a warmth and affection she has not known before and slowly begins to blossom in their care. And then a secret is revealed and suddenly, she realizes how fragile her idyll is.

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry, A Garden Squad Mystery #5

Ever the quintessential New England town, Goosebush, Massachusetts, truly shines in springtime, but when an underhanded undertaker digs herself an early grave, only Lilly Jayne and her Garden Squad can unearth the cryptic killer . . .

With spring’s arrival in Goosebush, Lilly and the Beautification Committee turn their eyes to new projects. A cleanup of the historic Goosebush Cemetery may be in order, after Lilly and Delia find the plots there sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. Lilly soon discovers that Whitney Dunne-Bradford snapped up custodianship of the graveyard once she inherited Bradford Funeral Homes. But before Lilly can get to the bottom of the tombstone tampering, she stumbles upon Whitney’s body at the Jayne family mausoleum . . .

Though at first it appears Whitney died by suicide, Lilly has doubts, and apparently, so does Chief of Police Bash Haywood, who quickly opens a murder investigation. Plenty of folks in town had bones to pick with Whitney, including her stepdaughter, Sasha, and funeral home employee, Dewey Marsh–all three recently charged with illegal business practices. But when the homicide inquiry suddenly targets an old friend, Lilly and the Garden Squad must rally to exhume the truth before the real killer buries it forever . . . 

I have written reviews for both of these, and I also finished listening to The Tilt by Chris Hammer, but am still to write my review on this Australian crime thriller.

A man runs for his life in a forest.
A woman plans sabotage.
A body is unearthed.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

I actually read all the books that I had planned to read for the week (1 dnf) , a definite bonus of having a chest infection.

I have loaded Day’s End by Garry Disher, #4 in the Paul Hirschausen series, to start reading when I have finished this post.

Hirsch’s rural beat is wide. Daybreak to day’s end, dirt roads and dust. Every problem that besets small towns and isolated properties, from unlicensed driving to arson. In the time of the virus, Hirsch is seeing stresses heightened and social divisions cracking wide open. His own tolerance under strain; people getting close to the edge.

Today he’s driving an international visitor around: Janne Van Sant, whose backpacker son went missing while the borders were closed. They’re checking out his last photo site, his last employer. A feeling that the stories don’t quite add up.

Then a call comes in: a roadside fire. Nothing much—a suitcase soaked in diesel and set alight. But two noteworthy facts emerge. Janne knows more than Hirsch about forensic evidence. And the body in the suitcase is not her son’s.

I have also loaded The Work Wives by Rachel Johns to start.

For work wives Debra and Quinn, it’s a case of opposites attract. They are each other’s lifelines as they navigate office politics and jobs that pay the bills but don’t inspire them.

Outside work, they are also friends, but where Quinn is addicted to dating apps and desperate to find love, Deb has sworn off men. Although Deb is not close to her own mother, her teenage daughter is her life and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to protect her. But Ramona has other ideas and is beginning to push boundaries.

Life becomes even more complicated by the arrival of a new man at the office. One woman is attracted to him, while the other hoped she’d never meet him again.

But when Deb, Quinn and Ramona are forced to choose between friends, love and family, the ramifications run deeper than they could ever have expected.

And No Strangers Here (County Kerry Mystery #1) written by Carlene O’Connor, and narrated by Emily O’Mahony, to listen to.

On a rocky beach in the southwest of Ireland, the body of Jimmy O’Reilly, sixty-nine years old and dressed in a suit and his dancing shoes, is propped on a boulder, staring sightlessly out to sea. A cryptic message is spelled out next to the body with sixty-nine polished black stones and a discarded vial of deadly veterinarian medication lies nearby. Jimmy was a wealthy racehorse owner, known far and wide as The Dancing Man. In a town like Dingle, everyone knows a little something about everyone else. But dig a bit deeper, and there’s always much more to find. And when Detective Inspector Cormac O’Brien is dispatched out of Killarney to lead the murder inquiry, he’s determined to unearth every last buried secret.

Dimpna Wilde hasn’t been home in years. As picturesque as Dingle may be for tourists in search of their roots and the perfect jumper, to her it means family drama and personal complications. In fairness, Dublin hasn’t worked out quite as she hoped either. Faced with a triple bombshell—her mother rumored to be in a relationship with Jimmy, her father’s dementia is escalating, and her brother is avoiding her calls—Dimpna moves back to clear her family of suspicion.

Despite plenty of other suspects, the guards are crawling over the Wildes. But the horse business can be a brutal one, and as Dimpna becomes more involved with her old acquaintances and haunts, the depth of lingering grudges becomes clear. Theft, extortion, jealousy and greed. As Dimpna takes over the family practice, she’s in a race with the detective inspector to uncover the dark, twisting truth, no matter how close to home it strikes . . .

Other books that I have to read for review this week are: Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Millie Partridge desperately needs a party. So, when her (handsome and charming) ex-colleague Nick invites her to a Hebridean Island for New Year’s Eve, she books her ticket North.

But things go wrong the moment the ferry drops her off. The stately home is more down at heel than Downton Abbey. Nick hasn’t arrived yet. And the other revellers? Politely, they aren’t exactly who she would have pictured Nick would be friends with.

Worse still, an old acquaintance from Millie’s past has been invited, too. Penny Maybury. Millie and Nick’s old colleague. Somebody Millie would rather have forgotten about. Somebody, in fact, that Millie has been trying very hard to forget.

Waking up on New Year’s Eve, Penny is missing. A tragic accident? Or something more sinister? With a storm washing in from the Atlantic, nobody will be able reach the group before they find out.

One thing is for sure – they’re going to see in the new year with a bang.

The Next Best Day by Sharon Sala

A fresh start for a young teacher to build the life she’s dreamt of
A second chance at romance for a single dad
The warm and uplifting small-town community cheering them on

After two back-to-back life-changing events, first grade teacher Katie McGrath left Albuquerque for a fresh start in Borden’s Gap, Tennessee. She is finally back in the classroom where she belongs, but it will take a little while for her to heal and feel truly like herself. She’ll need to dig deep to find the courage it takes to try again—in life and in love—but with some help from her neighbor Sam Youngblood and his adorable daughters who bring her out of her shell, her future is looking brighter than she dared imagine. 

A Body at Lavender Cottage, (A Kate Palmer mystery #6) by Dee MacDonald

Nurse Kate Palmer is Cornwall’s answer to Miss Marple! But when a body turns up in her own garden can Kate solve the crime? Or is the murder a bit too close to home?

Kate Palmer is stunned when she wakes up one morning to discover the body of a man in the beautiful garden of Lavender Cottage. She’s spent the last few years renovating her cozy, clifftop cottage with its gorgeous views of the sparkling Cornish sea. And a death right under her nose is more than a little unsettling…

When Woody Forrest, Kate’s new husband and the village’s retired detective inspector, takes a closer look he realises the victim is none other than Frank Ford – Woody’s old nemesis. Now, Frank is lying dead amongst the daisies… strangled with Woody’s blue police tie.

Kate is certain the man she loves is not a murderer and is determined to prove his innocence. But who would want to kill Frank and frame Woody? As Kate investigates, Frank’s family seem to be the obvious suspects. Could it be Jason Ford, the youngest son, who has an odd obsession with birdwatching? Sid Kinsella, the angry father-in-law? Or Sharon Mason, the troublesome daughter?

When another member of the Ford family bites the dust while Woody is tending his allotment, it’s clear the killer is determined to bury Woody’s reputation. But when a chance conversation on Bluebell Road provides Kate with a clue, she must find a woman named Rose, who could hold the answers Kate is looking for.

But Kate needs to dig up the truth – and fast! – before poor Woody is thrown behind bars. Can she solve the case and save her husband before it’s too late?

I received six new ARCs from Netgalley this week, including the audio of No Strangers Here. They are: Devil’s Way by Robert Bryndza

Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

On Spine of Death by Tamara Berry

Tell Me Lies by Teresa Driscoll

And the audiobook, The Couple in the Cabin, written by Daniel Hurst and narrated by Eilidh Beaton and Matt Bates

Do you have any of these on your tbr shelf?

Before I go, does anyone have a nice, tasty pumpkin pie recipe that they don’t mind sharing? I love pumpkin pie, but there are so many recipes out there it’s mind boggling!

Have a great weekend.

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

EXCERPT: Just before sunrise on a Friday like any other, Bernice Hart decided to run away from home. She’d started mulling over the notion shortly after the occasion of her eighty-first birthday. Now, as she opened her eyes to another day, Bernice discovered the idea had fully taken root in her mind. She would slip away undetected, not in search of one last great adventure, nor as an attention-seeking antic sure to upset her family. Bernice had only one goal: she wanted to live out the remainder of her life on her own terms.

ABOUT ‘BERNICE RUNS AWAY’: Life hasn’t always been easy for Bernice, but she is reasonably content at the ripe age of eighty-one. She has raised two children, buried both her husband and son, and is doing okay despite a few minor health issues. When Bernice’s daughter, Sarah, insists the time has come for Bernice to forfeit her independence and move into her backyard carriage house, Bernice refuses.

“I have a perfectly good house in Arkansas. Why on earth would I move to Atlanta?”

Despite Bernice’s protestations, Sarah moves forward with death cleaning and estate sale planning as though Bernice has no say in the matter.

Bernice has plenty to say about a variety of things.

With Miss Fiona packed stem to stern with only those things that spark joy (thank you, Marie Kondo) and inspired by an old black-and-white photograph of her first true love, Bernice leaves her cozy home in Savage Crossing without a glance in the rearview mirror. And without a word to her family.

Once Bernice decides to run away, there is no telling what might happen next.

MY THOUGHTS: This sounds like a hilarious jaunt. It’s not. It’s a quiet exploration of an elderly woman ‘finding herself’; discovering what is important to her. There are some humorous moments along the way, but that’s not what the book is about.

At the outset, Bernice seems like a pretty dull character. She has fallen into a rut and thinks she is perfectly happy there. But, determined not to be railroaded by her daughter into moving to Atlanta to live with her, she decides to run away – from everyone and everything.

At times I was worried about Bernice, particularly when she loses her cat, Dolly Parton, at a roadside stop. She doesn’t exactly have a lot of life skills and undergoes a steep learning curve.

I really liked Jason’s character. He owns the lakeside cabins where Bernice stays. He’s reeling from a broken engagement – the woman even took his dog when she left! He’s kind and thoughtful and keeps a close eye on Bernice, and helps her in her search for her first love, who had unceremoniously dumped her with no explanation!

I found it easy to empathise with Bernice in many situations. When she needs it, she has spunk and determination.

If you want a story with lots of action and romance, Bernice Runs Away isn’t for you. If you want a delightfully quiet read about an elderly woman looking for a second chance at life – you’ve found it.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#BerniceRunsAway #NetGalley

I: @gracegrits @onemisspress

T: @GraceGrits @OneMissPress

THE AUTHOR: Talya Tate Boerner is a delta girl who grew up making mudpies on her family’s cotton farm in Northeast Arkansas. After thirty years as a commercial banker in Dallas, she returned to the state she loves and now lives in Fayetteville with her husband, John, and two miniature schnauzers, Gracie and Annabelle. She loves to cook and believes most any dish can be improved with a side of collard greens.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to One Mississippi Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner 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 . . .

I didn’t post yesterday as I was struggling with a migraine all day. We were meant to be going out for lunch with friends, but that never happened. Feeling better today, but sluggish.

My posts over the next few weeks will be sporadic. I have my grandson arriving this afternoon for the first week of the NZ school holidays. There are a few activities at our local library that he will enjoy, so I will take him to those. Whatever else we decide to do will be dependent on the weather.

After he goes home, I have my replacement starting at work so that will be pretty intensive for the first couple of weeks. After that I will gradually withdraw and hopefully my time will be my own again. 🤞 this one works out.

Currently I am reading Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

The Party Guest by Amanda Robson

And listening to On a Quiet Street by Seraphina Nova Glass

Who wouldn’t want to live in Brighton Hills? This exclusive community on the Oregon coast is the perfect mix of luxury and natural beauty. Stunning houses nestle beneath mighty Douglas firs, and lush backyards roll down to the lakefront. It’s the kind of place where neighbors look out for one another. Sometimes a little too closely…

Cora thinks her husband, Finn, is cheating—she just needs to catch him in the act. That’s where Paige comes in. Paige lost her son to a hit-and-run last year, and she’s drowning in the kind of grief that makes people do reckless things. Like spying on the locals, searching for proof that her son’s death was no accident. And agreeing to Cora’s plan to reveal what kind of man Finn really is. All the while, their reclusive new neighbor, Georgia, is acting more strangely every day. But what could such a lovely young mother possibly be hiding?

When you really start to look beyond the airy open floor plans and marble counters, Brighton Hills is filled with secrets. Some big, some little, some deadly. And one by one, they’re about to be revealed…

This week I have the following books to read for review:

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

Life hasn’t always been easy for Bernice, but she is reasonably content at the ripe age of eighty-one. She has raised two children, buried both her husband and son, and is doing okay despite a few minor health issues. When Bernice’s daughter, Sarah, insists the time has come for Bernice to forfeit her independence and move into her backyard carriage house, Bernice refuses.

“I have a perfectly good house in Arkansas. Why on earth would I move to Atlanta?”

Despite Bernice’s protestations, Sarah moves forward with death cleaning and estate sale planning as though Bernice has no say in the matter.

Bernice has plenty to say about a variety of things.

With Miss Fiona packed stem to stern with only those things that spark joy (thank you, Marie Kondo) and inspired by an old black-and-white photograph of her first true love, Bernice leaves her cozy home in Savage Crossing without a glance in the rearview mirror. And without a word to her family.

Once Bernice decides to run away, there is no telling what might happen next.

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Twelve clues. Twelve keys. Twelve days of Christmas. But how many will die before Twelfth Night?

The annual Christmas Game is afoot at Endgame House, the Armitages’ grand family home. This year’s prize is to die for–deeds to the house itself–but Lily Armitage has no intention of returning. She hasn’t been back to Endgame since her mother died, twenty-one years ago, and she has no intention of claiming the house that haunts her dreams.

Until, that is, she receives a letter from her aunt promising that the game’s riddles will give her the keys not only to Endgame, but to its darkest secrets, including the identity of her mother’s murderer.

Now, Lily must compete with her estranged cousins for the twelve days of Christmas. The snow is thick, the phone lines are down, and no one is getting in or out. Lily will have to keep her wits about her, because not everyone is playing fair, and there’s no telling how many will die before the winner is declared.

The Stranger Vanishes by Wendy Corsi Staub

In the quirky, picturesque lakeside community of Lily Dale, where the residents can talk to the dead, young widow Bella Jordan is the lone skeptic among believers. She doesn’t believe in ghosts . . . but after a year in the village, she would admit that her new friends do sometimes seem to know impossible things.

Still, when a Black stranger dressed in old-fashioned clothing arrives unexpectedly at Bella’s guesthouse at midnight on Juneteenth, only to vanish the next day as if he’d never existed, Bella’s sure there has to be a logical explanation. One that has nothing to do with the strange warning Odelia, the medium next door, delivers from the Spirits: Beware of . . . Barry?!

Bella doesn’t know a Barry, and she has enough people in her life already, what with her young son Max and their two kitties, handsome vet Drew, a plethora of kind but nosy neighbors and a full house of summer guests. But as the mystery of the missing stranger deepens, she starts to wonder: did the Spirits really mean Barry? Or did they mean bury . . .

Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer

Privacy is hard to maintain in Badara, the kind of small Australian country town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. So discovers single mum Paige when she and her three children arrive from the city seeking refuge. Paige’s only respite from child care and loneliness is the Tuesday gym club, where she had feared the judgement of the town matriarchs, but she is met only with generosity and a plethora of baked goods. Besides, both the brusque Marion and her polished sister-in-law Briony are too busy dealing with their own dramas to examine hers.

Well-to-do farmer’s wife and proud mother Briony is in full denial of her family’s troubles. Even with her eldest daughter’s marriage in ruins and her son Blake’s recent bombshell. Suddenly Briony and husband Vince have a full house again – and the piles of laundry aren’t the only dirty linen that’s about to be aired.

For Marion, the unearthing of a time capsule – its contents to be read at the Celebrate Badara weekend – is a disaster. She was only a teenager when she wrote down those poisonous words, but that doesn’t mean she won’t lose friends and family if they hear what she really thinks of them – especially as the letter reveals their darkest secrets to the world.

When the truth comes out for Badara, keeping up appearances may no longer be an option for anyone … 

Wolf Pack by Will Dean

A closed community

Rose Farm is home to a group of survivalists, completely cut off from the outside world. Until now.

A missing person

A young woman goes missing within the perimeter of the farm compound. Can Tuva talk her way inside the tight-knit group to find her story?

A frantic search

As Tuva attempts to unmask the culprit, she gains unique access to the residents. But soon she finds herself in danger of the pack turning against her – will she make her way back to safety so she can expose the truth?

Will Dean’s most heart-pounding Tuva Moodyson thriller yet takes Tuva to her absolute limits in exposing a heinous crime, and in her own personal life. Can she, and will she, do the right thing? 

We Spread Iain Reid

Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents.”

Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?

Winter People by Gráinne Murphy

Sis Cotter has lived her whole life in a small house by her beloved beach. Here, she grew up, reared her family, and buried her husband. Now her children are far away and, in three days, her house will be taken from her.

Next door, Lydia has withdrawn from her husband, her friends, her life. She watches the sea as her own private penance for a wrong she can never put right.

Peter’s best friend is dying, and his long-time foster mother is slowly forgetting who he is. Adrift without his two anchors, and struggling with the ethics of displacing people for a living, he looks for something to remind him of who he is and who he wants to be.

I received twelve (yes 12 – stop laughing Susan and Carla!) new ARCs for review. They are:

The Locked Attic by B.P. Walter

The Hemsworth Effect by James Weir

Where They Lie by Joe Hart

The Devil Stone by Caro Ramsay

A Song of Comfortable Chairs by Alexander McCall Smith

When We Were Friends by Nancy Yeager

Hidden Scars (DI Kim Stone #17) by Angela Marsons

Death at an Auction by E.C. Bateman

A Body at Lavender Cottage by Dee MacDonald

A Cast of Falcons by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

And the audiobook Dead Man’s Grave, written by Neil Lancaster and narrated by Angus King. This is the only book in the series that I haven’t yet read.

I went to an annual charity book sale earlier this afternoon – encouraged by my lovely husband because he thought it might make me feel better. He even drove me there as I didn’t feel up to driving – and came home with fourteen new books for me and one for him. I will write a post about them at a later date. But you can tell that I still wasn’t feeling great – last year I came home with 30!

Have a wonderful week’s reading!

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

So much for spring 🤷‍♀️ it seems that we have jumped straight into summer. After squally heavy rain showers yesterday and even a hailstorm, we have 22°C today. I have been out in the garden for most of the day, but now I’m starting to tire and stiffen up, so thought it was time I came inside. There’s always tomorrow!

Currently I am reading The Three Loves of Sebastian Cooper by Zoë Folbigg

And I have started a new cosy-mystery series of which I have all seven books. If they are all as good as the first, which I started last night and will finish tonight, then I am in for a real treat. The Murder Mystery (A Beth Haldane Mystery #1) by Alice Castle is a quick, easy read which has kept me intrigued. I’m over 80% through and still have no idea who the murderer is.

I am listening to Aftermath by Peter Robinson, (Inspector Banks series #12).

This week I am planning on reading A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre.

Such a quiet and ordinary wife and mother. Who will even notice what she’s done?

Lillian Smith leads an unexceptional life, writing obituaries and killing time with her inattentive husband and disconnected son. Then she meets David, a handsome stranger, in a coffee shop. Lured into an affair, she invents a new persona, one without strings, deadlines, or brooding husbands.

Lillian has never felt so reckless, unpredictable, or wanted. But as her affair with David intensifies, she withdraws from everything that’s real, even her closest friend. When evidence of her life as a secret lover finds its way onto her son’s social media, she risks ruining much more than her marriage or reputation.

As lies beget lies, Lillian’s two worlds spiral dangerously out of control. And betrayals run deeper than she imagines. Because Lillian isn’t the only one leading a double life. 

Next in Line (William Warwick #5) by Jeffrey Archer

London, 1988. Royal fever sweeps the nation as Britain falls in love with the ‘people’s princess’.

Which means for Scotland Yard, the focus is on the elite Royalty Protection Command, and its commanding officer. Entrusted with protecting the most famous family on earth, they quite simply have to be the best. A weak link could spell disaster.

Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick and his Scotland Yard squad are sent in to investigate the team. Maverick ex-undercover operative Ross Hogan is charged with a very sensitive—and unique—responsibility. But it soon becomes clear the problems in Royalty Protection are just the beginning. A renegade organization has the security of the country—and the Crown—in its sights. The only question is which target is next in line… 

The Party Guest by Amanda Robson

A birthday to remember. But would they rather forget…?

Ralph is turning 45, and the only gift he wants this year is his ex-wife.
Gemma, his trophy girlfriend, is trying to ignore this.
Sarah, the ex-wife, has agreed to attend Ralph’s birthday party, but with her new man in tow.
And Jack, Sarah’s partner, is keen to accompany Sarah to keep an eye on the proceedings.

It’s a birthday trip like no other. The whole extended family in a villa on the beautiful Amalfi coast. But under the politely strained surface, every party guest harbours their own agenda.

By the end of the trip, two people will be dead. But while Ralph unwraps his presents, will anybody be able to unwrap the truth…?

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

DS Cassie Fitzgerald has a secret – but it’s one she’s deleted from her memory. In the 1990s when she was at school, she and her friends killed a fellow pupil. Thirty years later, Cassie is happily married and loves her job as a police officer.

One day her husband persuades her to go to a school reunion and another ex-pupil, Garfield Rice, is found dead, supposedly from a drug overdose. As Garfield was an eminent MP and the investigation is high profile, it’s headed by Cassie’s new boss, DI Harbinder Kaur. The trouble is, Cassie can’t shake the feeling that one of her old friends has killed again.

Is Cassie right, or was Garfield murdered by one of his political cronies? It’s in Cassie’s interest to skew the investigation so that it looks like the latter and she seems to be succeeding. 

I have received 3 new Netgalley ARCs this week: Stephen King – a complete exploration of his work and influences by Bev Vincent

The Work Wives by Rachael Johns

How to Kill Men and Get Away With It by Katie Brent

I had a grandstand view of the steam train as it came through town heading north this afternoon. My maternal grandfather was a stoker/fireman on the railway when he was young, and that is what brought him and my Nana to this town – and they never left. The steam engine is coming back heading south next weekend and Dustin and Luke will be on it. Luke will be staying on with us for the first week of the school holidays, and Dustin will be heading back to Hamilton on a diesel train.

Have a wonderful week!❤📚