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!❤📚

Sandy’s August 2022 Reading Roundup

Wow! Where did August go? It’s the meteorological first day of spring here in New Zealand, and it has been a beautiful spring day, but now – late afternoon – it’s clouded over and is cooling off. The daffodils and daphne are almost finished flowering, but the freesias look and smell beautiful; the hyacinths are about to flower, closely followed by the tulips. The kowhai trees are flowering – I planted two more over winter – and so the tui are back. I love listening to them; they are such clever mimics.

I started August with seventeen books to read for review, and managed not to add any during the month. That’s a first! I managed to complete twelve and am currently reading and almost finished three more. I will probably finish all three tonight. That’s an 88% completion rate. I read two more books purely for pleasure, but didn’t get to any of the titles on my backlist. So that was a total of seventeen books read during August.

One of the titles I am currently reading is a debut author – And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke.

Two of the books I read in August were by new to me authors. They were: The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd ⭐⭐⭐.8





And one of my reads for pleasure, The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

The two books I didn’t get read during August were Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah

and Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I intend to start tonight.

I only had one five star read in August – The New House by Tess Stimson. I loved this so much I had a huge book hangover afterwards which lasted until almost the end of the month.

I have somehow managed to collect twenty-five books for review in September 🤦‍♀️ – I’m sure that request button operates on its own volition while I’m asleep!🤷‍♀️

So, I’m off to finish my three almost finished titles. Happy September reading!❤📚

The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd

EXCERPT: Sara got up at four on Sunday morning to drive Peggy and a mountainous, clanking backpack to the airport. Coming back to the empty house – it was still barely eight o’clock – she felt a wave of self-pity. What’s wrong with me these days? Sunday stretched ahead and she thought of all the couples waking to each other, to a day spent lazing around with croissants and coffee, chatting and exchanging views on the papers, maybe meeting friends for lunch. Sara had friends, of course, but she was heartily sick of being the sad single at these gatherings, always having to enter a room alone, often being set up with another sad single – kindly meant, but embarrassing.

The buck always stopped with her. No one else would ring the insurance company to complain about a hike in renewal payments, or the service centre when the washing machine leaked all over the kitchen floor – as it had only the previous week. There was no one at whom to shout her frustration when her laptop crashed, a client played up, or even just relay day-to-day anecdotes to – about an amusing exchange she’d heard in the supermarket queue, for instance, or something she’d read somewhere. She’d just been plodding along in her own private lane since Pete, not really considering her situation that closely. But now this version of the world was beginning to seem less appealing. Fortified by a cup of coffee and some summer berries with yoghurt and local honey, she reached for her phone and opened the dating app.

ABOUT ‘THE HIDDEN TRUTH’: Sara Tempest has been alone since her husband died and daughters left home. But over the course of one summer she meets and falls in love with the charming Bernard. The years of heartache and loneliness are finally behind her.

She quickly moves into his beautiful home on the wind battered cliffs of Hastings. But, after a while, she begins to wonder if Bernard is all he seems.

He’s barely in touch with his children and with stifling reminders of his wife everywhere Sara looks, the walls begin to close in.

Then comes Bernard’s confession and Sara’s newfound happiness starts to crumble around her . . .

MY THOUGHTS: Relationships are tricky things at the best of times. But second time around with adult children involved seems to prove more challenging than most. Particularly in this case where parent and children are concealing a secret that is not only destroying their relationship, but could have dire consequences for those involved if it is revealed.

Hilary Boyd has written wonderful characters. Sara and Bernard couldn’t be more different. Sara, a widow, is a warm and relaxed person, and has a close relationship with both her daughters. Bernard, a widower, is basically estranged from his adult twin children, and is uncomfortable even talking about them.

I really loved Sara’s relationship with her deceased husband’s mother. Margaret is delightful.

I loved the way this couple met; it was funny and entertaining, but also touching, and I enjoyed the spark that sprung up between them, but then . . . for a long time, nothing.

Hilary Boyd writes with heart and realism, and I enjoyed experiencing the growth and dynamics of this relationship from both Sara’s and Bernard’s perspective. It’s a very rocky road as both try to do their best for one another and their own children.

This is a quiet book which kept me interested with the moral and ethical dilemmas that were posed. The Hidden Truth is a story of love and hope, actions and consequences, and living your life to the fullest. I must admit I finished it with a bit of a hitch in my breath.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheHiddenTruth #NetGalley

I: @hilaryboyd3837 @michaeljbooks

T: @hilaryboyd @MichaelJBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Boyd was born and spent the first six months of her life in Prestatyn, North Wales, where her father, an army major, was stationed after the war. She was later educated in London, then at the boarding school Roedean. She trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and subsequently as a marriage guidance counsellor with Relate before reading English Literature at London University in her late 30s.

After college, Boyd became a health journalist, writing about depression, step-parenting and pregnancy. She began writing fiction as a hobby whilst raising three children and working at various day jobs including running a cancer charity, Survive Cancer, working for an engineering company, and an online vitamin site.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd 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 . . .

Happy Sunday. Is it my imagination or are Sundays coming around much faster than they used to?

Currently I am reading The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark. Interestingly, this house is also a funeral home. I read the first 75% of this in one sitting. It’s a far more intriguing read than the blurb suggests.

A secluded island. A missing child. A home built on lies.

On the death of her aunt Gwyn, Lowri returns once more to Gwyn’s home on the remote island of Anglesey, Wales, with young daughter Ruby in tow. Lowri hadn’t seen her aunt in years, but this beautiful island offers a fresh start.

Yet right away, strange things begin to happen. Ruby insists an old woman is visiting her when no one else is watching, and a tattered old doll keeps being left for Ruby to find.

Then Ruby goes missing. Desperately seeking answers no one seems to have, Lowri looks to her dark family past for clues. But the secrets she uncovers suggest that Ruby is not the only one in danger, and time is running out – for both of them…

I also started The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd on my tablet while my Kindle was charging. Another intriguing read. I’m a little over halfway and I’m not entirely certain Bernard is telling the whole truth. Add to that the strange things that happen when Sara visits his home – a haunted pepper-grinder! – and I am hooked.

While I am walking to and from work on the nice days, we’ve had a few this week – I am listening to The Enigma of Room 622 written by Joël Dicker and narrated by Chris Harper. Although I initially found this quite ‘dry’, there have been a couple of interesting curveballs introduced which have revived my interest.

One night in December, a corpse is found in Room 622 of the Hotel Verbier, a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. A police investigation begins without definite end, and public interest wanes with the passage of time. Years later, the writer Joel Dicker, Switzerland’s most famous literary ingenue, arrives at that same hotel to recover from a bad breakup, mourn the death of his longtime publisher, and begin his next novel. Little does Joel know that his expertise in the art of the thriller will come in handy when he finds himself investigating the crime. He’ll need a Watson, of course: in this case, that would be Scarlett, the beautiful guest and aspiring novelist from the next room, who joins in the search while he tries to solve another puzzle: the plot of his next book. Meanwhile, in the wake of his father’s passing, Macaire Ebezner is set to take over as president of the largest private bank in Switzerland. The succession captivates the news media, and the future looks bright, until it doesn’t. The bank’s board, including a certain Lev Levovitch-Geneva’s very own Jay Gatsby-have other plans, and Macaire’s race to the top soon becomes a race against time.

This week, in addition to The Last House on the Cliff, I am planning to read: After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl (Love this cover!)

Liv loves her son, Adrian. That’s why she keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.

Anastasia’s life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan and starts modelling. Suddenly, she’s rich. She’s desired. But then she begins to see the dark side of her new life: the high-pressure catwalk shows; the glamorous, drink-fuelled after-parties; the sun-baked Italian palazzos owned by powerful men. She will do anything to escape

Selma is a feature journalist in Oslo. She’s horrified to uncover an unsavoury and dangerous underworld when she writes an article looking into the modelling industry. Then, a woman goes missing in Sandefjord… 

A Cornish Recipe for Murder by Fiona Leitch (Nosy Parker Mysteries #5)

When popular TV baking contest and national institution ‘The Best of British Baking Roadshow’ rolls into town and sets up camp in the grounds of Boskern House, a historic stately home near Penstowan, former police officer Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker finds herself competing to represent Cornwall in the grand final.

But with a fellow contestant who will stop at nothing to win and a drag queen host with secrets of their own, Jodie discovers that the roadshow doesn’t just have the ingredients for the perfect showstopper cake, but also for the perfect murder…

And when a body is found in the grounds of the house, Jodie is drawn into another high-stakes case along with local DCI Nathan Withers.

I only received one new ARC this week so my TBR pile should shrink just a little. I was invited to read Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer by the publishers. I accepted instantly as I love this Australian author’s books.

It’s been beautiful weather here the past few days so I have, as I said earlier, been walking to and from work. Pete didn’t work this weekend either so he’s caught up on the lawns, and I have been weeding the garden and have pruned all the hydrangeas. I still have the roses to do.

When I roasted a leg of lamb for dinner last night, I doubled up on the vegetables and gravy, so we are having more of the same tonight.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

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

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

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

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

– SOLACE

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

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

This is Us by Helen McGinn

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

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

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

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

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