Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

EXCERPT: ‘Why don’t you start at the beginning?’
‘The beginning? Well, I reckon that was the funeral. The funeral turned into a damned circus when the blackbirds showed up.’ Blackberry sweet tea sloshed over the rims of two mason jars as Faylene Wiggins abruptly slapped her hand on the tabletop. ‘Wait! Wait! You can’t print that. My mama would wash out my mouth with her homemade lemon verbena soap if she knew I cursed for the good Lord and all the world to see in your article.’
The reporter flipped the pages of his yellow steno pad. ‘I thought you said that your mother was dead?’
‘You’re not from these parts, so you’re excused for not understanding. Wicklow, Alabama, isn’t any old ordinary town, young man. Goodness, I wouldn’t put it past my mama to rise straight out of the ground and hunt me down, bar of soap clutched in her bony hand.’ With a firm nod, she jammed a finger in the air and added, ‘Now, that you can print.’

ABOUT ‘MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFÉ’: Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

MY THOUGHTS: A beautiful story about family ties, secrets, grief, old grudges, love and forgiveness.

Heather Webber never fails to draw me in with her marvellous characters and whimsical storylines. She conjures up just the right mix of family drama, mystery, romance and magical realism.

I could hear her characters speaking and was hungry for both Anna-Kate’s pies and Gabriel’s fried chicken.

The only thing stopping this from being a five star read was my confusion about the roles of Jenna and Bow. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be grateful.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#MidnightattheBlackbirdCafe

I: @booksbyheather

T: @BooksbyHeather

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #fantasy #friendship #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Heather Webber, aka Heather Blake, is the author of more than twenty-five novels. She loves to read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, and bake. She currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hard at work on her next book.

I own my copy of Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber.

Murder at an Irish Bakery by Carlene O’Connor

EXCERPT: The O’Farrell’s had operated this flour mill, and now bakery, for several generations. Fia O’Farrell was the last living member, and given she was single and past middle age, many wondered what she envisioned for its future. The back room, which used to house events, and the ground, middle and top floors of the mill, which used to be open for tours, had all been closed to the public for over a decade. But it was still a gorgeous structure, and the bakery, which was housed in the very front portion of the building, was as cheerful inside as it was out. Siobhán took in the outdoor tables with colourful umbrellas, flowers beaming from planters along the front of the building, and the banner above the wooden doors that read: WELCOME IRISH BAKERS!

ABOUT ‘MURDER AT AN IRISH BAKERY’: In Kilbane, opinions are plentiful and rarely in alignment. But there’s one thing everyone does agree on–the bakery in the old flour mill, just outside town, is the best in County Cork, well worth the short drive and the long lines. No wonder they’re about to be featured on a reality baking show.

All six contestants in the show are coming to Kilbane to participate, and the town is simmering with excitement. Aside from munching on free samples, the locals–including Siobhan–get a chance to appear in the opening shots. As for the competitors themselves, not all are as sweet as their confections. There are shenanigans on the first day of filming that put everyone on edge, but that’s nothing compared to day two, when the first round ends and the top contestant is found face-down in her signature pie.

The producers decide to continue filming while Siobhan and her husband, Garda Macdara Flannery, sift through the suspects. Was this a case of rivalry turned lethal, or are their other motives hidden in the mix? And can they uncover the truth before another baker is eliminated–permanently . . .

MY THOUGHTS: This is the second book I have read in this series and I enjoyed it far more than the first.

Murder at an Irish Bakery is a delightfully Irish cosy-mystery featuring a husband and wife garda team, both of whom have a sweet tooth.

You’re going to have to suspend a bit of belief with this but, hey, it’s a cosy, not a police procedural. Similarly, there’s no great depth to any of the characters. But I had great fun trying to figure out who was behind the killings, and there’s a praiseworthy twist or two to confuse the issue.

WARNING: stock up with snacks before you settle down with Murder at an Irish Bakery, because the beautiful pastries, cakes and desserts described in the course of this book will have you salivating and your stomach rumbling.

BONUS: There’s a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake at the end with a link to the recipe published in the New York Times.

Murder at an Irish Bakery is easily read as a stand-alone.

⭐⭐⭐.9

#MurderatanIrishBakery #NetGalley

I: @writergirlchi @kensingtonbooks

T: #CarleneOConnor @KensingtonBooks

#cosymystery #contemporaryfiction #detectivefiction #irishfiction #murdermystery #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Born into a long line of Irish storytellers, Carlene O’Connor’s great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland filled with tales in 1897 and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places she’s wandered across the pond, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork, the setting of her Irish Village Mystery series.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books for providing a digital ARC of Murder at an Irish Bakery, written by Carlene O’Connor 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 haven’t posted or interacted much much this week. Events rather overtook me, but more about that later.

I picked up a book this morning, one from my backlist that is the April selection for the Mystery, Crime and Thriller groupread. I intended to just read a chapter a day to eke it out over the month. BUT, I was immediately absorbed and intrigued and finished this stunning debut, published August 2017, just after lunch.🤣🤣🤣 Maybe there was a reason I have left it sitting unread for almost six years, because it was just the tonic I needed. The book is Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to have published anything since.

I am currently listening to A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5) by Elly Griffiths, continuing – after a detour or two – my personal ‘read this series in 2023’ challenge.

I still have three titles for review that were published in March that I haven’t managed to read, but hopefully I can catch up in April – not this week as I have four reads for review due!

This week I am planning to read The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman, a new author to me.

I just love this cover!

When Anna Bradshaw wakes up in a hospital bed in London, she remembers nothing, not even her loving husband, Stephen. The doctors say her amnesia is to be expected, but Anna feels cut adrift from her entire life.

In Bristol, Livvy Nicholson is newly married to Dominic and eager to get back to work after six months’ maternity leave. But when Dominic’s estranged mother appears, making a series of unnerving claims, Livvy is sucked into a version of herself she doesn’t recognise.

A hundred miles apart, both women feel trapped and disorientated, and their stories are about to collide. Can they uncover the secret that connects them and reconstruct their fractured lives?

You Should Have Known by Rebecca Keller, which I requested after reading Jayme’s enthusiastic review. This is another author who is new to me.

When retired nurse Frannie Greene moves into a senior living apartment, she finds a compelling friendship with her new neighbor Katherine, only to discover that Katherine is married to the judge who Frannie believes is implicated in the death of her beloved granddaughter.

Observing the medication cart sparks Frannie’s darkest imagination, and her desire for revenge combines with her medical expertise. In one dreadful, impulsive moment, she tampers with the medicine. However, the next day, someone is dead and Frannie realizes the gravity of what she’s done.

The police get involved, and suspicions gather around someone Frannie knows to be innocent. Wracked with remorse, Frannie’s anxiety becomes unbearable. As she works to make it right, Frannie discovers that things are more complicated than they seem.

She’s spent years aching for accountability from people in power. Is she the one who now needs to be held culpable? What really happened that night?

Summer Nights in the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I have been requesting her books for ages so was excited to finally get an ARC.

A new beginning…

As her summer wedding to Jake approaches, Hollie is excited for their new beginning as a family. But when some unexpected news threatens the future she and Jake had hoped for, Hollie will need to find the strength to overcome heartache once more.

A fragile heart…

Single mum, Kerry, loves her job at The Starfish Café, but behind the brave smiles and laughter with customers there is a sadness deep within. So when someone from her past re-appears in her life, Kerry can either hide away or face her demons and try to finally move on from her heartbreak.

A summer to remember…

For Hollie and Kerry it promises to be an emotional rollercoaster of a summer, but the community at The Starfish Café will always be there to help them through – after all, with courage nothing is impossible…

And The Lost Wife by Georgina Lees, a widget I received directly from the publisher.

You always underestimated me and I always overestimated you.
Maybe that was our problem.

A woman and a child arrive at a cottage in the Peak District in the dead of night.

Alone. Desperate. Hunted.

She knows they’re coming for her. It’s only a matter of time.

Because her husband kept a secret from her. Until he was ready to destroy her.

Now, it’s her turn.

These books are all due for publication this coming week.

During a sleepless night this week I caved in and went on a requesting spree, netting five new reads.

All Good Things by Amanda Prowse, an author I love.

The Wedding Gift by Carolyn Brown

The Bride To Be by Daniel Hurst

One Last Kill by Robert Dugoni

Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves by Quinn Connor, yet another author new to me.

Pete had a meeting with his care team Friday morning and begins his radiation treatment Wednesday. He is to stay in the cancer lodge for the first two weeks at least so that he can be monitored, but he is allowed home for the weekends.

I didn’t accomplish everything that I needed to at work this week, but I came close, so that will have to do. There was only one set of accounts that I didn’t manage to straighten out, but only because I didn’t have the supporting documentation.

I was exhausted by Friday night and came home, had a cup of tea, a sandwich and went to bed.

We went to a 100th birthday party Saturday afternoon – a first for us – of a family friend. It was a lovely afternoon, with a spectacular cake and lots of great company. Everything was just winding up when all the excitement of the afternoon caught up with the birthday boy who took a bit of a turn and was unconscious for several minutes. He departed his party in an ambulance and spent the night in hospital under observation. He is back home today and reportedly in fine form.

The rain cleared just after lunch today and I planted the spinach plants I had picked up during the week. My winter lettuce are starting to look good, but my red cabbage are not hearting up at all. I am still picking the occasional tomato and cucumber, and I ate six luscious sweet sun warmed strawberries this afternoon. I keep thinking that they must nearly be at an end, but there’s still green strawberries and flowers on the plants.

Leftovers for dinner tonight.

I hope you have all had a satisfying week, and happy reading for the coming week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’re currently having lovely warm days and very cold nights, something I can live with. But we have more rain forecast next week and apparently a cold spell as well that may see me hibernating.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand has been hit by a swarm of earthquakes over the past 36 hours. To all my bookish friends in that region, my thoughts are with you and I hope you are all safe.

I am currently reading A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, set in the 1950s. It took me a wee bit to settle into, but now I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s not quite a murder-mystery as we meet the murderer making confession early in the book, but it’s the police and the Priest to whom he confessed trying to ascertain just who he is, and then trying to find him, that provides the entertainment.

I am also reading #1 in a New Zealand crime/detective series by Vanda Symon, Overkill. I read the 5th in the series last week and loved it so much that I decided to begin at the beginning. Loving it. At this point it’s looking like another 5 star read.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

I am listening to The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Emilia Fox. This was originally published as The Shifting Fog.

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets – some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

I, again, have only one read for review due this week, just as well as I am still reading books that were published two weeks ago. Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni is due for publication 23rd March, and hopefully I will be caught up by then.

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master’s deadly match? A twisting novel of suspense by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family’s failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family’s reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career.

Keera’s chance to play in the big leagues comes when she’s retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There’s little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple’s impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera’s former lover, who’s eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense.

As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that’s more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family’s legacy, and her own future.

I have received two publishers widgets this week, and one ARC via Netgalley. The Netgalley ARC is Summer Nights at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I’m excited about this as I haven’t previously been approved for any of her books.

The two publishers widgets are: Black Thorn by Sarah Hilary

And The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood. This is a series that has consistently been 5 star reads.

I’ve done quite well with my posting this week. I’m not promising the same for this week.

I’ve a shoulder of lamb in the oven for tonight’s dinner and it smells delicious. The vegetables are just waiting to be tipped into the roasting dish. I’ll be sneaking a slice or two before I dish up and putting between two slices of the fresh bread I bought from the bakery today slathered in butter, salt and pepper. That’s one of life’s guilty pleasures for me.

Enjoy your weekend!❤📚

First Lines Friday

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Welcome to First Lines Friday originally hosted by Reading is my SuperPower.

Instead of judging a book by its cover, here are the first few lines which I hope will make you want to read this book.

The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die, there were no harbingers, omens or owls’ calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited death in.

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to read more?

These are the opening lines of one of my current reads, Overkill by Vanda Symon.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

Tempted?

The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown

EXCERPT: ‘Where’s the nearest convent or bootcamp?’ Grace Dalton stormed into the kitchen of the Devine Doughnut Shop that Friday morning. ‘That daughter of mine needs to spend some time in whichever one that will take her.’
‘What has Audrey done now?’ Grace’s younger sister, Sarah, asked.
She sent me a text last night after I’d gone to bed and said that she had been suspended for today,’ Grace answered as she slipped a bibbed apron over her head and tied the strings in the back. She tucked her hair up into a net and moved over to the sink to wash her hands.
Their cousin Macy, who was a partner in the doughnut shop, set the bowls up on the counter to get the dough made and rising. ‘Good Lord! What did she do?’
Grace flipped the hot doughnuts into a bowl of powdered sugar glaze, turned them over, and set them out on a different rack to cool. ‘She got caught with a pack of cigarettes and one of those little sample bottles of whisky at school. When she goes back after spring break, she gets to spend two days in the in-school suspension building. I’m paying for your raising, Sarah June, not mine. I was the good child.’

ABOUT ‘THE DEVINE DOUGHNUT SHOP’: For Grace Dalton, her sister, Sarah, and her cousin Macy, the Devine Doughnut Shop is a sweet family legacy and a landmark in their Texas town. As the fourth generation to run the Double D, they keep their great-grandmother’s recipe secret and uphold the shop’s tradition as a coffee klatch for sharing local gossip, advice, and woes. But drama brews behind the counter, too.

Grace is a single mother struggling with an unruly teenage daughter. Heartbroken Sarah has sworn off love. Macy’s impending wedding has an unexpected hitch. And now charming developer Travis Butler has arrived in Devine with a checkbook and a handsome smile. He wants to buy the shop, expand it nationally, and boost the economy of a town divided by the prospect.

With the family’s relationships in flux, their beloved heritage up for grabs, and their future in the air, it’s amazing what determination, sass, a promise of romance, and a warm maple doughnut can do to change hearts and minds.

MY THOUGHTS: I want a maple doughnut – more than one in fact. I am glad we don’t have a decent doughnut shop in our town or I would have been down there every morning buying a dozen to get me through the day.

Anyone who has a teenage daughter, or who has ever been a teenage daughter, is going to relate to this read. Audrey is at that age where being popular is the most important thing in her life. Her mother neither likes nor approves of her friends and Audrey is certain her mother is out to ruin her street cred.

The relationship between Grace and her daughter had me chuckling, recalling similar battles between my mother and myself. I loved the relationship between Grace, her sister Sarah and their cousin Macy. The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, but in this case it just takes a close knit family. I love the way these three support one another and indulge their love of ice-cream in times of crisis.

These characters are all smart, resilient and sassy. Carolyn Brown sure can write them.

This is a heartwarming story of family, friendship, faith and romance that kept me smiling throughout.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheDevineDoughnutShop #NetGalley

@carolynbrownbooks #montlake

T: @thecarolynbrown #Montlake

#christianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #friendship #romance #sliceoflife #smalltownfiction
#womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I

got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown 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

Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara

EXCERPT: Just because you imagine yourself doing something and enjoy the way it makes you feel, doesn’t mean you actually want to do it. It doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. Of course not. Because sometimes the very opposite is true and something you never in a million years could imagine yourself doing is done in the blink of an eye and changes your life forever.
So if, in my head, I’m grabbing a handful of her braids and slamming her head into a brick wall till her skull’s smashed in, it doesn’t mean that’s what I’ll do. It doesn’t make me a bad person just thinking about it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s normal to have the odd violent fantasy about someone you hate so much every muscle in your body contracts when you think of them. I mean, everybody does it sometimes, don’t they? Don’t they?
Seven slams, if you’re interested. That’s how many it takes till her braids run red.

ABOUT ‘WHO DID YOU TELL ?’: It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around. Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged. But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected. Some mistakes, you have to pay for.

MY THOUGHTS: Wow! That was a crazy ride and a half!

Astrid is a resentful and angry character. She is an alcoholic, back living with her mum, who is insisting that she attends AA. Astrid can’t get her head around the whole ‘God’ thing and believes that only a few of the twelve steps apply to her.

Her fellow AA attendees are an odd bunch, but only three play a significant role in the storyline. Rosie is an older homeless woman who seems to be taking an unusual amount of interest in Astrid’s life. She repeatedly warns Astrid against continuing her friendship with Helen, another new attendee, the only person Astrid feels that she can relate to. She is surprised to find that a colourless seemingly ineffective man, Jeremy (Jez), is actually a well-respected lawyer and connected to a family Astrid is painting for. Which worries Astrid as she hasn’t revealed to them that she is an alcoholic.

It’s really engaging following Astrid’s faltering steps through her recovery which are complicated by a past she is unprepared to reveal and a series of threatening notes she receives which makes her sure that she is being targeted by someone who knows exactly what she is guilty of.

While initially I didn’t particularly care for Astrid, by the end of the book, I came to like and admire her.

Astrid’s mum is another great character. She loves her daughter and will do anything within her power to help her daughter through her battle with alcohol. But she’s no pushover. She doesn’t take any shit from her daughter.

There’s a little romance, but it fits nicely into the storyline and isn’t overpowering.

Lesley Kara has created a wonderful mix of psychological drama and personal struggles that was difficult to put down.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#WhoDidYouTell? #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @lesleykarawriter @penguinukbooks

T: @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: THE AUTHOR: Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Writing Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in the small town of Flinstead-on-Sea on the North Essex coast. The Rumour is her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for providing a paperback copy of Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon. We’ve had a lazy weekend and have accomplished very little. I don’t even have to think about dinner tonight as we’re off to a friend’s later this afternoon to watch the Supercar racing out of Australia and staying for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it.

I didn’t manage to accomplish much reading wise over the past week either. I have only managed to finish one of my six reads for review for the week, but will probably finish the second tonight.

Currently I am reading The Summer

And a book by a new to me New Zealand author, Vanda Symon. Loving it!

A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…


The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’ s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

I am listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I am hoping to catch up on the reads I didn’t get to last week as I have only one read for review due this week. It is Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams.

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

There’s something strange about the scene . . . Famous artist Elaine appears to have passed peacefully in her sleep as she rested against a tree in the garden of her home, the Willows. Her legs are outstretched, hands tenderly clutching a small blue flower.

But upon closer inspection, things don’t add up. Where is Elaine’s trusty walking stick? Why did she choose to slumber on the ground when there is a comfortable lounge chair nearby? Where did that blue flower come from? . . . not from her garden, that’s for sure.

The clues soon point to murder. Elaine was beloved by the community, who would do such a thing? Her grandson is determined to uncover the truth and hires Rina to investigate.

The trail leads Rina to a series of shocking secrets, stretching back over twenty years. And a murderer who has unfinished business . . . Can our favourite amateur sleuth catch this killer before it’s too late?

Suddenly, because I decided to stop requesting ARCs for review, several that were on my pending list were approved, and I received three widgets from publishers!🤣🤣🤣 Is someone in the great library in the sky trying to tell you something?

The three publishers widgets are:

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins

The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

And Don’t Look Back by Jo Spain

Other ARCs I received via Netgalley are:

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

A Cornish Seaside Murder by Fiona Leitch

A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun by David Putnam

and The Lucky Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

Oh, well, I was obviously meant to have these. 🤷‍♀️❤📚

Thanks to all of you who have been asking after Pete. We’re back to Oncology Monday when they will plot a detailed map of the cancer for the radiation treatment which will be starting in the next two to three weeks.

Have a great week of reading and I’ll be popping in whenever I can. 🤗❤📚

The Doctor’s Wife by Daniel Hurst

EXCERPT: As the woman at the window watched the activity on the beach, she knew the body on the sand was going to be the event that turned this quiet seaside village into a hive of activity for several days to come. This isolated place was usually only frequented by local residents, delivery drivers from the nearby towns and the occasional tourist passing in and out of Scotland. Now it would be teeming with forensic experts, journalists and bystanders harbouring a morbid curiosity.
That was the thing about the appearance of a body in an unexpected place.
It demanded attention.
And it always got it.

ABOUT ‘THE DOCTOR’S WIFE’: He thinks his secret is safe. But she knows the truth…

My husband is a doctor. He’s smart and charming and everybody trusts him. Except me.

On the surface, it looks like I have it all – the perfect marriage, the perfect husband, the perfect life. But it’s far from the truth.

Doctor Drew Devlin is not the respectable figure he makes out to be. The reason we moved to this beautiful, old property with a gorgeous view of the sea was because we needed to put our past behind us. It should’ve been a fresh start for us both.

Except I’ve discovered my husband has been lying to me again. He’s using the power he has in his job to mess with people’s lives, and to get exactly what he wants – no matter who it hurts.

But he’s underestimated me. I’ve had plenty of time, in this big, isolated house, to think about all of his mistakes.

And my husband has no idea what’s about to happen next…

MY THOUGHTS: Which character did I dislike the most? I honestly don’t know!

I initially felt sorry for Fern, until she started to reveal her true colours. I disliked Drew throughout. I could have felt sorry for Alice, but I don’t. I do feel sorry for Rory. He was the true victim in all of this. He was easily manipulated by Fern, who is diabolically clever, and cold-hearted.

The story is told from the points of view of both Fern and Drew, covering both the present and the couple’s past in Manchester.

Don’t come into The Doctor’s Wife looking for a mystery, or a ‘whodunit’ – you know who’s doing what. The big question is, are they going to get away with it?

There are multiple twists and turns in this quick, entertaining read. There’s no depth to the characters, but in this case, it really doesn’t matter. I always finish Daniel Hurst’s books with a smile on my face, and I certainly did with The Doctor’s Wife, which ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. Normally I don’t particularly like cliffhanger endings, but in this case it was the perfect way to end and leaves the reader to decide whether or not the killer gets the comeuppance they deserve.

I was lucky enough to have both an audio and a digital ARC of The Doctor’s Wife for review and chopped and changed between the two media, enjoying both equally. One small point I don’t understand about the audiobook narrator’s roles is why David Wayman doesn’t narrate all the male voices as Sarah Durham’s rendition of male voices isn’t at all convincing.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheDoctorsWife #Bookouture

I: @danielhurstbooks @bookouture

T: @dhurstbooks @Bookouture

THE AUTHOR: Writer/wanderer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing both an audio and digital ARC of The Doctor’s Wife, written by Daniel Hurst and narrated by Sarah Durham and David Wayman, for review. All opinions expressed in the review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also posted on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and Goodreads.com

The Village Vicar by Julie Houston

EXCERPT: ‘And when the policeman had me wind down my window, saw my lovely pink dress all soaked and dripping, my laddered tights and looking like some pink blancmanged Alice Cooper -‘ Rosa rubbed at the rivulets of black mascara down her cheeks ‘- and asked me for my identity and I said, ‘I’m Reverend Rosa Quinn, the village vicar. I’m just on my way up to my father’s place at Stratton Hall,’ he replied with, ‘Yes, sweetheart, and I’m the Archbishop of Canterbury and later on, I’ll be off to my mother’s place at Buckingham Palace.’ And he made me get out of the car and breathalysed me.’

ABOUT ‘THE VILLAGE VICAR’: Three devoted sisters… One complicated family.

When Rosa Quinn left her childhood home in Westenbury, she never expected to return over a decade later as the village vicar. But after a health scare and catching her boyfriend cheating, Rosa jumps at the chance to start over and live closer to her triplet sisters Eva and Hannah.

But Rosa’s isn’t the only old face in the village, and when her role in the parish throws her into the path of her ex, she begins to wonder if she’s made a terrible mistake. Meanwhile, Eva and Hannah face their own troubles, as secrets about their family threaten to emerge.

Can Rosa make a life for herself in Westenbury? Or will the sisters discover you can’t run away from the past?

MY THOUGHTS: I have read and enjoyed quite a few of Julie Houston’s books, but she takes her writing and her characters to a whole new level with The Village Vicar. This is the best book by this author that I have read.

Julie has taken all the things I love in a multi-generational family drama and expertly woven them into a fascinating story of complicated family relationships and a contested will.

I loved the rivalry between the triplet sisters tempered by their love of one another. Their older sister, Virginia, has always felt left out of the tight trio, and soothed herself with the knowledge that they were adopted, cuckoos in her nest. She lives a safe and secure life, often outraged by the lives of the three, even now that they are adults.

Eva, Hannah and Rosa each have their own distinct personality, although that doesn’t stop them all fancying the same man! So while diverse, they also have some similarities: Eva and Rosa are quite driven; Hannah and Rosa passionate and unlucky in love.

Their mothers – birth mother artist Alice; adoptive mother her sister Susan – are also vastly different personalities. And it is with their story that this humorous and touching book begins.

Highly recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheVillageVicar #NetGalley

I: @juliehoustonauthor @headofzeus

T: @JulieHouston2 @AriaFiction @HoZ_Books

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #friendship #romance #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. She now teaches just two days a week, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past nineteen years, and, when not distracted by Ebay, Twitter and Ancestry, spends much of her time writing. Julie is married, has a twenty-four-year-old son and twenty-one-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book – preferably with Matthew Mcconaughay in attendance.

She hates skiing, gets sick on boats and wouldn’t go pot-holing or paddy diving if her life depended on it.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria & Aries via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Village Vicar by Julie Houston 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