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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐.7

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

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

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

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Welcome from a wet and windy New Zealand.

It’s meant to clear up a little later this afternoon, but I am wondering if it will be fine enough for the BBQ we had planned for this evening. At the moment it’s not looking promising. Fingers crossed I guess.

I am about to start reading Suspicious Minds by David Mark.

I am currently listening to Olive Again (Olive Kitteridge #2) by Elizabeth Strout.

This week I am planning on also reading Limelight by Graham Hurley

Actress Enora Andressen is catching up with her ex-neighbour, Evelyn Warlock, who’s recently retired to the comely East Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. The peace, the friendship of strangers and the town’s prestigious literary festival . . . Evelyn loves them all.

Until the September evening when her French neighbour, Christianne Beaucarne, disappears. Enora has met this woman. The two of them have bonded. But what Enora discovers over the anguished months to come will put sleepy Budleigh Salterton on the front page of every newspaper in the land . . .

I will also, hopefully, catch up on another back title from my Netgalley list. I will pick it at random.

Only two ARCs this week from Netgalley:

Single Mother by Samantha Hayes

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

I seem to be going through one of those patches where everything I request goes onto my wishlist. Is anyone else having this problem? Mind you, it could be as a result of my geographical location.

I really can’t believe that we are in December in a couple of days time! Other than Luke’s gifts, I tend to pick up bits and pieces throughout the year, I have absolutely nothing organised. I hope that you are all better organized than I am!

I am looking forward to spending some time with Luke later this week. I am having him for the day Friday. We will have morning tea with his granny and grandma, who I haven’t caught up with since early this year, and then we have his daycare Christmas party in the afternoon.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Stay safe and read on!

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

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

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

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

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

The Survivors by Jane Harper

EXCERPT: She was lying on her side, lengthways along the beach with her back to the sea. Her arms were limp and her face was pressed against the sand. The careful highlights in her hair were dull and matted. Her baby-doll eyes were closed.

Kieran had a sudden flash of her, so different from this. Running through the spray after Audrey’s hat, looking out at the sea and laughing in frustration.

ABOUT ‘THE SURVIVORS’: Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

MY THOUGHTS: Small town dramas – love them! Evelyn Bay – Tasmania, population 900, give or take. To the north is mainland Australia, invisible, but there. And far to the south, Antarctica. A rugged and wild landscape not dissimilar to the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, from what I understand.

But home is home, and Kieran returns with his family to help his mother pack up the house and move his father, suffering from dementia, into care. And when you’re home, you catch up with old friends. Old friends who know your history, your secrets. And there’s plenty of those in Evelyn Bay.

The story moves at small town pace. Unhurriedly, but rife with gossip, innuendo and suspicion. The past comes back to confuse the investigation into the death of a summer visitor to the town, an artist who funds her stay by waitressing at the local bar/diner. There are no shortage of suspects. Liam, who also works at the diner, and who gave Bronte a lift home from work the night she was killed. Brian, Kieran’s dad, who sometimes wanders at night, and did so that night in the vicinity of Bronte’s home, and who was also last known person to see Gabby Birch who had died in the storm all those years ago. And others. I thought I had the killer pegged. I was wrong. Very wrong. About both girls. The ending is unexpected but I loved it. I loved the moral dilemmas the author created, and the delicate but realistic way she portrayed the survivors guilt.

This is a slow reveal, a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion, but far more pleasant. Harper paints portraits with her words, both of the dramatic scenery and the people. My heart ached for Verity, coping with the loss of a son in the tragedy of the storm, his death brought about by the actions of his younger brother, who has moved to Sydney and rarely returns home, and the rapid deterioration of her husband into the clutches of dementia. And for Olivia, older sister of Gabby, home to care for her mother after a failed suicide attempt and increasingly bizarre behaviour.

This is a satisfying read, more than satisfying. I enjoyed my first book by this author and have ordered her back titles to read. I like her style.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSurvivorsBook #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. Jane previously worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her husband, daughter, and son.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Survivors by Jane Harper for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Living Ayurveda: Nourishing Body and Mind Through Seasonal Recipes, Rituals and Yoga by Claire Ragozzino

EXCERPT: The word for health in Ayurveda is svastha. You know those people who radiate joy and literally glow? There is a juicy aliveness about them that is palpable and magnetic. This is svastha embodied – people who are confidently established in themselves. Our health isn’t just the absence of disease; it’s a dynamic state of harmony between our physical body, our mind, our senses, and our soul. Ayurveda teaches us how to care for these four aspects by paying close attention to the ways our surrounding environments affect our state of health, and how to use right thinking, diet and lifestyle to maintain an inner equilibrium. This book seeks to empower you with knowledge and tools for becoming more firmly established in yourself, using food, breath, movement and meditation in harmony with nature’s rhythms.

ABOUT ‘LIVING AYURVEDA: ALIGNING BODY AND MIND THROUGH SEASONAL RECIPES, RITUALS AND YOGA- A hands-on holistic guide to self-care based on the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda–including how to build a daily personal practice for each season with nourishing food, cleansing breath, and yoga practice.

Nourishment comes in many forms–it’s the food you eat, how you breathe and move your body, and the way you establish your daily routine. Living Ayurveda weaves together the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda and Yoga in a modern, accessible way to provide a season-by-season guide for living a vibrantly rich year. Part cookbook, part lifestyle manual, each chapter includes simple vegetarian recipes, seasonal rituals, and self-care practices to cultivate your inner wisdom and feed your body, mind, and spirit.

In this book, you’ll find:

– 90 delicious vegetarian recipes to balance the body and strengthen digestion through the seasons
– Illustrated pantry lists, menu guides, and cooking tips that demystify the process of building a balanced meal
– Yoga sequences and breathing techniques to help align with the energy of each season
– Seasonal rituals based on moon cycles to strengthen your intuition and develop a personal routine at home

Learn from ancient wisdom to know yourself intimately, be open to new discoveries, and see where this path takes you to allow a deeper wisdom to blossom in your life.

MY THOUGHTS: I started Ayurveda yoga classes earlier this year, and love it so, when I saw Living Ayurveda available, I had to have it. The yoga had improved my posture, given me better control of my breathing, and improved my sleep, and this book seemed like the next natural step forward.

Now, I am not going to claim to have read every single word. I have grazed, picking out bits here and there, skimming or skipping others, but feeling the positive benefits of what I have so far chosen to incorporate into my life. I am a firm believer in making small changes, and making sure each change is firmly entrenched before moving on to the next one. This method gives me far better results than trying to make several major changes all at once.

I have embraced the idea of living seasonally – it makes sense foodwise, but I had never entertained the concept of having different yoga poses for each season. I had, earlier this year, begun to make small changes to our diet, incorporating some vegetarian meals into our eating plan. I expected some opposition from my ‘meat and three veg’ truck driver husband and, initially, I was sneaking vegetarian meals in telling him that the tofu was chicken or cheese. I don’t need to do that any more. He is enjoying our new style of eating and often chooses vegetarian meals when I ask for his input for the menu for the week. We particularly the mushroom and lentil stuffed sweet potatoes, even though it’s a winter recipe, and summer is only days away here in the southern hemisphere. Other favourites of mine include the coconut chia breakfast bowl and the creamy coconut curry.

The photographs in this book are superb. Whether it be photos of the recipes, yoga poses or the beautiful calming and inspirational photos, they alone are worth buying this book for. And buy a copy I will. I want a permanent copy of this, a guide for making and maintaining positive change in my life.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#LivingAyurveda #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: CLAIRE RAGOZZINO is a certified yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner with a background in holistic nutrition and natural cooking. Her work is dedicated to bringing yoga, Ayurveda and nutrition to a modern lifestyle. She is the author of the popular blog, Vidya Living, and also writes and photographs for online and print publications surrounding topics of food, culture and our relationship to nature. Claire works with clients around the globe and leads immersive workshops and retreats. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Roost Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Living Ayurveda for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

EXCERPT: As I put the pictures back in the bag, I picked up the shreds of what I’d dismissed as blank scraps of paper that morning. Most of them were plain white, but I now noticed some had bits of printed letters on them, light gray and faded, made by one of those ancient dot-matrix printers I’d once seen in my school’s aging computer lab. I laid the pieces out on the desk and set to work, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Despite missing a few parts, three words became clear enough to decipher.

TELL NO ONE.

ABOUT ‘HER SECRET SON’: When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’ – Ray Charles

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is certainly an emotional page turner! How much bad luck can one man have? Well, like they say, ‘when it rains, it pours.’

Josh has made some bad decisions in his life, but just as he thinks that he’s finally got life sorted, found happiness, it’s ripped right out of his grasp again. Struggling to cope, he is determined to do his best by Logan, who he loves like his own. And he had promised Grace that if anything ever happened to her, he would look after him. He is determined not to let either Grace or Logan down. But this promise gets harder and harder to keep as Grace and Logan’s past is revealed to be layer after layer of lies.

I felt so sorry for Josh, and for Logan. Josh’s love for Logan simply radiates from the page as he battles with his own grief to give Logan a stable home. Ultimately he finds himself torn between doing the right thing by Logan, and doing the right thing.

Her Secret Son is a compelling page turner. I was heavily invested in the characters and the outcome. But then it all became overly dramatic, a bit like an episode of a soap opera (Dallas sprung to mind), with blazing guns and all. Although the ending was great entertaining reading, I thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse, and I felt let down by it. The quality of the rest of the story deserved better. A good candidate for a TV drama.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#HerSecretSon #NetGalley

‘Moving never sorted out your issues. They sneaked inside your suitcases when you weren’t looking and jumped out when you arrived.’

‘I’d rather be a hermit with a stack of good books and a box of chocolates.’

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the UK and grew up in Switzerland. Unsurprisingly I love chocolate, mountains and cheese, and books, of course.

When I moved to Canada with my husband and three sons in 2010 I went through an (early) mid-life crisis. Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion; writing – and never wanted to look back.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is due for publication 26.11.2020

Her by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: 1909 – out in that country

Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by with his wife, who had cost him twelve shillings once upon a time, and a wispy girl, who had cost him ten.

The people of the hut heard them first, the clop two three four of hooves, the creature-in-torment shriek of an axle and a mad symphony of rocking and rattling. They froze. Then, from the scrub line, came a bony horse, a wagon hung with pots and pans, a dog panting along in the lurching shade and three faces, dusty and gaunt.

‘Whoa!’ said the man, spying the hut and hauling on the reins.

The dust settled over the clearing. The pots and pans fell silent on their hooks. The horse hung its head and the dog belly-flopped onto the dirt.

After a while a child appeared, wearing a flour-bag dress and slipping soundlessly from beneath a sulky parked broken-backed in a collar of grass. Other figures joined her, the odds and ends of a used-up family, materialising from the hut, a barn, a post-and-rail fence and the tricky corners of the mallee scrub. Count them: a mother, a father and eleven children, ranging from a baby on a hip to a boy whose voice had broken, all staring at the apparition.

ABOUT ‘HER’: Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by . . .

Her name is scarcely known or remembered. All in all, she is worth less than the nine shillings and sixpence counted into her father’s hand. She bides her time. She does her work.

Way back in the corner of her mind is a thought she is almost too frightened to shine a light on: one day she will run away.

MY THOUGHTS: Dark. Unsettling. Heartbreaking.

We follow the unfortunate existence of ‘You’, a child sold into a life of slavery with the scrap man for the princely sum of nine shillings and sixpence. She becomes one of his possessions, his ‘assets’, along with Wife and Big Girl. She learns to read human character, not least that of Scrap Man, who is a lazy drunken wastrel, and abuser of women and children.

Her is not a pretty book. It is bleak, but beautifully written. It is a portrait of a time that I am glad I never had to live through. It is a time my grandparents lived through and sometimes spoke of, although their upbringing was somewhat easier than Hers. It is a time of making do, scratching a living, dressing in clothes made from flour sacks, and avoiding the authorities who might take a child away and put into care. For no matter how terrible life may be, it was better the known than the unknown. No school – she could not count, add, subtract, spell, read or write. She could pick pockets and act whatever role was required of her, and quietly rob a house while the Scrap Man kept the homeowner otherwise occupied.

If you have ever thought longingly of the past, this is the book to disabuse you of your romanticized notions. Just like now, vulnerable people were victimized, abused, and left powerless. The gap between the haves and the have nots was just as wide then as it is now. We are, with our constant communication, just far more aware of it today than it was possible to be then. Not that this ‘awareness’ has made any inroads into fixing the problem.

There are also certain parallels with today’s Covid crisis. The country’s population, already short of able-bodied men after the first world war, is then decimated by the Spanish Influenza. No more than five people in a shop. A five minute time limit to enjoy a beer in the pub. Social distancing, although that term had not then been coined. And, of course, the mandatory masks, made from whatever was at hand, a pillowcase, an old rag.

If Her teaches us anything, it is that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Her is a powerful book. I loved it. I hated it. It ripped my heart out, but still I came back for more.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Her, by Garry Disher, published by Hachette Australia from the Waitomo District Library. I actually went to borrow ‘Hell to Pay’, the first in a trilogy of which I have the second and third books, but it was out on loan. This was the only of his books sitting on the shelf. I am so glad that I picked it up.

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

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

And listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison

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

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

Happy Sunday everyone.

Sandy

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

EXCERPT: Natalka turns back to Peggy. She looks at peace, that’s what Patricia will say to Nigel. Passed away peacefully. There’s a book open on the arm of Peggy’s chair. ‘Highrise Murder’ by Dex Challoner. Peggy’s binoculars are on the table beside her. There’s also a pen,completed crossword and a pill dispenser, the sort that has the days of the week on it. There’s something else too, a piece of paper just poking out from under the crossword. Natalka slides it out. It’s a business card, very official, with black, curly writing.

Mrs M. Smith, it says. Murder Consultant

ABOUT ‘THE POSTSCRIPT MURDERS’: PS: thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…
And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…
And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘No one knows the hour,not even the angels in heaven, or the Son himself…’ – Matthew 24

There is something almost Christiesque about The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths. It has that feel of a Christie murder-mystery. The slow buildup, rather like a steam train pulling out of the station, the multiple suspects, the red herrings. But Griffiths murders and characters perhaps have a few more teeth than Christie’s, and she is not above a bit of sarcasm, which I enjoy.

Although this is #2 in the Harbinder Kaur series, unusually for a series, the detective is not the focus of the book. The murder/s are firmly front and centre, with an ill assorted cast of amateur detectives playing the major role.

Natalka, carer for Peggy and a few of the other elderly residents of Seaview Manor, a residential care complex, has a past, one that she fears is catching up with her. Benedict, ex-Monk, now barista. He left because he fell out of love with God, although his faith is as strong as ever. And Edwin, in his eighties, ex BBC and a gentleman to the core, gay, and very observant. Convinced that Peggy’s death was not natural, and that the police aren’t taking it seriously enough, these three set out to investigate on their own. Although they do DS (who would love to be DI) Harbinder Kaur the courtesy of keeping in touch by text.

DS Kaur, who is almost 40 and still lives at home with her parents, is in turn frustrated and impressed by the skills and dedication of this group. Kaur is also gay, still hiding it from her parents, and disappointingly single. She has a nice line in sarcasm, and often thinks of her partner, Neil, as a little woodland animal, a cute squirrel who often nibbles at nuts somewhat larger than he is. Neil himself would have preferred to live in the times where detectives trampled all over the crime scene, pausing only to beat up suspects and drink beer, rather than having to worry about all the intricacies of forensics.

Although this series is immensely different to Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series, she still holds me spellbound with her use of words, both in her character and scenery descriptions, and her setting of atmosphere . . . ‘…the spaces beneath them. Old mining tunnels. Caverns measureless to man. Death and dread.’ and ‘ghost cottages with the gardens still in flower.’

I loved The Postscript Murders. I loved the characters. I loved the plot with its red herrings and twists. I loved the solution. It was something that I had not even considered! An altogether wonderful read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#ThePostscriptMurders #NetGalley

‘It’s such a civilised world; books, libraries, tea and cake.’

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

EXCERPT: We reach the end of the narrow street and look out on the market square in front of us. It’s like a Christmas card, just as I imagined. A quiet town, with tall half-timbered buildings all around, dark wood beams, tiny windows and very pointy red roofs. There are little chalet-type huts all the way around the square and even a carousel with painted horses and carriages. It’s beautiful and so peaceful. It actually brings tears to my eyes. Maybe it’s tiredness, but suddenly I’m gripped with fear. Part of me wants to turn around and head home. What if Heinrich is nothing like he is on Messenger? What if . . . what if he isn’t like I’ve imagined him to be? What if this is one big mistake, like last time?

ABOUT ‘FINDING LOVE AT THE CHRISTMAS MARKET’: Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her…

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Will Connie’s wish for love this Christmas come true, and if so – with who?

MY THOUGHTS: A lovely simple romantic Christmas read, with no surprises. There were things I liked, and things I didn’t . . .

There is a lot of dialogue at the beginning, so I found it very hard to get a sense of the characters. Information is doled out in little parcels throughout the story, but it would have been nice to have a little of it at the start.

The author portrays the old German town beautifully, capturing the atmosphere of the surroundings. Particularly enticing were her descriptions of the food! I could smell the spices, taste the hot chocolate made with real chocolate, not the powder! I was busily looking up recipes as I read. The final publication will have recipes included, but as I read an ARC, this section was blank.

I didn’t feel that the author had the same dexterity when it came to the characters. None of the characters seemed particularly real to me. There was the potential for some delightful characters amongst Connie’s group, unfortunately it wasn’t developed. I couldn’t connect with Connie at all. She seemed very immature thinking that after chatting online, and a brief meeting, that she would be engaged to be married. The two contenders for Connie’s heart are as different as they could be, diametric opposites in fact even down to their appearance, which didn’t work for me. I guessed the outcome from the start, which was more than a little disappointing. I would have liked a little more uncertainty in the outcome, some serious will she/won’t she moments. Fritz, the deaf dog, had the biggest character of all
– he was definitely my favourite! This read was a little too sweet and predictable for this cynic.

If you are looking for a sweet, Christmas romance, this will swell your stocking.

⭐⭐⭐.2

#FindingLoveattheChristmasMarket #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Hello, I’m Jo Thomas. I write romances about food, love, family and fun and believe every story should have a happy ending. Welcome to my world.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Corgi for providing a digital ARC of Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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