Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

EXCERPT: As they walked to the front door, she looked up at the old house, the ivy covered walls and the lights in the windows. It was such a welcoming house, and each time she stepped inside, she felt as if the house put its arms around her. ‘Home is where the heart is,’ she thought, ‘even if it has been broken.’ But this house was only a temporary home for her. Would she ever find one of her own?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Kate O’Rourke takes up a temporary position as a doctor in Sandy Cove, she hopes spending time in the place where her father was from will help her find herself again. Ever since his passing she has felt lost, but she imagines the calming sound of the sea on the Irish coast will allow her to heal.

Kate immediately feels at home in the old surgery, and as she takes walks beside the camellia bushes along Wild Rose Bay and meets every resident in the tiny village, she feels like this is where she’s meant to be. And when she’s told about local healer Cormac O’Shea, she’s excited to learn even more about the history of the area, and meet the man who every woman in town says is so charming.

But Kate quickly realises that she and Cormac have different ideas about how their patients should be treated. Kate is efficient and well-organised, whilst Cormac is wild and spontaneous, passionate about his ancestors’ reliance on Irish healing. And their differences cause more sparks than Kate is prepared to admit.

Just as Kate and Cormac begin to understand one another, Kate’s old life threatens to call her away from Sandy Cove forever. And she is finally forced to decide what life she wants to lead, and what kind of person she wants to be…

MY THOUGHTS: Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary is a pleasant romance set on the west coast of Ireland, Sandy Cove in County Kerry.

Although this is a series, each book can be read as a stand-alone as it features different people.

The author’s descriptions of the scenery are enticing and if I could visit this location, I would. It sounds rugged but beautiful.

There is not a lot of depth to the characters, but probably enough for the author’s purpose. Kate can be quite dogmatic in her opinions, and can also be a little fiery when crossed. Two men cross her path when she takes up her position as assistant GP with the elderly and wanting to retire Dr Pat. The first is famous actor, Mick O’Dwyer, son of Dr Pat who is home for an extended period while he works on writing a play. The two have an easy relationship and enjoy tramping together. The second is Cormac O’Shea, a gentle quiet man who works as a healer and herbalist at the local wellness centre. He and Kate clash as they each regard the other as a threat to their professions, and yet there is an unsettling attraction between them.

I loved the characters of Dr Pat and his nurse/general factotum, Bridget, but while Dr Pat’s wife Helen was an interesting character, she wasn’t at all likeable.

There are lots of descriptions of lovely food, so don’t start reading this book when you are hungry!

Memories of Wild Rose Bay is a quick, easy and pleasant read, if not totally predictable. It is a little too lightweight for my personal taste, but I enjoyed it more than not.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#MemoriesOfWildRoseBay #NetGalley

‘Your path is determined by the choices you make, and those choices depend on your thoughts and feelings and the personality you’re born with.’
‘It’s written in the stars, you mean?’
He laughed. ‘No, it’s all in your own demeanour. And the people you meet and the circumstances you get thrown into. It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle, but it’s up to you to put the pieces in the right places.’

THE AUTHOR: Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of 22 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. She has been the wife of a diplomat (still is), a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a ramshackle house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties (including MacGillycuddy’s Reeks, featured in Full Irish), or keeping fit in the local gym, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary 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

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

EXCERPT: His best friend these days was Gus, a seventy year old black man who lived down the road. They had met a couple of weeks after Noah had bought the house, when Gus had shown up with some homemade liquor and Brunswick stew, and the two had spent their first evening together getting drunk and telling stories.

Now Gus would show up a couple of nights a week, usually around eight. With four kids and eleven grandchildren in the house, he needed to get out of the house now and then, and Noah couldn’t blame him. Usually Gus would bring his harmonica, and after talking for a little while, they’d play a few songs together. Sometimes they played for hours.

He’d come to regard Gus as family. There really wasn’t anyone else, at least not since his father died last year. He was an only child; his mother had died of influenza when he was two, and though he had wanted to at one time, he had never married.

But he had been in love once, that he knew. Once and only once, and a long time ago. And it had changed him forever. Perfect love did that to a person, and this had been perfect.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast begins the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner recently returned from the Second World War. Noah is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories…until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again.

Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just the beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes.

MY THOUGHTS: I had just written this review, hit enter . . . and it disappeared – ‘Poof!’ So here we go again . . .

Although I am not particularly fond of the story, The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks holds a very special place in my heart. This was the very first book that my now husband ever gave me. I like to take it out every now and then and reread it, not because of the story, but because of the precious memories it inspires.

Books can do that. Bring back wonderful memories. If I was rating The Notebook on that alone, it would earn 5 stars plus from me. But as for the actual story, it earns a little over three stars. It is a bit too sweet for my taste, but perfect for those times when you want a read that you can enjoy without having to think too much.

BTW, this is not the book he would choose for me now. He is the romantic in this relationship. He cries every time he watches ‘Titanic’. I have yet to sit through it.

***.2

THE AUTHOR: Sparks lives in North Carolina. He contributes to a variety of local and national charities, and is a major contributor to the Creative Writing Program (MFA) at the University of Notre Dame, where he provides scholarships, internships, and a fellowship annually.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, published by Grand Central Publishing. It definitely isn’t in pristine condition; it is well traveled and well loved. 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 . . .

Happy Sunday everyone!

TMOTH went fishing yesterday and had a good haul, so all our friends and family now have nice fresh fish. It was a beautiful day, and I spent it in the garden. I have almost finished the steps up to the top level of the section. Another full day should see me finished. Today we went out for lunch to a cafe I often go into for coffee, or take the grandchildren in for hot chocolate, but I had never eaten there. We had a beautiful lunch and will be going back there again. We went through some display homes looking at kitchens, but came away totally uninspired. We also took some fresh vegetables from our garden and visited our son and grandson. So it has been a lovely weekend! (Even if I have done very little reading.)

Currently I am reading Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty. This is currently the final book in the Sean Duffy series. I do hope that it is not the final final one, and that there will be more to come.

I am also reading Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall. I’m not sure quite how I feel about this yet, although I’m almost 80% done with it. There is an awful lot of introspection by the three main characters. It is a book that I can easily put down and walk away from, but I have not considered abandoning it. I hope that the ending is going to clarify things for me.

I am currently listening to The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

This week I am planning on reading Final Cut by S.J. Watson.

For generations Blackwood Bay, a quaint village in northern England, has been famous only for the smuggling that occurred along its coastline centuries ago, but then two local girls disappear bringing the town a fresh and dark notoriety. When Alex, an ambitious documentary filmmaker, arrives in Blackwood Bay, she intends to have the residents record their own stories as her next project. But instead of a quaint community, Alex finds a village blighted by economic downturn and haunted by a tragedy that overshadows every corner.

Alex pushes on with her work, but secrets old and new rise to the surface, raising tensions and suspicions in a town already on edge. Alex’s work takes her to dark places and uncomfortable truths which threaten to lead to a deadly unravelling.

And Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

When Kate O’Rourke takes up a temporary position as a doctor in Sandy Cove, she hopes spending time in the place where her father was from will help her find herself again. Ever since his passing she has felt lost, but she imagines the calming sound of the sea on the Irish coast will allow her to heal.

Kate immediately feels at home in the old surgery, and as she takes walks beside the camellia bushes along Wild Rose Bay and meets every resident in the tiny village, she feels like this is where she’s meant to be. And when she’s told about local healer Cormac O’Shea, she’s excited to learn even more about the history of the area, and meet the man who every woman in town says is so charming.

But Kate quickly realises that she and Cormac have different ideas about how their patients should be treated. Kate is efficient and well-organised, whilst Cormac is wild and spontaneous, passionate about his ancestors’ reliance on Irish healing. And their differences cause more sparks than Kate is prepared to admit.

Just as Kate and Cormac begin to understand one another, Kate’s old life threatens to call her away from Sandy Cove forever. And she is finally forced to decide what life she wants to lead, and what kind of person she wants to be…

Only three new ARCs from Netgalley this week 😊

When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt

Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

I hope that those of you who live in that part of the world with weekend still ahead of you, enjoy! I am off to cook supper – farm fresh eggs on toast.

Be careful. Be kind. Happy reading!

Watching what I’m reading…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. We have fine weather today and I have been making the most of it. The laundry is all up to date, and I have had a couple of hours in the garden. It’s starting to cloud over now and the wind is picking up so I decided to come inside. Good timing as the Supercar racing out of Australia – Townsville, Queensland. I have only driven through there a couple of times, but I think that once travel restrictions are eased that it is somewhere I am going to have to visit. We have friends who live there so it would be great to catch up with them too.

I am currently reading The First to Lie by Frank Phillipi Ryan, my first book by this author and it is certainly keeping my attention!

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I finished listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers earlier today and have yet to download another audiobook.

This week I am planning to read Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

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In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage. A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead–which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade”–this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.

and Night Whistler by Greg Woodland. This is a debut novel by this Australian author. Love the cover – creepy!

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It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

I have had 5 ARCs approved this week. Most excited about The Survivors by Jane Harper. I have requested every book that she has written, and this is the first time I have been approved!

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Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O’Connor

The Bluebell Girls by Barbara Josselsohn (thanks Carla and Susan!)

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The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter

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and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

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I also have a beta read – Cognac and Confessions by Christine Cameron.

Happy reading everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Cheers
Sandy

Watching What I’m Reading

I can’t believe it is 5 days since I last posted. I have had a bout of bronchopnuemonia and it knocked the stuffing out of me. All I have done is sleep…I tried reading but would fall asleep again and then, when I woke, was unable to remember what I had read.

So I have read very little in the past few days, and requested nothing… though a couple of my pending requests were approved. Hopefully as I continue to improve so will my powers of concentration. I have to admit to struggling with writing this. My brain really doesn’t want to function. I tried and failed yesterday, which is why this is a day late.

Currently I am reading an Australian novel, Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer. It is set initially in Perth, Western Australia, then moves to the southwest coast somewhere in the region of Albany. I am enjoying this domestic drama/romance set in a slightly warmer climate than my own.

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I am listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers, but like reading at the moment, I keep having to rewind and listen again. This is no reflection on the quality of the book or the narration, purely the fault of my cotton wool brain!

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This week I am planning on reading The Bad Sister by Kevin O’Brien

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TOO CLOSE
The site of the old campus bungalow where two girls were brutally slain is now a flower patch covered with chrysanthemums. It’s been fifty years since the Immaculate Conception Murders. Three more students and a teacher were killed in a sickening spree that many have forgotten. But there is one person who knows every twisted detail. . . .

TO SEE
Hannah O’Rourke and her volatile half-sister, Eden, have little in common except a parent. Yet they’ve ended up at the same small college outside Chicago, sharing a bungalow with another girl. Hannah isn’t thrilled—nor can she shake the feeling that she’s being watched. And her journalism professor, Ellie Goodwin, keeps delving into Hannah and Eden’s newsworthy past. . . .

THE DANGER
When Hannah and Eden’s arrival coincides with a spate of mysterious deaths, Ellie knows it’s more than a fluke. A copycat is recreating those long-ago murders. Neither the police nor the school will accept the horrific truth. And the more Ellie discovers, the more she’s convinced that she won’t live to be believed. . . .

This week I have received two new ARCs, again more by circumstance than good management.

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

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and, Ransomed by M.A. Hunter, for which I was sent a widget.

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Have a wonderful week all. I will post when I can, but right now I am snuggling back down for another nap.

Watching what I’m reading…

Hi all! Well the worst of the weekend is over and I have finished work for the day. Pete and I went out for a late lunch together. We started out by heading to our favourite cafe in the next town south, but it was packed to capacity and a line of people waiting to be seated, so we headed almost an hour further south to a little coastal pub in Awakino. We had a lovely lunch, an open Gurnard sandwich for me with homemade tartare, salad and capers. It was delicious. As was Pete’s beef burger which featured a good sized tasty homemade beef patty. I took some photos on the way down, mainly of the single lane tunnel which is going to be bypassed. My boys used to love the echoes of the car horn in the tunnel and we sounded the horn all the way through the tunnel as a farewell salute today. Not that we needed to, as traffic lights mean there’s no chance of meeting anyone in the middle coming from the other direction. I had intended to take more on the way back, but the rain was too heavy. Once I remember how to download the photos from my phone to my tablet, I will share them. Too tired this afternoon to even think about it…Pete is currently asleep in his chair in front of the footy.

Anyway, on to what I’m reading….

I have started Rachel Joyce’s Miss Benson’s Beetle.

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I am at 30% and, honestly, am not yet feeling the love. To be quite honest, I am finding it slightly ridiculous. I hope that is not going to be my final opinion. I absolutely adored The Love Songs of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and liked but did not love The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I am currently listening to The Chess Men by Peter May. This is the second book in his wonderful Lewis trilogy. As always with this author, I was instantly absorbed.

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This week I am planning on reading The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson

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Two friends go on holiday. Only one comes back.

Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.

This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?

But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

and The Descent by Matt Brolly

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Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

And nine, yes 9, new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

I have two titles by Hannah Mary McKinnon,

The Secret Son

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and The Neighbors

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What Became of Us by Anna Mansell

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Good Will by Tiffany W. Killoren

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When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

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Glimmer As You Can by Danielle Martin

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The Wife by Shalini Boland

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Stolen Children by Michael Wood

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And, The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

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Well, after that haul, there’s only one thing that I can do….READ!

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I am ordering dinner in tonight so that I don’t lose any reading time!

Happy reading and stay safe and healthy.

Cheers
Sandy

The Shore House by Heidi Hotstetter

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EXCERPT: ‘Everything goes.’

Kaye Bennett stood on the dewy grass in the early hours of a cool May morning and addressed the work crews scattered across the lawn. She pointed to the open front door of her family’s beloved shore house and spoke in a clear voice. ‘I want you to take it all – every dish in the kitchen, every blanket on the beds. All of it. Get rid of it.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When the Bennett family arrive at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately need to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping moment on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a nice, pleasant, quiet read, just not special or memorable. A perfect ‘beach read’ where you can doze as you read, and not tax your brain. This is also the first book in a planned series, each to feature a different family in the setting of Dewberry Beach, New Jersey.

The author has drawn on her own childhood summers for her inspiration. She portrays the atmosphere beautifully with sand, sun, iced tea, ice-cream trucks, crabbing, and even those pesky insects that like to nip and leave red welts.

Chase Bennett, patriarch of the Bennett family, has survived a heart attack. Kay, his wife, feeling guilty for not being able to be reached and for not knowing it was going to happen, has been micromanaging his life ever since. Stacy, their daughter, married with two children, has never felt particularly close to her mother but adores her father, and it is for him that she packs her family up for a summer vacation with her parents. Brad, her brother, is as unlike his father as he could possibly be. Whereas Chase was driven and ambitious, Brad is a free spirit, unsure of what direction he wants his life to take. He has been summoned back from travelling overseas to spend the summer with his family. What no one expects is for him to bring a girlfriend along with him, changing the whole family’s dynamics.

This is a story of a family’s imperfections. They haven’t been together for any period of time for some years, so there are adjustments to make, boundaries to be reestablished, old hurts to be addressed, misunderstandings to clear up, and things which have been swept under the carpet for years to be brought out and aired.

Add into this mix business difficulties for Ryan, Stacy’s husband, and an unexpected call for to return to work for the pregnant Stacy and it adds in a whole new level of interest. And then, of course, there is Brad’s girlfriend who seems to be making and effort not to fit in!

I liked the characters, could even see a little of myself in the matriarch Kaye. I could see similarities in Kaye’s and Stacy’s characters, and wondered if that was part of the reason they found it so difficult to get along.

A pleasant read. And yes, I will be picking up the next in this series. Dewberry Beach is a very pleasant place to visit.

***.4

THE AUTHOR: I love books, always have. There’s just something about the way a story unfolds that seems magical to me. When I was a kid, I remember riding my bike down to the public library on Saturday mornings and spending the day lost in the stacks, filling my arms with anything that looked interesting. In the afternoon I’d pedal back up the hill on my bike, my basket loaded with possibilities, and spend the rest of the weekend reading.

So, when I started creating stories of my own, I made sure to include description that bring settings to life, characters who become friends, struggles that reflect real life, and always –– always –– a happy ending.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Shore House by Heidi Hotstetter 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.com

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

Watching what I’m reading…

Chilly, overcast and windy here in my little patch of New Zealand. But at least the washing on the line is drying! I’ve had a lovely day, with my son and grandson calling in for lunch. They had been away for the weekend. They went to Rotorua and saw the boiling mud (it’s stinky, Nana.), and went on the luge and the gondola. They spent the night in Taupo with friends and were to go to the prawn farm this morning but it was simply too cold. They went to Huka Falls (I didn’t like the waterfall Nana. There was too much water and it was too noisy), and drove around Lake Taupo. Unfortunately the cloud was a little too low to get a good view of the mountains. We had a lovely vegetable curry with Indian spiced rice for lunch. Then Luke and I kicked the ball around the back yard for a while, then we pulled some carrots and picked mandarins for them to take home. Luke wasn’t very happy about going home, he wanted a sleepover. So I have promised that he can come and stay once we are through our AGM and first committee meeting. He was also disappointed that Nana hadn’t done any baking for him, but Nana just hasn’t had time. He didn’t like my lemon drizzle cake. But a packet of snack packs of smarties soon made up for the lack of cookies. And I have promised I will bake and bring cookies up when I next visit. And while he was here he discovered his Christmas presents that I thought I had hidden so carefully.🤦‍♀️ I had to do some very fast talking! I did let him have one of the two books in the box. It was a Little Golden Book in the Sesame Street series called The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. This was a great favourite with both my boys when they were little.

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Now, on to my books! Currently I am reading The Silent Dolls by Rita Herron.

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And I am about to start listening to Long Lost (#4.5 in the Kate Burkholder series)

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This week I am planning on reading The Shore House by Heidi Hotstetter

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When the Bennett family arrive at the shore house to spend the summer together, they bring more baggage than just suitcases…

When Kaye Bennett, matriarch of the Bennett family, summons her adult children to the shore house, she anticipates a vacation full of nostalgia. It’s a chance to relive the carefree joy of summers past: basking in the hot sun, cooling off in the surf and enjoying long, relaxing evenings watching fireflies on the deck. But when Kaye’s son and daughter arrive, late and uncooperative, it becomes clear the family desperately need to reconnect.

Kaye and her daughter Stacy have been quietly at odds for years and resentment has grown around words unsaid. Faced with spending the summer months in such close quarters, Kaye is determined to remind Stacy of happier times and why she once loved their beautiful beachside home.

But both Kaye and Stacy are holding something back… and only when a heart-stopping moment on the beach puts what Stacy most loves at risk are the two women finally able to set free the secrets in their shared past.

And, South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber

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Blue Bishop has a knack for finding lost things. While growing up in charming small-town Buttonwood, Alabama, she’s happened across lost wallets, jewelry, pets, her wandering neighbor, and sometimes, trouble. No one is more surprised than Blue, however, when she comes across an abandoned newborn baby in the woods, just south of a very special buttonwood tree.

Sarah Grace Landreneau Fulton is at a crossroads. She has always tried so hard to do the right thing, but her own mother would disown her if she ever learned half of Sarah Grace’s secrets.

The unexpected discovery of the newborn baby girl will alter Blue’s and Sarah Grace’s lives forever. Both women must fight for what they truly want in life and for who they love. In doing so, they uncover long-held secrets that reveal exactly who they really are–and what they’re willing to sacrifice in the name of family.

Six new ARCs from Netgalley this week…that’s a movement of two in the wrong direction 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ and no doubt there will be more after I have read Susan’s, Carla’s, and Tina’s posts.

This week I received – Winter Honeymoon: Stories by Jacob M. Appel

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The Next Widow by C.J. Lyons, #1 in the Jericho and Wright series.

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Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

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Nothing Good Happens After Midnight, a Suspense Magazine anthology

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Close to the Bone by Susan Wilkins, the second book in the Detective Megan Thomas series

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and finally The Push by Claire McGowan

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Happy reading everyone.

Stay calm and read.

Cheers
Sandy

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

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EXCERPT: Wearing nothing but their father’s old seersucker pajama tops over their panties, the four girls pushed Genevieve’s convertible to the end of the long drive before Vivi climbed behind the wheel and started it. There was only a dollop of gas in the tank so they couldn’t get far.

‘I just know we shouldn’t be doing this,’ Necie said as they journeyed into the night. ‘We should have at least put on pajama bottoms.’

‘Necie, this is not a mortal sin, you know,’ said Teensy.

‘I do not recall it being listed in the Baltimore Catechism,’ Vivi said.

‘Moses didn’t utter one word about pajama bottoms when he came down from the mountain,’ said Caro.

‘Well,’ Necie said, ‘I guess these tops do cover more of our bodies than our swimsuits do.’

As Vivi drove, it seemed that not only the Ya-Yas’ bodies but the earth and sky were sweating. The very air they breathed was almost a juice. Moonlight spilled down into the convertible, onto the four friends’ shoulders and knees and on the tops of their heads, so that their hair seemed to have little sparks shooting off it. ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered ‘ played on the radio. Vivi had no idea at all where she was headed, but she knew that whatever direction she went, her friends would go with her.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she’s directed, her mother gets described as a “tap-dancing child abuser.” Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The beauty of imperfect love.’ That is the essence of the series of books that begins with Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

On the surface, this is a story of friendship, love and survival. But it goes so much deeper than that. Wells explores the mother daughter bond, with all its misunderstandings and misconceptions, hurt feelings and petty feuds, and the underlying love that ultimately overshadows everything else.

This is not a subtle story. It is big and loud and blowsy. Flamboyant. Southern. It is full of emotion from full-blown histrionics to studied indifference. It’s characters love and hate with equal abandon, they drink, and cuss, and appear to neglect their children. But they have a bond, seemingly unbreakable, so that when something threatens one of them, they circle their wagons and protect one another.

But what happens when that threat, that danger, comes from inside? Siddalee Walker is about to find out. A few careless words to a reporter about her mother may have just exiled her from her family forever….

I love this book. Adore it. It is my favourite of the three in the series. Tattered is how I would describe its condition. Definitely beyond well worn. I read it often and I find it extremely difficult to put into words how much this book makes me feel. I laugh (a lot) and cry (not quite so much) every time I read it. It invokes memories, pleasant and not so pleasant, of my own childhood. Every time I read this, I get something different from it. Definitely one of my lifetime top ten books.

❤❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Wells was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. “I grew up,” she says, “in the fertile world of story-telling, filled with flamboyance, flirting, futility, and fear.” Surrounded by Louisiana raconteurs, a large extended family, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s Parish, Rebecca’s imagination was stimulated at every turn. Early on, she fell in love with thinking up and acting in plays for her siblings—the beginnings of her career as an actress and writer for the stage. She recalls her early influences as being the land around her, harvest times, craw-fishing in the bayou, practicing piano after school, dancing with her mother and brothers and sister, and the close relationship to her black “mother” who cleaned for the Wells household. She counts black music and culture from Louisiana as something that will stay in her body’s memory forever.

In high school, she read Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric,” which opened her up to the idea that everything in life is a poem, and that, as she says, “We are not born separately from one another.” She also read “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg’s indictment of the strangling consumer-driven American culture he saw around him. Acting in school and summer youth theater productions freed Rebecca to step out of the social hierarchies of high school and into the joys of walking inside another character and living in another world.

The day after she graduated from high school, Rebecca left for Yellowstone National Park, where she worked as a waitress. It was an introduction to the natural glories of the park—mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers—as well as to the art of hitchhiking.

Rebecca graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, where she studied theater, English, and psychology. She performed in many college plays, but also stepped outside the theater department to become awakened to women’s politics. During this time she worked as a cocktail waitress–once accidentally kicking a man in the shins when he slipped a ten-dollar bill down the front of her dress—and began keeping a journal after reading Anais Nin, which she has done ever since.

DISCLOSURE: I own my own copy of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, published by Harper Collins. And do not ever try to part me from it.

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…

We have a beautiful sunny, but cool breezy day here in our little valley in New Zealand. How lovely to see the sun after a long period of rain and/or fog. Hopefully we will get a few more days of this. Fingers crossed that it will last until my day off on Tuesday.

Currently I am reading Ten Little Words by Leah Mercer, a new author to me. I came into this read after two five star reads in a row, so it has a hard act to follow, but it’s coming together nicely, the mystery of Ella’s mother’s disappearance starting to unravel.

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I have just started listening to Anything Is Possible, a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Strout. If you have read My Name is Lucy Barton by this author, the two stories that I have so far listened to involved Lucy indirectly.

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This week I am planning on reading Playdate by Alex Dahl

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It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover. Now it’s an abduction.

Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight.

That was the last time she saw her daughter.

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

and Tell Me How It Ends by V.B. Grey

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Delia Maxwell is an international singing sensation, an icon of 1950s glamour who is still riding high on the new 60s scene. Adored by millions, all men want to be with her, all women want to be her. But one woman wants it maybe a little too much…

Lily Brooks has watched Delia all her life, studying her music and her on-stage mannerisms. Now she has a dream job as Delia’s assistant – but is there more to her attachment than the admiration of a fan? Private investigator Frank is beginning to wonder.

As Lily steps into Delia’s spotlight, and Delia encourages her ambitious protegée, Frank’s suspicions of Lily’s ulterior motives increase. But are his own feelings for Delia clouding his judgement?

The truth is something far darker: the shocking result of years of pain and rage, rooted in Europe’s darkest hour. If Delia thought she had put her past behind her, she had better start watching her back.

Six new ARCs from Netgalley this week….I’m not doing any better at achieving my goal of two, am I?

Save Her Soul (Josie Quinn #9) by Lisa Regan

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Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

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One Step Behind by Lauren North

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And easing into my Christmas reads with The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

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The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal

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The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

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I think I need to take a week or two off work to catch up with my reading! Currently I am running twelve days behind schedule 😪 Then there’s the garden, and friends and family that I need to catch up with. My days are simultaneously too long, but not long enough to do all that I want to do. I am sure that I was a much nicer, more relaxed person during lockdown. But while I don’t want lockdown back, I loved having time at home, being able to read, catch up on my ‘to do’ list, garden, etc. Now I feel like I have lost all the ground that I made up over that time. Another thing that I miss is the long phone conversations with friends and family. I guess that I can’t have it all, but a little less work time, and a little more relaxation would be wonderful.

And now I feel guilty for moaning because a lot of you are still in lockdown, some for the second time.

Stay safe everyone.

Sandy