Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’ve had a particularly vicious tropical storm through the North Island of New Zealand over the past couple of days and it seems it’s not finished with us yet. Personally, we have escaped unscathed. My cousin and her husband are marooned in their home, they can’t get down their drive due to flooding, and if they did they’d be unable to go anywhere as their road is closed in both directions. The Mangaokewa burst its banks yesterday afternoon and houses along the riverside were evacuated. But if we think we got it bad, Auckland had it much worse with three confirmed dead and one still missing. It’s the heaviest rainfall recorded in 24 hours since records began. Although clean up has begun, it is going to be a long slow process with rain being forecast for all the coming week.

Currently I am reading One Day With You by Shari Low

One day, five lives, but whose hearts will be broken by nightfall?
It started like any other day in the picturesque village of Weirbridge.

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell #coverlove

The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

And listening to The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake

Tess Morgan has finally made her dream of restoring beautiful Kilfenora House and Gardens into a reality.

But during rehearsals for the play that forms the opening weekend’s flagship event, her dream turns into a nightmare when a devastating accident looks set to ruin her carefully laid plans.

There are rumours that Kilfenora House is cursed, but this feels personal, and becomes increasingly terrifying when more than one body is discovered. Could someone be closing in on Tess herself?

Clarissa Westmacott, ex star of stage and screen, certainly believes so, particularly when she learns that purple-flowered aconite has been picked from the Poison Garden. And Clarissa will stop at nothing to protect the friend she has come to see as a daughter…

Four tragic accidents. Or four brutal murders? Unravel The Mystery of Four . .

This week I am planning to read The Doctor’s Wife for which I have both an audio and digital ARC.

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…

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.

Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.

Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

In the two weeks since I last posted, I have received seven ARCs for review. They are:

Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry

The Last Passenger by Will Dean

Beginning of Forever by Catherine Bybee

The Edinburgh Mystery by Martin Edwards

The Little Board Game Cafè by Jennifer Page

The Last Dance by Mark Billingham

Do you have any of these titles on your reading radar?

Thank you to all my bookish friends who offered moral support during my husband’s recent surgery. It was greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, they have found more cancer and further surgery is on the horizon, so I will be disappearing again at some point in the reasonably near future.

Have a wonderful week of reading. ❤📚

First Lines Friday . . .

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 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.

This story really begins at midnight one month after Aurora was born, the night of her due date, the night she couldn’t wait for, such was her wish to rush headlong into our lives.

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to read more?

These are the opening lines of one of my current reads, What is Left After by Australian author Natasha Lester. This book was first published in 2010, but is being republished by Fremantle Press and is due to hit the shelves February 01, 2023.

Gaelle has a dream job working for a fashion magazine, and a husband who loves her. Life should be perfect, but life does not always go according to plan. Feeling lost and alone, Gaelle flees to a tiny seaside town on the other side of the country. As she revisits the legacy of a strange, sometimes magical childhood in France, Gaelle finds unexpected help from a thirteenyear-old stranger. As if she was experiencing her childhood all over again, she must ask: when you lose everything you love, what is left over after?

Watching what I’m reading . . .

BRILLIANT BOOK ALERT! This book, which I finished today – a one day read – has earned every star in the Galaxy from me.

I am too emotional at the moment to write a review about this book, but please watch for it in the coming days. I cried, and laughed, and cried some more. I now want to read everything this author has written.

Currently I am reading The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin

I am continuing with my read of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths with #4, A Room Full of Bones.

and doing a read/listen of Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza, which I am loving in both formats.

This week I have six books to read for review in addition to The Sisters We Were. They are:

A Winter Grave by Peter May

It is the year 2051. Warnings of climate catastrophe have been ignored, and vast areas of the planet are under water, or uninhabitably hot. A quarter of the world’s population has been displaced by hunger and flooding, and immigration wars are breaking out around the globe as refugees pour into neighboring countries.

By contrast, melting ice sheets have brought the Gulf Stream to a halt and northern latitudes, including Scotland, are being hit by snow and ice storms. It is against this backdrop that Addie, a young meteorologist checking a mountain top weather station, discovers the body of a man entombed in ice.

The dead man is investigative reporter, George Younger, missing for three months after vanishing during what he claimed was a hill-walking holiday. But Younger was no hill walker, and his discovery on a mountain-top near the Highland village of Kinlochleven, is inexplicable.

Cameron Brodie, a veteran Glasgow detective, volunteers to be flown north to investigate Younger’s death, but he has more than a murder enquiry on his agenda. He has just been given a devastating medical prognosis by his doctor and knows the time has come to face his estranged daughter who has made her home in the remote Highland village.

Arriving during an ice storm, Brodie and pathologist Dr. Sita Roy, find themselves the sole guests at the inappropriately named International Hotel, where Younger’s body has been kept refrigerated in a cake cabinet. But evidence uncovered during his autopsy places the lives of both Brodie and Roy in extreme jeopardy.

As another storm closes off communications and the possibility of escape, Brodie must face up not only to the ghosts of his past, but to a killer determined to bury forever the chilling secret that George Younger’s investigations had threatened to expose.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

The Village Vicar by Julie Houston

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?

That Night at the Beach by Kate Hewitt

As mothers we never dare to delve into our worst-nightmare scenarios. What if… we might murmur to each other, and then shake our heads, telling ourselves it’ll never happen to us if we’re just good enough mothers. Yet here we are. And the steady beep of the heart monitor is the only evidence the child in front of us is alive…

It’s Labor Day weekend, so of course we went to the beach. Like we do every year. For a barbecue picnic with my best friend Rose. It’s the perfect tradition—drinks, games, burgers, music, laughter. Together with our husbands, my two teenage sons and her two daughters, we all arrived as the sun was still shimmering over the water, the whole evening ahead of us.

But nothing goes to plan. Old secrets emerge, tempers flare. And so we parents decide to leave the beach, telling the teenagers to enjoy themselves, reassuring them someone will be back to collect them in an hour or two.

But when I return a little while later, I know something is really wrong. Our teens are slurring their words, stumbling to the car. It’s clear they have been drinking and I’m shocked. I never expected our kids to behave this way. I’m bracing myself to have firm words with them in the morning, but the next day my concerns fade to nothing, when seventeen-year-old Bella claims my son Finn assaulted her.

Finn insists he would never do that. And I so want to believe him. Because I brought my son up right. Because a mother would know, wouldn’t she?

What I don’t know is that the answer to what happened that night on the beach may be a matter of life and death for one of our beloved children… 

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell

The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

One Day With You by Shari Lowe

One day, five lives, but whose hearts will be broken by nightfall?
It started like any other day in the picturesque village of Weirbridge.

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

One Day with You – two fateful goodbyes, two unexpected hellos, and 24 hours that change everything. 

I have received two new ARCs from Netgalley for review this week.

the audiobook The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake and narrated by Aiofe McMahon

A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

I have 17 requests pending. I have had lot of requests declined this week. 🤷‍♀️

My husband is undergoing major surgery this week, so I am not going promise to post regularly, nor to interact with other bloggers to my normal level. Please keep Pete in your prayers. ❤

All That We Are by Mariah Stewart

EXCERPT: . . . then she reached the fourth drawer, the one marked RECEIPTS in Harry’s awkward uppercase print.

There were files for almost every purchase he’d ever made – cars, appliances, furniture, clothing. Reading through them was like watching a quick movie reel of their life together. There was the receipt for the car Harry’d bought Emma the year their son, and only child, Christopher was born. A silver baby’s cup Harry’d ordered to mark the birth of his sister Prudence’s first child. A new chimney liner. The first guitar they’d bought Chris. Her eyes lingered over this one as she recalled how Harry had later ‘rued the day’ he’d ‘opened that can of worms.’

Emma dropped that receipt on the desk; Chris might get a kick out of it.

There was a file containing personal purchases Harry had made for himself. A three piece charcoal suit and a lightweight summer sports coat. Three white dress shirts and a bill for monograming the cuffs. A receipt from a jeweller in Boston for an eight inch gold bracelet, and a . . .

‘Wait. What?’

She held up the receipt and scrutinised the fine print. ‘One eight inch fancy link bracelet – 14K gold. The price was staggering.

Confused, she reread the receipt several times. Was she losing her mind? Had he bought her such a thing and she’d forgotten? Sure, we all lose a little as we age, and forgetting some things now and then is normal. But could she have forgotten such a wonderful and expensive a gift? No, she was sure she’d have remembered that. She’d have worn it every day. She’d probably be wearing it right then.

No, Harry’d never given her a gold bracelet, and since he’d never worn any jewelry other than his wedding ring and cufflinks, she knew it wasn’t for him.

And then she noticed the print at the bottom of the receipt: Add gold disk charm, front engrave: CJD 2-14-2012. Back engrave ‘My heart’.

ABOUT ‘ALL THAT WE ARE’: In the decade since Emma Dean’s husband died, she’s maintained a peaceful and organized life in her hometown of Wyndham Beach—until she finds evidence of her husband’s longtime affair. How, Emma wonders, can a man who’s been gone for ten years still break her heart?

Still reeling from the betrayal, Emma must focus on the group of artists she’s invited to take up residence at the art center she founded, one of whom is secretly seeking refuge from her abusive ex. Toss in a charming businessman who’s returned to town with eyes for only Emma, and it’s becoming a most interesting summer.

And the biggest surprise of all is about to ring Emma’s doorbell and turn her life completely upside down yet again.

As Emma struggles between what was and what is, she discovers that the life she really wants—however unexpected—is just within reach, if she’s willing to fight for it.

MY THOUGHTS: The standout attraction of this series for me is the fabulous and very real characters. I love the relationships between the three women – Liddy, Maggie and Emma – friends since their schooldays, they are not backwards with telling each other what they think, but they are also very supportive of one another. I would love a group of friends like this.

There are a few different threads to this story, which is centred around Emma, who has been a widow for the past ten years. A secret is uncovered which leaves her both devastated and angry. Then a knock on the door turns her and her family’s lives upside down.

All That We Are is a heartwrenching story that, despite a few slow spots, held me captivated until the very end. I just have to say that I finished this read with a wobbly bottom lip and tears pooling in my eyes. It is an emotional rollercoaster of a read that had me chuckling at times, sometimes angry at the actions of some of the characters (just see if you don’t get angry with Owen too!) , crying – sometimes sad tears, sometimes happy ones – but mostly hopeful that things were going to work out for everyone.

All That We Are is the second book I have read in this series. Although they can be read as stand-alones, I really recommend that you start the series from the beginning to get the entire backstory and relationship history. I am certain planning on going back to read the first, and I am hoping that there will be more books to come.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#AllThatWeAre #NetGalley

I: @mariah_stewart_books @amazonpublishing

T: @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #friendship #mystery #romance #smalltownfiction #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Mariah Stewart considers herself one lucky son of a gun to have landed the best job in the world: getting paid for making up stories. At home. In sweats and J. Crew flip flops. Could life be sweeter?

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of All That We Are by Mariah Stewart 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 . . .

Well here we are, 8 days into 2023. 2022 shot by in some respects, and dragged in others. It’s my friend Jayne’s birthday today, but it seems like only weeks ago we were all laughing around the table in a local restaurant celebrating her 60th. Yet it seemed to take years, but in reality was a matter of months, when I was pulled out of retirement and back into my old job to sort out the chaos my replacement had created. Time is such a funny thing.

It’s going to be interesting to see just how long Charlie has been away from his regular life when, and if, he escapes from Empis in one of my current reads, Fairy Tale by Stephen King. He sure hasn’t lost his touch!

I am also reading Picking Up The Pieces by Amanda Prowse

and listening to Better the Blood by Michael Bennett, a New Zealand crime novel, incorporating present day racial tensions with its roots going back to the colonisation of New Zealand.

This week I am planning on reading Sunrise With the Silver Surfers by Maddie Please

Newly single at sixty, Elin Anderson decides it’s finally time for an adventure of her own. With her marriage to tedious Tom now officially over, Elin plans to visit the family she hasn’t seen in years. First stop: Australia!

But going home is harder than Elin thought. Everywhere she turns Elin sees brightness and colour, which only makes her own life seem even more drab and beige. How has she let herself fade away?

Determined to have some fun, Elin reluctantly agrees to join The Silver Surfers – a group of seniors who travel the coast, only caring about their next big adventure. Because life’s too short to watch the ocean when you could be making waves…

There’s only one catch – her road trip companion, Kit Pascoe. Kit is a man who doesn’t know the meaning of the word fun and makes it clear to Elin that this adventure will be subject to his own strict rules.

But with every new day, Elin slowly begins to rediscover who she really is. And she’s certain that rules are meant to be broken…aren’t they?

Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza

When Private Investigator Kate Marshall is rushed to hospital after being pulled into a riptide current in the sea, the near-death experience leaves her shaken. During her recovery, she befriends Jean, an elderly lady on the same ward. Jean tells the harrowing story of how her three-year-old grandson, Charlie, went missing eleven years ago during a camping trip on Dartmoor.

By the time Kate is well enough to go home, she’s agreed to take on the case, but when Kate and her trusty sidekick Tristan start to look at the events of that fateful night, they discover that Jean has a dark past that could have put Charlie in jeopardy.

Was Charlie abducted? Or did he fall into Devil’s Way? A rushing river that vanishes into a gorge close to where they were camping.

When Kate and Tristan discover that a social worker who flagged concerns about Jean and her daughter was found brutally murdered shortly after Charlie vanished, it makes them question everything they thought they knew about the family…

And We All Want Impossible Things by Catherine Newman

Who knows you better than your best friend? Who knows your secrets, your fears, your desires, your strange imperfect self? Edi and Ash have been best friends for over forty years. Since childhood they have seen each other through life’s milestones: stealing vodka from their parents, the Madonna phase, REM concerts, unexpected wakes, marriages, infertility, children. As Ash notes, ‘Edi’s memory is like the back-up hard drive for mine.’

So when Edi is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ash’s world reshapes around the rhythms of Edi’s care, from chipped ice and watermelon cubes to music therapy; from snack smuggling to impromptu excursions into the frozen winter night. Because life is about squeezing the joy out of every moment, about building a powerhouse of memories, about learning when to hold on, and when to let go.

I received three new ARCs from Netgalley in the past week – The Wrong Good Deed by Caroline B. Cooney

A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis

And The Mistress Next Door by Lesley Sanderson which I am very excited about.

Luke is coming to stay Tuesday night for the rest of the week, so it will be a busy week for me as I am also working. I will cram as much work as I can into Monday and Tuesday so that hopefully I will only need to go in for a few hours Friday morning.

Have a great week of reading. I’m off to plan my menus for the week and make a shopping list. ❤📚

First Lines Friday

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 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.

Lainie Cornell was a real runaway bride. She had crawled out the window of the Country Club, gotten into her car, and driven all the way from Dallas to Houston before she stopped and finally answered her father’s call.

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to read more?

These are the opening lines of one of my current reads, A Chance Inheritance by Carolyn Brown, which is due for publication 10 January 2023.

What do a runaway bride, a free spirit, and a corporate exec have in common? Besides all being down on their luck, Lainie, Jodi, and Becky are Lizzie Cornell’s granddaughters. Upon inheriting their grandmother’s home and family bait shop, the three cousins return to Catfish, Texas, grieving Lizzie’s passing and hoping to find the fresh start they all need. 

Turns out cohabitating together and running the Catfish Fisherman’s Hut isn’t at all like the idyllic summers they spent as children on the banks of the Red River. The days are long and hot, the tourists demanding and rude. And then there’s Chris, a local river guide who seems to have eyes only for Becky. 

But Lizzie’s death has set in motion a chain of events that will cause a new generation of Cornell women to come together. And thanks to this chance inheritance, some local fishermen, and the love of their Granny Lizzie, the Cornell cousins discover that sometimes an ending is really the beginning of a brand-new happily ever after.

This book actually contains two novellas – the title story A Chance Inheritance, and The Third Wish. This is not made clear or even mentioned in the publicity blurb.

The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley

EXCERPT: As soon as I woke this morning, I imagined myself going through Tony’s things. I thought about it at the hairdressers while the girl tried to curl my straight white hair, and while I made up my face and wrestled myself into my black wool dress, and again when Carol arrived with her husband to take control of the day. I was still thinking about it when Tony’s coffin disappeared behind the curtain. While I should have been focused on the enormity of never seeing him again, never sharing another meal, a conversation, a bed with the man I’d been married to for fifty-five years, I’d actually been imagining myself coming home, kicking off my shoes and walking straight into his study to rifle through his possessions. With good reason it would seem.

ABOUT ‘THE SECOND CHANCE HOLIDAY CLUB’: Evelyn Pringle isn’t the sort to make rash decisions. Or any decisions, really – she’s always left that sort of thing up to her husband. But he’s been found dead, wearing his best suit, with a diamond ring in his pocket that doesn’t fit her. When Evelyn finds a letter addressed to a woman on the Isle of Wight, she decides to deliver it. By hand.

So begins a very unusual holiday, and an adventure no one could have predicted – least of all Evelyn herself. With the help of some unexpected new friends, and a little effort on her part, Evelyn discovers that it is never too late to have a second chance at life and forge friendships that are well-worth living for.

MY THOUGHTS: The Second Chance Holiday Club is an entertaining and amusing later-life story about it never being too late to change the habits of a lifetime and chase your dreams.

Evelyn is staid and stuck in her ways. So she is somewhat surprised at herself for booking a ‘Tinsel and Turkey’ coach tour getaway to the Isle of Wight – anything to avoid Christmas with her sister Carol and her family! But there’s a reason Evelyn has chosen the Isle of Wight.

Cynthia is an overly-made-up, outgoing woman with a bung knee who sits beside Evelyn on the bus, noisily sucking sweets and talking to all and sundry. She drives Evelyn insane! And Evelyn knows she is a liar.

Joy is an attractive but quiet woman with more secrets than the bruises she is trying to hide. Why, for instance, does she need two phones?

So, how do these three overcome their differences and become friends? Read The Second Chance Holiday Club to find out. Enjoyable, entertaining, but with some real ‘wakeup’ calls to us senior citizens and the not so senior citizens amongst us, The Second Chance Holiday Club is an amusing read with some good life lessons cleverly woven into the fabric of the plot.

Even the supporting cast of characters are a breath of fresh air – Alan, the bus driver, on his last tour before taking retirement; Liam, the young student helping out at the ‘hotel’ (take that description very loosely!) and who wants a career in hospitality; Carol, Evelyn’s sister, who Carol resents; and Sarah, the woman Evelyn finds when she’s looking for Margaret.

This is a stellar debut novel, one that will not only entertain, but will give you food for thought.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheSecondChanceHolidayClub #NetGalley

I: @kategalley1 @ariafiction

T: @KateGalley1 @AriaFiction

#ageing #contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #friendship #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Kate Galley is a debut author who lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children and Meg, their Patterdale Terrier. Much of Kate’s inspiration comes from the many varied lives of her clients as a mobile hairdresser, and the inspiration for this book came from one woman’s tale of a hilarious Christmas coach trip.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus, Aria, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley 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

Table For Eight by Tricia Stringer

EXCERPT: She recalled her reason for booking the cruise and her spectacular tumble on the stairs. She pressed her fingers to her lips but couldn’t stop the laugh that erupted.

Jim looked at her in surprise.

She took a sip of water and composed herself. ‘My ex is on this cruise.’

‘Really?’ Jim glanced around as if he was about to meet Ed.

‘The thing is, I knew he was going to be here with his new wife.’

ABOUT ‘TABLE FOR EIGHT’: Clever, charming dressmaker Ketty Clift is embarking on her final cruise from Sydney before she must make serious changes in her life. Supported by the ship’s all–powerful maitre d’ Carlos, she has a mission: transform the lives of those who join her at her dining table every evening. Not only can Ketty turn Cinderellas into princesses with her legendary style–eye, but she has a gift for bringing people together.

But this trip is different. As the glamour and indulgence of the cruise takes hold, and the ship sails further away from Sydney towards the Pacific Islands, it becomes clear that her fellow travellers – a troubled family, a grieving widower and an angry divorcee determined to wreak revenge on her ex – are going to be harder work than usual.

As Ketty tries to deal with her own problems, including the unexpected arrival on board of her long–lost love, Leo – the man who broke her heart – as well as troubling news from home, she begins to realise this might be the one cruise that defeats her…

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed my cruise around the South Pacific with Ketty Clift and the group of people at her table for eight. There are strained relationships; grief in a few different forms; people looking for love, or something resembling it; people determined to avoid any and all emotional entanglements; and one person intent on revenge.

I love Ketty’s character. She is a woman who has endured great sorrow in her life, but she is a battler and never lets circumstances keep her down for long. With current financial problems weighing heavily on her mind, she has some difficult decisions to make. Is the reappearance of ex-lover Leo just the distraction she needs, or just another problem for her to deal with?

Table For Eight was full of surprises. Initially I thought it was going to be predictable, but that was just the author lulling me into a false sense of security. Tricia Stringer weaves a few deft twists into the story and it ends in a completely different way to what I had expected.

The characters are not spring chickens which adds another dimension to the storyline, one that I liked. The story is told from multiple points of view by the different people at the table, so sometimes we are given more than one view of events. But Tricia Stringer does this well and it is never repetitive or boring.

I enjoyed this warm-hearted shipboard drama which focuses on friendship and second chances.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#TableForEight

I: @triciastringerauthor @hqstories

T: @tricia_stringer @HQstories

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #friendship #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Tricia lives in the beautiful Copper Coast region of South Australia, often exploring Australia’s diverse communities and landscapes, and shares this passion for the country and its people through her authentic stories and their vivid characters.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed a copy of Table For Eight by Tricia Stringer published by HQ Fiction from the Waitomo District Library. 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy holidays my bookish friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day filled with love and laughter. Our Christmas Day was quiet, but fun. Then Boxing Day we had an open house and friends dropped by throughout the day. It was a fun day and good to catch up with people we hadn’t seen for a while.

Currently I am reading The Girls by Bella Osborne which was published earlier this year. I am only a few pages in, so no comment as yet.

Four old friends. Thrown back together after fifty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?

In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a flat and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?

No One Saw it Coming by Susan Lewis, due to be published early January 2023. I h also only just started this.

Secrets lie at the heart of every family…

When the unthinkable happens…

Hanna’s world is crumbling.

An unimaginable crime has been committed, and everyone’s looking for someone to blame. Her loved ones are under suspicion.

Now Hanna must work out who is threatening her family – before it’s too late.

No one could have seen this coming…

And I am listening to The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley, purely for pleasure. I have listened to quite a bit of this today as I have been pottering around the house and garden. It’s shaping up nicely.

It has been twenty-four years since a young Helena spent a magical holiday in Cyprus, where she fell in love for the first time. When the now crumbling house, ‘Pandora’, is left to her by her godfather, she returns to spend the summer there with her family.

Yet Helena knows that the idyllic beauty of Pandora masks a web of secrets she has kept from William, her husband, and Alex, her son. At the difficult age of thirteen, Alex is torn between protecting his beloved mother, and growing up. And equally, he is desperate to learn the truth about his real father . . .

When Helena meets her childhood sweetheart by chance, a chain of events is set in motion that threatens to make her past and present collide. Both Helena and Alex know that life will never be the same, once Pandora’s secrets have been revealed.

I again don’t have any reads for review scheduled for the week ahead so will just be picking reads at random from my backlist and perhaps making a start on my January reads for review.

I have received three new ARCs for review since my last Watching what I’m reading post ten days ago. They are:

The Doctor’s Wife by Daniel Hurst. I have just finished my second book by this author, Til Death Do Us Part, and it was great. I’m really looking forward to this.

The Island of Longing by Anne Griffin, a new author to me.

And The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell, another author new to me.

So, that’s my week all nicely wrapped up. Enjoy your holiday break and make marvellous memories with your loved ones. ❤📚🎄

Watching what I’m reading . . .

You’re going to think it never does anything but rain on a Sunday where I live, and today you might be forgiven for that. We’ve had heavy rain off and on – more on than off – since sometime last night. Though we have so far been spared the forecast thunderstorms. It’s meant to clear by 4pm, but it’s after 3.30 now and by the look of the sky, that’s not likely to happen.

Currently I am reading The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor, my first book by this author. This is a ‘purely for pleasure’ read.

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

I featured this as my First Lines Friday selection this week, so if you missed it, you can find it here: https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/2022/12/09/first-lines-friday-10/

and All That We Are (Wyndham Beach #3) by Mariah Stewart which is due for publication Dec 13th 2022. You can trust Mariah Stewart to just rip your heart clean out of your chest!

In the decade since Emma Dean’s husband died, she’s maintained a peaceful and organized life in her hometown of Wyndham Beach—until she finds evidence of her husband’s longtime affair. How, Emma wonders, can a man who’s been gone for ten years still break her heart?

Still reeling from the betrayal, Emma must focus on the group of artists she’s invited to take up residence at the art center she founded, one of whom is secretly seeking refuge from her abusive ex. Toss in a charming businessman who’s returned to town with eyes for only Emma, and it’s becoming a most interesting summer.

And the biggest surprise of all is about to ring Emma’s doorbell and turn her life completely upside down yet again.

As Emma struggles between what was and what is, she discovers that the life she really wants—however unexpected—is just within reach, if she’s willing to fight for it. 

I am still listening to The Angel Tree by Lucinda Riley, which I am also loving.

This week, in addition to All That We Are by Mariah Stewart which I have already started, I have two other books to read for review. They are: The Charity Shop Detective Agency by Peter Boland

A serial killer is stalking the elderly of Southbourne. The only clue left behind is a domino in the hand of each victim — with a name scratched on the back.

Eighty-six-year-old Sarah Brown is found dead in her hallway one morning by her delivery man. She was stabbed in the back.

Fiona, Sue and Daisy, volunteers at the local charity shop, Dogs Need Nice Homes, can’t believe their favourite customer is dead. The ladies vow to bring the killer to justice.

With plenty of tea and cake along the way, and despite squabbles with their rivals, the Cats Alliance across the street, the Charity Shop Detective Agency is born.

And Shadow Sands (Kate Marshall #2) by Robert Bryndza

When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was the victim there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown?

Kate is certain there is more to this case than meets the eye. As she and her research assistant Tristan Harper dig deeper, they discover a bloody trail that points towards an active serial killer hiding in plain sight. People have been silently disappearing for years, and when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate. 

This is a backtitle that I am reading playing catch up on this series before I read #4 which is being published in January 2023.

I received 3 new ARCs from Netgalley in the past week. They are: A Winter Grave by Peter May

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea

A Cryptic Clue by Victoria Gilbert

and I still have 22 requests pending.

It’s been a bit of a disastrous week this week. There’s been a young man riding an unregistered trail bike up and down our street, no protective gear, revving the engine loudly, usually on a Saturday afternoon, but also at other random times including in the middle of the night. I know several people in our street have complained, including us and the hospital across the road as he sometimes rode through the hospital as well. Last Sunday, he was riding on the riverbank, came up onto the road without looking, swerved to miss a car and instead crashed into a concrete power pole. He is now in a critical condition still in hospital. Why are these young men such idiots?

Monday my debit card was hacked. Nothing I did, I’m glad to report and I will be getting all the money back, but it took until midday Friday to sort out and gave me a real fright. I’ve always been paranoid about security on my devices and not shopping online unless it’s a known and trusted site, so I thought that it couldn’t happen to me. But the bank assured me that it can happen anyway. Now I’m just waiting on my new card which, as it’s coming via New Zealand Post, could take weeks.

Tuesday, my son in Western Australia wound up in hospital overnight after getting concussion playing touch rugby and had to have scan to discount damage to his

Wednesday a good friend and Pete’s fishing mate died suddenly following a cardiac arrest. Stan was a great guy and will be missed. It was a very large and very sad funeral on Saturday. Now we are concerned for his wife who suffers from Parkinson’s disease as Stan cared for her.

I am glad to see the end of this week.

Happy reading my friends and stay safe. ❤📚