A Taste of. . . Tuesday

The Child (Kate Waters, #2)

I somehow missed reading The Child by Fiona Barton when it came out. But having read The Widow  (💖💖💖💖💖) (Kate Waters #1) and, more recently, The Suspect (💖💕💖💕💖) (Kate Waters #3), I simply could not bear to think I had missed reading the middle book. Now I have a copy and hope to be starting it later this week.

Here’s a small taste of The Child that I hope will tempt you into picking up a copy and reading along with me…..

When I move his briefcase off the sofa, I see he’sbrought home a copy of the Evening Standard. He must have picked it up on the Tube.

I sit and read it while he showers away the cares of the day, and it’s then that I see the paragraph about the baby.

‘BABY’S BODY FOUND’, it says. Just a few lines about how a baby’s skeleton has been discovered on a building site in Woolwich and police are investigating. I keep reading it over and over. I can’t take it in properly, as if it’s in a foreign language.

But I know what it says and terror is coiling around me. Squeezing the air out of my lungs. Making it hard to breathe.

 

 

You Belong to Me by Mark Tilbury

You Belong To Me

EXCERPT: The basement seemed to call out to him. Remember the good times we had, Danny-boy? The days when the grass was greener, the sky bluer, and the blood was redder? Why don’t you come on in and sit with me a while? We can reminisce about the good old days. Dig up the past and see what the bones have to say. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Can two wrongs ever make a right?
The police never found fifteen-year-old Ellie Hutton. She vanished ten years ago after walking home from school along a disused railway track. But Danny Sheppard knows exactly what happened to her. She is dead and buried in a field near Lassiter’s Brook.
Now Cassie Rafferty has gone missing. Same age. Similar circumstances. And Danny also knows what has happened to her.
Can Danny fight his demons and tell the truth this time?
Or will history repeat itself and leave another innocent girl dead?

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Dark and gritty’ are words that certainly describe Mark Tilbury’s latest book ‘You Belong to Me’. It is set in an atmosphere of almost poverty. A place where desperation and violence go hand in hand, a culture of bullying prevails, alcohol and drugs are a means of survival, and the cycle seems to be stuck endlessly on repeat. If that sounds bleak, then that’s because it is bleak. Don’t go into this read expecting joyous moments or sudden redemption. There may be the occasional promise of sunshine on the horizon, but nothing more.

I have to admit that I struggled a little with this book, purely because of the bleakness. I could feel it sucking at me and to counteract that, read most of it sitting out in the sun of our New Zealand summer days. It was almost too bleak. . . there were too few moments of normality which, on my part, a few more would have been appreciated, and which would have provided a much needed contrast. Or am I just talking about my normality? Perhaps the setting of Mark’s book is normal for some people…

So, dark and gritty it is, and bleak. A story of mental illness in many guises, and the coping strategies that accompany it; of guilt and the damage it does knawing away at the psyche; of manipulation and revenge, of cruelty and bullying.

I can’t say that I enjoyed this book, but I kept turning the pages to see where it was taking me.

😨😨😨.5

THE AUTHOR: Mark lives in a small village in the lovely county of Cumbria, although his books are set in Oxfordshire where he was born and raised.

After serving in the Royal Navy and raising his two daughters after being widowed, Mark finally took the plunge and self-published two books on Amazon, The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused.

He’s always had a keen interest in writing, and is extremely proud to have had six novels published by Bloodhound Books, including his most recent release, You Belong To Me.

When he’s not writing, Mark can be found trying and failing to master blues guitar, and taking walks around the beautiful county of Cumbria.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Mark Tilbury and Bloodhound Books for providing a digital ARC of YouBelong to Me for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2601816836

Watching What I’m Reading

It is early Monday morning here in New Zealand and I am watching the sun come up as I write this post, a day late. Thank you everyone for your best wishes for my son and his wedding day. It was absolutely perfect in every way. I didn’t get to take many photos as I was in charge of the toddler and those I did take were rushed and not great, so will share some of the professional ones with you when we get them.

Currently I am reading … I have literally only just started. . .

I Invited Her In

The Child (Kate Waters, #2)

This week I also plan to read

The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway, #11)

Dr Ruth Galloway returns to north Norfolk in her latest chilling adventure.

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters. They are anonymous, yet somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?

The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

Loaded onto my i-pod, ready to start listening to this morning, is

The Masterpiece

Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece–an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

I had three approvals from NetGalley this week

The Woman I Was Before

The Housewife

Hope on the Inside

Have a happy week everyone!

💕📚💖

 

She Saw What He Did by Linda Renham

She Saw What He Did by Lynda Renham

EXCERPT: The tide was coming in and luckily it had washed up her dolly, for now it lay discarded on the wet sand. She leant down to pick it up and stopped as her eyes feasted on something more interesting. She’d already collected several unusual shells.

‘Come on, Sarah,’ called her mother.

Sarah licked the salt from her lips and watched as the water drifted out to reveal what looked like someone’s toes. But they couldn’t be, could they? How could someone’s toes get in the water? Carefully she picked up the dolly and hugged it to her. She was about to turn back and hurry after her mother when she realised that it was indeed toes, for she could now see the legs above it. The water drifted out some more and Sarah gingerly moved closer. Then she saw it. The body was blue and stiff. For a second Sarah stared at it, puzzled, before realising it had no face. That’s when Sarah screamed, and the rest of the beach went silent. The only sounds were Sarah’s high pitched screams and the wailing of the seagulls.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Abby Miller thought she had the perfect family; a good looking, loving husband and a beautiful daughter. Her life was complete. The shock discovery that her husband, Jared, had been having an affair rocked her world. So when Jared suggested a short break to the Cannard Islands, to heal their fractured marriage, Abby agreed. An idyllic holiday turns into a nightmare when Abby witnesses something terrible. Suddenly her life and the life of her daughter are in serious danger and no one seems able to help them.

MY THOUGHTS: Lynda Renham is certainly a very versatile author. Romance, humor, psychological-thriller, and crime thriller – she has written them all, and written them equally well.

With ‘She Saw What He Did’, Lynda’s latest offering, she has packed in the action – political intrigue, kidnapping, murder – to name but a few.

The story is told from three points of view: Abby who is trying to save her marriage; Ellen, the only police officer to believe Abby witnessed a murder; and Sparrow, the desperate villainwho has bitten off more than he can chew.

While there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot I was disappointed that we discovered the identity of Sparrow well before the end. But don’t worry, the suspense is still strong due mainly to the unpredictability of his character.

And I love the cover! Early on I was wondering what the cover had to do with the plot – it is a pet peeve of mine when the cover doesn’t tie in with the plot – but as you can tell from the excerpt, it is both relevant and beautiful.

😰😰😰.5

THE AUTHOR: Lynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.

She has studied literature and creative writing.

Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Lynda Renham and Raucous Publishing for providing a digital ARC of She Saw What He Did for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2679694349

Watching What I’m Reading

I absolutely messed up last week’s reading schedule by missing out one of my scheduled reads – 2 pages of my reading diary were stuck together – but I discovered my error and read and posted my 5 star review for

Out of the Silence: a compelling revenge thriller

So, I have only just started

She Saw What He Did

I am also currently reading

Three Things About Elsie

and listening to

Breaking The Silence

This week I am planning on reading

You Belong To Me

Can two wrongs ever make a right?
The police never found fifteen-year-old Ellie Hutton. She vanished ten years ago after walking home from school along a disused railway track. But Danny Sheppard knows exactly what happened to her. She is dead and buried in a field near Lassiter’s Brook.
Now Cassie Rafferty has gone missing. Same age. Similar circumstances. And Danny also knows what has happened to her.
Can Danny fight his demons and tell the truth this time?
Or will history repeat itself and leave another innocent girl dead?

And hopefully will be able to start

I Invited Her In

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Only two new approvals this week

Two Silver Crosses

The Eighth Sister

I think that I am probably a bit optimistic about how much reading I am going to have time for this week, as we are in the final week of wedding preparations. Once I have finished work today I will be heading for my son’s for a few days gardening, then setting up for the wedding. I haven’t checked the weather forecast for Saturday as it is likely to change daily, and it is something I have no control over. Yes, there is an alternative to the garden should it rain – the barn.

Have a wonderful week’s reading everyone. I have scheduled some posts so I won’t be entirely absent. I would hate for you to forget me! 💕📚

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen

Out of the Silence by Owen Mullen


EXCERPT: ‘The history of women in Pakistan is the history of oppression. All about power and inexcusable excesses.’

‘Go on.’

‘In this country, women are the property of men. Let me do something shocking for a female here. Let me buy you a drink and tell you the everyday circumstances of life that exists in this country, the world outside refuses to believe. And when I finish, if you don’t see it as I do, I won’t ask for your help. You’re not in a hurry, I hope?’

I was a newspaperman and she was a lovely woman with a tale to tell with her hand in her pocket to buy me a drink.

No, I wasn’t in a hurry.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A powerful new thriller from a critically-acclaimed and bestselling author.
Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there.

When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime.

As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost?

Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

MY THOUGHTS: I was privileged enough to have read Owen’s original manuscript for this book, then titled The Blue Rock, several years ago. It blew me away then and, even though this must be my fourth or fifth reading, its impact has not diminished.

This is a powerful book. Contemporary faction, because it happens every day. Even here in New Zealand, a brother killed his sister recently for bringing dishonor upon his family. I was tempted to classify Out of the Silence as horror. It is horrific what people do to one another, are able to justify to themselves and others, and are actually proud of themselves.

Owen doesn’t pull any punches with his writing. He tells it as it is, and demonstrates a great deal of understanding and knowledge while still writing with compassion.

A big thank you to Owen Mullen for having the courage to write this book, and for his perseverance in his quest to get it published. A big thank you too, to Bloodhound Books for publishing Out of the Silence.

If you only read one book this year, make it Out of the Silence. It is impossible to read and not be moved.

💖💖💖💖💖

THE AUTHOR: Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year
long-listed novelist.
And So It Began earned a coveted Sunday Times Crime Club ⭐Star Pick.

Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His great love for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’, and the In Harm’s Way psychological thriller were created.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Owen Mullen for allowing me to read the early draft, and Bloodhound Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Out of the Silence for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2695706866

Shadows of Regret by Ross Greenwood

Shadows of Regret by Ross Greenwood

EXCERPT: I think I’ve always had a dark and vengeful side. It is the survivor in me. There’s a demon in the dark who takes only so much. It’s the moment when I fight back. I decided that night to let it free.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: SHADOWS OF REGRET is the unforgettable story of a woman’s struggle to rejoin society.
Katie committed a terrible crime. Sixteen years was the price she had to pay.

Once released from prison, she finds the world has changed.

Isolated and alone, she struggles to make sense of her new life. Starting again isn’t easy, especially after what she’s done.

Despite not feeling free or safe, Katie overcomes her fears and confronts the future. But history won’t remain forgotten.

Gradually, memories of the past are revealed. When Katie finally exposes the awful truth and sees there are others who share the blame, she must choose her path.

Will she seek redemption, or will she take revenge?

MY THOUGHTS: I am very much swimming against the tide of popular opinion with Shadows of Regret. I thought it very pedestrian. I could summon up little interest in the story and cared nothing for any of the characters who were, to me, caricatures. The dialogue is wooden.

We know that Katie has done something bad, but not what it is. This is slowly revealed in flashbacks throughout the book. This should have made this a suspenseful read, but it didn’t work for me.

Not a read that I will be recommending. I understand that reading is an entirely subjective experience and that, while this book wasn’t one I enjoyed, you may well love it. So if the excerpt piques your interest and you like the sound of the plot synopsis, please get a copy and read it.

THE AUTHOR: I was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until I was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. I then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

I found myself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually when things had gone wrong. It was on one of these occasions that I met my partner about 100 metres from my back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. I’m still a little stunned by the pace of it now.

Fifty Years of Fear book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then after working in sales management all my life, i randomly spent four years as a prison officer. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave me the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep I completed it in the early morning hours.

I’ve now written five further books. My second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by a publisher, and Lazy Blood is also out. All my books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour. Reading the reviews has been great.

The first three books are stand alone, however, some of the characters cross over, and you can see how at times, their lives overlap.

Abel’s Revenge is something a bit different. It’s a modern day love story set against the backdrop of an escalating serial killer. There’s a whodunnit element to it, and some smiles along the way.

Shadows of Regret was inspired by my time on the women’s side of the jail in Peterborough, and analyses the close relationship between victim and villain. You won’t have read a book like it.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Caroline Vincent of Bits About Books for providing a digital ARC of Shadows of Regret by Ross Greenwood for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2645415474#comment_form

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

Happy Publication Day Anna Jean Mayhew and Kensington Books! 🎊🎉

EXCERPT: In August of 1954, we took our first road trip without Daddy, and Stell got to use the driver’s license she’d had such a fit about. It was just a little card saying she was Estelle Annette Watts, that she was white, with hazel eyes and brown hair. But her having a license made that trip different from any others, because if she hadn’t had it, we never would have been stuck in Sally’s Motel Park in Claxton, Georgia, where we went to buy fruit cakes and had a wreck instead. And Mary would still be with us.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Dry Grass of August offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation and what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood and for the woman who means the world to her.

On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family’s black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father’s rages and her mother’s benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.

Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence.

Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us from child to adult, wounded to indomitable.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a quietly powerful book that is going to merit a second reading from me at some point. Its characters, particularly Jubie, will stay with me for some time. She has a good heart, and I would like to know what happens to her as an adult.

I wasn’t quite born when this book starts out, and yet this time feels as familiar to me as if I had lived it. And it is a tribute to Mayhew’s writing skills that I did feel like I was living this road trip along with Jubie and her family.

I can remember the reports of racial unrest over the integration of schools and buses when I was a child. I had never realized that there were curfews, and had never thought about the difficulties encountered when travelling with a colored maid. The Dry Grass of August was an eye-opener in more ways than one. There is something very ‘personal’ about this book which has been lacking in other similar books I have previously read.

Particularly impressive is the fact that this is Mayhew’s debut novel – at the age of seventy-one. I feel that there is hope for me yet!

The one fly in the ointment for me was the unresolved question of the room at the back of Bill’s warehouse. Link says to Jubie at Mary’s funeral, ‘Ask your father about the room behind the warehouse.’ Despite it coming up again, we never actually find out about the room, what it was for, or why Link thought Jubie needed to be aware of it. A day after finishing this read, that room is still niggling at me. I want to know!

Beautiful cover!

❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She has been writer-in-residence at Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France, and was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. A native of Charlotte, NC, A.J. has never lived outside the state, although she often travels to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. Her work reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South. A.J.—a mother and
grandmother—now lives in a small town in the North Carolina Piedmont with her husband and their French-speaking cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2635333951

Believe In Me by Susan Lewis

Believe In Me

EXCERPT: Remember to live in the moment, she told herself firmly, as she left the shop. If you don’t, all these special times with these very special people will pass you by, and you’ll never get them back again.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Leanne and her teenage daughter Abby have recently been forced to move from London back to Kesterley-on-Sea, to Ash Morley Farm where Leanne grew up. Leanne’s husband Jack, Abby’s father, killed himself over a year ago, and the pair is still reeling from the shock waves caused by the tragedy.

Also living at Ash Morley farm is Leanne’s mother Wilkie, who is a rock for everyone, and family friend Klaudia and her two children. Klaudia has to face the backlash of the xenophobic feeling post the Brexit vote and is on tenterhooks to hear whether she and her children will be sent home to Poland.

Hoping to move forward and mend the wounds her family has suffered, Leanne decides to foster a child. And when she’s told that Daniel’s father is in prison for murder, she hardly bats an eyelid. But as Daniel becomes integrated into the family, Leanne starts asking herself questions about his father’s conviction. Is he really guilty? With the help of friend and ex-detective Andee Lawrence, Leanne sets out to right the wrongs of the past.

MY THOUGHTS: As with every other book I have read by this author, Believe In Me by Susan Lewis contains little reminders about how we should appreciate our lives and live them to the fullest. But it’s not done in a preachy way. Instead, it is wrapped in a story that most of us can relate to in one way or another.

Abby reminds me of myself as a teenager, passionate and prickly, subject to sudden mood swings, and of the opinion that if mum couldn’t guess what was wrong with me, then she didn’t deserve to know. I was a nightmare, just as Abby is, and equally as certain as Abby that my mother loved everyone else more than me, or even but me.

Believe In Me deals with many issues; single motherhood, suicide, fostering, racial intolerance, and bullying to name a few, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure.

Lewis has a beautiful turn of phrase. One particular passage that I loved was ‘ Today, when she looked in the mirror, she saw a kind of bad watercolor of herself, blurred about the edges, no longer defined as a confident, capable woman, more like someone who’d been left out in the rain.’

I love Lewis’ characters. They are honest and forthright, and the type of people who I would like to have for friends.

😊😊😊😊

THE AUTHOR: I was born in 1956, in Bristol. My father was a Welsh miner, a poet, an engineer and a thinker. My mother was one of 13 children who, at 20, persuaded my father to spend his bonus on an engagement ring instead of a motorbike. We were a normal, happy, nuclear family, living in a spanking new council house on the outskirts of town – my mother’s pride and joy. But we were going to do better, my mother had made up her mind about that. My father, an unabashed communist, was writing a book, I was signed up for ballet, elocution, piano and eventually a private boarding school, and my brother, (the real great love of my mother’s life) was going to succeed at everything he set his mind to.

I was 9 and my brother 5 when my mother died of cancer. She was 33, my father was 37, and he never married again.

I went to the boarding school, a rogue little pupil in amongst all the posh girls, with their plummy voices, rich parents and exotic tales of faraway places. I yearned for my mother and father, but it was for the best, I was told. My father couldn’t bring me up on his own. However, I believed he could, and because no one would listen to my pleas for freedom, I took it upon myself to get expelled. It took a while, and I had rather a fabulous time achieving it, and by the time I was thirteen I was back in our little council house with my father and brother.

The teenage years are too painful to go into.

When I was 18 I got a job at HTV in Bristol, and at 22 I moved to London to work for Thames. I began as a secretary in news and current affairs, then trained as a production assistant and moved on to light entertainment and drama. It was a love of drama, combined with a fierce ambition, that got me knocking on the Controller’s door to ask what steps to take to become a producer. “Oh, go away and write something,” came the reply. So I did.

Over 30 books later, my only regret is that none of them have yet made it to the screen. I left TV eighteen years ago to do the “novelist thing” of buying a house with a swimming pool in the South of France. Bliss! For the first summer! After that came a disastrous love affair with one of the FBI’s most wanted, the plunge of the pound, and the dawning realization that life full-time in France was very, very different to a two week holiday frolicking around on millionaire’s yachts on the sunny Riviera. Sure it was glamorous, and the yachts – along with the interesting people – all came back in the summer, but the endless months in between were not far short of hell.

So, off to sunny California and Hollywood. After equipping myself with a Mercedes estate for my beloved dogs Casanova and Floozie, a home in the hills complete with pool and perfect sunsets every night, I set about completing the obstacle course of cowboy agents, big-talking producers and wannabe directors. Once I realised that Hollywood was NOT waiting for me, I put the struggle behind me and from thereon life in Tinsel Town became just plain thrilling. From star-studded screenings and glitzy parties, to moonlit dinners on the beach and edgy nightclubs, it was the perfect town to be single. George Clooney was my neighbour, Jennifer Anniston, Charlize Theron and Julianne Moore shopped in the same places, Nick Cage was a guest at my house, and Steve Martin was a regular on our dog walks. Romances flourished and faded, some dreams came true and others were crushed.

After seven happy years of taking the best from Hollywood and avoiding the rest, I had to face up to the fact that I was losing touch with being English. I needed a fix of my own country, so once again my dogs and I were on the move. We returned to Wiltshire for two years where making the adjustment from Manolo Blahniks to Wellies, cocktails at sunset to nights in by the fire, and no more glittery invites to liven up the mail proved too crushing for a still young and lively spirit.

So, we returned to the South of France, not to the same village, but to an even prettier one than before, perched high above the Riviera with glorious views of the sea. It was wonderful to be back amongst old friends, and to make so many new ones – the stress of living in a language that wasn’t mine was still an issue, but seemed slightly easier to deal with second time around. Alas Casanova and Floozie both died aged 13 and 15 during our first few years there, but Coco and Lulabelle are doing a valiant job of taking over their places – and my bed!

Everything changed again three months after my 50th birthday when, having given up hope of ever finding the right man, I met James my now husband, who lived and worked in Bristol. For a couple of years we had a very romantic and enjoyable time of it flying back and forth to see one another at weekends, but at the end of 2010 I finally sold my house on the Riviera and we are now living on the edge of the Cotswolds in a delightful old barn with Coco and Lulabelle. James’s sons Michael and Luke are regular visitors; it’s been quite exhilarating and educational having a young musician and dedicated sportsman in my life!

Should you be interested to know a little more about my early life why not try Just One More Day, which is a memoir about me and my mother. The follow up book One Day at a Time continues the story with my father.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Believe In Me by Susan Lewis for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2682760783

Watching What I’m Reading

Here we are  –  the last Sunday in January already. Usually I find January a pretty cruisey month, but this January has simply sped by. Does this mean that 2019 is going to fly by even faster than 2018 did???

Currently I am reading

Believe In Me

I am half way through and, in Lewis’ usual forthright manner, she is dealing with single parenthood, suicide, mother-daughter relationships, and fostering among a myriad of other things.

I am listening to

Doctor of the High Fells

which is perhaps not quite as gritty as I had thought it might be, but still interesting.

I haven’t gotten very far with

The Treatment (Jack Caffery, #2)

Which is no reflection on the book, just lack of reading time.

This week I am planning on reading

The Dry Grass of August

In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation and what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood and for the woman who means the world to her.

On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family’s black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father’s rages and her mother’s benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.

Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence.

Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us from child to adult, wounded to indomitable.

She Saw What He Did: A non-stop action packed read.

Abby Miller thought she had the perfect family; a good looking, loving husband and a beautiful daughter. Her life was complete. The shock discovery that her husband, Jared, had been having an affair rocked her world. So when Jared suggested a short break to the Cannard Islands, to heal their fractured marriage, Abby agreed. An idyllic holiday turns into a nightmare when Abby witnesses something terrible. Suddenly her life and the life of her daughter are in serious danger and no one seems able to help them.

Only 2 approvals this week, which is good. . .

The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway, #11)

Little Lovely Things

I was seriously tempted to request another book, but when I looked at the publication date, I already had two books scheduled for review that week and so I didn’t hit the request button. I should feel proud of myself. Instead I feel sick that I have probably missed out on a brilliant read 😕.

I am looking forward to my youngest son flying in from Australia on Friday, and it is now a little less than two weeks to my eldest son’s wedding. Exciting times!

Happy reading my friends 💕📚