Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Storm clouds are gathering. The weather that has flooded New South Wales this week is due to hit New Zealand tonight. The sunrise this morning was spectacular, but I’m afraid that I just lay in bed and enjoyed it this morning. I did think about leaping out of bed and grabbing the camera, but my body wasn’t listening 🤷‍♀️

Currently I am reading Small Town Secrets by Alys Murray, which is absolutely delightful! This is a book that I requested because the cover appealed, but it is definitely a winner. It’s a light romance with a few life lessons. I love the characters, who are well developed, quirky, and believable.

I am listening to Partners in Crime by Stuart MacBride, (Logan McRae 6.5-7.5) I love this author’s sense of humour.

I am also reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. This is another book peopled by characters I love. This is the April group read for the ‘All About Books’ Goodreads.com group. This would make an excellent movie.

This week I am planning on reading Syrian Brides by Anna Halabi. The author provided me with an ARC.

This delightful collection of short stories offers insight into the lives of Syrian women, both the married and the brides-to-be. It reveals the warmth and humor as well as the oppression in the Syrian society. The stories make the reader laugh while addressing serious issues such as domestic violence.
Um Hussam can’t find a suitable bride for her son, testing each candidate’s sight, hearing and reading skills, occasionally cobbing a feel. Jamila’s husband Hassan can’t forget his deceased wife, until she makes sure he never mentions her again. Rami can’t help but wonder whether his new bride is a natural beauty or a talented surgeon’s masterpiece. Khadija’s maid stabs her in the back while Rana’s husband Muafak can’t find the right excuse to avoid a fight. 

And Of Magpies and Men by Ode Ray. This is also an author ARC.

Can any good come of longings that a person can never satisfy? If so, good for whom?

Two corpses wash ashore in a picturesque Italian village, the violence that put them there is bound to a long-held secret and two strangers living worlds apart with seemingly nothing in common.

Benedict Grant a wealthy Londoner, leading a lonely life.

Marie Boulanger a nurse and single mum, struggling to make ends meet in Marseille.

However, a mother’s illicit revelation will set in motion a chain of events that will reshape their identities, stir poignant family affairs and delve into the by-products of lawless decisions.

I am possibly being a little ambitious this week as it is the end of our financial year so there’s a lot of extra work to be done.

I received three new Netgalley ARCs this week:

The Last Night in London by Karen White

My Little Girl by Shalini Boland

and The Whispers by Heidi Perks

What are you planning on reading this week? I have three reviews I need to write, but as I am having trouble stringing my thoughts together coherently, I will wait until the morning to make a start, and hope that get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Has anyone else had any trouble downloading the audiobook Mrs Wiggins? I have made several unsuccessful attempts to download it to my ipod. It jams at around 10% and goes no further. I haven’t had this problem with any of the other audiobooks I have downloaded from Netgalley.

Have a wonderful week everyone!❤📚

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: It was the colours that caught her attention. Often the colours on the Island were subtle, olive green, mud brown, sea grey and all softened by mist. In the full sunlight of early morning, this picture was stark and vibrant. The harsh white of the snow. Three shapes, silhouetted. Ravens. In her painting they would be angular shapes, cubist almost. Birds roughly carved from hard black wood. And then that splash of colour. Red, reflecting the scarlet ball of the sun.

She left the sledge at the side of the track and crossed the field to see the scene more closely. There was a gate from the road. The snow stopped her pushing it open so she climbed it. A stone wall split the field in two, but in places it had collapsed and there was a gap big enough for a tractor to get through. As she grew nearer the perspective shifted, but that didn’t bother her. She had the paintings fixed firmly in her mind. She expected the ravens to fly off, had even been hoping to see them in flight. The sight of them aloft, the wedge shaped tail tilted to hold each steady, would inform her image of them on the ground.

Her concentration was so fierce, and everything seemed unreal here, surrounded by the reflected light which made her head swim, that she walked right up to the sight before realizing exactly what she was seeing. Until then everything was just form and colour. Then the vivid red turned into a scarf. The grey coat and the white flesh merged into the background of the snow which wasn’t so clean here. The ravens were pecking at a girl’s face. One of the eyes had disappeared.

Fran recognized the young woman, even in this altered, degraded state. The birds had fluttered away briefly as she had approached but now, as she stood motionless, watching, they returned. Suddenly she screamed, so loudly that she could feel the strain in the back of her throat and clapped her hands to send the birds circling into the sky. But she couldn’t move from the spot.

It was Catherine Ross. There was a red scarf tight around her neck, the fringe spread like blood in the snow.

ABOUT ‘RAVEN BLACK’: Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Ann Cleeves writing. She certainly knows how to set an atmosphere. Set in the Shetland Islands, she has recreated the claustrophobic atmosphere of the islands and the people who live there.

Raven Black is the first book in Cleeves’ Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez who, despite his name, was born in the islands.

Cleeves characters are very real. Perez has some personal decisions to make, as does Fran,who discovered the bodies. Yes, there is more than one. Everyone from Magnus, the reclusive old man accused of murdering a girl who disappeared some years earlier, to Catherine Ross, the girl found murdered on the hillside near Magnus’s home, are depicted so well that I could visualise them, and hear them speak.

Raven Black is an excellent murder mystery, one that kept me guessing to the end. There are several twists and surprises along the way that enhanced the plot.

I had, some years ago, watched the TV series both of Shetland and Vera and I can heartily recommend both, along with the books.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#RavenBlack #anncleeves #panmacmillan

@AnnCleeves @panmacmillan

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #scottishnoir #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Raven Black written by Ann Cleeves and published by Pan Macmillan. I read Raven Black for the Goodreads.com Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers March 2021 Mysteries for a cold winter’s night group read. 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

Wandering Wednesday . . .

I had to go to Otorohanga, the next town north of here, today to pick colours for my kitchen. I was a little early for my appointment so I pulled into a small park on the bypass road. I have never stopped there before, I guess because it’s only 15 minutes from home, but it is quite pleasant.

As you can see the trees are starting to change colour.

The park pays homage to one of our swamp birds the Pukeko. It’s an ungainly bird, but quite beautiful in its own way.

There’s a large iron statue in the swamp on the far side of the lake.

These are the real things

Although their beautiful blue doesn’t show up well in these photos.

And this is Lake Huiputea in the park.

Otorohanga is also home to the Kiwi House, which is an excellent outing. I took Kayden there during the school holidays in 2019, and will have to find the photos to share with you.

Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett

EXCERPT: it started with her phone buzzing at 3:04 am that morning. Only nine months ago and as fresh in her mind as an unhealed wound. Foggy from sleep, she’d mistaken its sound for her alarm.

‘Amy?’ There was fear in Zane’s voice, something she’d never heard before. ‘Somethings happened. Can you come to my place?’

He was breathing hard. Even half-asleep, she heard the panic in his voice and it acted on her like a cold shock, pulling her into a hyper-alert state.

Her heart stuttered. ‘What is it? Are you okay?’

She remembered jumping out of bed, the phone clamped to her ear. They’d only been together for three months but already everything else, family, friends and work were falling away until Zane was her life.

‘I need help,’ he said.

ABOUT ‘DEAR NEIGHBOUR’: When Amy and her boyfriend Zane move into a house together, she hopes they can put their rocky past behind them.

She gets a job and befriends the older couple who live in the house next door. Amy is impressed by their sophistication, wealth, and love for one another and in turn they somewhat adopt her when Amy’s relationship with her boyfriend deteriorates rapidly.

Jobless, often absent and clearly up to no good, Zane is jealous and increasingly abusive. His hold over the shy Amy has been strong, yet cracks are beginning to show.

When a policeman knocks on her door one innocuous day, it is the start of series of events that will make the two households clash together in a fatal entanglement.

Zane will see an opportunity and greed will get the better of him, but are their new neighbours quite the easy targets they appear to be?

Amy is in the middle of it all and someone is going to get killed.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Seedy’ is the word I would use to sum up the atmosphere of Dear Neighbour.

Zane has dragged Amy, not exactly unwillingly, into his world of drugs and violence and now she feels trapped in a sick and destructive relationship.

I didn’t like Amy at all, not even at the end. I kept wanting
to yell at her to wake up and get out. She is weak and needy and willing to do anything to keep Zane by her side. Zane is also weak, but exceedingly manipulative, and he has Amy right where he wants her, supporting him both financially and emotionally. Actually, the only characters I liked were Frank and Greta, a devoted elderly couple who are hiding a surprising secret.

It is no secret that I don’t like books with a central theme of drugs and violence. I don’t like weak and stupid female characters. I don’t like weak and stupid characters full stop. I like clever mysteries and psychological thrillers with plenty of surprises and twists. Dear Neighbour didn’t give me that, and yet I kept reading. Right to the end. And while I can’t say that I enjoyed the read, I can see its appeal to others.

Dear Neighbour is a quick, fast-paced read at 184 pages, and certainly packed with action. It reminds me of the pulp fiction published in the 1950s, but lacking the lurid cover and ‘racy’ scenes.

⭐⭐.6

#Dear Neighbour #annawillettauthor #the_book_folks

@AnnaWillett9 @thebookfolks @HenryRoiPR

#australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Raised in Western Australia Anna developed a love for fiction at an early age and began writing short stories in high school. Drawn to dark tales, Anna enjoys writing thrillers with strong female characters. When she’s not writing, Anna enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her husband and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Henry Roi PR for providing a digital ARC of Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett 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

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

EXCERPT: October 20

I look up as a man with ruddy cheeks walks into the restaurant, shaking rain from his baseball cap. ‘Hey, sweetheart,’ he calls to the pink-haired girl mixing drinks behind the bar. ‘Any chance you can hang this in the window?’

‘Sure thing,’ she says, nodding toward the piece of paper in his hand. ‘Another fundraiser for the fire department?’

‘No, someone’s gone missing,’ he says.

‘Missing? What happened to her?’

‘Not her. Him.’

‘Him? Well that’s not something you hear every day.’

‘Disappeared the night of the storm. Trying to get the word out.’

The door closes behind him as she walks to the end of the bar and picks up the flyer, reading aloud to the woman eating lunch at the corner seat. ‘Dr. Sam Statler, a local therapist, is six foot one, with black hair and green eyes. He’s believed to be driving a 2019 Lexus RX350.’ Whistling, she holds up the piece of paper. ‘Whoever he’s gone missing with is a lucky lady.’ I steal a glance at Sam’s photograph – those eyes, that dimple, the word MISSING in seventy-two-point font above his head.

‘I saw the story in the paper this morning,’ the woman at the bar says. ‘He went to work and never came home. His wife reported him missing.’

The pink-haired girl goes to the window. ‘Wife, huh? Sure hope she has a good alibi. You know the old saying: ‘When a man goes missing, it’s always the wife.’ ‘

ABOUT ‘GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL’: Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

MY THOUGHTS: I made this comment when I was 38% through Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy, ‘OMG! This is like a packet of chocolate biscuits. You just can’t stop at one!’ Only it’s not like a packet of chocolate biscuits, it’s like a box of your favourite chocolates. An endless box….

I read Goodnight Beautiful voraciously. I devoured it, and licked my fingers afterwards. This is a cleverly plotted and addictive read. I read it every moment I could, and many when I shouldn’t have.

Goodnight Beautiful is a true psychological thriller. I am not going to recap the plot, or talk about the characters. I read the synopsis back in September 2020 when I requested the ARC. I didn’t reread it before I started reading, and I recommend you do the same. The twists and turns will knock you for six, so clear your day and settle down to read this in one session.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#GoodnightBeautiful #NetGalley #aimeemolloy718 #hodderstoughton

@aimeenmolloy @hodderbooks

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Aimee Molloy is a New York Times bestselling author of several books such as: However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. She is also the co-author of many non-fiction books like Jantsen’s Gift and The Perfect Mother.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Another weekend draws to a close here in New Zealand. I really don’t know where this one went. There’s a distinct nip in the air when the sun goes behind the clouds, and the first of the leaves are beginning to colour.

I got the plans for my new kitchen on Friday, and I love it. I am going to take a couple of hours out of work on Wednesday and go pick my bench top, cupboards, etc. So excited!

I am about to start reading Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett.

I am listening to The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

This week I am also planning on reading Whoever Fights Monsters by Angelo Marcos.

You’d kill to protect your family. The question is… how many times?

Three men are about to begin the worst bombing campaign in history, targeting schools in order to kill as many innocent children as they can.

One night, the mysterious Aurora appears and tells family man Nathaniel Bennett three things.

Firstly, that his daughter will be one of the victims.

Secondly, that he is the only one who can stop these atrocities from happening.

Thirdly, to stop them he’ll have to kill all three of the men. If even one is left alive, the bombings will still happen and hundreds of children – including his daughter – will die.

We follow Nathaniel as he wrestles with his mission – and himself. Is he a soldier following orders and saving children, or is he the monster, stalking and killing three men who – so far – have done nothing wrong?

And, to the rest of the world – and the police – does it even make a difference?

This week I received a Publisher’s widget for Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

A Netgalley ARC for The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden

and one audiobook ARC, Mrs Wiggins by Mary Monroe

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!❤📚

The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

EXCERPT: ‘Come and have a seat. I hope you don’t mind me saying but you’re looking a bit pale.’

‘That’s OK.’ She held up a hand. ‘I’ve disturbed your evening enough.’ Her gaze went to the lit kitchen beyond.

‘It’s no problem. Just me here.’ He’d read her mind.

‘You live here alone?’

‘Put it this way, you’re not disturbing a romantic dinner.’

That wasn’t an answer. Leah heard a small internal alarm bell. Her car was down the road and she hadn’t told Elliot in her message that she was inside a stranger’s house on Plough Lane.

‘Come and sit down while I call the AA.’

Despite feeling light-headed, Leah nodded but didn’t move.

He obviously sensed her unease. ‘Does my cooking smell that bad?’

Leah was about to smile but at that moment a dog came down the stairs. It was a white and brown basset hound and its ears flapped about its head as it descended awkwardly.

‘He doesn’t bite either.’

The animal slid down the last few green stairs on its stomach and made a beeline for Leah.

She bent to pet the dog. ‘What’s his name?’

‘Her. It’s Sheila.’

She tried to pat its head while it snuffled at her jeans. ‘Hi, Sheila.’ Leah held out her hand so Sheila could sniff it, but the dog ignored her. She stood up but felt giddy and staggered back.

‘Whoa.’ Tate caught her firmly by the arm.

He had a very tight grip but as soon as she’d regained her balance, he released her.

‘Sorry.’ He pulled both his arms in as if he shouldn’t have touched her.

‘That’s OK. I think I do need to sit down though, if you wouldn’t mind.’

‘Just in here.’ He immediately turned and led her towards the doorway of the kitchen.

Leah followed and found herself in a very impressive and modern space. More dark slate walls were broken up by bright white splash tiles behind the huge sink and cooking range. In the middle was a long breakfast bar and several stools. A half-eaten meal lay on it with a full bowl-glass of red wine beside it.

Leah’s scalp prickled cold. ‘I’m sorry. I’ve interrupted your dinner.’ Her mouth felt dry.

‘Not at all.’ He pulled out a stool. ‘Sit yourself down.’

But Leah stumbled, fell and blacked out before she reached it.

ABOUT ‘THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR’: He isn’t who you think he is…
When Leah Talbot hits a deer on a deserted road near her village she spots a light on in a nearby house and approaches, hoping that someone is home.

He is.

Charming, handsome, Martin Tate answers the door to the bedraggled and traumatised Leah, inviting her in. Though she’s not there for long, Leah feels an indescribable pull to the man who has helped in her hour of need.

But when she returns the next morning to say thank you, it isn’t Martin who answers the door this time. It’s the police.

There’s been a brutal murder and the sole female resident is dead.

There’s no sign of Martin…
Until he comes looking for Leah.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a fast-paced, fun read and I am glad I gave this author a second chance after really not liking the only other book I have read by him, While You Slept.

There were not so many characters as to be confusing, and they were each quite distinct from the others. The plot is one I have not come across before, and it is very clever and well thought out.

I became quite involved with the characters, mentally screaming at Leah at times because she made some really dumb decisions. But then, had I been in her place, I may well have made those same decisions, although I would like to think that I wouldn’t.

Yes, this was crazy, and in places improbable, but it was also enjoyable. I think that had it gone on any longer it would have been too over the top, but the author wisely knew when to call time.

Narrator Rose Robinson was excellent and used exactly the right tones and inflections in her voice to suit the circumstances. I would listen to more books narrated by her.

And I will definitely be looking for more to read from Mr Parker.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheGoodNeighbour #NetGalley #rjparkerauthor #harpercollinsuk

@netgalley @harpercollins

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: R J Parker’s creative career began as a TV script writer, script editor and producer. It was this background that fed into a series of cinematic, high-concept thrillers that grabs the reader from the very first page and doesn’t release them until the last. R J Parker now lives in Salisbury.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio for providing an audio ARC of The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker 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 Night Gate by Peter May

EXCERPT: A sound that whispers like the smooth passage of silk on silk startles him. Movement in the darkness ahead morphs into silhouette. Momentary light catches polished steel, before he feels the razor-like tip of it slash across his neck. There is no real pain, just an oddly invasive sensation of burning, and suddenly he cannot breathe. His hands fly to his neck, warm blood coursing between cold fingers. He presses both palms against the wound as if somehow they might keep the blood from spilling out of him. He hears it gurgling in his severed windpipe. Just moments earlier he had been consumed by anger. Now he understands that he is going to die, but somehow cannot accept it. It is simply not possible. Consciousness rapidly ebbs to darkness and he drops to his knees. The last thing he sees, before falling face-first to the floor, is his killer. Caught in a fleeting moment of moonlight. And he simply cannot believe it.

ABOUT ‘THE NIGHT GATE’: The body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree.

A famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house.

Both deaths have occurred more than 70 years apart.

Asked by a forensic archaeologist in Paris to take a look at the site of the former, Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter, and two narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding against a backdrop of real events in Occupied France in the 1940s; the other contemporary, set in a France going back into Covid lockdown in the autumn of 2020.

At the heart of both is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Tasked by de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of the Mona Lisa as it is moved from chateau to chateau by the Louvre, she finds herself both wooed and pursued by two Germans sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre has secretly engaged the services of the 20th century’s greatest forger to produce a duplicate of the great lady, one that even those who know her well find hard to tell apart. The discovery of its existence is the thread that links both narratives. And both murders.

MY THOUGHTS: The Night Gate is the seventh in the Enzo Files series by Peter May. It is a superb blend of contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and ‘whodunnit’ that switches between WWII in France and the current Covid pandemic.

In the 1940’s we follow Georgette Pignall as she lays her life on the line to protect La Jaconde from the Nazi invaders. This is a fascinating thread full of intrigue and action, and one that will leave you wondering about the provenance of what is probably the most famous painting in the world.

In 2020 the remains of a ranking officer of the Luftwaffe with a bullet hole in his skull are discovered in the tiny medieval village of Carennac on the banks of the River Dordogne when a dead tree is dislodged by a slip. Enzo is called in to cast a professional eye over the ‘grave’ when the forensic archaeologist Professor Magali Blanc is unable to travel to the site.

While he is there another, contemporary, murder is discovered and the local gendarmes, unused to dealing with such a crime, make use of Enzo’s expertise.

May’s characters are, as always, superb. They seem to jump from the page and stride about, such is the realism. The intertwining stories are intriguing, and the links between the timelines, other than the Mona Lisa (La Jaconde) not apparent until the end.

Many of the characters in The Night Gate are real, and many of the events actually occurred – the evacuation of artworks from the Louvre to various Chateaux around France; the Nazis burning of paintings; the shooting of Maquis fighters in Saint-Cere; the courageous action of Berthe Nasinec in preventing a massacre of the citizens of Saint-Cere; and the extraordinarily selfless work of Rose Valland in cataloguing the art the Nazis stole so that it could be tracked down, post-war, and returned to its rightful owners. And these are just a small portion of the actual historical events Peter May has woven through his narrative.

While The Night Gate is not my very favourite of the Enzo series, it is right up there. I don’t recommend that The Night Gate be read as a stand-alone as there is too much background of the contemporary characters that you would be missing out on and which would impact on your understanding of some of the events and references to the past storylines that are included in this book. But I do strongly recommend that you read it.

NOTE: The Night Gate is, apparently, the finale to the Enzo series.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheNightGate #NetGalley

#authorpetermay #quercusbooks

@authorpetermay @quercusbooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #historicalfiction #historicalfaction #murdermystery #WWII

THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane fifteen years that followed, became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.

He has won several literature awards in France. He received the USA’s Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy. In 2014 Entry Island won both the Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and a CWA Dagger as the ITV Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year.

Peter lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally, and in 2016 both became French by naturalisation. (Peter May)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Night Gate by Peter May 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 Incredible Winston Browne

EXCERPT: His ankle was acting up, and he was pretty sure he’d pulled his groin. He hadn’t moved this fast since he wore catcher’s gear. By the time he reached the chicken house, he was limping like a lame horse and his ankle was throbbing. Whatever was making the noise was tangled in the homemade booby trap of pots and pans. Before he opened the door, he handed the lantern to Robbie. ‘You hold the light, I’ll scare him! Whatever you do, don’t let him get away!’

After a few deep breaths, Jimmy cocked the rifle, kicked open the door to the coop, and used such force he almost brought the little building down.

Chickens screamed. Virgil fluttered his wings like he was possessed by the Devil. White feathers went everywhere. Jimmy barged inside, rifle in both hands. Robbie stayed beside him, holding the lantern outward.

Jimmy dropped the rifle. He expected to see an old drunk, or a few teenagers, or a hobo tangled in wire and tin pots. But it was no man.

‘That’s your chicken thief?’ said Robbie.

It was a little girl.

ABOUT ‘THE INCREDIBLE WINSTON BROWNE’:
In the small, sleepy town of Moab, Florida, folks live for ice cream socials, Jackie Robinson, and the local paper’s weekly gossip column. For decades, Sheriff Winston Browne has watched over Moab with a generous eye, and by now he’s used to handling the daily dramas that keep life interesting for Moab’s quirky residents. But just after Winston receives some terrible, life-altering news, a feisty little girl with mysterious origins shows up in his best friend’s henhouse. Suddenly Winston has a child in desperate need of protection—as well as a secret of his own to keep.

With the help of Moab’s goodhearted townsfolk, the humble and well-meaning Winston Browne still has some heroic things to do. He finds romance, family, and love in unexpected places. He stumbles upon adventure, searches his soul, and grapples with the past. In doing so, he just might discover what a life well-lived truly looks like.

MY THOUGHTS: I honestly don’t know how to describe this book. I loved the characters and the setting, and I really, really wanted to love this overall, but I just didn’t. I liked it. I liked it a lot, but I just didn’t quite fall in love with The Incredible Winston Browne.

I loved the character of Winston Browne. He is everything to the town of Moab, and the town and its people have been everything to him, but now that he is dying there are a few things he realizes he has missed out on, including the love of a good woman. He has never married – and there is a story behind that – and has no children. But it’s obviously too late for all of that – or is it? Life has a strange habit of filling the gaps in the most unexpected ways.

I also loved the growth in Eleanor’s character. I was amazed at how old the characters seemed for their age. They all acted a lot older than their age if you compare them with people of the same age today. But then they didn’t have all the labour saving devices that we enjoy today either. If you look back at photos of people in the 1950s, they even look older.

Jessie is the sort of character you can’t help rooting for. She is determined and loyal.

This is a good story that defies categorization. There is a little romance, a little thriller, a little drama. A little like life.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

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THE AUTHOR: Sean Dietrich is a columnist, podcaster, speaker, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, The Tallahassee Democrat, Good Grit, South Magazine, The Bitter Southerner, Thom Magazine, and The Mobile Press Register, and he has authored ten books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas Nelson via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich. 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

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