Cover Image: Strange Sally Diamond

Strange Sally Diamond

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Member Reviews

Sally Diamond's father always told her that when he died, he should put her out with the bins. So when one day, he doesn't wake up, that's exactly what she does. This eventually leads to trouble for Sally and brings the guards and media to her doorstep where she finds out some hidden secrets about her childhood and her family.

Another fantastic, character-focused book from Liz Nugent. I really enjoyed this story that follows Sally as she discovers the truth of who she really is, and starts making steps to improve her life before it's too late. There were some really endearing moments in this as Sally starts to try and become a part of the community she had hidden herself away from for so long, and her struggle to make true friends. There were also some funny moments as well as Sally's 'social deficiency' comes to play now and again, and she says something wrong. However, typical for Liz Nugent, there was a dark current swimming under every bit of this story and now and again it would peak its head up with a flash of Sally's uncontrollable anger or a creepy teddy bear in the post.

The flash back scenes with another character were also riveting and creeping in another way - two stories that shadowed each other in different ways, were very similar but also different.

This was fast-paced and hooked me well and truly. Liz Nugent has a way of writing characters that is so unique, she really peels them back and as a reader we get to see all these dark and terrible bits of them as well as any of the good.

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When Sally's father dies, she takes his instruction to "put him out with the rubbish" quite literally, much to the dismay of her local community. She then learns the awful truth about her childhood and begins to make her way in the world after previously living a somewhat sheltered life. However it soon becomes clear that there is someone out there who was involved in her past and she finds that not everyone can be trusted.

A thoroughly emotional story like nothing you have read before.

Sally is one of the most brilliantly original characters I have ever come across. I loved following Sally's journey as she made new friends and started to lead a different life to the one she was used to. I found that there was a real insight into Sally's opinions and how she viewed the world, which is something that you don't often see in books. There was a whole cast of characters from the local town introduced as Sally got to know them and they all brought something different to her life. They were well-written and I got the sense that they genuinely cared for Sally which was really heart-warming.

Throughout the story you see what is happening in the present day and also what took place in the past, some of which was incredibly harrowing to read. It made for a very powerful plot that really got under my skin. It made me stop and realise that there is always more to everyone than first meets the eye.

A book that will both make you laugh out loud and gasp in horror, definitely not one to miss.

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

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Holy cannoli! What a book! We are lulled into a false sense of security with Eleanor Oliphant and Molly The Maid vibes. Swiftly sucker punched to the gut when a very dark and twisted story emerges - one that will wrench and shatter your heart into a zillion pieces.

Meet Sally Diamond, 42 years-old-and lives with her father in a small village in Ireland. She is a loner and socially inept, preferring to play the piano and often pretending to be deaf to avoid conversation. As her fathers health declines he often tells her to “put me out with the bins when I die.” Sally does just this when he sadly passes away. Sally not realising it’s a crime, and turning her orderly life upside down.

With insurmountable scrutiny and her life thrown into chaos, Sally is forced to “speak”. Attempt to fix the mess she has found herself in, deal with her grief in her own quirky way and face demons left in the way of three letters, left to her from her deceased father, a stranger and a very troubling past.

One thing I love is quirky characters, Sally has this in spades. We follow her heartbreaking unveiling of past traumas, cruel criticisms and community judgments, that as a reader will garner a plethora of emotions. With Sallys sheltered and naive outlook, she begins to navigate her life, making new friends along the way. Learning to temper her unfiltered and matter of fact way in which she speaks and views the world. Learning to trust, bravely creating a new normal.

While wittily humorous at times, it’s darkly disturbing, brilliantly observed and utterly harrowing. An incredible, masterful novel and another 5 stars read.

Many thanks to @netgalley @penguinaus @penguin for a #gifted advanced reading copy.

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Another excellent and dark as hell story from Liz Nugent. A multi generational story of abuse and how the affects manifest over the years through families, even if they are not aware of the origins or have any memory of the acts themselves.

The plot is harrowing and has every trigger warning under the sun, but the story is told thoughtfully and sensitivity.

Congratulations to the author!

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This book is not for the faint hearted. I went in quite naively, and was really taken aback by the dark turn it quickly took.
Nugent has crafted a harrowing and heartbreaking story about loss, trauma, belonging and how our past shapes who we are. There were glimpses of a more uplifting story especially presented in the main character Sally. But ultimately the ending left me feeling very sad.

This all being said I was absolutely hooked from the first few pages, the writing, character building and weaving together of the two storylines blew me away.

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This was such a captivating, dark powerful and harrowing story (in places!) I absolutely loved it! A definite 5 🌟 read.

The story is narrated by 40 plus Sally who describes herself as 'socially deficient' and sometimes pretends to be deaf so she doesn't have to talk to anyone. Sally is a social recluse and finds it hard to conform to social conventions. On the day her dad dies she decides to burn him on the incinerator beside her house. This leads her to become the centre of media attention and Sally is forced to interact with the world outside for the first time. Slowly Sally starts to uncover that there were secrets to her past and horrors from her childhood that she can no longer ignore.
This book gripped me from the first page. I loved Sally and felt so sorry with her as she attempts to be 'normal' and conform with the people around her. I loved seeing her try to build a life for herself and make new friends. Some of the parts of the story from Sally's past are horrific but the story turns into a gripping psychological thriller and I couldn't stop reading (despite some disturbing chapters.) The writing is brilliant and each of the characters are fascinating. Prepare yourself for a dark, harrowing read and an emotional rollercoaster!
This is such an original and brilliant story. I loved Sally and she will stay with me for a long time. I have ordered all of Liz Nugent's previous books as I definitely think she's going to become one of my favourite new authors. This will definitely be one of my top books of the year.

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Sally Diamond may be "strange" but she's also kind and thoughtful. Nugent weaves a powerful narrative alongside a cast of characters that the reader will root for. This novel is moving, thought-provoking and heartening.

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As usual, Liz Nugent has blown me away with Strange Sally Diamond. It features a difficult and unusual main character that we shouldn't like (but we do) and a compelling mystery. It's another masterpiece that I'm recommending to everyone I meet.

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I am a huge Liz Nugent fan - particular Lying in Wait so I couldn't wait to get reading this one. I was hooked from the start and at around 70% in I was singing it's praises to everyone that would listen.

The storyline is great and I was coming up with all sorts of potential endings in my head - but after I got into the final quarter of the book it just seemed to fall away a little. I felt like there wasn't really a punch of an ending and that left me a little disappointed. The first 75% of the book is really engaging and saves it for me but I would have liked a more dramatic ending.

Sally is a great character - she is one I will remember for a long time. Despite there being such a huge plot in this book I feel that this book is very character driven and without Sally and her uniqueness this book wouldn't stand out as much.

Will still recommend as I did enjoy a lot about it.

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This book was phenomenal. From the first chapter it hold me engaged and entertained. I wanted to see how everything will turn out for Sally Diamond.
She hasn’t had your normal childhood like everyone else or what society deems to be normal. It was a traumatic experience and left her with a string of emotions that needed to be dealt with but nobody was actually there to help her. It’s quite a chilling read when slowly we learn about what Sally went through in her early years and where everything ends in the end. From the moment she did exactly what her father told her to do , to her being an adult and going through the public spectrum of things that she thought normal as she didn’t know different.
It’s emotional and it brings up a lot of topics, it made me think of other loved characters from well known stories.
It’s disturbing on one hand but brilliantly done overall and a book that i highly recommend.

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There are almost no words to describe how spellbounding this book is.

Líz is a phenomenal writer, and the way she weaves her stories is breathtaking.

I will admit to being a little confused by the ending but Sally's story, her life in (and before) Carricksheedy completely gripped me.

I'm also not sure the Covid nod towards the end was completely necessary. It didn't feel it added anything.

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Oh my word….what the hell did I just read?! This book is what I can only describe as flipping marvelous. It is dark, uncomfortable and so well written I couldn't tear myself away. I found myself totally captivated by Strange Sally Diamond. She is one hell of a character you cannot help but empathise with her and her strange ways and learn why she is like she is.

I cannot begin to tell you how well crafted this story is. It is one of the best books I have read in a while…If not the best it has totally blown me away. I love that it is character driven and when you can feel the emotion and uncertainty a character is feeling taking me on a whirlwind of emotions through the characters eyes that will give you goosebumps, you know that this is something remarkable and special.

It has left me wondering where the hell I have been, because this is the first book I have read by Liz Nugent. She is a very talented author and I will definitely be reading all of her books after reading this beauty. If you're looking for a book that is filled with tension and have you ripping through the pages to get to the end. This is the book for you. I cannot recommend it enough. It is without a shadow of a doubt a ten star read!

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A heartbreaking tale of madness, violence and death set in New Zealand and Ireland, Strange Sally Diamond is a very tough novel to review without spilling too many beans about the plot.

It was a very difficult but fascinating read, superbly plotted and blessed with a terrific cast of exquisitely drawn characters but the subject of child kidnapping, forced detention and sexual slavery was far from making it an easy read. I was really moved by this sad and beautiful novel and Sally's incredible plight remained on my mind long after I finished reading it. Highly recommended!

Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for this unforgettable ARC

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4.5 ⭐️

‘I liked my face. I liked the faint crinkly lines that came from the corners of my eyes when I smiled at myself. I was beautiful.’

I don't even know where to start with
this one, I’d gone in not knowing much about it but it sounded like something I’d enjoy - and I loved it!

The plot was gritty & shocking, as well as being heartwarming & funny. I loved the dual timelines and POV’s - it built it such a strong backstory and understanding of the characters.

The characters were unbelievably well written, so much depth and personality too them. I adored Sally, her mannerisms & quirks make for such good read! She had such a wholesome, yet no filters, personality - some of her one liners killed me. The growth and development throughout the book is so well done as well.

But that said, the ending left me a little gutted. I wanted more (yes, I always do) but I felt like she deserved so much more. The epilogue was clever though, left me with so many questions too. Can I have another book about it all please? 😂

It really reminded me of a much darker version of Eleanor Oliphant. Definitely recommend this read, but do check CW/TW’s as there’s some very heavy content.

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Oh good grief, where do I start?
This book has so many elements to it, I can't seem to fit into one genre.
At the start, I thought this was more of a general, literary fiction novel, but the second half of the book- holy guacamole. This is one of the darkest books I have read in years. By 20% I was completely invested and couldn't put it down.
Some scenes are extremely hard to get out of my head.
Last night, reading towards the end, I kept saying 'omg, what on earth' every few pages. Truly incredible writing, my heart was in my mouth. Some poignant scenes, but be warned, this book takes you on a journey you won't forget.
This is going straight in my books of the year.

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“Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.”

How’s that for an opening?? (it’s also in the blurb so I’m not spoiling anything!)

To my shame, this is my first Liz Nugent book, but it most definitely will not be my last! This story had me hooked from the opening lines and it was so difficult to put it down. The protagonist, Sally, is a very naive and gullible woman and she takes things literally (no spoilers, but her father’s death sparks one of the most memorable elements of a book- one I will not forget!).

The characters all are superbly written (special shout out to Sally!) and you get sucked into Sally’s world and all of the terrible revelations that unfold after her father’s death. There are some difficult subjects dealt with in this story so be warned but Liz handles each of the elements with great tact. You can’t help but empathise with the strongly flawed protagonist and the world she finds herself in.

Go get your hands on a copy of Strange Sally Diamond. A quirky psychological thriller with funny, dark and poignant moments throughout. Out now in all good bookshops! 4 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK & Sandycove for the arc.

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It's been awhile since I read a Liz Nugent novel and I'm left wondering why it took me so long. Strange Sally Diamond is one of those totally immersive novels which, right from the start, captures your imagination and I think Sally is certainly one of the most memorable literary characters I've met this year.

The story gets off to a harrowing start with Sally following her father's instructions by putting him out with the rubbish when he died. That Sally takes everything that people say quite literally is obvious from the start and although the small Irish community where she lives are both fascinated and repelled by her, there is also an element of acceptance as Sally has, despite her adoptive parent's protection, always been considered to be a bit odd. Now in her forties and, after her father's death, quite alone in the world, Sally has to learn to find her way but when sinister messages start to arrive from someone Sally doesn't know it opens up a whole set of secrets about her difficult past which have been hidden for far too long. These secrets are not an easy read and once exposed can never be forgotten, or forgiven.

Beautifully written, with no word wasted, and no emotion left unexplored, Strange Sally Diamond is a complex, and utterly addictive, story which shocks you to the core and which doesn't let go of your emotions until the very last page is turned.

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This is definitely going to be in my top books of the year. Sally Diamond lives with her elderly reclusive father, and has never learned to socialise nor made friends. Only when her dad dies does she discover the secret of her early years and it's not a pretty tale. Traumatising even for the reader, this is a story of a kidnapping paedophile whose sphere of control spreads widely. He affects lives long after he's gone himself. Disturbing, black, gripping. #netgalley #StrangeSallyDiamond

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Wow! What a book. There’s a note at the beginning from the author saying she’d done something different in that we might actually like the main character in this book. And god did I!

Sally Diamond was, without being cliche, perfectly imperfect. Having experienced untold trauma, she’s neurodivergent, and took her adopted dad a little too literally and tried to cremate his body when he passed away at home. What follows is Sally’s journey to finding a job and friends, but with a second narrative starting in the 1970s that leads down a dark path…

I loved this from start to finish, it made me laugh, cry, wince, gasp and I didn’t want it to end. Read this book!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

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I don't know where to begin.....

It was compelling, repelling, hideous, adorable, fucked up, heartbreaking, twisted, gobsmacking..and bloody brilliant...but awful... possible the most addictive storyline I've ever read!
I finished it in 11 hrs .. possibly a record for me...

For the first few chapters I was lulled into a false sense of "Eleanor Oliphant" security.... Then the dual timeline story kicks in and as I read I had to hold my kindle slightly away from myself because it was so hideous a storyline.

I also NEED to talk to someone about the ending because I'm not sure I got it...

There are so many trigger warnings I don't know where to begin but if your love gripping, compulsive, dark, twisted crime stories then get this now (pub date 2/3/23)

Safe to say Sally Diamond stay with me forever ...the good, and the sad.

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