The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin

The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin

Don’t you just love the cover!

EXCERPT: Viola’s eyes landed on the woman hiding at the back of the group, some of her face obscured by the person standing in front of her. Taller than any of the other women in the photograph, long dark hair falling in waves around a pleasant face, but most strikingly, those huge eyes like a kewpie doll. Difficult to forget. She was smiling thinly at the camera, but her eyes were looking across at Sam. The credits below had her listed as Katherine Baxter.

I know you as someone else. Don’t I?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives.

Psychological suspense that explores a labyrinth of lies, manipulation and revenge. Perfect for fans of Louise Jenson and Katerina Diamond.
Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control.

If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

MY THOUGHTS: This book touched me on several levels – with the author’s incredibly accurate insight into Katherine’s desire to write being subjugated by, not only her own fears, but the reactions of those closest to her; her accurate description of Katherine’s husband’s control over her being presented as solicitous concern; the machinations of friendship.

All of these things were incredibly well done. But where this book should have zinged and sizzled, in places it merely limped along. There was, perhaps, far too much of Katherine’s background, most of it irrelevant, and far too little about the accident that precipitated all that was to come. The ending may have been more believable had we had more insight into both Katherine’s, and Sam and Viola’s story as it happened, rather than just hearing it in retrospect.

I enjoyed The Pupil, but not as much as I could have. The premise is great, the author has a wonderful way with words, and with a little reworking, this could be the ‘heart-stopping psychological thriller’ read it claims to be. 😊😊😊.5

THE AUTHOR: Dawn Goodwin. Dawn’s career has spanned PR, advertising and publishing. Now, she loves to write about the personalities hiding behind the masks, whether beautiful or ugly. Married, she lives in London with her two daughters and a British bulldog called Geoffrey.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Pupil by Dawn Goodwin 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/2442091888

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After Nightfall by A. J. Banner

After Nightfall by A.J. Banner

EXCERPT: I’m close enough now to see. The pile of kelp is not kelp at all, and it’s not a clump of clothing. It’s a woman in a long black coat. She’s lying on her stomach, her head turned to the side, her legs at a peculiar angle, one bent backward. She’s barefoot. Her dark hair blows across her face.

I rush toward her, kneel next to her. I’m lightheaded, afraid I might faint. I try to shake her, but she doesn’t respond. A part of me pulls back, suspended outside my body, watching from a distance. Behind her, a rockslide has left a large pile of debris at the bottom of the cliff. She must have fallen. All the way down. Time slows. The world backtracks. I see her the way she was only yesterday, her magnetic smile, the black sheath dress clinging to her curves. I’m leaning over her now, shouting at her to wake up, say something, but she doesn’t move. Her cheek feels cold to the touch. Her lips are blue; her eyes have turned to clouded marble.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Holy Canoly Batman!’ What a ride that was!

I had previously read The Good Neighbor by A. J. Banner and really enjoyed it, but she has taken her writing to a whole new level with After Nightfall. These people have history, a very mixed bag of it. There is infidelity, lies and flirtations, jealousies and resentments, a mixed up teenager and an even younger child, the product of a broken home, and death. No wonder Marissa’s loyalties are all over the place. No wonder she sometimes doesn’t know which way is up. No wonder she doesn’t know who to trust.

I didn’t always like Marissa, but when I stopped to think about it, had I been in her shoes, I don’t know that I would have acted any differently.

At first this seems like a fairly stock standard family drama. But it slowly morphs into something deeper. Nothing is as it seems. The clues all point in different directions. The outcome is surprising. I raced through the second half of this book, unable to put it down until I had turned the final page in the early hours of this morning. I will be a definite starter for her next novel.

😍😍 😍 😍.5

THE AUTHOR: A. J. Banner grew up reading Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, and other masters of love and mystery. She enjoyed sneaking thrillers from her parents’ library, which gave her excellent fodder for her first two novels of psychological suspense, The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife. The Good Neighbor was a #1 Kindle bestseller for 34 days in a row, and The Twilight Wife became a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller. Born in India and raised in North America, she always dreamed of writing gripping stories in which nothing is what it seems. She’s hard at work on her next novel in her home office overlooking a Pacific Northwest forest.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of After Nightfall by A. J. Banner 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/2283384518

Watching what I read. . .

After almost three days of Gremlins blanking out my screen every time I went to my WordPress site, I am glad to report that they have finally moved on to other pastures. I sincerely hope that it’s not you that they have moved on to. It was an extremely frustrating experience!

So with my return to normality(?), I decided it was time for a fresh title for my Sunday summary. And since I am currently watching what I eat, the title Watching  What I Read suggested itself to me. So no, it’s not about watching the movies or box sets of what I am reading.

I have just started

Kill with Kindness (DI Fenchurch, #5)

A sadistic killer. An infamous victim. A crime that gets darker and darker…

The body of a young woman is found in a London hotel room, the victim of a suspected poisoning. Called in to investigate, DI Simon Fenchurch soon discovers the case is far more sinister than he could have imagined.

He should have recognised the woman at once—a teacher at a local school, her scandalous affair with a pupil has been splashed across the tabloids. As Fenchurch interrogates those closest to her, a web of suspicious connections begins to emerge.

Meanwhile Fenchurch’s own life is still in turmoil: his family fragmented, his baby son in intensive care, and his mentor replaced by an unsympathetic new boss. The streets of London are in chaos too, with a spate of acid attacks on seemingly random victims.

Struggling to hold on to hope on both fronts, Fenchurch faces the toughest few days of his career. Can he keep his family safe and catch whoever is behind the murder before more lives are lost?

This is a series I have enjoyed from the start.

This coming week, I am planning on reading

Not Her Daughter: A Novel

Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?

And Her Final Hour (Detective Gina Harte #2)

Anything can happen behind closed doors…

The gripping new novel from the author of bestseller THE NEXT GIRL. Her Final Hour will have you hooked!

Melissa Sanderson is the perfect wife and mother. She dotes on her daughter, and lives in her dream home in a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburbs.

But looks can be deceiving. 

Something is amiss in that house – all the neighbours think so. Some say Melissa is having an affair. Others say she’s been drinking too much.

Then one night, sirens wake up the whole neighbourhood.

Melissa Sanderson is dead.

This is the second book in a series, and I absolutely loved the first.

The Crumpled Letter

A Curve in the Road

And Kiss of Death (DS Heckenburg, #7)

This is another series that I love!

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend. It is almost Monday here in New Zealand, so I’m heading off to bed to try and get a few hours sleep before I start the new working week.

Happy reading

Cheers

Sandy

 

 

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

EXCERPT: Rosemary married their father Victor when she was eighteen years old – only five years older than Sylvia was now. The idea that Sylvia might be grown up enough in five years time to marry anyone struck Rosemary as ridiculous and reinforced her belief that her own parents should have stepped in and stopped her marrying Victor, should have pointed out that she was a mere child and he was a thirty-six year old man. She often found herself wanting to remonstrate with her mother and father about their lack of parental care, but her mother had succumbed to stomach cancer not long after Amelia was born, and her father had remarried and moved to Ipswich, where he spent most of his days in the bookies, and all of his evenings in the pub.

If, in five years time, Sylvia brought home a thirty-six year old cradle snatching fiance (particularly if he claimed to be a great mathematician) then Rosemary thought she would probably cut his heart out with the carving knife. This thought was so agreeable that the afterthought’s annunciation was temporarily forgotten and Rosemary allowed them all to run out to the ice-cream van when it declared its own melodic arrival in the street.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The first book in Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie Mysteries series, called “The best mystery of the decade” by Stephen King, finds private investigator Jackson Brodie following three seemingly unconnected family mysteries in Edinburgh

Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac’s apparently random attack.

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making – with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband – until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge . . .

MY THOUGHTS: If I remember rightly, Case Histories was my first introduction to both Kate Atkinson and Jackson Brodie, and the start of an ongoing love affair with both. Atkinson has the ability to see into the dark corners of our minds, to take those unvoiced thoughts, those petty resentments and jealousies, and to craft great stories from them. She is a storyteller.

And Jackson Brodie? Originally from Yorkshire, he is a private investigator who makes his money investigating infidelities and finding missing cats. Although he presents a tough guy exterior, he has a warm and compassionate heart. He can never resist coming to the rescue of the lost and lonely, and so attracts the bereaved and the dysfunctional.

“Jackson had never felt at home in Cambridge, never felt at home in the south of England if it came to that. He had come here more or less by accident, following a girlfriend and staying for a wife. For years he had thought about moving back north, but he knew he never would. There was nothing there for him, just bad memories and a past he could never undo, and what was the point anyway when France was laid out on the other side of the Channel like an exotic patchwork of sunflowers and grapevines and little cafes where he could sit all afternoon drinking local wine and bitter espressos and smoking Gitanes, where everyone would say, Bonjour, Jackson, except they would pronounce it ‘zhaksong’, and he would be happy. Which was exactly the opposite of how he felt now.”

If you have not yet sampled the writing of Kate Atkinson, this is an excellent place to start.

2018: I have read this book multiple times and now,editing this review for republication, I can feel another Atkinson/Brodie marathon coming on. We are moving into our new home in October where I will be able to unpack all my treasured books that are currently packed into boxes in storage, and I will be greeting my Jackson Brodie series like the long lost old friend it is, and once more immersing myself in his world.

THE AUTHOR: Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. 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/953252242

Sins of the Fathers by Anthea Fraser

I have to admit that it was the cover that attracted me to this book initially. And although the landscape definitely isn’t Scotland in midwinter, the spilled glass of wine is relevant to the storyline.

Sins of the Fathers by Anthea Fraser

EXCERPT: ‘The eulogy was just right – well done.’ He paused, and when his father made no comment said tentatively, ‘Are you coming back to the sitting room? People will want to speak to you.’

‘They’re (his) friends, not mine,’ (his father) said expressionlessly, ‘and they’d want nothing to do with me if they knew I’d killed him.’

‘Dad!’ He stared at him in shock. ‘What are you talking about? Of course you–‘

‘I killed him,’ his father continued over him, ‘as surely as if I’d strung him up on that shower rail.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Three families, separate yet joined by the sins of the fathers; sins that will ultimately lead to tragedy.

Mark Richmond’s trip to York takes a surprise detour when he runs into Helena Crawford and ends up accompanying her to her parents’ ruby wedding anniversary in Drumlee, Scotland.

Six months earlier, Mark attended Peter Kingsley’s sixtieth birthday party – the father of his now-estranged wife, Sophie – where Peter was unexpectedly taken ill. Mark’s father, Charles, has been friends with Peter for forty years, but how well does he really know him?

As Peter’s health continues to deteriorate, it seems the Richmonds and the Kingsleys are inextricably entwined by devastating secrets, resentment, betrayal and deceit. And who is Ellie, the girl in the hooded anorak, who appears on the cliff path in Drumlee, pale and shivering from the cold?

MY THOUGHTS: Sins of the Fathers by Anthea Fraser is a quick and easy read, one that is more family drama than mystery. Don’t be put off by the list of characters in the front of the book. There seems to be a lot of them for such a short book, but I had no trouble in keeping track of who was who.

And for such a short book, the author has packed a lot in! The characters are a varied and interesting lot, not always likeable, but interesting. Fraser has a good grasp of family dynamics and friendship, and how demonstrating loyalty can get people into tricky situations not entirely of their own making.

While Sins of the Fathers may lack some of the plot twists and ‘hype’ of the psychological thriller, it is a quietly good read, and there are a few little surprises in the plot. I would definitely read more by this author.

😍😍😍.5

THE AUTHOR: aka Vanessa Graham.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Sins of the Fathers by Anthea Fraser 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/2489221277

Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Watermelon by Marian Keyes


EXCERPT: February fifteenth is a very special day for me. It is the day I gave birth to my first child. It is also the day my husband left me. As he was present at the birth, I can only assume the two events weren’t entirely unrelated.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to their first baby, James informs her that he’s leaving her. Claire is left with a newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a postpartum body that she can hardly bear to look at.

She decides to go home to Dublin. And there, sheltered by the love of a quirky family, she gets better. So much so, in fact, that when James slithers back into her life, he’s in for a bit of a surprise.

MY THOUGHTS: This was the first book by Marian Keyes that I ever read. I read it quite some time after she had made a name for herself with Rachel’s Holiday. The first time I read Watermelon, and there have been several readings over the years, I was enamoured by Keyes’ writing. Warm and witty, it was like sitting down and having a good gossip session with your best friend and a bottle of wine. . . ‘And did you hear about Claire?….No? Well, James has only gone and left her, and with a brand new baby. . . And you’ll never guess who he left her for. . .’

I haven’t always liked all of Keyes’ books (Rachel’s Holiday being one in particular), but Watermelon? I loved it.
😍😍😍😍

THE AUTHOR: Marian Keyes (born 10 September 1963) is an Irish novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for her work in women’s literature. She is an Irish Book Awards winner. Over 22 million copies of her novels have been sold worldwide and her books have been translated into 32 languages. She became known worldwide for Watermelon, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, and This Charming Man, with themes including domestic violence and alcoholism.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Watermelon by Marian Keyes. 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/919091980

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

While it’s still midwinter, we have had a run of beautiful fine days and mild weather this week. I had all the doors and windows wide open at 7.30 this morning. It is glorious!

Currently I am reading

Sins of the Fathers: A Family Mystery Set in Scotland and England

Three families, separate yet joined by the sins of the fathers; sins that will ultimately lead to tragedy. 

Mark Richmond’s trip to York takes a surprise detour when he runs into Helena Crawford and ends up accompanying her to her parents’ ruby wedding anniversary in Drumlee, Scotland.

Six months earlier, Mark attended Peter Kingsley’s sixtieth birthday party – the father of his now-estranged wife, Sophie – where Peter was unexpectedly taken ill. Mark’s father, Charles, has been friends with Peter for forty years, but how well does he really know him?

As Peter’s health continues to deteriorate, it seems the Richmonds and the Kingsleys are inextricably entwined by devastating secrets, resentment, betrayal and deceit. And who is Ellie, the girl in the hooded anorak, who appears on the cliff path in Drumlee, pale and shivering from the cold?

And am listening to

The Woman in White

‘In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop… There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white’

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright’s eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter becomes embroiled in the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his ‘charming’ friend Count Fosco, who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons, and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

This week I am planning on reading

After Nightfall

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

The Pupil

One moment of carelessness. Four shattered lives.

Psychological suspense that explores a labyrinth of lies, manipulation and revenge. Perfect for fans of Louise Jenson and Katerina Diamond.

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control.

If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

And this week I received three ARCs from NetGalley for review

In Her Shadow

The Proposal

Jane Doe

And that is all for this week, my friends. I am heading off outside to catch up on some yard work and make the most of the sunshine before I have to go into work.

Happy reading!