The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

EXCERPT: “I have been asking myself who I intend to be when this war is over—the woman with much who gave little, or the woman with little who gave much. That is always the question, isn’t it, when we walk through the fire in our lives? And I now know my answer.”

ABOUT ‘THE PARIS DRESSMAKER’: Based on true accounts of how Parisiennes resisted the Nazi occupation in World War II—from fashion houses to the city streets—comes a story of two courageous women who risked everything to fight an evil they couldn’t abide.

Paris, 1939. Maison Chanel has closed, thrusting haute couture dressmaker Lila de Laurent out of the world of high fashion as Nazi soldiers invade the streets and the City of Lights slips into darkness. Lila’s life is now a series of rations, brutal restrictions, and carefully controlled propaganda while Paris is cut off from the rest of the world. Yet in hidden corners of the city, the faithful pledge to resist. Lila is drawn to La Resistance and is soon using her skills as a dressmaker to infiltrate the Nazi elite. She takes their measurements and designs masterpieces, all while collecting secrets in the glamorous Hôtel Ritz—the heart of the Nazis’ Parisian headquarters. But when dashing René Touliard suddenly reenters her world, Lila finds her heart tangled between determination to help save his Jewish family and bolstering the fight for liberation.

Paris, 1943. Sandrine Paquet’s job is to catalog the priceless works of art bound for the Führer’s Berlin, masterpieces stolen from prominent Jewish families. But behind closed doors, she secretly forages for information from the underground resistance. Beneath her compliant façade lies a woman bent on uncovering the fate of her missing husband . . . but at what cost? As Hitler’s regime crumbles, Sandrine is drawn in deeper when she uncrates an exquisite blush Chanel gown concealing a cryptic message that may reveal the fate of a dressmaker who vanished from within the fashion elite.

Told across the span of the Nazi occupation, The Paris Dressmaker highlights the brave women who used everything in their power to resist darkness and restore light to their world.

MY THOUGHTS: I struggled. I really wanted to like this, but it fell flat for me and I did consider abandoning the read.

The Paris Dressmaker is a book that would have worked better for me in a chronological timeline. It jumps all over the place. 1939, to 1943, then back to 1940. It was confusing and sometimes I had trouble remembering who was who, and who was related to who until I got well into the story. The chapters are headed with the date and the location, but not whose point of view we are reading. These problems severely impacted my enjoyment, and I never became invested in the storyline, or the outcomes for the characters.

The pace is agonisingly slow and I felt that the story was centred more on the characters relationships than their resistance work. It also felt rather ‘sanitised’. I prefer a grittier approach. This was all the more disappointing as The Paris Dressmaker is supposedly based on true accounts.

I had a few other minor niggles too. The book is set in Paris, France, but Sandrine Paquet is often referred to as Mrs Pacquet. Surely it should have been Madame or, in the case of the Germans, Frau. I don’t know why this irritated me so much, but it did.

The Paris Dressmaker was a disappointing read for me. None of it felt real and there is little connection between Lila’s and Sandrine’s stories until the very end. By then, it was far too late for me. I simply didn’t care.

While the narrator, Barrie Kreinik, has a beautiful voice, I don’t think it was well suited to this story.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from The Paris Dressmaker, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy this.

⭐⭐

#TheParisDressmaker #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: KRISTY CAMBRON is a vintage-inspired storyteller writing from the space where art, history, and faith intersect. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can be found penning her next stories in a beloved coffee shop corner with kayaks on the wall. (She’s only bumped her head twice…)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas Nelson and Zondervan via Netgalley for providing an ARC of the audiobook of The Paris Dressmaker, written by Kristy Cambron and narrated by Barrie Kreinik, 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

A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker

EXCERPT: ‘I asked if you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night and wondered if this is it. If today is the day you’ll die. And if it was, if you could be absolutely certain of that, how would you live out the rest of the day?’

‘Are you threatening me, Bernie? I thought we were friends.’

‘No, of course not. Like I said, I’m just making conversation’

Jordan sighed. ‘Well, I’m getting bored, and I don’t do bored.’ Her finger hovered over the disconnect button. She studied the list of callers on her second monitor.

‘All this talk, and we nearly forgot the game,’ Bernie said softly. ‘Don’t you want to play with me?’

ABOUT ‘A CALLER’S GAME’: “I’m going to offer you a choice.”

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what’s on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she’s distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles.

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer’s advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past.

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly—events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact—All decisions have consequences.

MY THOUGHTS: J.D. Barker would have to be the best crime thriller writer out there.

Having said that I detest ‘shoot them/blow them up’ books and movies, usually because any vestige of a plot they may have is simply a vehicle for mindless violence. Barker has turned that belief on its head.

I was hooked from the beginning. A Caller’s Game is a breathless, heart-pounding, runaway train wreck of a read and I loved it. The plot is devious and clever, the pace warp speed 9.9. The characters are magnificently depicted. Some you will love, some you will hate, and some will shock you. I still have nail marks in the palms of my hands over Charlotte!

And the twists! Diabolical and totally unexpected.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes, the full five stars!

#ACallersGame #NetGalley @jdbarker_author @jdbarker
#hamptoncreekpress

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: A note from J.D.
As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hampton Creek Press (IBPA) via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker 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

Tuesday Travels

Actually this was a trip we took on Sunday to the gold mining town of Waihi in the North Island of New Zealand. Pete had bought a 1988 Nissan flat deck ute for his fishing trips and we went to pick it up. Waihi has a rich, in more ways than one, history.

Waihi is New Zealand’s ‘Heart of Gold’, with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open-pit mine that is still fully operational. The Ohinemuri River flows through Waihi on its way to the ‘must-do’ Karangahake Gorge. In the gorge you can fish for trout, take walks through old mining tunnels and relics, or cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail. Waihi Beach, just 10km from Waihi, offers 9km of sweeping white sand and is one of the safest surf beaches in New Zealand.

Waihi offers plenty of opportunities to explore, with old wooden buildings, museums and history aplenty in town and a beautiful white sand beach just a short drive away where you can relax or enjoy fishing and collecting shellfish. And best of all – there’s not a shopping mall in sight!

Having said that, there’s not much open on a Sunday including the local museum which was rather disappointing.

There is a Heritage train that runs between Waihi and Waikino at the eastern end of the spectacular Karangahake Gorge. This is something we didn’t have time for as the train had just left as we arrived, but we are planning to book a bach (crib) for a weekend soon and take Luke on the train ride.

So here are the photos of places we visited in our brief visit:

The open cast Martha mine in the centre of town. Waihī began as a shanty town around a store and a hotel in the 1880s. When the invention of the cyanide process made mining profitable from 1889, the town boomed. Waihī housed a thriving electronics industry for half a century after a small radio-manufacturing and repair service opened in 1932. The first television transmission in New Zealand was made at Waihī in 1954. Underground mining finished at the Martha mine in 1952. However, rising gold prices and new, more economic mining methods rekindled interest in gold mining in the 1980s. The Martha mine re-opened in 1987, this time as an open pit mine.

And the spectacular Karangahake Gorge:

It was a lovely drive, the ute was in mint condition, so a great day. The only disappointment, other than the museum being closed, was the amount of roadside rubbish in the gorge. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves!

The Dare by Lesley Kara

EXCERPT: Suddenly, I hate Alice Dawson. I hate her because she isn’t telling me something. I hate her because she’s pretty and doesn’t wear glasses or have frizzy red hair or epilepsy. I hate her so much I can barely breathe. I accuse her of being two-faced – the ultimate insult – and we start screaming at each other. Alice marches off towards the next stile and it’s as much as I can do to keep up with her. We’re arguing the whole time: me hurling insults at Alice’s back, Alice stopping every so often to glare at me over her shoulder and lobbing them straight back. By the time we reach the crossing, we’re running out of horrible things to say to each other.

We’ve had rows before, where one or other of us has stormed off – usually me to be honest – but we’ve always made up in the end. Even after the really bad one we had last month. This time seems different. More final.

And that’s when everything goes fuzzy. When the clear blue of the sky and the vivid greens of the grass and trees collide in a messy blur and the only sound in my ears is the vibration of the track. The crescendo of that long metallic note filling my head unbearable noise.

The next thing I know, I’m sitting in a puddle of wee by the side of the track and a train has stopped. But trains never stop here. It’s the middle of a field.

I’m feeling all groggy. Where’s Alice? What’s happened?

Then I see one of the sleeves of her denim jacket, caught up in the branches of a bush. Only . . . only it’s not just a sleeve. Hot bile rushes out of my mouth and everything goes black.

ABOUT ‘THE DARE’: As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find traumatic memories and paranoia suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

MY THOUGHTS: The Dare is an entertaining and easy read from start to finish. The timeline switches between 2007 and 2019, and is told mostly from Lizzie’s point of view with an increasing number of inserts from the unknown other person as the book progresses.

I am impressed that the author chose to inflict epilepsy on Lizzie – it’s not a ‘fashionable’ affliction, not one that we read about often. It is often misunderstood, and even feared. Kara has done an excellent job of portraying the fears and insecurities that epileptics experience every day.

The Dare is an addictive and gripping read. I read it every moment I could. It took me some time to figure out what was going on, and even then my sympathies wavered.

This is a well thought out plot that is also well executed with believable twists and a shocking finale.

I am excited when I see that this author is releasing a new book, and The Dare definitely didn’t disappoint.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheDare #NetGalley #LesleyKaraAuthor @LesleyKara @BantamPress

#contemporaryfiction #mystery #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives on the North Essex coast.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dare by Lesley Kara 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 . . .

Won’t take long this week! I apologise for missing posts this week. I had a busy 6 day week at work with three extra-long days in there and, unfortunately, this week looks like being more of the same.

I am currently reading A Caller’s Game by JD Barker, which I started last night. Diabolical and riveting!

I am also reading The Ex by Nicola Moriarty and, at this point, I am not entirely convinced that it is the ex who is the problem. Intriguing.

I am still listening to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron, which is not as gritty as I would have liked.

I am probably only going to read one other book after A Caller’s Game this week. But as I have 4 more books scheduled as read for review this week, and they are all appealing, I have no idea which one it will be. I think that I will have to select by lucky dip. The contenders, which are all due for publication this week are:

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

A converted stone farmhouse on the Irish coast is about to receive its first guests in this warmly captivating story for fans of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney

Whether it was the lure of the rugged coastline or the comforting image of the house, he wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken a holiday. . .

With its brightly painted front door, white-sash windows and garden path sweeping down toward the sea, Lizzie O’s guesthouse promises a welcome escape from the world. Aisling and Mick Fitzgerald are travelling all the way from Tasmania to celebrate their wedding anniversary, but Aisling is burdened with a secret that could ruin their marriage. Declan Byrne, exhausted from an unhealthy routine of long hours, takeaway and too much red wine, has spontaneously taken the week off to visit the village of his childhood summers. Katie Daly returns to West Cork after an absence of 35 years to care for her ageing mother only to find she must confront her painful past. Finally, Mia Montgomery is taking this holiday without telling her husband.

Each of this group of strangers is at a crossroads. And one week in the middle of winter may change all of their lives.

The Gorge by Matt Brolly

DI Louise Blackwell is still reeling from her brother Paul’s murder when she is brought back from enforced leave and tasked with solving a strange new case—the slaughter of wild sheep at Cheddar Gorge, a place shrouded in mystery and folklore.

When a man is brutally attacked with a machete on the clifftop and a young girl disappears, Louise realises that the horror is just beginning. Rumours of a mythical presence near the gorge are spreading fast, and why is a local environmental cult resisting all attempts to solve the case? With the investigation into Paul’s death about to be shelved and her bereaved niece to care for, Louise is under pressure—and running out of time. Can she find the girl and catch the kidnapper before her worst fears come true?

Drawn deeper into the dark and shocking truth behind the crimes, she soon finds she isn’t the only one with secrets to hide. 

One Perfect Grave (Nikki Hunt #2) by Stacy Green

She didn’t see the patch of black ice until it was too late. The car started to spin, and as it veered off into the deep ditch and the mounds of snow beside the road, she saw him. The little boy frozen in the ice.

When the remains of two bodies are found in an open grave along a desolate highway in Stillwater, Minnesota, Special Agent Nikki Hunt knows exactly who they are. The bright blue jacket lying on the frozen earth belongs to Kellan Rhodes, the missing boy she’s desperately been trying to find for the last two days. The other body is his mother Dana, who had been Nikki’s lead suspect.

Although the wounds on Dana’s body suggest she murdered her son and took her own life, Nikki finds evidence that suggests she was a victim too. Dana was desperately trying to regain custody of Kellan, and Nikki finds boot prints at the scene that belong to someone else.

When another child is reported missing, local journalist Caitlin Newport claims the cases are linked: Zach Reeves was taken away from his own mother in a custody battle, just like Kellan was.

Caitlin once helped Nikki find out the truth about her own parents’ murders, but her desire for a story nearly cost Nikki her life. Now, Nikki must decide if she can trust Caitlin again, before time runs out to find the killer and bring Zach home alive…

And The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…

So that’s the selection. Instead of a lucky dip, why don’t you pick my next read for me. Put your selection in the comments and whichever book has the most votes when I am ready to start my next read will be it.

I am going to have the same problem the following week….my New Year’s resolution this year was to schedule only 2 Netgalley reads each week so that I can catch up on my backlist and also read some books that I have been wanting to read for some time. The biggest problem is

Only 1 ARC this week (no time to go browsing!) Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay.

Have an awesome week my friends, and don’t forget to tell me what you want me to read next.

We Are Not in The World by Connor O’Callaghan

Happy publication day for February 18 2021 to Connor O’Callaghan, Random House UK, Transworld Publishing, Doubleday for this wonderful book!

EXCERPT: Whither the plan, big guy?

She knows I hate her calling me that. I won’t rise to her bait.

Short term? We wend our merry way out of this particular circle of hell, ideally without being stopped. Thereafter we hit the northern rim of Paris before sundown, check in with Carl at some pre-ordained routier. Thereafter egg, chips, bed. Long term? The two of us on the road, with only the occasional incoming or outgoing text to maintain radio contact and to stave off all search parties.

Roger Wilco, she says. Six days?

Six days minimum.

Meaning?

We may investigate the possibility of stringing it out. Not a dicky bird.

Seriously? she says. She stares bewildered into middle distance. Who am I gonna tell?

Your mom?

You really worry me, she says quietly. You know that?

I know nothing.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Heartbroken after a long, painful love affair, a man drives a haulage lorry from England to France. Travelling with him is a secret passenger – his daughter. Twenty-something, unkempt, off the rails.
With a week on the road together, father and daughter must restore themselves and each other, and repair a relationship that is at once fiercely loving and deeply scarred.
As they journey south, down the motorways, through the service stations, a devastating picture reveals itself: a story of grief, of shame, and of love in all its complex, dark and glorious manifestations.

MY THOUGHTS: I made the comment, part way through We Are Not In The World by Connor O’Callaghan, that this is an incredibly strange book, but equally compelling. As the novel progresses and the purpose of the journey becomes clearer, it becomes a little less strange, but no less compelling.

This is not an easy read. O’Callaghan makes the reader work for his enjoyment. The narrative meanders backwards and forwards in time seemingly randomly and totally without warning. It is often difficult to tell what is happening to whom. It can be like trying to watch a drive-in movie in shifting fog. Just when you think you have a handle on something, that you are able to grip something solid, it all shifts, and you are once again quite unsure of that of which you were absolutely sure only moments ago. And yet, it is quite beautiful. I could no more have stopped reading than not have preordered the new Stephen King.

Paddy (NOT Pat) has grown up the elder son in a dysfunctional family. His father is dead, and his younger brother, Art, named for his father- usually the privilege that falls to the eldest- is educated at his father’s old boarding school. Paddy basically brings himself up, his mother spending her days smoking and drinking whisky in front of an endless stream of old movies on the TV. And yet, it is after his mother that Paddy names his daughter, Kitty. And Art, the distant younger brother, is her godfather. She calls him The Godfather, and he calls her Madam. They are close. He takes her under his wing when Paddy’s marriage implodes.

This is a novel of grief and loss, a broken marriage, a love affair, family relationships, regrets and aspirations, and ‘the thing we never mention.’ It is this thing that leads to the road trip.

Not everyone will love this book. I do.

❤❤❤❤.5

#WeAreNotInTheWorld #NetGalley

Time does what time does best. It passes.

She tells me, with all the joie de vivre of a stoned hippopotamus, how moved or excited she is.

The lyrics seem to detach themselves miraculously from any meaning and acquire, in fragrant humidity, all the sheen and substance of bubbles blown by a child in a suburban garden.

So much of love is how another sees you.

Happiness comes and goes. It tends not to hang around. Unhappiness has a habit of outstaying its welcome.

THE AUTHOR: Connor O’Callaghan is originally from Dundalk, and now divides his time between Dublin and the North of England.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld, Doubleday via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of We Are Not In The World by Connor O’Callaghan 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 Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Happy publication day for The Sanatorium, written by Sarah Pearse, published by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press 18 February 2021

EXCERPT: She closes her eyes and hears echoed threats.

‘Only babies tell, and you’re a baby.’

‘Tell tell tit, your tongue will split.’

Her head is throbbing.

‘Do that again and I’ll kill you.’

ABOUT ‘THE SANITORIUM’:
EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

MY THOUGHTS: An exciting read that left me breathless. It is spine-tingling and raised those little hairs on the back of my neck in places.

The Sanitorium is a stunning debut novel by Sarah Pearse that cleverly leaves the way open for a sequel. I can’t wait!

It is an atmospheric, chilling, twisty read set during a blizzard in a hotel in the Swiss Alps. A modern locked room mystery that incorporates horrific historic murders with the present day ones. The setting is creepy in a modernistic minimalist way, incorporating old subterranean parts of the original Sanitorium that was converted into a luxury hotel.

The characters are magnificent and entirely plausible. I really didn’t like Elin at the beginning, but as she developed and came into her own, she grew on me. She is uncomfortable in her own skin, prone to panic attacks, and on extended leave from the police force following something that went terribly wrong on her last case. Her brother Isaac, I didn’t warm to at all, but I adored Will, Elin’s ‘boyfriend’, and often felt miffed with Elin for the way she treated him. Isaac’s girlfriend Laure, is a bit of a mystery. She and Elin were childhood friends whose relationship came to an abrupt end. She comes across as very self-confident, but there are secrets lurking there too. Elin and Isaac have grown apart over the years following their younger brother Sam’s death and, despite being at the hotel to celebrate Isaac and Laure’s engagement, there is a palpable tension between them.

There is also a tension between another brother and sister, Lucas and Cécile. Lucas owns the hotel, and his sister works for him. There is a history between Lucas and Laure.

So we have:

Complicated family relationships

Family secrets

Stunning scenery (obliterated by a blizzard, but)

A modern hotel built on a creepy past

No way in our out, so the murderer must still be there

A limited pool of suspects

Twists aplenty

I had no idea who was behind the murders, yet thinking back, the author has left a little trail of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow. I was too busy avidly flipping pages and devouring the words on them to pick up her occasional clues.

I loved this read. There was only one point, almost at the end, when my belief wavered a little, but only momentarily. I had a wonderful time reading The Sanitorium and, honestly, I could go back and read it all over again.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheSanatorium #NetGalley @SarahVPearse @sarahpearseauthor

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #murdermystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains and the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel.

Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse 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

A storm on the way

Sorry, I don’t have a review ready for you…blame my work for getting in the way this week. So I decided to share Sunday night’s sunset. Storms were forecast for Monday and Tuesday but didn’t eventuate. It rained Monday, but not heavily, and it was windy, but that was it. Tuesday, after a brief morning shower, turned out hot and sunny with gusty winds. So much for the Met office!

Am reading Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse . . . very atmospheric, suspenseful and exciting! Planning on finishing this tonight when I get home from work.

Happy reading!❤📚

Lost Souls by Chris Merritt

EXCERPT: Death was a fresh start for them; that’s how he saw it. Others might not agree, but they were wrong. He could understand why some would think of dying as the end though. In one sense, that was true. It was an ending. But it was also a beginning. A chance to go on to a better place. Somewhere you no longer had to suffer the torments that your earthly body had endured.

Somewhere everything would be okay for evermore.

ABOUT ‘LOST SOULS’: Standing at the school gates, he waits until the last child leaves the safety of the playground. And then he follows at a distance, keeping to the shadows. Only he knows what’s going to happen next.

In a quiet church, on a busy London street, 12-year-old Donovan Blair is found dead. His hands are clasped together as if in prayer. Just hours ago, he was happily playing with his friends at school, but now his body is lifeless, and his killer is long gone.

Detective Dan Lockhart is working alone on his wife’s missing person’s case when he receives a call telling him to get to the crime scene at St Mary’s Church immediately.

Bringing in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help profile the murderer, Dan is convinced that the killer has provided a clue by leaving the body in a prayer position, and Lexi agrees. As they try to get into the mind of the person responsible, another victim is found. A 13-year-old girl, left in a different church, posed in exactly the same way.

Fearing the murderer may already have another child in his sights, Dan and Lexi work together to establish links between the two deaths, and soon discover that not only were both children in care – they had attended the same school. And when it emerges that Lexi’s new boyfriend works there, things become difficult between her and Dan. How much can he tell Lexi about the case? And could she be at risk?

As Dan makes a breakthrough in the investigation, he receives devastating news about his wife, Jess. But with children’s lives at stake and Lexi in danger, Dan must put his personal emotions aside and chase the killer. Can he and Lexi work out who is behind the murders before another vulnerable child is taken?

MY THOUGHTS: I have been a little disappointed in Chris Merritt’s Lockhart and Green series. I love this author’s Zac Boateng series, and I was looking forward to more of the same. WRONG. The Lockhart and Green series is very different. Where I found the Zac Boateng series to be fast paced, suspenseful and thrilling, Lost Souls seems to be drawn out and, to be quite honest, I found passages where the author seemed to be pontificating/procrastinating, and repeating himself. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a bad read, but it needs to be tightened up, to be not quite so bogged down in repetitive psychological analysis.

I liked the characters: Dan, Detective Lockhart whose wife has disappeared without trace; Maxine Smith, a strong character inclined to follow her instincts; Lexi Green, psychologist, who also has trauma in her past. Even the lesser characters, the supporting cast, are an interesting if not always likeable bunch.

The basic plot is sound, and there are a few interesting twists and misdirections, but I didn’t find the read particularly suspenseful or thrilling. I did have fun trying to guess the killer – I didn’t. There are plenty of suspects to choose from. I thought the chapters written from the POV of the murderer were a little repetitive and didn’t, after the initial insight, add much of value to the book.

And I do have just one small quibble with the blurb where it states ‘with children’s lives at stake (true enough) and Lexi in danger’……wait – did I miss something?

Lost Souls is a good read, just not a great one.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#LostSouls #NetGalley @cjmerritt81 @DrCJMerritt @bookouture
#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction

THE AUTHOR: Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.

All my novels are set in London, where I live.

I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.

Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while ‘thinking’ about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Lost Souls by Chris Merritt 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 . . .

Luke has been with us for the weekend. I picked him up Friday afternoon and we have had a fun and busy time. My cousin had kept some eggs for him that she was sure were double yokers, which I scrambled for his dinner Friday night. They weren’t, but he enjoyed them anyway. Yesterday we baked cookies. I took photos but they’re too dark to post. We also made garages for the cars out of shoeboxes. Today we made sleeping bags for his favourite cuddlies for when he and Dustin go camping. They have just left to go home. Luke is one tired bunny as he didn’t sleep well last night, so of course I didn’t either!

I am still reading Lost Souls by Chris Merritt. Although I have read a lot this weekend, not much of it was for me.

And I am listening to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron.

This week I am planning on reading The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t.

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in…

And The Dare by Lesley Kara

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find traumatic memories and paranoia suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

I have only one new ARC this week –

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

I introduced Luke to Roald Dahl’s poems, and Mole and Toad of The Wind in the Willows this weekend. What have you been reading with your grandchildren or children?

Have a wonderful week. Mine is very busy workwise, and Pete is working long hours so it looks like the lawns will also be on my ‘to do’ list this week.