The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

EXCERPT: He knelt beside me, quite casually, and then he reached out his hands, put them around my neck, and started to choke me. I lashed out, tried to scratch him, gouge his eyes. He let go of my neck and I gasped for breath, but then he pulled me down until I was lying flat, straddled my body and knelt on my arms so I couldn’t move them, couldn’t fight him. He started to strangle me again. He was so much stronger than me. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop him.

He strangled me until I lost consciousness. When I woke up he was sitting beside me, looking down at me. ‘I could kill you,’ he said. ‘Quite easily. I could take your body out to sea and dump you and no one would ever find you. But then, there might be questions, I suppose. Two deaths in such a short period of time, even if one of them is just little old you, might be problematic, even for the cops. So maybe I won’t. I haven’t decided.’

ABOUT ‘THE MURDER RULE’: First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

MY THOUGHTS: Although this is totally different from McTiernan’s previous work, it’s no less gripping, no less enthralling.

The story alternates between Hannah in the present (2019), and her mother Laura’s diary entries from 1994, Laura’s perfect summer. The year she fell in love. The year she found she was pregnant. The perfect summer, until . . .

The build up is slow but intense as Hannah manipulates and inveigles her way into the Innocence Project. And I mean manipulates! She will stop at nothing to get where she wants to be. NOTHING! I was torn over this character. She’s a complicated individual. I didn’t like what she did, and couldn’t condone her actions, but I understood why. Or I thought I did.

Laura is an alcoholic, sly, deceitful and manipulative. You can see where Hannah learned from. Her diaries are very detailed and are a cry out for justice to be done.

But there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark, as they say. Lies, secrets, corruption and intimidation, not stopping short of violence, all rear their ugly heads. Hannah may have set out to seek revenge for what was done to her mother, but I bet she never thought she’d be putting her own life on the line in doing so.

The Murder Rule is a book that has everything from psychological manipulation to a thrilling car chase. From its slow start it morphs into a breathtaking tale of danger and action.

Tense, unsettling, clever and compelling.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheMurderRule #NetGalley

I: @dervlamctiernan @harpercollinsaustralia

T: @DervlaMcTiernan @HarperCollinsAU

#contemporaryfiction #crime #legalthriller #murdermystery #mystery #psychologicaldrama #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Dervla spent twelve years working as a lawyer. Following the global financial crisis, she moved from Ireland to Australia and turned her hand to writing. Dervla is a member of the Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers Association, and lives in Perth, Australia, with her husband and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Bletchley Women by Patricia Adrian

EXCERPT: ‘Where are we?’ I ask the army officer, while he pushes me towards the guards hut. I brush by the other two girls I came with, not registering their faces. ‘Where are we?’

‘Move inside,’ he barks, hurrying me along. ‘You talk a lot, miss.’

‘Welcome to Bletchley Park,’ says one of the guards, a man about my father’s age with a drooping moustache.

Bletchley Park? Hmmm.

I am still none the wiser.

I may have no clue about where I am, but I certainly know what brought me here.

Aunt Mavis, of course. Last Christmas.

ABOUT ‘THE BLETCHLEY WOMEN’: From debutante to farmer’s daughter all roads lead to Bletchley…

In a different world, Evie Milton would have accepted her fate, married an aristocrat, and become the doyenne of one of England’s finest estates, just like her mother.

In a different world, Rose Wiley would have married her fiancé, David, established a modest homestead, and brought up a brood of babies, just like her mother.

But this isn’t a different world and these women are not their mothers. Rose dreams of a life filled with more than family and duty to her husband – a life of purpose – and Evie dreams of a life far away from her rarefied existence. Now, as they perform vital work at Bletchley Park decoding intercepted Luftwaffe messages, their role in turning the tide of war in the Allies favour shows Evie and Rose they don’t have to settle for the life once laid out before them.

MY THOUGHTS: I expected more than what I got from The Bletchley Women. It’s very vanilla. I have read and enjoyed several other books set around the code breaking work of Bletchley Park. This had many subplots based on family and relationship issues and petty rivalries within the workplace. It was too long with too many irrelevancies and lacked intrigue.

We never really get to know the characters in depth, but I really did get fed up with Rose blethering on about her ‘darling David.’

I would have liked more focus on the work the decoders did and the problems they faced. What we learned was very superficial and I finished this feeling both disappointed and frustrated. It’s a nice, light read, but not what I was looking for.

The narrators, Imogen Wilde and Antonia Whillans, narrated well with good range of tones and expression.

⭐⭐.5

#TheBletchleyWomen #NetGalley

I: @onemorechapterhc

T: @P_Adrian_Writer @OneMoreChapter_

#historicalfiction #romance #WWII

THE AUTHOR: Patricia Adrian always wanted to write books, ever since she penned (literally, with a pen) her dozen-page long ‘novel’ in fifth grade. Her interests also include history (especially women in history), skulking around social media for much longer than she should, and reading, particularly when she’s on a tight deadline and should be writing instead.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio, One More Chapter via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Bletchley Women 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Good afternoon from a damp and drizzly New Zealand. My garden and all the farmers will be loving this weather. It’s cool, but not cold and the rain hasn’t been so heavy that it will run off the baked hard ground instead of sinking into it. And I believe that we’ve been forecast rain for the week. That’ll make the weeds grow!

Less than a week now until Kyle arrives home. I pick him up from the airport on Friday. I’m excited and counting down!

I have just finished The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain. It was an overnight read for me. I couldn’t put it down. Watch for my review.

I am also reading Before the Storm by Di Morrissey. This is a title from my backlist and I am really enjoying it. It’s been far too long since I last read anything by this author.

and I am listening to The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon. Etti is a hoot! Who wouldn’t love her?

I have five books to read for review in the coming week, but I doubt I will get through them all because of work commitments and Kyle coming home. Rest assured, I will do my best!

Long Lost Girl by Jill Childs

The little girl you lost is back… but who is she really?

When three-year-old Sara disappeared from their lives, it tore the Turner family apart. Years later, they are still startling at every knock, convinced it is Sara at the door. But the only trace of the cherished little girl is a fading photo in the hall, a single white knitted baby shoe tucked behind the frame.

Then, one day, as they pick at sandwiches in a crowded local café, a beautiful girl approaches, claiming to be Sara. With her wide green eyes and soft, straight hair, could she really be their long-lost girl? But where has she been all this time, and what happened to stop her from coming home?

Soon, Sara is turning up for Sunday lunch, and then moving her things into the little bedroom upstairs. But as Sara makes herself at home, not everyone is happy that she’s back in their lives once more. Long-held secrets are threatening to surface, and someone in this tight-knit family doesn’t want them to be told…

Gone But Still Here by Jennifer Dance

Coming to terms with advancing dementia, Mary has no choice other than to move into her daughter’s home. Her daughter, Kayla, caught between her cognitively impaired mother and her belligerent teenage son, soon finds caregiving is more challenging than she imagined. Sage, the family’s golden retriever, offers comfort and unconditional love, but she has her own problems, especially when it comes to dealing with Mary’s cat.

Throughout it all, Mary struggles to complete her final book — a memoir, the untold story of the love of her life, who died more than forty years earlier. Her confused and tangled tales span Trinidad, England, and Canada, revealing the secrets of a tragic interracial love story in the 1960s and ’70s. But with her writing skills slipping away, it’s a race against time.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The moment she laid eyes on Heather Wisher, Tully knew this woman was going to destroy their lives.

Tully and Rachel are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact that Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is in a care facility with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win Tully and Rachel over – particularly while carrying the shameful secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, her soon-to-be stepdaughters have secrets of their own.

The announcement of Stephen and Heather’s engagement threatens to set off a family implosion, with old wounds and dark secrets finally being forced to the surface.

A garage full of stolen goods. An old hot-water bottle, stuffed with cash. A blood-soaked wedding. And that’s only the beginning… 

Good Neighbours by Mary Grand

was meant to be a safe place to start again…

In need of an escape from her failing marriage, Nia agrees to house-sit her aunt’s cottage on the Isle of Wight. She feels sure the cosy close in a quaint harbour town will be a safe place to hide and figure out what to do next.

But things are not all as they seem in the close, and the neighbours who welcome her with open arms, are keeping secrets. When Nia finds the body of one of her new friends lying on the beach, she feels sickeningly sure that the killer is dangerously near to home.

Who killed her friend and why did she have to die? And if Nia discovers the answers she’s looking for, is she next on their hit list? Good neighbours may become good friends, but they can also make deadly enemies…

And I have the audiobook of The Island written by Adrian McKinty and narrated by Mela Lee

After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.

When they discover remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.

But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.

When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.

Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.

Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.

I overextended myself yet again. The Netgalley fairies dropped six new ARCs onto my Kindle . . .

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza

His Other Wife by Nicole Trope

The Party Guest by Amanda Robson

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

The Lost Children by Michael Wood

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen-Marie Wiseman

Do we have any books in common this week?

Have a great week. I am planning on taking a sabbatical while Kyle is home so once we get to Friday (New Zealand time) I will be offline until June.

Happy reading!

Beneath Cruel Waters by Jon Bassoff

EXCERPT: ‘You can do better,’ he said. ‘But you knew that.’

‘We all knew that!’ Joyce said.

Mike glanced at his wife and then back at Vivian.

‘Listen to me. He bothers you again, you let me know. And in the meantime, it’s probably a good idea for you to make sure you can protect yourself.’

He reached into his pocket and took out a little .38 Special revolver and placed it on the counter.

Vivian shook her head. ‘I don’t need that Mike.’

‘I’m sure you won’t. But with a fellow like Ruben around, I just figured . . . well, only take it if you want to. Only if you feel comfortable.’

For a few moments, Vivian remained where she was. Mike and Joyce watched her, waiting. She squeezed her eyes shut and visualized Ruben and his dead fish eyes, and her skin began to itch and she wanted to scream.

She opened her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she took a few steps over to the counter. She grabbed the gun and held it in her hand.

It felt cold and heavy and terrible.

ABOUT ‘BENEATH CRUEL WATERS’: Holt Davidson, a Kansas firefighter, hasn’t been back to his hometown of Thompsonville, Colorado, for more than two decades, but when he learns that his estranged mother has taken her own life, he returns for the funeral, hoping to make peace with her memory. He spends the night at his childhood home, rummaging through each room, exploring the past. But instead of nostalgic souvenirs, he discovers a gun, a love letter, and a Polaroid photograph of a man lying in his own blood.

Who is the dead man? Was his mother the one who killed him, and, if so, why? Who sent the love letter? And what role did his sister, institutionalized since she was a teenager, play in this act of violence? As his own traumatic memories begin to resurface, Holt begins an investigation into his mother’s and sister’s pasts—as well as his own.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The past tortures the present.’

The timeline moves between the past, the 1970/80s and 2018, and Holt’s, Vivian’s and Ophelia’s perspectives.

Beneath Cruel Waters is a dark and disturbing psychological family drama with layers of obfuscation, lies and secrets.

Vivian is a single mother, lonely, and becomes obsessed with religion. She has a brother, Bobby, who blows in and out of her life like the restless, rootless soul he is, but other than that, appears to have no other family. She believes that if you ignore something for long enough, it will go away.

Ophelia is the older of Vivian’s two children. She is a teenager, full of hormones and angst and starved of love. She idolises her Uncle Bobby, fantasizing about going on the road with him, writing songs and making music.

Holt is her much younger brother. Ophelia both loves and resents him. As a child, he witnesses many things he doesn’t understand. As an adult, he is haunted by snatches of memory, some conflicting. Although it’s not his intention, when he returns home for his mother’s funeral he finds himself trying to make sense of these memories.

Beneath Cruel Waters is written in a quiet, almost dispassionate manner. The pace is steady. There’s no fireworks, no fanfare, no tricks – just good, plain storytelling. It’s not a story that I could say I ‘enjoyed’ – it’s far too melancholy for that; but it gripped and consumed and ate away at me until I read the last word and closed the cover, relieved that I hadn’t been born into that family.

If you’re looking for a thriller, Beneath Cruel Waters isn’t it. The same applies if you’re looking for a HAE. But if you’re looking for characters that are going to crawl from the page into your head, you’ve found them. But a warning; these characters are like earworm. Once they’re in your head, they’re near impossible to get rid of. And other than the tragic Ophelia (how could she be anything but with her name?) you’re not going to like them. You may feel sorry for them, for their circumstances, but you won’t like them.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#BeneathCruelWaters #NetGalley

I: @jonbassoff @blackstonepublishing

T: @jonbassoff @BlackstonePub1

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: For his day job, Bassoff teaches high school English where he is known by students and faculty alike as the deranged writer guy. He is a connoisseur of tequila, hot sauces, psychobilly music, and flea-bag motels.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Beneath Cruel Waters by Jon Bassoff 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 or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

EXCERPT: ‘I agreed to read it to him. And then I said we could go over it word by word and see what words he knows and what ones he doesn’t.’

‘Excellent!’ The principal clapped her hands together, startling Marilyn. ‘That could make such a difference. I feel very optimistic now.’

Clearly a great weight had been lifted off the principal’s shoulders. Marilyn had lifted it away. And it had been dropped squarely onto her own.

They both stood, an agreement that the meeting was ending.

‘No good deed goes unpunished,’ she thought as she stepped into the outer office. Somehow it had fallen to her not only to teach the boy to read, but to heal his traumatic life. And all she had wanted was to buy a few cartons of unusually fresh eggs.

ABOUT ‘DREAMING OF FLIGHT’: Never knowing his parents, eleven-year-old Stewie Little and his brother have been raised on a farm by their older sister. Stewie steadfastly tends the chickens left by his beloved late grandmother. And every day Stewie goes door to door selling fresh eggs from his wagon—a routine with a surprise just around the corner. It’s his new customer, Marilyn. She’s prickly and guarded, yet comfortably familiar—she reminds the grieving Stewie so much of the grandmother he misses more than he can express.

Marilyn has a reason for keeping her distance: a secret no one knows about. Her survival tactic is to draw a line between herself and other people—one that Stewie is determined to cross. As their visits become more frequent, a complicated but deeply rooted relationship grows. That’s when Stewie discovers how much more there is to Marilyn, to her past, and to challenges that become more pressing each day. But whatever difficult times lie ahead, Stewie learns that although he can’t fix everything for Marilyn or himself, at least he’s no longer alone.

MY THOUGHTS: A sweet and touching story that has almost a timeless feel to it. Dreaming of Flight is a gentle tale that moves along at a slow pace (and that’s not a criticism), one that focuses on feelings rather than technology and action.

Stewie is an odd but loveable boy. He is grieving the loss of his beloved ‘Gam’, who raised him from a baby along with his older brother and sister following the death of his parents in an accident. He struggles with school and his only friends are his late grandmother’s hens, all of whom have names and distinct personalities.

Marilyn is an irascible older woman who cares for the daughter of a single mother in return for free room and board. Prickly and remote, she doesn’t have a filter on her mouth and whatever she is thinking tends to pop out. She reminds Stewie of his Gam, who wasn’t always the nicest
woman, and this keeps drawing him back to her.

The two form a wary friendship. But over time the bonds strengthen and deepen.

Dreaming of Flight is a quick and easy read. The relationship between the characters is complex, but is written about in a simple way. I enjoyed both the characters of Stewie and Marilyn and thought that CRHs depiction of them was perfectly drawn.

While I really enjoyed this book for myself, it could certainly also be used for tweens dealing with the death of a loved one

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#DreamingofFlight #NetGalley

I: @catherineryanhyde @amazonpublishing

T: @cryanhyde @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #deathanddying #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: I am the author of more than 30 published and forthcoming books. I’m an avid hiker, traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Dreaming of Flight by Catherine Ryan-Hyde for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinion.

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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Forgotten by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: Malia is certain that if she can pinch herself hard enough she will wake up from this nightmare. She came to the 7-Eleven for milk, and now her baby is missing and she is surrounded by police. The sun’s heat increases minute by minute and assures her that she is, indeed, in hell.

ABOUT ‘FORGOTTEN’: In a single day, a simple mistake will have life-altering consequences for everyone involved.

A moment of distraction, an unlocked car and a missing baby. How on earth could this happen?

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

MY THOUGHTS: Nicole Trope writes family dramas like no one else. She has my heart pounding, then stopping, my breath caught in my throat. At one point I felt like I had been punched in the gut, all the breath just went wooshing out of me.

Forgotten encompasses so many issues including mental health, gambling addiction, and child abuse all neatly tied into one tense and riveting story which is told from the viewpoints of four women: Malia, the mother of baby Zach who is abducted from his car seat; Ali, the detective who has a young child of her own; Edna, the elderly and childless resident of a boarding house; and Jackie, newly released from prison also resident in the same boarding house as Edna.

Forgotten is a hard-hitting, fast paced read that kept me engrossed from beginning to end. All the emotions get an airing with this read!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#Forgotten #NetGalley

I: @nicoletropeauthor @allenandunwin

T: @nicoletrope @AllenAndUnwin

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.
The idea for her first published novel, The Boy under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Allen and Unwin via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Forgotten by Nicole Trope 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Death in a Blackout by Jessica Ellicott

EXCERPT: When the rumors about women on the force had started to fly about, he had understood that they would be relegated to desk duties such as filing and typing. Perhaps they would be allowed to occasionally operate the switchboard when the police messenger boys were on their tea break. Everyone had assumed that the sort of woman who would be appointed to such a role would be an entirely benign, accommodating and compliant person who faded in the background, much like a desk lamp or filing cabinet. She would be the sort of woman who would cheerfully make pots of tea and offer round plates of biscuits when the troops seemed to be flagging.

She would certainly not be the type who boldly confronted one with wild imaginings in the midst of a crisis. How on earth did a newcomer from some backwater in Wiltshire end up as only one of two women on the constabulary of an important port city like Hull?

ABOUT ‘DEATH IN A BLACKOUT’: The first in a brand-new WWII historical mystery series introduces WPC Billie Harkness – a female police officer who risks her life to protect the home front in the British coastal city of Hull. 1940. Britain is at war. Rector’s daughter Wilhelmina Harkness longs to do her duty for her country, but when her strict mother forbids her to enlist, their bitter argument has devasting consequences. Unable to stay in the village she loves, Wilhelmina – reinventing herself as Billie – spends everything she has on a one-way ticket up north. Hull is a distant, dangerous city, but Billie is determined to leave her painful memories behind and start afresh, whatever the cost. The last thing Billie expects on her first evening in Hull, however, is to be caught in the city’s first air raid – or to stumble across the body of a young woman, suspiciously untouched by debris. If the air raid didn’t kill the glamorous stranger, what did? Billie is determined to get justice, and her persistence earns her an invitation to the newly formed Women’s Police Constabulary. But as the case unfolds, putting her at odds with both high-ranking members of the force as well as the victim’s powerful family, Billie begins to wonder if she can trust her new friends and colleagues . . . or if someone amongst them is working for the enemy.

MY THOUGHTS: Although I have taken quite a liking to cosy mysteries in recent times, I found Death in a Blackout just a little too ‘vanilla’, too bland. The plot allows for far more potential than is delivered, and the characters are all rather one dimensional. I would have liked to have had more of an insight into Billie’s personality, whereas the author barely scratches the surface. We know that she is brave, fleet of foot, and has a sharp and enquiring mind. But there is nothing ‘personal’ revealed about her, nothing to endear her to us. She needs more fleshing out, as does part-time Constable Peter Upton. The most personal thing we know about him is his mum makes good scones. However as this is a new series, perhaps the characters will develop as it progresses.

Although this novel is ‘inspired by the extraordinary bravery, stalwartness and community spirit of the people of Hull, the second most bombed city in England in WWII’, this spirit doesn’t come across and I didn’t find enough of interest in Death in a Blackout to entice me to continue with the series.

⭐⭐.5

#DeathinaBlackout #NetGalley

I: @jessicaellicottauthor @severnhouseimprint

T: #JessicaEllicott @severnhouse

#cosymystery #historicalfiction #murdermystery #WWII

THE AUTHOR: Jessica Ellicott loves fountain pens, Mini Coopers, and throwing parties. She lives in northern New England where she obsessively knits wool socks and enthusiastically speaks Portuguese with a shocking disregard for the rules of grammar.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Death in a Blackout by Jessica Ellicott 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Good Afternoon from New Zealand

Photo by photos_by_ginny on Pexels.com

We had our first frost this morning, not a particularly heavy one, but it’s a reminder that winter is only a matter of weeks away. It’s a little after 3pm, and already I can feel the chill in the air so we are likely to have another heavier frost in the morning.

Mt Ruapehu

crater lake temperature has peaked at 41°C in the last 12 days following weeks of temperatures around 36°C to 38°C, but experts are predicting only minor eruptive activity from the volcano in the near future.

Coq au Vin for dinner tonight. It’s been simmering away in the crockpot all day and the house smells delicious!

I’m going to put my good morning from New Zealand post on hold for the immediate future. I have found myself back at work – don’t ask how that happened! – and regrettably I just don’t have the time. Hopefully it’s a temporary thing as I was really enjoying my retirement. I will still be posting my book reviews.

Have a wonderful day.


	

Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke

EXCERPT: ‘Concussion heals, right?’ she asks, searching for eye contact with the doctor, impatient for the clinician to lighten her expression.

‘It tends to have a more severe effect on children in the short term as their brains are still developing, but yes, it heals.’

‘That’s good news then, isn’t it?’ Grace doesn’t understand why Dr. Gupta couldn’t have said all this to Marcus too.

The doctor sighs and leans against the wall, obscuring a poster on what to do if you suspect a stroke. Act FAST. ‘Concussion can cause confusion as well, and I’m trying to work out whether that’s what’s at play here.’

‘She’s confused? What about?’

‘Kaia told Seb something on the way to x-ray. Then when I asked her about it, she repeated the story. She’s showing clear signs of concussion, so she may well have just confused things in her mind. But her claim was very clear, and she sounded so sure.’

‘Her claim?’ Grace asks. ‘What do you mean?’

Dr Gupta shifts round and looks straight into Grace’s eyes. ‘Kaia claims that her falling out of the tree wasn’t an accident. She said her father pushed her.’

ABOUT ‘EVERY LITTLE SECRET’: From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away, and he and Grace have never been close – he was always their parents’ favourite.

Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured by the choices they’ve made.

And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. Grace can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything.

MY THOUGHTS: Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke is a rather clever domestic drama that moves into psychological drama territory. It’s not a fast paced book, but Clarke’s writing kept me interested.

I thought I knew what was happening, thought it was obvious, but was I ever way off base with just about everything! There’s a lot more to this story than it first seems.

Set over two timelines, the current when Grace’s life is imploding with Kaia making accusations against Marcus, and the past, starting with Grace, Josh, Marcus and Coco as teenagers and moving forward to the current time.

Initially this seems like a pretty ordinary read but Clarke slowly turns up the tension and throws in a few twists which cast doubt on everything I thought I knew.

And then that ending. It’s a pretty thrilling ending, but that last paragraph? That’s what sent chills down my spine and earned Every Little Secret an extra half star.

I listened to the audiobook of Every Little Secret narrated by Katy Federman. The narration was, for the most part, pretty good, but there were a few places where she dropped the ball with the voices accents.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#EveryLittleSecret #NetGalley

I: @sarahclarkewriter @harpercollins

T: @SCWwriter @HarperCollinsUK

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: I love reading psychological thrillers and have always dreamed of becoming an author in the genre, but I took my time getting here. After studying for a degree in Politics & International Relations, travelling the world for 6 years, and completing 5 ski seasons, I moved to London and became a copywriter, wife and mother. In 2018 I enrolled on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course and finally learned the craft I loved. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio, HQ Digital via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Every Little Secret written by Sarah Clarke and narrated by Katy Federman 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

EXCERPT: There are no letterboxes to shout through here, of course. No garden wall to stand on and no doorbell to ring. All the tiny details, all the quiet, unnoticed edges of the world have been taken away, and it’s only when they’re gone you realise how much you depended on them to make sense of everything else.

There are newspapers lying around, but every time I pick one up it has holes in the pages where articles have been removed. Things that might distress people or make them feel uncomfortable. Although one person’s distress is another person’s couldn’t-care-less, so I don’t know how they decide which bits to take out.

‘It would be nice,’ I said to a woman sitting next to me in the day room, ‘if life was like that. If you could just cut around the pieces you didn’t care for.’

She didn’t reply. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, it’s as though you haven’t spoken at all, as if your world or their world are running quite happily side by side, but there isn’t any way of moving between one and the other.

ABOUT ‘A TIDY ENDING’: Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca.

Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women in the town start to go missing.

If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever…

MY THOUGHTS: Very clever, Joanna Cannon. I had absolutely no idea where you were taking me, not the slightest suspicion. My jaw hit the floor at the end and I laughed, probably a tad hysterically. It was just so beautifully unexpected.

Linda is an interesting character. Initially she may not appear so but there is more going on under that tatty blue quilted house coat than it appears. Her husband, Terry, is an irritant. He is messy, uncaring and leaves her notes telling her what to do. She has no friends, and her mother is all show but no real use. She was always much closer to her father, and she misses that. She has an ingrained distrust of the police after they did what they did to him.

I have read and loved everything Joanna Cannon has written, and she has surprised me again with this entertaining, character driven mystery that has dark undertones.

I can’t wait to read whatever Cannon writes next.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#ATidyEnding #NetGalley

I: @drjocannon @harpercollinsuk @harperfiction @boroughpress

T: @JoannaCannon @HarperCollinsUK @BoroughPress

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Joanna Cannon was born in a small Derbyshire town, at the very edge of the Peak District National Park. As a child she discovered what would become a life-long fascination with words, stories and character.

Her love of narrative had always drawn her towards psychiatry, but it wasn’t until her thirties that she decided to go back to college and finally complete the A-levels she’d abandoned some 15 years earlier.

Before specialising in psychiatry, Joanna rotated through a series of hospital jobs, from A&E to palliative care. It was around this time she began writing a blog in order to make sense of her experiences. She soon found herself writing the book that would become her bestselling debut, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction, The Borough Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com