A Certain Justice by P. D. James

A Certain Justice by P.D. James

EXCERPT: Murderers do not usually give their victims notice. This is one death which, however terrible that last second of appalled realization, comes mercifully unburdened with anticipatory terror. When, on the afternoon of Wednesday, 11th September, Venetia Aldridge stood up to cross examine the prosecutions chief witness in the case of Regina vs Ashe she had four weeks, four hours and fifty minutes left of life. After her death the many who had admired her and the few who had liked her, searching for a more personal response than the stock adjectives of shock and outrage, found themselves muttering that it would have pleased Venetia that her last case of murder had been tried at the Bailey, scene of her greatest triumphs, and in her favorite court.

But there was truth in the inanity.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It begins, dramatically enough, with a trial for murder. The distinguished criminal lawyer Venetia Aldridge is defending Garry Ashe on charges of having brutally killed his aunt. For Aldridge the trial is mainly a test of her courtroom skills, one more opportunity to succeed–and she does. But now murder is in the air. The next victim will be Aldridge herself, stabbed to death at her desk in her Chambers in the Middle Temple, a bloodstained wig on her head. Enter Commander Adam Dalgliesh and his team, whose struggle to investigate and understand the shocking events cannot halt the spiral into more horrors, more murders…

A Certain Justice is P.D. James at her strongest. In her first foray into the strange closed world of the Law Courts and the London legal community, she has created a fascinating tale of interwoven passion and terror. As each character leaps into unforgettable life, as each scene draws us forward into new complexities of plot, she proves yet again that no other writer can match her skill in combining the excitement of the classic detective story with the richness of a fine novel. In its subtle portrayal of morality and human behavior, A Certain Justice will stand alongside Devices and Desires and A Taste for Death as one of P.D. James’s most important, accomplished and entertaining works.

MY THOUGHTS: This is only my second PD James. I did not enjoy the first at all and was reluctant to read this. But it is faster paced and more intriguing than her book I read previously. She will not become one of my favourite authors. I find her a little predictable, and her writing style too formal for my liking. Even though I say this is faster paced than my previous read by this author, it is still slower than I like.

😐😐😐

THE AUTHOR: P. D. James, byname of Phyllis Dorothy James White, Baroness James of Holland Park, (born August 3, 1920, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England—died November 27, 2014, Oxford), British mystery novelist best known for her fictional detective Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard.

The daughter of a middle-grade civil servant, James grew up in the university town of Cambridge. Her formal education, however, ended at age 16 because of lack of funds, and she was thereafter self-educated. In 1941 she married Ernest C.B. White, a medical student and future physician, who returned home from wartime service mentally deranged and spent much of the rest of his life in psychiatric hospitals. To support her family (which included two children), she took work in hospital administration and, after her husband’s death in 1964, became a civil servant in the criminal section of the Department of Home Affairs. Her first mystery novel, Cover Her Face (1962), introduced Dalgliesh and was followed by six more mysteries before she retired from government service in 1979 to devote full time to writing.

Dalgliesh, James’s master detective who rises from chief inspector in the first novel to chief superintendent and then to commander, is a serious, introspective person, moralistic yet realistic. The novels in which he appears are peopled by fully rounded characters, who are civilized, genteel, and motivated. The public resonance created by James’s singular characterization and deployment of classic mystery devices led to most of the novels featuring Dalgliesh being filmed for television. James, who earned the sobriquet “Queen of Crime,” penned 14 Dalgliesh novels, with the last, The Private Patient, appearing in 2008.

James also wrote An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972) and The Skull Beneath the Skin (1982), which centre on Cordelia Gray, a young private detective. The first of these novels was the basis for both a television movie and a short-lived series. James expanded beyond the mystery genre in The Children of Men (1992; film 2006), which explores a dystopian world in which the human race has become infertile. Her final work, Death Comes to Pemberley (2011)—a sequel to Pride and Prejudice (1813)—amplifies the class and relationship tensions between Jane Austen’s characters by situating them in the midst of a murder investigation. James’s nonfiction works include The Maul and the Pear Tree (1971), a telling of the Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 written with historian T.A. Critchley, and the insightful Talking About Detective Fiction (2009). Her memoir, Time to Be in Earnest, was published in 2000. She was made OBE in 1983 and was named a life peer in 1991.

DISCLOSURE: I obtained my copy of A Certain Justice by P. D. James, published by Ballantine Books, via Waitomo District Library. 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/927662852

Five Star Friday – Safe With Me by K. L. Slater

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me!’?

Why not take a look at my Friday Favorite. . . It may be old. It may be new. But it is a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Safe With Me

EXCERPT: So, they’re tucked up in bed at last. You take a handful of matches and you light each one, watching the burn die to a powdery black dot.

The embers in the open fireplace are dying down but there’s still the white hot core, deep in the centre, still powerful enough to help you set things straight one final time.

‘Two squashy seat cushions piled on the floor. Four squashy seat cushions piled on the floor.’ It’s fun to sing to the tune of ‘Ten Green Bottles’.

You push the chair right up next to them so that the fabrics are touching. You carefully extract two balls of molten coal from the ashes with the tongs, carefully placing each one in the middle of the cushions. Now you sit back to watch them melting in, deep down. The glowing balls sink greedily into the soft foam, and the scorched fabric cover of the cushion shrinks back like it’s trying to escape.

There is no noise and you enjoy the silence.

Entranced, you watch as the small flames start to dance, flicking their pretty, lethal tongues. The power amazes, terrifies and comforts you all at once. You feel the layers of protection you have tried to coat yourself with over the years being stripped away. You needed them so you had a chance of getting through each day and drunken night, but you are safe now. The flames will make it safe.

You have tried to tell them many times, of course, tried to ask for help. But they didn’t understand what you were trying to get through to them. And now the rawness of your fear, your sadness – it’s here for all to see in the sharpness of the thick, sulphured air.

You mustn’t cough. You don’t want to wake them, set the sillies screaming and crying. Leave them to their dreams, they will learn soon enough.

The flames grow larger, then fuse together. You know that it’s a sign that they’re promising to help you and yet, for a second, you actually consider changing your mind. You could stomp down the flames and shout for help. You could wake them up.

Then you hear it.

‘Let us do our work,’ the flames whisper. ‘Everything will be better in the morning.’

And that’s when you decide to finally walk away.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Thirteen years ago someone did something very bad to Anna. Now it’s her turn to get even …

Anna lives a solitary existence, taking solace in order and routine. Her only friend is the lonely old lady next door. She doesn’t like to let people get too close – she knows how much damage they can do.

Then one ordinary day Anna witnesses a devastating road accident and recognises the driver as Carla, the woman who ruined her life all those years ago. Now it’s Anna’s chance to set things straight but her revenge needs to be executed carefully …

First she needs to get to know Liam, the man injured in the accident. She needs to follow the police investigation. She needs to watch Carla from the shadows…

But as Anna’s obsession with Carla escalates, her own secrets start to unravel. Is Carla really dangerous or does Anna need to worry about someone far closer to home?

MY THOUGHTS: Anna is a solitary person. She has had a hard life. She is damaged but has built a new life on her own terms, one she can cope with.

As long as nothing goes wrong. . . But go wrong it does.

Told from multiple viewpoints and over two timelines, this novel is seriously twisted. Creepy twisted. Turn the pages very carefully, creepy, twisted. . . because you’re never quite sure what Slater is going to spring on you next.

Safe With Me is a debut novel by KL Slater which has me completely blown away. This is a chilling psychological thriller that had me devouring every word.

I want more from this author. Soon.

😨😨😨😨😨

THE AUTHOR: Kim is the million-copy bestselling author of seven psychological crime thrillers. Her eighth thriller, FINDING GRACE, will be published 14th February 2019 and is now available for pre-order.

Kim’s titles are also published in paperback by Sphere in the UK and Grand Central in the USA.

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents and collected an impressive stack of rejection slips. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating in 2012, she gained literary agent representation and a book deal. As Kim says, ‘it was a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer. She has one daughter, two stepsons and lives with her husband in Nottingham and Yorkshire.

Publishers: Bookouture, Sphere, Grand Central, Audible
Agent: Camilla Bolton at Darley Anderson

Author website: www.KLSlaterAuthor.com
Twitter: @KimLSlater
Facebook: KL Slater Author
Instagram: KLSlaterAuthor

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for providing me with a digital ARC for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

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/1816507423

My Daughter’s Secret by Nicole Trope

My Daughter's Secret by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: In the light, the face is clear. The eyes bulge, the lips are blue and swollen.

There is a beat of silence, a moment in time when all sound is drowned out.

Callie makes a strange noise, an animal howl that pierces the night.

Mia screams. Her whole body trembling, she screams and screams and screams.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: My baby girl, I’ll never forget you – your smile, your laugh, the way your hair sparkles in the sun. I cannot comprehend this pain. I cannot breathe through it.

In the middle of the night, Claire wakes up to discover that her beloved daughter, Julia, is dead – and life, as she knows it, is over.

Searching for answers, Claire stumbles upon a pile of letters, hidden under Julia’s bed in an old, battered shoebox, and feels closer to her daughter than ever before. They tell her that Julia was happy, that she was thriving at university, that she was in love.

But as the letters go on, Claire starts to feel uneasy at something hidden between the lines. Even as she grieves, she must prepare to face a shocking discovery. Because Julia was hiding a terrible secret – and when it’s uncovered, it will devastate a family already torn apart by tragedy.

MY THOUGHTS: Right out, I have to say that this is probably my least favorite book by this author. After an explosive start, it merely whimpers along, losing impetus and my interest. I was not sidetracked by the red herrings Trope throws the readers way as Claire tries to discover who Julia’s lover was. I knew from the outset. To me, it was blindingly obvious. But then, perhaps I read too many of these books.

The letters to Julia that intersect the chapters are repetitive and, until close to the end, add little of value to the storyline. A few less of them, with a little more variety, would have improved the read.

BUT. . . I kept reading. Trope makes pertinent and truthful observations on dealing with grief, particularly following a suicide: the disbelief at the unreality of the situation that rapidly crystallizes into anger, self-blame, and guilt. Why wasn’t I a better mother/ father/ friend/ husband/ wife/ lover? Why didn’t she talk to me? Why didn’t I notice that something was wrong? Why? Why? Why? As the author so rightly says ‘Being human is such a messy business.’

I didn’t find this a particularly emotional read, in fact, at times it felt like I was reading a manual on surviving suicide. At other times, I found the writing over-emotive, e.g. ‘I’m her mother. I gave up the right to my own happiness when I had her.’

Just as in life, there are no clear answers in this book.

😕😕😕

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. Her second novel, Three Hours Late, was voted one of Fifty Books you can’t put down in 2013 and her third novel, The Secrets in Silence, was The Australian Woman’s Weekly Book of the month for June 2014.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of My Daughter’s Secret by Nicole Trope. 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/2721788596 . For a preview of this book please visit
https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/…

In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder

In the Blink of an Eye

EXCERPT: The limitless possibility of the moment shifts focus to something that ripples and dances, hurting his eyes with its intensity, beckoning. He steps out with a calm assurance and, as he approaches, the object of his desire fills his vision, calling him.

The fence rears up in front of him, blocking the way. He wraps his fingers around the bars and shakes. It rattles but doesn’t yield. He presses his face into the gap, trying to push through. On the other side, the water splits into dazzling prisms. It wants him. He feels it as a sure certainty in his belly, a tug on his navel with a promise of everything he could ever desire. He remembers the feeling of weightlessness, the delight of floating in the universe. The water promises to give it all to him again, putting him at the center, the floating god of creation with the pulse of moving liquid in his ears.

From beyond the pool, a hissing sound and an acrid stink. He knows that smell and he wants it too.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Brennans — parents, Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby — have made a sea change, from chilly Hobart, Tasmania, to subtropical Murwillumbah, New South Wales. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they’re still adjusting to work, school, and life in a sprawling purple clapboard house, when one morning, tragedy strikes.

In the devastating aftermath, the questions fly. What really happened? And who’s to blame? Determined to protect his family, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah — his innocence lost — faces a sudden and frightening adulthood where nothing is certain.

MY THOUGHTS: An emotional read. Very emotional.

Sometimes it seems that when you get a bit of good luck, something equally bad, or even worse, seems to happen. This is certainly the case for the Brennans. Finn is about to be recognized for his art, something he has been working towards for years, something he was coming to believe was beyond his grasp. But then a traumatic event rips the family apart. Blame is apportioned, guilt felt, judgements made.

But what is the truth? And when the truth is finally revealed, will it give the family closure and allow them to move on? Or will it be the final nail in their coffin?

In the Blink of an Eye is an absorbing read. Blackadder certainly cranks up the tension, and she had me hooked from the very first page. Her understanding and descriptions of the emotions of this family are superb, and she had me experiencing them along with the characters.

Definitely recommended.

😍 😍 😍 😍

THE AUTHOR: Yes, Jesse Blackadder really was born with that surname. An award-winning novelist, freelance writer and budding screenwriter, she is fascinated by landscapes, adventurous women and really cold places.

Jesse’s forthcoming novel ‘In the Blink of an Eye’ is being published in the USA by St Martins Press in March 2019. (It was published in Australia as ‘Sixty Seconds’ by HarperCollins in 2017). The novel was inspired by her childhood experience of her sister’s death in a swimming pool.

Jesse has recently been jointly awarded the 2018 Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship to write a television series and a junior novel series set in Antarctica, in partnership with screenwriter Jane Allen. The pair will live at Mawson Station over the 2018/19 summer.

‘Chasing the Light’ (2013), is historical fiction based on the true but forgotten story of the first women to reach Antarctica. Jesse won her first Australian Antarctic Arts Fellowship in 2011 and travelled to Antarctica to research the novel.

Jesse’s novel ‘The Raven’s Heart’, came about when she’d finally had enough of people asking if she was related to Rowan Atkinson. She travelled to Scotland to find the origins of the Blackadder surname and discovered the ruins of Blackadder House on the banks of the Blackadder River.

Her first novel, ‘After the Party’ (Hardie Grant Books 2005), made the Australian Book Review list of all time favourite Australian novels in 2010.

Jesse has been a writer in residence in Antarctica, Alaska, in the Australian outback at Byron Bay, and at Varuna The Writers’ House, Australia’s leading residential program for writers. She has a Doctor of Creative Arts from the University of Western Sydney. Born in Sydney, she now lives near Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of In the Blink of an Eye by Jesse Blackadder. 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/2682763728

A Taste of . . . Tuesday – The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher

Looking at what I have coming up to read over the next week or two, I am very excited to be reading The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher. Here’s a little tidbit to tempt your reading tastebuds . . .

The Woman I Was Before

EXCERPT:<i> Daisy raced through into the living room and hovered behind the curtain, peering at the driveway over the road. I stood back, not wanting to get a reputation as the community curtain twitcher. Naturally, the biggest house on the estate would have to have a conventional family set-up, like the Topsy and Tim books my mum used to read to Daisy when she was little. There they all were, Mum, Dad, son and daughter twisting into a back-breaking pose, all four of them laughing with their hands on the door handle while the daughter tried to capture them all in a selfie. The big sign that said ’21 Parkview’ would probably be in the corner of that picture, for any casual Facebook observer to see. I couldn’t imagine living a life where it didn’t matter.

Daisy stopped me disappearing down those familiar, well trodden routes that never led to a solution, by saying ‘Shall we go over and say hello?’

I hoped she didn’t see me shudder. It was years since strangers had recognised me, horrified fascination passing over their faces before the most brazen dared to ask, ‘Aren’t you that woman who was in the newspaper?’ I still dreaded that flicker of puzzlement, followed by wary curiosity . ‘They won’t want us going over now. They’ll be getting on with their unpacking. We’d better make a start with  ours if we’re not going to end up sleeping on a mattress on the floor. There’ll be time to introduce ourselves later.’

And with that we went outside where Jim and Darren, the blokes I had found to bring us from Peterborough to our new home in a little market town in Surrey, were tag teaming alternate scratches of man boobs and balls. Jim was muttering about his back already aching. ‘Hope you’re going to give us a hand up them stairs with that wardrobe. Mind you , looks a bit narrow at the top there. Going to be tight to turn.’

Darren nodded. ‘These new houses aren’t meant for big pieces of furniture like that,’ he said , his face arranging into some kind of satisfaction that I might end up with a pine wardrobe wedged between the bannisters and the landing.

Over the road, my new neighbor let out a shriek of delight. ‘The kettle! Who wants a cuppa?’

I resisted shouting ‘Me!’ as a team of professional movers made manoeuvring a solid oak table through her front door look like they were flipping a piece of balsa wood on its side.

I dragged my eyes back to the battered van and smiled. ‘Come on then. Let’s put our backs into it! You too , Daisy.’ I resisted the temptation to snap, ‘Put my phone down, and grab the toaster!’

There was a waft of BO as Jim reached for the bin bag full of coats I’d grabbed off the pegs as we’d left the old house. A wave of loneliness washed over me at the thought of doing all of this on my own again. But nowhere near as acute as the day when my husband, Oskar, told me he was leaving to go and work with his cousin in Argentina ‘where I can start again and forget about all of this’.

Even if I moved to the furtherest corner of Australia, I would never forget. </i>

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The perfect picture hides the darkest lies.

A new home can be a happy ending. Or a fresh start. Or a hiding place…

Kate Jones is running away. She has left her old life behind, changing both her own name and her daughter’s. No-one must ever connect Kate with the mistake that destroyed her life.

Starting afresh on Parkview Road – a brand new street full of newly built houses – Kate looks at the other women on the street with envy. They seem to have it all: Gisela with her busy life, full house and successful children, Sally with her exciting spontaneous marriage, her glamorous holidays, her high-flying career. The pictures that Kate’s new friends post online confirm their seemingly perfect existence, whilst Kate hides from the world at all costs.

Until one day, everything changes. Kate is called to the scene of a devastating accident, which is about to test everything the women thought they knew about each other, and themselves.

I hope I have tempted you to take the chance to read The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher, along with me. I look forward to hearing your views and thoughts on this book.

Happy reading! 💕

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Firstly I must apologize for my absence over the past few days. We had wedding #2 of the three family weddings in 9 weeks. The weather gods were kind to us, the bride was radiant, and everyone had fun. Now a little less than three weeks to wedding #3, for which we will be heading to Australia.

Now onto the real reason we are here. . . Books! Currently I am reading

My Daughter's Secret

for which I gave you a sneak preview last Tuesday. I can’t wait to see where this is going. Only started this last night, and very intrigued.

I am listening to

The Dead Tracks (David Raker, #2)

I have been wanting to get into this series for some time now.

This week I am planning on reading

Two Silver Crosses: A heartwarming family saga of love and war

In 1926 the Holborn twins, Ginny and her blind sister Emily, disappear from their comfortable home in Wolverhampton. Why? No one knew. Ten years later, aspiring solicitor Charlie Commoner is dispatched to France to track them down. What he finds instead is a mystery, a tragedy and a love affair.

But as the Second World War darkens over Europe, so, too, does the legacy from a terrifying disease that holds the family in its grip . . .

Run Away

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs. 

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.

I have to admit to not particularly liking the cover of this one.

This week I have received four ARC approvals from NetGalley.

The Bones She Buried (Detective Josie Quinn #5)

The Last Thing She Remembers

Tomorrow's Bread

Pray for the Girl

I hope you have had a wonderful week’s reading, and that you have another lined up ahead of you. 💕📚

Only Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil

Only Daughter by Sarah A. Denzil

EXCERPT: If you were here with me now, I’d say sorry for everything.

I know I’ve let you down, disappointed you, and it hurts. This is how it ends for me, isn’t it? Alone with my thoughts, with my pain, all the regrets about who I am and how I acted coming back to haunt me. I let you down more than anyone else. Maybe one day you’ll be able to forgive me, but I know I’ll never forgive myself. . .

If you were here now, I’d apologize for everything.

But I wouldn’t just say sorry; I’d warn you, too.

Because they’re coming after you next. . .

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In one moment, Kat Cavanaugh’s perfect world is shattered into tiny fragments. The flash of her daughter’s yellow dress, the blonde hair hanging across her precious face. Her own heart-broken sob…

Kat experiences every mother’s worst nightmare when her only child’s body is found lifeless in an overgrown, abandoned quarry.

Desperate to find out what happened, Kat questions those closest to her as she tries to piece together the last days of Grace’s life. But as a darker side to her little girl begins to unravel, Kat wonders if she ever really knew Grace.

As Kat is drawn into a twisted game of lies, is she also in terrible danger? And will she be able to unlock her daughter’s final shocking secret?

Even if the truth is unthinkable…

MY THOUGHTS: I blew hot and cold on Only Daughter as I read. I thought it started with promise, and there were moments, a few absolutely brilliant moments, during the book when I fist pumped the air, thinking yes, she’s hit her stride! But, unfortunately, they didn’t last.

I found it neither addictive, nor emotional. In fact, my lack of feeling was so noticeable that, several times, I wondered if I was the sociopath!

I found the characters hard to relate to, and never got fully involved in the storyline. Only one twist surprised me, and I pretty much had sussed out what was going on by a little over half way through the book. But that doesn’t necessarily ruin a book for me. I have recently read a book where I knew what the outcome was, having previously read a later book in the series, and still rated it 5-stars because the journey was extremely enjoyable. And I think herein lies the problem with Only Daughter for me. The journey was, for the most part, pretty ordinary. I had the feeling that I had read it all before.

Beautiful cover art and those few brilliant moments raised this from 2.5 to 😐😐😐

THE AUTHOR: Sarah A. Denzil is a suspense writer from Derbyshire, England. She is also known as young adult author Sarah Dalton.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather.

She is the author of international bestselling psychological thriller SILENT CHILD, which topped the bestseller lists on Amazon in the US, UK and Australia.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Only Daughter 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/2752542707

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

The Masterpiece by Fiona  Davis

EXCERPT: New York City, April 1928

Clara Darden’s illustration class at the Grand Central School of Art, tucked under the copper eaves of the terminal, was unaffected by the trains that rumbled through ancient layers of Manhattan schist hundreds of feet below. But somehow, a surprise visit from Mr Lorette, the school’s director, had the disruptive power of a locomotive weighing in at thousands of tons.

Even before Mr Lorette was a factor, Clara had been anxious about the annual faculty exhibition set to open at six o’clock that evening. Her first show in New York City, and everyone important in the art and editorial worlds would be there. She’d been working on her illustrations for months now, knowing this might be her only chance.

She asked her class to begin work on an alternate cover design for Virginia Woolf’s latest book, and the four ladies dove in eagerly, while Wilbur, the only male and something of a rake to boot, sighed loudly and rolled his eyes. Gertrude, the most studious of the five members, was so offended by Wilbur’s lack of respect that she threatened to toss a jar of turpentine at him. They were still arguing vociferously when Mr Lorette waltzed in.

Never mind that these were all adults, not children. Whenever Wilbur made a ruckus, it had the unfortunate effect of lowering the entire class’s maturity level by a decade. More often than not, Clara was strong enough to restore order before things went too far. But Mr Lorette seemed possessed of a miraculous talent for sensing the rare occasions during which Clara lost control of the room, and he could usually be counted upon to choose such times to wander by and assess her skills as an educator.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece–an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

MY THOUGHTS: I was excited to begin listening to The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis. I have listened to both The Dollhouse and The Address, and loved them both.

But immediately, I found the narrator’s voice and delivery to be annoying. Smug is the word that comes to mind. Why, oh why did they change narrators? I far preferred Saskia Maarleveld.

And then as I got into the story, I had the thought that this was just like the other two books – exactly the same format, just change names and locations. Kind of like writing by numbers.

I had trouble warming to either of the main characters, Clara in the late 1920’s, and Virginia in the 70’s. There seemed to be a lot of extraneous material in the plot that could have been done without and not harmed the storyline. I did enjoy the twist at the end.

In retrospect, I may have enjoyed The Masterpiece more had I read it rather than listened to it. I think my dislike of the narrator may have soured the whole experience for me. I am not ruling out reading the book at some point in the future, to see if I enjoy it more, and I will definitely read more by this author. But the operative word here is ‘read’, not listen.

😑😑.5

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of THE MASTERPIECE, THE DOLLHOUSE and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook version of The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, published by Penguin Audio via OverDrive. 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/2310913461

A Taste of. . . Tuesday – My Daughter’s Secret by Nicole Trope

My Daughter's Secret

This week, I would like to tempt your reading tastebuds with a little tidbit from My Daughter’s Secret by Nicole Trope. Nicole is an Australian author whom I admire greatly, and I am looking forward to reading her latest book, which is being released today. So happy publication day Nicole and Bookouture!🎉🎊

<i>Mia listens to the sound of her heels on the pavement. If she keeps her mouth closed and takes very small steps she’ll get to Callie’s house without throwing up, she thinks. She focuses on each house they pass, studying grotesque smiles on pumpkins and spotting skeletons hanging from trees and lounging in gardens. Fake spider webs have turned all the post boxes white, and plastic bats dangle from branches. A witch on a broom cackles and moves her head from side to side, flashing her red eyes, startling Mia. She jumps to the side then looks at the house across the road, where Death sits on a swing.

“Wow, look at that. That wasn’t here when we left, ” says Callie.

Mia looks over to where Callie is pointing. A life-size doll swings from a covered front porch. There isn’t a hint of a breeze but the dummy sways anyway, making the chain around its neck squeak eerily in the quiet suburban street. </i>

ABOUT THIS BOOK: My baby girl, I’ll never forget you – your smile, your laugh, the way your hair sparkles in the sun. I cannot comprehend this pain. I cannot breathe through it.

In the middle of the night, Claire wakes up to discover that her beloved daughter, Julia, is dead – and life, as she knows it, is over.

Searching for answers, Claire stumbles upon a pile of letters, hidden under Julia’s bed in an old, battered shoebox, and feels closer to her daughter than ever before. They tell her that Julia was happy, that she was thriving at university, that she was in love.

But as the letters go on, Claire starts to feel uneasy at something hidden between the lines. Even as she grieves, she must prepare to face a shocking discovery. Because Julia was hiding a terrible secret – and when it’s uncovered, it will devastate a family already torn apart by tragedy.

I hope that you enjoyed this tidbit from My Daughter’s Secret by Nicole Trope, and that you might be tempted to read along with me. 💕📚

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

EXCERPT: ‘And we ask your abundant blessing, Lord, on these, the outcast dead. . . ‘

There is a murmured response from the group gathered on the bank below the castle walls. But Ruth Galloway, standing at the back, says nothing. She is wearing the expression of polite neutrality she assumes whenever God is mentioned. This mask has stood her in good stead over the years and she sees no reason to drop it now. But she approves of the Prayers for the Outcast Dead. This brief ecumenical service is held every year for the unknown dead of Norwich: the bodies thrown into unmarked graves, the paupers, the plague victims, forgotten, unmourned, except by this motley collection of archeologists, historians, and sundry hangers on.

‘Lord, you told us that not a sparrow falls without our Father in Heaven knowing. We know that these people were known to you, and loved by you. . .’

The Vicar has a reedy, hesitant voice that gets lost before it reaches Ruth. Now she can only hear Ted, one of the field archeologists, giving the responses in a booming baritone.

‘We will remember them.’

She doesn’t know if Ted has any religious beliefs. All she knows is that he was brought up in Bolton and may or may not be Irish. If he’s Irish, he’s probably a Catholic, like DCI Harry Nelson who, however hard he denies it, has a residual belief in heaven, hell, and all points in between. Thinking of Nelson makes Ruth uncomfortable. She moves away, further up the hill, and one of the people gathered around the vicar, a tall woman in a red jacket, turns and smiles at her. Janet Meadows, local historian and expert on the unnamed dead. Ruth first encountered Janet over a year ago when examining the bones of a medieval bishop believed to have miraculous powers. It was Cathbad who put Ruth in touch with Janet and, even now, Ruth can’t believe that her Druid friend won’t suddenly appear in the shadow of the castle, purple cloak fluttering, sixth sense on red alert. But Cathbad is miles away and magical powers have their limitations, as she knows only too well.

Words float towards Ruth, borne on the light summer breeze.

‘Remember. . . lost. . . gone before. . . Heavenly Father. . . grace. . . forgiveness.’

So many words, thinks Ruth – as she has thought many times before – to say so little. The dead are dead and no words, however resonant, can bring them back.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of what might be a notorious Victorian child murdress and a baby snatcher known as “The Childminder” threatens modern-day Norfolk in the latest irresistible mystery from Elly Griffiths.

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk in this exciting new entry in a beloved series.
Every year a ceremony is held in Norwich for the bodies in the paupers’ graves: the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series Women Who Kill, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.

DCI Harry Nelson is immersed in the case of three children found dead in their home. He is sure that the mother is responsible. Then another child is abducted and a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility. Are there two murderers afoot, or is the Childminder behind all the deaths? The team must race to find out-and the stakes couldn’t be any higher when another child goes missing.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved The Outcast Dead, sixth book in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Because I have been reading the series out of order and so have read many of the later books before this one, I already knew the outcome. But instead of diminishing my pleasure, I think it was actually enhanced. I was able to concentrate more on the characters, their relationships, their foibles. I loved the way their beliefs are challenged, and the different ways that they all dealt with this.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the mystery, because I did, immensely. For although I knew the outcome, I didn’t know the who, the how, or the why. And I really had no idea until all was revealed. There is not just one mystery, but several, several centuries apart. So while DCI Harry Nelson is busy working the cases of the dead children, and the abductions, Ruth is involved in solving a centuries old mystery.

Classic Elly Griffiths. And worth every one of the 💖💖💖💖💖 I have awarded it.

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa (born 17 August 1963, in London), a British crime novelist. She has written two series as Griffiths to date, one featuring Ruth Galloway, the other featuring Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto. She has also recently published her first standalone novel, The Stranger Diaries.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths, beautifully narrated by Clare Corbett, and published by Quercus, via OverDrive. 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/1260153601