The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

EXCERPT: Polly turned to my form. It was only a matter of time before she found out now. I waited, watching her face for the sign. To be fair, she didn’t even flinch.

‘Ah, Alison, I see you’re a counsellor yourself. What sort of areas do you cover?’

I hesitated. Aware how utterly ridiculous it was going to sound. I thought of what Matilda always said when people asked her what her mother did. She called me a ‘marriage mender’. Said I kept people’s mummies and daddies together when they were arguing a lot. My stomach tightened as I wondered what on earth she would think if she could see her marriage-mender mummy right now.

‘Relationships,’ I said to Polly, trying to keep my voice as low and as even as possible. ‘I’m a relationship counsellor.’

The silence hung heavily in the air. Chris put his head in his hands.

I smiled weakly. ‘It is rather ridiculous, isn’t it?’

‘Not at all,’ said Polly. ‘I’m divorced. I’d say that’s more ridiculous.’

ABOUT ‘THE MARRIAGE MENDER’: The only relationship she can’t save is her own . . .
Alison is a marriage counsellor. Her job is to help couples who fear they have reached the end of the line. But the trouble with spending your time sorting out other people’s problems is that you tend to take your eye off your own. Even when her husband’s ex Lydia arrives on the doorstep demanding to see her son, Alison thinks she can handle it. But what Alison doesn’t realise is that Lydia is the one person who has the ability to destroy their perfect family. And sometimes the cracks can run so deep that even a marriage mender can’t repair them . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I read this in one sitting, and I loved every word. The Marriage Mender is beautifully written, it’s characters so very real that it is impossible not to care about them. I felt like I was right there with them as their family life fell apart after Lydia inserts herself back in Chris’ and Josh’s lives while Alison scurries about trying to keep everyone happy and hold everything together.

Dramatic humour abounds. I laughed. I cried. I gasped, both in horror and in astonishment. I threw up my hands in exasperation. I air punched in triumph, and groaned in despair. The Marriage Mender is a very emotive read.

All the way through I was rooting for Chris and Alison’s relationship. I wanted it to work out. They obviously love one another, deeply, passionately. But is that enough?

Complicated family relationships. Humour. Lies. Secrets. A delicious combination with enough twists to keep my mind spinning.

The Marriage Mender is not predictable. The outcome is up in the air until the very final page. A compelling and entertaining read, and one I wholeheartedly recommend.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheMarriageMender #NetGalley

I: @lindagreenbooks @quercusbooks

T: @LindaGreenisms @QuercusBooks

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Linda Green wrote her first novella at age nine. Unfortunately the pony-based, time-travel thriller genre never took off. She did, however, go on to become an award-winning journalist and has written for the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Big Issue. Linda lives in West Yorkshire, is married to a sports photographer for a national newspaper and has a six-year-old son.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Marriage Mender by Linda Green 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 Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

EXCERPT: ‘Message four, received today, 12.17 p.m.’

Crackles on the line. Clicks and whistles.

‘…Lucy…’

It’s him. It’s Daniel.

And yet something in his voice – dark, alien – isn’t Daniel at all. In an instant, Lucy knows she’s utterly unprepared for how bad this might get.

Around her, the playground darkens. The sound of children’s voices fades. Time slows, then stops completely. Parents and offspring become graveyard statues welded to a tarmac sea. Colour seeps from their skin, their clothes. Lucy feels no wind in her hair, no speckling of rain on her cheeks. Her heart doesn’t beat. The blood in her veins doesn’t flow.

The phone is clamped so tightly to her ear that the hiss and burr of static fill her head. She concentrates hard, as if by deciphering those electronic shrieks she can divine Daniel’s location, his intent. She hears wind, or what sounds like it. A chaotic symphony of whistles and chirrups, as if the broadcast is reaching her from deep space.

Lucy feels sure the connection is about to drop entirely. And then, with a buzzing that makes her wince, the clarity on the line is restored and she hears something else, something she didn’t expect, another voice, fainter than the first, one that she recognizes as clearly as her own: ‘Daddy, no-‘

ABOUT ‘THE RISING TIDE’: HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

MY THOUGHTS: In a market awash with pale imitations, The Rising Tide is a true psychological thriller. I was thrilled from the first page to the last; never quite on an even keel, always a little off balance, never entirely sure who to believe. That was one enjoyable, wild ride, and I want to do it all over again!

All the words that are bandied about, hold true for this, Sam Lloyd’s second novel. Intense. Thrilling. Suspenseful. Breathtaking. Twisty. Heart pounding. Jaw dropping. Chilling. Compelling. And even all banded together, they don’t do The Rising Tide justice. It is all those things and more. Sam Lloyd scares me. He had me on the edge of my seat, nails digging into my palms, crying out, ‘No, no, no, no!’ as I read. Twenty four hours after finishing The Rising Tide, I still get breathless thinking about it.

Who are these people, Sam Lloyd’s characters? Is Daniel a monster? Or a loving father and stepfather? Is Lucy cold, calculating, cheating and manipulative? Or is she a loving mother who has had her world ripped apart?

My favourite characters are the delightful Bibi Trixibelle Carter, a very sharp eighty something year old, and the doomed Detective Inspector Abraham Rose and, of course, Lucy’s daughter Billie.

The Rising Tide is at the very top of my favourite books list for 2021, and I seriously doubt that anything is going to displace it. Five stars are simply not enough. The Rising Tide deserves a whole galaxy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheRisingTide #NetGalley

I: #samlloyd #randomhouseUK

T: @samlloydwrites @BantamPress

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #fivestarread #psychologicalthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, where he learned his love of storytelling. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl.

DISCLOSURE: A huge thank you to Random House, Transworld Publishing, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. 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 and Goodreads.com

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

EXCERPT: I can’t believe I didn’t realise it before, that what I really wanted all along was to write to you. So that’s what I’m going to do. A memoir, perhaps. No. A confession.

Kristina, I’m waiting for you. I pray that you’ll come. I’m alone and I’m afraid for the future and I want to use this time to put everything I want to say to you into some kind of coherent account. I want to tell you everything myself, I have it all planned out in my head – you’ll come here and you’ll sit across from me and we’ll light the fire and I will start from the beginning and I won’t stop talking until there is absolutely nothing unsaid between us. If you can’t or won’t come or if something outside of my control happens to me, you’ll find what you need here. Either way, I need you to know the truth.

ABOUT ‘CABIN FEVER’: You are her therapist.
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.

She is your client.
But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.

But out here in the woods.
When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.

Nothing is as it seems.
Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar…

MY THOUGHTS: I read Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl in one sitting, unable to put it down and now, four hours later, my heart is still pounding, my breathing ragged.

The main characters are all onions, multilayered, and eye-wateringly devious. I was shaking my head in delighted disbelief as the truth was slowly revealed, and I mean slowly, one nugget, one gem at a time until the final crescendo.

Alex Dahl has once again written an unsettling, unpredictable, extremely clever and very dark novel full of tension and suspense.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#CabinFever #NetGalley

I:@authoralex @headofzeus

T: @alexdahlauthor @HoZ_Books

#contemporaryfiction #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Half-American, half-Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She is a serious Francophile and currently lives in both London and Sandefjord.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl 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

Insider by Owen Mullen (The Glass Family #2)

EXCERPT: The van turned right into a deserted Great Eastern Street and on until traffic lights on City Road stopped its progress. The engine idled, the acrid smell of diesel drifted on the air. Freddy tapped the wheel with his finger.

‘He was a homo, old Ronnie, did I mention that? Queer as a bottle of chips. And Reggie was bisexual. Had sex with each other to keep it a secret. God’s honest. Ronnie admitted as much to some geezer writing a book about them. Not many-‘

The bullet exploded the side window, ending the monologue, entered his heart, killing him instantly. The rear doors flew open. A rapid burst of fire from a semiautomatic carbine sprayed the inside, thudding into the minders, making them dance like drunken puppets; they were dead before they could draw their guns. One of the assassins manhandled Freddy’s lifeless body into the passenger seat, while the other two got into the back beside the slain guards. When the lights turned green, the van pulled away. Nobody saw. It wouldn’t have mattered if they had. In this part of town people were smart enough to keep their noses out of what didn’t concern them – no different to the night Ronnie Kray had walked into the Blind Beggar and shot George Cornell.

It had taken all of thirty seconds to kill three men and steal two hundred thousand pounds.

Freddy would’ve been impressed. What a story that would’ve been.

ABOUT ‘INSIDER’: Someone’s playing both sides and now they have a score to settle…
When the family business is crime, you can never be sure who to trust. And when three of their businesses are hit in one night, the notorious Glass family close ranks. Either someone is sending them a message or a war is coming…

With trouble coming from all sides, the heads of the Glass family have more than enough to deal with, but all bets are off when a stranger from the past enters the game, causing division and mistrust.

Crooked cops, rival gangs and old enemies are bad enough, but when the trouble comes from the inside, loyalties are tested, with deadly consequences.

MY THOUGHTS: I am on record, more than once, as having said that I don’t like books about gangs and organised crime. It’s time I added a qualifier to that statement: I don’t like books about gangs and organised crime, unless they are written by Owen Mullen.

Mullen has written a fast paced thriller centred around the Glass family, and although it follows on from the first book in this series, Family, Insider possibly could be read as a stand-alone. But believe me, you would be missing out on some damned fine writing and the story behind the Glass empire.

This is a family for whom the answer to any and every problem is violence. And yet the violence in Insider is not gratuitous. I didn’t skip one word of this book. Everything worked and worked superbly.

The characters are ones that I should, by rights, dislike. They are criminals. Life is cheap. But I don’t dislike them. I have a sneaking admiration for them. I enjoy the family rivalries, and I particularly liked the introduction of Charley – is she who she claims to be, Luke and Nina’s sister, or is she someone else altogether? The same question applies to ex-DI Mark Douglas.

Mullen has written a tautly executed thriller that will have you reading much later into the night than you intend. And no, he hasn’t lost his sense of humour. It’s evident in Insider from beginning to end.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Insider #OwenMullen

I: @owenmullen6 #BoldwoodBooks

T: @OwenMullen6 @BoldwoodBooks

#fivestarread #crime #familydrama #contemporaryfiction #suspense #thriller #series

THE AUTHOR: Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His great love for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where all of his crime thrillers were created.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Owen Mullen for providing a digital ARC of his novel Insider (The Glass Family #2) 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 Million Things by Emily Spurr

EXCERPT: I swallow the acid and keep yelling. ‘A squashed, leathery, manky-furred cat with a paper plate on top of it.’ My shouting’s getting higher and squeaky in a way I don’t recognize. ‘That’s not what you keep in a house. That’s crazy!’

‘A cat?’

‘A dead cat!’ My breathing sounds funny. ‘Dead. A dead thing. Dead.’ I can’t stop saying the word. I need to stop saying that. ‘Dead.’ I push past her shaking, biting my tongue to stop my mouth betraying me further. I need to sit down.

‘You found my cat?’

I’m sitting with my head in my hands. Not thinking about the shed. Not thinking about the leathery cat body. This was a mistake. I’ve been working all day and all I’ve managed to do is clean a hallway. And the crazy old cat-smothering goat isn’t even thankful. As soon as I can get to my feet I’m going home. She can deal with the council and get kicked out of her house and I’m going to stay the hell away from it all. They’ll be so preoccupied with this pile of shit they probably won’t even look at my yard. It’s not like you can smell anything else when you’re inside her house. I shouldn’t have got involved in the first place. She’s nothing to me. I don’t need her or her stinking house and definitely not all the trouble she’s about to bring with her.

‘You found my cat?’ She drops a plastic bag – it looks like it’s got banh mi in it – on the chest and sits on the porch in front of me. I glance at her face. Her eyes are huge. Her face is so pale the little red veins near her nose look like they’ve been drawn on with pen. ‘You’ve found Sylvester?’

‘Who?’

‘My cat. I thought he ran away.’ She looks horrified. ‘He was-‘

I don’t know what to say. I glance over to our yard, at the bin where I dumped the stiff, leathery, hole-filled carcass. I remember the sparkle I focused on as I shovelled the body off the floor. ‘Did he have a collar with jewels on it?’

She puts her head in her hands. ‘Oh God.’

I hover my hand near her head, then pull it back and slip it into my pocket. There are tissues in there. I kneel in front of her and offer her one. She takes it, holds it in her hand, nods. And we sit there like that, the two of us and a yard full of rubbish bags.

ABOUT ‘A MILLION THINGS’: Rae is ten years old, and she’s tough. She’s had to be: life with her mother has taught her the world is not her friend. Now suddenly her mum is gone and Rae is alone, except for her dog Splinter.

Rae can do a lot of things pretty well for a kid. She can shop and cook a little and take care of Splints and keep the front yard neat enough that the neighbours won’t get curious. But she is gnawed at by fear and sadness; haunted by the shadow of a terrible secret.

Lettie, the old woman who lives next door, might know more about Rae than she lets on—but she has her own reasons for keeping the world at arm’s length. When Rae finds out what they are, it seems like she and Lettie could help each other.

But how long can a friendship based on secrets last?

MY THOUGHTS: Funny. Sad. Heartbreaking. A Million Things will have your emotions all over the place. I laughed. I cried. A lot.

Rae is a resourceful ten-year-old. She’s had to be. Even more so now. But in reality, how’s she going to hold it together now that her mother’s not there? How long can she make the meager amount of money in the bank account last? How long before someone notices that her mother is no longer there, and calls in the authorities? Someone like the nosy old goat next door.

Lettie is the nosy old goat next door. She thinks Rae’s rude. But she watches out for her all the same. She doesn’t want the authorities poking their noses in either, for reasons of her own.

When someone down the street reports Lettie, these two form a mutual protection society and slowly, a friendship. But, even together, they can’t hold off the authorities forever.

A Million Things is one of those rare, beautifully written books that is both heartbreaking and uplifting. It is a story of resilience, grief and friendship. The characters are so very real, they could have stepped off the page and into my lounge. I simply couldn’t get enough of this book.

The story takes place over 55 days, and is told from Rae’s point of view. Her dog, Master Splinter, is another important character in this book. He is all Rae has left from ‘before’.

This is a moving read. A very emotional one. A beautiful one. One that I am going to be recommending to everyone.

Yet another new, extremely talented, Australian writer for me to follow. Please put me down for her next book now.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#AMillionThings #NetGalley

I: @spurr.emily @text_publishing

T: @SpurrEmily @text_publishing

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #australianfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Originally from Tasmania, Emily lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her partner, their twins and a deaf, geriatric cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Million Things by Emily Spurr. 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.

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

The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

EXCERPT: As Waverley and Woodley make their way through the house, Lisa and myself get to work phoning everybody. We have similar conversations – ‘Hi, it’s Cameron/Hi, it’s Lisa, Zach has run away, have you seen him? Please let us know if you do. No, I’m sure he’s fine. No, I’m sure it’s just kids being kids. Yes, we’ll let you know when he’s back.’ – We do this, and the police officers look into the nooks and crannies of our house, all the places a small child could hide, and I suspect all the places a small child could be hidden – I’m not oblivious to the fact that when small children go missing, it’s the parents the police first suspect. The patrol car that escorted me earlier is now parked opposite the house. Original High Jumper and Original Wrestler are talking to the neighbours, all of whom are easy to find since they’re outside watching what’s going on. Another car pulls up and a man in a suit gets out, probably one of the detectives. He crosses the road and steps onto the yard and the angle changes so that I can no longer see him.

We keep making calls. To family. To teachers. To parents. To neighbours. I pace the lounge. I tap out phone numbers and try to sound calm. My body is a mess. Some organs are tightening and some organs are loosening and my brain is on fire. Lisa won’t look at me. I’m the one who should have looked in on Zach last night. I’m the one who should have known he was going to run away. I’m the one who made light of it when he said he would.

That makes me responsible for all of this.

‘And you’re the one responsible if he never gets found.’

I tell Mr What If to shut up, and he does.

At least for now.

ABOUT ‘THE QUIET PEOPLE’: Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

MY THOUGHTS: What a rollercoaster of a read! I cried in several places, and my jaw dropped in several others. My heart pounded, and my breath caught in my throat.

Paul Cleave has been firmly ensconced in my top five authors ever since I read his first book a number of years ago. He never fails to shock, appal and enthrall me.

I found it really easy to relate to this particular storyline. Who has a child who hasn’t threatened to run away? Who has a child who hasn’t actually done it? It is heart in the mouth stuff. And Cameron’s reaction to Zach’s threat was very similar to mine. This could have been my story, only I was lucky. My son came home.

The Quiet People is told from the points of view of Cameron, Zach’s dad, and Detective Rebecca Kent and takes place over the period of one week. The dual points of view provide the reader with the viewpoints of both the police and the parents. Both points of view are entirely logical, plausible, possible, but are conflicting.

The characters are entirely plausible and realistic. Although some reactions of the characters are extreme, it is an extremely fraught situation. I really enjoyed the inclusion of ‘Mr What If’, that little voice that nags at us all. I call mine ‘my mother’.

This is a book that I recommend you go into blind. The Quiet People is heartbreaking, shocking, and oh so good. Better than good. Absolutely excellent. Just read this.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheQuietPeople

I: @paul.cleave @upstart_press

T: @PaulCleave @upstartpressnz

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #mystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Paul Cleave is an internationally bestselling author who is currently dividing his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where all of his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. He has won the Ngaio Marsh award for best crime novel in New Zealand, he won the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year in France, has been shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Barry Award in the US, and shortlisted for the Ned Kelly award in Australia. When he’s not writing, he spends his time swearing on a golf course, swearing on a tennis court, or trying to add to his list of 25 countries where he’s thrown his Frisbee.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Quiet People, written by Paul Cleave, and published by Upstart Press, from Waitomo District Library because I couldn’t wait to read the copy I have on order from my local bookstore. 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

EXCERPT: I’m running out of time . . . I will never have the job of my dreams and take to the air like lucky Daniel . . . Gone is the prospect of great sex with someone who is yet to discover me and who will in turn help me discover myself . . . I’m running out of time to make amends . . . And with each year my kids slip further from my reach . . . falling into the arms of their life partners who they put before me and I know that’s how it should be, but I find it hard to be happy about it . . . because it leaves Mario and me on our own.

ABOUT ‘WAITING TO BEGIN’: 1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

MY THOUGHTS: Whenever I finish a book by Amanda Prowse, I am emotionally bruised, battered and totally wrung out. Waiting to Begin was no exception.

This is a story of actions and consequences, something few teenagers think about. Bessie is one of those teenagers who let her hormones rule her brain. As a result her life becomes a trainwreck.

Fast forward to 2021 and Bess is suffering empty nest syndrome. On top of that she feels that her marriage to Mario has become stale. Things she used to think were cute, now drive her insane. They aren’t close anymore, the loving communication and meaningful discussions, along with affectionate gestures have disappeared. She is at that stage of her life when she wonders, ‘is this all there is?’ She wants to be loved, adored; she wants to feel special, to feel that glimmer of attraction, a frisson of excitement. She wants to feel alive instead of tired and worn out by the repetitiveness of her life.

I didn’t always like Bess, but I have to admit that I could see parts of myself in her at various stages of her life, which gave me food for thought, a reality check.

Prowse takes things that most of us feel at one time or another, combines them with relatable and realistic characters, and weaves a story that both compels and captivates. Tissues mandatory.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#WaitingtoBegin #NetGalley

I: @mrsamandaprowse #lakeunionpublishing

T: @MrsAmandaProwse #LakeUnionPublishing

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse 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

Monsters Love Underpants by Claire Freedman

EXCERPT: Monsters think it’s MONSTER fun
To creep around all scary!
But there’s something they love even more,
Than looking mean and hairy!

ABOUT ‘MONSTERS LOVE UNDERPANTS’: There are prowly monsters howling loudly and drooling monsters from the steamy swamp. There are wild, woolly mountain monsters and spiky, spooky monsters from outer space. And they all have one thing in common – they LOVE underpants!

LUKE AND SANDY’S THOUGHTS: What monsters love even more than looking mean and scary is ….. UNDERPANTS! And they have ever so many pairs of brightly coloured, striped, spotted and patterned underpants. One monster even wears an extra pair on his head!

As well as a fun rhyming story, there are plenty of learning opportunities – counting, colours, and working into the story that even though the monsters are all different, just like people are all different, they all live and play together.

Luke particularly loved the cat being scared by the monsters, and the pirate underpants. He also liked that there are bats and spiders and mice in some of the pictures.

Delightfully silly, bright and cheerful. I have lost count of the number of times we have read Monsters Love UNDERPANTS!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: I’ve been a writer for over 15 years now, but it wasn’t planned!

I had a variety of jobs, including secretary, trainee buyer at Harrods, dental nurse, production assistant in a reprographic and printing company and various others.

I began to write after joining a creative writing class. I had no success with article writing, or short stories, or fiction, but the first children’s story I wrote, for a magazine called Twinkle, was accepted for publication. Hooray!!!

Things snowballed and a lot (yes lots and lots) of hard work later I now write full time and have over 50 books published. I still go to the same writing class and we have become a big happy family of writers!

For me, writing is the best job ever. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I love to create worlds for young children to enjoy and escape into – whether the stories are educational, bedtime, problem solving or just plain good fun. It’s also very exciting to see the first picture roughs, as my wonderful, talented illustrators bring the text to life.

I live on the Essex coast in a lovely two-bed-roomed flat, which I share with my husband, Michael. At long last I have an office to write in, with room for all my books and bits of scribbled on papers.

The seafront is (still) just around the corner, and I find a bracing walk (it gets freezing when the East wind blows from the North Sea!) or gentle stroll when the weather is warmer, is great for clearing my head and mulling over story ideas

DISCLOSURE: Luke owns his copy of Monsters Love Underpants, written by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Ben Cort and published by Simon & Schuster. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely our 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 Instagram, Twitter and Goodreads.com

Entry Island by Peter May

EXCERPT: When the plane began its final descent towards Havre de Maisons, it banked left and Sime saw the storm clouds accumulating in the south-west. And as it swung around for landing, he caught a glimpse once more of Entry Island standing sentinel at the far end of the bay. A dark, featureless shadow waiting for him in the grey, pre-storm light. He had thought, just a matter of days ago, that he had seen the last of it. But now he was back. To try to resolve what seemed like an insoluble mystery. To right what he believed to be a miscarriage of justice. Something that, in all likelihood, would lose him his job.

ABOUT ‘ENTRY ISLAND’: When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal’s St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.

Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime’s destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants – the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.

Haunted by this certainty his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant past on a Scottish island 3,000 miles away. Dreams in which the widow plays a leading role. Sime’s conviction becomes an obsession. And in spite of mounting evidence of her guilt he finds himself convinced of her innocence, leading to a conflict between the professonal duty he must fulfil, and the personal destiny that awaits him.

MY THOUGHTS: Entry Island criss-crosses between a small island on Canada’s Eastern Seaboard and the Hebrides in a mystery that spans the centuries.

The plot is complex and fascinating. A murder occurs on a small isolated island with a population of only 100 people. How hard could it be to solve? The only suspect, Kirsty, the murdered man’s estranged wife, triggers a strange response in Sime, and thus begins the story of two islands in two times, two mysteries, and a love story that spans two centuries.

May, as always, writes vividly, painting pictures of his characters, the landscapes in which they dwell, and the little known but very real Highland Clearances. He is master of the claustrophobic and isolated island setting, of depicting the very special characters that choose to live there.

May had my heart pounding in places, and had me in tears in others. He wrung every conceivable emotion from me as I read Entry Island. He both thrilled me, and appalled me. He taught me of a period in history that I had known nothing about. He entertained me, superbly.

Thank you Peter May. I will continue to buy every book that you write. And will, no doubt, continue to feel that frisson of excitement as I open the cover of each for the first time.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#EntryIsland

I: @authorpetermay @riverrun_books

T: @authorpetermay @riverrunbooks

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #contemporaryfiction #historicalfiction #murdermystery #mystery #thriller

QUOTES: ‘A light wind blew high clouds across an inky sky, stars like jewels set in ebony. An almost full moon came and went in washes of colourless silver light. The air was filled with the sound of the ocean, the slow steady breath of eternity.’

‘We sow the seeds of our own destruction without ever realizing it.’

THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born and raised in Scotland and now lives in France. As well as being a prolific and award winning writer, he has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Entry Island written by Peter May and published by Riverrun, a division of Quercus. 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

You Need to Know by Nicola Moriarty

EXCERPT: The kettle boiled and she poured her cup of tea, then she picked up her phone to call Mimi. For a moment her thumb hovered over the mail icon. The email had arrived three days ago. It had taken her a few minutes, but eventually she had recognised the sender’s name. It was a name that gave her a nasty feeling in the pit of her stomach. And it was highly unusual that she would be writing to her.

Then she’d read the subject line: ‘You Need to Know’. Her skin prickled with irritation. What on earth could this woman have to say that Jill apparently needed to know? The presumptious tone annoyed her, so she’d closed the app and ignored it.

Her thumb moved away from her inbox now, and instead she phoned Mimi.

ABOUT ‘YOU NEED TO KNOW’: The holidays are here. The extended family has gathered. The cars are packed and the convoy sets off. The cottage is a few hours’ drive – but not everyone will live to see it …

For Jill, her three sons, their wives and children, a terrifying road crash will tear apart their family.

The crash will be an accident but the shattering that follows has been long coming.

Because at the heart of this family lies a secret – concealed, wrestled with, festering and harmful – and nothing now can stop it coming out.

But will any of them survive it?

MY THOUGHTS: You Need to Know that you need to read this!

I started You Need to Know when I got home from work, and I did not, could not, put it down until I finished. I devoured it, then licked my fingers afterwards.
I inhaled it. I lived it. I loved every word.

Moriarty has written a dramatic tale of family relationships with believable characters, and an original plot that increases in intensity and complexity culminating in multiple wreckages …. not all of them vehicular. Secrets that have been hidden in this family, from this family, are revealed and their relationships are fractured.

Moriarty’s characters are so realistic, so complete, that they could have stepped off the pages and into my life. They could be my friends, my neighbours. This is a situation any family could find itself in. Moriarty writes her characters with a deep understanding and compassion.
An absolutely absorbing page-turner.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#YouNeedtoKnow #NetGalley

I: #nicolamoriarty #harpercollinsaustralia

T: @NikkiM3 @HarperCollinsAU

#contemporaryfiction #australianfiction #familydrama #fivestarread #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Nicola Moriarty lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small daughters. She is the younger sister of bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying teaching at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of You Need to Know by Nicola Moriarty 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