The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

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EXCERPT: ‘Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,’ he quotes. ‘Sonnet 116, remember? We read it at our wedding. Four lines each in turn. Then the final couplet together.’

You shake your head. You don’t remember that, no.

‘It’ll come back to you.’ You wonder if he means the memory or the sentiment. ‘My point is, those weren’t just empty words to us. You were always unique, Abbie. Irreplaceable. A perfect wife. A perfect mother. The love of my life. Everyone says that, don’t they? But I really meant it. After I lost you, plenty of people told me I should move on, find someone else to spend my life with. But I knew that was never going to happen. So I did this instead. Was I right to? I don’t know. But I had to try. And even just talking to you now, for these few minutes – seeing you here, in our house, hearing you speak – makes all the years I put into this worthwhile. I love you, Abs. I will always love you. Forever, just like we promised each other on our wedding day.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s an icon of the tech world, the founder of a lucrative robotics company. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago, and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss. She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

MY THOUGHTS: Fascinating. Creepy. Plausible.

This is not what I was expecting at all. It is unconventionally creepy on many levels, mostly because I can see it happening if it hasn’t already done so. That woman in the restaurant who merely pushes the food around her plate? That person who seems too good to be true. How many times have you asked yourself if someone is even real? This book will have you asking that question all over again.

All this is tied in with a ‘love story’. He is a visionary, a wunderkind. What Gates was to personal computers, Jobs was to smartphones, or Musk was to electric cars, Tim Scott is to AI. Abbie is a free spirit, artist, surfer. They are opposites who have attracted, who complement each other, two halves of a whole. Until they have a child who develops CDD. Tim sees Danny as a problem to be solved, he just needs reprogramming. Abbie wants to try every alternative therapy. Cracks begin to appear…

The story is told from two points of view, from that of an unknown narrator, and Abbie. Abbie’s story is split over two timelines – Abbie now, and Abbie then. The identity of the unknown narrator is revealed at the end of the story, and came as somewhat of a surprise to me.

The story itself keeps the reader slightly off balance. Every time I thought I had something figured out, Delaney tipped me on my head. Her characters are unpredictable and thoroughly believable, even the AI ones.

And I want to applaud Delaney for not reducing the impact of autism on the family, for not stinting on her descriptions of autistic behaviour, and for including the joy that is taken from every little gain, no matter how small, no matter if it is never repeated.

This is an excellent read. An unconventional read. A read that will make you think about the role of robots (or, in this case, cobots – emotionally intelligent companion robots ) in our lives.

#ThePerfectWife #NetGalley

😍🤩🤔🤩😍

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney 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 and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2891285546

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Don’t Ever Tell by Lucy Dawson

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EXCERPT: ‘You don’t LOVE me! You LIED to me!’ Tears are streaming down his face, he looks deranged, a stranger – no hint of the gentle man I love. ‘You LIED and you stole it from me! LIAR!’ His face contorts; the harder he pushes the angrier he becomes, or maybe it’s the other way round.

It all happens very fast. The music is building again, about to drop, I’m not sure if his hand slips because he’s drunk, or he means to – but suddenly he isn’t pushing on my jaw, it’s my throat. It’s extraordinarily painful and I can’t breathe properly. I start to writhe up against the wall. My hands flutter up like butterflies, pulling at his fingers in panic.

I’m going to die.

He’s going to kill me.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Never make a promise you can’t afford to keep…

This is a story about Charlotte – a mother and a wife with the perfect job, the perfect life… at least, that’s how it looks from the outside.

But behind closed doors, the marriage is breaking, and Charlotte’s husband Tris doesn’t even know how much. He has no idea what Charlotte has planned for him, who she has found, why she has hired someone to pretend to be her. But he doesn’t have long to wait to find out…

MY THOUGHTS: The blurb says I was going to be gripped from the very first page and kept guessing until the very last, but I didn’t believe it….I WAS WRONG! I read this book overnight, unable to put it down. I even left work early after having started it at lunchtime!

Dynamic. Gripping. Unpredictable. I had no idea what Charlotte was doing.

This book deserves a second, and slower, read. Brilliant!

So brilliant, I am not even going to bitch about the mediocre cover featuring the woman in the red coat that is so overused it has quite lost its impact.

💕💖💝💖💕

THE AUTHOR: Lucy studied Psychology at Warwick University before becoming a children’s magazine editor. Her first bestselling book – His Other Lover – was published in 2008. Since then she has published four other novels and her work has been translated into numerous other languages. She lives in Exeter with her husband and children. Lucy finds writing in the third person uncomfortable.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Don’t Ever Tell by Lucy Dawson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on my webpage, sandysbookaday/wordpess.com This review and others also appear on Twitter, Amazon, and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2864658716?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

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EXCERPT: ‘How far does it go?’

‘Oh, come on Amy. A good game has to go all the way,’ Roux said, and her pink tongue came out for just a moment to touch her pale upper lip. ‘Think back. What’s the worst thing you ever did?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

MY THOUGHTS: Never Have I Ever…read a book this Diabolically Brilliant!

Never Have I Ever simply seethes with malice, manipulation, secrets, lies, secrets, lies and more secrets and lies. I am gobsmacked. During this read I have repeatedly had the rug pulled out from under my feet. I have been tipped out of my chair, bitch slapped, dunked and royally entertained! I wanted to immerse myself in this book and never come out. Damn, this was good.

Take a bunch of regular women…wives, moms, adjuncts and administrators, professors, librarians and a dive instructor, and add into the mix one usurping stranger. One usurping stranger who exudes an attractive air of danger, who encourages confidences. She plays a dangerous and deadly game, one where only she knows the rules, one where she always wins.

And no matter how bad you may think this woman is, how dangerous, believe me, you have no idea…

This is the second book this year that I have awarded an absolute meteor shower of stars to. Publication date is 8th August. I will be purchasing a hard copy. And reading all Jackson’s back titles. I am in thrall.

Oh yes, and I might even take up scuba diving.

#NeverHaveIEver #Netgalley

💕💖💝💖💕❤💜🧡💛💚💙

THE AUTHOR: New York Times and USA today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of NEVER HAVE I EVER and eight other books, including gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, three times been a #1 Book Sense Pick, been the Target Book Club Pick, and three times been shortlisted for the Townsend prize. A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of her novels; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, and garnered two Listen Up Awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books for providing a digital ARC of Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson 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 published on Twitter, Amazon, and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2891281858

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

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EXCERPT: On a dark street the nondescript grey hatchback slithered quietly to a halt beneath a streetlight that was helpfully broken. The car’s engine was killed and the driver, almost as anonymous-looking as the Peugeot itself, climbed out and shut the door with a quiet clunk. The passenger door opened and a girl climbed out. The driver waited on the pavement for her to heave her backpack out of the footwell. The colours of the little rainbows had all turned to grey in the dark and the unicorn had been rendered almost invisible. She closed the car door and heard the little ‘chirrup’ as the man locked it. He went ahead of her, then turned and smiled and said, ‘This way, follow me.’ He approached a house, the door key ready in his hand. Darcy hesitated for a moment. Something told her that she should run, but she was only thirteen and hadn’t learned to listen to her instincts yet, so she slung her backpack over one shoulder and followed the man into the house.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Jackson Brodie, ex-military police, ex-Cambridge Constabulary, currently working as a private investigator, makes a highly anticipated return, nine years after the last Brodie, Started Early, Took My Dog.

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It’s picturesque, but there’s something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson’s current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network—and back across the path of his old friend Reggie. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

MY THOUGHTS: Jackson Brodie, I love you. I’ve missed you, and I am so pleased you’re back. And by extension, I also love Kate Atkinson, both for her superb writing skills and her devious mind.

‘What does justice have to do with the law?’ A good question. Not very much in either real life or Big Sky. But as usual, Jackson manages, more by accident than good planning, to mete out justice more effectively than the law.

I love Atkinson’s characters, they jump off the page at you, drag you into their world. Tommy, Andy and Steve are all good reminders that not everyone is what they seem, that we only see what they want us to see. Harry reminds me a little of my grandson….he’s young for his age but he’s old for his age. Marlee, although she would never admit it, is very like her father.

Big Sky is a comedy of errors, or would be if the subject matter wasn’t so grim. But even so, Kate and Jackson had me laughing at times.

A wonderful read, and I hope that we don’t have to wait anywhere near as long for the next Jackson Brodie book.

🤩😍🤩😍🤩

I do recommend starting this series at the beginning, otherwise the relationships between some of the characters will be rather perplexing. 😉

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

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

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

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

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, published by Transworld, Doubleday. 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/2887272562?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope

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EXCERPT: She becomes aware of the silence at the other end of the phone, and without the slightest warning, a prickling sensation crawls up her arms. Her heart rate speeds up. Her breathing accelerates like it does when she’s running.

‘Found who?’ she asks again, slowly, carefully, deliberately repeating the words.

‘Daniel,’ says Michael. ‘They found Daniel.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Megan waits at the school gates for her six-year-old son, Daniel. As children come and go, the playground emptying, panic bubbles inside her. Daniel is nowhere to be found.

According to his teacher, Daniel’s father, Greg, has picked up his son. Except Greg and Megan are no longer together. After years of being controlled by her cruel husband, Megan has finally found the courage to divorce him. Hands trembling, she dials his number, but the line is dead.

Six years later

Megan is feeding baby daughter, Evie, when she gets the call she has dreamt about for years. Daniel has walked into a police station in a remote town just a few miles away. Her son is alive – and he’s coming home.

But their joyful family reunion does not go to plan. His room may have been frozen in time, with his Cookie Monster poster and stack of Lego under the bed, but Daniel is no longer the sweet little boy Megan remembers.

Cold and distant, Daniel is grieving the death of his father, blaming Megan for his loss and rejecting his family. And as Megan struggles to connect with the son she no longer recognises as her own, she begins to realise that Daniel has a secret. A secret that could destroy their family and put them in terrible danger.

MY THOUGHTS: OMG!!!!! An absolute meteor shower of stars for this one! Fantabulous! Jaw-dropping. Twisty. Emotionally draining. But so, so wonderful….

Told over two time-lines, the present when Daniel is reunited with his mother, and the time during which he was living on the run with his father, and from the points of view of Daniel and Megan, this book left me shattered and unable to start reading anything else for a couple of days.

Nicole Trope has the ability to transfer our emotions and fears and joys to the page, and to make us experience every emotion and feeling along with her characters. She has written some brilliant books previously, but The Boy in the Photo outshines every one of them.

If we could rate a book 100 stars, I would give them to The Boy in the Photo. An outstanding read.

💝💗💖💕💝

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 The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are 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 Twitter, Amazon, Goodreads.com and my webpage

Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

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EXCERPT: ….finally we’re playing a game. A game that I have chosen.

A trail of blood is forming in a circle around the gravel.

I push harder, causing the roundabout to whiz past me at speed.

‘You should have listened to me,’ I cry, pushing as hard as I can.

The sounds coming from her are no more than a whimper.

The blood on the ground is pooling, clumps of flesh are sticking to the concrete base.

The crying stops completely after I hear the sound of the fracture of her skull.

I give one last push of the spider’s web and stand back.

‘You really should have played with me,’ I tell her again, although I know she can no longer hear.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Late one summer evening, Detective Kim Stone arrives at Haden Hill Park to the scene of a horrific crime: a woman in her sixties tied to a swing with barbed wire and an X carved into the back of her neck.

The victim, Belinda Evans, was a retired college Professor of Child Psychology. As Kim and her team search her home, they find an overnight bag packed and begin to unravel a complex relationship between Belinda and her sister Veronica.

Then two more bodies are found bearing the same distinctive markings, and Kim knows she is on the hunt for a ritualistic serial killer. Linking the victims, Kim discovers they were involved in annual tournaments for gifted children and were on their way to the next event.

With DS Penn immersed in the murder case of a young man, Kim and her team are already stretched and up against one of the most ruthless killer’s they’ve ever encountered. The clues lie in investigating every child who attended the tournaments, dating back decades.

Faced with hundreds of potential leads and a bereaved sister who is refusing to talk, can Kim get inside the mind of a killer and stop another murder before it’s too late?

MY THOUGHTS: Who would ever have thought that after 11 books in this series, we would still be gagging for more!

And what can I say that hasn’t already been said? Unputdownable. Twisty (and twisted). Compelling. Riveting.

I really didn’t like Kim Stone at the beginning of the series, although I was hooked from book 1. But over time, her character has developed and she has mellowed (a little). She is far more human and not so angry. Still prickly, and determined to do things her own way, but just a little softer around the edges.

Bring on #12!

😍🤩😍🤩😍

THE AUTHOR: Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
Angela is now signed to write a total of 16 Kim Stone books for Bookouture.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Child’s Play by Angela Marsons 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 Twitter and my Goodreads.com page href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45154219-child-s-play

Amazing Things Are Happening Here by Jacob M. Appel

Amazing Things Are Happening Here by Jacob M. Appel

EXCERPT: (from the short story Live Shells)The decades are creased into Donald’s face like the rings of a tree. He’s grown a beard, put on weight, sprouted hair from the cusps of his ears. I approach unseen in the shade of a coconut palm and listen to his speculations on the recent cold snap and the prospects for the upstate orange crop while Grandmama nods and smiles and clicks her knitting needles together as though she’s heard it all before. She was already an old woman when I married Donald and she can no longer tell the difference between strangers and long term acquaintances she’s since forgotten, so she hedges her bets, treating even the water-meter man and the Jehovah’s Witness proselytizers like kissing cousins. Donald is no exception. And me? I’m not sure how to proceed after twenty-one years, so I step into the afternoon sunlight, my jaw clenched to hold my composure, but at the very moment when Donald recognizes me, my eyes rivet to the double knot in the right sleeve of his shirt. I stare at the haunting spot where the limb should be, unable to avert my gaze, fully conscious that I’m behaving the perfect fool.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: “In his new short story collection, AMAZING THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE, Jacob Appel renders our post 9/11 world through a variety of personalities, each narrating their unique and startling stories. Meet the shy high school student with a crush on a girl dying of leukemia, the mother whale who beaches to save her offspring, the search for the VA hospital’s lunatic who goes missing and never returns, and more. We are in the hands of a patient, master artist who watches the world unfolding around him, sees its protagonists’ inadvertent mistakes, and observes them endeavoring to reclaim their dignity. These stories lift us far above the realm of entertainment, and instead enrich and enliven the psyche’s oceanic heights and depths.”–Marilyn Krysl

MY THOUGHTS: What can I possibly say after Marilyn Krysl’s succinct and spot on observation except that Appel is an author who never disappoints, and that I read this wonderful collection in one sitting.

Appel is a master of human observation, and he conveys these observations into quirky and entertaining short stories that reflect our dreams and ambitions, our failings and frailties.

My favorite story in this collection is The Bigamist’s Accomplice, which I featured in my preview of this book on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

THE AUTHOR: Jacob M. Appel’s first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than two hundred literary journals including Agni, Conjunctions, Gettysburg Review, Southwest Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and West Branch. His work has been short listed for the O. Henry Award (2001), Best American Short Stories (2007, 2008), Best American Essays (2011, 2012), and received “special mention” for the Pushcart Prize in 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013.

Jacob holds a B.A. and an M.A. from Brown University, an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Columbia University, an M.S. in bioethics from the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical College, an M.D. from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University, an M.F.A. in playwriting from Queens College, an M.P.H. from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He currently practices psychiatry in New York City.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Black Lawrence Press via Netgalley for providing me with a digital ARC of Amazing Things Are Happening Here by Jacob M. Appel 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/2718398730