Oh William! By Elizabeth Strout

EXCERPT: As we drove, William suddenly made a noise that was almost like a laugh. I turned my face toward him. ‘What?’ I said.

He kept looking straight ahead at the road. ‘Do you know one time when you and I had a dinner party – well, it wouldn’t have been called a dinner party, you never really knew how to pull off a real dinner party – but we had some friends over, and long after they had gone home, way after I had gone to bed, but then I came downstairs and found you in the dining room -‘ William turned his head to glance at me. ‘And I saw -‘ Again he gave an abrupt sound of almost laughter, and he looked straight ahead again. ‘And I saw you bending down and kissing the tulips that were there on the table. You were kissing them, Lucy. Each tulip. God, it was weird.’

I looked out the window of my side of the car, and my face became very warm.

‘You’re a strange one, Lucy,’ he said after a moment. And that was that.

ABOUT ‘OH WILLIAM!’: Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. Recalling their college years, the birth of their
daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people.

MY THOUGHTS: After having read the first two Amgash books, My Name is Lucy Barton, and Anything is Possible, which focussed on Lucy’s earlier life – i.e. leading up to 63, and on people she has known at various times in her life, respectively – I was excited to pick up Oh William!, which looks at her current relationship with her ex-husband, father of her two daughters, and sometimes friend, William.

Lucy is still grieving the loss of her second husband, David, who, I feel obliged to point out, was a much nicer man than William. William liked to belittle Lucy, mainly I think to cover his own feelings of inadequacy, the reasons for which come to light in Oh William!

Sometimes, in my head, I am very much like Lucy Barton. I try not to be, although I love Lucy to bits, but I am. And that is the thing about Strout’s characters – we are able to recognise bits of ourselves in them. But the point that I am getting to is that unlike Lucy, I would have never agreed to go on a trip with my ex-husband, not even with the temptation of finding a half sister he never knew he had, and discovering more about the first marriage of his mother, another unknown. Okay, I might have been momentarily tempted, but I would never have gone. But then William and Lucy have a totally different relationship to mine which is completely non-existent and will remain that way.

We learn a lot about William which, I guess, is the whole point of this book. He is exposed, warts and all, and I was left liking him even less than I had originally.

Oh William! is, like it’s two predecessors, a book that I completely lost myself in. I hope that it is not the last in the series. I want to know if Chrissy will succeed in becoming pregnant and carry to full term. I want to know Lucy in old age. I am not yet ready to say goodbye to this family.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#OhWilliam #NetGalley

I: #elizabethstrout @penguinukbooks

T: @LizStrout @PenguinUKBooks

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Strout is the author of several novels, including: Abide with Me, a national bestseller and BookSense pick, and Amy and Isabelle, which won the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize, and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in England. In 2009 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her book Olive Kitteridge. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines, including The New Yorker. She teaches at the Master of Fine Arts program at Queens University of Charlotte.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin General UK – Fig Tree via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Oh William! for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

EXCERPT: He took hold of the knob and turned it. The door swung open and the ice-cold air trapped behind it spilled out.

Isak gasped. I blinked; looked again.

Inside the room was nothing but darkness; not even a silvering of moonlight.

And it was empty.

No light was glowing, no flame flickered, nobody was there.

Only the rocking chair moved, rocking forwards and backwards as if whoever had been sitting in it had, a moment earlier, got up and left the room.

ABOUT ‘THE ROOM IN THE ATTIC’: A child who does not know her name…

In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, who the staff name Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.

Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…

In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.

Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…

All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.

Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

MY THOUGHTS: I became totally absorbed in The Room in the Attic, the first book I have read by author Louise Douglas. She has written an eerily atmospheric book that took me quite by surprise.

I was sitting in my reading chair, totally engrossed, when my cat, who had been asleep across the top of the back, jumped down onto the arm of the chair, then my lap. My husband swears that I shot a good foot into the air and squealed in fright. It’s not often that a book has that effect on me. The cat, Tighe, while disgruntled, was unharmed. My pounding heart took a little longer to recover. My husband is unlikely to let me forget this any time soon.

An old lunatic asylum is the perfect setting for this story; A large, old, gothic building, full of unexplained sounds and dark corners with a tragic history is a fitting backdrop for the story Louise Douglas tells.

The story is told over two timelines: 1903 when All Hallows is still an asylum and takes in a woman who is found unconscious, and a child presumed to be her daughter; and 1993 when Lewis and Isak are pupils there, sleeping in the room directly under the room in the attic where the young child was murdered.

An asylum in the early 1900s was no refuge. There was no treatment for mental illness. Violent or troublesome patients were chained to the walls, and most were heavily sedated. Some of the drugs given actually caused hallucinations. Such places were very easy to be admitted to; few people got to leave other than in a coffin.

All Hallows as a school was not a much more inviting establishment than it was as an asylum. Bullying and corporal punishment are the norm; the staff border on brutal.

The characters in both time frames are beautifully crafted. 1993 – Lewis and Isak, both motherless, have been sent to All Hallows by their fathers basically to get them out of the way. Lewis’s father has remarried and Lewis is not liked nor understood by his new stepmother. Isak’s father simply hasn’t the time for him – he is far too busy in politics to be bothered with a grieving son.
1903 – Nurse Emma is getting on in years and no longer able to carry out the heavier duties of her job. She is still grieving for the loss of her young son many years previously and so she is given the task of caring for the young child who was admitted alongside the unconscious mystery woman. There are no shifts, no relief. It’s a 24/7 task, locked in the attic with only another nurse, Maria, to bring meals, clean linen, and gossip from the wards below.

The tie-in between these two threads is incredibly clever; the resolution immensely satisfying. The writing is haunting and emotionally apt. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheRoomintheAttic #NetGalley

I: @louisedouglas3 @bookandtonic

T: @LouiseDouglas3 @BoldwoodBooks

#fivestarread #gothic #historicalfiction #mystery #paranormal #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Hello and thank you for visiting my profile page. I write contemporary Gothic novels which are usually inspired by places close to where I live in the Mendips, close to Bristol in the UK, or by places I’ve visited, especially Italy and Sicily.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Boldwood Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

Over My Dead Body by Jeffrey Archer

EXCERPT: ‘Are you a detective, sir?’

William looked up at the young man who’d asked the question. ‘No, I’m the assistant manager of the Midland Bank in Shoreham, Kent.’

‘In that case,’ continued the young man, not looking convinced, ‘you’ll be able to tell me what the exchange rate was between the dollar and the pound when the currency market opened this morning.’

William tried to remember how much he’d received when he changed a hundred pounds into dollars just before he’d joined the ship the previous evening. But he hesitated for too long.

‘One dollar and fifty-four cents to the pound,’ said the young man before he could reply. ‘So, forgive me for asking, sir, why aren’t you willing to admit you’re a detective?’

William put the book he was reading on the table in front of him and took a closer look at the earnest young American who seemed desperate not to be thought of as a child, although he hadn’t started shaving. The word ‘preppy’ immediately came to mind.

‘Can you keep a secret?’ he whispered.

‘Yes, of course,’ the young man said, sounding offended.

‘Then have a seat,’ said William, pointing to the comfortable chair opposite him. He waited for the young man to settle. ‘I’m on holiday, and I promised my wife that for the next ten days I wouldn’t tell anyone I was a detective, because it’s always followed by a stream of questions that turn it into a busman’s holiday.’

But why choose a banker as your cover?’ asked the young man. ‘Because I have the feeling you wouldn’t know the difference between a spreadsheet and a balance sheet.’

‘My wife and I gave that question some considerable thought before we settled on a banker. I grew up in Shoreham, a small town in England, in the sixties, and the local bank manager was a friend of my father’s. So I thought I’d get away with it for a couple of weeks.’

‘What else was on the short list?’

‘Estate agent, car salesman, and funeral director. All of which we were fairly confident wouldn’t be followed by never ending questions.’

The young man laughed.

‘Which job would you have chosen?’ asked William, trying to regain the initiative.

‘Hitman. That way nobody would have bothered me with any follow up questions.’

‘I would have known that was a cover immediately,’ said William with a dismissive wave of his hand. ‘Because no hitman would have asked me if I was a detective. He would have already known. So, what do you really do when you’re not a hitman?’

ABOUT ‘OVER MY DEAD BODY’: In London, the Metropolitan Police set up a new Unsolved Murders Unit—a cold case squad—to catch the criminals nobody else can.

In Geneva, millionaire art collector Miles Faulkner—convicted of forgery and theft—was pronounced dead two months ago. So why is his unscrupulous lawyer still representing a dead client?

On a luxury liner en route to New York, the battle for power at the heart of a wealthy dynasty is about to turn to murder.

And at the heart of all three investigations are Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick, rising star of the department, and ex-undercover agent Ross Hogan, brought in from the cold.

But can they catch the killers before it’s too late?

Due for publication 12 October 2021

MY THOUGHTS: I first read Jeffrey Archer in 1979,or shortly thereafter, having bought my father Kane and Abel as a gift, which I promptly borrowed back to read. My father is long passed away, but I still have that copy. Thus began my love affair with this extraordinarily talented storyteller.

Now in his eighties, he certainly hasn’t lost his touch, and has created a wonderful character in William Warwick who has risen to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector (youngest in the history of the Met), and also in Ross Hogan, an ex-undercover agent and loose cannon.

The cruise that William and his delightful and clever wife Beth are taking, doesn’t turn out to be the relaxing holiday they were planning on. A suspicious death on board puts paid to that, and William leaves his wife in New York after they dock and flies back to England where he becomes embroiled in a plan to catch the escaped, and previously thought dead, criminal Miles Faulkner.

Over My Dead Body is fast paced and kept me spellbound from beginning to end. It’s not often that I will listen to an audiobook in two days, but I had my earbuds in every chance I had. It’s brilliantly written, with plots and subplots, twists, turns and drama. I frequently had my heart in my mouth, and at one point I called out a very loud and anguished, ‘Nooo!’ If you read Over My Dead Body, and I hope that you do, you will know exactly at which point I did this.

Archer has left me on the edge of my seat, waiting for #5 in this planned series of 8 books.

Narrator George Blagden gave an excellent performance, but then I would expect nothing less from such a distinguished actor.

At the end of the audiobook is an excellent interview with Jeffrey Archer. Please don’t skip this, it’s priceless.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#OverMyDeadBody #NetGalley

I: @jeffrey_archer_author @harpercollinsuk

T: @Jeffrey_Archer @HarperCollinsUK

#fivestarread #detectivefiction #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.

He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specialising in solar power. Outside politics, he is a novelist, playwright and short story writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Over My Dead Body for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

EXCERPT: His funeral was sparsely attended. Wallace wasn’t pleased. He couldn’t even be quite sure how he’d gotten here. One moment, he’d been staring down at his body, and then he’d blinked, and somehow, found himself in front of a church, the doors open, bells ringing. It certainly hadn’t helped when he saw the prominent sign sitting out front. A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF WALLACE PRICE it read. He didn’t like that sign, if he was being honest with himself. No, he didn’t like it one bit. Perhaps someone inside could tell him what the hell was going on.

ABOUT ‘UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR’: When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

MY THOUGHTS: Under the Whispering Door is an utterly amazing, beautiful and inspiring story. I finished with a great sense of peace and awe.

Wallace was not a nice person. This is evident at his funeral. He lacked empathy, had no friends. There is a woman at his funeral he doesn’t recognize, not difficult since there are only six people there. She is different from the others – she can see him. Here starts Wallace’s journey.

I am so glad I got to go on that journey with him. It was a wondrous experience. This is a magical and emotionally powerful read. I cried for Wallace, for Cameron, for Nancy. I laughed at Mei’s ascerbic tongue, at Nelson’s antics.

Under the Whispering Door is a book that will stay with me a long time, and one that I am going to purchase a hard copy of.

If you haven’t read this yet, please do. It’s a beautiful experience.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#UndertheWhisperingDoor #NetGalley

#fivestarread #fantasy #humour #paranormal #romance

I: @tjklunebooks @macmillanusa

T: @ tjklune @MacmillanUSA

THE AUTHOR: TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you, thank you, thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing a digital ARC of Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (The Thursday Murder Club #2)

EXCERPT: The nights are beginning to draw in a little, and the sun is sinking behind the trees on top of the hill as Elizabeth reaches Ruskin Court and rings the bell for number 14. Here goes nothing. There is a brief wait and she is buzzed up.

There are lifts in all the buildings, but Elizabeth will use the stairs while she still can. Stairs are good for hip and knee flexibility. Also it is very easy to kill someone in a lift when the doors open. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and a ping to announce that you’re about to appear. Not that she’s worried about being killed, it doesn’t feel to her like that’s what’s happening here, but it’s always important to remember best practice. Elizabeth has never killed anyone in a lift. She once saw someone pushed down an empty lift shaft in Essen, but that was different.

She turns left at the top of the stairs, transfers the flowers to her left hand and knocks on the door of number 14. Who will answer the door? What is the story here? Should she be worried?

The door opens, and she sees a very familiar face.

It’s not Marcus Carmichael, how could it have been? But it is certainly someone who knew the name Marcus Carmichael. And who knew it would get her attention.

And it turns out that, yes, she should be worried.

ABOUT ‘THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE’: It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

MY THOUGHTS: I just loved The Thursday Murder Club, but approached The Man Who Died Twice (don’t you just love that title!) with just a modicum of apprehension. Would the author fall victim to the second book syndrome? He didn’t. Osman hasn’t put one word wrong.

I love these characters, and the fact that we learn a lot more about them in the course of the book. Am I allowed to admit that as I was reading I was hearing Penelope Keith’s voice as Elizabeth?

This disparate club of characters will delight, charm and amuse. There were times I felt afraid for them, times when they amazed me. Never are they predictable.

I am not going to waste any more time talking about this book, other than to say ‘Read it!’ This is the book we all need.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheManWhoDiedTwice #NetGalley

I: @misterosman @penguinrandomhouse

T: @richardosman @PenguinUKBooks

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

THE AUTHOR: Richard Thomas Osman is an English comedian, producer, television presenter, writer, and the creator and co-presenter of the BBC One television quiz show Pointless.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin General UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

EXCERPT: The waitress approached the table . . . noting how they each sat in the same distinctive way, with their ankles locked around the front legs of their chairs, as if to prevent them from sliding away.

‘Excuse me?’

They didn’t hear her. They were all talking at once, their voices overlapping. They were definitely related. They even sounded similar: low,deep, husky-edged voices. People with sore throats and secrets.

‘She’s not technically missing. She sent us that text.’

‘I just can’t believe she’s not answering her phone. She always answers.’

‘Dad mentioned her new bike is gone.’

‘What? That’s bizarre.’

‘So . . . she just cycled off down the street and into the sunset?’

‘But she didn’t take her helmet. Which I find very weird.’

‘I think it’s time we reported her missing.’

‘It’s over a week now. That’s too long.’

‘Like I said, she’s not technically -‘

‘She is the very definition of missing because we don’t know where she is.’

The waitress raised her voice to the point where it was perilously close to rude. ‘Are you ready to order yet?’

They didn’t hear her.

‘Has anyone been over to the house yet?’

‘Dad told me please don’t come over. He’s “very busy”.’

‘Very busy? What’s he so busy doing?’

The waitress shuffled alongside them, in between the chairs and the wall, so that one of them might see her.

‘You know what could happen if we reported her missing?’ The better looking of the two men spoke. He wore a long sleeved linen shirt rolled up to the elbows; shorts and shoes without socks. He was in his early thirties, the waitress guessed, with a goatee and the low-level charismatic charm of a reality star or a real estate agent. ‘They’d suspect Dad.’

‘Suspect Dad of what?’ asked the other man, a shabbier, chunkier, cheaper version of the first. Instead of a goatee, he just needed a shave.

‘That he . . . you know.’ The expensive version brother drew his finger across his neck.

The waitress went very still. This was the best conversation she’d overheard since she’d started waitressing.

‘Jesus, Troy.’ The cheaper version brother exhaled. ‘That’s not funny.’

The other man shrugged. ‘The police will ask if they argued. Dad said they did argue.’

‘But surely – ‘

‘Maybe Dad did have something to do with it,’ said the youngest of the four, a woman wearing a short orange dress dotted with white daisies over a swimsuit knotted at the neck. Her hair was dyed blue (the waitress coveted that exact shade), and it was tied back in a sticky, wet, tangled knot at her neck. There was a fine sheen of sandy sunscreen on her arms as if she’d just that moment walked off the beach, even though they were at least a forty minute drive from the coast. ‘Maybe he snapped. Maybe he finally snapped.’

ABOUT ‘APPLES NEVER FALL’: The Delaney family love one another dearly—it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

If your mother was missing, would you tell the police? Even if the most obvious suspect was your father?

This is the dilemma facing the four grown Delaney siblings.

The Delaneys are fixtures in their community. The parents, Stan and Joy, are the envy of all of their friends. They’re killers on the tennis court, and off it their chemistry is palpable. But after fifty years of marriage, they’ve finally sold their famed tennis academy and are ready to start what should be the golden years of their lives. So why are Stan and Joy so miserable?

The four Delaney children—Amy, Logan, Troy, and Brooke—were tennis stars in their own right, yet as their father will tell you, none of them had what it took to go all the way. But that’s okay, now that they’re all successful grown-ups and there is the wonderful possibility of grandchildren on the horizon.

One night a stranger named Savannah knocks on Stan and Joy’s door, bleeding after a fight with her boyfriend. The Delaneys are more than happy to give her the small kindness she sorely needs. If only that was all she wanted.

Later, when Joy goes missing, and Savannah is nowhere to be found, the police question the one person who remains: Stan. But for someone who claims to be innocent, he, like many spouses, seems to have a lot to hide. Two of the Delaney children think their father is innocent, two are not so sure—but as the two sides square off against each other in perhaps their biggest match ever, all of the Delaneys will start to reexamine their shared family history in a very new light.

MY THOUGHTS: Apples Never Fall is an excellent family drama/mystery that delves into family dynamics with disarming honesty and more than a little humour. I laughed as I recognized shades of myself and my three brothers in these conversations. Even Savannah was startlingly familiar. Though the cuckoo in our nest was called Sharilyn, and she was far more benign than Savannah.

Moriarty has a definite talent for characterisation. Her characters are vibrant and alive, and tend to leap off the page and move into your life for the duration of the book. This, combined with her devious mind which conjures up intriguing mysteries, guarantees a read that just can’t be put down.

Like an onion, the layers of the Delaney family are peeled back one by one, revealing their insecurities, their resentments, their petty jealousies, their disappointments, their fears. Like most families, they have wallpapered over the cracks in their lives, given up on their dreams, settled for second best, all the time telling themselves that it’s just life, that this is the reality of adulthood. But when Savannah intrudes and Joy goes missing, the plasters are ripped off, the wounds and battle scars exposed for all to see. There are some shocking revelations and surprises!

Although the mystery of Joy’s disappearance is always there, it is not the main focus of the story. It is merely a vehicle for the dissection of a family unit under pressure; an examination of their values, their loyalties, their coping strategies. I would be interested to learn if Brooke ever has another migraine.

Apples Never Fall had me laughing and, at one point, snivelling into a fistful of tissues. Moriarty put my emotions through the wringer. Apples Never Fall is an irresistible read. It’s charming, and surprising, just what I have come to expect from one of my favourite authors.

What I wasn’t expecting was that final chapter. Stunning!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#ApplesNeverFall #NetGalley

I: #lianemoriarty @macmillanaus

T: #LianeMoriarty @MacmillanAus

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mystery

THE AUTHOR: She lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter. When she’s not writing she can be found reading, demanding coffee, being taken for a brisk walk by her Labrador, skiing like she’s thirty years younger than she is, recovering from skiing injuries, talking to old friends about getting old, and begging her children for help with technology.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Apples Never Fall by Liane 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Darkness Falls by David Mark

EXCERPT: McAvoy freezes, his mind filling with pictures as his fading dream surges back to fill his vision. Suddenly the whole world is her, his nostrils clogged with the smell of spoiled meat, his vision nothing but torn silk and sticky blood. He wraps his arms around Fin. Holds his son until the moment passes.

They have been getting worse, these visions. As the court case has inched closer he has found himself thinking more and more of the dead girl he had so hoped to find alive. He found himself thinking of Shane Cadbury – the plump, slow-witted sex pest who had plunged a knife into her again and again and laid her out in his bed like a trophy. He has never truly felt clean since that day. He knows that scents are particularl, that each aroma is made of tiny fragments of a source. Each time he smells Ella Butterworth, he remembers that she drifted inside him. She has done more than climb under his skin. Her body, corrupted, defiled, is within him. She is his responsibility.

ABOUT ‘DARKNESS FALLS’: A city united in grief
A journalist ready to kill to keep his secrets
A copper capable of darker deeds than any of the murderers he puts away
An unworldly detective ready to do whatever it takes to save an innocent man.

Welcome to Hull.

In this masterful prequel to the Sunday Times bestseller Dark Winter, Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy is the outsider who must confront his darkest fears while hunting a killer that nobody else believes in.
In a landscape at once tender and brutal, McAvoy must tread the path between the darkness and the light, before facing an enemy who will brand him for life.

MY THOUGHTS: My trio of ‘go to’ crime writers when I am looking for a dark gritty read complete with black humor, has just expanded to a quartet.

A prequel to the Aector McAvoy series, Darkness Falls is dark, disturbing, thrilling and addictive. David Mark has created a compelling central character in McAvoy, a man haunted by his own demons, just not ones that you would necessarily expect. He is a man who cannot lie to save himself, a good man, a kind man, a man with a conscience, a man for whom justice means getting it right, not just getting a result.

And yet it is not McAvoy, a misfit amongst his peers, who takes centre stage in Darkness Falls. That distinction is shared between Owen Lee, a Press Association correspondent who has reached the end of his tether; and Head of the Major Crimes Unit, media darling Detective Superintendent Doug Roper, a man adept at manipulating not only the media, but anyone else he is able to dig up dirt on.

Mark’s vast experience as a crime reporter shines through in his graphically realistic and chilling descriptions and obvious understanding of the criminal mind.

This is my first encounter with McAvoy, and author David Mark. I am pleased to see that I have many more books in this series to look forward to.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#DarknessFalls #NetGalley

I: @davidmarkwriter @ariafiction

T: @DavidMarkWriter @Aria_Fiction

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #serialkillerthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: David spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the internationally bestselling Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

His writing is heavily influenced by the court cases he covered: the defeatist and jaded police officers; the inertia of the justice system and the sheer raw grief of those touched by savagery and tragedy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria and Aries, Head of Zeus, for providing a digital ARC of Darkness Falls by David Mark for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

EXCERPT: The sound grew louder.

Tennant had no idea she was screaming, too, until she ran out of breath and choked on the air – dirt, dust, flour – all filling her lungs at once. She coughed it back out, forced herself to stand, clawed at the cellar door.

Why had Poppa locked them in?

They’d die down here.

And Momma and Poppa out there?

On the ground at her feet, Sophie’s hands and arms wrapped around her head, her knees pulled close against her chest. Blood dripped from the corners of her eyes, from her button nose, seeped out from between her fingers over her ears. Thick, congealed blood, dark red, nearly black. One of her hands shot out and wrapped around Tennant’s ankles and squeezed so tight the pain brought her back down to the floor.

The sound grew louder.

Tennant wanted to hold her sister, but her arms and legs no longer obeyed her. Her heart drummed against her ribs, threatened to burst. She couldn’t get air, each gasp no better than breathing water. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her vision first went white, then dark, as the walls closed in. The cellar no better than a grave.

ABOUT ‘THE NOISE’: Young sisters, Sophie and Tennant Riggin, are the only two people to withstand a massive explosion that destroys their community, located in the shadow of Oregon’s Mt. Hood.

A team of elite government investigators are sent to research the fallout and the girls – why did only they survive? – but with conflicting objectives. For Dr Martha Chan, a psychologist who analyses large-scale medical emergencies: study them. For Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Fraser, a career military leader with an inherent mistrust of civilians: contain them.

But as the disturbance replicates across the Pacific Northwest, it threatens to topple the chain of command. Dr Chan and Lieutenant Colonel Fraser are caught between the perpetrators of the threat – and those who have the power to resist.

MY THOUGHTS: What the hell did I just read? I didn’t read the publicity blurb prior to requesting this, and I never read the publicity blurb before starting reading. The fact that J.D. Barker is co-author was good enough for me. And I hit the jackpot! I am so pleased I never read the blurb; I would never have requested this and I would have missed out on a spectacular read.

The story is told from the points of view of Tennant, the girl whose sister Sophie is affected by The Noise; Martha a psychologist who deals with large scale medical emergencies, and who is called on to study both this emergency and the sisters; Fraser, a career military officer who dislikes and distrusts civilians, and whose job it is to contain both the sisters and those brought in to examine them and the site; and briefly, the President of the United States, who faces a decision that no other president in history has ever faced.

If you are going to pick The Noise up, and I strongly recommend you do, set a day aside with no distractions or interruptions to read it. It’s not a long read, but it is action packed. This is no runaway train. There is no slow start, no build up. This is a bullet train – it starts fast and just gets faster, more suspenseful, more thrilling, and scarier.

Personally, I find the scariest things are those that are possible. The Noise falls into this category. It scared the living bejesus out of me. And I loved it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheNoise #NetGalley #RandomHouse

I: @jamespattersonbooks @jdbarker_author
@randomhouse

T: @JP_Books @ jdbarker @randomhouse

THE AUTHORS: James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author and most trusted storyteller. He has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today.

J.D. Barker is a New York Times and international bestselling American author of suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

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