The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Gamache #11) by Louise Penny

EXCERPT: Some glint inside the bramble caught his eye.

Something was in there. Something that hadn’t grown, but had been placed there. Other hands had been here before him.

Laurent Lepage, his pursuers forgotten, knelt closer and, bringing both hands up, he grasped the vines and yanked them apart. The creepers clung to each other, bound together. Years, decades, eons worth of growth. And concealment.

Laurent ripped, and ripped, and tore. Until a shaft of sunlight penetrated the overgrowth, the undergrowth, and he saw what was in there. What had been hiding in the there longer than Laurent had been alive.

His eyes widened.

‘Wow.’

ABOUT ‘THE NATURE OF THE BEAST’: Hardly a day goes by when nine-year-old Laurent Lepage doesn’t cry wolf. From alien invasions, to walking trees, to winged beasts in the woods, to dinosaurs spotted in the village of Three Pines, his tales are so extraordinary no one can possibly believe him. But when the boy disappears, the villagers are faced with the possibility that one of his tall tales might have been true. And so begins a frantic search for the boy and the truth. What they uncover deep in the forest sets off a sequence of events that leads to murder, leads to an old crime, leads to an old betrayal. A monster once visited Three Pines. And put down deep roots. And now, it is back.

MY THOUGHTS: Louise Penny has created a remarkable cast of characters in her Chief Inspector Gamache series, and plots to match. The Nature of the Beast, #11 in this series is no exception. The plot is quietly exciting, the mystery puzzling, the denouement superb.

This is no simple mystery. It is multi-layered and provides proof that no matter how long we have known the residents of Three Pines, no matter how well we think we know them, Louise Penny is always able to reveal some facet of their natures, some secret, that will stun and surprise us.

I wondered what would become of Gamache now that he is officially ‘retired’. But he finds enough to do to keep himself busy, and his mind is certainly as sharp as ever.

There is something about the rythym of Penny’s writing that enchants me and draws me in. Any book of hers that I pick up, I find difficult to put down. The Nature of the Beast is no exception.

Were there more references than usual to food in this volume? It certainly felt like it. I would like to thank the author for introducing me to the delights of the bacon, apple, brie and maple syrup sandwich served in toasted sourdough.
Perhaps, Ms Penny, we could have a Three Pines Cookbook?

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheNatureoftheBeast

I: @louisepennyauthor @hodderbooks

T: #LouisePennyAuthor @HodderFiction

THE AUTHOR: Louise Penny CM OQ is a Canadian author of mystery novels set in the Canadian province of Quebec centred on the work of francophone Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s first career was as a radio broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (Wikipedia)

This was an audiobook I listened to purely for pleasure as I love this series. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday. Is it my imagination or are Sundays coming around much faster than they used to?

Currently I am reading The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark. Interestingly, this house is also a funeral home. I read the first 75% of this in one sitting. It’s a far more intriguing read than the blurb suggests.

A secluded island. A missing child. A home built on lies.

On the death of her aunt Gwyn, Lowri returns once more to Gwyn’s home on the remote island of Anglesey, Wales, with young daughter Ruby in tow. Lowri hadn’t seen her aunt in years, but this beautiful island offers a fresh start.

Yet right away, strange things begin to happen. Ruby insists an old woman is visiting her when no one else is watching, and a tattered old doll keeps being left for Ruby to find.

Then Ruby goes missing. Desperately seeking answers no one seems to have, Lowri looks to her dark family past for clues. But the secrets she uncovers suggest that Ruby is not the only one in danger, and time is running out – for both of them…

I also started The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd on my tablet while my Kindle was charging. Another intriguing read. I’m a little over halfway and I’m not entirely certain Bernard is telling the whole truth. Add to that the strange things that happen when Sara visits his home – a haunted pepper-grinder! – and I am hooked.

While I am walking to and from work on the nice days, we’ve had a few this week – I am listening to The Enigma of Room 622 written by Joël Dicker and narrated by Chris Harper. Although I initially found this quite ‘dry’, there have been a couple of interesting curveballs introduced which have revived my interest.

One night in December, a corpse is found in Room 622 of the Hotel Verbier, a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. A police investigation begins without definite end, and public interest wanes with the passage of time. Years later, the writer Joel Dicker, Switzerland’s most famous literary ingenue, arrives at that same hotel to recover from a bad breakup, mourn the death of his longtime publisher, and begin his next novel. Little does Joel know that his expertise in the art of the thriller will come in handy when he finds himself investigating the crime. He’ll need a Watson, of course: in this case, that would be Scarlett, the beautiful guest and aspiring novelist from the next room, who joins in the search while he tries to solve another puzzle: the plot of his next book. Meanwhile, in the wake of his father’s passing, Macaire Ebezner is set to take over as president of the largest private bank in Switzerland. The succession captivates the news media, and the future looks bright, until it doesn’t. The bank’s board, including a certain Lev Levovitch-Geneva’s very own Jay Gatsby-have other plans, and Macaire’s race to the top soon becomes a race against time.

This week, in addition to The Last House on the Cliff, I am planning to read: After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl (Love this cover!)

Liv loves her son, Adrian. That’s why she keeps a low profile in Sandefjord, Norway: just another tired single mother, trying to make ends meet. She has never told her son about the secrets she carries or the life she lived before he was born. She will do anything to keep him safe.

Anastasia’s life is transformed when she moves from Russia to Milan and starts modelling. Suddenly, she’s rich. She’s desired. But then she begins to see the dark side of her new life: the high-pressure catwalk shows; the glamorous, drink-fuelled after-parties; the sun-baked Italian palazzos owned by powerful men. She will do anything to escape

Selma is a feature journalist in Oslo. She’s horrified to uncover an unsavoury and dangerous underworld when she writes an article looking into the modelling industry. Then, a woman goes missing in Sandefjord… 

A Cornish Recipe for Murder by Fiona Leitch (Nosy Parker Mysteries #5)

When popular TV baking contest and national institution ‘The Best of British Baking Roadshow’ rolls into town and sets up camp in the grounds of Boskern House, a historic stately home near Penstowan, former police officer Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker finds herself competing to represent Cornwall in the grand final.

But with a fellow contestant who will stop at nothing to win and a drag queen host with secrets of their own, Jodie discovers that the roadshow doesn’t just have the ingredients for the perfect showstopper cake, but also for the perfect murder…

And when a body is found in the grounds of the house, Jodie is drawn into another high-stakes case along with local DCI Nathan Withers.

I only received one new ARC this week so my TBR pile should shrink just a little. I was invited to read Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer by the publishers. I accepted instantly as I love this Australian author’s books.

It’s been beautiful weather here the past few days so I have, as I said earlier, been walking to and from work. Pete didn’t work this weekend either so he’s caught up on the lawns, and I have been weeding the garden and have pruned all the hydrangeas. I still have the roses to do.

When I roasted a leg of lamb for dinner last night, I doubled up on the vegetables and gravy, so we are having more of the same tonight.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week. ❤📚

The Cabin in the Woods by Sarah Alderson

EXCERPT: My mind is playing non-stop tricks on me these days: I’ve started hearing things. Not just the usual sounds you get out in the woods – bird calls and creaking tree limbs – but voices, sometimes so real that I could swear someone is standing right beside me, whispering into my ear.

Last night I started awake having heard someone call my name. I sat up in the dark, heart hammering, convinced I could hear footsteps pitter-pattering away across the wooden floor of the cabin. In the daylight I’ve seen things out of the corner of my eye – flashes of movement that make me whip my head around – though never in time to catch sight of anyone.

Maybe it’s an angry ghost, haunting me.

Or I could just be paranoid.

ABOUT ‘THE CABIN IN THE WOODS’: In a cabin in a wood,
A woman by the window stood.

Glancing out, she thought she heard
Footsteps, whistling, something stirred.

Hiding here, she fears the night,
For what’s done in the dark will come to light.

She must run fast to escape her lie

Or she’ll be the next to die…

MY THOUGHTS: A page turner with lots of drama, The Cabin in the Woods is told in two time lines; now – as Rose is in hiding; and then – the events leading up to Rose going on the run?

Just what could be bad enough to cause a woman who has come from poverty and married into money, to leave it all behind? Therein the story lies.

I think, judging by the title, I was expecting something a lot creepier than this domestic drama. It does have a few creepy moments, but nowhere near what I expected.

It is a good domestic drama; I mostly felt sympathy for Rose, although there were a few times I wanted to give her a reality check. The plot does also require some suspension of belief, but nothing too drastic. I absolutely loved the ending, feeling that justice had been served.

This is another book that is best gone into blind.

Stephanie Cannon narrated the audiobook well.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheCabinintheWoods #NetGalley

I: @sarahaldersonauthor @avonbooksuk

T: @sarahalderson @AvonBooksUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #domesticdrama #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where they lived for five years.

She finished her first novel, Hunting Lila just before they left the UK, and wrote the sequel on the beach in India.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK audio, Avon, via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Cabin in the Woods by Sarah Alderson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is what I am currently reading. This author really knows how to create an atmosphere!

I am listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, an author I have been wanting to read for some time, but I am never approved for her ARCs on Netgalley. It’s definitely another atmospheric and suspenseful read.

I have only managed to complete two of my seven scheduled reads for the week, so I am carrying them over into this week where I only have one other read for review scheduled. It is Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah. Thank you to the author for kindly providing me with a copy for review.

As he stared at the corpse’s face, he realized an endless dark cavity beneath the dead skin. There’s no one there. Even if he shouted with all his might, it was not the echo that would greet him but the silence that engulfed his voice.

– SOLACE

In “Good Friends,” a little girl collects dolls her family can’t afford from the neighbor’s trash bin. But who is the ghostly figure sharing them with her? A mysterious married woman reaches out to an ojek driver in “Confide,” and a young man’s attempt to kill himself goes awry in “Zombie.” In “The Crains” a new wife discovers her in-laws’ dangerous forays into black magic, and “Solace” follows a young man with a terrifying secret in his bedroom… These are just some of the spine-tingling stories of Solace and Other Stories, a surreal collection sure to keep you up at night! 

I have received five new Netgalley ARCs this week. They are: Mothered by Zoje Stage. I don’t know about you, but I find that cover chilling! The possibilities . . .

This is Us by Helen McGinn

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood (my nod to Christmas)

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

My post is short and sweet today as I have to prepare some entrees for a friend’s birthday this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week workwise, but I am trying not to slip back into my old work habits and made sure to take some time for myself. I went swimming on Tuesday afternoon. Hilarious! My spirit was willing but my muscle memory was not cooperating. Floundering might be a more apt description of what I actually did. Thursday morning I went to aquarobics with my cousin which was not only a great workout but lots of fun. I have convinced another friend to come with us this coming week.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy reading. ❤📚

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

EXCERPT: We follow her to the bottom of the garden, just past a tree with a circular bench built around it. Here there is a tall wall, grown over entirely with a thick ropey lilac. Another forensic investigator is crouched down over a flower bed, pulling items from the soil on to a sheet of plastic. My stomach lurches with shock and I hear Donal gasp.

Bones.

Small white bones.

ABOUT ‘THE FAMILY REMAINS’: Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

MY THOUGHTS: I am so grateful to Lisa Jewell for overcoming her dislike of writing sequels and penning The Family Remains. I admit to being underwhelmed by The Family Upstairs, but The Family Remains has cast it in another light, and I am sorely tempted to reread it to see if I feel any differently about it now.

The story is told from the points of view of several different characters, and we, the readers, are assisted by the inclusion of a list of the major characters and their relationship to one another. Which is just as well as some of the characters have more than one identity.

Lisa Jewell has written a spellbinding conclusion to her family drama that is surprisingly tense in places, leaving me holding my breath, heart pounding. The characters are complex, as we expect them to be; the plot twisty and compelling; the denouement just perfect.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheFamilyRemains #NetGalley

I: @lisajewelluk @randomhouse

T: @lisajewelluk @randomhouse

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #murdermystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell 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

Sandy’s July 2022 Reading Roundup

I started July with 18 books to read for review and ended up with 20 🤷‍♀️ Of those I read 15, and am almost finished the 16th, giving me an 80% review success rate, well up on my dismal 64% rate for June. Plus I read or listened to four books purely for pleasure during the month. And read and reviewed two titles from my backlist. So that was a total of twenty-two reads for the month of July.

I read one debut novel during July, A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett which I rated ⭐⭐⭐.6

plus I read five books by authors I haven’t previously read. They were: Aft the Flood by Dave Warner ⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Rejected Goddesses by Natalie Watson and Nina Holmes ⭐⭐.9

My Netgalley feedback ratio is still at 69%. I wonder what it will take to crack the 70% mark. I think I would need to stop requesting books entirely, and that’s not likely to happen.

The four books I didn’t read in July that are now added to my backlist are:

Guilt Trip by Ed James

Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries edited by Otto Penzler

Mother of All Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman

My five star reads for July were: In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Outside Looking In (DCI Matilda Darke #2) by Michael Wood

A Room Full of Killers (DCI Matilda Darke #3) by Michael Wood

The Lost Children (DCI Matilda Darke #9) by Michael Wood

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please

I have seventeen reads for review scheduled for August. Fingers crossed that there are no late approvals. If I don’t read anything from my backlist I should be able to get through all of these.

Happy August reading!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What an odd afternoon! Looking east, south and west, the sky is black, promising more of the heavy rain that we’ve had all week; north, and the sky is clear and blue, and the sun is shining! Let’s hope the sun wins out, at least for a day or two. The weather forecast is predicting fine weather tomorrow but beyond that it’s rain, and more rain! Speaking of which, it’s just started again. I’m not getting much walking in; I have managed to walk to work only twice in the past three weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk tomorrow morning.

Currently I am reading and loving the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber. Honestly, if I could open the pages and jump in with these characters, I would.

by Heather Webber

I am also reading The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone. Isn’t this another stunning cover!

And I am listening to The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny.

This week I have an absolute mountain of books to read for review. They are: The Carnival is Over by Greg Woodland

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.

The New House by Tess Stimson

Three couples.

About to purchase their dream home.

How far would you go to get the perfect life?

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…

When she was five years old, without proof, Maggie announced that someone in the remote village of Blairmore in the Outer Hebrides had murdered a local man, sparking a media storm.

Now, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, Maggie’s own life is in danger…

Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

The media have descended on Garrett Island, a small, isolated community that is the setting of a visionary experiment. All the residents’ cars were sent to the mainland and for the past month the islanders have been “driving” the Arrival, a revolutionary autonomous vehicle. With a simple voice command, an Arrival will take you wherever you want to go and, because the fleet is networked and aware of one another, car travel is now 100% safe. The future, it seems, has arrived.

As the excitement reaches a fever pitch, Sandra Montrose – islander, single mom, and public relations executive – prepares for Arrival Inc.’s flashy press event. Sandra is more than ready for this new world. Her husband died after falling asleep at the wheel and she’s relieved that her two teens, Archie and Katie, will never need driver’s licenses.

But as the celebratory day gets underway, disaster strikes. A visiting journalist has vanished, possibly murdered. Before long, the Arrivals run amok, no longer taking orders from their passengers. They’re starting to organize. They’re beginning to hunt. And they seem hell-bent on killing any human they encounter.

Is this all just a tragic accident, a technological malfunction with deadly consequences? Or were the vehicles programmed to act this way in a cruel act of corporate sabotage? Or could it be that the Arrivals have a mind of their own?

Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd

It was meant to be a summer of love. Then came the confession . . .

Sara Tempest has been alone since her husband died and daughters left home. But over the course of one summer she meets and falls in love with the charming Bernard. The years of heartache and loneliness are finally behind her.

She quickly moves into his beautiful home on the wind battered cliffs of Hastings. But, after a while, she begins to wonder if Bernard is all he seems.

He’s barely in touch with his children and with stifling reminders of his wife everywhere Sara looks, the walls begin to close in.

Then comes Bernard’s confession and Sara’s newfound happiness starts to crumble around her . . .

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

Only two new ARCs this week. They are: All That We Are by Mariah Stewart

And Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

I still have several reviews to write . . . I try not to get behind with that but I have been so tired this week that I’ve found it difficult to string a sentence together. Hopefully I will catch up this week, although I will probably finish both In the Middle of Hickory Lane and The Other Girlfriend today, so there’s another two reviews to be written 😬

Wherever in the world you are, I hope you are safe from all the weather extremes. Keep calm and read on. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good afternoon from a cold, windy, grey New Zealand. We have more rain and storms on the way. Yay!!!!

Currently I am reading After the Flood by Dave Warner, a wonderful piece of Australian crime fiction.

I am also reading The Murder Book, #18 in the Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham.

And listening to The Cabin in the Woods written by Sarah Alderson and narrated by Stephanie Cannon

This week, in addition to The Murder Book, and After the Flood, I still have the following books to read for review:

In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Emme Wynn has wanted nothing more her whole life than to feel like part of a family. Having grown up on the run with her con artist mother, she’s been shuffled from town to town, drawn into bad situations, and has learned some unsavory habits that she’s tried hard to overcome. When her estranged grandmother tracks her down out of the blue and extends a job offer—helping to run her booth at an open-air marketplace in small-town Sweetgrass, Alabama—Emme is hopeful that she’ll finally be able to plant the roots she’s always dreamed of. But some habits are hard to break, and she risks her newfound happiness by keeping one big truth to herself.

Cora Bee Hazelton has her hands full with volunteering, gardening, her job as a color consultant and designer, and just about anything she can do to keep her mind off her painful past, a past that has resulted in her holding most everyone at arm’s length. The last thing she wants is to form close relationships only to have her heart broken yet again. But when she’s injured, she has no choice other than to let people into her life and soon realizes it’s going to be impossible to keep her heart safe—or her secrets hidden.

Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott

A rash of poison pen letters has enveloped the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva in cloud of suspicion and paranoia. But when rampant aspersions culminate in murder, enquiry agents Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport must stamp out the evil-minded epistles . . .

What began for two dear if very different friends–an American adventuress and a prim and proper Brit–as a creative response to the lean times following the Great War has evolved into a respectable private enquiry business. So much so that Constable Gibbs calls upon Beryl and Edwina to solve a curious campaign of character assassination.

A series of anonymous accusations sent via post have set friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. In her new position as magistrate, Edwina has already had to settle one dispute that led to fisticuffs. Even Beryl has received a poison pen letter, and while she finds its message preposterous and laughable, others are taking the missives to heart. Their headstrong housekeeper Beddoes is ready to resign and one villager has attempted to take her own life.

The disruption of the peace goes far beyond malicious mischief when another villager is murdered. Now it’s up to the intrepid sleuths to read between the lines and narrow down the suspects to identify the lethal letter writer and ensure that justice is delivered . . . 

The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone

She loves him…

Lizzie Green once loved Tom Murphy with a passion that bordered on obsession. All she wanted was his love to be returned. Then one night something terrible happened and Tom left Lizzie broken hearted. She swore she would never let him hurt her again….

She loves him not.

Now, ten years later, Tom turns up on Lizzie’s doorstep still as charming as ever. Lizzie knows he still has the power to break her heart and destroy her life again. But Lizzie can’t say no to him….

Can she?

And Mother of all Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

Her freedom, her sanity, her life. How much will a young mother sacrifice to protect her secrets?

Sleep deprived and overwhelmed, first-time mom Jenn is struggling to adapt to her new role. Frustrated with her loving but preoccupied husband and still grieving the death of her own mother, she feels isolated and depressed. It’s only when she joins a new-moms’ group that she starts to think she’s finally getting back on track.

Until Isabel, the group’s leader, suddenly disappears.

Now Jenn’s baby isn’t the only reason she can’t sleep. Consumed with worry over Isabel, Jenn is teetering on the edge of obsession. Concern turns to paranoia when Jenn finds clues that force her to look at herself, her marriage, and the women in her support group, who have more in common than Jenn realized. Much more.

Saving Isabel means unearthing secrets that were supposed to stay buried forever, and Jenn has to decide what she’s willing to risk to help a woman she barely knows. With each revelation, she gets closer to a slow-burning act of retribution that could easily and irrevocably draw her into the flames.

This week I received seven new ARCs via Netgalley and one book in the mail from Freemantle Press who very kindly sent me another copy of the book that was missing from my parcel a couple of weeks back. It is Blood & Ink by Brett Adams

The ARCs I received from Netgalley are: In Little Stars by Linda Green

On the First Day of Christmas by Faith Hogan

Isabel Puddles Abroad by M.V. Byrne

The Ex by S.E. Lynes

Next in Line (William Warwick #5) by Jeffrey Archer

The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

Bleeding Heart Yard (Harbinder Kaur #3) by Elly Griffiths

We have friends coming for dinner tonight, so will go and get everything prepped, then go make myself pretty.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend and happy reading my friend!

Outside Looking In (DCI Matilda Darke #2) by Michael Wood

EXCERPT: Half hanging out of the car was the stricken body of a woman. Her face was a mess of sticky drying blood; her long hair was tangled and matted. She was naked from the waist down and was literally drenched in blood. One hand held onto her stomach where blood pumped out between her fingers. The other hand was rhythmically banging on the horn. She was half in, half out of the car, her body at an uncomfortable angle. She looked up and saw George through swollen eyes. She stopped the beeping and slumped to the ground. There was a brief smile on her face before her body gave up and she lost consciousness.

George dug the phone out of his coat pocket and dialled 999. He gave his location and tried to say what had happened but he couldn’t find the words. After he ended the call he phoned his wife. He told her that she would soon see the flashing lights of the police but not to panic as everything was all right. It was the first time he had ever lied to his wife.

ABOUT ‘OUTSIDE LOOKING IN’: When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead. The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

MY THOUGHTS: At one point in this tense thriller, DCI
Matilda Darke reflects that the investigation is like having “all the pieces of the jigsaw but…from different boxes”. And it is exactly like that. There is no obvious suspect. There are contenders, but none of them seem quite right. I, of course, suspected everyone but the right person.

I am really enjoying this series, dark – but with a little humour – compelling, and addictive (I’m bingeing), they are hard to put down.

Matilda Darke is a character with real depth. It is the first anniversary of her husband’s death, and she is still mourning his loss. The problem is, along with the thoughts of her husband James, comes those of the botched Carl Meagan kidnapping case which happened the same day as James died. So Matilda isn’t exactly in a great place, mentally, to start with. But she’s a fighter, determined, and pragmatic. And she has a great team behind her.

Sian, who always has a drawer full of chocolatey snacks, is a favourite of mine along with Rory, and Adele, the Home Office Pathologist.

There are other things going on as Matilda and her team are struggling to solve this puzzling case. There’s a string of violent burglaries; an elderly man jumps off the roof of his apartment building, but there are some puzzling aspects to his death; there’s a journalist out to make a name for himself at Matilda’s expense; a disgruntled ex-colleague intent on revenge; and Matilda thinks she is being followed.

Outside Looking In is a book about love, betrayal, tragedy, and revenge.

Although this is a series, each book is able to be read as a stand-alone as the author provides enough background information to do so. BUT, you will miss out on the development of the characters relationships and, I am sure that once you have read one book in this series, like me, you are going to want to read the lot.

Stephanie Beattie made an amazing job of narrating. I totally forgot that I was listening to one person. Her voice range, and intonation is excellent.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

I: @michaelwoodbooks @onemorechapter

T: @MichaelHWood @OneMoreChapter

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #detectivefiction #mystery #policeprocedural #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Firstly, I have to apologise for lack of a post on Friday (NZ time). Our internet went down at lunchtime Friday and wasn’t restored until 2 am Saturday.

Currently I am reading One Last Day of Summer by Shari Lowe. I started this in the early hours of this morning and am really enjoying it.

As a flight to St Lucia leaves the runway, four passengers meet for the first time.

After escaping her controlling husband, Bernadette Manson is taking the first extravagant holiday of her new life. But when her best friend cancels, will she be strong enough to fly solo?

Tadgh Donovan is about to jet off to his destination wedding when he sees a shocking text. Has his bride-to-be written her wedding vows… or already broken them?

Hayley Ford is the wife of a top fertility specialist yet her battle to get pregnant has almost broken her marriage. Can a trip to the sun heal their relationship or should she brace for a crash landing?

Dev Robbins is crossing oceans to track down the woman he fell in love with at first sight. Will it be a one way trip to happy ever after or a return journey to singledom?

One Last Day of Summer is due for publication July 19th 2022.

I am also reading Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster. 

This is certainly a chilling read and will also be published July 19th, 2022.

After the Flood by Dave Warner. I was so excited to receive some real book mail, although the excitement was somewhat tempered by one of the three books missing out of the parcel. NOT the publisher’s fault. The bag had obviously been tampered with. Kudos and a huge thank you to Freemantle Press for sending out the missing book.

A disturbing, seemingly ritualistic murder on a remote North-West cattle station has Detective Inspector Dan Clement and his Broome police officers unnerved and baffled. Other local incidents – the theft of explosives from mine site, social justice protests at an abattoir, a break-in at an early childhood clinic- seems mundane by comparison.

But as Clement starts to make troubling connections between each crime, he finds himself caught in terrifying race. In a landmass larger than Western Europe, he must identify and protect an unidentified target before it’s blown to bits by an unidentified terrorist.

Now, don’t usually read books about terrorism, but this has me enthralled.

and I am listening to A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood (Matilda Darke #3) This is a backtitle read for me from 2017. Currently at 55% through, it’s looking like five star read.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

This week, in addition to Black Mouth and One Last Day of Summer, both of which I already reading, I have The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell scheduled for review.

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing and was excited to receive an ARC for this.

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

This week I received eight new ARCs from Netgalley plus two from Freemantle Press, one being After the Flood by Dave Warner. The second book I received from Freemantle Press is The Ghost of Gracie Flynn by Joanna Morrison. Did I already mention how exciting it is to receive REAL book mail?

And from Netgalley I have received Foster by Claire Keegan

Lovely Girls by Margot Hunt

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Dead Real by Helen H. Durrant

The Stranger Vanishes by Wendy Corsi Staub, a Lily Vale Mystery

And the last is a publiher’s widget, There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

Have you read, or do you have any of these to read?

Have a wonderful week!❤📚