Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s the middle day of our long weekend . . . I always think that I am going to accomplish so much over a three day weekend, but in reality it’s a different matter.

I did get a bit of gardening done at Dustin’s yesterday, and I have done a little bit at home today, but mainly I have been catching up on laundry and housework, both of which have been somewhat neglected over the past couple of weeks.

Now it has started to drizzle, so I have come back inside for a late lunch. Hopefully it won’t come to much and I can finish tidying up the front gardens.

This morning I started reading The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes. The first few chapters have left me stunned and breathless! This is going to be a great read.

Currently I am listening to The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet.

A little over a quarter of the way in, and suddenly it is becoming very interesting . . .

Now, as to what I am planning on reading this week, I veered completely off track last week and read neither of my planned books 🤦‍♀️ I will see if I can do better this week 🤣😂

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all. . .

The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her ‘room with a view’ of the carpark, she dreams of escape.

Fellow ‘inmate’, the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of his mobility scooter.

When Hattie and Walter officially meet at The Night Owls, a clandestine club run by Sister Bronwyn and her dog, Queenie, they seem at odds. But when Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over her unconventional approach to aged care, they must join forces — and very slowly an unlikely, unexpected friendship begins to grow.

I have three ARCs this week from Netgalley:

Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

One Way Street by Trevor Wood

No doubt after I have visited Susan’s, Carla’s and Carol’s posts today, I will be rushing back to Netgalley, my requesting finger itching! I still also have several requests pending.

Happy reading my friends and stay safe, particularly if you are living in those parts of the world which are having a Covid resurgence. Stay home and read. It’s safer. ❤📚

Cheers

Sandy

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

EXCERPT: Helen’s husband, Dan, died suddenly eleven months and three days ago, dropping his coffee cup and sliding almost noiselessly out of his kitchen chair and onto the floor. Helen, who’d been standing at the sink, still feels guilty about yelling at him for breaking his cup before she turned to see him sprawled on his back, his eyes wide open and startled looking. She believes the last thing Dan felt was surprise, and to her way of thinking, it wasn’t a bad way to go. The bad part is he left her here without him, ignorant of, . . . oh, everything.

ABOUT HOME SAFE: In this novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames–recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her–is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s a long time since I have read anything by Elizabeth Berg. My mum and I used to share this author, discussing our latest read over coffee and scones (my mum made the best scones, I miss them) or lunch out at some cafe or other. This is the first book I have picked up by this author since my mother passed away some years ago. I haven’t consciously avoided them, I just haven’t even thought about them, which is kind of strange. But on the plus side, look at all the wonderful titles I have to catch up on!

Berg writes quietly, with compassion, tenderness, empathy and flashes of humor. I have heard people comment, ‘But nothing happens!’ But in fact a lot happens. Just because there’s not a lot of ‘action’ doesn’t mean nothing is happening.

Home Safe is an intimate novel, not in a sexual sense, but in the context that we get to know Helen intimately; her frustrations, her disappointments, her fears, her achievements, her hopes and dreams. We watch her grow as a person after Dan’s sudden death, to learn that she can survive, even flourish, without him, that she has untapped strengths and potentials that come to light as her life takes her in new directions.

Helen starts out as a not very likeable character; whiny and insecure with not an ounce of common sense! She calls the police in the early hours of the morning when there is water dripping from a bulge in her ceiling and the sheer number of plumbers in the yellow pages overwhelms her! She is needy, almost pathetically so, but I do love her snarky side! You know those unkind thoughts we have sometimes that none of us like to admit to? Yeah, those.

Without the buffer of Dan between them, Helen and daughter Tessa are forced to realign their relationship. Helen has been an overbearing mother, Tessa a dismissive daughter, Dan the conduit between them.

And there is the mystery of the missing money. What did Dan do with the $850,000 he withdrew from the investment account? Paradoxically, it is this money that Helen no longer has that saves her from herself.

I love this quote from the Wichita Sunday Eagle – ‘A beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit.’ That sums it up beautifully.

This is a lovely read written with Berg’s trademark warmth and humour, her wry observations guaranteed to bring a smile to the face and a better understanding of our own characters.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Berg is an American novelist. Berg was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA, and lived in Boston prior to her residence in Chicago. She studied English and Humanities at the University of Minnesota, but later ended up with a nursing degree. (Wikipedia)

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Home Safe written and narrated by Elizabeth Berg, published by Random House Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

You know how you can’t sleep when you get overtired? It’s one of those nights . . . I got home from work, too tired for dinner so just had tea and toast, went to bed and here I am, wide awake! So I thought I may as well put my time to good use and write my post so that it is not as late as I thought it was going to be.

Currently I am reading The Vow by Debbie Howells.

I have previously read three of her books, and really enjoyed two, The Bones of You, and The Beauty of the End. I have only just started this tonight, so no comment yet.

I am also reading City of Friends by Joanna Trollope, an author I have enjoyed for many years.

Again I have just started this, so am not yet far enough in to comment.

I am listening to Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg, a character driven story of a woman who has been left a very unexpected bequest by her late husband. I am almost half way through, and enjoying this gentle story of love, loss, and adjustment.

This week I am planning on reading

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

In

the remote forests of Stillwater, Minnesota, you can scream for days and no one will hear you. So when the bodies of two fifteen-year-old girls are discovered frozen in the snow, Special Agent Nikki Hunt is sure the killer is local: someone knew where to hide them and thought they’d never be found.

Home for the first time in twenty years, Nikki sees that the whole town had been frantically searching for missing best friends Madison and Kaylee, and when she finds out who Madison’s step-father is, she becomes desperate to lead the case. John was once the person she trusted most in the world, who stood by her when she was just sixteen and her parents were murdered. Who supported her when she identified their killer, Mark Todd.

But when Nikki arrives at the Sheriff’s office, she’s confronted by protesters eager to see Mark freed. With new evidence that could clear his name, Mark has appealed his conviction and his brother Rory begs Nikki to take a look at what they’ve found.

Nikki knows she must focus on the killer at large, but Rory makes her wonder if she put her trust in the right people all those years ago. Are Madison and Kaylee’s deaths connected to her parents’ murders? And can she face up to her past before another life is taken?

And When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt

Single mother Beth loves her seven-year-old son Dylan with all her heart. He’s her world. But life with Dylan isn’t easy—and his emotional issues push Beth to her very limit. When a misunderstanding leads Dylan to be taken into foster care, she is determined to do whatever she can to get him back.

Mother of two, Ally has always dreamed of fostering—it feels like her chance to give back when she has been so lucky in life. But when Dylan joins their family, Ally finds herself struggling to balance his needs with those of her own children and husband—something Beth can’t help but witness when she visits.

Beth wants nothing more than to find a way to bring her beloved child home. But where is the right home for Dylan? Is it with the mother he was born to? Or is a new mother the greatest gift Beth could give her son?

Only one new ARC this week – In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni, #8 in the Tracy Crosswhite series.

I have also received a title, Mimicry by Margo Ervand, from her agent.

What new titles have you been tempted by this week?

Happy reading!

Bodies from the Library edited by Tony Medawar

EXCERPT: The murderer killed apparently at random, anyone, any time, any place. The quick incapacitating stab in the back, the body turned over and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed again. A plastic sheet would be thrown down, which had protected the killer from the spurting blood; and for the rest, no sign left, ever, no clue left for a police force stretched to its limit, on the edge of desperation. And every crank in the country ringing up, writing in, with their crackpot theories. (No Face by Christiana Brand)

ABOUT BODIES FROM THE LIBRARY 2: This anthology of rare stories of crime and suspense brings together 15 tales from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction for the first time in book form, including a newly discovered Gervase Fen novella by Edmund Crispin that has never previously been published.

With the Golden Age of detective fiction shining ever more brightly thanks to the recent reappearance of many forgotten crime novels, Bodies from the Library offers a rare opportunity to read lost stories from the first half of the twentieth century by some of the genre’s most accomplished writers.

This second volume is a showcase for popular figures of the Golden Age, in stories that even their most ardent fans will not be aware of. It includes uncollected and unpublished stories by acclaimed queens and kings of crime fiction, from Helen Simpson, Ethel Lina White, E. C. R. Lorac, Christianna Brand, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, to S. S. Van Dine, Jonathan Latimer, Clayton Rawson, Cyril Alington and Antony and Peter Shaffer (writing as Peter Antony).

This book also features two highly readable radio scripts by Margery Allingham (involving Jack the Ripper) and John Rhode, plus two full-length novellas – one from a rare magazine by Q Patrick, the other an unpublished Gervase Fen mystery by Edmund Crispin, written at the height of his career. It concludes with another remarkable discovery: ‘The Locked Room’ by Dorothy L. Sayers, a never-before-published case for Lord Peter Wimsey!

MY THOUGHTS: I have a strong affection for Golden Age Detective and mystery fiction, and I enjoyed the majority of these novellas and short stories. My very favourites – I couldn’t pick between The Locked Room by Dorothy L. Sayers featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, and one of the shortest, A Joke’s a Joke by Jonathan Latimer.

My one and only criticism of this collection is that the pen portraits of the authors is sometimes longer than the story!

Strongly recommended for all Golden Age aficionado.

⭐⭐⭐.8

THE EDITOR: Tony Medawar is a detective fiction expert and researcher with a penchant for tracking down rare stories. His other collections of previously uncollected stories include WHILE THE LIGHT LASTS (Agatha Christie), THE AVENGING CHANCE (Anthony Berkeley), THE SPOTTED CAT (Christianna Brand), A SPOT OF FOLLY (Ruth Rendell) and THE ISLAND OF COFFINS (John Dickson Carr). (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Bodies From the Library, collated by Tony Medawar, narrated by Philip Bretherton and published by Harper Collins via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely 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 sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

The Whisper Man by Alex North

EXCERPT: Jake.

There is so much I want to tell you, but we’ve always found it hard to talk to each other, haven’t we?

So I’ll have to write to you instead.

I remember when Rebecca and I first brought you home from hospital. It was dark and it was snowing, and I’d never driven so carefully in my life. You were two days old and strapped in a carrier on the back seat, Rebecca dozing beside you, and every now and then I’d look in the rearview mirror to check you were safe.

Because you know what? I was absolutely fucking terrified. I grew up as an only child, completely unused to babies, and yet there I was – responsible for one of my own. You were so impossibly small and vulnerable, and me so unprepared, that it seemed ludicrous that they’d allowed you out of the hospital with me. From the very beginning, we didn’t fit, you and I. Rebecca held you easily and naturally, as though she’d been born to you rather than the other way round, whereas I always felt awkward, scared of this fragile weight in my arms and unable to tell what you wanted when you cried. I didn’t understand you at all.

That never changed.

When you were a little older, Rebecca told me it was because you and I were so alike, but I don’t know if that’s true. I hope it isn’t. I’d always have wanted better for you than that.

But regardless, we can’t talk to each other, which means that I’ll have to try and write all this down instead. The truth about everything that happened in Featherbank.

Mister Night. The boy in the floor. The butterflies. The little girl with the strange dress.

And the Whisper Man of course.

It’s not going to be easy, and I need to start with an apology. Over the years, I told you so many times that there was nothing to be afraid of. That there was no such thing as monsters.

I’m sorry that I lied.

ABOUT THE WHISPER MAN: If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another young boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely .

He says he hears a whispering at his window…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘The Devil finds work for idle hands. Bad thoughts find empty heads.’

This is a pretty darned good debut thriller. Personally, I would have liked a bit more creepiness in there – there were certainly the opportunities for it, but I thought the palpable air of menace when Josh is being held by his abductor was really well executed.

The Whisper Man is a thrilling and satisfying read. The twists are deftly done, and none of them predictable. They are also quite plausible. There’s the odd red herring thrown in to distract the reader and they worked for me – I fell for them hook, line and sinker. This is well plotted, and I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters, especially the exploration of the father/son bond.

Alex North has shown a deep understanding of the human psyche. From the school gate cliques to the machinations of a murderer, to a father floundering with the responsibility of bringing up his son alone, North’s characters display real emotions. I could relate to every one of them, other than Frank Carter of course (just in case you were wondering, and worrying).

While I didn’t find The Whisper Man particularly chilling, it definitely was engaging and thrilling. I didn’t think the rhyme
If you leave a door half open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken.
If you play outside alone, soon you won’t be going home.
If your window’s left unlatched, you’ll hear him tapping at the glass.
If you’re lonely, sad, and blue, the Whisper Man will come for you.
was particularly inspired. But then I am not a young child. I might be a little perturbed if I heard my young grandson whispering it though!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

THE AUTHOR: Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North’s own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with “the boy in the floor.” Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of The Whisper Man by Alex North, published by Penguin, Michael Joseph. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Another Sunday, and another week’s reading completed. I even managed to sneak in an extra book this week . . . I picked it up last night, intending to read just a chapter or two before I went to sleep. Instead I read the whole thing. But more about that later in the post.

I am currently reading The Whisper Man by Alex North. Two of my Goodreads.com reading groups, the Crime, Mystery and Thriller group and the All About Books group, have picked this as the October group read.

I am about to start You Can Trust Me by Emma Rowley

Currently I am listening to Bodies From the Library 2: Forgotten stories of mystery and suspense by the Queens of Crime and masters of Golden Age detection.

I am also planning on reading The Book of Carol Sue by Lynn Hugo this week.

CarolSue and her sister, Louisa, are best friends, but haven’t had much in common since CarolSue married Charlie, moved to Atlanta, and swapped shoes covered with Indiana farm dust for pedicures and afternoon bridge. Louisa, meanwhile, loves her farm and animals as deeply as she’d loved Harold, her late husband of forty years.

Charlie’s sudden death leaves CarolSue so adrift that she surrenders to Louisa’s plan for her to move back home. But canning vegetables and feeding chickens are alien to CarolSue, and she resolves to return to Atlanta–until Louisa’s son, Reverend Gary, arrives with an abandoned infant and a dubious story. He begs the women to look after the baby while he locates the mother–a young immigrant who fears deportation.

Keeping his own secrets, Gary enlists the aid of the sheriff, Gus, in the search. But CarolSue’s bond with the baby is undeniable, and she forms an unconventional secret plan of her own. How many mistakes can be redeemed?

I am keeping my reading load deliberately light this week as I have a busy week ahead at work, culminating next Sunday so am probably going to be very late with my Watching what I’m reading post – like Monday!

Four new ARCs this week:

The Girl Who Never Came Home by Nicole Trope

The House at Magpie Cove by Kennedy Kerr

Consolation by Garry Disher

And The Open House by Sam Carrington

Now, the extra book that I read this week? My Darling by Amanda Robson. WARNING: don’t start reading this unless you have cleared the rest of your day. Yes, it is THAT good. Review coming tomorrow!

Have a wonderful weekend to all of you who still have some left to enjoy. It’s time for me to start planning the meals for the rest of the week….

Happy reading!

The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

EXCERPT: Nina’s Diary – July 4

I am writing this to raise the alarm in the event of my untimely death. This is hard to admit, even to myself, let alone to the world. My husband is planning to kill me. For obvious reasons. He’s in love with someone else. And he wants my money.

ABOUT THE WIFE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: Tabitha Girard had her heart broken years ago by Connor Ford. He was preppy and handsome. She was a pool girl at his country club. Their affair should have been a summer fling. But it meant everything to Tabitha.

Years later, Connor comes back into Tabitha’s life—older, richer, and desperately unhappy. He married for money, a wealthy, neurotic, controlling woman whom he never loved. He has always loved Tabitha.

When Connor’s wife Nina takes her own life, he’s free. He can finally be with Tabitha. Nina’s home, Windswept, can be theirs. It seems to be a perfect ending to a fairy tale romance that began so many years ago. But then, Tabitha finds a diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death,” it begins. “If I die unexpectedly, it was foul play, and Connor was behind it. Connor – and her.”

Who is Connor Ford? Why did he marry Nina? Is Tabitha his true love, or a convenient affair? As the police investigate Nina’s death, is she a convenient suspect?

As Tabitha is drawn deeper into the dark glamour of a life she is ill-prepared for, it becomes clear to her that what a wife knows can kill her.

MY THOUGHTS: The Wife Who Knew Too Much is not my favourite of Michele Campbell’s work. Although it starts well, it lacks subtlety and soon deteriorates into something resembling a soap opera.

None of the characters are at all likeable. I felt nothing except exasperation for Tabitha, the main character, who comes across as totally pathetic and needy for the majority of the book. The character of Connor, her ‘one true love’, goes through several metamorphoses, but remains, in my eyes, an utter sleaze. While we’re talking characters, there is zero character development.

The plot had plenty of potential, but became unwieldy and unrealistic. Yes, I know this is fiction, but still, this was OTT. Eye-rollingly OTT in parts. I prefer more mystery, fewer thugs and when all else fails ‘run them off the road/shoot them’ solutions. It almost felt like two different people wrote the two halves of this book. So, rather than classifying this as a murder mystery, I would define it as a (schmaltzy) romantic thriller. Sorry, but not my cup of tea. This may come across better as a movie.

⭐⭐.3

THE AUTHOR: Michele Campbell is a graduate of Harvard College and Stanford Law School and a former federal prosecutor in New York City who specialized in international narcotics and gang cases.

A while back, she said goodbye to her big-city legal career and moved with her husband and two children to an idyllic New England college town a lot like Belle River in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND. Since then, she has spent her time teaching criminal and constitutional law and writing novels.

She’s had many close female friends, a few frenemies, and only one husband, who – to the best of her knowledge – has never tried to kill her.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Wife Who Knew Too Much, written by Michele Campbell, narrated by Dylan Moore and published by HQ via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Exit Wounds – nineteen tales of mystery and crime compiled by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan

EXCERPT: . . . his round head, covered with a shaggy blond pelt, turns slowly toward me and tips that creepy smile my way. He’s not surprised in the least to see me. It means that, oh yeah, he knew I was in the Eagle. Maybe he got off work and happened to see Larry and me stop by for a fast one. Or, also possible and more troubling, he followed me here.

My jaw tightens and heat swells around my face, which often happens whenever I see him. This is so unfair. I’m a twenty-six-year-old successful web designer, a good brother, a good boyfriend, a genial host at parties I throw for my clients and friends, a donor to NPR and animal rescue outfits. Objectively? I’m too old and too nice to have a bully.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A brand-new anthology of crime stories written by masters of the genre. Featuring both original in-universe stories and rarely seen reprints, this collection of nineteen masterful short stories brings together some of the genre’s greatest living authors. Tony Hill and Carol Jordan take on a delightfully twisted killer in Val McDermid’s ‘Happy Holidays’. In Fiona Cummin’s ‘Dead Weight’, an overbearing mother resorts to desperate measures to keep control of her teenage daughter. And in Dean Koontz’s ‘Kittens’, a young girl learns the truth about how her pets have been dying, and devises a horrible revenge. Tense, twisted and disturbing, Exit Wounds is a visceral and thrilling collection showcasing the very best modern crime fiction has to offer.

MY THOUGHTS: Oh this is a goody! This is a collection of stories mainly by authors that I have come to know and to love, about nasty people doing nasty things and, sometimes, getting their comeuppance. There’s a little bit of creepy stuff, but mainly it’s crime and murder all served up in tasty little bite-sized packages. There was only one story that I really disliked, and I enjoyed the majority of them immensely. Definitely recommended.

Exit Wounds is available in paperback, audiobook and kindle format.

🔪🔪🔪🔪.1

THE COMPILERS: Paul Kane is the award-winning and bestselling author/editor of over 90 books, including the Arrowhead trilogy (gathered together in the sellout Hooded Man omnibus, revolving around a post-apocalyptic version of Robin Hood), The Butterfly Man and Other Stories, Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell, Before, Arcana and Pain Cages (an Amazon #1 bestseller). He is a respected anthologist, editing books such as Beyond Rue Morgue, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror, Hellbound Hearts and Exit Wounds. His website can be found at www.shadow-writer.co.uk and he tweets @PaulKaneShadow

Marie O’Regan is a British Fantasy Award-nominated writer and editor of horror and dark fantasy fiction. She is the author of four collections, Mirror Mere, Bury Them Deep, In Times of Want and Other Stories and The Last Ghost and Other Stories, and her anthologies include Hellbound Hearts, The Mammoth Book of Body Horror, Carnivale: Dark Tales From the Fairground, The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, Phantoms, Exit Wounds and Wonderland. She is Co-Chair of the UK chapter of the Horror Writers’ Association and lives in Derbyshire, UK. She tweets @Marie_O_Regan

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Exit Wounds, compiled by Paul Kane and Marie O’Regan, narrated by a full cast, and published by Blackstone Audio vis Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are totally my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s late Sunday afternoon right now in New Zealand and we have had what is termed a ‘weatherbomb’ and apparently it’s not over yet. It would be the biggest storm we’ve had since we moved into this house almost eighteen months ago. Our house is very sheltered, but the rain has been pelting against the windows and all the trees in the neighbourhood have taken a hammering. We had a panicked call from Nancy, our neighbour behind and above us as a couple of pieces of her patio furniture had blown off her deck and ended up in our back yard. They’re now tucked away in our basement until the storm has passed. We’ve had to tie down the cover over our deck furniture, and I had to rescue the cushions that had blown off my day bed. Oh, if only I had the time to use it! There has been a bit of a lull for the past hour or so but the wind is picking up again now, and I can see the rain coming up the valley. I love a good storm and spent a good part of this morning just staring out the window.

I have also watched a movie today, a very rare occurrence for me. It was The Gentle Man starring John Wayne and set in Ireland.

I have made a vegan and gluten free chocolate raspberry slice to take up to my son when I go up Tuesday. I have a bag of books to take to the second hand bookstore on way up and hopefully swap for some on my ever lengthening list of ‘I want to reads.’

I also plan on visiting some kitchen showrooms because, although I know how I want the new kitchen laid out, I really don’t know about colours, although I am leaning towards white with black trim and a copper backsplash. As it will be the first room in the house to be renovated it will set the tone for the rest of the house so I have to get this right. I am leaning towards Hamptons style. Any thoughts? Recommendations?

I read one more book than anticipated this week and it broke my reading slump. It was the five star The Last to Know by Jo Furniss,

the review for which I posted yesterday. I loved the story and the characters and now want to read more by this author. If you haven’t yet read yesterday’s post, pop over and check it out.

I have started Seven Days in Summer by Marcia Willett, set in Devon, England, and which I am also really enjoying. I love Willett’s warm, relaxing style of writing, and her characters who are always very relatable.

I am also reading the exquisitely written The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley. I was extremely upset over the death of Penny Vincenzi last year, but I have found Riley’s writing very reminiscent of Vincenzi’s early work which, I have to admit, I preferred to her last few books.

I am listening to Exit Wounds, an anthology of crime stories written by masters of the genre, including Jeffrey Deaver, Elly Griffiths and Mark Billingham.

This week I am planning on reading The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry.

Best friends Lindsey, Kendra, and Dani endure every parent’s nightmare when a tragic accident befalls their teenage boys, leaving one dead, another in a coma, and a third too traumatized to speak.
Reeling from the worst night of their lives, the three mothers plunge into a desperate investigation of the bizarre incident. How could something so horrible happen in their wealthy Southern California suburb?
They soon discover that the accident was just the beginning, and troubling discoveries lead to chilling questions: Do they really know their children? Do they even know each other? As more secrets surface, a fog of doubt and suspicion threatens to poison their families, their friendships, and the whole community.
With the illusion of happiness and safety long gone, these women must now confront the hazards of heartbreak, the consequences of jealousy, and the dangers of living double lives.

and Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, my first book by this celebrated author. I hope to squeeze in Magpie Murders first, which is the first book in this series.

Retired publisher Susan Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her longterm boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she’s always wanted – but is it? She’s exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she’s beginning to miss her old life in London.

And then a couple – the Trehearnes – come to stay, and the story they tell about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married, is such a strange and mysterious one that Susan finds herself increasingly fascinated by it. And when the Trehearnes tell her that their daughter is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to London and find out what really happened …

Only three new ARCs from Netgalley this week…

The Searcher by Tana French

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

and The Girl She Wanted by K.L. Slater

and one ARC directly from the author, You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

There is a leg of lamb roasting in the oven and it smells delicious; mouth wateringly good! So I am off now to prepare the vegetables. We’re having roasted potatoes, pumpkin, kumara, parsnip and minted peas. Somehow I don’t think we will need dessert.

Have a wonderful week and enjoy your reading.

Cheers

Sandy ❤😍📚☕🍪

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

EXCERPT: Anne feels her scream inside her own head and reverberating off the walls – her scream is everywhere. Then she falls silent and stands in front of the empty crib, rigid, her hand to her mouth. Marco fumbles with the light switch. They both stare at the empty crib where their baby should be. It is impossible that she not be there. There is no way Cora could have gotten out of the crib by herself. She is barely six months old.

‘Call the police,’ Anne whispers, then throws up, the vomit cascading over her fingers and onto the hardwood floor as she bends over. The baby’s room, painted a soft buttery yellow with stencils of baby lambs frolicking on the walls, immediately fills with the smell of bile and panic.

Marco doesn’t move. Anne looks up at him. He is paralyzed, in shock, staring at the empty crib, as if he can’t believe it. Anne sees the fear and guilt in his eyes and starts to wail – a horrible keening sound, like an animal in pain.

Marco still doesn’t budge. Anne bolts across the hall to their bedroom, grabs the phone off the bedside table, and dials 911,her hands shaking, getting vomit all over the phone. Marco finally snaps out of it. She can hear him walking rapidly around the second floor of the house while she stares across the hall at the empty crib. He checks the bathroom, at the top of the stairs, then passes quickly by her on his way to search the spare bedroom and then the last room down the hall, the one they have turned into an office. But, even as he does, Anne wonders in a detached way why he is looking there. It is as if part of her mind has split off and is thinking logically. It’s not like their baby is mobile on her own. She is not in the bathroom, or the spare bedroom, or the office.

Someone has taken her.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

MY THOUGHTS: Highly improbable, but extremely entertaining!

Where to start? This was one crazy read. It twisted and turned, then doubled back on itself. It is fast paced and full of lies and deception. Shari Lapena demonstrates great sleight of hand and misdirection in this, her debut novel. She will have your head spinning, and have you doubting every single one of the characters. And don’t expect to like any of the characters. Except maybe Anne’s mom. And that’s only maybe.

My advice? Hang onto your hat, enjoy the ride, and prepare for a crash landing.

😉😲🤦‍♀️.8

THE AUTHOR: Shari Lapena is a Canadian novelist. Lapena was a lawyer and English teacher before beginning her writing career.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena 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

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