First Lines Friday . . .

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Welcome to First Lines Friday originally hosted by Reading is my SuperPower.

Instead of judging a book by its cover, here are the first few lines which I hope will make you want to read this book.

<i>A bride is not supposed to get arrested on her wedding day. </i>

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to read more?

These are the opening lines of one of my current reads, <i>The Bride To Be</i> by <i>Daniel Hurst</i>

Kate is getting married. It’s an exciting time, but she has some doubts – her partner Mark sometimes mistreats her, and she is beginning to wonder if he is really “the one”.

Her concerns only grow when she spots a ridiculously happy couple during a wedding dress fitting. Realising that they have everything she wants, she becomes obsessed with the pair.

She decides that the groom, Tristan, is her ideal man and becomes fixated on getting closer to him. As she does, she discovers more and more about him and his seemingly perfect life with his bride-to-be, Tess.

And realises that below the surface they have their problems too.

As the wedding draws nearer, Kate has some big decisions to make. Should she leave Mark? Is Tristan the one she should really be with? And what will happen when the dark secrets that both couples are hiding come out into the open?

The Bride To Be by Daniel Hurst is published 07 May 2023

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

EXCERPT: ‘Why don’t you start at the beginning?’
‘The beginning? Well, I reckon that was the funeral. The funeral turned into a damned circus when the blackbirds showed up.’ Blackberry sweet tea sloshed over the rims of two mason jars as Faylene Wiggins abruptly slapped her hand on the tabletop. ‘Wait! Wait! You can’t print that. My mama would wash out my mouth with her homemade lemon verbena soap if she knew I cursed for the good Lord and all the world to see in your article.’
The reporter flipped the pages of his yellow steno pad. ‘I thought you said that your mother was dead?’
‘You’re not from these parts, so you’re excused for not understanding. Wicklow, Alabama, isn’t any old ordinary town, young man. Goodness, I wouldn’t put it past my mama to rise straight out of the ground and hunt me down, bar of soap clutched in her bony hand.’ With a firm nod, she jammed a finger in the air and added, ‘Now, that you can print.’

ABOUT ‘MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFÉ’: Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

MY THOUGHTS: A beautiful story about family ties, secrets, grief, old grudges, love and forgiveness.

Heather Webber never fails to draw me in with her marvellous characters and whimsical storylines. She conjures up just the right mix of family drama, mystery, romance and magical realism.

I could hear her characters speaking and was hungry for both Anna-Kate’s pies and Gabriel’s fried chicken.

The only thing stopping this from being a five star read was my confusion about the roles of Jenna and Bow. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be grateful.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#MidnightattheBlackbirdCafe

I: @booksbyheather

T: @BooksbyHeather

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #fantasy #friendship #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Heather Webber, aka Heather Blake, is the author of more than twenty-five novels. She loves to read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, and bake. She currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hard at work on her next book.

I own my copy of Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Sorry I haven’t posted or interacted much much this week. Events rather overtook me, but more about that later.

I picked up a book this morning, one from my backlist that is the April selection for the Mystery, Crime and Thriller groupread. I intended to just read a chapter a day to eke it out over the month. BUT, I was immediately absorbed and intrigued and finished this stunning debut, published August 2017, just after lunch.🤣🤣🤣 Maybe there was a reason I have left it sitting unread for almost six years, because it was just the tonic I needed. The book is Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to have published anything since.

I am currently listening to A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5) by Elly Griffiths, continuing – after a detour or two – my personal ‘read this series in 2023’ challenge.

I still have three titles for review that were published in March that I haven’t managed to read, but hopefully I can catch up in April – not this week as I have four reads for review due!

This week I am planning to read The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman, a new author to me.

I just love this cover!

When Anna Bradshaw wakes up in a hospital bed in London, she remembers nothing, not even her loving husband, Stephen. The doctors say her amnesia is to be expected, but Anna feels cut adrift from her entire life.

In Bristol, Livvy Nicholson is newly married to Dominic and eager to get back to work after six months’ maternity leave. But when Dominic’s estranged mother appears, making a series of unnerving claims, Livvy is sucked into a version of herself she doesn’t recognise.

A hundred miles apart, both women feel trapped and disorientated, and their stories are about to collide. Can they uncover the secret that connects them and reconstruct their fractured lives?

You Should Have Known by Rebecca Keller, which I requested after reading Jayme’s enthusiastic review. This is another author who is new to me.

When retired nurse Frannie Greene moves into a senior living apartment, she finds a compelling friendship with her new neighbor Katherine, only to discover that Katherine is married to the judge who Frannie believes is implicated in the death of her beloved granddaughter.

Observing the medication cart sparks Frannie’s darkest imagination, and her desire for revenge combines with her medical expertise. In one dreadful, impulsive moment, she tampers with the medicine. However, the next day, someone is dead and Frannie realizes the gravity of what she’s done.

The police get involved, and suspicions gather around someone Frannie knows to be innocent. Wracked with remorse, Frannie’s anxiety becomes unbearable. As she works to make it right, Frannie discovers that things are more complicated than they seem.

She’s spent years aching for accountability from people in power. Is she the one who now needs to be held culpable? What really happened that night?

Summer Nights in the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I have been requesting her books for ages so was excited to finally get an ARC.

A new beginning…

As her summer wedding to Jake approaches, Hollie is excited for their new beginning as a family. But when some unexpected news threatens the future she and Jake had hoped for, Hollie will need to find the strength to overcome heartache once more.

A fragile heart…

Single mum, Kerry, loves her job at The Starfish Café, but behind the brave smiles and laughter with customers there is a sadness deep within. So when someone from her past re-appears in her life, Kerry can either hide away or face her demons and try to finally move on from her heartbreak.

A summer to remember…

For Hollie and Kerry it promises to be an emotional rollercoaster of a summer, but the community at The Starfish Café will always be there to help them through – after all, with courage nothing is impossible…

And The Lost Wife by Georgina Lees, a widget I received directly from the publisher.

You always underestimated me and I always overestimated you.
Maybe that was our problem.

A woman and a child arrive at a cottage in the Peak District in the dead of night.

Alone. Desperate. Hunted.

She knows they’re coming for her. It’s only a matter of time.

Because her husband kept a secret from her. Until he was ready to destroy her.

Now, it’s her turn.

These books are all due for publication this coming week.

During a sleepless night this week I caved in and went on a requesting spree, netting five new reads.

All Good Things by Amanda Prowse, an author I love.

The Wedding Gift by Carolyn Brown

The Bride To Be by Daniel Hurst

One Last Kill by Robert Dugoni

Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves by Quinn Connor, yet another author new to me.

Pete had a meeting with his care team Friday morning and begins his radiation treatment Wednesday. He is to stay in the cancer lodge for the first two weeks at least so that he can be monitored, but he is allowed home for the weekends.

I didn’t accomplish everything that I needed to at work this week, but I came close, so that will have to do. There was only one set of accounts that I didn’t manage to straighten out, but only because I didn’t have the supporting documentation.

I was exhausted by Friday night and came home, had a cup of tea, a sandwich and went to bed.

We went to a 100th birthday party Saturday afternoon – a first for us – of a family friend. It was a lovely afternoon, with a spectacular cake and lots of great company. Everything was just winding up when all the excitement of the afternoon caught up with the birthday boy who took a bit of a turn and was unconscious for several minutes. He departed his party in an ambulance and spent the night in hospital under observation. He is back home today and reportedly in fine form.

The rain cleared just after lunch today and I planted the spinach plants I had picked up during the week. My winter lettuce are starting to look good, but my red cabbage are not hearting up at all. I am still picking the occasional tomato and cucumber, and I ate six luscious sweet sun warmed strawberries this afternoon. I keep thinking that they must nearly be at an end, but there’s still green strawberries and flowers on the plants.

Leftovers for dinner tonight.

I hope you have all had a satisfying week, and happy reading for the coming week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to have heavy rain all day, but other than a couple of light drizzly showers, there’s been nothing, so I have had to water the vege garden. I picked another seven cucumbers for Luke’s roadside stand, but I fear that’s the last of them. It doesn’t look as though there are many feijoas on the tree, and there’s no sign yet of mandarins, so he may have a bit of a dry spell for a while. Dustin and Luke have been down for the afternoon and have just left to go back home so that they’ve time to give Timmy a run before it’s dark. Daylight saving ends here next week, so it will get dark even earlier.

Helen and I went and investigated the two new antique shops in the area Friday morning. We had a lovely time and finished with coffee out.

Currently I am reading, and almost finished, The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish. I’m not over-enamoured, but reserving my final opinion as she often pulls something out of the hat right at the end.

I am still listening to the family saga, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.


I am not quite caught up with my March reads yet, hopefully this week. I have two reads for review due this week: Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .

And A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall, which I can’t wait to get to. I loved the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up with Liz, Pat and Thelma again.

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

Only one publisher’s Widget this week, and one ARC. The widget is Summer at the Cornish Farmhouse by Linn B. Halton

And ARC is The Widow of Weeping Pines by Amanda McKinney

I am back at work fulltime from Monday. Hopefully not for too long. I will still be going to aquarobics, but other interests will be taking a back seat while I deal with the end of the financial year and training someone new for my job. *sigh* I have a meeting with the outgoing manager tomorrow. She walked off the job at lunchtime Friday after having, only days earlier, agreed to work through to the end of March. 🤷‍♀️

Enjoy however much remains of your weekend. I’m making toasted sandwiches for dinner tonight – ham, cheese, mustard. Then I will sort out the menu for the rest of the week and make a shopping list. We’re a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard here as I haven’t done a grocery shop for two weeks.

Happy reading!❤📚

The Mistress Next Door by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: He calls me his mistress. I like it; it sounds quaint and old fashioned and brings to mind a powerful woman, à la Anne Boleyn. Milk-white skin, dark hair and dangerous eyes, swishing around in her heavy brocade dress made from cascades of the ornate fabric, only her delicate shoulders and collarbones visible above her neckline, playing hard to get before eventually securing her prize.
I’ve already secured mine, and once that was done, I set my attention on his wife. Who’d have thought that we’d become friends, popping in and out of one another’s houses, stretching at yoga classes and sweating on the treadmill and sharing thick, green gloop afterwards, believing it is good for us. I even get to spend time with their children, which is extra sweet, and there’s no danger of them becoming mine. Children aren’t part of a mistress’s lot. But once I’m no longer the mistress . . .

ABOUT ‘THE MISTRESS NEXT DOOR’: I know what you did. You destroyed my life. Now I’m going to take everything from you, starting with your husband. I’m your worst nightmare, and I’m closer than you think.

Oliver, my husband and the father of our three little girls, used to be my rock. But recently he’s been behaving strangely, staying out late, working weekends and emotionally absent even when home. Now as I clutch a receipt for a hotel room and champagne for two, hidden away in his coat pocket, I’m devastated. What else can I assume other than he’s cheating?

I’ve risked everything for the life I have now, a life that’s a million miles from… before. Not that Oliver would know anything about that. I would do anything to hold on to the perfect future I so dearly long for. A future that is now about to come crashing down.

Because Oliver’s cheating isn’t the only threat to my family. This morning I received an anonymous note. One that changes everything. The past isn’t just haunting me, it’s coming back to destroy me. It seems that someone in our close-knit community of Prospect Close knows my secret. Someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get their revenge. They’ve already stolen my husband. How much further will they go? And what can I do to stop them…?

MY THOUGHTS: Is it me? Or is it you? I’m not sure. Usually Lesley Sanderson’s books draw me right in and I devour them in a day or two. But somehow The Mistress Next Door missed the mark for me.

The story is told over two timelines – now and 2006 – by the main character, Harriet, and the prologue from the point of view of the anonymous mistress. Maybe we should have heard a little bit more from her to keep the tension ramped up? And her revelation? – I’ll deal with that later.

I do admit that I had great fun trying to decide who she was, and frequently changed my mind as to her identity.

I had no particularly strong feelings about Harriet, whom I should have felt empathy for. She came across as sulky and petulant at times. Her husband Oliver I didn’t like at all. Martin and Edward were the most interesting characters, and we didn’t see nearly enough of them. They had a great vantage point from their penthouse apartment and I’m sure they saw and knew far more than they let on.

The motive behind all this and the great revelation just didn’t ring my bells and was disappointing, as was the revelation of Harriet’s secret. It was obvious from the moment she started telling her backstory what it was going to be.

This particular novel lacked the suspense I have come to expect from this author. While have enjoyed Lesley Sanderson’s books to varying degrees previously, this is definitely my least favourite. I kind of enjoyed this, mainly with a sense of anticipation that wasn’t, in the end, realised.

I was lucky enough to receive both a digital and audio ARC of The Mistress Next Door, switching from one format to the other depending on what I was doing. I absolutely adored Eilidh Beaton’s narration.

⭐⭐.9

#TheMistressNextDoor #NetGalley

I: @lesleysandersonauthor @bookouture

T: @LSandersonbooks @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Lesley spends her days writing in coffee shops in Kings Cross where she lives and also works as a librarian in a multicultural school. She loves the atmosphere and eclectic mix of people in the area, and she loves languages.

She attended the Curtis Brown Creative novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize.

Lesley discovered Patricia Highsmith as a teenager and has since been hooked on psychological thrillers. She is particularly interested in the psychology of female relationships.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC of The Mistress Next Door written by Lesley Sanderson and narrated by Eilidh Beaton. 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 . . .

We’re currently having lovely warm days and very cold nights, something I can live with. But we have more rain forecast next week and apparently a cold spell as well that may see me hibernating.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand has been hit by a swarm of earthquakes over the past 36 hours. To all my bookish friends in that region, my thoughts are with you and I hope you are all safe.

I am currently reading A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, set in the 1950s. It took me a wee bit to settle into, but now I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s not quite a murder-mystery as we meet the murderer making confession early in the book, but it’s the police and the Priest to whom he confessed trying to ascertain just who he is, and then trying to find him, that provides the entertainment.

I am also reading #1 in a New Zealand crime/detective series by Vanda Symon, Overkill. I read the 5th in the series last week and loved it so much that I decided to begin at the beginning. Loving it. At this point it’s looking like another 5 star read.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

I am listening to The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Emilia Fox. This was originally published as The Shifting Fog.

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets – some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

I, again, have only one read for review due this week, just as well as I am still reading books that were published two weeks ago. Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni is due for publication 23rd March, and hopefully I will be caught up by then.

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master’s deadly match? A twisting novel of suspense by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family’s failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family’s reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career.

Keera’s chance to play in the big leagues comes when she’s retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There’s little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple’s impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera’s former lover, who’s eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense.

As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that’s more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family’s legacy, and her own future.

I have received two publishers widgets this week, and one ARC via Netgalley. The Netgalley ARC is Summer Nights at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I’m excited about this as I haven’t previously been approved for any of her books.

The two publishers widgets are: Black Thorn by Sarah Hilary

And The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood. This is a series that has consistently been 5 star reads.

I’ve done quite well with my posting this week. I’m not promising the same for this week.

I’ve a shoulder of lamb in the oven for tonight’s dinner and it smells delicious. The vegetables are just waiting to be tipped into the roasting dish. I’ll be sneaking a slice or two before I dish up and putting between two slices of the fresh bread I bought from the bakery today slathered in butter, salt and pepper. That’s one of life’s guilty pleasures for me.

Enjoy your weekend!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon. We’ve had a lazy weekend and have accomplished very little. I don’t even have to think about dinner tonight as we’re off to a friend’s later this afternoon to watch the Supercar racing out of Australia and staying for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it.

I didn’t manage to accomplish much reading wise over the past week either. I have only managed to finish one of my six reads for review for the week, but will probably finish the second tonight.

Currently I am reading The Summer

And a book by a new to me New Zealand author, Vanda Symon. Loving it!

A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…


The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’ s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

I am listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I am hoping to catch up on the reads I didn’t get to last week as I have only one read for review due this week. It is Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams.

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

There’s something strange about the scene . . . Famous artist Elaine appears to have passed peacefully in her sleep as she rested against a tree in the garden of her home, the Willows. Her legs are outstretched, hands tenderly clutching a small blue flower.

But upon closer inspection, things don’t add up. Where is Elaine’s trusty walking stick? Why did she choose to slumber on the ground when there is a comfortable lounge chair nearby? Where did that blue flower come from? . . . not from her garden, that’s for sure.

The clues soon point to murder. Elaine was beloved by the community, who would do such a thing? Her grandson is determined to uncover the truth and hires Rina to investigate.

The trail leads Rina to a series of shocking secrets, stretching back over twenty years. And a murderer who has unfinished business . . . Can our favourite amateur sleuth catch this killer before it’s too late?

Suddenly, because I decided to stop requesting ARCs for review, several that were on my pending list were approved, and I received three widgets from publishers!🤣🤣🤣 Is someone in the great library in the sky trying to tell you something?

The three publishers widgets are:

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins

The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

And Don’t Look Back by Jo Spain

Other ARCs I received via Netgalley are:

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

A Cornish Seaside Murder by Fiona Leitch

A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun by David Putnam

and The Lucky Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

Oh, well, I was obviously meant to have these. 🤷‍♀️❤📚

Thanks to all of you who have been asking after Pete. We’re back to Oncology Monday when they will plot a detailed map of the cancer for the radiation treatment which will be starting in the next two to three weeks.

Have a great week of reading and I’ll be popping in whenever I can. 🤗❤📚

The Doctor’s Wife by Daniel Hurst

EXCERPT: As the woman at the window watched the activity on the beach, she knew the body on the sand was going to be the event that turned this quiet seaside village into a hive of activity for several days to come. This isolated place was usually only frequented by local residents, delivery drivers from the nearby towns and the occasional tourist passing in and out of Scotland. Now it would be teeming with forensic experts, journalists and bystanders harbouring a morbid curiosity.
That was the thing about the appearance of a body in an unexpected place.
It demanded attention.
And it always got it.

ABOUT ‘THE DOCTOR’S WIFE’: He thinks his secret is safe. But she knows the truth…

My husband is a doctor. He’s smart and charming and everybody trusts him. Except me.

On the surface, it looks like I have it all – the perfect marriage, the perfect husband, the perfect life. But it’s far from the truth.

Doctor Drew Devlin is not the respectable figure he makes out to be. The reason we moved to this beautiful, old property with a gorgeous view of the sea was because we needed to put our past behind us. It should’ve been a fresh start for us both.

Except I’ve discovered my husband has been lying to me again. He’s using the power he has in his job to mess with people’s lives, and to get exactly what he wants – no matter who it hurts.

But he’s underestimated me. I’ve had plenty of time, in this big, isolated house, to think about all of his mistakes.

And my husband has no idea what’s about to happen next…

MY THOUGHTS: Which character did I dislike the most? I honestly don’t know!

I initially felt sorry for Fern, until she started to reveal her true colours. I disliked Drew throughout. I could have felt sorry for Alice, but I don’t. I do feel sorry for Rory. He was the true victim in all of this. He was easily manipulated by Fern, who is diabolically clever, and cold-hearted.

The story is told from the points of view of both Fern and Drew, covering both the present and the couple’s past in Manchester.

Don’t come into The Doctor’s Wife looking for a mystery, or a ‘whodunit’ – you know who’s doing what. The big question is, are they going to get away with it?

There are multiple twists and turns in this quick, entertaining read. There’s no depth to the characters, but in this case, it really doesn’t matter. I always finish Daniel Hurst’s books with a smile on my face, and I certainly did with The Doctor’s Wife, which ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. Normally I don’t particularly like cliffhanger endings, but in this case it was the perfect way to end and leaves the reader to decide whether or not the killer gets the comeuppance they deserve.

I was lucky enough to have both an audio and a digital ARC of The Doctor’s Wife for review and chopped and changed between the two media, enjoying both equally. One small point I don’t understand about the audiobook narrator’s roles is why David Wayman doesn’t narrate all the male voices as Sarah Durham’s rendition of male voices isn’t at all convincing.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheDoctorsWife #Bookouture

I: @danielhurstbooks @bookouture

T: @dhurstbooks @Bookouture

THE AUTHOR: Writer/wanderer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing both an audio and digital ARC of The Doctor’s Wife, written by Daniel Hurst and narrated by Sarah Durham and David Wayman, for review. All opinions expressed in the 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 is also posted on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It’s been a lovely autumn day here in New Zealand. Cool overnight, which is lovely for sleeping, and in the mornings, but beautifully warm days. The evenings are also cool. The leaves are also starting to turn, much earlier than usual.

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Currently I am reading Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry – lovely atmospheric Irish fiction.

And listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt.

This week I have seven titles to read for review and I know that I am not going to be able to complete them all, but I will do my best.

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson, which I am excited about.

There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity becomes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive.

The Summer House by Keri Beevis

Mead House was once our childhood home.

Despite my fears, I always knew we would have to return to face the demons of our past.

Back to the place where it happened, to where, as carefree teenagers, we lost our elder sister in the most brutal of circumstances.

As executors of our grandmother’s will, my twin brother, Ollie, and I needed to empty the house for resale.

What I didn’t expect to discover was my sister’s secret journal that contained her most private thoughts and shocking dark secrets.

Now I am questioning everything that I saw that night. Did I get it wrong, who I saw?

Did my evidence send an innocent man, my then boyfriend’s brother, to jail for the last 17 years?

I know I have no choice. If I want to find answers, I will have to go back to that fateful night my sister died. When she made her last visit to the summer house.

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea

Ariel Shepherd is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown French château they’d visited on their honeymoon four years ago. With finances tight she has no choice but to swap her Manhattan apartment and city lifestyle for a renovation project in a peaceful French village.

When Ariel hires an expert to help her uncover the legacy of her beautiful ruin, life only becomes more complicated. Christiane, the historian, is found dead in the moat, and although the local police aren’t suspicious, Ariel is. She joins two other ex-pats, Pippa and Katherine, to investigate, but with plenty of workmen – and errant tools – around the château, many people had the means, but who had the motive? Why would anyone want to kill a historian?

Ariel begins to suspect that her French village life will be anything but peaceful! Can she solve the suspicious murder and make her château in Burgundy the perfect new home?

A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis – a new author to me.

On a hot Saturday night in Manhattan, Father Duffy sits in a confessional, growing alarmed as he listens to the voice of a distraught young man who speaks of bloody hair and a dead woman and a compulsion to do things with a hammer that he does not understand. Before the priest can persuade the man to confess to the police, the killer flees, still clutching the hammer.

The next day, Father Duffy learns that a high-class call girl on the East Side has been savagely murdered, and no suspect has been found. As he searches for the disturbed young man who he fears will kill again, cerebral New York Police detective Sergeant Ben Goldsmith takes the lead in the investigation of the call-girl murder, racing against the clock to catch a very clever killer who, when enraged, cannot control his need to swing a hammer.

Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin, another new author.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, Kate meticulously plans a dinner party – from the fancy table setting to the perfect baked alaska waiting in the freezer. But by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests are gone, and Kate is spinning out of control.

Set between from the 1990s and the present day, from Carlow to Dublin, the family farmhouse to Trinity College, Dinner Party is a beautifully observed, dark and twisty novel that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish, an author I love.

Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong man.
 
Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most sociable guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
 
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
 
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
 
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed. It still isn’t.
 
No one else could have done it. Could they?

Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins, yet another new author to me.

Twenty-six-year-old Rory rarely leaves her apartment, though her little dog Buster keeps her company. Days are spent working for her aunt’s PI business, and watching and imagining histories for the homeless men, the Dossers, across the road. At night she walks Buster on the roof, gazes at the stars and wonders.

The night before New Year’s Eve, one of the Dossers is murdered, an incident which brings the world – police, new neighbours, her dark past and new possibilities – crashing through Rory’s front door.

She thought she was keeping her fears at bay. But has her sanctuary turned into her prison? Or is it safer for everyone if Rory stays locked away?

I have had no new ARCs this week. I haven’t requested any, and I have deleted a number titles from my pending list. I have also deleted a number of titles from my ARC list, but still have somewhere around 240 to read for review. But these are titles I really want to read.

After the video conference with Pete’s care team on Friday we now know that there is more cancer in his face, mainly in the area under his right eye. Because of the proximity to his eye it is going to require a multi-faceted approach. We have an appointment with the oncologist this coming Friday and, in conjunction with the surgeon, a plan of attack will be finalised.

Because of this, and increasing pressures at work, I have decided to take a break from posting every day. I hope to be able to continue with my weekly catch up, and to post reviews as I finish a read. I am currently only reading two books a week as I am so tired from running around and stress. I will still try to interact with you all, but it may not be possible every day, so please cut me some slack.

Thank you all for your understanding, and happy reading my friends.

The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake

EXCERPT: Almost midnight. The garden is ink black, as though it’s been washed with a brush, details of marble statues and sweeping steps picked out by the week moonlight.

Below, a bronze fountain cast in the likeness of Apollo splashes water into the lake, disturbing the stillness of the hour. Accompanied by the distant scream of a fox, the hoot of an owl, the night sounds meld into backdrop of what is to come.

“The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.”
Skirting the high granite wall, careful footsteps crunch on the gravel to the end of the path where towering gates stand open, wrought-iron flourishes picked out with golden ivy leaves, visible even in the darkness.

Now cutting across the neatly mown grass in front of the glasshouses, and through another set of matching gates.

Beyond, a series of rose beds and square ponds are linked like gems in a necklace along the formal Rose Walk, leading to the wishing well and the yew maze. On either side, crowded flower beds wait for the morning sunshine, their scent heavy, trapped in high walls covered in more roses, their stems entwined, thick with thorns.

A black shape slips into the foliage unseen, green eyes watching.

Almost there. This will be the last trip.

It’s been a long journey, the planning detailed, but there’s been a lot of time for that. Now, the last act will be easy.

ABOUT ‘THE MYSTERY OF FOUR’: Tess Morgan has finally made her dream of restoring beautiful Kilfenora House and Gardens into a reality.

But during rehearsals for the play that forms the opening weekend’s flagship event, her dream turns into a nightmare when a devastating accident looks set to ruin her carefully laid plans.

There are rumours that Kilfenora House is cursed, but this feels personal, and becomes increasingly terrifying when more than one body is discovered. Could someone be closing in on Tess herself?

Clarissa Westmacott, ex star of stage and screen, certainly believes so, particularly when she learns that purple-flowered aconite has been picked from the Poison Garden. And Clarissa will stop at nothing to protect the friend she has come to see as a daughter…

Four tragic accidents. Or four brutal murders? Unravel The Mystery of Four . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this quiet but engaging murder-mystery. I loved the atmosphere of Kilfenora House, and the characters involved, particularly Clarissa Westmacott, who turns out to be a star in more ways than one.

Now I have to admit that I guessed who was behind all the ‘accidents’ by the time I was a little over halfway through the book. But that didn’t impact on my enjoyment at all. I loved the journey to the rather satisfying end.

The characters are vividly portrayed. Tess is still grieving over the death of her fiance, and I could feel her grief, also her frustration and anguish at the endless stream of incidents that seem set to derail the grand opening of Kilfenora House to the public. On top of all that she has a true crime television crew wanting to dig up the grounds because they believe a serial killer may have buried at least one body there. I loved her response to the news – ‘This just keeps on getting better.’

Merlin the cat is another character of importance. He certainly has personality in spades and has a pivotal role in the solving of this slow-burn mystery.

Great characters, a setting oozing with atmosphere, and an engaging mystery makes this a no-brainer for mystery fans. This is the first book I have read by Sam Blake, and I’ll certainly be snapping up any more that come my way. I see she also has an impressive array of backtitles for me to get my teeth into.

I have listened to other audiobooks narrated by Aoife McMahon and always appreciate her talents. The Mystery of Four is another feather in her cap.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheMysteryofFour #NetGalley

I: @samblakebooks @bolindaaudio

T: @samblakebooks @Bolindaaudio

#contemporaryfiction #crime #friendship #murdermystery

MEET THE AUTHOR: Sam Blake has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks, and she had an idea for a book.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bolinda Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Mystery of Four, written by Sam Blake and narrated by Aoife McMahon, 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