Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday. Luke has just gone home with his Dad and I have done a quick sweep around the house. I found a pair of his socks halfway down the hall, and his raptor in the dining room after we had been playing dinosaur hide and seek.

We have also baked cookies, caught up with all the laundry, and read lots of stories. He is starting to make up stories of his own now. I should write them down for him and illustrate them. Something to keep in mind for his next visit. Luke turns 4 next week and we’re having a birthday party for him next Saturday.

But, on to books….. I am currently reading Sally Hepworth’s The Good Sister.

Die of Shame by Mark Billingham

And listening to Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, #2 in the Kate Burkholder series that I had somehow missed reading.

This week I am planning on reading The Whispers by Heidi Perks.

A MISSING WIFE. FOUR FRIENDS. WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.

She has a loving husband and a son she adores. Surely she wouldn’t abandon them and her perfect life. . .

But what has happened to her?

At the school gates, it’s not long before the rumours start. Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers, and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And a the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks. . .

I am keeping my reading load deliberately light because of my workload, but if I can, I will add a title from my backlist.

Only two new ARCs this week: Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

And A Family Affair by Julie Houston

What are you planning on reading this week? Have a great one.

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Dusk on Good Friday.

It’s Easter Sunday today, and despite the Easter Bunny forgetting me, it’s been a beautiful day, a beautiful weekend after a week of thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

Currently I am reading Hummingbird Lane by Carolyn Brown. This is the second book that I have read by this author and she is definitely on my favourites list. Her characters are superb.

I am listening to A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo, #10 in the Kate Burkholder series.

This week I am planning on reading The Best of Friends by Alex Day.

Susannah is rebuilding her life…
Susannah has had a tough year. After a sticky divorce and losing the life she had grown accustomed to, moving to a small town in the south of England with her two sons is exactly the fresh start she needs.

Charlotte seems to have it all…
Charlotte is delighted when Susannah moves in. Charlotte may appear to have the perfect husband, the perfect family, the perfect house, but deep down she’s lonely, and she needs someone to confide in.

But one of them is not who they pretend to be…
The two women instantly become best friends. But underneath the surface, secrets, lies and betrayals are all hiding. And when the truth comes out, not everyone will live to tell the tale…

That is probably all I will get read this week as I am training my new staff member plus have a number of functions on including a lunch for our over 60s group, an engagement party and the speedshear. We have travelled up to our son in Hamilton each day this week to help get his new workshop ready to move into. He had been planning the move for this weekend but delays in the electrical cabling for the hoists has put him behind. I have spent the weekend sanding down and painting the offices, customer area, lunch room, bathrooms and library. One final coat tomorrow and at least that area will be ready. I could hardly move when I got out of bed this morning. I have found muscles that I’d forgotten I had!

I received 4 new Netgalley ARCs this week, all of them from Carla and Susan’s lists from last week.

A Road Trip to Remember by Judith Kleim. Isn’t that cover delicious! I could do with some time at the beach right now.

A Bucket List to Die For by Lorraine Fouchet

The Lost Girls of Ireland by Susanne O’Leary

And Little Boy Lost by Ruhi Choudhary.

I am going to leave you with this morning’s sunrise. If you look closely you will see the Easter Cross lit up between the trees on the skyline.

Happy Easter, and happy reading my friends.

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Storm clouds are gathering. The weather that has flooded New South Wales this week is due to hit New Zealand tonight. The sunrise this morning was spectacular, but I’m afraid that I just lay in bed and enjoyed it this morning. I did think about leaping out of bed and grabbing the camera, but my body wasn’t listening 🤷‍♀️

Currently I am reading Small Town Secrets by Alys Murray, which is absolutely delightful! This is a book that I requested because the cover appealed, but it is definitely a winner. It’s a light romance with a few life lessons. I love the characters, who are well developed, quirky, and believable.

I am listening to Partners in Crime by Stuart MacBride, (Logan McRae 6.5-7.5) I love this author’s sense of humour.

I am also reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. This is another book peopled by characters I love. This is the April group read for the ‘All About Books’ Goodreads.com group. This would make an excellent movie.

This week I am planning on reading Syrian Brides by Anna Halabi. The author provided me with an ARC.

This delightful collection of short stories offers insight into the lives of Syrian women, both the married and the brides-to-be. It reveals the warmth and humor as well as the oppression in the Syrian society. The stories make the reader laugh while addressing serious issues such as domestic violence.
Um Hussam can’t find a suitable bride for her son, testing each candidate’s sight, hearing and reading skills, occasionally cobbing a feel. Jamila’s husband Hassan can’t forget his deceased wife, until she makes sure he never mentions her again. Rami can’t help but wonder whether his new bride is a natural beauty or a talented surgeon’s masterpiece. Khadija’s maid stabs her in the back while Rana’s husband Muafak can’t find the right excuse to avoid a fight. 

And Of Magpies and Men by Ode Ray. This is also an author ARC.

Can any good come of longings that a person can never satisfy? If so, good for whom?

Two corpses wash ashore in a picturesque Italian village, the violence that put them there is bound to a long-held secret and two strangers living worlds apart with seemingly nothing in common.

Benedict Grant a wealthy Londoner, leading a lonely life.

Marie Boulanger a nurse and single mum, struggling to make ends meet in Marseille.

However, a mother’s illicit revelation will set in motion a chain of events that will reshape their identities, stir poignant family affairs and delve into the by-products of lawless decisions.

I am possibly being a little ambitious this week as it is the end of our financial year so there’s a lot of extra work to be done.

I received three new Netgalley ARCs this week:

The Last Night in London by Karen White

My Little Girl by Shalini Boland

and The Whispers by Heidi Perks

What are you planning on reading this week? I have three reviews I need to write, but as I am having trouble stringing my thoughts together coherently, I will wait until the morning to make a start, and hope that get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Has anyone else had any trouble downloading the audiobook Mrs Wiggins? I have made several unsuccessful attempts to download it to my ipod. It jams at around 10% and goes no further. I haven’t had this problem with any of the other audiobooks I have downloaded from Netgalley.

Have a wonderful week everyone!❤📚

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: It was the colours that caught her attention. Often the colours on the Island were subtle, olive green, mud brown, sea grey and all softened by mist. In the full sunlight of early morning, this picture was stark and vibrant. The harsh white of the snow. Three shapes, silhouetted. Ravens. In her painting they would be angular shapes, cubist almost. Birds roughly carved from hard black wood. And then that splash of colour. Red, reflecting the scarlet ball of the sun.

She left the sledge at the side of the track and crossed the field to see the scene more closely. There was a gate from the road. The snow stopped her pushing it open so she climbed it. A stone wall split the field in two, but in places it had collapsed and there was a gap big enough for a tractor to get through. As she grew nearer the perspective shifted, but that didn’t bother her. She had the paintings fixed firmly in her mind. She expected the ravens to fly off, had even been hoping to see them in flight. The sight of them aloft, the wedge shaped tail tilted to hold each steady, would inform her image of them on the ground.

Her concentration was so fierce, and everything seemed unreal here, surrounded by the reflected light which made her head swim, that she walked right up to the sight before realizing exactly what she was seeing. Until then everything was just form and colour. Then the vivid red turned into a scarf. The grey coat and the white flesh merged into the background of the snow which wasn’t so clean here. The ravens were pecking at a girl’s face. One of the eyes had disappeared.

Fran recognized the young woman, even in this altered, degraded state. The birds had fluttered away briefly as she had approached but now, as she stood motionless, watching, they returned. Suddenly she screamed, so loudly that she could feel the strain in the back of her throat and clapped her hands to send the birds circling into the sky. But she couldn’t move from the spot.

It was Catherine Ross. There was a red scarf tight around her neck, the fringe spread like blood in the snow.

ABOUT ‘RAVEN BLACK’: Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Ann Cleeves writing. She certainly knows how to set an atmosphere. Set in the Shetland Islands, she has recreated the claustrophobic atmosphere of the islands and the people who live there.

Raven Black is the first book in Cleeves’ Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez who, despite his name, was born in the islands.

Cleeves characters are very real. Perez has some personal decisions to make, as does Fran,who discovered the bodies. Yes, there is more than one. Everyone from Magnus, the reclusive old man accused of murdering a girl who disappeared some years earlier, to Catherine Ross, the girl found murdered on the hillside near Magnus’s home, are depicted so well that I could visualise them, and hear them speak.

Raven Black is an excellent murder mystery, one that kept me guessing to the end. There are several twists and surprises along the way that enhanced the plot.

I had, some years ago, watched the TV series both of Shetland and Vera and I can heartily recommend both, along with the books.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#RavenBlack #anncleeves #panmacmillan

@AnnCleeves @panmacmillan

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #scottishnoir #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Raven Black written by Ann Cleeves and published by Pan Macmillan. I read Raven Black for the Goodreads.com Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers March 2021 Mysteries for a cold winter’s night group read. 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 weekend draws to a close here in New Zealand. I really don’t know where this one went. There’s a distinct nip in the air when the sun goes behind the clouds, and the first of the leaves are beginning to colour.

I got the plans for my new kitchen on Friday, and I love it. I am going to take a couple of hours out of work on Wednesday and go pick my bench top, cupboards, etc. So excited!

I am about to start reading Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett.

I am listening to The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

This week I am also planning on reading Whoever Fights Monsters by Angelo Marcos.

You’d kill to protect your family. The question is… how many times?

Three men are about to begin the worst bombing campaign in history, targeting schools in order to kill as many innocent children as they can.

One night, the mysterious Aurora appears and tells family man Nathaniel Bennett three things.

Firstly, that his daughter will be one of the victims.

Secondly, that he is the only one who can stop these atrocities from happening.

Thirdly, to stop them he’ll have to kill all three of the men. If even one is left alive, the bombings will still happen and hundreds of children – including his daughter – will die.

We follow Nathaniel as he wrestles with his mission – and himself. Is he a soldier following orders and saving children, or is he the monster, stalking and killing three men who – so far – have done nothing wrong?

And, to the rest of the world – and the police – does it even make a difference?

This week I received a Publisher’s widget for Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

A Netgalley ARC for The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden

and one audiobook ARC, Mrs Wiggins by Mary Monroe

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!❤📚

The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

EXCERPT: ‘Come and have a seat. I hope you don’t mind me saying but you’re looking a bit pale.’

‘That’s OK.’ She held up a hand. ‘I’ve disturbed your evening enough.’ Her gaze went to the lit kitchen beyond.

‘It’s no problem. Just me here.’ He’d read her mind.

‘You live here alone?’

‘Put it this way, you’re not disturbing a romantic dinner.’

That wasn’t an answer. Leah heard a small internal alarm bell. Her car was down the road and she hadn’t told Elliot in her message that she was inside a stranger’s house on Plough Lane.

‘Come and sit down while I call the AA.’

Despite feeling light-headed, Leah nodded but didn’t move.

He obviously sensed her unease. ‘Does my cooking smell that bad?’

Leah was about to smile but at that moment a dog came down the stairs. It was a white and brown basset hound and its ears flapped about its head as it descended awkwardly.

‘He doesn’t bite either.’

The animal slid down the last few green stairs on its stomach and made a beeline for Leah.

She bent to pet the dog. ‘What’s his name?’

‘Her. It’s Sheila.’

She tried to pat its head while it snuffled at her jeans. ‘Hi, Sheila.’ Leah held out her hand so Sheila could sniff it, but the dog ignored her. She stood up but felt giddy and staggered back.

‘Whoa.’ Tate caught her firmly by the arm.

He had a very tight grip but as soon as she’d regained her balance, he released her.

‘Sorry.’ He pulled both his arms in as if he shouldn’t have touched her.

‘That’s OK. I think I do need to sit down though, if you wouldn’t mind.’

‘Just in here.’ He immediately turned and led her towards the doorway of the kitchen.

Leah followed and found herself in a very impressive and modern space. More dark slate walls were broken up by bright white splash tiles behind the huge sink and cooking range. In the middle was a long breakfast bar and several stools. A half-eaten meal lay on it with a full bowl-glass of red wine beside it.

Leah’s scalp prickled cold. ‘I’m sorry. I’ve interrupted your dinner.’ Her mouth felt dry.

‘Not at all.’ He pulled out a stool. ‘Sit yourself down.’

But Leah stumbled, fell and blacked out before she reached it.

ABOUT ‘THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR’: He isn’t who you think he is…
When Leah Talbot hits a deer on a deserted road near her village she spots a light on in a nearby house and approaches, hoping that someone is home.

He is.

Charming, handsome, Martin Tate answers the door to the bedraggled and traumatised Leah, inviting her in. Though she’s not there for long, Leah feels an indescribable pull to the man who has helped in her hour of need.

But when she returns the next morning to say thank you, it isn’t Martin who answers the door this time. It’s the police.

There’s been a brutal murder and the sole female resident is dead.

There’s no sign of Martin…
Until he comes looking for Leah.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a fast-paced, fun read and I am glad I gave this author a second chance after really not liking the only other book I have read by him, While You Slept.

There were not so many characters as to be confusing, and they were each quite distinct from the others. The plot is one I have not come across before, and it is very clever and well thought out.

I became quite involved with the characters, mentally screaming at Leah at times because she made some really dumb decisions. But then, had I been in her place, I may well have made those same decisions, although I would like to think that I wouldn’t.

Yes, this was crazy, and in places improbable, but it was also enjoyable. I think that had it gone on any longer it would have been too over the top, but the author wisely knew when to call time.

Narrator Rose Robinson was excellent and used exactly the right tones and inflections in her voice to suit the circumstances. I would listen to more books narrated by her.

And I will definitely be looking for more to read from Mr Parker.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheGoodNeighbour #NetGalley #rjparkerauthor #harpercollinsuk

@netgalley @harpercollins

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: R J Parker’s creative career began as a TV script writer, script editor and producer. It was this background that fed into a series of cinematic, high-concept thrillers that grabs the reader from the very first page and doesn’t release them until the last. R J Parker now lives in Salisbury.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio for providing an audio ARC of The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

After a week of cool,wet and stormy weather, the weekend has been magnificent. Clear blue skies, and hot. Just how I like it. 🏖

I have been working every day since my 2-i-c left, and will work right through until my new one starts after Easter. I have had Luke this weekend too, so other than Luke’s books, I haven’t read anything.

Currently I am reading The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich.

and listening to The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

This week I am planning on reading The Night Gate by Peter May

In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree.
A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house.
The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.
Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter.  Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

Events that have led to both killings.

And Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

This week I received 4 Kindle ARCs and 1 audiobook from Netgalley.

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

A Million Things by Emily Spurr

The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

and the audiobook is The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

I am super excited about both The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson and Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson.

And now I had better get back to Luke…he has devised another game for us to play, one that requires me to make a tent 🤣😂

Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

EXCERPT: Home.

Amy felt better just seeing her front garden. Her beautiful pots guarded the house faithfully. She held her keyring tightly in her hand as she finally slid her key into the lock. Amy went in and closed the door behind her, ready to forget that the evening had ever happened.

She stepped forward into her hallway and tripped. One of her giant stacks of newspapers had fallen over. Again. Newspapers were mingling with unopened mail and dried petals. The debris lined the floor like autumn leaves. She shuffled through; she couldn’t face clearing up the mess. Not this evening. Some of the other towers of newspaper looked precarious too, reaching floor to ceiling like Doric columns. Her hallway reminded her of the Acropolis.

The Acropolis after a party, she thought, stumbling over an empty wine bottle. She used to store her collection of green bottles in the kitchen, but she’d had to move some so she could get into the fridge. Ten or twenty privileged bottles sat on her hallway shelves; a couple had even been transformed into vases with stems of honeysuckle. But that had been some time ago, and the flowers had dehydrated into crunchy brown husks.

Many of the bottles lounged empty on the floor, still waiting for a purpose.

A second chance.

ABOUT ‘EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL’: Sometimes it’s impossible to part with the things we love the most…

When Amy Ashton’s world came crashing down eleven years ago, she started a collection. Just a little collection, just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.

Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery long buried, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?

MY THOUGHTS: Everything is Beautiful was a little more chic-lit than I was expecting… I liked the plot and thought it had a great deal of potential, but I found most of the characters, including Amy, quite stylized. I loved Richard and his boys.

Amy’s ‘collection’ addiction is treated very sympathetically.

The mystery was quite unexpected, as was the solution and, for me, was the highlight of the book.

This is a quick, easy and entertaining read but I was expecting a little more depth than what I got.

⭐⭐⭐.3

#EverythingisBeautiful #NetGalley
#hachetteaudio #eleanorraybooks
@HachetteAudio @#eleanorraybooks

#contemporaryfiction #mystery #domesticdrama #romance

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette UK Audio via Netgalley for providing an audiobook ARC of Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

EXCERPT: Herb says Myra has drowned herself with Charlotte, where the beach is rocky and the tide tinged gray-yellow, its crest effervescent.

At the inn, wind batters the wooden shingles like the ocean thrumming the shore at high tide. The squall sends sand whipping through the air. The pier empties of people, except for the lone fishermen who wear rubber boots and heavy yellow raincoats, casting their lines in turbid water.

Myra and Herb are ensconced in the inn, wrapped in sweaters and crocheted afghan blankets. Occasional guests trickle in, but not often. People visit the Oregon coast in summer.

Myra doesn’t take vacations during the off-season, no matter how many empty winters pass. Charlotte knows her mother is waiting. She lived for the scent of the ocean, for the lacquer of salt on her skin. The crabs hidden under mounds of sand and the starfish in the tide pools enchanted Myra’s youngest child. Myra supposes this is why Charlotte was so attracted to the mystery of the deep dark sea. The waves sweep away an entire pool of living things, but with the next tide, they begin again.

And so, Myra is not particularly surprised when her dead daughter walks in the door.

ABOUT ‘CALL ME ELIZABETH LARK’: Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.

MY THOUGHTS: Don’t go into Call Me Elizabeth Lark expecting a thriller. Yes, there is gunfire and a car chase. But this is not a thriller. A character driven mystery is, to my mind, a more apt description.

Myra has bi-polar. She is a mother who has become untethered by grief and, although she has two other children, her life centres around the missing, presumed dead (by everyone but Myra) Charlotte. Several times in the past she has believed that she has found Charlotte, only to be disappointed. But this time…

Gwen is Charlotte’s older sister. She was ‘looking after’ Charlotte when she disappeared. She believes her mother blames her for Charlotte’s disappearance, and mother and daughter don’t seem to connect at all. She overcompensates by being the ‘perfect mother’ to her daughters, and she is rigidly in control of her life as if that will make up for her mother’s flakiness. Jimi, the youngest, and only son, never knew Charlotte. He was born after she disappeared, but he has lived his life in her shadow.

Into their lives arrives Elizabeth and her five year old son Theo.

There are a lot of things I liked about Call Me Elizabeth Lark. The first is the cover, which is absolutely beautiful, but has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. I love the way Elizabeth is torn between wanting to give her son a wonderful home with the Barkley family, and not wanting to cause them any more pain than they have already endured. Similarly I love the way the author has depicted motherhood, the pressures to do it better than anyone else, the uncertainties, the doubts, the insecurities. I also love the way she has portrayed the intricacies of marriage, the give and take, the compromises, the flare-ups, the betrayals, the forgiveness, the stand-offs.

The mystery carried me along beautifully until almost the end of the book, when everything became overly dramatic and, dare I say it? – faintly ridiculous. The ‘white room’ in which several of the characters are held, the confrontation when he could have just ‘disappeared’ his captives, and the gunfight at the Okay Corral. All a bit OTT and unnecessary.

Yes, it does get a bit messy in places, but mostly I liked this read. The author has a great talent for getting to the essence of her characters. I will definitely be putting my name down to read whatever she comes up with next.

Also available as an audiobook.

⭐⭐⭐.5

‘Life is messy. Decisions are complicated. And dammit, you can’t change the past.’

#CallMeElizabethLark #NetGalley #melissacolasanti #crookedlanebooks

@mmcolasanti @crookedlanebks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #mentalhealth #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Melissa Colasanti is a mother and an author. She has a BFA in fiction from Boise State University. Her writing has appeared in Lithub, Memoir Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal and others. She is the Stephen R. Kustra scholar in creative writing for 2019, and was awarded the Glenn Balch Award for fiction in 2020. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I am sitting in the shelter of the windbreak on our deck enjoying the heat of the sun on my back. It’s been a real mixed bag weatherwise today. We have had heavy downpours, strong winds and it was really cold overnight. I can always tell how cold it is by where Tighe, our cat, chooses to sleep. Last night it was on my raspberry mohair throw on the end of our bed. And she was in no hurry to move this morning. Neither was I, but I had to go to work so I had no choice.

After work Pete took me out for a late lunch in Otorohanga, the next town north of here, where he works. The Thirsty Weta has recently changed hands and has been beautifully renovated. We had a delicious lunch; fish and chips for him, and I had chili prawns and a glass of pinot gris as I wasn’t driving.

I think we will just be having something light for dinner tonight, eggs on toast, or toasted sandwiches.

I finished A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe in the early hours of this morning and will be posting my review tomorrow.

I am currently listening to Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray.

And reading Raven Black by Ann Cleeves for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group read.

This is the first in her Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez. I love her writing and am finding it hard to put this down. I will probably have finished it before the group read officially starts on the Street 15th (the ides of March?)

This week I am planning on reading Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colisanti, an author I haven’t previously read.

Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.

And The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

In the small, sleepy town of Moab, Florida, folks live for ice cream socials, Jackie Robinson, and the local paper’s weekly gossip column. For decades, Sheriff Winston Browne has watched over Moab with a generous eye, and by now he’s used to handling the daily dramas that keep life interesting for Moab’s quirky residents. But just after Winston receives some terrible, life-altering news, a feisty little girl with mysterious origins shows up in his best friend’s henhouse. Suddenly Winston has a child in desperate need of protection—as well as a secret of his own to keep.

With the help of Moab’s goodhearted townsfolk, the humble and well-meaning Winston Browne still has some heroic things to do. He finds romance, family, and love in unexpected places. He stumbles upon adventure, searches his soul, and grapples with the past. In doing so, he just might discover what a life well-lived truly looks like.

This week I have two new ebook ARCs, and one audiobook from Netgalley.

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

And audiobook The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

So that’s my lot for today. Let me know what you’re reading and what new books have found their way into your TBR piles.

We are back to the new normal as from 6am today, so just recording where we’ve been with whom, social distancing from people we don’t know and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! I hope restrictions are also easing wherever you are. ❤📚