To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse

EXCERPT: Breathing long and slow, Merrin closed her eyes briefly, feeling instantly better, calmed. This was the perfect spot with the widest view and she could spend hours here, staring at the waves. Her dad once told her that they were the heads of white, foaming horses, cantering up to the break and crashing, before making a sharp turn and petering to nothing on their return. It was now impossible for her to see them in any other way. Looking out over the purple bruise of sky where clouds hung low over the ocean, she offered up a silent prayer.

Please don’t rain! Not on my wedding day . . .

ABOUT ‘TO LOVE AND BE LOVED’: Young and desperately in love, Merrin had the whole world ahead of her. But just as her new life was about to start, the ground beneath her feet was cruelly swept away. Devastated by the humiliation, she ran far away from the beloved fishing village she had always called home to lick her wounds and escape her gossiping friends and neighbours.

It hasn’t been easy, but six years later Merrin has forged a new life for herself far from the sea, burying the impulsive girl she once was. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to return to the village she swore she’d never set foot in again.

Reluctantly back in the arms of her community, Merrin begins to realise what she’s been missing out on all these years. As she begins to remember the person she used to be, she is forced to make choices about her future, and to question the past. What does she want from her life? Who is important to her? Who is to blame for everything that went wrong? And can she forgive them, let old wounds heal and finally be her true self again?

MY THOUGHTS: As with all of Amanda Prowse’s books, To Love and Be Loved is a very emotional read. I had shredded a great number of tissues before I was a quarter of the way through! If only the worst Merrin had to worry about on her wedding day was the weather . . .

We follow Merrin’s life journey as her future is ripped apart and she flees her home to try and make a life elsewhere. But, as we all know, the problem with running away is that we take along the problems that are in our hearts and our heads. And at some point, we just have to turn around and deal with them.

Don’t expect a fast paced book, you won’t get it. To Love and Be Loved is a meandering and often sad read as Merrin spends a lot of time treading water, surviving rather than living.

The sadness and grief is, at times, overwhelming. But it is also punctuated with some beautiful moments in Prowse’s trademark style.

Prowse has created a very close knit family in the Kellows. Ben and Heather are still very much in love after their many years of marriage and I enjoyed the easiness of their relationship. Merrin is the younger of their two daughters and a very different personality than her older sister Ruby, who is more prickly and brash, Merrin more dreamy and soft. And I loved their friend Bella, whose role in life seems to be a buffer between the sisters.

Initially, I loved this book, and I still do, but with some reservations. It is intense, emotionally. But, in places it is just too much. Was there ever a family as perfect as the Kellows? I would like to hope so, but probably not. (view spoiler) And the ending is very sudden, and for me was, considering Merrin’s past, far too fast and unlikely.

Yet, despite all this, I finished with a smile on my face and am eagerly awaiting Prowse’s next.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#ToLoveandBeLoved #NetGalley

I: @mrsamandaprowse @amazonpublishing

T: @MrsAmandaProwse @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance

THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Oh my goodness, have seen what is happening in Tonga? My thoughts and prayers are with you all, and all those in low lying areas that may be impacted by tsunamis caused by the volcanic eruptions. The far north of the North Island has suffered some damage in marinas but thankfully no loss of life.

Currently I am reading The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley. If I hadn’t had to go to work today I would have finished this. All I can say is that if you don’t have this on your radar, add it!

I am also reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, purely for pleasure, and loving it!

I am currently listening to Fallen (Kate Burkholder #13) by Linda Castillo.

This week I plan on reading The Girl She Was by Alafair Burke

HOPE CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING…

She calls herself Hope Miller, but she has no idea who she really is.

Fourteen years ago, she was found thrown from an overturned vehicle, with no clue to her identity. Hope started a new life, but never recovered her memory.

Now she’s missing. With nowhere else to turn, Hope’s best friend, Lindsay Kelly, calls NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher.

In pursuit of answers, three women search for the truth beneath long-buried secrets. And when their searches converge, what they find will upend everything they’ve ever known.

And Where There’s A Will by Sulari Gentill. I absolutely loved the last book I read by this author and am really looking forward to reading this.

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

American millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard–literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise–and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock–and his luck–run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna.

I have read and enjoyed few books lately about families and inheritances, and loved this author’s previous book so I am looking forward to this.

I have another three books scheduled for this week, but as I am starting to train my replacement at work it’s unlikely that I will get to them on time. So apologies to authors and publishers.

Six new ARCs were approved this week; so much for keeping my TBR mountain under control!

This week I have been approved for: Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton. I have absolutely loved everything I have read by this author so am looking forward to reading this.

The Baby Shower by S.E. Lynes, an author I follow avidly.

Dead End Street by Trevor Wood

A Village Secret by Julie Houston

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

And the audiobook The Captain’s Wife by Norma Curtis and narrated by Josh Wichard.

I am honestly going to try and avoid Netgalley for the coming week. 🤣😂🤣😂 Well, you just know how successful that’s going to be!

Anyway, I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day at work and Pete has a 4am start tomorrow. I seldom go back to sleep after he goes to work so I need to cram as much sleep in before as I can.

Stay safe and keep reading. We’ve had our first community case of Omicron announced today so I guess we will soon be following in everyone else’s footsteps. We’ve had our boosters, and I interact with the public as little as possible, so I hope that will be enough to protect us.

Murder in Easy (Inspector Battle #4) by Agatha Christie

EXCERPT: Luke’s eyebrows rose. ‘Murder?’

The old lady nodded vigorously.

‘Yes, murder. You’re surprised, I can see. I was myself at first . . . I really couldn’t believe it. I thought I must be imagining things.’

‘Are you quite sure you weren’t?’ Luke asked gently.

‘Oh, no.’ She shook her head positively. ‘I might have been the first time, but not the second, or the third or the fourth. After that one knows.’

Luke said: ‘Do you mean there have been – er – several murders?’

ABOUT ‘MURDER IS EASY’: In a quiet English village, a killer is about to strike. Again and again.

Officer Luke Fitzwilliam is on a train to London when he meets a strange woman. She claims there is a serial killer in the quiet village of Wychwood. He has already taken the lives of three people and is about claim his fourth victim.

Fitzwilliam dismisses this as the ramblings of an old woman. But within hours she is found dead. Crushed by a passing car.

And then the fourth victim is found.

Each death looks like an accident. But in Wychwood nothing is as it appears….

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this romp in a series by Agatha Christie that I hadn’t come across previously. Although quite why this is included in the Inspector Battle series I am unsure, as Battle makes only a brief appearance at the end.

The mystery is an excellent one; one that had me quite sure that I had the murderer in my sight until I found that I didn’t. There is a little romantic interest and an interesting cast of characters from which to select the murderer. Luke doesn’t seem to be the brightest lightbulb in the pack, but then his mind was not entirely focused on the murders.

I listened to the audiobook of Murder is Easy, written by Agatha Christie and narrated by Hugh Fraser, published by Harper Collins Audio.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

Watching what I’m reading . . .

The first week of 2022 is done and dusted and now most of us are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, facing going back to work. We’ve had a lovely break, mixing getting a few of those niggly little jobs around the house and yard done with catching up with friends whom we don’t get to see very often. We’ve eaten out a lot, which has been a real treat, been to the beach, and had lot of fun. The weather has been absolutely magnificent. Now, it’s back to reality and work tomorrow and there is, apparently, rain on the horizon for which my garden will be grateful. I have been watering the fruit trees and vegetable garden, but everything else is having to fend for itself.

While I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions this year, I have decided to try and take control of my reading life. Instead of reading 3 books at a time, I am just going to read one and listen to one at any one time. I have been doing this for the past week and, so far, it’s working well. I am enjoying my reading more and feeling less pressured. I also intend reading more titles for pleasure and made a good start over the Christmas break while also reducing the number of titles on my backlist. I hope I can keep this up. I tried last year with variable results, although I did get my Netgalley ratio up to 68% from 64%.

Currently I am reading To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse which is due for publication 11 January. One third through and I have already shredded innumerable tissues.

I am listening to The Lost Days of Agatha Christie by Carole Owens and, although I am halfway through, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

This week I am planning on reading A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.

Matt Antony is just trying get by.

Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.

All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.

If it’s not already too late.

And, The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Two Couples. Three Secrets. One Murder.

In a beautiful house surrounded by woodland, the Drayton family and their dearest friends are enjoying dinner together. The wine is flowing, the meal has been lovingly prepared, and it’s going to be an evening none of them will ever forget…

A doting mother
with a manipulative daughter.

A loving husband
lying to his family.

A close friend
keeping a shocking secret.

A beautiful girl
who will be dead by the end of the night.

I have three new ARCs this week: Secrets to the Grave by Steve Frechs

One For Sorrow by Helen Fields

and One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose which I requested after reading Michael David’s review on https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/

In the past week my reading travels have taken me to the Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide in South Australia; Louisiana in the USA; Hastings in the UK; Sèvèrac Le Chateau, France; Langdale, North Yorkshire; and Marin County, San Francisco. Have we crossed paths this week?

To all my friends in the Fraser Coast area of Queensland, Australia please stay safe. Although Tropical Cyclone Seth has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still has sting in its tail with heavy rain and severe flooding.

Everyone, no matter where you are, take care. Stay safe and read on.

Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

EXCERPT: Two months before 9/11

Death was in the air.

He smelled it as soon as he ducked under the crime scene tape and stepped onto the front lawn of the palatial estate. The Catskill mountains rose above the roofline as the early morning sun stretched shadows of the trees across the yard. The breeze rolled down from the foothills and carried the smell of decay, causing his upper lip to twitch when it reached his nostrils. The smell of death filled him with excitement. He hoped this was because this was his first case as a newly minted homicide detective, and not from some perverse fetish he had never known he possessed.

A uniformed police officer led him across the lawn and around to the back of the property. There he found the source of the foul odour. The victim was hanging naked from a second story balcony, his feet suspended at eye level, and the white rope around his neck angling his head like a broken-stemmed lollipop. The detective looked up to the terrace. The rope stretched over the railing, tight and challenged by the weight of the body. The twine disappeared through french doors that led, he presumed, into the bedroom.

The victim had likely twirled for most of the night, the detective imagined, and had now unfortunately come to rest facing the house. Unfortunate because, as the detective walked across the back lawn, the first thing he saw was the man’s naked buttocks. When he reached the body he noticed welt marks covering the man’s right burr cheek and upper thigh. The contusions flared a faint lilac against the liver mortis blue of the dead man’s skin.

ABOUT ‘TWENTY YEARS LATER’: Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story–a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal–is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.

Emma Ford has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.

But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life belies a much darker mystery. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past–one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I liked Twenty Years Later a lot, but I didn’t love it. I failed to become totally immersed in the story and am not really sure if it was because the narrator didn’t narrate with much emotion, or because the reader is being told much of the story rather than experiencing it.

There are several different storylines going on, narrated in the present and in flashbacks, primarily by Avery, secondly by Walt, and thirdly by various other minor characters. It was the murder that opens the book that I was mainly interested in, but that is very much a secondary thread though, to me, it was definitely the more interesting. I really had no interest in Avery’s salary negotiations which went on, and on, and had no real relevance that I could fathom.

I found Avery’s character difficult to relate to and I never really warmed to her, although I did admire her cleverness in resolving her family problem.

I really liked the way Donlea tied everything up at the end, even if it was a little tedious in parts getting there.

But the absolute ending, where the solution to the murder is revealed, that is absolutely delicious and made wading through all the other stuff worthwhile.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TwentyYearsLater #NetGalley

I: @charliedonlea @recordedbooks

T: @CharlieDonlea @recordedbooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Charlie Donlea resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children.

He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane.

DISCLOSURE: Thanks to RB Media, Recorded Books, via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Twenty Years Later written by Charlie Donlea and narrated by Vivienne Leheney for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Well here we are, the first Sunday of 2022. I am still very much in holiday mode and not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, although it is only for the one day and then I have the remainder of the week off. I’m not sure that I can drag myself out of bed in time!

Currently I am reading The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller. What characters!

And The Family Inheritance by Tricia Stringer, a library book. This is my first book by this Australian author and I am loving it.

I am also listening to an audiobook from the library, Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4) by Agatha Christie. I haven’t previously read any of this series, but am enjoying this immensely. I have a firm suspect in mind for the murderer, but am I right?

This week I am planning to read The House Fire by Rosie Walker

Play with fire and you’ll get burned . . .

Who can you trust in this brand new edge-of-your-seat thriller.

A tired old seaside town hiding a series of unsolved arson attacks.

A derelict mansion in the woods with a long-buried secret.

A bundle of old love letters that mask a dark story.

When Jamie’s documentary investigation gets too close to uncovering the truth behind a series of deadly arson attacks that tormented Abbeywick in the 1980s, her family might be the ones who pay the price.

But for her younger sister Cleo, the secrets Jamie uncovers have the potential to get exactly what Cleo wants: to remove her mum’s toxic new husband from their lives, forever.

All it takes is one spark to send everything up in smoke . . .

And The Betrayal by Terry Lynn Thomas

Attorney Olivia Sinclair is shocked when she receives an anonymous video showing her husband Richard sleeping with someone else. After years of handling other people’s divorces, she thought she could recognise a marriage in trouble.

She angrily throws Richard out of the home they share. But days later she’s arrested—for the murder of his mistress.

Olivia knows she’s innocent but, with all the evidence pointing at her and an obvious motive, she must find the real killer to clear her name.

She may be used to dealing with messy divorces, but this one will be her most difficult case yet. Olivia’s husband has already betrayed her—but would he set her up for murder?

I received three new ARCs in the past week: The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown

Shadow in the Glass by M.E. Hilliard

And, better late than never, The Bells of Christmas II: Eight stories of Christmas hope

What are you reading this New Year?

Happy reading my friends. It’s too hot to be out in the garden so I am going to stretch out on the daybed out on my deck where there is a little breeze and read some more. Enjoy your New Year reads my friends.

Why She Left by Leah Mercer

EXCERPT: Isobel slumped in a chair in the corner of the hospital ward, her hand clutching Isaac’s. Thankfully, his face had a bit more colour now. He’d even opened the one eye he could for a second, then sunk back to sleep. The doctor had given him an alarming number of painkillers and sedatives, but he’d said Isaac should be all right….despite a potential eye haemorrhage and two broken ribs, all caused by what the medic had termed ‘blunt force trauma.’ For one heart-stopping moment they thought that his spleen may have ruptured, but scans had shown only a bruised kidney and no internal bleeding. He’d be in pain for weeks, and there could be long term complications that she’d need to watch out for. But in time, he should recover.

She’d finally been able to breathe again until she remembered the paramedics words that this wasn’t an accident…..that someone had done this to him. Then anger surged through her so strongly it almost lifted her off the chair.

Who would do this? And why? To beat a boy so badly it had to be someone full of venom. Someone violent. Someone with a reason to target him. Someone….she shivered, her mind flashing back to the man on the corner. To the brick through the window; to the constant feeling she was being watched.

ABOUT ‘WHY SHE LEFT’: Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years wondering why her daughter Isobel left. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her family’s bright future which vanished in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a teenage grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of relief. Despite the years of hurt she never stopped loving Isobel and wants to help rebuild her life. Enrolling her grandson at the school, Ruth wants to make sure they stay for good.

Isobel has spent her life running from a painful secret. A secret which could have destroyed her family. Now, as she flees a bad relationship, she knows that her childhood home is the only place where she can be safe.

But as Isobel looks at her son in his crisp new uniform, she is taken straight back to the reason she ran all those years ago. Soon it becomes clear that she is not the only one tormented by the past. Someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth and Isobel hold dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

MY THOUGHTS: I found Why She Left to be quite a depressing read, and I am left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed, something I am not familiar with when reading Leah Mercer’s books.

I didn’t find the plot at all suspenseful, mainly because it seemed to go over the same ground repeatedly. The characters, with the exception of Isaac, are all self-obsessed, angst fueled individuals, intent on holding on to what they have amassed, perpetrating their various grudges, and concealing their secrets, rather than doing anything constructive about their problems or trying to repair their relationships. And believe me, they do have problems. This is a shattered family, torn apart by the very things that they are trying to hold on to, and yet still they persist. Status and reputation is everything. The characters endless internal thoughts were largely so negative that I was glad to finally close the cover on this.

There are no dramatic revelations, no startling surprises, no unexpected twists, and definitely no levity. Why She Left is a pretty predictable family drama, its only redemption being the ending.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from Why She Left, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead, check out some of the more positive reviews, and read it. Just because this wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it.

⭐⭐.3

#WhySheLeft #NetGalley

I: @leahmercerauthor @bookouture

T: @LeahMercerBooks @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama

THE AUTHOR: Leah can’t remember a time when she didn’t love writing. From creating fake newspapers to writing letters to the editor, scribbling something was always on the agenda. Even the rejections she received after completing her first novel at age 13 didn’t dent her enthusiasm.

So it makes sense, then, that she pursued a career in anything but writing. Public relations, teaching, recruitment, editing medical journals — even a stint painting houses — until she finally succumbed once more to the lure of the blank page.

When she’s not being jumped on by her young son or burning supper while thinking of plot-lines, Leah can be found furiously tapping away on her laptop. Leah also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC of Why She Left written by Leah Mercer, narrated by Mira Dovreni, for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s a beautiful, fine,hot Boxing Day here in New Zealand. Dustin and Luke left for Lake Taupo late this afternoon, and I have been pottering around the house, pausing every now and then to read a story from A Place Like Home, a wonderful collection of short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher published posthumously.

I am almost finished Survive the Night by Riley Sager

An also almost finished listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

I haven’t got anything scheduled for read for review this week other than Twenty Years Later, so I am going to read books picked totally at random from my backlist.

I received three new ARCs this week: The Child I Never Had by Kate Hewitt

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins ( a widget from the publisher)

And Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan

A short post today as I am in holiday mode, and I am guessing that you all will be too. Happy holidays and enjoy your families and friends. And please, be kind.

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

EXCERPT: I heard Emily before I met her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The gentle buzz of a phone followed by a surge of high-pitched notes, sometimes angry, sometimes excited, rarely sad. The sadness came through the slim pipes in the bathroom, the soft gurgles that slipped down the plumbing and escaped through my extractor fan. The incessant music thrumming through the ceiling, invading my space. Emily has terrible taste, mostly new tracks, screeching pop singers holding long, high notes, the same beat in every song.

I knew Emily before I met her. Italian food on Mondays, meatballs rich and smothered in tomato sauce. Tuesdays, something eggy. Wednesdays, something meaty. Thursdays and Fridays, mostly wine. A takeaway on Saturdays, usually Chinese, the sticky leftover noodles escaping through the shared food waste bin like silky worms breaking through soil. Sometimes I could smell the food and other times I knew from a discarded receipt in our communal hallway.

On Sundays the shake of bottles being emptied into the recycling bin outside from her weekly wine shop. A crate of six, always. They sound lovely from the tasting notes I found clinging to the letter box. A malbec, blackberry and vanilla notes with a finish of chocolate and nutmeg, soft and warm.

I’ve been in London over ten years now and I haven’t found a quiet place. I live in Angel, Islington. The nice part, with the grand white townhouses, the ones advertised as being on tree-lined streets. I can’t see any trees, just blunt shavings in the ground, weeds rising and arching over the stubs like gravestones. I’m on the ground floor of a two-storey house and Emily is above me. She moved in over six months ago and I thought she might leave, as people do here. People Emily’s age, early twenties, they come and go like the seasons, and it’s spring now. Time for Emily to leave.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL UPSTAIRS’: How well do you know your neighbour?
Would you trust them with your life?

I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music.

I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox.

Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her.

Because I know her best, and I heard everything.

The Girl Upstairs is a spine-tingling psychological thriller of grief and obsession that explores how lonely London can be and how sometimes it’s our neighbours who see us most, who know us best…

MY THOUGHTS: While I didn’t find this to be an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, it is an interesting and compelling debut novel that I would put firmly into the domestic thriller camp.

It’s funny the things that you miss when they’re gone. Suzy has a noisy, inconsiderate neighbour upstairs, but when she hasn’t heard any noise for a few days, she becomes concerned and raises the alarm because, strange as it may seem, no one else is remotely worried about where Emily might be. This lack of concern worries Suzy, and it becomes her purpose in life to find the missing woman.

I enjoyed this debut novel. It’s realistic, sympathetic and utterly believable. It doesn’t set out to shock, or apall; the author just goes quietly about her business of telling an intriguing story with just a soupçon of lingering menace to entice the reader onwards.

Both Emily and Suzy are interesting characters. Emily is an aspiring writer, shunted off to London by her parents while they endeavour to repair their fractured relationship. Suzy lost her husband suddenly and tragically and is struggling to cope. Both women are emotionally fragile and vulnerable, and have far more in common than either realise.

I really enjoyed the subtlety of the writing, and I will definitely be lining up for this author’s next offering.

I read/listened to The Girl Upstairs and enjoyed the narration as delivered by Meg Travers.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheGirlUpstairs #NetGalley

I: #georginaleesauthor @onemorechapterhc

T: @GLees_author @OneMoreChapter_

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdram #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Georgina studied creative writing and film at university and has since pursued a career in video-games journalism, covering some of the most popular games in the world. Her psychological thrillers are inspired by her surroundings, from the congested London streets to the raw English countryside. She can be found playing games, writing stories, and reading anything from fantasy to crime fiction.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC of The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees 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

2022 Audiobook Challenge

For the first time ever I have signed up for the 2022 Audiobook Challenge. I’ll be joining Caffeinated Reviewer and That’s What I’m Talking About Click on either of these links to join.

Challenge Details

  • Runs January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2022 than you did in 2021.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweet about the challenge.
  • Updates plus a giveaway will be posted twice during the year. The first update will be July 2, 2022, and the last update will take place on December 30, 2022.

Achievement Levels

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multitasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+
  • Over-Achiever (Power Listener) 75+
  • The 100 Club (Audiobook Addict) 100+

I am going to try for the Binge Listener!

The Audiobook Challenge is back for 2022! I’ll be joining Caffeinated Reviewer and That’s What I’m Talking About