The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

EXCERPT: ‘By the way, what’s Safi short for?’

‘Saffron,’ he responded. ‘Boy! That takes me back. She hated it – changed it when she was ten, if you can believe it!’ He chuckled suddenly. ‘She was the most pig-headed brat you ever saw. Call her Saffron and she’d just ignore you – even Mum.’

‘So . . . who is she, Charlie?’

There was a brief silence. ‘My – our – sister. I forgot you wouldn’t know. How did you come to hear about her, anyway?’

‘I found her photo. What’s the big mystery, Charlie? How come none of you boys, let alone Mum and Dad, ever mentioned her to me? Did she die?’

ABOUT ‘THE HEARTWOOD HOTEL’: The Heartwood is the core of this district. It always has been so, but it’s still just a building. It’s your family – you and Adam and old Tiger – who animate it, keep the heart beating, so to speak.’

In the abandoned railhead town of Tewinga, now almost a ghost town, Lyn and Adam Portman struggle to keep the Heartwood Hotel afloat. Lyn loves her husband and longs to be a mother. But she’s kept busy caring for her elderly father, her community, and Max, the young worker who reminds her of the brother she’s lost and dearly misses.

When he fails to return from a day trip, Lyn’s concern deepens as the length of his absence grows, the more so with rumours of criminal activity at a nearby station. Meanwhile, a chance meeting uncovers a family bombshell that leaves Lyn reeling. The community must pull together as never before, proving that sometimes the smallest towns have the biggest hearts – and hide the darkest secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: Set in the remote hinterland of Queensland Australia, somewhere between Hamilton and Charters Towers, Tewinga, home to a pub, with petrol, a one man Police Station, a general store and a camp ground, is the setting for this multi-layered outback mystery.

Who is Safi?

Where has Max disappeared to?

What is the secret behind all the wealth at one of the stations?

Tewinga may almost be a ghost town, but there’s always plenty going on. Monthly CWA dances, gossip in the bar. The way everyone pulls together when there’s a crisis. McGinnis has truly captured the spirit of the outback. I felt right at home here. The characters are so real that I’m sure I’ve met some of them on my travels.

An author I will be reading more of.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheHeartwoodHotel

I: #kerrymcginnis #penguinbooksaus

T: @PenguinBooksAus

#australianfiction #crime #familydrama #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and, at the age of twelve, took up a life of droving with her father and three siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener, stock-camp and station cook, eventually running a property at Bowthorn, near Mount Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir and now lives in Bundaberg.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to fellow Waitomo District Library Book Club members, Betty and Elsie, for recommending The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis. 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 . . .

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

I’m late!

It’s been a hectic few days. A stomach bug has been raging through town. My neighbour and friend Helen is down with it. My husband came home from work today with it. I have staff off work with it which resulted in my working 11 1/2 hours yesterday. Fingers crossed that I can avoid it.

So, although it’s Monday, here’s my Sunday post.

Currently I am reading The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

Set in north Queensland outback, I am enjoying this read. Thanks Elise from the Waitomo District Library book group for recommending this. I will be reading more from this author.

I am also reading The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. It’s excellent!

And A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer which I have only just started. This was previously titled Safe From Harm.

I am listening to Safe Witness by Karin Slaughter

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game–and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined–even with damage from a fire decades before–but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

And The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

The only relationship she can’t save is her own . . .
Alison is a marriage counsellor. Her job is to help couples who fear they have reached the end of the line. But the trouble with spending your time sorting out other people’s problems is that you tend to take your eye off your own. Even when her husband’s ex Lydia arrives on the doorstep demanding to see her son, Alison thinks she can handle it. But what Alison doesn’t realise is that Lydia is the one person who has the ability to destroy their perfect family. And sometimes the cracks can run so deep that even a marriage mender can’t repair them . . . 

I received only three new ARCs this week, two Kindle format and 1 audiobook, False Witness by Karin Slaughter, which I started this morning.

Summer Island Sisters by Ciara Knight

And The Little Island Secret by Emma Davies

This week I have been to The Isle of Shura in Scotland, briefly to Riva in Italy, and Stockholm, Sweden. Where have your reading travels taken you this week?

Happy reading!

Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley

EXCERPT: I stared at the clock on the wall. It said one-thirty, but surely it wasn’t the afternoon already.

I sunk further into the sagging back of the chair. I felt small and sad and very sorry for myself. Things that had previously consoled or even gladdened me were no longer doing the trick. I felt out of kilter, like a crooked painting on the wall, or a cheese straw without paprika. A house with no windows. A dog with one ear. I could go on. I could go to the library and look up section 400-499 English Language to find the perfect metaphor, but would it actually fix anything? I glanced at the clock again. It was still one-thirty. Had the clock stopped? Who knew? All I did know was that I was frozen in time, shackled to my self-pity, my grief, my fears. I was like the ‘i’ in the middle of my name, trapped between other letters, unable to break free. I wanted to be alone, yet I was lonely. I wanted to stay home, yet I felt isolated. I wanted to be with my husband, but he was dead. Tears sprung forth as if I was chopping onions, and my heart flapped so vigorously that, had it been windy outside with no roof over the house, I may have taken off. I couldn’t bear the sight of the clock looming over me, reminding me of my fate, any longer.

With a surge of adrenalin and rage, I exploded from the armchair, my focus solely on pulling the wooden-framed clock with its black numbers and unmoving hands off the wall. I saw nothing else, not even Jack. I should have, because there he was, in the way. My foot clipped the underside of the suitcase and got stuck. I upended the wheels, lost my balance, and floundered. A flaying arm knocked the christmas tree, the suitcase handle right-jabbed my chin and I fell as if in slow motion, landing with a thud on the living room floor, two suitcase wheels and five christmas tree branches needling me in the back. My right ankle was at a wrong angle and my left wrist in pain. And it was still one-thirty.

ABOUT ‘GERALDINE VERNE’S RED SUITCASE’: Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months.

It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose.

As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this book. I loved Geraldine. I loved Lottie. I enjoyed every tear I shed as I was reading, and every laugh that escaped my lips. And there was plenty of both. I even loved the chapter titles: 306.7 Love; Apple Crumble Days; Toilet Paper; Whisky and Cake . . .

Divided into four parts, the story is told entirely from the perspective of Geri (Geraldine), mostly in a linear timeline with occasional flashbacks in the form of memories. It is a story of grief, the grief of a woman who has lost the love of her life after more than 50 years together. Geraldine describes their relationship as being like a pair of shoes, one left, one right. They were not the same but complemented one another, they worked well together. But now that she is only one shoe . . . well, you see her problem.

She thinks that if she just pretends he’s still there, and he is, then everything will be all right. She still makes him cups of tea, puts out biscuits for him, dances with him. And if she can shut out the world that is going to remind her that he’s not there, all the better. But the world has other plans for Geri, as did ‘Jackie-Boy’.

Geri is one stubborn lady. I have to admit to seeing more than a little of myself in her. I loved her kind heart, her sense of humor. I loved her devotion to Jack. I loved Jack.

Even the supporting characters are ‘characters’. I am sure that we all know a Len, a Crystal and a Sue.

The first part of this book is sad. I cried a lot, and laughed a little. The second part I laughed a lot and cried a little. Parts three and four are mostly humorous, heartwarming and just occasionally sad.

This is the second book by this author, but the first that I have read. I will be seeking out her first.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#GeraldineVernesRedSuitcase #NetGalley

I: #JaneRiley #AmazonPublishingUK

T: @JaneRileyAuthor

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #mentalhealth #mystery #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Hi, I’m Jane Riley!

I was born and raised in New Zealand. After graduating from Auckland University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in French and English literature, I headed to Europe to practise my French, got waylaid in Germany and ended up in Australia.

I have had a varied career in public relations, publishing, freelancing as a writer and editor, and launching an online e-commerce business, which involved writing a design blog interviewing makers and creators. When The Likely Resolutions of Oliver Clock was published, I achieved my dream of becoming a full-time author.

I live in Sydney with my husband, an energetic but scared-of-heights Australian cattle dog-staffy cross, and two daughters old enough to not be living at home anymore. I volunteer as an English language tutor for the Adult Migrant English Program, am learning the piano and teaching myself Italian.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK for providing a digital ARC of Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley 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

A Million Things by Emily Spurr

EXCERPT: I swallow the acid and keep yelling. ‘A squashed, leathery, manky-furred cat with a paper plate on top of it.’ My shouting’s getting higher and squeaky in a way I don’t recognize. ‘That’s not what you keep in a house. That’s crazy!’

‘A cat?’

‘A dead cat!’ My breathing sounds funny. ‘Dead. A dead thing. Dead.’ I can’t stop saying the word. I need to stop saying that. ‘Dead.’ I push past her shaking, biting my tongue to stop my mouth betraying me further. I need to sit down.

‘You found my cat?’

I’m sitting with my head in my hands. Not thinking about the shed. Not thinking about the leathery cat body. This was a mistake. I’ve been working all day and all I’ve managed to do is clean a hallway. And the crazy old cat-smothering goat isn’t even thankful. As soon as I can get to my feet I’m going home. She can deal with the council and get kicked out of her house and I’m going to stay the hell away from it all. They’ll be so preoccupied with this pile of shit they probably won’t even look at my yard. It’s not like you can smell anything else when you’re inside her house. I shouldn’t have got involved in the first place. She’s nothing to me. I don’t need her or her stinking house and definitely not all the trouble she’s about to bring with her.

‘You found my cat?’ She drops a plastic bag – it looks like it’s got banh mi in it – on the chest and sits on the porch in front of me. I glance at her face. Her eyes are huge. Her face is so pale the little red veins near her nose look like they’ve been drawn on with pen. ‘You’ve found Sylvester?’

‘Who?’

‘My cat. I thought he ran away.’ She looks horrified. ‘He was-‘

I don’t know what to say. I glance over to our yard, at the bin where I dumped the stiff, leathery, hole-filled carcass. I remember the sparkle I focused on as I shovelled the body off the floor. ‘Did he have a collar with jewels on it?’

She puts her head in her hands. ‘Oh God.’

I hover my hand near her head, then pull it back and slip it into my pocket. There are tissues in there. I kneel in front of her and offer her one. She takes it, holds it in her hand, nods. And we sit there like that, the two of us and a yard full of rubbish bags.

ABOUT ‘A MILLION THINGS’: Rae is ten years old, and she’s tough. She’s had to be: life with her mother has taught her the world is not her friend. Now suddenly her mum is gone and Rae is alone, except for her dog Splinter.

Rae can do a lot of things pretty well for a kid. She can shop and cook a little and take care of Splints and keep the front yard neat enough that the neighbours won’t get curious. But she is gnawed at by fear and sadness; haunted by the shadow of a terrible secret.

Lettie, the old woman who lives next door, might know more about Rae than she lets on—but she has her own reasons for keeping the world at arm’s length. When Rae finds out what they are, it seems like she and Lettie could help each other.

But how long can a friendship based on secrets last?

MY THOUGHTS: Funny. Sad. Heartbreaking. A Million Things will have your emotions all over the place. I laughed. I cried. A lot.

Rae is a resourceful ten-year-old. She’s had to be. Even more so now. But in reality, how’s she going to hold it together now that her mother’s not there? How long can she make the meager amount of money in the bank account last? How long before someone notices that her mother is no longer there, and calls in the authorities? Someone like the nosy old goat next door.

Lettie is the nosy old goat next door. She thinks Rae’s rude. But she watches out for her all the same. She doesn’t want the authorities poking their noses in either, for reasons of her own.

When someone down the street reports Lettie, these two form a mutual protection society and slowly, a friendship. But, even together, they can’t hold off the authorities forever.

A Million Things is one of those rare, beautifully written books that is both heartbreaking and uplifting. It is a story of resilience, grief and friendship. The characters are so very real, they could have stepped off the page and into my lounge. I simply couldn’t get enough of this book.

The story takes place over 55 days, and is told from Rae’s point of view. Her dog, Master Splinter, is another important character in this book. He is all Rae has left from ‘before’.

This is a moving read. A very emotional one. A beautiful one. One that I am going to be recommending to everyone.

Yet another new, extremely talented, Australian writer for me to follow. Please put me down for her next book now.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#AMillionThings #NetGalley

I: @spurr.emily @text_publishing

T: @SpurrEmily @text_publishing

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #australianfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Originally from Tasmania, Emily lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her partner, their twins and a deaf, geriatric cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Million Things by Emily Spurr. 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.

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

You Need to Know by Nicola Moriarty

EXCERPT: The kettle boiled and she poured her cup of tea, then she picked up her phone to call Mimi. For a moment her thumb hovered over the mail icon. The email had arrived three days ago. It had taken her a few minutes, but eventually she had recognised the sender’s name. It was a name that gave her a nasty feeling in the pit of her stomach. And it was highly unusual that she would be writing to her.

Then she’d read the subject line: ‘You Need to Know’. Her skin prickled with irritation. What on earth could this woman have to say that Jill apparently needed to know? The presumptious tone annoyed her, so she’d closed the app and ignored it.

Her thumb moved away from her inbox now, and instead she phoned Mimi.

ABOUT ‘YOU NEED TO KNOW’: The holidays are here. The extended family has gathered. The cars are packed and the convoy sets off. The cottage is a few hours’ drive – but not everyone will live to see it …

For Jill, her three sons, their wives and children, a terrifying road crash will tear apart their family.

The crash will be an accident but the shattering that follows has been long coming.

Because at the heart of this family lies a secret – concealed, wrestled with, festering and harmful – and nothing now can stop it coming out.

But will any of them survive it?

MY THOUGHTS: You Need to Know that you need to read this!

I started You Need to Know when I got home from work, and I did not, could not, put it down until I finished. I devoured it, then licked my fingers afterwards.
I inhaled it. I lived it. I loved every word.

Moriarty has written a dramatic tale of family relationships with believable characters, and an original plot that increases in intensity and complexity culminating in multiple wreckages …. not all of them vehicular. Secrets that have been hidden in this family, from this family, are revealed and their relationships are fractured.

Moriarty’s characters are so realistic, so complete, that they could have stepped off the pages and into my life. They could be my friends, my neighbours. This is a situation any family could find itself in. Moriarty writes her characters with a deep understanding and compassion.
An absolutely absorbing page-turner.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#YouNeedtoKnow #NetGalley

I: #nicolamoriarty #harpercollinsaustralia

T: @NikkiM3 @HarperCollinsAU

#contemporaryfiction #australianfiction #familydrama #fivestarread #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Nicola Moriarty lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small daughters. She is the younger sister of bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying teaching at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of You Need to Know by Nicola Moriarty 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 . . .

It’s been a cold, wet and windy weekend here in New Zealand. Other than working Saturday morning, I have spent the weekend stretched out on the sofa in front of the fire reading and snoozing. There are lots of other things I could be doing, but I just can’t get motivated.

I have had a wonderful week of travelling through my reads, Maryland USA, Darwin Australia, Malibu California, Jamaica, Sydney Australia, and now Nantucket.

Currently I am reading Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand. This is my first book by this author and I am loving it. It’s one of those lovely reads that you can just immerse yourself in.

I am still listening to Legacy by Nora Roberts. It is very slow moving and, although I love the characters, I am seriously considering abandoning this. I feel like I have been listening to it forever. Have any of you read or listened to Legacy? Should I persevere and finish it or should I move on?

This week I am planning on reading The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.

You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

And A Family Affair by Julie Houston

Joining the family business was never going to be easy…

Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…

And I have received only one new ARC this week, (Sorry Susan 😉😂🤣), which goes some way to making up for my excesses of the previous few weeks. But what a score it is. I have been requesting Ann Cleeves books ever since I joined Netgalley in 2014 and this is the first time I have been approved, which just goes to show that it pays to persevere. The book I received is The Heron’s Cry, #2 in the Two Rivers series, so I am off to the library in morning to pick up #1 in the series, The Long Call.

Have a wonderful weekend, and do let me know where you have been on your reading travels this, and whether or not I should persevere with Legacy.

Happy reading! And happy bookish travels. ❤📚

Still by Matt Nable

Due for publication May 26, 2021

EXCERPT: The snake’s head lifted, it’s hood flared and it looked at the shadowy figures, like a fighter adopting his stance. It unravelled itself and moved away, down the embankment into the large snarls of lantana and wild saltbush.

‘Stand him up.’ The voice came from a large broad-shouldered man, his shape caught briefly in the half-moon’s light. The voice wasn’t much more than a whisper, though considering where they were, it wouldn’t have mattered had he yelled. The only sign of mankind was the corona from the town’s lights to the west of them and even it had been dulled by the ocean mist. In the darkness in front of the blockish end of a derelict machine-gun post, a prone man was pulled up by his armpits. He stood, his face lifting from the shadows and into the light. His bottom lip was split in its centre and fell loosely either side of the gash.

‘You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

ABOUT ‘STILL’: Darwin, Summer, 1963.

The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.

Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn’t who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.

Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.

MY THOUGHTS: Summer. 1963. Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. It’s humid. Hot. There’s crocs, stingers and sharks. The fishing’s good. The beer’s cold. The climate rascist. Corruption rife. Women the property of their men. People went to the Territory to go missing. That’s the way it was.

Matt Nable has given us some of the most magnificent and some of the most despicable characters that I have ever encountered. Charlotte is one of the magnificent ones; a woman in an abusive relationship, the kind that was frequently the norm back then. But a woman who will rise above society’s expectations and make peace with herself and her actions. Constable Ned Potter is a ‘good bastard’. He’s not perfect, but he stands up for what he believes in, at great personal cost.

The story is dark. It flows along at its own pace. Nable spends some considerable time throughout the book creating atmosphere; the damp, stifling heat, the mosquitoes, the drinking, the bullying, which all adds to the personality of this tale. It is a tale of cruelty and abuse, of corruption and cover ups. It is violent. And, in places, shocking.

Don’t expect Still to be fast moving. It’s not. But it will keep you turning the pages in a kind of fascinated horror. Nable doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it how it was, warts and all. Incredibly realistic.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

# Still #NetGalley

I: #mattnable @@hachetteaus

T: @MattNableOnline @HachetteAus

australiancrimefiction #mystery #Darwin

THE AUTHOR: Matthew Nable is an Australian film and television actor, writer, sports commentator and former professional rugby league footballer (Manly Sea Eagles). With his wife and three children, Matt divides his time between Sydney and Los Angeles.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Still by Matt Nable 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 . . .

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there. May you all have a wonderful day. Mine is being a very lazy one. It’s cool and raining steadily so I haven’t moved far from the fire. The cat and I are very happy at our respective ends of the sofa.

I have spent a great deal of the week in Ireland, mainly Counties Kerry and Mayo, with the occasional foray back to Entry Island, and now I am in Decatur, Georgia. Where have you been this week, and where are you now?

Currently I am reading Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson. I started it this morning and am already a little over halfway through. She sure knows how to ramp up the tension! I have to admit that when I was approved for this I let out a whoop of joy and did a victory dance around the coffee table.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, having had two dnfs in a row, but I will log into my library site this afternoon and pick something up.

I am still reading Entry Island by Peter May – yes, I know this is week 3, but I am reading a physical copy and only pick it up when my Kindle is on the charger. It is a good read, and I am enjoying it greatly.

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain.

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie. 

And Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

Her stomach lurches as she sits in the windowless room. He throws her phone to the ground, grinds it against the floor with the heel of his shoe and brings his face closer to hers. There was no turning back now, her life as she knew it was gone.

When the lifeless body of a man is found on an industrial estate, Detective Kim Stone arrives on the scene and discovers he’s been tortured in the worst way imaginable.

But as she breaks the devastating news to the victim’s wife, Diane Phipps, Kim can’t help feeling that something isn’t quite right about the woman’s reaction.

Twenty-four hours later, the victim’s family disappears into thin air.

Then a second body is found staked to the ground in a local nature reserve.

Desperate to crack the case open quickly, Kim and her team unravel a vital clue – a fiercely guarded secret that links both victims and could cost even more lives.

A secret that some police officers are also protecting.

Faced with deceit from those she should be able to trust, family members who won’t talk, and local reporter, Tracy Frost, opening a can of worms on the case of a woman murdered by her husband a year ago – Kim is in deep water like never before.

Kim must find the motive if she is to find the killer who is systematically targeting and torturing his victims. But can she unlock the shocking truth and stop him before he strikes again?

My requesting finger has been working overtime again with seven new ARCs on my shelf this week 😬😂❤📚

The Beach House by Jenny Hale – don’t you just love that cover!

Still by Matt Nable – a new Australian author for me.

A Gingerbread House by Catriona McPherson

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl – an invitation!

A Body at the Tearooms by Dee MacDonald

Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

And Legacy by Nora Roberts (audiobook)

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and have a wonderful week.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

EXCERPT:
FERN – The problem, I realise, is that there are two Roses. The Rose I rely on, and the other Rose. The Rose who hated Mum. The Rose who goes behind my back to speak to Wally. The Rose who would possibly betray me to get the baby she wants so badly.

I don’t know which Rose I’m getting. I don’t know which Rose my baby would get.

THE JOURNAL OF ROSE INGRID CASTLE – Everyone accepted that Billy had drowned, even Daniel. The river was full of reeds and he had been trying to beat Fern’s time for the whole week. The coroner recorded a verdict of ‘Death by Misadventure.’ Which meant our plan worked.

Fern got away with murder.

But lately I’m wondering if I did the wrong thing, covering for her. Maybe by not allowing her to face the consequences of her actions, I’ve created a monster. There’s no doubt that Fern can be dangerous when she’s angry. And now that there is a baby involved, I’m terrified that she will pay the price for my mistake.

ABOUT ‘THE GOOD SISTER’: From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.

Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.

MY THOUGHTS: The Good Sister is subtle and it kind of snuck up on me and sucker punched me. 🤣😂 What started out as merely an okay read, slowly developed into a compelling page turner that had me biting my nails towards the end as the balance of power teetered between the sisters. I haven’t bitten my nails for years! It was never a given as to which sister was going to win out and even at the end the conniving and manipulation continues.

The story is told from two points of view, that of Fern in the present, flashbacks, and extracts from Rose’s journal. Fern is a delightful character and I found myself rooting for her, even knowing what she had done as a teenager. And I loved Rocco ‘Wally’ Ryan and Rose’s reaction to him.

The Good Sister is a blend of genres. It is a suspenseful psychological thriller with a touching love story lurking beneath. Enchanting and compelling. Well done Sally Hepworth. I can’t wait to see what you deliver us next.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#NetGalley #sallyhepworth #stmartinspress

@SallyHepworth @StMartinsPress

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #psychologicalthriller #romance

THE AUTHOR: Drawing on the good, the bad and the downright odd of human behaviour, Sally writes incisively about family, relationships and identity. Her domestic thriller novels are laced with quirky humour, sass and a darkly charming tone.

Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 20 languages.​

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth 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

Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett

EXCERPT: it started with her phone buzzing at 3:04 am that morning. Only nine months ago and as fresh in her mind as an unhealed wound. Foggy from sleep, she’d mistaken its sound for her alarm.

‘Amy?’ There was fear in Zane’s voice, something she’d never heard before. ‘Somethings happened. Can you come to my place?’

He was breathing hard. Even half-asleep, she heard the panic in his voice and it acted on her like a cold shock, pulling her into a hyper-alert state.

Her heart stuttered. ‘What is it? Are you okay?’

She remembered jumping out of bed, the phone clamped to her ear. They’d only been together for three months but already everything else, family, friends and work were falling away until Zane was her life.

‘I need help,’ he said.

ABOUT ‘DEAR NEIGHBOUR’: When Amy and her boyfriend Zane move into a house together, she hopes they can put their rocky past behind them.

She gets a job and befriends the older couple who live in the house next door. Amy is impressed by their sophistication, wealth, and love for one another and in turn they somewhat adopt her when Amy’s relationship with her boyfriend deteriorates rapidly.

Jobless, often absent and clearly up to no good, Zane is jealous and increasingly abusive. His hold over the shy Amy has been strong, yet cracks are beginning to show.

When a policeman knocks on her door one innocuous day, it is the start of series of events that will make the two households clash together in a fatal entanglement.

Zane will see an opportunity and greed will get the better of him, but are their new neighbours quite the easy targets they appear to be?

Amy is in the middle of it all and someone is going to get killed.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Seedy’ is the word I would use to sum up the atmosphere of Dear Neighbour.

Zane has dragged Amy, not exactly unwillingly, into his world of drugs and violence and now she feels trapped in a sick and destructive relationship.

I didn’t like Amy at all, not even at the end. I kept wanting
to yell at her to wake up and get out. She is weak and needy and willing to do anything to keep Zane by her side. Zane is also weak, but exceedingly manipulative, and he has Amy right where he wants her, supporting him both financially and emotionally. Actually, the only characters I liked were Frank and Greta, a devoted elderly couple who are hiding a surprising secret.

It is no secret that I don’t like books with a central theme of drugs and violence. I don’t like weak and stupid female characters. I don’t like weak and stupid characters full stop. I like clever mysteries and psychological thrillers with plenty of surprises and twists. Dear Neighbour didn’t give me that, and yet I kept reading. Right to the end. And while I can’t say that I enjoyed the read, I can see its appeal to others.

Dear Neighbour is a quick, fast-paced read at 184 pages, and certainly packed with action. It reminds me of the pulp fiction published in the 1950s, but lacking the lurid cover and ‘racy’ scenes.

⭐⭐.6

#Dear Neighbour #annawillettauthor #the_book_folks

@AnnaWillett9 @thebookfolks @HenryRoiPR

#australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Raised in Western Australia Anna developed a love for fiction at an early age and began writing short stories in high school. Drawn to dark tales, Anna enjoys writing thrillers with strong female characters. When she’s not writing, Anna enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her husband and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Henry Roi PR for providing a digital ARC of Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett 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