Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra
Little Secrets 
by Anna Snoekstra (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: It was a pleasant, quiet morning until the woman started screaming. The street had been silent except for the sound of birds chirping in the sky and the distant rumbles of a lawn mower. Mrs Lucie Hoffman had opened her front door to collect the morning edition of the Star. Instead, she found a porcelain doll sitting on top of the paper on her doorstep, staring up at her. It had thick dark hair and glassy green eyes. That was when the screaming started.

THE BLURB: What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

MY THOUGHTS: I really wanted to like Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra. I tried, very hard. But in the end the best rating I could give this book is 2.5 stars.

Around this time last year, I read Snoekstra’s debut novel, Only Daughter, which I also rated 2.5 stars, downgraded to 2☆. I remarked that while ‘The idea for the plot was brilliant, unfortunately I think the execution of it left something to be desired. Parts of the book are well written, others not so well written. There were times I was tempted to put this book down and walk away from it, but my desire to find out what had happened to Bec over-rode that, and in the end I am glad I did finish it. There are a couple of really great twists but also some glaring holes in the plot and I think the author could have done a bit more research – her knowledge of police procedure leaves a lot to be desired. 

And really, what I said then applies equally to Little Secrets. Except that I never really considered abandoning it, although I struggled with it in places, and the quality of the writing is more consistent. Hence the rounding upwards to 3☆

However, there are glaringly large holes in the plot that I wasn’t able to ignore. And Ms Snoekstra obviously hasn’t brushed up her knowledge of police procedure. Even in small desolate and dying towns, there are checks and balances. And Colmstock doesn’t actually seem that small. It has two pubs, a rarity these days when most towns struggle to support one, especially towns where employment is scarce and methamphetamine rife, and a reasonably large police presence.

In the end, I am left feeling vaguely confused and dissatisfied with Little Secrets. The author has left the door wide open for a sequel. If it does occur, I won’t be reading it.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor

The Treatment by C.L. Taylor
The Treatment 
by C.L. Taylor (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: I slip into the single stall toilet at the back of the cafe. I hold it together long enough to close the door and lock it and then I rest my arms on the wall and burst into tears. I’m still crying when I sit down on the closed toilet lid and reach into my pocket. Tears roll down my cheeks as I pull out the note that Dr Cobey thrust into my hands. They plop onto the paper as I carefully unfold it. I read the words Mason has scribbled in blue biro. I read them once, twice, three times and the tears dry in my eyes.

I’m not sad and confused any more. I’m terrified.

THE BLURB: “You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”
All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: There were a lot of things I liked about The Treatment, C. L. Taylor’s debut Young Adult novel, and a few things I disliked, which resulted in a 3.5 star rating.

This was, for most part, a fast paced read. The plot flowed well, mostly. I had trouble with the ease with which Drew was bundled off to the reform school. I know her step-father is involved in the process, but there is a reason he should, to my mind, be keeping Drew and Mason well away from there, not facilitating their admission. This is only one instance for which I had to suspend rationality and go with the storyline.

The ending, I felt, was over simplified. And rushed. Our young adults are a great deal more savy than I was at that age, and I was an advanced reader. I was tempted to get my ten year old grandson to read this to see what he thought because I am certain he would have picked up on most of the same things I did.

Having said that, I found most of the book to be riveting, an exciting adventure, one I didn’t want to put down in favor of sleep last night.

I think this book is probably suited to the younger end of the young adult spectrum.

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor is due to be published October 23, 2017.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Treatment for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2142848716

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
A God in Ruins (Todd Family, #2) 
by Kate Atkinson

Reviewed by
EXCERPT: What had gone into the making of Teddy? Not slugs and snails, it was true, but generation upon generation of Beresfords and Todds, all coming to one singular point in a cold bed in the chill of an autumn night when his father had caught hold of the golden rope of his mother’s hair and hadn’t let go until he had hauled them both to the far shore (they had many euphemisms for the act). As they lay amongst the shipwreck of the marital bed they each felt slightly befuddled by the unexpected ardor of the other. Hugh cleared his throat and murmured, ‘A voyage into the deep, eh?’ Sylvie said nothing as she felt the seafaring metaphor had been stretched far enough.

But the grain had entered the shell (Sylvie’s own metaphoric stance) and the pearl that would be Edward Beresford Todd began to grow until he was revealed into the sunshine that came before the Great War and lay happily for hours on end in his pram with nothing but a silver hare dangling from the pram hood for company.

THE BLURB: In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a complex book. There seems to be no order to it. It randomly jumps from Teddy’s childhood, to his old age, to his war years and back, interspersed with the lives of his one daughter, Viola, and her two children, Sunny and Bertie, and back again.

And yet, with her own inimitable style, Kate Atkinson pulls it off and rather splendidly at that. It is like sitting with a loved elderly relative, listening to them reminisce, where one memory leads to another, the tenuous thread that connects them known only to the narrator. And yet Atkinson draws you into this family. I laughed, I cried. I seethed at Viola’s indifference to her children, her father. I flew with Teddy on his sorties over Germany, crossing my fingers to keep him safe. I applauded his rescue of Sunny (aka Philip Villiers) from the Villiers enclave, and his careful nurturing of Bertie. And I wept at his gentle decline in residential care.

This is both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming read.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2133985806?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

White Bodies by Jane Robins

White Bodies by Jane Robins
White Bodies 
by Jane Robins

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The two men were struck by the unnatural stillness of the room, its air of unreality; Julio said it seemed considered, or planned, like a tableau vivant with Felix as the centrepiece, lying on his back on the bed in a strange balletic pose, right arm cast out across the duvet, left leg bent, bath robe open like a cape,grey eyes gazing at the ceiling. His left arm was dangling down the side of the bed, fingers suspended above the floor, and the hotel manager, who had a degree in the History of Art, was reminded of the pre-Raphaelite painting of the suicide of Thomas Chatterton. Except this didn’t look like suicide, there were no pill bottles or razor blades or other signs.

THE BLURB: Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?

MY THOUGHTS: This is an extremely clever book. A book that is quite different from anything else I have read. But I can’t say I actually ‘liked’ it. It fascinated me. It intrigued me. But I didn’t like it and I couldn’t get ‘involved’ in it.

I think part of the problem, for me, is the author’s narrative style. Her sentences are inordinately long. And for suspense, nothing but short snappy sentences does it for me. Also large tracts of the book are narrated through emails/reading off a memory stick/searching the Internet/taking place in chat rooms.

However, Jane Robins has done a great job of keeping the reader off balance. Her characters are nearly all manipulative, some more overtly than others, and the reader never quite knows who is telling the truth. Is Callie protective of her sister Tilda, or is she jealous of Tilda’s success, professional and personal? Is Felix the adoring lover who likes to shower Tilda with surprises and protect her from the world, or is he a violent control freak? Is Wilf really in love with Callie, or is he just using her to find out information about Tilda to feed to the press? And who is Scarlet really?

The plot is great. After a great deal of thought, I decided that I just didn’t like how it was handled and rated it 3.5 stars. White Bodies by Jane Robins is due to be published October 23, 2017

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of White Bodies by Jane Robins for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2155011405

Friday Favorite – NOS-4A2 by Joe Hill

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

As most of my regular followers will know, Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors. I have Sleeping Beauties, written in collaboration with his son Owen King,  sitting on my desk to read. That brought to mind NOS-4A2, written by King’s other son, with whom he also collaborates from time to time. For me, NOS-4A2 is right up there with King’s The Shining. If you haven’t yet read this, I urge you to. It is a masterpiece.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
NOS4A2 
by Joe Hill (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Because she was preoccupied, she didn’t notice what was different about Charlie Manx until she was easing around his cot to reach the IV rack. He happened to sigh heavily just then, as if bored, and she looked down and saw him staring up at her, and she was so startled to see him with his eyes open that she bobbled the sack of blood and almost dumped it on her feet.

He was hideous-old, not to mention hideous. His great bald skull was a globe mapping an alien moon, continents marked by liver spots and bruise colored sarcomas. Of all the men in the long term care ward – aka the Vegetable Patch – there was something particularly awful about Charlie Manx with his eyes open at this time of the year. Manx liked children. He’d made dozens of them disappear back in the nineties. He had a house below the Flatirons where he did what he liked with them and killed them and hung Christmas ornaments in their memory. The papers called the place the Sleigh House. Ho, ho, ho.

THE BLURB: NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

MY THOUGHTS: If I could give this book 10 stars I would!

This has to be the best book I have read in 2014 (sorry to Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane – you’ve just been bumped into 2nd place!). I want to never let this book go.

I found myself cheering on Vic in her fight against Charles Manx, feeling her pain when her son Wayne was in danger….. This book sucked me right in and I felt for it’s characters.

Joe Hill is definitely his father’s son. He writes with the same easy narrative flow and sardonic wit, but I think that with NOS-4A2 he may even have out written Stephen King. If you are a Stephen King/Neil Gaiman fan, this is a book you have to read.

Please note: in  Australasia this book is published as NOS-4R2

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett 
by Chelsea Sedoti (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The first thing that happened was Lizzie Lovett disappeared, and everyone was all, “How can someone like Lizzie be missing?” and I was like, “Who cares?” A few days later, there was talk about Lizzie maybe being dead, and it was still kinda boring, but not totally boring, because I’d never known a dead person before.

After that, I started to get fascinated by the whole situation, mostly because I noticed a bunch of weird stuff. Which was how I figured out Lizzie Lovett’s secret. But I’m probably doing that thing again where I get ahead of myself and skip all over the place, which I’m trying to stop.

So the beginning, or the beginning for me at least, was when I found out Lizzie Lovett was missing. It happened like this: It was Monday morning, and I needed an excuse to stay home. I was dreading school even more than usual, because the Welcome Back dance had been on Saturday, and I was probably the only senior at Griffin Mills High School who didn’t go, and everyone would be talking about it while I sat there thinking, Wow, I’m a loser.

THE BLURB: A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn’t mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life. That includes taking her job… and her boyfriend. It’s a huge risk — but it’s just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world.

MY THOUGHTS: Oh, the memories, not all of them great, that The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti brought back. In the words of Charles Dickens, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’

It is so easy to forget how self centred we are at seventeen. But don’t worry, Hawthorn Creely and her classmates will remind you. I defy you to read this book and not be reminded of your own teenage years. Of course you might not have had a band of hippies come live in your backyard, but no doubt your parents found other ways to embarrass you in front of your peers.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett deals with a lot of issues teenagers face; low self esteem, depression, suicide and bullying, both face to face and on social media. There are many good life lessons in this book.

“There’s no such thing as a normal high school experience, Thorny. You assume everyone else is happy all he time and living an ideal life. You don’t get that other people are pretending too.”

“Don’t confuse being popular with being interesting”

“Sometimes, there are things that are really hard to do, and it sucks the whole time you’re doing them. But you also know it’s the right thing, and you might be making a huge difference for someone else.”

This was a touching book. It is a book that has a place in every high school library. It is a book that every parent of teenagers should read, so that we can remember what high school was really like.

I listened to this book on audio via Overdrive, very well narrated by Jessica Almasy. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1627384349

London Noir by Ann Girdharry

London Noir by Ann Girdharry
London Noir (Kal Medi #2) 
by Ann Girdharry (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: I suppose the realization I was different stole up on me slowly.

There were signs from early on, if I’m honest. Like my first year in primary school when Mirabella wet her knickers in front of the whole class – the girls were mortified and the boys laughed and I was excited.

So, yeah, I knew I was different. To survive, I learned to act like my friends and I’m so good, pretty much everyone in my life would say I’m normal and I like that because it means I’m clever.

One thing I’ve learned is that when you’ve wanted something for a long time, your mind makes tracks in the sand showing exactly how it’s going to turn out. You anticipate your own excitement, your own arousal, and what the other person will say and do. Those tracks start out delicate and then solidify with each replaying of the fantasy, until they get to be as firm as a rail track. The fantasy can keep me occupied for months only, at some point, I have to have the real deal – the flash of horror in their eyes, the desperate urge to plead for mercy, bowels voiding and dribbling down a leg. It’s the helplessness that grabs me – when they realize there’s absolutely nothing they can do. It’s the best drug in the world.

And with me, it’s the eyes that are captivating. The windows of the soul – unable to lie in the final moments.

THE BLURB: Memory loss, nightmares, the urge to kill – Sophie has it all.
Is it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Or something more sinister? Kal is about to find out…

After a near-fatal road accident, Kal helps a young girl in trouble. The girl’s friends are being murdered one by one. Why? And who by?

Kal must kick start herself out of her downward spiral to save the young stranger.

But Kal is in the grip of the London Cartel and is someone after the girl, or is the girl after someone?

Crime suspense thriller. A stand alone novel. The second in the Kal Medi series.

MY THOUGHTS: I hadn’t read Kal Medi #1 before reading London Noir by Ann Girdharry. I think it would have helped, as there are numerous references to events that occurred in that first book that are not adequately explained, like what had happened to put Marty in hospital in a coma or why Kal was in the grip of the London Cartel. So I don’t really recommend this as a stand alone book. But if you do read London Noir without reading Good Girl, Bad Girl, then chances are you will do what I am doing, and lay your hands on a copy of #1 anyway.

Ann Girdharry had me hooked from the beginning. In fact at the 7% mark my comment was ‘WOW!’. Of course, this frenetic pace could not be maintained, although London Noir continued to be a fast paced book and a quick read. And while I didn’t always find Kal’s actions believable or at all rational, I was happy to suspend belief and just enjoy the read.

3.5 stars for London Noir by Ann Girdharry

Thank you to author Ann Girdharry for providing me with a digital copy of London Noir for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2124446897?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Weycombe by G.M. Malliet

Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Weycombe 
by G.M. Malliet (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: What happened to Anna could so easily have been an accident. She could have been running flat out on her chubby legs, minding her own business, when some solicitor speeding by on his way to his office in Walton-on-Thames, anonymous in his ventilated helmet and ubiquitous black bike shorts, pushed her off the path, sending her rolling downhill and breaking her neck. That time of year, the path could be slick with wet fallen leaves. She might simply have slipped and fallen on her head.

That is certainly how it could have happened. Except that of course she was murdered, dead before her body came to rest at the edge of the river.

THE BLURB: Weycombe is the chocolate-box village of everyone’s dreams. For American Jillian White, a gated life of pleasure and comfort with her titled English husband was a fantasy come true.

But the murder of a local estate agent mars the village’s so-pretty surface. Are people actually dying to live in Weycombe? Jill investigates, piecing together clues along the snaking paths and winding lanes of her adopted village. She knows truth has many versions, depending on who is doing the telling. And that few can be trusted in Weycombe, where nothing is as perfect as it seems.

MY THOUGHTS: After reading the synopsis, I thought I was in for a cosy Agatha Christie like read. But it seems G.M. Malliet is very clever. She has written a chameleon of a novel. To start with, she uses her acerbic wit to paint a portrait of life in an English village. Even at slightly over half way, I made the following comment- “This is so not about murder. It is an amusing, sometimes laugh out loud hilarious, tongue-in-cheek, slightly bitchy poke at life in an English village. The murder is merely the vehicle.”

Yes, I was well and truly sucked in. For, almost without me noticing, the story turned in on itself in the second half and became something far more sinister. This was definitely not Christie!

This is a book that I read with a smile on my face, especially at the end. Although I picked up the odd hiccup with continuity, this was an uncorrected ARC and so I would expect these minor imperfections to have been corrected before Weycombe is unleashed on the public.

All in all, a very enjoyable read that kept my interest from the first page to the last. I have added all this authors other works to my reading list.

Thank you to Midnight Ink via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Weycombe for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2153334557?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Liars’ Asylum by Jacob M. Appel

The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M. Appel
The Liars’ Asylum 
by Jacob M. Appel (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: My best friend that spring was Lacey Moretti. Soon enough we would drift apart, our natural differences overcoming our common history, so when I saw her at the twentieth reunion last year, where Lacey gulped champagne from a slipper and made a sloppy pass at every unhitched male within groping distance, I could hardly remember what had drawn us together on long-ago evenings studying the polarity of magnets and the trajectories of cannon balls. Yet in those final months at Laurendale, we were truly inseparable–so much so that when a third former classmate sensed the tension between us at the reunion, she’d confessed she’d always suspected we’d been lovers. The reality was that we’d both been far too innocent for anything like that. – Prisoners of the Multiverse

The wipers swept the windshield hypnotically, and when the rain stopped, the rubber blades scraped furiously across the dry glass. I didn’t even register the sound until Sheila reached across the steering column and snapped them off.
“What can a forty-six year old man possibly see in my mother?” she demanded. “I’ll tell you what! He’s either after a green card or he’s after her money. ”
“Or both, ” I offered.
Sheila glared at me. “Don’t you dare take her side. ”
“I’m not taking sides, Sheila. ”
“How can you not take sides?” she snapped. “That’s like not taking sides about the Holocaust. Not taking sides is the same thing as taking sides. ”
Sheila had worked in the creative division at an advertising agency before we married. She has a winning slogan for every argument. – Good Enough For Guppies

THE BLURB: SHORT STORY COLLECTION: The frustrations of romantic love in its various guises—a domineering kindergarten teacher for a dashing artificial foliage designer, a suicidal physicist for his star student, a dialysis patient at a sleep-away camp for the camp owner’s daughter—provide the common theme for the stories in Jacob M. Appel’s seventh collection. We meet a psychiatrist dabbling with infidelity during a crisis in which rain turns into truth serum, a Finnish-American soldier charged with facilitating his commanding officer’s extra-marital affair, and a couple transporting a wealthy, “locked-in” patient across the Piedmont to his new nursing home. Appel’s literary short fiction offers a quirky window into the pangs and promise of love.

MY THOUGHTS: I have a special place reserved both in my heart and on my shelves for Jacob Appel’s books. I have almost the full set and they are on the shelf right beside my favorite reading chair. It is a collection that I dip into frequently and The Liars’ Asylum will take pride of place amongst them.

This is yet another wonderful collection of eight short stories from an extremely talented writer. The focus in this collection is love. But they are not your traditional love stories. They range from tales of first love to that of a last love, and everything in between. And don’t expect happy ever after. There is duplicity and truth, desire and rejection, hope and despair, success (of sorts) and failure.

Appel demonstrates an excellent understanding of human character. From the young couple who become more interested in scoring points over each other than in the truth of their relationship, to the desperate for a husband Aunt Jill, all these characters are people we know, we can relate to and, if we are honest, there is probably more than a little bit of ourselves in there too.

Appel has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous which he crafts into clever and believable stories. Another winner from a favorite author.

Publication date is October 15, 2017.

Thank you to author Jacob M Appel, Black Lawrence Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of The Liars’ Asylum for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2101863772

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick
The Promise Girls 
by Marie Bostwick (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: Three weeks into the book tour, Joanie still isn’t used to the silence of television studios, ponderous silence that feels like being closed in a concrete box with wall so thick no noise from the outside world can penetrate, just as no sound emanating inside can escape. Joanie can scream as loud as she wants and no one will hear her.

Joanie, Meg, and Avery, and their mother sit in upholstered side chairs, like the ones you see in the waiting rooms of doctors offices, motionless, waiting. Avery is so little her feet can’t touch the floor, but she doesn’t kick her legs or even fidget.

The audience is still as well. They stare at Joanie and her little sisters in a way that makes her think about people at the zoo staring through the glass at the reptile house, waiting for the snakes to do something interesting.

Soon they will – she will. If she doesn’t lose her nerve.

THE BLURB: Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy. Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters–gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery–were engineered and molded to be geniuses. In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills. While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential. But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other–and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

MY THOUGHTS: Family secrets and lies. Always a winner with me, especially when it is as well written and captivating as The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick. This is the first time I have read anything by this author, but it won’t be the last. She will be joining my very short list of ‘go to’ authors for when I want a rest from the murder and mystery that is my normal fare.

I can say it no better than this- “Reading Marie Bostwick is like wrapping yourself up in a warm, hand-crafted quilt. Her books, rich in character and plot, are stitched together by a skilled wordsmith.” –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

In her letter at the end of the book, the author writes that this book is incredibly special to her, a rare instance when she finished the final manuscript and ‘felt entirely, completely, incandescently happy’with her work. I felt the same way. This is a ‘feel good’ book. A book about family and love, and how easy it is to lose your way in spite of, or perhaps because of, best intentions.

Bostwick has woven a captivating story around a very different type of family. And she has done it well, giving us a look at a childhood that under no circumstances could be termed normal, until it all blows up in their faces, and then we meet the sisters again as adults, all living lives very different than what we might have expected.

 

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Promise Girls for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on