Watching what I’m reading . . .

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is what I am currently reading. This author really knows how to create an atmosphere!

I am listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, an author I have been wanting to read for some time, but I am never approved for her ARCs on Netgalley. It’s definitely another atmospheric and suspenseful read.

I have only managed to complete two of my seven scheduled reads for the week, so I am carrying them over into this week where I only have one other read for review scheduled. It is Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah. Thank you to the author for kindly providing me with a copy for review.

As he stared at the corpse’s face, he realized an endless dark cavity beneath the dead skin. There’s no one there. Even if he shouted with all his might, it was not the echo that would greet him but the silence that engulfed his voice.

– SOLACE

In “Good Friends,” a little girl collects dolls her family can’t afford from the neighbor’s trash bin. But who is the ghostly figure sharing them with her? A mysterious married woman reaches out to an ojek driver in “Confide,” and a young man’s attempt to kill himself goes awry in “Zombie.” In “The Crains” a new wife discovers her in-laws’ dangerous forays into black magic, and “Solace” follows a young man with a terrifying secret in his bedroom… These are just some of the spine-tingling stories of Solace and Other Stories, a surreal collection sure to keep you up at night! 

I have received five new Netgalley ARCs this week. They are: Mothered by Zoje Stage. I don’t know about you, but I find that cover chilling! The possibilities . . .

This is Us by Helen McGinn

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood (my nod to Christmas)

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

My post is short and sweet today as I have to prepare some entrees for a friend’s birthday this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week workwise, but I am trying not to slip back into my old work habits and made sure to take some time for myself. I went swimming on Tuesday afternoon. Hilarious! My spirit was willing but my muscle memory was not cooperating. Floundering might be a more apt description of what I actually did. Thursday morning I went to aquarobics with my cousin which was not only a great workout but lots of fun. I have convinced another friend to come with us this coming week.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good afternoon from a cold, windy, grey New Zealand. We have more rain and storms on the way. Yay!!!!

Currently I am reading After the Flood by Dave Warner, a wonderful piece of Australian crime fiction.

I am also reading The Murder Book, #18 in the Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham.

And listening to The Cabin in the Woods written by Sarah Alderson and narrated by Stephanie Cannon

This week, in addition to The Murder Book, and After the Flood, I still have the following books to read for review:

In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Emme Wynn has wanted nothing more her whole life than to feel like part of a family. Having grown up on the run with her con artist mother, she’s been shuffled from town to town, drawn into bad situations, and has learned some unsavory habits that she’s tried hard to overcome. When her estranged grandmother tracks her down out of the blue and extends a job offer—helping to run her booth at an open-air marketplace in small-town Sweetgrass, Alabama—Emme is hopeful that she’ll finally be able to plant the roots she’s always dreamed of. But some habits are hard to break, and she risks her newfound happiness by keeping one big truth to herself.

Cora Bee Hazelton has her hands full with volunteering, gardening, her job as a color consultant and designer, and just about anything she can do to keep her mind off her painful past, a past that has resulted in her holding most everyone at arm’s length. The last thing she wants is to form close relationships only to have her heart broken yet again. But when she’s injured, she has no choice other than to let people into her life and soon realizes it’s going to be impossible to keep her heart safe—or her secrets hidden.

Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott

A rash of poison pen letters has enveloped the sleepy English village of Walmsley Parva in cloud of suspicion and paranoia. But when rampant aspersions culminate in murder, enquiry agents Beryl Helliwell and Edwina Davenport must stamp out the evil-minded epistles . . .

What began for two dear if very different friends–an American adventuress and a prim and proper Brit–as a creative response to the lean times following the Great War has evolved into a respectable private enquiry business. So much so that Constable Gibbs calls upon Beryl and Edwina to solve a curious campaign of character assassination.

A series of anonymous accusations sent via post have set friend against friend and neighbor against neighbor. In her new position as magistrate, Edwina has already had to settle one dispute that led to fisticuffs. Even Beryl has received a poison pen letter, and while she finds its message preposterous and laughable, others are taking the missives to heart. Their headstrong housekeeper Beddoes is ready to resign and one villager has attempted to take her own life.

The disruption of the peace goes far beyond malicious mischief when another villager is murdered. Now it’s up to the intrepid sleuths to read between the lines and narrow down the suspects to identify the lethal letter writer and ensure that justice is delivered . . . 

The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone

She loves him…

Lizzie Green once loved Tom Murphy with a passion that bordered on obsession. All she wanted was his love to be returned. Then one night something terrible happened and Tom left Lizzie broken hearted. She swore she would never let him hurt her again….

She loves him not.

Now, ten years later, Tom turns up on Lizzie’s doorstep still as charming as ever. Lizzie knows he still has the power to break her heart and destroy her life again. But Lizzie can’t say no to him….

Can she?

And Mother of all Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

Her freedom, her sanity, her life. How much will a young mother sacrifice to protect her secrets?

Sleep deprived and overwhelmed, first-time mom Jenn is struggling to adapt to her new role. Frustrated with her loving but preoccupied husband and still grieving the death of her own mother, she feels isolated and depressed. It’s only when she joins a new-moms’ group that she starts to think she’s finally getting back on track.

Until Isabel, the group’s leader, suddenly disappears.

Now Jenn’s baby isn’t the only reason she can’t sleep. Consumed with worry over Isabel, Jenn is teetering on the edge of obsession. Concern turns to paranoia when Jenn finds clues that force her to look at herself, her marriage, and the women in her support group, who have more in common than Jenn realized. Much more.

Saving Isabel means unearthing secrets that were supposed to stay buried forever, and Jenn has to decide what she’s willing to risk to help a woman she barely knows. With each revelation, she gets closer to a slow-burning act of retribution that could easily and irrevocably draw her into the flames.

This week I received seven new ARCs via Netgalley and one book in the mail from Freemantle Press who very kindly sent me another copy of the book that was missing from my parcel a couple of weeks back. It is Blood & Ink by Brett Adams

The ARCs I received from Netgalley are: In Little Stars by Linda Green

On the First Day of Christmas by Faith Hogan

Isabel Puddles Abroad by M.V. Byrne

The Ex by S.E. Lynes

Next in Line (William Warwick #5) by Jeffrey Archer

The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

Bleeding Heart Yard (Harbinder Kaur #3) by Elly Griffiths

We have friends coming for dinner tonight, so will go and get everything prepped, then go make myself pretty.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend and happy reading my friend!

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Firstly, I have to apologise for lack of a post on Friday (NZ time). Our internet went down at lunchtime Friday and wasn’t restored until 2 am Saturday.

Currently I am reading One Last Day of Summer by Shari Lowe. I started this in the early hours of this morning and am really enjoying it.

As a flight to St Lucia leaves the runway, four passengers meet for the first time.

After escaping her controlling husband, Bernadette Manson is taking the first extravagant holiday of her new life. But when her best friend cancels, will she be strong enough to fly solo?

Tadgh Donovan is about to jet off to his destination wedding when he sees a shocking text. Has his bride-to-be written her wedding vows… or already broken them?

Hayley Ford is the wife of a top fertility specialist yet her battle to get pregnant has almost broken her marriage. Can a trip to the sun heal their relationship or should she brace for a crash landing?

Dev Robbins is crossing oceans to track down the woman he fell in love with at first sight. Will it be a one way trip to happy ever after or a return journey to singledom?

One Last Day of Summer is due for publication July 19th 2022.

I am also reading Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster. 

This is certainly a chilling read and will also be published July 19th, 2022.

After the Flood by Dave Warner. I was so excited to receive some real book mail, although the excitement was somewhat tempered by one of the three books missing out of the parcel. NOT the publisher’s fault. The bag had obviously been tampered with. Kudos and a huge thank you to Freemantle Press for sending out the missing book.

A disturbing, seemingly ritualistic murder on a remote North-West cattle station has Detective Inspector Dan Clement and his Broome police officers unnerved and baffled. Other local incidents – the theft of explosives from mine site, social justice protests at an abattoir, a break-in at an early childhood clinic- seems mundane by comparison.

But as Clement starts to make troubling connections between each crime, he finds himself caught in terrifying race. In a landmass larger than Western Europe, he must identify and protect an unidentified target before it’s blown to bits by an unidentified terrorist.

Now, don’t usually read books about terrorism, but this has me enthralled.

and I am listening to A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood (Matilda Darke #3) This is a backtitle read for me from 2017. Currently at 55% through, it’s looking like five star read.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

This week, in addition to Black Mouth and One Last Day of Summer, both of which I already reading, I have The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell scheduled for review.

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing and was excited to receive an ARC for this.

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

This week I received eight new ARCs from Netgalley plus two from Freemantle Press, one being After the Flood by Dave Warner. The second book I received from Freemantle Press is The Ghost of Gracie Flynn by Joanna Morrison. Did I already mention how exciting it is to receive REAL book mail?

And from Netgalley I have received Foster by Claire Keegan

Lovely Girls by Margot Hunt

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Dead Real by Helen H. Durrant

The Stranger Vanishes by Wendy Corsi Staub, a Lily Vale Mystery

And the last is a publiher’s widget, There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

Have you read, or do you have any of these to read?

Have a wonderful week!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Welcome to my weekly update post, where I share what I’m currently reading, what my reading choices are for the coming week, and what new ARCs I have received.

Earlier this week I received a paperback copy of Out of Her Depth from the author Lizzy Barber. I was so excited to receive a real book in the post that I started it immediately I opened the parcel. Thank you Lizzy for sending this all the way from England. I am loving this and eager to know what Sebastian has done, or is supposed to have done, and just why he thinks Rachel holds the key to proving his innocence.

For headstrong Rachel, it is the chance of a lifetime: a summer job in the Tuscan hills, receiving room and board in exchange for her services at the luxurious Villa Medici hotel. It’s not long before she finds herself drawn into a cosmopolitan crowd of friends for whom money is no object, and allegiances can change with the toss of a coin.

When she asks her new friend Diana to help her win the affections of the handsome and charming Sebastian, she thinks she might finally have a chance to become part of their world, but when she discovers that Diana may have intentions of her own, she begins to learn the real cost of friendship. And when Sebastian begins to focus on the sweet and innocent Valentina, Rachel discovers there may be an even higher price to pay.

The suffocating heat, the blinding wealth, the beautiful people: it soon becomes too much, and Rachel finds herself not just out of her depth, but drowning in lies . . .

I am also reading The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson

And almost finished my read/listen of Fatal Witness – Detective Erika Foster #7 – by Robert Bryndza.

This coming week I have the following reads for review:

His Other Wife by Nicole Trope

She has my husband. She has my child. She has my life.

I never thought I would end up here. Alone, in a cold one-bedroom apartment, only seeing my precious daughter once a week.

Another woman is living the life that was once mine. I wish I was still married to my ex-husband, the love of my life. I dream of tucking my five-year-old child into her ballerina bed sheets every night. I miss living in a beautiful house, the perfect family home, with a winding staircase and a sprawling garden.

I’d do anything to be with my family again. To start over and prove to them that I’ve changed, that I won’t lose control like before.

But when I get my second chance, the vicious messages come. The noises at night. The feeling of being watched. It’s happening all over again. I know I’m not going mad, but no one will believe me. I don’t know if I even believe myself.

All I wanted was my life back. But now my life is under threat – and my darling little girl is in danger…

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara

Scarlett’s aunt lived – and was brutally murdered – in the apartment upstairs. But Scarlett is determined that life should return to some kind of normal, even if that means living with just a ceiling between her and the scene of such a devastating crime. After all, this is her home. She’s safe here. Isn’t she?

Dee is busy balancing her job as a funeral director with organizing an event to mark the disappearance of her best friend, ten years ago. So she’s got enough on her plate without worrying about the threatening messages that are appearing on her company’s Facebook page.

When Scarlett approaches Dee about planning her aunt’s funeral, an unexpected link between them emerges. Together, the two women could uncover secrets that have long been buried. Even while someone wants to stop them digging . . .

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.

Ronnie’s going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can’t be gone, Ronnie won’t believe it.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it, she has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.

Lewis can believe it too. But he can’t reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.

Five days later, Esther’s buried body is discovered.

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was wrongfully convicted of plotting to murder her husband.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals: repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, clear her name, and bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her? Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life… 

And Girl Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

A small town hides a big secret…

Who killed Emily Vaughn?

A girl with a secret…

Longbill Beach, 1982. Emily Vaughn gets ready for the prom. For an athlete, who is smart, pretty and well-liked, this night that should be the highlight of her high school career. But Emily has a secret. And by the end of the evening, that secret will be silenced forever.

An unsolved murder…

Forty years later, Emily’s murder remains a mystery. Her tight-knit group of friends closed ranks; her respected, wealthy family retreated inwards; the small town moved on from her grisly attack. But all that’s about to change.

One final chance to uncover a killer…

US Marshal Andrea Oliver arrives in Longbill Beach on her first assignment: to protect a judge receiving death threats. But, in reality, Andrea is there to find justice for Emily. The killer is still out there – and Andrea must discover the truth before she gets silenced, too…

This week I have six new digital ARCs from Netgalley and my paperback copy of Out of Her Depth written and gifted to me by Lizzy Barber, who also very kindly signed it.❤ The new ARCs are:

So Long Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

The Night Watch by Neil Lancaster

Light Through the Vines by Fiona Valpy

The Season of Dreams by Fiona Valpy

and The Recipe for Hope, also by Fiona Valpy. These three titles form The Escape to France collection.

My final title is All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien, and was a widget sent to me by publishers Harlequin Australia. Isn’t the cover rather spectacular!

It’s been a grey sort of day after a lovely sunny start, but at least it hasn’t rained since the very early hours of the morning, and it wasn’t foggy. I think that this is the first day in over three weeks that it hasn’t rained.

I got out into the garden for a short time this morning and raked leaves for composting and got rid of all the dead tomato vines. We’re meant to have a few more days of fine weather and even some sun, so hopefully it will dry out enough for me to mow the lawns which are looking decidedly ragged. I was going to bake a banana loaf, but it’s almost time for the roast pork to go in the oven, so that will have to wait for another day.

I spent some time with Luke after school on Tuesday. He loves doing jigsaws and read me a bedtime story! I enjoyed that.

I hope that you have all had a wonderful week, and I wish you another to come. Happy reading all!

The Shortfall

Well, January didn’t go quite to plan, although it started well.

I had twenty books to read for review for month. I read and reviewed fifteen of those titles. The titles I still have to read are:

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. 

Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

HER PERFECT TWIN. YOUR NEW OBSESSION.

When Megan discovers photographs of her estranged identical twin sister on her husband’s phone, she wants answers.

Leah already has everything Megan has ever wanted. Fame, fortune, freedom to do what she wants. And when Megan confronts Leah, an argument turns to murder.

The only way Megan can get away with killing her twin is to become her.

But then lockdown hits. How can she continue living two lives? And what happens if someone else knows her secret too?

A Secret at Tansy Falls by Cate Woods

The old farmhouse at Tansy Falls. A little patch of paradise in the hills of Vermont. Home to happy couple Connie and Nate. And a long-buried secret that will ignite a devastating spark…

Connie knows she’s been lucky in life. She lives in a place that makes her soul sing—a beautiful red clapboard farmhouse among the daisy-strewn hills of Tansy Falls—with her soulmate Nate, her husband of twenty years.

But while she can still feel the sunshine on her face, there’s a heaviness in her heart that she can’t shake. The laughter and the lingering kisses are beginning to disappear. Ever since Nate lost his job, the man she thought she knew inside out has changed.

Connie knows this happens in long marriages. When Nate forgets her birthday, she’s determined to enjoy her day regardless. But as she blows out the candles on her lemon sponge cake, surrounded by her girlfriends, a stranger arrives and reveals a shocking truth about her husband. Nate is the man Connie has always loved but in just one evening her life changes beyond all recognition.

As Connie looks at the home she loves, and the husband she has known forever sitting beneath the cottonwood tree, she knows that starting over will be the hardest thing she has ever done. But if she doesn’t, will she ever find the woman she is meant to be?

The Bells of Christmas II by various authors which I didn’t receive until early January . . .

The Bells of Christmas II: Eight Stories of Christmas Hope

by Bradley Harper, Erol Engin, Lilla Glass, Will Knight, Derek McFadden, Maria O’Rourke



Description

100% of profits from sales will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Roll up, roll up, folks! Hear ye, read ye … these eight—yes eight—stupendous stories we have for you upon this year’s…Read MoreClose

Description

100% of profits from sales will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“Roll up, roll up, folks! Hear ye, read ye … these eight—yes eight—stupendous stories we have for you upon this year’s yuletide. Come one, come all for tidings of Christmas hope! Savor these dainty dramas and delight in delicious darkness fantastical, with all sure to enchant readers aplenty this holiday season!

“Come, good gentlefolk, as we alight gently on December 24th, the last sleep before Christmas! In Bradley Harper’s The Bells of Christmas the midnight carols have echoed off into the night as Julius slumbers beneath his bleak blanket, nestled in the bowels of the homeless shelter. A visitor will arrive to make his Christmas wish come true in a most unexpected way…

“Beware, have a care! For Derek McFadden is back among the ghosts in The Last Christmas Gift, in which Travis is on the edge of despair while on a most unexpected boat ride. Look yonder, good gentlefolk, for there, just boarding… surely not Pops, his beloved grandfather departed these twenty years hence…?

“Now, light ye all A Winter Candle as we partake of Bradley Harper’s telling of Ben, newly retired from the military. What is an old soldier to do when he feels his family is lost to him? Why, folks, become a Santa Claus, of course! But who is it that detects the faintest flicker of hope in his heart? I tell you, someone up North is watching…

“But lo! Not all these gifts within are 

fiction. Oh, no, good folks! For within, there sit true-life encounters too. Hear Bradley Harper recount fact stranger than fiction! Hear ye what he’s learned in What Santa Has Taught Me, an essay of experiences as a real-life Santa Claus.

“Good people, come close… let me whisper this to ye… ‘Who among us didn’t love Christmases when we were all but wee wildlings?’ Ah, then relive the magic of your childhood in Maria O’Rourke’s Calling Us Home as she lovingly recalls the magic of Irish Christmases of yore, where enchantment and excitement were magic unto themselves!

“Will Knight’s The Bear’s Last Word on the Matter fairly hales at the heartstrings in this final pull of Christmas crackers for one lad’s special childhood friend at the care home. With one last Christmas together, are their adventures truly concluded?

“And now, I ask you all, fair folk: dare you encounter the bitter-sweetness of The Sugar Plum Redux? Lilla Glass gifts us a fantastical fae, a tenebrous telling of The Nutcracker from a very different point of view …

“Ah, but all good things … Yet still one last journey, fair folk, where we must ask ourselves if Gus is not the hero in his own story, then who can it be? Andy, the ‘real’ and righteous writer? Or perhaps Daphne, the nonconformist neighbor? Before we reach journey’s end, Erol Engin will show us how even the most selfish and insecure can provide a Christmas miracle in A Tintoretto of the Soul.

And, finally, The Secrets of Cedar Farm by Carissa Ann Lynch, which I also received after publication date.

Behind every family is a story.
But some stories are darker than others.

Norah Campbell was an addict. The loss of her fiancé drove her to despair; she lost custody of her daughter, Gemma, and control of her life.

Now Norah is in recovery and she wants Gemma back. But to do so she must move in with her eccentric aunt and uncle, and they refuse to give up control without a fight. When strange occurrences keep happening at the farm and Norah makes a gruesome discovery, she soon realises she’s living with a monster.

As her mental health spirals out of control and she is tempted to relapse, she begins to wonder if she is also a monster.

This is a novel about addiction and recovery, and the strength of a mother who must fight in order to save herself and her child.

Have you read any of these? What did you think and which is your favourite? To the publishers, apologies and I am making a concerted effort not to request more than I can read, but if you will keep putting out irresistible titles, well . . . I only have so much won’t power!

How was your shelf control in January? Did you manage to do any better than me with your read for review ratio (75%)?

Happy reading my friends. 😉❤📚

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.

The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn

EXCERPT: He ripped open the envelope and unfolded the piece of paper inside. There were only a few words, and while he recognised her handwriting, the words looked shaky, as though her hand were trembling as she wrote them.

Joel, my sweet boy. Don’t stay here. Go back.

Don’t believe him. Go back.

He stared at the sentences. She’d clearly known she was dying when she wrote this. And she’d expected that he’d come home. And he’d always intended to go back to Singapore after he took care of his mother’s affairs. He’d never intended to stay in Lake Summers.

But still, why would his mom be so worried about him staying? Why would this be the final message she had for him? And who shouldn’t he believe? What was that all about?

ABOUT ‘THE CRANBERRY INN’: As twinkling lights go up and snowflakes begin to fall, Laurel Hanover and her eight-year-old son are going home to the Cranberry Inn in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Laurel can’t wait to leave New York behind to help her father run the family business, and make snow angels with her son, even if it’s just for Christmas. But when she walks through the door, she’s shocked to find the inn in disrepair, and a letter saying her father will be gone until Christmas Eve…

No one in town knows where Laurel’s father is, and she doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry – but she won’t let the inn go under, and nothing will get in the way of the perfect Christmas for her son. Seeing the worn-out wooden bannisters, bare of festive lights, she immediately recruits her childhood friend, brooding local carpenter Joel Hutcherson. They might disagree on whether any walls actually need to come down, but each rip in the carpet makes Laurel more concerned for her father, and Joel is a welcome distraction. And when he admits that Laurel was his first crush, she realises she’s falling for him.

But then Laurel uncovers a card with beautiful, ornate writing amongst her father’s things and learns the real reason he disappeared. And it changes everything. Worse still, she thinks Joel knew the truth all along.

Laurel thought this was going to be the perfect Christmas – that maybe she had found her happy. But now there’s nothing to stop her from running back to New York the moment the baubles come down… is there?

MY THOUGHTS: The publicity blurb describes The Cranberry Inn as ‘An unputdownable, feel-good Christmas romance about fresh starts, the importance of family and learning how to follow your heart,’ and it’s 100% true. I read this in one sitting, not wanting to let these (mostly) lovable and relatable characters out of my grasp. But even the irritating characters have their redeeming moments.

This is a wonderful small town romance set over the Christmas period with characters you just can’t help but love, and town traditions that made me want to move there for the Christmas break. I want to go skating on the lake, and drink hot chocolate. I want to shop in the quirky little stores and I want to meet all the lovely townspeople that combined to make The Cranberry Inn a heartwarming and satisfying read.

Although you have a good idea where this story is going to end up, the journey is a wonderful one, and I enjoyed every moment of it. I loved the way the author didn’t rush the romance or make it schmaltzy. I loved the way Laurel’s priority is always her son, Simon, and the way she considers his feelings and how he is going to see things. I love this author’s easy to read writing style and will definitely be looking for more of her titles.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheCranberryInn #NetGalley

I: @barbara_josselsohn_author @bookouture

T: @barbarajoss @Bookouture

#christmasfiction #contemporaryfiction #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Barbara Josselsohn grew up on Long Island and lived for several years in her beloved New York City before moving to the northern suburbs. She began her career as a business journalist and then turned her attention to her first love, fiction. Barbara teaches writing at the Sarah Lawrence Writing Institute and other venues, and is the founder and coordinator of the Scarsdale Library Writers Center, which supports and promotes local writers. She and her husband live in Westchester, N.Y., and have three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn 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

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

EXCERPT: ‘We haven’t devoted much time to the matchmaking since we all retired, so we might be a little rusty,’ Ina Mae reminded her. ‘With all this new technological stuff on the internet, our old-fashioned ways might be water under the bridge. But maybe it’s like riding a bicycle. How many thirty to thirty-five year old bachelors are left in Newton County?’

‘Not many that we’d have in our family,’ Gussie answered, ‘but did you notice that Luke held Sissy’s hand a little longer than necessary this morning? I think I saw a few sparks.’

‘No, no, no!’ Ina Mae shook her head. ‘He’s a preacher. You know how Blanche felt about being a preacher’s daughter. If Sissy and Luke had kids-‘ she shuddered.

‘What’s wrong with that?’ Gussie asked. ‘Things are different even for preacher’s kids in today’s world. Just think of it as our greatest challenge, and besides, times have changed. Preachers aren’t as strict as they used to be when we were kids. I saw Luke playing basketball in the church fellowship hall last weekend when we were cleaning the church. He was in there with a bunch of teenagers, and he wasn’t wearing a shirt.’ She fanned herself with her hand. ‘And honey, he would make any woman swoon.’

Ina Mae shook her head again. ‘I don’t care if seeing him without a shirt would make Sissy’s underbritches crawl down around her ankles. Think of someone else.’

ABOUT ‘THE SUNSHINE CLUB’: Gussie, Ina Mae, and Blanche have been best friends for more than sixty years. From their humble beginnings of founding the Sunshine Club when they were girls to becoming the matchmaking queens of Newton, Texas, these three were inseparable. When Blanche passes away, Gussie and Ina Mae feel the best way to honor their dearly departed is with a shot of whiskey, some good music, and making a match for Blanche’s niece, Sissy.

Never mind that Sissy’s in town for only six weeks. Is there a better reason for her to stay? And is there a better prospect than handsome, charming, blue-eyed local preacher Luke Beauchamp? No and no. The attraction is already there. Now it’s up to Gussie and Ina Mae to make sure the sparks really get to crackling by Christmas.

The Sunshine Club is back in business. Don’t underestimate two feisty women who have their hearts set on a happy ending.

MY THOUGHTS: I just loved the characters in The Sunshine Club. Ina Mae and Gussie have the warmest hearts with just a little wickedness mixed in, and oh boy! Do they ever like to meddle! Of course, they class it as ‘helping’, and right now they are ‘helping’ Blanche’s niece Sissy, come to terms with the loss of her beloved aunt, the last of her family. And if it takes a bit of meddling to get Sissy to stick around a bit longer than she planned (read: permanently) then who are they to blanche (sorry, pun intended) at the job.

The Sunshine Club is an easy to read heartwarming story of friendship and the power of love. The characters are full of fun and sass, and I loved the stories of what the three Sunshine Club members got up to through the years. I loved the way Ina Mae and Gussie support Sissy in her grief, and she does the same for them. I also love how Sissy manages to turn the table on the two women in the matchmaking stakes!

There’s a few tears in this read, but a whole lot more smiles and giggles. Overall, the moral of this story is that people don’t have to be blood relations to be family. Family is in the heart.

P.s. make sure you read the author’s note on where she got the idea for this story. It’s a nice little footnote.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheSunshineClub #NetGalley

I: @carolynbrownbooks #montlake

T: @thecarolynbrown #Montlake

#christmasfiction #christianfiction #contemporaryfiction #romance #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.

I got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown 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 . . .

Two weeks until Christmas. I have wrapped the presents this morning and made out my shopping list for tomorrow so that all I will have to do in the days leading up to Christmas is pick up fresh fruit and cream. We are spending Christmas Day with my cousins who would otherwise also be on their own as it’s the year that their children and grandchildren go to their partners families. We are having Boxing Day with Dustin and Luke. Lucky boy gets two Christmas Days!

With all the excitement of Bathurst last weekend, I forgot to mention where I’d been on my reading travels: Currently I am in London and Glasgow. I have been to Mapleton, a small village on the outskirts of Stoke-on-trent; Arthurville in the western plains of NSW, Australia; Cornwall; Gosford and the NSW central coast; Stillwater, Minnesota; Lily Dale, NY State; Derby in the Kimberly region of western Australia; Newton, Texas; the Sierra Nevada mountains in California; Brighton, Whitby and Roedean in England in the mid-1960s; and Hull in east Yorkshire. Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Currently I am reading The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay, and I must say it’s very good. This is the 13th book of the series, but the first that I have read, and I am having no trouble whatsoever with the characters or backstories.

I am listening to The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees. I am 80% through and still don’t know what is going on. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes!

This week I am planning to read/listen to Why She Left by Leah Mercer

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?

And The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn

As

twinkling lights go up and snowflakes begin to fall, Laurel Hanover and her eight-year-old son are going home to the Cranberry Inn in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Laurel can’t wait to leave New York behind to help her father run the family business, and make snow angels with her son, even if it’s just for Christmas. But when she walks through the door, she’s shocked to find the inn in disrepair, and a letter saying her father will be gone until Christmas Eve…

No one in town knows where Laurel’s father is, and she doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry – but she won’t let the inn go under, and nothing will get in the way of the perfect Christmas for her son. Seeing the worn-out wooden bannisters, bare of festive lights, she immediately recruits her childhood friend, brooding local carpenter Joel Hutcherson. They might disagree on whether any walls actually need to come down, but each rip in the carpet makes Laurel more concerned for her father, and Joel is a welcome distraction. And when he admits that Laurel was his first crush, she realises she’s falling for him.

But then Laurel uncovers a card with beautiful, ornate writing amongst her father’s things and learns the real reason he disappeared. And it changes everything. Worse still, she thinks Joel knew the truth all along.

I will also be participating in a cover reveal for Remember the Butterfly by Rebecca Marsh on Wednesday 15th December, so please do watch for that.

This week I have received one audiobook ARC, and three digital ARCs. They are: the audiobook of Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller

The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

And Bride For a Day by Carolyn Brown

Do you have any of these on your reading radar?

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. ❤📚🎄☃️🎅

A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch

EXCERPT: The room had been built out of that thick grey stone, the doorway opening out onto a wide spacious room that nonetheless felt quite dark; instead of the large casement windows overlooking the grounds that the downstairs rooms had, the exterior wall here, in the older part of the house, had a row of small windows hung with thick tapestry curtains, which blocked out the weak sunlight. An internal wall had been added to partition off what I assumed was an en-suite bathroom or dressing room. It was painted a rich dark red – blood red, I thought. The floor was more of the grey stone, but covered in a thick rug that felt soft and warm underfoot. The overall effect was surprisingly warm and cosy, a perfect romantic winter retreat – but for the shape of the body on the beautifully carved wooden four poster bed.

ABOUT ‘A CORNISH CHRISTMAS MURDER’: A PINCH OF PARANOIA
It’s three days before Christmas, and detective-turned-chef Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is drafted in to cater a charity event run by a notorious millionaire at a 13th-century abbey on Bodmin Moor.

A DASH OF DECEPTION
Things get more complicated when a snowstorm descends, stranding them all, and the next morning they find one of the guests has been gruesomely murdered in their bed…

A MURDER UNDER THE MISTLETOE
Secrets mull like wine on the stove in every corner – can Jodie solve the crime before the killer strikes again?

MY THOUGHTS: Three nights before Christmas, and all through the house, nothing is stirring – except for a murderer.

Although I had not read any of the three previous books – something I intend to remedy immediately – I soon felt like I knew these characters well. Jodie just can’t keep her nose out of other people’s business, and it seems that it’s a family trait thirteen year old Daisy has inherited. Jodie’s mother Shirley is a menace; she has absolutely no filter and eats all the biscuits. Friend Debbie an ex-nurse, along to help with the catering, finds herself assisting in a murder enquiry. These four form an irascible bunch, and a formidable one. But wait! I’m forgetting Germaine, an adorable Pomeranian who completes the troupe. Yes, there are references to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five made.

The story flows freely with a good cast of supporting characters, none of whom seem to have any sort of motive for killing the obese Santa impersonator. There are plenty of red herrings to keep the reader entertained, and the story is written with well judged humor and wit.

The setting is a magnificent and atmospheric old abbey in the throes of being converted into a luxury hotel. It boasts a ghost, secret rooms and passages, a wonderful library or two, and a whole heap of history.

This is a fun entertaining read, and I can’t wait to read more in this series. And the bonus: a lovely Christmas recipe is provided at the end. I’ve never made my own Christmas mince pies, but I am tempted to give these a try.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.7

#ACornishChristmasMurder #NetGalley

I: @leitchfiona @onemorechapterhc

T: @fkleitch @OneMoreChapter

#christmasfiction #contemporaryfiction #cookbook #cozymystery #detectivefiction #domesticdrama #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch 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