Friday Favorite – Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

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.

I am currently reading Broken Bones by Angela Marsons, #7 in the DI. Stone series, and newly published just this week. It is not often that an author can maintain their focus and momentum through a series of seven books, but Marsons has done just that.

So while I am up in the middle of the New Zealand night devouring Marsons latest offering, I thought I would introduce you to the first in the series, Silent Scream.

WARNING: Unless you are planning on a sleepless night, don’t start this when you are going to bed, otherwise you will find yourself doing as I am, sitting up all night reading because you are going to read just one more chapter before you turn out the light. ..

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons
Silent Scream (D.I. Kim Stone, #1) 
by Angela Marsons (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT:
PROLOGUE
Rowley Regis, Black Country, 2004
Five figures formed a pentagram around a freshly dug mound.
Only they knew it was a grave.
Digging the frozen earth beneath the layers of ice and snow had been like trying to carve stone but they’d taken turns.
All of them.
An adult-sized hole would have taken longer.
The shovel had passed from grip to grip. Some were hesitant, tentative. Others more assured. No one resisted and no one spoke.
The innocence of the life taken was known to them all but the pact had been made.
Their secrets would be buried.
Five heads bowed towards the dirt, visualising the body beneath soil that already glistened with fresh ice. As the first flakes dusted the top of the grave, a shudder threaded through the group. The five figures dispersed, their footprints treading the trail of a star into the fresh, crisp snow.
It was done.

THE BLURB: Even the darkest secrets can’t stay buried forever…

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …
Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.

But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

As the body count rises, Kim needs to stop the murderer before they strike again. But to catch the killer, can Kim confront the demons of her own past before it’s too late?

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Val McDermid and Mark Billingham will be gripped by this exceptional new voice in British crime fiction.

Watch out for more from D.I. Kim Stone
A Detective hiding dark secrets, Kim Stone will stop at nothing to protect the innocent. Silent Scream is the first book in the series – watch out for EVIL GAMES coming soon.

MY THOUGHTS: The cover states that this is an edge of the seat serial killer thriller – and yes, it does deliver what it promises!
A headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.
Then human remains are discovered buried in the grounds of a former children’s home, threatening to bring to light a legacy of disturbing secrets.
How far will the killer go to protect these secrets?
The characters, some of whom are quite horrifying, are all well portrayed and well rounded.
This book had me gasping in shock, then shedding tears at moments of extreme compassion and tenderness.
Strongly recommended. But beware – this book is almost impossible to put down.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Silent Scream by Angela Marsons 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 my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1180418128

Bloodline by Mark Billingham

Bloodline by Mark Billingham
Bloodline (Tom Thorne, #8) 
by Mark Billingham

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The woman was face down, arms by her sides. Her shirt had been lifted, or had ridden up, showing purplish patches on her skin just above her waist where the liver mortis had started and revealing that her bra had not been removed.

“Something, I suppose,” said a female CSI as she walked past.

Thorne raised his eyes from the body and looked towards the single window. There were plates and mugs on the draining board next to the sink. A light was flashing on the front of the washing machine to let somebody know that the cycle had finished.

There was still a trace of normality.

THE BLURB: DI Tom Thorne is back…

It seems like a straightforward domestic murder until a bloodstained sliver of X-ray is found clutched in the dead woman’s fist – and it quickly becomes clear that this case is anything but ordinary.

Thorne discovers that the victim’s mother had herself been murdered fifteen years before by infamous serial killer Raymond Garvey. The hunt to catch Garvey was one of the biggest in the history of the Met, and ended with seven women dead.

When more bodies and more fragments of X-ray are discovered, Thorne has a macabre jigsaw to piece together until the horrifying picture finally emerges. A killer is targeting the children of Raymond Garvey’s victims.

Thorne must move quickly to protect those still on the murderer’s list, but nothing and nobody are what they seem. Not when Thorne is dealing with one of the most twisted killers he has ever hunted…

A chilling, relentlessly paced thriller, Bloodline is the most gripping Tom Thorne novel yet.

MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely agree with the final sentence in the blurb. Bloodline is chilling. The pace is relentless. And this is the most gripping of the Tom Thorne series yet.

The killer is twisted, and very clever. He has laid his plans and prepared his ground meticulously. He leaves a trail for the police to follow, and he sits back and waits…

Meanwhile, Thorne is dealing with a personal crisis, or perhaps not dealing with it might be more accurate.

Billingham’s characters are ordinary people. They have likes and dislikes, bills to pay, meals to plan, children to get to school. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy Billingham’s books so much. These people could be your neighbors, your friends, could even be you.

I like the matter of fact way Billingham writes, and his little injections of black humor.

An exciting and thrilling read. Although these are best read in order of the series to gain the most out of the character development, Bloodline will work as a stand alone book. 4.5☆

Bloodline was narrated by Paul Thornley and I listened to the audio version via OverDrive. 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 my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/942705195

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
In the Midst of Winter 
by Isabel Allende (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Richard Bowmaster was Lucia’s boss at New York University where she had a one year contract as a visiting professor. Once the semester was over, her life was a blank slate: she would need another job and somewhere else to live while she decided on her long term future. Sooner or later she would return to end her days in Chile, but that was still quite a way off. And since her daughter, Daniela, had moved to Miami to study marine biology, and was possibly in love and planning to stay, there was nothing to draw Lucia back to her home country. She intended to enjoy her remaining years of good health before she was defeated by decreptitude. She wanted to live abroad, where the daily challenges kept her mind occupied and her heart in relative calm, because in Chile she was crushed by the weight of the familiar, its routines and limitations. Back there she felt she was condemned to be a lonely old woman besieged by pointless memories; in another country, there could be surprises and opportunities.

THE BLURB: In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

MY THOUGHTS: What happened to Allende’s beautiful lyrical writing? It is MIA in In the Midst of Winter. I think I only stopped twice to roll a passage of the text around my mind and my mouth. The writing felt flat, unlike the previous books by this author which I really enjoyed.

I found this story quite depressing, both in its characters and the plot, both of which frequently left me feeling annoyed.

The story is mainly told about the three central characters, Lucia, Evelyn and Richard and over several different timelines, past and present. This doesn’t flow seamlessly and I found myself getting irritated by the constant tooing and froing. It was like a film that has been badly spliced. Disjointed.

I was disappointed. But perhaps she was just having a bad year. I may just reread The Japanese Lover to banish this from my mind. Definitely not what I have come to love and expect from this usually brilliant author.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende. 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 my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2172368567

The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams

The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams
The Secret, Book and Scone Society 
by Ellery Adams (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by
EXCERPT: I read all the time. And I listen to people. I really listen…Stories don’t change much across continents and centuries. Hearts are broken. Pride is wounded. Souls wander too far from home and become lost. The wrong roads are taken. The incorrect choice is made. Stories echo with loneliness. Grief. Longing. Redemption. Forgiveness. Hope. And love.

THE BLURB: From New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams comes the first in an intriguing new series set within a quirky small-town club where the key to happiness, friendship—or solving a murder—can all be found within the pages of the right book . . .

Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is a place of healing. Strangers flock here hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.

When a visiting businessman reaches out to Nora for guidance, she knows exactly which novels will help. But before he can keep their appointment at Miracle Books, he’s found dead on the train tracks.

Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to gain trust and earn redemption by helping others. To join the society, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place.

Determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cramped and cozy bookstore to share stories and trade support. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I finished The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams last night and I am still undecided. I liked the book. I didn’t love it, but I wanted to. It was just a little bit too ‘twee’, too saccharine. And yet I love the work of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, to which this has been compared.

I loved the concept of the book, that the right selection of books can soothe our souls, that we can take from books things that will improve our lives, that we can learn great lessons from what we read. I believe that no man is an island, that our friends are our greatest assets. I believe all this. So why didn’t The Secret, Book and Scone Society work for me? After pondering for almost 24 hours, I am none the wiser.

Perhaps Nora could recommend some books to sort me out.

3.5☆ I believe that this is the first installment of a planned series. I could be tempted to read the next book.

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams 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 my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2167216850

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo

Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo
Reviewed by
Nov 02, 2017  
EXCERPT: I haven’t seen or heard from Joseph King in twenty years, but I heard the stories. Not only from the Amish, but from law enforcement as well. Evidently, King was a troubled man with a marriage on the rocks, a litter of kids he didn’t want, and a loose interpretation of his marital vows.

I vividly recall the day I learned his wife had been found dead—and Joseph was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. I couldn’t believe the kid I’d known—the one with the toothy grin and big laugh—could do something so horrific. But no one knows better than me how profoundly life can change people—and that too often those changes are not for the best.

I’d wanted to talk to him, ask him myself if he’d done it. But I knew it was only that tiny part of my heart that remembered what it was like to be thirteen years old and in the throes of my first crush. The part of me that was loyal to a fault and still believed people were fundamentally good. I never went to see him.

I did, however, follow the investigation and trial. Joseph King, his wife, and their five children lived on a small farm near Middlefield, Ohio, which is about two hours northeast of Painters Mill. The night of the murder, King claimed to have gone fishing on Lake Erie. Since his destination was too far to travel via buggy, he’d paid a local Yoder toter to drive him to a cabin. During the night, someone walked into his unlocked home, picked up his shotgun, and shot his wife in her bed while their five children slept across the hall. Come morning, the children discovered their mother’s body. Two days later, Joseph was arrested and charged with murder.

THE BLURB: In this electrifying new thriller in the New York Times bestselling series, a convicted murderer is on the run and Chief of Police Kate Burkholder must catch him before he strikes again.

Eight years ago Joseph King was convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to life in prison. He was a “fallen” Amish man and, according to local law enforcement, a known drug user with a violent temper. Now King has escaped, and he’s headed for Painters Mill.

News of a murderer on the loose travels like wildfire and putting Chief of Police Kate Burkholder and her team of officers on edge. A nightmare scenario becomes reality when King shows up with a gun and kidnaps his five children from their Amish uncle’s house. He’s armed and desperate with nothing left to lose.

Fearing for the safety of the children, Kate leaps into action, but her frantic search for a killer leads her into an ambush. When King releases her unharmed, asking her to prove his innocence, she begins to wonder whether the police are hiding something, and she embarks on her own investigation to discover the truth.

MY THOUGHTS: I hadn’t read a Linda Castillo book in a while, so I was excited to find Down a Dark Road in the audio section of my library service. Her books, and I admit to only having read some of her Kate Burkholder series and out of order at that, are fast paced, gripping and realistic.

There is a great blend of police procedure with Kate’s personal life. I particularly like the way she still has respect for the Amish way of life, although she has left it behind, and the conflict she feels about the lack of relationship with her brother and sister and their families, who have remained in the Amish community.

In Down A Dark Road, Kate follows her heart rather than her head, putting her position as Chief of Police in jeopardy. We get to take a look at her childhood through flashbacks, and we learn a lot more about what makes Kate the woman she is.

An extremely satisfying reading/listening experience.

I listened to the audio version of Down a Dark Road by Linda Castillo, narrated by Kathleen McInerney, via OverDrive. 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 my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1997736515

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything 
by Nicola Yoon (Goodreads Author)David Yoon (Illustrations)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: I’VE READ MANY more books than you. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve read. I’ve read more. Believe me. I’ve had the time.

In my white room, against my white walls, on my glistening white bookshelves, book spines provide the only color. The books are all brand-new hardcovers—no germy secondhand softcovers for me. They come to me from Outside, decontaminated and vacuum-sealed in plastic wrap. I would like to see the machine that does this. I imagine each book traveling on a white conveyor belt toward rectangular white stations where robotic white arms dust, scrape, spray, and otherwise sterilize it until it’s finally deemed clean enough to come to me. When a new book arrives, my first task is to remove the wrapping, a process that involves scissors and more than one broken nail. My second task is to write my name on the inside front cover.

In my white room, against my white walls, on my glistening white bookshelves, book spines provide the only color.

PROPERTY OF: Madeline Whittier

I don’t know why I do this. There’s no one else here except my mother, who never reads, and my nurse, Carla, who has no time to read because she spends all her time watching me breathe. I rarely have visitors, and so there’s no one to lend my books to. There’s no one who needs reminding that the forgotten book on his or her shelf belongs to me.

REWARD IF FOUND (Check all that apply):

This is the section that takes me the longest time, and I vary it with each book. Sometimes the rewards are fanciful:

Picnic with me (Madeline) in a pollen-filled field of poppies, lilies, and endless man-in-the-moon marigolds under a clear blue summer sky.
Drink tea with me (Madeline) in a lighthouse in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of a hurricane.
Snorkel with me (Madeline) off Molokini to spot the Hawaiian state fish— the humuhumunukunukuapuaa.

THE BLURB: My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

MY THOUGHTS: I have read a surprising number of young adult books recently, some of them better than others. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon definitely falls into the better category. I found the premise for the plot interesting, probably because I have hermit tendencies. But if you were a teenager, and you had no option?

I was expecting a sullen, resentful teenager. I am sure I would have been. Instead what I got was a remarkably well adjusted, if a little wistful, young woman who lived for her books, her education, her mother, and her nurse, Carla. And then Olly came into her life. ..

I listened to Everything, Everything in one sitting. It is a book about making the best of what you have, but also of never giving up hope, of first love, loyalty and realising your dreams. It is heartwarming and heartbreaking. And it has this ‘WHAT!?!’ moment that caused my jaw to drop, and made me rewind a little to make sure I had heard correctly.

The audio version of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon was narrated by Bahni Turpin and Robbie Daymond. 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/2168091542

The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Seven Days of Us 
by Francesca Hornak (Goodreads Author)

EXCERPT: Here it was, the voice he had been half dreading, half expecting. He thought back to that sultry night in Beirut 1980, the one he had tried to convince himself had never happened. And then he thought of the strange little letter that Leila Deeba had written him eighteen months ago, which had been forwarded from The World’s offices. He still had it, hidden from Emma. ‘My late birth mother was …’ So the glorious, firm-bodied woman he had fucked between hotel sheets was dead. He stood up and stared out of the rain-flecked window. ‘Frosty the Snowman’ came floating up from the basement kitchen. How had he reached an age when a woman he had slept with could be dead – and it wasn’t even remarkable? It was a bleak train of thought, and he forced himself back to the present. What, if anything, ought he to reply to this man? And, more to the point, what on earth was he going to tell Emma?

THE BLURB: A warm, wry, sharply observed debut novel about what happens when a family is forced to spend a week together in quarantine over the holidays…

It’s Christmas, and for the first time in years the entire Birch family will be under one roof. Even Emma and Andrew’s elder daughter—who is usually off saving the world—will be joining them at Weyfield Hall, their aging country estate. But Olivia, a doctor, is only coming home because she has to. Having just returned from treating an epidemic abroad, she’s been told she must stay in quarantine for a week…and so too should her family.

For the next seven days, the Birches are locked down, cut off from the rest of humanity—and even decent Wi-Fi—and forced into each other’s orbits. Younger, unabashedly frivolous daughter Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding, while Olivia deals with the culture shock of being immersed in first-world problems.

As Andrew sequesters himself in his study writing scathing restaurant reviews and remembering his glory days as a war correspondent, Emma hides a secret that will turn the whole family upside down.

In close proximity, not much can stay hidden for long, and as revelations and long-held tensions come to light, nothing is more shocking than the unexpected guest who’s about to arrive…

MY THOUGHTS: Written in short chapters, alternating between the members of the Birch family and their unexpected guest, who finds himself in a situation he could never have imagined, this is an emotional and sometimes amusing story of a family forced to spend seven days sequestered together cut off from the outside world.

Previously the author of two non-fiction books and numerous newspaper and magazine articles, this is Hornak’s first foray into the world of the fictional novel. And it is an impressive foray. She displays a great descriptive turn of phrase, describing age spotted mirrors as being like over-ripe bananas. She also has a good understanding of family dynamics and a talent for conveying them, realistically, into words. You will grow to both love and detest her characters, you will want to hug them and slap some sense into them.

This is not a book that is going to set the world on fire. It is a book that is a quietly satisfying read and should be read with a supply of tissues within easy reach.

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak is due to be published 31st October 2017.

Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak 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 my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2160249104

Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft

Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft
Silent Lies 
by Kathryn Croft (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Who…who are you?’

‘Exactly who I said I was. I just didn’t mention that I know who you are, or that I’m here to tell you your husband didn’t kill himself.’

THE BLURB: ‘Your husband didn’t kill himself.’
Five years rebuilding your life. Five words will destroy it again.

Mia Hamilton lived the perfect life with her husband, university teacher Zach, and their two-year-old daughter, Freya. But everything changed when Zach committed suicide on the same night one of his students, Josie Carpenter, vanished.

Five years later, and Josie is still missing but Mia has finally found some happiness with new boyfriend Will.

Until one day when stranger Alison walks into her life and tells Mia that her husband didn’t kill himself.

Desperate to find out what really happened to Zach, Mia is forced to put her trust in Alison. But she soon discovers that Alison has her own agenda behind exposing the details of Zach’s death. Can Mia really believe anything Alison says?

Mia must decide how far she is willing to go to uncover the truth – even if she risks losing everything she loves.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘How do you know who to trust?’ This is the question that is the crux of Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft. And after reading this, I don’t know that I am ever again going to believe anything I am told that I haven’t seen with my own eyes.

Silent Lies is told from the viewpoints of Mia and Josie over two different timelines that gradually merge. There are more twists and turns than is likely to be found in a plateful of spaghetti. All the way through, I was wondering why……..why Mia was taking such risks, why she couldn’t just settle down with Will and be happy, why she couldn’t look to the future instead of the past, why she was listening to Alison who was manipulative and scheming?

All my questions were answered in an absolutely unexpected ending.

If you are looking for a gripping psychological thriller, I can recommend Silent Lies.

Thank you to Bookouture via NetGalley for providing a digital copy of Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft 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 my https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2141504402?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1 and on Twitter @SandraFayJones2

Friday Favorite- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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.

How did I ever get to the age I am without ever having read Neil Gaiman? I did not discover his books until 2014 when The Ocean at the End of the Lane was selected for one of my Goodreads.com group reads. I can’t remember now which group it was  (probably Reading For Pleasure if I had to guess) or who nominated it, but to whomever it was I offer a whole- hearted ‘Thank you.’

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane 
by Neil Gaiman (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: It was only a duckpond, out at the back of the farm. It wasn’t very big.

Lettie Hempstock said it was an ocean, but I knew that was silly. She said they’d come here across the ocean from the old country.

Her mother said that Lettie didn’t remember properly, and it was a long time ago, and anyway, the old country had sunk.

Old Mrs Hempstock, Lettie’s grandmother, said they were both wrong, and that the place that had sunk wasn’t the really old country. She said she could remember the really old country.

She said the really old country had blown up.

THE BLURB: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

MY THOUGHTS: This book won a multitude of awards. All of them deserved.

I don’t understand how I had never read Neil Gaiman before. This was my first ‘outing’ with this author, but it was not my last. I have bought some of his books for my grandson, and this is the next one I will be purchasing for him.

I just love this book. It is so,so lovely but scary too.

I love the quotes from Lewis Carroll scattered throughout.

Sensitive horror/fantasy? You better believe it!

Even the way he has written the acknowledgements at the end is interesting. A true master of his craft.

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/1020144026

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