Tangle by Meg Elizabeth Atkins

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EXCERPT: … on a bitter day in January, darkness came early to Avenridge, and finally to Mildred Hewitt. When the manner of her death became known, it sent shock waves through the town; there was gossip, speculation, bewilderment. Mildred Hewitt was a widow of excellent reputation and social prominence, strenuous in charitable work, a devoted mother, a scrupulous businesswoman, and a nerve-wracking snob. The name of Hewitt stood well in Avenridge, they had lived there for four generations, establishing their business – Hewitt’s High Class Printers – going about their respectable, mundane affairs, consolidating their modest fortune. Mildred Hewitt’s pride in them, in her status, gave her charm its ruthless quality and set an edge of arrogance to her general resolution.

But Mildred Hewitt had a secret, and it was because of the secret that she died.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Arnold Peabody dies, nobody but his grasping cousin Edith takes much notice.

A quiet, ineffectual little man, he was lost following the death of his domineering mother — and took his own life shortly after her demise.

The death of Mildred Hewitt, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.

A pillar of society and formidable matriarch in Avenridge, Mildred falls to her death from a local beauty spot one snowy night a few weeks after Arnold’s death.

Like Arnold, her son Gilbert is helpless without the commanding presence of his mother…but Gilbert goes even more spectacularly off the rails.

Puffed up with his own sense of self-importance and twisted sense of reality, Gilbert is entirely incapable of life on his own.

He decides, as Arnold had done, to visit a local medium in the hope of obtaining some contact with his mother from beyond the grave — something, anything, that will tell him what to do.

There he meets the mysterious Veronica, who quickly becomes his guardian angel…or does she have a more sinister motivation for inserting herself into Gilbert’s life?

Chief Inspector Henry Beaumont, a frequent visitor to Avenridge since his years there as an evacuee, finds himself increasingly involved in the Hewitt case — which smells of murder.

The case of Arnold Peabody, and its similarity to the Hewitt case, flickers at the back of his mind and Henry begins to wonder if the two deaths are not connected.

Incidents from his childhood, blurred by time, return to haunt him as Gilbert spirals into madness, stirring up memories of old scandals and bringing long-forgotten people back into play.

As Henry unpeels layer upon layer of old scandal and undreamed-of connections, Veronica becomes ever more elusive, leading him to wonder if he can find her before tragedy strikes yet again…

MY THOUGHTS: It took me a little to get into this book. At first it appeared pretentious, but soon the machinations of the characters and the nature of the mystery had me engrossed.

Set in the early 1970’s, before mobile phones and computers, it all now seems a little old-world, and it seemed to me that it could have been set much earlier than that. Even the characters seem a little old fashioned, a little more old world than I would have expected for this time period. It could easily have been set in the 1950’s, or even earlier. But in no way is this a criticism.

The author has taken time to develop her characters into a very interesting bunch. My particular favorite is Emmeline …’Emmeline’s pullover was on inside out and she had lost the buttons of her shirt sleeves. Or someone’s shirt, it was far too big for her and could have been one of her father’s. …It simply doesn’t occur to her she might look as if she’s just cleaned out the cellar.’ A little fey, a lot unconventional, Emmeline shines.

An intriguing mystery peppered with interesting characters. I will be reading more by this author.

😍😍😍😍

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Meg Elizabeth Atkins has won many plaudits for her fiction on both sides of the Atlantic, and reviewers have compared her to Elizabeth Bowen and Barbara Pym for the elegance of her writing. In several of her earlier novels, such as Samain, Palimpsest and Tangle, she has explored the disturbing undercurrents beneath the polite surface of English middle-class life, and in Cruel as the Grave forces erupt through the repression and containment of daily existence with violent consequences.

Meg Elizabeth Atkins lives with her husband in a North Yorkshire village. She teaches creative writing and her other books include By The North Door, Cruel As The Grave and Samain.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Endeavour Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Tangle by Meg Elizabeth Atkins for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday/wordpess.com This review and others also appear on Twitter, Amazon, and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1717003739?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

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The Verdict by Olivia Isaac-Henry

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EXCERPT: ‘Julia Winter?’ the woman says.

I stand up. The whole office stops and looks at me.

“You are Julia Winter?’

‘Yes,’ I say.

The female officer steps forward. ‘I am arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Brandon Wells. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence of you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. Do you understand?’

No one moves. The office stands silent.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A cheating wife. An estranged mother. But is she guilty of murder?
Please raise your right hand.
An affair at work has cost Julia Winter her job and her marriage. There’s no denying she has let her family down.

Please remain standing.
When a body is discovered on the North Downs, it hits local headlines. But for Julia, the news is doubly shocking because the body was buried just opposite the house she lived in over twenty years ago. And it is one of her former housemates.

Please resume your seat.

Up on the stand, Julia’s not the only person to have secrets that are unearthed during the trial. But the evidence against her is overwhelming.

And yet one question remains: is she the murderer, or the victim?

Jurors, you may be excused.

Readers, what is your verdict?

MY THOUGHTS: Interesting premise, and I enjoyed the read with one or two reservations.

Firstly, the timelines, multiple…. too many. It got quite confusing even though each chapter was headed with the date and location. 1994&5, 2001, 2017&18. This is one book that may have been better served by the story being told in a simpler timeline rather than one which jumped about all over the place.

There was a noticeable lack of suspense…and that is a biggie for me.

None of the characters were particularly likeable, but they were mostly interesting. My favourite was definitely Genevieve D’Auncey, who claimed to be a classically trained actress, but who is rumoured to have been a ‘hostess’. She is still mourning the loss of her son, although she refuses to acknowledge his death. She is mysterious about everything, believing that it makes her more interesting, and invents dramas to fill her time and attract attention. She dresses flamboyantly, and affects mannerisms to match. Her sister Ruth, while lacking the mannerisms, hairpiece and flamboyant clothes, is very much a watered down version of Genevieve (real name Jennifer Pike), but has hidden depths.

Brandon is a thoroughly unlikable wastrel, who uses other people for his own gain. Alan is a nasty little, backstabbing wimp. And Gideon is a chameleon, one of those people who fit in anywhere, blending in, making friends.

And Julia? Is she the bad mother who screwed around behind her husband’s back, a hard-nosed career woman more concerned with climbing the corporate ladder than caring for her husband? Or is she someone being swept along by events that she doesn’t have the skills or confidence to control?

My favourite quote: A second marriage is a triumph of stupidity, not hope.

***.75

THE AUTHOR: In addition to writing novels, Olivia Isaac-Henry is a crime drama lover, occasional keyboard player, and backing vocalist in the band The Protaganist. She grew up in Worcestershire but now lives in London, where she loves the theatres, food markets and festivals.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Impulse and Killer Reads via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Verdict by Olivia Isaac-Henry for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

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

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2923282912?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

The last of my shelves went up, and the last of my books were unpacked this week. I had a few anxious moments when I thought I had lost a couple of my favourite books, but they were there. It was quite exciting getting them all up on the shelves, revisiting old favourites, rediscovering books I’d forgotten I had. And they only just all fit! My husband grinned and said, ‘Well, that’s it. There’s no room for any more books.’ Silly man. There’s always room for more books!!!🤣😂🤣😂

I managed to fit in an extra read this week-
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I will be publishing my review tomorrow.

I am about to start

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This week I also plan on reading

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With raw, poetic ferocity, Kimberly King Parsons exposes desire’s darkest hollows—those hidden places where most of us are afraid to look. In this debut collection of enormously perceptive and brutally unsentimental short stories, Parsons illuminates the ache of first love, the banality of self-loathing, the scourge of addiction, the myth of marriage, and the magic and inevitable disillusionment of childhood.

Taking us from hot Texas highways to cold family kitchens, from the freedom of pay-by-the-hour motels to the claustrophobia of private school dorms, these stories erupt off the page with a primal howl—sharp-voiced, bitter, and wise. Black Light contains the type of storytelling that resonates somewhere deep, in the well of memory that repudiates nostalgia.

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Round and round she goes, blonde pigtails flying, her high-pitched giggle catching on the wind. But as the ride slows to a stop, her seat is suddenly empty. Little Lucy is gone…

When seven-year-old Lucy Ross is snatched from the carousel in Denton city park, Detective Josie Quinn joins the frantic search. She’s the one who finds Lucy’s sparkly butterfly backpack abandoned by the ticket booth, a note with a devastating message stuffed inside: answer your phone, or your sweet little darling will die…

The next day, Lucy’s parents are filled with hope when they pick up a call which they think is from their babysitter – but instead it’s a chilling male voice on the line. Josie races to the babysitter’s small apartment only to find her lifeless body in a tangle of sheets on her bed.

Josie is faced with the most high-stakes case of her career as each new phone call from someone connected to the family ends with the shocking discovery of another body. This twisted killer wants revenge, and he won’t stop until the Ross family are in pieces…

Something is telling Josie that Lucy’s parents aren’t giving her the whole truth, but digging deeper into their lives will force her to confront a life-changing secret of her own. Does Josie have what it takes to crack this case? She has no choice if she’s going to bring Lucy home alive…

I received five new ARCs from Netgalley this week

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Let me know what new books you have on your radar, and what you are excited about reading.

Happy reading, my friends. 💕😍📚

The Doctor by Lisa Stone

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EXCERPT: It was pitch black outside except for the small light coming from the outbuilding at the very end of their neighbour’s garden. Emily could just make out the slither of light through the tall shrubs and trees that flanked their boundary fence. No moon or stars shone in the cloudladen sky and no wind stirred the foliage. She liked their secluded garden, it had been one of the reasons she and Ben had bought the house, but sometimes it felt just a bit creepy. Especially at night.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: How much do you know about the couple next door?

When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Alisha, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Alisha is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone.

When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger?

MY THOUGHTS: If you have a creepy neighbour, I don’t know if I should recommend you read this book, or not read this book…..

We all want to live forever, don’t we? Well, I don’t, but Dr Burman does. In fact he is fanatical in his quest. It rules his life……

I was prepared not to like this book. There were a few things in the first few pages that kind of annoyed me and I actually put the book down and walked away from it for a couple of days. Then I picked it up again….and found it difficult to put down.

The writing, in places, felt a little unweildly, but the plot is excellent, and for once the blurb was right…there was a twist that I just didn’t see coming. I don’t know that it was entirely necessary, but I didn’t see it coming. Personally I would have ended the book a little earlier than the author does, but that is just me….

All in all an interesting read. And love this cover!

#TheDoctor #NetGalley

🙂🙂🙂.5 stars

THE AUTHOR: I live in England and have three children. I have always been a writer – from when I was at school, with poems and articles in the school magazine. In my teens I began writing short stories, a few radio plays and novels. I finally made it into the bestseller charts with Damaged in 2007 which I wrote under the pseudonym Cathy Glass. Since then I have had 28 books published, many of which have become international bestsellers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to publishers Avon via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Doctor by Lisa Stone for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on my webpage, sandysbookaday/wordpess.com This review and others also appear on Twitter, Amazon and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2860835205

A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards

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EXCERPT: ‘….I’m not coming home. I can’t, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to. I need you to go back to Seabank and take care of the girls until things clear up for me.’

‘You’re kidding.’ I really thought she might be.

‘I don’t want to go into detail. Can’t you just trust me and do it?’

I paused, with no plan to restart until I made sense of her request. Finally I said the only thing that occurred to me. ‘Look, this sounds crazy. You have to tell me more.’

“Great. Thanks a lot.’ For the first time Wendy choked up, as if she was trying not to cry. ‘I’m in Phoenix. Okay? There was a murder last night, and I’m pretty sure the sheriff will think I’m involved. I need to disappear for a while until it’s sorted out. Is that enough to get you moving?’

I tried to rearrange her words into sentences that didn’t catapult our family into an unfamiliar dimension. ‘Murder?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Could a lifetime of memories…be a lifetime of lies?

All her life, Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead, Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.

Now, Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder – and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.

While Wendy lays low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?

Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar – or worse?

MY THOUGHTS: For most of the time I was reading the book I was thinking 3 stars, maybe at a pinch, 3.5. Then 80% into the book, it became 4. A good solid 4 stars.

It is an interesting story. Unlikely….but interesting. A lot of things were very obvious from the start, and so most of the reveals lacked oomph. But I really liked the effort the author put into her characters. Ryan grows enormously as a person throughout the book. Even though I liked her from the start, I liked her a whole lot better by the end. And the end is not entirely predictable…..

It begs the question ‘how well do we know our nearest and dearest?’ and ‘how reliable are our childhood memories?’ Although a little wordy and slow in places, I still enjoyed A Family of Strangers far more than I thought I would when I was 25% through.

****

THE AUTHOR: I’m the author of seventy-something novels, including romance, women’s fiction and mystery. When We Were Sisters debuted in June 2016, a stand alone novel about two foster sisters traveling back into their past together. I loved writing it and love the cover my publisher chose.

I’m also excited about my recent series, Goddesses Anonymous, which started with One Mountain Away and was followed by Somewhere Between Luck and Trust. The third book in the series, A River Too Wide, came out in July 2014. The Color of Light debuted in August 2015. Will there be more? We’ll see.

I’m also putting up my newly edited romance backlist and love re-reading and updating them a bit.

Last year my husband and I moved from Virginia, to Osprey, Florida, the state where both of us were raised, met, and married. In the summer we live in Chautauqua, New York. I’m a quilter, knitter, kayaker, and the mother of four children, whom I regard as my greatest creative endeavors. And now there are four wonderful grandchildren to spoil.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin-Mira (USA & Canada) via Netgalley fro providing a digital copy of A Family of Strangers by Emilie Richards for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

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 Twitter, Amazon and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2769259489?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

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EXCERPT: ‘How far does it go?’

‘Oh, come on Amy. A good game has to go all the way,’ Roux said, and her pink tongue came out for just a moment to touch her pale upper lip. ‘Think back. What’s the worst thing you ever did?’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

MY THOUGHTS: Never Have I Ever…read a book this Diabolically Brilliant!

Never Have I Ever simply seethes with malice, manipulation, secrets, lies, secrets, lies and more secrets and lies. I am gobsmacked. During this read I have repeatedly had the rug pulled out from under my feet. I have been tipped out of my chair, bitch slapped, dunked and royally entertained! I wanted to immerse myself in this book and never come out. Damn, this was good.

Take a bunch of regular women…wives, moms, adjuncts and administrators, professors, librarians and a dive instructor, and add into the mix one usurping stranger. One usurping stranger who exudes an attractive air of danger, who encourages confidences. She plays a dangerous and deadly game, one where only she knows the rules, one where she always wins.

And no matter how bad you may think this woman is, how dangerous, believe me, you have no idea…

This is the second book this year that I have awarded an absolute meteor shower of stars to. Publication date is 8th August. I will be purchasing a hard copy. And reading all Jackson’s back titles. I am in thrall.

Oh yes, and I might even take up scuba diving.

#NeverHaveIEver #Netgalley

💕💖💝💖💕❤💜🧡💛💚💙

THE AUTHOR: New York Times and USA today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson is the author of NEVER HAVE I EVER and eight other books, including gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, three times been a #1 Book Sense Pick, been the Target Book Club Pick, and three times been shortlisted for the Townsend prize. A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of her novels; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, and garnered two Listen Up Awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She lives in Decatur, Georgia with her family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing, Raven Books for providing a digital ARC of Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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 published on Twitter, Amazon, and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2891281858

Watching What I’m Reading…

It has been a wild and stormy weekend here in New Zealand. If you follow Ms. Liz Exploring Colour https://exploringcolour.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/winter-now-in-tapanui/ she has some lovely photos of her weekend. Where I live we had no snow, but we sure can feel it in the air!

Currently I am reading
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and loving it! I need to find more books by this author. She does malice very well indeed! Never Have I Ever is due for publication 8th August.

I am also half way through listening to
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I love MacBride’s writing. The audiobook is excellent.

This week I plan to read
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The perfect life. The perfect love. The perfect lie. From the bestselling author of The Girl Before comes a gripping new psychological thriller. . . .

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . .

And
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I turn to where I left my baby in his pushchair and pull up short. With a racing heart, I look around wildly, fear gripping my stomach. I only looked away for a moment. The pushchair and my baby are gone.

Kelly is taking her twin daughters to their first day of school, ushering them into the classroom, her heartbreaking to think they might not need her anymore when she turns around and sees that her newborn baby is gone.

As a desperate search ensues, baby Noah is quickly found – parked in front of a different classroom. But when Kelly reaches forward to comfort him, she finds something tucked beside his blanket. A locket that belonged to her sister Freya. A locket Kelly hasn’t seen since the day Freya died.

And then Kelly’s perfectly-ordered life begins to unravel…

We Were Sisters is a heart-pounding suspense thriller that will grip you until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train won’t be able to stop reading this incredible book.

I haven’t been very disciplined this week…I have seven ARC approvals from Netgalley

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And one from author Jay Kerk,

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I think I need to line up a few more wet weekends!🤣😂

What I really need to do is learn to control my requesting finger.

Happy reading my friends. 💕😍📚