Slough House by Mick Herron

EXCERPT: The study remained like a showroom in a vacant property – books, chairs, curtains; the shelf with its odd collection of trophies: a glass globe, a hunk of concrete, a lump of metal that had been a Luger; the desk with its sheet of blotting paper, like something out of Dickens, and the letter opener, which was an actual stiletto, and had once belonged to Beria – and if David Cartwright had left secrets in his wake they’d be somewhere in that room, on those shelves, among a billion other words. River didn’t know if he really believed that, but he knew for sure that he didn’t know he didn’t, and if River thought that way others might too, and act upon the possibility. Spook secrets were dangerous to friends and foes alike, and the old man had made plenty of both down the years. He could see one of either breed breaking a lock, finessing a window; could see them working round the study, looking for clues. If that was happening, River needed to stop it. Any trail his dead grandfather had left, no one was going to follow but him.

ABOUT ‘SLOUGH HOUSE’: Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records.

Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening.

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

MY THOUGHTS: I have never read Mick Herron previously, although I had heard a lot of great things about his writing, and they are all true. I am not known for enjoying spy thrillers, but Slough House is not your traditional spy thriller. Its characters are misfits, those who have failed in some way, who the hierarchy would prefer to forget even exist. Slough House could best be described as a halfway house, but the question would be, halfway to where?

There is a lot of dialogue in Slough House, which I usually don’t like, but Herron’s wonderful one-liners had me almost hysterical at times. His dialogue is also clever in other ways. He has used reasonably recent events as a background for the plot in Slough House, although it was completed prior to the advent of Covid, so there’s no reference to social distancing or the pandemic.

Slough House is #7 in the series, so I had no knowledge of any of the characters going into this book, something I intend to remedy. I became quite fond of this bunch of misfits who, although they outwardly show disdain and contempt for one another, have an underlying and undeniable deep loyalty. I need to know how they got to where they are, what has shaped, or misshapen them. They are a fascinating bunch for whom I feel great affection, and therefore I am going to start this series from the beginning. In fact, I am going to read everything this author has written.

Herron writes with wicked imagery, sardonic wit and black humour, which I love. I rank him right up there with Adrian McKinty and Ken Bruen.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#SloughHouse #NetGalley

I: @johnmurrays

T: @johnmurrays

#contemporaryfiction #crime #humour #spythriller

THE AUTHOR: Mick Herron was born in Newcastle and has a degree in English from Balliol College, Oxford. He is the author of seven books in the Slough House series as well as a mystery series set in Oxford featuring Sarah Tucker and/or P.I. Zoë Boehm. He now lives in Oxford and works in London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to John Murray Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Slough House by Mick Herron 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 my webpage

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I have just started reading Beyond the Olive Grove by Kate Hewitt, a consistently good writer whom I enjoy.

I am also reading Slough House by Mick Herron, my first book by this author. I wasn’t too sure to start with, but this is #7 in the Slough House series, and I haven’t read any of the previous books, something I intend to remedy. Now that I have settled into the read, Herron’s writing style is reminiscent of two of my favourite authors, Adrian McKinty and Ken Bruen.

And I am listening to Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece

This week I am planning on reading Sisterhood by V.B. Grey

and The Unwelcome Guest by Amanda Robson

I received 9 new ARCs, plus the audio of The Unwelcome Guest by Amanda Robson, so I will be able to do a read/listen for this. The other ARCs I received are: The Summer We Buried by Jody Gehrman

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

My Daughter’s Mistake by Kate Hewitt

The Perfect Daughter by Kerry Wilkinson

The Woman on the Beach by Julia Roberts

the Couple Upstairs by Shalini Boland

Beyond the Olive Grove by Kate Hewitt, which I am currently reading

and The Selling Point by Marci Bolden

This is #2 in a series, Chsmmont Point, of which I still have the first to read, so I going to try squeeze this in this week. It’s titled The Restarting Point

This week I have spent a lot of time in the Adirondack mountains, both in the present time and during WWII. I have also been in Cincinnati, New York City, and Minnesota in the USA; London, England; and Greece, both in the present time and again during WWII.

Where have you been this week? And did we cross paths at all?

Have a great week everyone. Stay safe and read. ❤📚

Stolen by Tess Stimson

EXCERPT: ‘You know why you’re so frantic to get her back?’ Harriet cries, shaking me off. ‘It’s not because you love her so much, Alex! It’s because you didn’t love her enough! You feel guilty because you never really wanted her! That’s what all this is about!’

I reel as if I’ve been sucker-punched.

It’s because you didn’t love her enough.

Seven words that damn me to hell.

ABOUT ‘STOLEN’: You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

MY THOUGHTS: For future reference: next time I have a Tess Stimson book to read, I will call in sick to work, or take a mental health day. I picked up Stolen and I didn’t want to put it down. I fretted while I was at work, I fumed, I sulked. I did not want to be there. I wanted to be at home with Alex, having my mind tied into knots by all the twists and turns Stimson threw into the plot.

I admit to feeling quite smug. Early on I had an inkling as to who had taken Lottie. I continued to feel smug, secure in the certainty that I was right, until the very end, when I wasn’t.

There is something about a missing child story that strikes fear into the heart of every parent. Put the story in Tess Stimson’s hands, and it immediately becomes a terrifying rollercoaster of a read. Stimson has crafted a story of desperation, fear, and suspicion that had my mind spinning and my heart pounding. It’s complex, twisty, and tense.

The characters are brilliantly depicted. The missing child, Lottie, isn’t at all likeable. She is wilful, stubborn, gluttonous, clever and manipulative. Her mother, Alexa, never wanted a child. She is career oriented, and had left the bulk of the childcare to husband Luca, until his death in the Genoa Bridge collapse. Journalist Quinn, who gets a strange tingling in her spine when she is assigned to cover Lottie’s abduction.

The resolution was highly unexpected, and entertaining. Movie potential.

There are a lot of books out there about missing and abducted children, but nothing that comes close to Stolen.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#Stolen #NetGalley #tessstimsonauthor

I: @tessstimson @avonbooksuk

T: @tessjstimson @AvonBooksUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #mystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: I was born in Surrey, in the south of England, and read English at Oxford University.

​Upon graduating I joined ITN as a news producer.
I reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the
globe, before leaving bullets behind to become
a full-time writer.

​Since then, I’ve written more than a dozen novels, numerous short stories, and two non-fiction books, which have been published internationally and translated into more than twenty languages.

​In recent years, I’ve moved away from writing women’s fiction and towards darker psychological thrillers,
which seem to suit my personality better – make
of that what you will.

​As well as writing fiction I continue to work as
a journalist, and also teach reporting for media and creative writing at a university in the North-Eastern US.

​I live in Vermont with my husband, and am visited intermittently by my three grown-up children whenever they need their laundry done.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Stolen by Tess Stimson 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’re expecting cold weather this week. We don’t often get snow where we live, but it’s on the cards this week!

Currently I am halfway through reading The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker. It’s both chilling and thrilling, and I read the first half in one sitting.

I am also currently reading Mrs March by Virginia Feito, which is fascinating. And now I understand the significance of the cockroach on the cover.

I am listening to All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss. It took me a little to get into, not helped by the fact that Luke must have fiddled with the settings and I was listening to it at 1.5 x normal speed for a while, and so had completely negated the North Carolina accent.

This week I am planning on reading The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

It’s

1927 when Olive McCormick moves from Minneapolis to New York City determined to become a star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Extremely talented as a singer and dancer, it takes every bit of perseverance to finally make it on stage. And once she does, all the glamour and excitement is everything she imagined and more–even worth all the sacrifices she has had to make along the way.

Then she meets Archie Carmichael. Handsome, wealthy–the only man she’s ever met who seems to accept her modern ways–her independent nature and passion for success. But once she accepts his proposal of marriage he starts to change his tune, and Olive must decide if she is willing to reveal a devastating secret and sacrifice the life she loves for the man she loves.

And Slough House by Mick Herron

Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records.

Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening.

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.

But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

Only three new ARCs this week, which is a bit of a relief 😇

Buried Memories by Simon R. Green

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

and the audiobook Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece

On my book travels this week I have been to Hendon, London; North Carolina; Balham, London; St Pete’s Beach in Florida; Devon, England; Sicily; Mt Hood, Oregon; and New York City. Where in the world have you been? Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Have a safe and happy week everyone! ❤📚

Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

EXCERPT: ‘So, what do you think happened, Al?’ L-Plate asked.

I didn’t tell her what I thought because, to be honest, I was scared as much as anything. I was excited, don’t get me wrong, all those professional instincts starting to kick in, but I was . . . wary. Right then, with a body cooling just yards away, it was no more than a feeling and I try to steer clear of those, with good reason. Eighteen months before, I’d had a feeling that the crack-head who’d invited us into his flat on the Mile End Road was harmless. If it hadn’t been for that, there wouldn’t have been any PTSD or any need for the variety of things I poured and snorted and popped into my body to numb that pain. I would not have ended up thinking that the people I loved most in the world were trying to kill me or that strangers could read my mind. I would not have hurt anyone.

ABOUT ‘RABBIT HOLE’: Alice Armitage is a police officer. Or she was.

Or perhaps she just imagines she was.

Whatever the truth is, following a debilitating bout of PTSD, self-medication with drink and drugs, and a psychotic breakdown, Alice is now a long-term patient in an acute psychiatric ward.

When one of her fellow patients is murdered, Alice becomes convinced that she has identified the killer and that she can catch them. Ignored by the police, she begins her own investigation. But when her prime suspect becomes the second victim, Alice’s life begins to unravel still further as she realizes that she cannot trust anyone, least of all herself.

MY THOUGHTS: Mark Billingham is an amazing author. His depiction of Alice Armitage is brilliant, his forays into her mind, scary.

Reading Rabbit Hole was a nostalgic experience for me. It reawakened a lot of memories of patients and incidents from my psychiatric nursing days, some amusing, some not. Billingham has done his research well.

I particularly loved his reference to ‘the seven dwarves of lunacy’ – Angry, Jumpy, Nervy, are the three he named, but let me add Twitchy, Dopey, Spacey, and Deluded to his list. He definitely hasn’t lost his trademark sense of humour, e.g. the Detective Constables who, when she can’t recall their names, Alice dubs French and Saunders. In fact, in Rabbit Hole, Billingham has been able to give his sense of humour free reign. He certainly got plenty of chuckles out of me! Neither do I think naming his main character Alice was a random inclination.

He also has a lot of fun with the nicknames that Alice gives her fellow patients, and I apprecited the run down we got on both them and the staff who care for them.

Billingham uses first person narrative to tell this story. Everything you see, you see from Alice’s perspective. So we are privy to all Alice’s erratic and, at times, manic thoughts, as well as her flashes of lucidity. But, just like Alice, we don’t know what happens when she has her blackouts, or even that they are occurring, which makes for very interesting reading.

Please don’t go into Rabbit Hole expecting a Tom Thorne thriller/police procedural. You will be disappointed. Instead, go into Rabbit Hole with an open mind and be prepared to enjoy a ‘locked room’ murder-mystery set in a (supposedly) secure acute psychiatric ward told from the not always reliable point of view of one of the patients. I had a ball with this read, and I hope that you do too.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#RabbitHole #NetGalley

I: #markbillingham @groveatlantic

T: @MarkBillingham @groveatlantic

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mentalhealth #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham 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 will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

EXCERPT: She looked down at the label on the file.

TENANT, ANDREW TREVOR

The clenched fist kept moving up her throat, every horrific detail she had suppressed over the last twenty three years threatening to choke her.

Callie’s terrifying phone call. Leigh’s frantic drive to reach her. The horrific scene in the kitchen. The familiar smell of the dank house, the cigars and scotch and blood – so much blood.

Leigh had to know for sure. She needed to hear it said out loud. Her teenage voice came out of her mouth when she asked, ‘Trevor?’

The way Andrew’s lips curved up to the left was so chillingly familiar. Leigh felt a tingle of goosebumps prickle her skin. She had been his babysitter, and then, when she was old enough to find real work, she had passed the job on to her baby sister.

‘I go by Andrew now,’ he told her. ‘Tenant is mom’s maiden name. We both thought it would be good to change things up after what happened with dad.’

‘After what happened with dad.’

Buddy Waleski had disappeared. He’d abandoned his wife and son. No note. No apologies. That’s what Leigh and Callie made it look like. That’s what they had told the police. Buddy had done a lot of bad things. He was in debt to a lot of bad people. It made sense. At the time, all of it had made sense.

Andrew seemed to feed off her dawning recognition. His smile softened, the upward curve of his lips slowly smoothing out.

He said, ‘It’s been a long time, Harleigh.’

‘Harleigh.’

Only one person in her life still called her by that name.

Andrew said, ‘I thought you’d forgotten all about me.’

Leigh shook her head. She would never forget him. Trevor Waleski had been a sweet kid. A little awkward. A lot clingy. The last time Leigh had seen him, he had been drugged into oblivion. She had watched her sister gently kiss the top of his head.

Then the two of them had gone back into the kitchen to finish murdering his father.

ABOUT ‘FALSE WITNESS’: AN ORDINARY LIFE

Leigh Coulton has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised – her life is just as unremarkable as she’d always hoped it would be.

HIDES A DEVASTATING PAST

But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average… a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.

BUT NOW THE PAST IS CATCHING UP

Then a case lands on her desk – defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It’s the highest profile case she’s ever been given – a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it’s no coincidence that he’s chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.

AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT

If she can’t get him acquitted, she’ll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Callie, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice…

MY THOUGHTS: A definite thriller that kept me guessing!

Where do I start with this review? Slaughter never fails to surprise me. False Witness is a complicated (I mean that in a positive way) story of abuse on many levels. Paedophilia, alcohol, drug, and parental abuse are all a part of False Witness, as is the Covid-19 pandemic.

I am not going to talk about the plot, because I don’t want to give anything away. I will say, however, that I didn’t much like False Witness to start with, thanks to Ms Slaughter’s realistic and graphic portrayals of drug addicts their habits, of Buddy Waleski and his proclivities. It made me feel dirty, like I wanted to go stand under a hot shower until the water ran out. I didn’t like Callie, although by the time I had finished, I had a sneaking admiration for her. And although she could not resist the siren song of heroin, she was incredibly strong in other ways. As was Harleigh who, although facing a major moral dilemma, put both her daughter’s and her sister’s welfare first.

There are many surprising twists to this story, and the characterisation is wonderful. I particularly liked the elderly vet, teetering on the brink of dementia, that Callie worked for. And despite everything else that occurs in False Witness, the violence and the cruelty, no animals are harmed. Another thing I absolutely loved was Callie’s conversations with and about her cat. Purr genius! (The pun is deliberate.)

False Witness is an intense, dark and gritty read that won’t be for everyone. There were times I doubted that it was for me. And it is overly long, with a fair bit of repetition which, really, wasn’t necessary. It was like the author was taking up a sledgehammer to ram home certain points.

While I can’t say I enjoyed this read, I am glad that I read False Witness. Slaughter is making statements about our society that need to be heard. Not only heard, but taken on board. And not just in America.

Kathleen Early made an excellent job of the narration. She made me forget that I was listening to an audiobook. I felt like I was right in amongst the drama.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#FalseWitness #NetGalley

I: @karinslaughterauthor @blackstonepublishing

T: @SlaughterKarin @BlackstonePubl1

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and PIECES OF HER. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is in development with Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blackstone Publishing – Audiobooks via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of False Witness by Karin Slaughter 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

Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver

EXCERPT: The man identifies himself as the county medical examiner. After we sit, he assumes the same forward-leaning angle as the counsellor. He withdraws two photographs from a file folder, asking me if they are of my wife, Patience Susan Addison. Here, in Martinsville County, Massachusetts, one doesn’t identify the corpse itself by looking at the body in a file cabinet tray, the way it works in TV shows and perhaps other jurisdictions.

The pictures are color printouts, four-by-fives. Maybe they’ve discovered that larger pictures are more likely to ignite hysteria.

I look at the heart-shaped face, her eyes closed, complexion understandably paler than when she was among the living. There are no scars or bruises. She died of a broken neck. A different camera angle would have revealed that, I know.

I regard a second photograph. The tattoo of a ginkgo leaf on her ankle.

‘Yes. That’s her.’

ABOUT ‘CAUSE OF DEATH’: Jon Talbot is a history professor who makes sense of the past by examining facts. He also knows how to speculate about the what-ifs. Jon’s doing both following the death of his wife, Pax. Driving home late from a volunteer assignment, she plunged off a mountain highway and died. The police find nothing suspicious about the facts: a deer in the road, a blown tire, a broken neck. But the what-ifs are leading Jon down a twisting trail of secrets. After five years of marriage, he is finally getting to know his wife.

MY THOUGHTS: Jeffery Deaver has written a gripping short story about a history professor investigating his wife’s death. Unusually for a short story, the main characters are really well fleshed out. Jon Talbot deals with life the same way he teaches history: in microscopic pieces. And he uses the same method to investigate the death of his wife, even though the police have ruled it accidental, when he discovers a few inconsistencies, such as a burner phone. Why would an aid worker need a burner phone?

Cause of Death is gripping, exciting, entertaining and tense. I enjoyed getting to know Jon, and through him, his wife.

A highly recommended one-sitting read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#CauseofDeath #NetGalley

I: @officialjefferydeaver #amazonoriginalstories

T: @JefferyDeaver #AmazonOriginalStories

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #shortstory

THE AUTHOR: Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He has served two terms as president of Mystery Writers of America, and was recently named a Grand Master of MWA, whose ranks include Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Mary Higgins Clark and Walter Mosely.

The author of more than forty novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Original Stories via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver 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, Instagram, Amazon and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I tried to take Luke to the library to borrow some books a couple of weeks ago, but he told me he wanted to keep the books forever, so we didn’t go. I had a book to return yesterday, so I took him with me and he brought 4 books home, and suddenly it’s a really good idea to borrow books then take them back and swap them for new ones. These were his selections:

Currently I am reading and loving Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham. I can see myself reading late into the night tonight despite having an early start tomorrow so that I can get done what I need to before going for my Covid vaccination.

I am also reading A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, a new author for me. I have to admit it was the cover that first attracted me. I just wanted to plonk myself down on the sand and soak up the view. The Adirondack chair? Am I the only person earth who finds these uncomfortable? It probably has something to do with my short legs…. But however I came select this, I am enjoying this warm, gentle read.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, but I have All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss ready to go.

Deep in the tobacco land of North Carolina, nothing’s the same since the boys shipped off to war and worry took their place. Thirteen-year-old Lucy Brown is curious and clever, but she can’t make sense of it all. Then Allie Bert Tucker comes to town, an outcast with a complicated past, and Lucy believes that together they can solve crimes. Just like her hero, Nancy Drew.

That chance comes when a man goes missing, a woman stops speaking, and an eccentric gives the girls a mystery that takes them beyond the ordinary. Their quiet town, seasoned with honeybees and sweet tea, becomes home to a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp—and more men go missing. The pair set out to answer the big question: do we ever really know who the enemy is?

This week I am planning on reading Stolen by Tess Stimson

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

And The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

If you hear it, it’s too late. Can two sisters save us all?

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse .

I received 8 new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh – I was excited by this as I have been requesting this author for some time, and this is my first approval.

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

Darkness Falls by David Mark

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Plus Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver. This is an excellent novella which I read last night. Watch for my review later this week.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker which I am reading this week

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, which I am currently reading

And the audiobook All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, which I will start tomorrow.

I have travelled mainly in USA this week, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Porto Rico; Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts; Martinsville County, also Massachusetts; with side trips to Porthteal,Cornwall; and Hendon, a suburb of London. Where have you travelled this week?

Have you read any of the books I have coming up, or are they on your TBR? Or have I tempted you to add them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and keep on reading!❤📚

A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer

EXCERPT: Ali reached into the bag and pulled out a tiny onesie in a soft, buttery yellow. Her heart shifted, and she met Meg’s eyes. Meg was watching her with a smile. ‘I know,’ she said quietly. ‘It’s hard to believe, isn’t it? That the baby inside of you now, will one day – soon! – be in your arms.’ She reached out to touch Ali’s arm. ‘You’ll be her mother, her whole world. You’ll do anything for her.’ She smiled. ‘It’s wonderful, really.’

Ali nodded again, a moment of understanding swirling around them. Meg was right. Ali would do anything to keep her baby safe, away from anyone who might harm her. Wasn’t that the very reason she’d come here? In the midst of this turmoil, her daughter was the most important thing. This pregnancy was special, and no one should ruin that – nothing should ruin that. If Ali focused solely on her baby, she didn’t have to let even one day be darkened by fear or uncertainty.

‘Thank you,’ she said, then turned and went into the night, clutching the yellow onesie like a guiding light.

ABOUT ‘A MOTHER’S LIE’: My darling child… all I’ve ever yearned for. But how do I keep you safe?

When Ali retreats to her seaside cottage, all she wants is to be alone. To reconnect with a place that has always felt like home until her baby is born.

But then her life collides with the people living in the house next door, Michael and Meg, and she is immediately welcomed into their perfect life with their beautiful baby Jem. As they help her prepare for her own arrival, Ali knows she has made the right choice for her baby in returning to Seashine Cottage.

When Michael leaves suddenly for a work trip, and Meg impulsively invites Ali to move in, it becomes clear things aren’t as perfect as they first seemed.

Meg is holding on to a dark secret. And as her behaviour becomes ever more erratic – leaning on Ali for increasing amounts of help – while Michael shows no signs of returning, Ali begins to worry.

Does she need to protect herself and her unborn child from the new friend she thought would help keep her safe? And what about her own devastating secret… the one she’s been running from?

This book was previously titled ‘Safe From Harm’.

MY THOUGHTS: It took me a week to read A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer. I found it difficult to relate to the characters of Ali and Meg, even after the revelations. Ali’s and Meg’s stories were dramatic, but almost soap-operaish.

The most interesting facet of this book for me was Violet’s story, which both intrigued me, and broke my heart. Violet seemed very real to me, more so than Meg or Ali.

The story is told over two timelines: in the present by Ali, and 2018 from Violet’s perspective, her past being recalled in memories.

I’m sorry I didn’t like A Mother’s Lie so much, particularly as I loved Leah Mercer’s last offering, Ten Little Words.

I don’t recommend reading this book if you are pregnant.

⭐⭐.7

#AMothersLie #NetGalley

I: @leahmercerauthor @bookouture

T: @LeahMercerBooks @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #domesticdrama #mentalhealth

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah can’t remember a time when she didn’t love writing. From creating fake newspapers to writing letters to the editor, scribbling something was always on the agenda. Even the rejections she received after completing her first novel at age 13 didn’t dent her enthusiasm.

So it makes sense, then, that she pursued a career in anything but writing. Public relations, teaching, recruitment, editing medical journals — even a stint painting houses — until she finally succumbed once more to the lure of the blank page.

When she’s not being jumped on by her young son or burning supper while thinking of plot-lines, Leah can be found furiously tapping away on her laptop, trying not to check Twitter or Facebook.

Leah also writes romantic comedies under the name Talli Roland.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer 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

The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

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

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

‘So . . . who is she, Charlie?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is Safi?

Where has Max disappeared to?

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

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

An author I will be reading more of.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheHeartwoodHotel

I: #kerrymcginnis #penguinbooksaus

T: @PenguinBooksAus

#australianfiction #crime #familydrama #mystery

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

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to fellow Waitomo District Library Book Club members, Betty and Elsie, for recommending The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions

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

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