Watching what I’m reading . . .

Oh my goodness, have seen what is happening in Tonga? My thoughts and prayers are with you all, and all those in low lying areas that may be impacted by tsunamis caused by the volcanic eruptions. The far north of the North Island has suffered some damage in marinas but thankfully no loss of life.

Currently I am reading The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley. If I hadn’t had to go to work today I would have finished this. All I can say is that if you don’t have this on your radar, add it!

I am also reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, purely for pleasure, and loving it!

I am currently listening to Fallen (Kate Burkholder #13) by Linda Castillo.

This week I plan on reading The Girl She Was by Alafair Burke

HOPE CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING…

She calls herself Hope Miller, but she has no idea who she really is.

Fourteen years ago, she was found thrown from an overturned vehicle, with no clue to her identity. Hope started a new life, but never recovered her memory.

Now she’s missing. With nowhere else to turn, Hope’s best friend, Lindsay Kelly, calls NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher.

In pursuit of answers, three women search for the truth beneath long-buried secrets. And when their searches converge, what they find will upend everything they’ve ever known.

And Where There’s A Will by Sulari Gentill. I absolutely loved the last book I read by this author and am really looking forward to reading this.

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

American millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard–literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise–and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock–and his luck–run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna.

I have read and enjoyed few books lately about families and inheritances, and loved this author’s previous book so I am looking forward to this.

I have another three books scheduled for this week, but as I am starting to train my replacement at work it’s unlikely that I will get to them on time. So apologies to authors and publishers.

Six new ARCs were approved this week; so much for keeping my TBR mountain under control!

This week I have been approved for: Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton. I have absolutely loved everything I have read by this author so am looking forward to reading this.

The Baby Shower by S.E. Lynes, an author I follow avidly.

Dead End Street by Trevor Wood

A Village Secret by Julie Houston

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

And the audiobook The Captain’s Wife by Norma Curtis and narrated by Josh Wichard.

I am honestly going to try and avoid Netgalley for the coming week. 🤣😂🤣😂 Well, you just know how successful that’s going to be!

Anyway, I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day at work and Pete has a 4am start tomorrow. I seldom go back to sleep after he goes to work so I need to cram as much sleep in before as I can.

Stay safe and keep reading. We’ve had our first community case of Omicron announced today so I guess we will soon be following in everyone else’s footsteps. We’ve had our boosters, and I interact with the public as little as possible, so I hope that will be enough to protect us.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

The first week of 2022 is done and dusted and now most of us are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, facing going back to work. We’ve had a lovely break, mixing getting a few of those niggly little jobs around the house and yard done with catching up with friends whom we don’t get to see very often. We’ve eaten out a lot, which has been a real treat, been to the beach, and had lot of fun. The weather has been absolutely magnificent. Now, it’s back to reality and work tomorrow and there is, apparently, rain on the horizon for which my garden will be grateful. I have been watering the fruit trees and vegetable garden, but everything else is having to fend for itself.

While I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions this year, I have decided to try and take control of my reading life. Instead of reading 3 books at a time, I am just going to read one and listen to one at any one time. I have been doing this for the past week and, so far, it’s working well. I am enjoying my reading more and feeling less pressured. I also intend reading more titles for pleasure and made a good start over the Christmas break while also reducing the number of titles on my backlist. I hope I can keep this up. I tried last year with variable results, although I did get my Netgalley ratio up to 68% from 64%.

Currently I am reading To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse which is due for publication 11 January. One third through and I have already shredded innumerable tissues.

I am listening to The Lost Days of Agatha Christie by Carole Owens and, although I am halfway through, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

This week I am planning on reading A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.

Matt Antony is just trying get by.

Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.

All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.

If it’s not already too late.

And, The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Two Couples. Three Secrets. One Murder.

In a beautiful house surrounded by woodland, the Drayton family and their dearest friends are enjoying dinner together. The wine is flowing, the meal has been lovingly prepared, and it’s going to be an evening none of them will ever forget…

A doting mother
with a manipulative daughter.

A loving husband
lying to his family.

A close friend
keeping a shocking secret.

A beautiful girl
who will be dead by the end of the night.

I have three new ARCs this week: Secrets to the Grave by Steve Frechs

One For Sorrow by Helen Fields

and One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose which I requested after reading Michael David’s review on https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/

In the past week my reading travels have taken me to the Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide in South Australia; Louisiana in the USA; Hastings in the UK; Sèvèrac Le Chateau, France; Langdale, North Yorkshire; and Marin County, San Francisco. Have we crossed paths this week?

To all my friends in the Fraser Coast area of Queensland, Australia please stay safe. Although Tropical Cyclone Seth has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still has sting in its tail with heavy rain and severe flooding.

Everyone, no matter where you are, take care. Stay safe and read on.

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

EXCERPT: I heard Emily before I met her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The gentle buzz of a phone followed by a surge of high-pitched notes, sometimes angry, sometimes excited, rarely sad. The sadness came through the slim pipes in the bathroom, the soft gurgles that slipped down the plumbing and escaped through my extractor fan. The incessant music thrumming through the ceiling, invading my space. Emily has terrible taste, mostly new tracks, screeching pop singers holding long, high notes, the same beat in every song.

I knew Emily before I met her. Italian food on Mondays, meatballs rich and smothered in tomato sauce. Tuesdays, something eggy. Wednesdays, something meaty. Thursdays and Fridays, mostly wine. A takeaway on Saturdays, usually Chinese, the sticky leftover noodles escaping through the shared food waste bin like silky worms breaking through soil. Sometimes I could smell the food and other times I knew from a discarded receipt in our communal hallway.

On Sundays the shake of bottles being emptied into the recycling bin outside from her weekly wine shop. A crate of six, always. They sound lovely from the tasting notes I found clinging to the letter box. A malbec, blackberry and vanilla notes with a finish of chocolate and nutmeg, soft and warm.

I’ve been in London over ten years now and I haven’t found a quiet place. I live in Angel, Islington. The nice part, with the grand white townhouses, the ones advertised as being on tree-lined streets. I can’t see any trees, just blunt shavings in the ground, weeds rising and arching over the stubs like gravestones. I’m on the ground floor of a two-storey house and Emily is above me. She moved in over six months ago and I thought she might leave, as people do here. People Emily’s age, early twenties, they come and go like the seasons, and it’s spring now. Time for Emily to leave.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL UPSTAIRS’: How well do you know your neighbour?
Would you trust them with your life?

I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music.

I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox.

Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her.

Because I know her best, and I heard everything.

The Girl Upstairs is a spine-tingling psychological thriller of grief and obsession that explores how lonely London can be and how sometimes it’s our neighbours who see us most, who know us best…

MY THOUGHTS: While I didn’t find this to be an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, it is an interesting and compelling debut novel that I would put firmly into the domestic thriller camp.

It’s funny the things that you miss when they’re gone. Suzy has a noisy, inconsiderate neighbour upstairs, but when she hasn’t heard any noise for a few days, she becomes concerned and raises the alarm because, strange as it may seem, no one else is remotely worried about where Emily might be. This lack of concern worries Suzy, and it becomes her purpose in life to find the missing woman.

I enjoyed this debut novel. It’s realistic, sympathetic and utterly believable. It doesn’t set out to shock, or apall; the author just goes quietly about her business of telling an intriguing story with just a soupçon of lingering menace to entice the reader onwards.

Both Emily and Suzy are interesting characters. Emily is an aspiring writer, shunted off to London by her parents while they endeavour to repair their fractured relationship. Suzy lost her husband suddenly and tragically and is struggling to cope. Both women are emotionally fragile and vulnerable, and have far more in common than either realise.

I really enjoyed the subtlety of the writing, and I will definitely be lining up for this author’s next offering.

I read/listened to The Girl Upstairs and enjoyed the narration as delivered by Meg Travers.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheGirlUpstairs #NetGalley

I: #georginaleesauthor @onemorechapterhc

T: @GLees_author @OneMoreChapter_

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdram #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Georgina studied creative writing and film at university and has since pursued a career in video-games journalism, covering some of the most popular games in the world. Her psychological thrillers are inspired by her surroundings, from the congested London streets to the raw English countryside. She can be found playing games, writing stories, and reading anything from fantasy to crime fiction.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC of The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees 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 . . .

Only a week until Christmas. I hope everyone is better organised than I am! It’s our work Christmas party today, so this will be a brief post sandwiched between the committee meeting, which has just finished, and the party which begins in an hour.

I am currently reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin, a title off my backlist.

Winter Honeymoon by Jacob M. Appel, a collection of short stories from my backlist and the cover of which for some reason won’t download for me . . . 🤷‍♀️

and How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid,yet another backtitle.

And I am listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

This week I am planning on reading The Road Leads Back by Marci Bolden

Kara Martinson and Harry Canton weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, but they did share one night neither will ever forget. Twenty-seven years later, Harry surprises Kara at an art gallery opening and discovers he left her with more than just memories when he went away to college. Desperate to connect with the family he never knew existed, Harry convinces his son to move to Stonehill—and pleads with Kara to come, too.

Kara hasn’t stepped foot in their hometown since the day she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers. Now Harry’s back in her life and as they put together the pieces of his parents’ betrayal, old heartaches start to feel anew. She wants to be near her family, but returning to Iowa means facing some things…and some people…she isn’t quite ready to.

Can Harry convince her to forgive those who betrayed her so they can embrace the future they were robbed of so long ago? Or will the pain of the past be too much for Kara to overcome? 

And Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.

As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.

Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

This week I have received a total of 4 new ARCs, 3 digital and 1 audio. They are: The Wedding Murders by Sarah Linley

The Patient by Jane Schemilt

And Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton

And the audiobook is The Lucky Ones by Kiersten Modglin

This week I have travelled to London, England; Glasgow, Scotland; Summers Lake in the Adirondacks; New York City; and Bradseden, a fictional village on the outskirts of Bradfield in South Yorkshire.

Have a wonderful Christmas and be kind.

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

While this isn’t the most appealing cover, the content makes up for it.

EXCERPT: Meg’s forehead bumped against the glass. She thought of the funeral that morning, of Leonard Holt saying, ‘Lots of showbusiness folks buried in this graveyard.’ She thought of Barbara Dodson dying alone in Hastings and of Aleister Crowley who had cursed the town. She thought of the Gillespies and the picture over their TV, the smiling blonde woman and her angelic baby. She thought of Whitby and the ruined abbey and the cloaked figure staring up at her. There was something about this case, she thought, that went beyond the usual domestic tragedy, wives killing husbands, husbands killing wives. This was about retribution, she was sure of it. She thought of the DI’s strange quotation. Ellum she hateth mankind, and waiteth. The words of a song came into her head, a song that had been in the charts that summer. She couldn’t remember much of it, just the chorus about waiting until the midnight hour. The lyrics were meant to be somewhat risque- some radio stations had refused to play the track – but now the phrase came back to Meg with another meaning. Bert could escape his crimes for years but there would come an hour, the midnight hour, when he would have to pay.

ABOUT ‘THE MIDNIGHT HOUR’: Brighton, 1965

When theatrical impresario Bert Billington is found dead in his retirement home, no one suspects foul play. But when the postmortem reveals that he was poisoned, suspicion falls on his wife, eccentric ex-Music Hall star Verity Malone.

Frustrated by the police response to Bert’s death and determined to prove her innocence, Verity calls in private detective duo Emma Holmes and Sam Collins. This is their first real case, but as luck would have it they have a friend on the inside: Max Mephisto is filming a remake of Dracula, starring Seth Bellington, Bert’s son. But when they question Max, they feel he isn’t telling them the whole story.

Emma and Sam must vie with the police to untangle the case and bring the killer to justice. They’re sure the answers must lie in Bert’s dark past and in the glamorous, occasionally deadly, days of Music Hall. But the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they find themselves in…

MY THOUGHTS: #6 in the Brighton Mysteries, and I still can’t get enough! Once I began The Midnight Hour, I ignored everything else and immersed myself totally in Brighton, 1965 and an intriguing murder mystery.

There shouldn’t be anything suspicious about a 90 year old man dying in his chair after his Sunday lunch, but in this case there is, and accusations and allegations are soon flying about. It would seem that our Bert, beloved pantomime star, has not had a blameless past. There are plenty of skeletons emerging from closets . . . and leaving the closet doors open for more skeletons to follow. It seems that no one can escape unscathed from their pasts. Not even Max.

We have moved on in time just a year from where the previous book, Now You See Them, concluded. Max is now established as a movie star, is father to two small children, and has inherited his father’s title of Lord Massingham and the family estate, which still doesn’t sit easily on his shoulders. Emma, once the pioneering DS Holmes, is married – compulsory retirement from the police force – to Edgar, her old boss and police Superintendent, and they have three small children. But missing her work, Emma has started a PI firm with friend and freelance reporter, Sam Collins, and it is this duo that the murdered man’s wife, Verity, a one time lover of Max’s, calls on to investigate when she is accused of orchestrating her husband’s death. Assisting in the police investigation is WDC Meg Connolly, because Verity won’t talk to the men. Meg is determined to make the most of her opportunity, and the line between the police and private Investigators investigations becomes blurred as the women collaborate.

The Midnight Hour is a riveting and compelling murder mystery involving more than one death, in which we see the new guard begin to take over. The world is changing, although policewomen are still not allowed to drive panda cars, and are largely employed to make tea and do the filing.

To me, it really doesn’t seem like the 1960’s were that long ago; to others they will be ancient history. I had a lovely walk down memory lane, enjoying references to both the music and the fashions. At one point a receptionist is wearing ‘an orange minidress held together by large gold hoops,’ which was extremely fashionable at the time and which I would have loved to have owned.

This is a series that needs to be read in order from the beginning to fully appreciate character development and the complicated maze of relationships that exist. But believe me, it’s worth every moment.

There is one particular paragraph that struck a chord with me and that I would like to share: When she’d looked at those old photographs of herself today it had been like looking at a deceased friend. Who was this radiant creature? Well, she didn’t exist now.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheMidnightHour #NetGalley

I: @ellygriffiths17 @marinerbooks

T: @ellygriffiths @MarinerBooks

#fivestarread #cozymystery #domesticdrama #historicalfiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Mariner Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths 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 . . .

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

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

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

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

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

Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years wondering why her daughter Isobel left. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her family’s bright future which vanished in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a teenage grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of relief. Despite the years of hurt she never stopped loving Isobel and wants to help rebuild her life. Enrolling her grandson at the school, Ruth wants to make sure they stay for good.

Isobel has spent her life running from a painful secret. A secret which could have destroyed her family. Now, as she flees a bad relationship, she knows that her childhood home is the only place where she can be safe.

But as Isobel looks at her son in his crisp new uniform, she is taken straight back to the reason she ran all those years ago. Soon it becomes clear that she is not the only one tormented by the past. Someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth and Isobel hold dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

And The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn

As

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

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

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

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

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

The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller

The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

And Bride For a Day by Carolyn Brown

Do you have any of these on your reading radar?

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

A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐.7

#ACornishChristmasMurder #NetGalley

I: @leitchfiona @onemorechapterhc

T: @fkleitch @OneMoreChapter

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

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

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt

EXCERPT: We stand together in the silence of the night, in the clearing in the woods. Our breathing is the only thing I can hear.

We are as one, but only because we’ve agreed to cover up what’s happened.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. When is killing someone ever a satisfactory solution? This was just a momentary lapse of concentration. A burst of anger. A fist of infuriation. Hands squeezing something they shouldn’t have.

But now the body is buried. We’ve hidden the crime. If anyone finds out, we’ll make up lies and pretend it never happened. No one will ever know the truth.

Because I won’t let them find out.

ABOUT ‘THE LIFE SHE WANTS’: From behind the curtains, Sarah spotted the man coming out of the house, followed by the woman. It would be strange seeing people in the property. She wondered how much it would change their lives. For now, she would bide her time and hopefully get to know them better. She needed to gain their trust.

When I met Richard, I fell for him instantly. He was able to give me everything I had always wanted, the dream house, security and above all, love like I’d never known. We lived a quiet life in the middle of nowhere; we didn’t need anyone else.

So, when the empty house next door is sold, I am wary. Will our neighbours invade the perfect life Richard has built for us? As soon as I meet Juliette and Danny, I am reassured. Overwhelmed by grief after the death of their young daughter, they have moved in search of a quiet life and a chance to start again. Over dinner one evening, we hit it off instantly and I know they are just the neighbours we need.

All is well until Juliette spots a young girl in our garden. Richard convinces her that she is seeing things, that it’s the grief taking over. But Juliette won’t let it go. She is sure she saw a child. She believes that Richard is threatening her. She starts to think that I’m not safe.

I need to convince Juliette that she’s imagining it. I need to keep Richard happy. If I am to protect everything I have built for myself, she must never find out the truth.

That my perfect life is built on the deadliest lie.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a book that you really need to concentrate on as you read because it is not always obvious just whose point of view you are reading. There is also a fair bit of jumping about in the timeline, also not always apparent. I think that had I listened to the entire audiobook instead of reading the first 80% and listening to the last 20%, it may have been a little clearer. But, in the end, it all makes sense. It’s just a little frustrating getting to that point.

Although The Life She Wants packs a punch, I didn’t find it a particularly enjoyable experience. There are characters that I absolutely hated; sly, nasty and manipulative. They left a nasty taste in my mouth. I really found it difficult to connect with any of the characters other than Juliette and her husband. And I found the child totally unbelievable, although very little is seen and absolutely nothing heard from her. So very wrong on all levels.

The book reminds me a little in format of the old western movies, where you have the good guys and the bad guys. The good guys are really, really good, and the bad guys are really, really bad. There’s a whole heap of tussling and wrangling and jostling for position going on, and the good guys appear to be coming off worst until the very end, when justice prevails, albeit usually with a few bodies strewn about along the way. But did justice prevail here? I’ll let you make up your own mind.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheLifeSheWants #NetGalley

I: @mel_sherratt @bookouture

T: @writermels @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: write police procedurals, psychological suspense and women’s fiction with a punch – or grit-lit, as I call it.

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes liberal use of my hometown as a backdrop for some of my books.

I also write women’s fiction under the pen name of Marcie Steele.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC and an audio ARC of The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt and narrated by Emma Gregory, 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 . . .

It is not quite an hour until the supercars kick off for the Bathurst 1000 so will get my post done now as I will be glued to the TV for the rest of the day. We watched the top ten shoot out for pole position last night and if today’s race is anywhere near as exciting, we’re in for a great day of motor racing.

Currently I am reading Prose and Cons by Wendy Corsi Staub. Although it’s #4 in this cozy mystery series and I haven’t read any of the previous books, I fell right in love with Bella and her six year old son Max, and their resident ghost, the mischievous and sometimes malevolent Nadine, along with the psychic cat Chance they seem to have inherited.

I am also reading The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown where the theme of inherited animals continues. Sissy has inherited her aunt’s cockatoo and a rooster along with Aunt Blanche’s home. Another book where I have simply fallen in love with the characters, particularly Gussie and Ina Mae, Blanche’s friends for over sixty years.

I am listening to Outback Creed by Jonathan MacPherson, narrated by Steve Shanahan. It’s set in the Kimberly region of Western Australia and I think that a big city lawyer is about to learn an important lesson from a young aboriginal boy about paying it forward.

This week I am planning on reading Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

1941. Steven Katz is the son of prosperous landowners in rural California. Although his parents don’t approve, he’s found true friends in Nick, Suki, and Ollie, sons of field workers. The group is inseparable. But Steven is in turmoil. He’s beginning to acknowledge that his feelings for Nick amount to more than friendship.

When the bombing of Pearl Harbor draws the US into World War II, Suki and his family are forced to leave their home for the internment camp at Manzanar. Ollie enlists in the army and ships out. And Nick must flee. Betrayed by his own father and accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he turns to Steven for help. Hiding Nick in a root cellar on his family’s farm, Steven acts as Nick’s protector and lifeline to the outside world.

As the war escalates, bonds deepen and the fear of being different falls away. But after Nick unexpectedly disappears one day, Steven’s life focus is to find him. On the way, Steven finds a place he belongs and a lesson about love that will last him his lifetime. 

And The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Brighton, 1965

When theatrical impresario Bert Billington is found dead in his retirement home, no one suspects foul play. But when the postmortem reveals that he was poisoned, suspicion falls on his wife, eccentric ex-Music Hall star Verity Malone.

Frustrated by the police response to Bert’s death and determined to prove her innocence, Verity calls in private detective duo Emma Holmes and Sam Collins. This is their first real case, but as luck would have it they have a friend on the inside: Max Mephisto is filming a remake of Dracula, starring Seth Bellington, Bert’s son. But when they question Max, they feel he isn’t telling them the whole story.

Emma and Sam must vie with the police to untangle the case and bring the killer to justice. They’re sure the answers must lie in Bert’s dark past and in the glamorous, occasionally deadly, days of Music Hall. But the closer they get to the truth, the more danger they find themselves in… 

And to start listening to Why She Left by Leah Mercer

Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years wondering why her daughter Isobel left. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her family’s bright future which vanished in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a teenage grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of relief. Despite the years of hurt she never stopped loving Isobel and wants to help rebuild her life. Enrolling her grandson at the school, Ruth wants to make sure they stay for good.

Isobel has spent her life running from a painful secret. A secret which could have destroyed her family. Now, as she flees a bad relationship, she knows that her childhood home is the only place where she can be safe.

But as Isobel looks at her son in his crisp new uniform, she is taken straight back to the reason she ran all those years ago. Soon it becomes clear that she is not the only one tormented by the past. Someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth and Isobel hold dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

I have only two new ARCs this week – they are A Secret at Tansy Falls by Cate Woods

And The Library by Bella Osborne

The cars are lined up on the start line, so I’m going to bid you farewell.

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

EXCERPT: AGATHA

I am not the most important person in this story. That honor belongs to Meg, who is married to Jack, and they are the perfect parents of two perfect children, a boy and a girl, blond and blue-eyed and sweeter than honey cakes. Meg is pregnant again and I couldn’t be more excited because I’m having a baby too.

Leaning my forehead against the glass, I look in both directions along the pavement, past the greengrocer and hairdressing salon and fashion boutique. Meg is running late. Normally she has dropped Lucy at primary school and Lachlan at his preschool by now and has joined her friends at the café on the corner. Her mothers’ group meets every Friday morning, sitting at an outdoor table, jostling prams into place like eighteen-wheelers on the vehicle deck of a ferry. One skinny cappuccino, one chai latte, and a pot of herbal tea . . .

A red bus goes past and blocks my view of Barnes Green, which is opposite. When it pulls away again I see Meg on the far side of the road. She’s dressed in her stretch jeans and a baggy sweater, and carrying a colorful three-wheeled scooter. Lachlan must have insisted on riding to his preschool, which would have slowed her down. He will also have stopped to look at the ducks and at the exercise class and at the old people doing tai chi who move so slowly they could almost be stop-motion puppets.

Meg doesn’t appear pregnant from this angle. It’s only when she turns side-on that the bump becomes a basketball, neat and round, getting lower by the day. I heard her complaining last week about swollen ankles and a sore back. I know how she feels. My extra pounds have turned climbing stairs into a workout and my bladder is the size of a walnut.

Glancing both ways, she crosses Church Road and mouths the word “sorry” to her friends, double-kissing their cheeks and cooing at their babies. All babies are cute, people say, and I guess that’s true. I have peered into prams at Gollum-like creatures with sticky-out eyes and two strands of hair, yet always found something to love because they’re so newly minted and innocent.

ABOUT ‘THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS’: Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever…

MY THOUGHTS: This is the third book by Michael Robotham that I have read and loved. He writes women so convincingly and realistically, describing our fears and insecurities very accurately and with empathy.

The Secrets She Keeps is an emotionally charged domestic/psychological thriller that focuses on two women: Meghan with the seemingly perfect life; and Agatha who has nothing. Their paths cross and Agatha hatches a plan that will give her what she wants. The story is told from the points of view of both Agatha and Meghan, and what begins as an apparently accidental and innocent friendship soon develops into tension filled drama.

I didn’t like Agatha. She is needy, manipulative and mentally unstable, but I felt for her. Robotham has crafted magnificently believable characters. Even Jack, Meghan’s apparently devoted sportscaster husband is brilliantly depicted. The only character I couldn’t really get a handle on was Hayden, the supposed father of Agatha’s baby.

The story is peppered with surprises and skillfully placed twists and I never quite knew what was going to happen next. I am a firm fan of this author and am reading everything of his that I can get my hands on.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSecretsSheKeeps

I: @michaelrobotham

T: @michaelrobotham

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Michael Robotham was born in Australia in November 1960 and grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he worked for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Europe, Africa and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies.

His first novel ‘THE SUSPECT’, a psychological thriller, was chosen by the world’s largest consortium of book clubs as only the fifth “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries.

Since then, Michael’s psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-five languages and his Joe O’Loughlin series is are currently in development for TV by World Productions. A six-part TV series based upon his standalone novel THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS was aired on BBC1 in 2020, and a second series begins filming in 2021.

Michael lives in Sydney with his wife and a diminishing number of dependent daughters.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to the Waitomo District Library for providing a copy of The Secrets She Keeps 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, Instagram and my webpage