The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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EXCERPT: Libby picks up the letter off the doormat. She turns it in her hands. It looks very formal; the envelope is cream in color, made of high-grade paper, and feels as though it might even be lined with tissue. The postal frank says: “Smithkin Rudd & Royle Solicitors, Chelsea Manor Street, SW3.”

She takes the letter into the kitchen and sits it on the table while she fills the kettle and puts a tea bag in a mug. Libby is pretty sure she knows what’s in the envelope. She turned twenty-five last month. She’s been subconsciously waiting for this envelope. But now that it’s here she’s not sure she can face opening it.

She picks up her phone and calls her mother.

“Mum,” she says. “It’s here. The letter from the trustees.”

She hears a silence at the other end of the line. She pictures her mum in her own kitchen, a thousand miles away in Dénia: pristine white units, lime-green color-coordinated kitchen accessories, sliding glass doors onto a small terrace with a distant view to the Mediterranean, her phone held to her ear in the crystal-studded case that she refers to as her bling.

“Oh,” she says. “Right. Gosh. Have you opened it?”

“No. Not yet. I’m just having a cup of tea first.”

“Right,” she says again. Then she says, “Shall I stay on the line? While you do it?”

“Yes,” says Libby. “Please.”

She feels a little breathless, as she sometimes does when she’s just about to stand up and give a sales presentation at work, like she’s had a strong coffee. She takes the tea bag out of the mug and sits down. Her fingers caress the corner of the envelope and she inhales.

“OK,” she says to her mother, “I’m doing it. I’m doing it right now.”

Her mum knows what’s in here. Or at least she has an idea, though she was never told formally what was in the trust. It might, as she has always said, be a teapot and a ten-pound note.

Libby clears her throat and slides her finger under the flap. She pulls out a sheet of thick cream paper and scans it quickly:

To Miss Libby Louise Jones

As trustee of the Henry and Martina Lamb Trust created on 12 July 1977, I propose to make the distribution from it to you described in the attached schedule…

She puts down the covering letter and pulls out the accompanying paperwork.

“Well?” says her mum, breathlessly.

“Still reading,” she replies.

She skims and her eye is caught by the name of a property. Sixteen Cheyne Walk, SW3. She assumes it is the property her birth parents were living in when they died. She knows it was in Chelsea. She knows it was big. She assumed it was long gone. Boarded up. Sold. Her breath catches hard at the back of her throat when she realizes what she’s just read.

“Er,” she says.

“What?”

“It looks like… No, that can’t be right.”

“What!”

“The house. They’ve left me the house.”

“The Chelsea house?”

“Yes,” she says.

“The whole house?”

“I think so.” There’s a covering letter, something about nobody else named on the trust coming forward in due time. She can’t digest it at all.

“My God. I mean, that must be worth…”

Libby breathes in sharply and raises her gaze to the ceiling. “This must be wrong,” she says. “This must be a mistake.”

“Go and see the solicitors,” says her mother. “Call them. Make an appointment. Make sure it’s not a mistake.”

“But what if it’s not a mistake? What if it’s true?”

“Well then, my angel,” says her mother—and Libby can hear her smile from all these miles away—“you’ll be a very rich woman indeed.”

Libby ends the call and stares around her kitchen. Five minutes ago, this kitchen was the only kitchen she could afford, this flat the only one she could buy, here in this quiet street of terraced cottages in the backwaters of St. Albans. She remembers the flats and houses she saw during her online searches, the little intakes of breath as her eye caught upon the perfect place—a suntrap terrace, an eat-in kitchen, a five-minute walk to the station, a bulge of ancient leaded windows, the suggestion of cathedral bells from across a green—and then she would see the price and feel herself a fool for ever thinking it might be for her.

She compromised on everything in the end to find a place that was close to her job and not too far from the train station. There was no gut instinct as she stepped across the threshold; her heart said nothing to her as the estate agent showed her around. But she made it a home to be proud of, painstakingly creaming off the best that T.J.Maxx had to offer, and now her badly converted, slightly awkward one-bedroom flat makes her feel happy. She bought it; she adorned it. It belongs to her.

But now it appears she is the owner of a house on the finest street in Chelsea and suddenly her flat looks like a ridiculous joke. Everything that was important to her five minutes ago feels like a joke—the £1,500-a-year raise she was just awarded at work, the hen weekend in Barcelona next month that took her six months to save for, the MAC eye shadow she “allowed” herself to buy last weekend as a treat for getting the pay raise, the soft frisson of abandoning her tightly managed monthly budget for just one glossy, sweet-smelling moment in House of Fraser, the weightlessness of the tiny MAC bag swinging from her hand, the shiver of placing the little black capsule in her makeup bag, of knowing that she owned it, that she might in fact wear it in Barcelona, where she might also wear the dress her mother bought her for Christmas, the one from French Connection with the lace panels she’d wanted for ages. Five minutes ago her joys in life were small, anticipated, longed-for, hard-earned and saved-up-for, inconsequential little splurges that meant nothing in the scheme of things but gave the flat surface of her life enough sparkles to make it worth getting out of bed every morning to go and do a job which she liked but didn’t love.

Now she owns a house in Chelsea and the proportions of her existence have been blown apart.

ABOUT THIS BOOK:Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

MY THOUGHTS: Okay, right off the bat, this is NOT my favourite Lisa Jewell book. It was alright….but I didn’t have my usual Lisa Jewell reading experience which is akin to Alice falling in the rabbit hole…I didn’t fall into and become part of the book. That was a tad disappointing.

I liked the story, the plot, which was complex, but then they always are. The characters were sometimes a little scary, and although I thought I had it all figured out, I didn’t. The narrators were good. They weren’t the problem. So then, what was?

I am at a loss. I have listened to other Lisa Jewell books on audio, and loved them. I just have the sneaking feeling that I would have enjoyed this more if I had read the written word, but I can’t explain why. I shall table the reading experience for some time in the future and then, if I need to, amend my rating and review.

🙂 🙂 🙂

THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell, narrated by Tamaryn Payne, Bea Holland and Dominic Thorburn, published by Penguin Audio. 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.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2896543925

Watching What I’m Reading…

March! It feels like it should still be January…I am not ready for autumn, not at all. Or winter. I love the long, light days. I hate getting up in the dark to go to work, then coming home in the dark again, the fog, the rain, the cold…. I probably live in the wrong country entirely.

Currently I am reading The River Home by Hannah Richell whose writing I love. I only started this late last night, but already she has drawn me into the story with her wonderful, though not always likeable, characters. I really am not sure what has gone on in the past between Margot and her mother Kit. I am look ing forward to finding out!

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I have only just started listening to The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton, a new author for me.

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This week I am planning on reading The Orphan House by Ann Bennett, another new author for me.

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As she looks at the baby wriggling in her father’s arms, a bolt of recognition goes through her and she takes a step back. And it’s in that moment that she begins to protect her father’s secrets.

1934, Weirfield-on-Thames. Connie Burroughs loves living in the orphanage that her father runs. Exploring its nooks and crannies with her sister, hearing the pounding of a hundred pairs of feet on the wooden stairs, having a father who is doing so much good. But everything changes the day she sees him carrying a newborn baby that he says he found near the broken front gate. A baby she recognises…

Present day. Arriving at her father’s beloved cottage beside the river, Sarah Jennings is hoping for peace and quiet, to escape her difficult divorce. But when she finds her father unwell and hunched over boxes of files on the orphanage where he was abandoned as a child, she decides to investigate it herself.

The only person left alive who lived at Cedar Hall is Connie Burroughs, but Connie sits quietly in her nursing home for a reason. The sewing box under Connie’s bed hides secrets that will change Sarah’s life forever, uncovering a connection between them that has darker consequences than she could ever imagine.

And Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer, yet another new author for me.

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With her father recently moved to a care facility for his worsening dementia, Beth Walsh volunteers to clear out the family home and is surprised to discover the door to her childhood playroom padlocked. She’s even more shocked at what’s behind it—a hoarder’s mess of her father’s paintings, mounds of discarded papers and miscellaneous junk in the otherwise fastidiously tidy house.

As she picks through the clutter, she finds a loose journal entry in what appears to be her late mother’s handwriting. Beth and her siblings grew up believing their mother died in a car accident when they were little more than toddlers, but this note suggests something much darker. Beth soon pieces together a disturbing portrait of a woman suffering from postpartum depression and a husband who bears little resemblance to the loving father Beth and her siblings know. With a newborn of her own and struggling with motherhood, Beth finds there may be more tying her and her mother together than she ever suspected.

I have just looked at my reading schedule for March, and it is scary….very scary! I think I may have over-committed myself, just a little.Ce la vie!

Only four new ARC’s this week…still two more than what I planned on. Yes, you know all about my lack of will power when books and/or chocolate are involved.

They are: One of Us Is Lying by Shalini Boland

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The House Guest by Mark Edwards

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My Husband’s Lie by Emma Davies

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and finally, The Liberation of Brigid Dunne by Patricia Scanlan

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Off to do some reading! Have a happy weekend all.

Cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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EXCERPT: NOW – The Wedding Night

The lights go out.

In an instant, everything is in darkness. The band stop their playing. Inside the marquee the wedding guests squeal and clutch at one another. The light from the candles on the tables only adds to the confusion, sends shadows racing up the canvas walls. It’s impossible to see where anyone is or hear what anyone is saying: above the guests voices the wind rises in a frenzy.

Outside a storm is raging. It shrieks around them, it batters the marquee. At each assault the whole structure seems to flex and shudder with a loud groaning of metal; the guests cower in alarm. The doors have come free of their ties and flap at the entrance. The flames of the paraffin torches that illuminate the doorway snicker.

It feels personal, this storm. It feels as though it has saved all its fury for them.

This isn’t the first time the electrics have shorted. But the last time the lights snapped back on again within minutes. The guests returned to their dancing, their drinking, their pill-popping, their screwing, their eating, their laughing…and forgot it ever happened.

How long has it been now? In the dark it’s difficult to tell. A few minutes? Fifteen? Twenty?

They’re beginning to feel afraid. This darkness feels somehow ominous, intense. As though anything could be happening beneath its cover.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.
Past grudges.

Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.
One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

MY THOUGHTS: The air of menace is palpable from the outset, but we don’t find out at whom it is directed until almost the end. There is no shortage of possibilities. It seems that all the main characters bear a grudge against someone, and all have secrets to hide and protect.

Most of the characters aren’t at all likeable, but the cast is an interesting one. The story is told from multiple points of view: Jules, the bride, a success in her own right, who is marrying Will, star of a TV ‘survival’ show;

Olivia, the bride’s sister and only bridesmaid, fragile following her own failed romance;

Johno, best man, odd man out, serial failure, and friend of the groom from their boarding school days;

Hannah, the plus one, mother of two and wife of the bride’s best friend, Charlie;

Aoife, wedding planner and venue owner with her partner Freddie.

Add to this mix the ushers, also Will’s friends from boarding school, and the combination becomes even more volatile.

The story is told over two days, that of the wedding, and the preceding day as the wedding party arrives on the island.

Lucy Foley has created an incredibly atmospheric setting for her novel. There is a whispering cave, a graveyard, a crumbling castle edifice, and a wedding party trapped on an island during a violent storm.

The secrets are slowly revealed, the suspense teased out as we await the inevitable. But who will be the victim? And who is the killer?

A surprising and inventive novel.

🍾🍾🍾🍾.5

#TheGuestList #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Guest List by Lucy Foley 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3150406183?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Sorry there was no post yesterday … I was busy setting up for the fundraiser for our local volunteer fire brigade. It was a wonderful night and, unusually for us, we didn’t get home until the early hours this morning. Clean up is now finished and I can now relax.

Currently I am reading and loving The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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and listening to The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

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This week I am planning on reading The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd

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Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

And A Hope For Emily by Kate Hewitt

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Looking back, I wish I could find my way back to that moment. I’d snatch it and hold onto it and live in it for the rest of my life, if I could. When Emily could still throw her arms around me. Oh God, just give me that moment, or one like it again. That’s all I want.

From the moment Emily was born, reaching out with her tiny little star-shaped hand towards her mother, blinking with long eyelashes over soft blue eyes, she became Rachel’s whole world.

But Rachel’s worst nightmare comes true when a rare auto-immune illness leaves four-year-old Emily in a coma the doctors say she may never come out of. And Rachel has to make a heartbreaking decision—one that her ex-husband, Emily’s dad James, doesn’t agree with.

Terrified she’s going to lose her daughter for good, Rachel knows she must find a way to keep the hope alive for Emily. But there is only one person she can turn to for help to convince James—and it’s his new wife, Eva.

As an unlikely but powerful friendship develops between the two women, both Rachel and Eva will have to ask themselves—what is truly the right choice for the tiny, fragile little girl who lies between them?

And, oh dear, I obviously had a few self control issues this week, being approved for 9 new ARCs from Netgalley…I have given myself a stern talking to and have resolved to ignore the new offerings on the dashboard at NetGalley, and similarly ignore the temptations of Susan’s (susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com)and Carla’s (carlalovestoread.wordpress.com) posts. They each have their own peaks on my TBR mountain range 😂🤣 If you haven’t done so already, you should check out their webpages (with caution!😂🤣)

Anyway, the books I received this week are The First Wife by Jill Childs

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Knock Knock by Chris Merritt

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The Orphan House by Ann Bennett

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The Red Red Snow by Caro Ramsey

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Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle

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The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben

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The Girl You Gave Away by Jess Ryder

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Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

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And finally, The Apartment by K.L. Slater

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Enjoy the remainder of your weekend, wherever you may be . Stay safe and read on.

Cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚

The Stranger in Our Bed bySamantha Lee Howe

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EXCERPT: The rain fell in big fat droplets and poured down into my eyes. My hair was plastered to my head – blonde turned into dirty wet streaks that clung to my cheeks. I’d been here before, another time, another moment of betrayal and sadness. Deja vu. Fear sank down into the pit of my stomach. I was drowning in the endless possibilities of ‘future’. What about my daughter? So small, so helpless, so alone.

Oh God! Melody. She was in the house…..

ABOUT THIS BOOK: I ended my marriage for a man who didn’t exist…

I have everything money can buy. I’m a good wife, but sometimes I feel trapped. And when I start an affair with a stranger called Ewan, my life changes in ways I can’t begin to understand.

Because Ewan breaks apart my marriage piece by piece and then he just disappears. He uses a fake name and leaves no trace behind; it’s like he doesn’t even exist.

Someone did this to me and now they’re waiting for me to unravel, watching my every move. I can’t trust anyone, not even myself – not even the people I love.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved The Stranger in Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howe. A new author to me, this is her debut psychological thriller, although she has several novels in other genre published under the pen name, Sam Stone. She is a seasoned writer, and it shows.

Told entirely from the point of view of Charlotte, and in one consecutive time-line, this is a joy to read. It is twisty – I never knew quite who was manipulating who – quietly sinister, gripping and enthralling. I love the air of menace that pervades everything. Reading this is like being in one of those halls of mirrors where everything is slightly distorted, no matter where you look, and if you did see a true reflection, you probably wouldn’t believe it.

4.5 breathless stars

#TheStrangerInOurBed #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Samantha Lee Howe began her professional writing career in 2007 and has been working as a freelance writer for small, medium and large publishers, predominately writing horror and fantasy under the pen name Sam Stone. This body of work includes 13 novels 5 novellas, 3 collections, over 40 short stories, an audio drama and a Doctor Who spin-off drama that went to DVD.

Samantha’s breakaway debut psychological thriller, THE STRANGER IN OUR BED, is due for release on 14th February 2020 with Harper Collins imprint, One More Chapter.

A former high school English and Drama teacher, Samantha has a BA (Hons) in English and Writing for Performance, an MA in Creative Writing and a PGCE in English.

Samantha lives in Lincolnshire with her husband David and their two cats Leeloo and Skye. She is the proud mother of a lovely daughter called Linzi.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter (very apt for this book), for providing a digital ARC of The Stranger in Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howe 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3026551279?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Still no rain and now we are on severe water restrictions. For the past two days , it has felt like rain, but we are not even getting any dew at night. We were forecast rain later this week, but that seems to have disappeared . Other than one tropical shower, we have had nothing since we returned home New Year’s Day.

I have had a patchy week of reading. I discovered I had missed a book off my reading schedule, so slotted it in thinking that it wouldn’t really cause any problems. But then I wound up spending a day in A&E and xray minus my Kindle after breaking two bones in foot. Do you know how a day can drag without a Kindle ????? So for the next six weeks I am clomping about in a moonboot 😕 Especially frustrating as we are hosting a Fireman’s ball next Saturday night as a fundraiser for our local volunteer Fire Brigade . I guess I won’t be cutting up the dancefloor!

As I said, I am now a little behind on my reading schedule … not helped by the fact that I have worked all weekend. Currently I am reading Sisters By Choice by Susan Mallery and, oh my goodness, I can see a lot of similarities between Sophie and myself .

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And almost finished listening to Chasing the Dead by Tim Weaver. This is the first book in the excellent David Raker series.

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This week I am planning on reading The Crossing by Matt Brolly which I had scheduled for last week.

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When a body is discovered, bled dry on a beach, the sleepy seaside town of Weston-super-Mare wakes up to a nightmare. For Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell, recently transferred to the town she last saw as a child, it’s her first case on the job.

The victim—Veronica Lloyd, an elderly volunteer at a local church—has puncture wounds to her hands. When a priest is found killed in a nearby church in a similarly grisly condition, it becomes clear that Blackwell is dealing with a righteous and bloody murderer. But the victims aren’t random. The killer has a vendetta and is hell-bent on exacting twisted revenge for a dark secret dating back years—and there are more murders planned.

As the body count rises, Blackwell faces a race against time to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity and put an end to the carnage. She thought she knew Weston, but the town holds more secrets than she’d ever have imagined. Who can she trust and who knows more than they are letting on?

She must discover the crimes that unite the victims—before it’s too late.

The Stranger In Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howell

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I ended my marriage for a man who didn’t exist…

I have everything money can buy. I’m a good wife, but sometimes I feel trapped. And when I start an affair with a stranger called Ewan, my life changes in ways I can’t begin to understand.

Because Ewan breaks apart my marriage piece by piece and then he just disappears. He uses a fake name and leaves no trace behind; it’s like he doesn’t even exist.

Someone did this to me and now they’re waiting for me to unravel, watching my every move. I can’t trust anyone, not even myself – not even the people I love.

And hopefully I will at least be able to start Only Lies Remain by Val Collins.

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Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story surrounding Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

I have received six new ARCs from Netgalley this week and have another six requests pending. The new ARCs I received are :

Last One to Lie by J.M. Winchester

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A Forgotten Murder by Jude Devereux

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Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

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The Girls Weekend by Jodi Gehrman

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The Stranger In Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howell

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And What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

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So now I am off to play catch-up and do some serious reading.

Cheers
Sandy

The Warning by Paul Pen

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EXCERPT: I don’t wish to frighten you, but it’s impossible to explain any other way. Please do not go to the gas station in Arenas. The American’s store. Do not go there on August 14, 2009. I don’t want to scare you, but it could be the day of your death. Don’t go. I’m sorry, I had to warn you.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: I don’t wish to frighten you, reads the anonymous note introverted and bullied eight-year-old Leo Cruz finds in his backpack. All the sender asks is that he avoid a certain spot on a certain day, or he’ll die. Leo has reason to be afraid. The warning hearkens back to nearly a decade ago—to the same site, where a murder has become local folklore and a favorite campfire tale reinvented year after year by the kids of Arenas, a small Spanish town.

Leo’s parents initially suspect the lonely boy’s cruel classmates. The perfect joke to terrorize an impressionable victim. Unless, as they come to believe, it’s Leo himself who is the author of the warning.

Is Leo being lured to an unavoidable fate? Is someone taking bullying to a dangerous new level? Or is there something else at work in Arenas, a town with intersecting destinies and a century of secrets?

MY THOUGHTS: I am going to start with an excerpt from the author’s foreword….’I reread The Warning today and suffer when I discover certain passages that I’d never write in the same way now. I wince at each confusing shift in point of view, I roll my eyes at certain similes and metaphors, and I cringe at characters’ intrusive thoughts.’

I feel your pain Paul Pen. I really do, as I did throughout this read. The shifts in not only the point of view, but also the timelines, was confusing. Very confusing. The story doesn’t flow at all. It ought to have been creepy and suspenseful – the plot certainly had all the right ingredients – but I felt none of that. In fact, by the time I reached the 40% point, I was skimming, and I continued to do so through to the 90% point where it finally caught my interest.

I felt nothing for any of the characters – they are simply awful and unlikable, except for poor little Leo, bullied both at school and at home, and Linda, the housekeeper.

I would love to see Paul Pen rewrite this book now, knowing what he does now with several more novels to his name. I believe it would be a vastly different book. There is so much potential that could be explored and developed.

😐😐.5

#TheWarning #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Paul Pen is an Amazon top-3 best-selling Spanish author whose four novels have been translated to English, German, Italian, Russian and Turkish. His book The Light of the Fireflies has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide, while his debut novel El aviso —soon to be published in English for the first time—was adapted to the big screen in 2018. Motion pictures of The Light of the Fireflies and Desert Flowers are also in development, the latter scripted by Pen himself. In his capacity as scriptwriter, Paul Pen is also working on a forthcoming Netflix series.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Crossing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Warning by Paul Pen 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3150404319?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading

It’s a lovely cool evening after a hot day, the crickets are making that noise that I find cery hard to describe, and the birds are in evensong.I love this time of the day! However, I can certainly feel summer sliding into autumn.

Today I have started Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields

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And tomorrow, as I walk to work, I will begin listening to Chasing The Dead by Tim Weaver.

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This week I am planning on reading Sisters By Choice by Susan Mallery

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Cousins by chance, sisters by choice…

After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.

Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.

Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?

and The Crossing by Matt Brolly

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When a body is discovered, bled dry on a beach, the sleepy seaside town of Weston-super-Mare wakes up to a nightmare. For Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell, recently transferred to the town she last saw as a child, it’s her first case on the job.

The victim—Veronica Lloyd, an elderly volunteer at a local church—has puncture wounds to her hands. When a priest is found killed in a nearby church in a similarly grisly condition, it becomes clear that Blackwell is dealing with a righteous and bloody murderer. But the victims aren’t random. The killer has a vendetta and is hell-bent on exacting twisted revenge for a dark secret dating back years—and there are more murders planned.

As the body count rises, Blackwell faces a race against time to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity and put an end to the carnage. She thought she knew Weston, but the town holds more secrets than she’d ever have imagined. Who can she trust and who knows more than they are letting on?

She must discover the crimes that unite the victims—before it’s too late.

Only two new approvals this week:

Her Perfect Life by Rebecca Taylor

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and Last Day by Luanne Rice

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My requesting finger is, temporarily, under control again.

Treacherous by Barbara Taylor Bradford

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EXCERPT: It was in the fifth grade, when they were ten, that Fiona Chambers crossed the soccer field to stand with, and up for, the new girl. Skinny, awkward, and out of place at the posh prep school in New York, Hayley Martin had become a target for the establishment’s well-heeled bullies.

She was taunted about everything; her clothes, an unruly tangle of auburn curls, her status as a scholarship student, and the street slang that popped out of her mouth at inopportune times.

After an essay Hayley wrote about her time living in a homeless shelter was deemed best in the English class, and published in the school paper, the torment became almost intolerable.

Then one day Fiona walked over to the embattled girl, put an arm around her and asked if they could sit together at lunch. That act of compassion changed everything for Hayley.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Heartbreak and betrayal in the gripping new novella from the incomparable Barbara Taylor Bradford.

Hayley Martin and Fiona Chambers have been best friends since they were ten. From the moment that beautiful Fiona stood up to the school bullies for Hayley, the misfit, the two have been inseparable.

Twenty years on, they still share everything, and even run their own business together.

Until a dark secret threatens to test their loyalty to breaking point… What would you do if you discovered that your best friend could be your worst enemy?

MY THOUGHTS: I used to enjoy Barbara Taylor Bradford’s writing. I have not read her, other than the wonderful Cavendish series, for many years. And if this is any indication of what she is writing these days, I won’t be taking any more trips down memory lane with this particular author.

The first third of this novella was fine. Not riveting, but fine. Then enter ‘the man’, and the plot became incredibly and sickeningly saccharine, stupid, and unrealistic. I gave up and turned it off just over 50% through, (view spoiler)

*

#Treacherous

THE AUTHOR: Barbara Taylor Bradford is the author of 30 bestselling novels, including The Cavendon Women, Cavendon Hall, and The Ravenscar Dynasty. She was born in Leeds, England, and from an early age, she was a voracious reader: at age 12, she had already read all of Dickens and the Brontë sisters. By the age of twenty, she was an editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979, and it has become an enduring bestseller.

Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books are published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 88 million. Ten of her novels have been adapted into television mini-series starring actors including Sir Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Deborah Kerr and Elizabeth Hurley. She has been inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame of America, and in June of 2007, Barbara was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Literature.

She lives in New York City with her husband, television producer Robert Bradford, to whom all her novels are dedicated.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Treacherous by Barbara Taylor Bradford, narrated by Jennifer Woodward and published by Harper Collins, via Overdrive. 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3174725846

Watching What I’m Reading…

It is a hot, overcast and very windy afternoon here in Te Kuiti, New Zealand. It has been a busy weekend with work and visitors. My cousin and her husband came for dinner last night. We had roast lamb and a big platter of vegetables out on the deck as dusk fell, followed by homemade lemon and ginger cheesecake and coffee. And although we live in the same town, we both live busy lives and don’t get together as often as we would like. Today my son brought my almost three year old grandson for lunch. He was very tired, having been to two birthday parties yesterday, so we just lay on the bed with all the teddies and I read to him, then while I made lunch the boys all lay about watching one of the Cars movies. They have gone home now, and soon we are heading off to meet up with a Welsh friend who is passing through town this afternoon.

I am currently reading The Nowhere Girl by Nicole Trope

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Echo Park by Michael Connelly

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and listening to I am Missing by Tim Weaver

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This week I am planning on reading The Family Next Door by Fiona Cummins

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For Sale: Lovely family home, ready for your updates. Friendly neighborhood setting close to park; secluded.

If not for the bodies discovered in the woods behind their new home, Garrick and Olivia Lockwood couldn’t have afforded to buy number 25 The Avenue. It’s the fresh start they and their two children badly need. Soon, these terrible crimes will be solved, they tell themselves, and once Garrick has remodeled, he’s confident they’ll sell the house for a profit.

But the darkest secrets can reside on quiet, ordinary streets like this–behind the doors of
well-kept houses and neighbors’ friendly faces. Secrets that can destroy a family, or savagely end a life, and will surface just when they’re least expected . . .

and The Leaving Party by Lesley Sanderson

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Every year on the same day, on the anniversary, I receive a single black rose. Thirteen years of dark petals, jagged thorns, dredging up memories I’ve tried to forget…

I’ve packed up my life. All my belongings are carefully sealed in labelled boxes, my suitcases ready for my big move. I’m just days away from a new life abroad with my boyfriend, Ben.

No one knows the real reason I’m desperate to leave.

My best friend, Lena, is throwing me a leaving party. A celebration, to say goodbye. Champagne to toast my farewell. Speeches, full of fond memories.

No one knows what I’m running from.

Then another black rose appears, dragging up thirteen years of buried memories. My passport goes missing. The very people I am trying to escape from turn up at our house.

Someone knows what I did.

This party was meant to be the first night of the rest of my life – but now I don’t know if I’ll see tomorrow.

Someone knows my secret. They’re in my home, they’re at my party, and they’re making me pay for it.

I received five ARCs from Netgalley this week…

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
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The Banty House by Carolyn Brown

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Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

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Exit by Belinda Bauer

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The Girl You Gave Away by Jess Ryder

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Have a happy week everyone. I am looking forward to hearing about what you’re reading and what new books you have .

cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚