What’s Not Said, and What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor

EXCERPT: Kassie spent much of the first half of their marriage trying to save it, and most of the second half trying to escape it.

Several years ago, well at least over the last four to be sure, she’d start each year with one goal: get the hell out. And then something unpredictable, either work or family related, derailed her, making her put off what she knew deep in her heart she had to do.

ABOUT ‘WHAT’S NOT SAID’: Kassie O’Callaghan’s meticulous plans to divorce her emotionally abusive husband, Mike, and move in with Chris, a younger man she met five years ago on a solo vacation in Venice, are disrupted when she finds out Mike has chronic kidney disease—something he’s concealed from her for years. Once again, she postpones her path to freedom—at least, until she pokes around his pajama drawer and discovers his illness is the least of his deceits.

But Kassie is no angel, either. As she struggles to justify her own indiscretions, the secret lives she and Mike have led collide head-on, revealing a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA. Still, mindful of her vows, Kassie commits to helping her husband find an organ donor. In the process, she uncovers a life-changing secret. Problem is, if she reveals it, her own immorality will be exposed, which means she has an impossible decision to make: Whose life will she save—her husband’s or her own?

MY THOUGHTS: I started What’s Not Said by Valerie Taylor with high hopes. Unfortunately, as I read, I became increasingly disenchanted. No doubt there are plenty of people who have marriages like Kassie and Mike. But the more I read of them, the less I liked them, and I really didn’t care what happened to them. They were as bad as one another and probably deserved each other.

Then we meet Kassie’s lover, and the storyline deteriorated even more. Large tracts are given over to the characters sexual exploits. While it is not explicit I didn’t find it particularly enjoyable and I found myself skimming and even skipping pages. By the time I got to 44% I was skipping more than I was reading, so I decided to abandon this read.

I am no prude and I don’t mind sex scenes in my reading matter as long as it is relevant and fitting. With What’s Not Said, I felt that the storyline (if indeed there was one) existed merely as a device to string the sex scenes together.

After my experience with What’s Not Said, I have absolutely no desire to read What’s Not True.

I am well aware that I am very much on my own with my feelings on What’s Not Said, and that it may well be a book that you enjoy, so please check out a selection of the very many positive reviews.

#WhatsNotSaid #NetGalley

I: @valerieetaylor @ shewritespress

T: @TaylorsTracker

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama

THE AUTHOR: Valerie Taylor was born and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. She earned a B.S. Marketing degree and an MBA from Sacred Heart University, as well as a graduate certificate in health care administration from Simmons University (formerly Simmons College). She had a thirty-year career in the financial services industry as a marketer and writer.

After her divorce, she spread her wings and relocated her career to Boston and then to Seattle. When she retired, she resettled in her home state to be near her two grown children and granddaughter. She enjoys practicing tai chi and being an expert sports spectator.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to She Writes Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of What’s Not Said by Valerie Taylor 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 Affair by Hilary Boyd

EXCERPT: The silence in the car was profound, as if she’d suddenly gone deaf.

‘Are you completely out of your mind?’ she whispered, all strength gone from her body.

With a puzzled frown, he leaned over and put both his hands firmly on her crossed forearms, staring intently into her eyes. ‘You look terrified, Connie.’ He drew back a bit. ‘Oh,my God . . . you’re not worried about your husband finding out about us, are you?’ He sighed. ‘You know I’d never betray you. I will never tell a living soul what happened between us, not in a million years.’ He smiled his gentle smile. ‘I just want to be near you.’

ABOUT ‘THE AFFAIR’: Connie McCabe longs for the summer where she spends the days leading tours across the continent.

But it’s on the glamorous shores of Lake Como where she is truly swept away, when Jared, a much younger man, falls for her.

Despite resisting his advances, Connie finds that he’s got under her skin.

And so begins a long, hot, intoxicating summer where Connie succumbs to temptation – breaking her marriage vows.

At the end of the season, Connie returns home to her husband, ready to put this affair behind her.

MY THOUGHTS: Hilary Boyd writes about how easy it is to make a wrong decision when vulnerable. Decisions, actions and consequences are the theme of The Affair.

Connie is an extremely relatable character. Who amongst us has never felt unappreciated, has never wondered if their significant other may have fallen out of love, be bored by them. Who has never felt exasperated by their partner, lost patience with them? Whose marriage has never gone through a rough patch, where you seem to have lost your connection, to be moving in different directions? We’d all like to think that it would never happen to us, but chances are it has, or it will.

Devan, Connie’s husband is a retired G.P. who, now he doesn’t have a purpose in his life, is feeling lost and resentful towards his wife who continues, despite his pleas for her to retire with him, with the job she loves.

Jared is a younger man dancing attendance on his elderly godmother on one of Connie’s tours. One evening, he kisses her . . . and Connie’s life will never be the same.

The Affair is a great cautionary tale, one everyone should read, because what happens after?

Hilary Boyd has written a story that begins as a small meandering stream which gathers power and develops into a raging torrent, one that swept me off my feet.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheAffair #NetGalley

I: @hilaryboyd3837 @michaeljbooks

T: @HilaryBoyd @MichaelJBooks

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mentalhealth #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Boyd was born and spent the first six months of her life in Prestatyn, North Wales, where her father, an army major, was stationed after the war. She was later educated in London, then at the boarding school Roedean. She trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and subsequently as a marriage guidance counsellor with Relate before reading English Literature at London University in her late 30s.

After college, Boyd became a health journalist, writing about depression, step-parenting and pregnancy. She began writing fiction as a hobby whilst raising three children and working at various day jobs including running a cancer charity, Survive Cancer, working for an engineering company, and an online vitamin site.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin, Michael Joseph via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Affair by Hilary Boyd 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 . . .

I had no idea when I posted last Sunday that my next Sunday post would find New Zealand in lockdown, but here we are! I really am not complaining though. We went into lockdown on Wednesday, which I spent most of at work, shutting everything off and down. I went back to work Friday for a few hours to pay the taxes – even under lockdown, the government still expects to be paid – and touching base with our staff to make sure everyone is okay. 3:00 p.m. today we will be advised if lockdown is to be extended beyond Monday. I would lay money that it will as case numbers are still climbing daily, and they’re currently trying to trace over 5,000 contacts of those who are infected.

Still, we’ve been here before and no doubt will be here again. I am enjoying the break, although I will be back at work tomorrow to pay staff and apply for the wage subsidy and whatever else is available. In meantime we have been stripping wallpaper from the lounge walls and plastering, ready to paint. We are lucky that we can go online and order everything we need and have it delivered. Got to love the internet!

Anyway, let’s get to the real reason we’re here – books. Currently I am reading The Affair by Hilary Boyd, a new author for me. Connie, the main character, is a tour guide and I have enjoyed touring through Italy, Poland and the north of Scotland with her.

I am about to start Darkness Falls by David Mark

And I am doing a read/listen to The Unwelcome Guest by Amanda Robson. If you think your mother-in-law is the one from hell, check out Caprice!

This week I planning on reading What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor.

With the court date set for her divorce and the future she’d planned with a younger man presumably kaput, Kassie O’Callaghan shifts attention to reviving her stalled marketing career. But that goal gets complicated when she unexpectedly rendezvous with her former lover in Paris. After a chance meeting with a colleague and a stroll along Pont Neuf, Kassie receives two compelling proposals. Can she possibly accept them both?

Kassie’s decision process screeches to a halt when her soon-to-be ex-husband has a heart attack, forcing her to fly home to Boston. There, she confronts his conniving and deceitful fiancée—a woman who wants not just a ring on her finger but everything that belongs to Kassie. In the ensuing battle to protect what’s legally and rightfully hers, Kassie discovers that sometimes it’s what’s not true that can set you free.

But first I need to read What’s Not Said, the first in the series, which I also have on my shelf.

Kassie O’Callaghan’s meticulous plans to divorce her emotionally abusive husband, Mike, and move in with Chris, a younger man she met five years ago on a solo vacation in Venice, are disrupted when she finds out Mike has chronic kidney disease—something he’s concealed from her for years. Once again, she postpones her path to freedom—at least, until she pokes around his pajama drawer and discovers his illness is the least of his deceits.

But Kassie is no angel, either. As she struggles to justify her own indiscretions, the secret lives she and Mike have led collide head-on, revealing a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA. Still, mindful of her vows, Kassie commits to helping her husband find an organ donor. In the process, she uncovers a life-changing secret. Problem is, if she reveals it, her own immorality will be exposed, which means she has an impossible decision to make: Whose life will she save—her husband’s or her own.

And The Selling Point by Marci Bolden.

Darby Zamora has always gotten by with work that suits her unique way of life, but success hasn’t exactly come easy. A former bridal seamstress, Darby gave up making custom gowns years ago. Her heart was always too big for her business’s pocketbook, until she comes up with a way to make an old business new again: The Un-Do Wedding Boutique.

Selling dresses online in her bridal consignment shop has merchandise flying off the virtual shelves. People are lining up not only to buy the dress overstock that Darby’s been holding onto, but she has new clients desperate for her to help them re-sell their unused wedding items.

But success comes at a steep price when ghosts from her past resurface and make Darby and her new company confront harsh realities of life and business. With the help of her friends Jade and Taylor, Darby is forced to reassess her business, rediscover herself, and ultimately find her selling point. 

Although, again, I need to read the first in the series, The Restarting Point.

Marketing executive and mother of two, Jade Kelly can now add cancer survivor to her list of successes. But while her life looks good on paper, four months out of treatment, Jade realizes she hardly knows her college-age children and she and her husband Nick are little more than housemates.

Determined to start over, Jade schedules a family vacation to a lakefront cabin. When her kids bail and Nick stays home to handle a last minute work crisis, Jade heads to Chammont Point alone, determined to dust herself off and figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

While she’s away, the life she thought she had unravels. Secrets, lies, and old wounds drive Jade into new adventures and new relationships. With the help of family and new found friends, Jade learns starting over sometimes means finding a brand new restarting point.

So fingers crossed that lockdown continues, otherwise I won’t get the lounge finished, or meet my reading target.

I have 6 new ARCs this week plus one audio ARC. They are:

A Matter of Time by Claire Askew

Now I Found You by Mila Oliver

The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine, another 2nd book in a series where I still have the first, The Christmas Killer, to read 😱

The Editor’s Wife by Clare Chambers, a new author for me.

Afraid of the Light by Douglas Kennedy, an author adore

And The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

The audio ARC that I received is Whisper Cottage by Ann Wynn Clark and narrated by Lauren Moakes, who I don’t believe I have listened to previously.

Where have your book travels taken you in the past week? I have been in a small village in the mountains of Greece in both 1942 and just prior to Covid; Dublin, Ireland; Warsaw, Poland in 1944 ; and London, England in both 1944 and 2019; and Venice, Lake Como, and Verona, Italy, the north of Scotland, and Somerset, England pre-Covid. Have we crossed paths?

And now I am going to bid you arivederci and watch the final 20 laps of the Indy racing from St Louis, Mo., where rookie Kiwi, Scot McLaughlin is coming 4th!

Happy reading ❤📚

Mrs March by Virginia Feito

EXCERPT: When she padded back to bed, something caught her eye in the building opposite. A red light in one of the windows. She tensed, her first thought that it was a fire, but as she looked longer, she realized it was a lamp draped in cherry coloured organza, which cast a warm glow. The various other windows in building were mostly dark, some strobing with the soft pulse of a television screen.

She moved closer to her own window, her nose almost pressing against the glass. It had begun to snow. The snowflakes floated down, the ones passing by the window illuminated red for a split second, lighting up like embers before continuing their descent, the black night flickering saffron, hellish.

Her eyes went back to the glowing room. It was a bedroom, dark except for the reddish glow. After some seconds she managed to make out a woman, bent over, her back to the window. She was wearing a pink silk slip, her milky thighs on full display. Mrs March cleared her throat, then looked over her own shoulder, as if someone had caught her spying. She trained her eyes back on the woman. What was she bending over? Mrs March could see the corner of a mattress, or a couch cushion. Leaning further, she bumped her forehead against the windowpane and, as if she had heard her, the woman in the pink slip turned around.

From Mrs March’s throat issued an unwilling sound, some tortured garble between a gasp and a scream. There was blood – so much blood – soaking the front of the woman’s slip and matting her hair and staining her hands – hands now pressed against the window to form bloody prints. Mrs March pushed herself away from the window in one jerky movement, falling backward onto the bed, her book crunching underneath her spine. She failed her arms toward George’s bedside table, shaking her hands free of the numbness creeping up to her fingers. She pulled the telephone to her and crept to the window. The cord went taut, halting her movement.

She stood there, the receiver pressed to her ear – the dial tone now a harsh beeping – as she looked out across the courtyard. The red glow was gone. The woman was gone, too.

ABOUT ‘MRS MARCH’: George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.

A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book – a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.

One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.

MY THOUGHTS: Mrs March by Virginia Feito is a strangely compelling and disturbing read.

We follow the journey of Mrs March as she descends from a lifestyle of privilege and status as the wife of a successful author, into the realms of paranoia and psychosis as she comes to believe that the main character in her husband’s latest book, an ugly prostitute named Johanna, is based on her.

Mrs March is very much a character driven book, and Mrs March is very much the main character. She appears to have no friends, merely acquaintances. She is terrified of her housekeeper. She maintains a very distant relationship with her son. And even the relationship between her and her husband is very formal. We don’t even know Mrs March’s first name until the final few sentences. She is quite childlike in her inability to take care of herself and her family.

The era Mrs March is set in isn’t specified, although I would guess it to be the late 1950s or early 1960s.

The book itself is a bit of an enigma. I had questions racing through my mind all the time I was reading. Some were answered. Some weren’t. The finale is quite spectacular, and for me was totally unexpected.

This is an outstanding debut novel.

⭐⭐⭐.9

#MrsMarch #NetGalley

I: @4thestatebooks

#domesticdrama #historicalfiction #mentalhealth #mystery #psychologicalsuspense

THE AUTHOR: A native of Spain, Virginia Feito was raised in Madrid and Paris, and studied English and drama at Queen Mary University of London. She lives in Madrid, where she writes her fiction in English. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to 4th Estate and William Collins via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Mrs March by Virginia Feito 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 . . .

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. ❤📚

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! ❤📚

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

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 Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

EXCERPT: January 2019
Wendy is as good as her word, and the Raven Hall invitation is delivered to Sadie’s flat the next day, along with an incredibly chic, old-fashioned suitcase with Sadie Langton printed on the luggage label. Sadie studies the front of the heavily embossed card: ‘You are cordially invited to play a game at Raven Hall.’ She flips it over to read the details: ‘Saturday 19th January. Chauffeur to collect you 5:00 p.m. Drinks in the drawing room from 7:00 p.m. Dinner and the game to commence 7:30 p.m. in the dining hall.’ Beneath this is a handwritten line in looping blue ink: ‘Thank you so much for agreeing to join us – it will be a weekend to remember!’

ABOUT ‘THE PERFECT GUESTS’: A very quick read that hooked me almost immediately. The Perfect Guests takes place over two timelines.

1988: Beth is an orphaned teenager who is fostered out to a couple with a daughter of a similar age, Nina. They live at Raven Hall.

2019: Sadie, a struggling actress, is offered the very well paid role of a guest at a murder-mystery weekend at….Raven Hall.

The story is told from the perspectives of Beth and Sadie, and occasionally from that of another character, whose identity is not revealed until over halfway through the book.

I really liked this book initially, it swept me along, my feelings of apprehension and anticipation skyrocketing. But then it all began to get a bit untidy, repetitive, and a little loose, for lack of a better word. It started to lack cohesion, became a bit random and awkward. And the ending? Yeah, okay, I might have rated it a little higher if it were not for ‘The Return to Raven Hall’ – the last two chapters were just a step too far.

BUT, I will be interested to see what this author comes up with next.

⭐⭐⭐.2

#ThePerfectGuests #NetGalley

I: @emmarousaithor @littlebrownbookgroup_uk

T: @EJRous @LittleBrownUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #suspense

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emma grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives near Cambridge in England with her husband and three sons, and her rescue dog and cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Little Brown Book Group UK for providing a digital ARC of The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous 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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

I’m late!

It’s been a hectic few days. A stomach bug has been raging through town. My neighbour and friend Helen is down with it. My husband came home from work today with it. I have staff off work with it which resulted in my working 11 1/2 hours yesterday. Fingers crossed that I can avoid it.

So, although it’s Monday, here’s my Sunday post.

Currently I am reading The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

Set in north Queensland outback, I am enjoying this read. Thanks Elise from the Waitomo District Library book group for recommending this. I will be reading more from this author.

I am also reading The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. It’s excellent!

And A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer which I have only just started. This was previously titled Safe From Harm.

I am listening to Safe Witness by Karin Slaughter

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game–and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined–even with damage from a fire decades before–but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

And The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

The only relationship she can’t save is her own . . .
Alison is a marriage counsellor. Her job is to help couples who fear they have reached the end of the line. But the trouble with spending your time sorting out other people’s problems is that you tend to take your eye off your own. Even when her husband’s ex Lydia arrives on the doorstep demanding to see her son, Alison thinks she can handle it. But what Alison doesn’t realise is that Lydia is the one person who has the ability to destroy their perfect family. And sometimes the cracks can run so deep that even a marriage mender can’t repair them . . . 

I received only three new ARCs this week, two Kindle format and 1 audiobook, False Witness by Karin Slaughter, which I started this morning.

Summer Island Sisters by Ciara Knight

And The Little Island Secret by Emma Davies

This week I have been to The Isle of Shura in Scotland, briefly to Riva in Italy, and Stockholm, Sweden. Where have your reading travels taken you this week?

Happy reading!