Tangle by Meg Elizabeth Atkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

😍😍😍😍

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

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

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

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

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The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse

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EXCERPT: These are the things I know…

I know my name is Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott.

I know I’m not like everyone else.

I know I was born a little bit different, like someone held the instructions upside down, or lost a part when they opened the box.

I also know that words are powerful things and they have weight.

I know certain words have sat in my stomach for as long as I can remember and weigh so much that when i am in a crowd or meet someone new they pull my shoulders down and make my head hang forward so I can only look at the floor.

Tard.

Fuckwit.

Rabbitmouth.

I know I want to see other countries.

I know I want to go to New York.

I know I want a boyfriend.

I know I want my own kitchen.

I know I want to paint my nails instead of having them caked in mud.

I know I want to own clothes that are pretty.

I know that I want to own sparkly red shoes that I will never get to wear but I can look at whenever I want…

What I don’t know is just how different I am and I also don’t know how I can find this out.

And I know that some days I’m happy and other days I’m sad, but that’s the samne for everyone, isn’t it?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Thomasina ‘Hitch’ Waycott loves living and working on the remote family farm and B&B. But she also wants more. To see the world. To own her own home. To fall madly in love.

But those are fairy tales, and if her life is a fairy tale, then she’s the ugly duckling. Her deformed lip, her crooked limbs and her weak heart have kept her from taking chances. But that’s about to change.

When Grayson Potts comes to stay, he’s unlike anyone Thomasina has ever met. He’s aloof, eccentric and exceptionally kind. He’s also totally unconcerned with the physical flaws that have always defined Thomasina.

The two form a bond that neither has had before. It’s possible that it could become something more, but Thomasina also wonders if it’s too good to be true. By putting her heart on the line, Thomasina may open herself to heartbreak. But she may also open herself to so much more.

MY THOUGHTS: Heartwarming. Heartbreaking. This is a reminder that we should always encourage our children to be the best that they can be, not to enforce our ideas of their limitations upon them, even if we believe we do so out of love.

Thomasina (I refuse to call her Hitch) is a wonderful character. I laughed with her. I cried for her.

Prowse is an extraordinary writer…. she writes with empathy, not sympathy, or pity, but empathy. I think she must be a woman with an exceedingly big heart. A woman who values people just for who they are, not what they are. This shines through into her writing. She never fails to touch my heart.

4.5 very bright stars.

THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for a providing a digital ARC of The Things I Know by Amanada Prowse for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday/wordpess.com This review and others also appear on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2843852328?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot by Susan Mallery

I am catching up on reviewing some of the books I read earlier this year during my enforced hiatus.

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EXCERPT: Sunshine Baxter was done with love at first sight. D.O.N.E. More times than she could count, she’d looked into a pair of – insert any color here – eyes and immediately given her heart. The relationships had all ended in disaster and she’d hated herself for being so incredibly stupid over and over again, so she decided she was finished with the falling in love concept. Over it. Moving on.

Except…

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

MY THOUGHTS: I have never been a great reader of romance, but Mallery has a way of writing that grabs at my heartstrings and totally involves me in the lives of her characters. She writes with grace, humor, and a certain realism that stops well short of cynical. In other words, her books are a pure delight, and The Summer of Sunshine and Margot is no exception.

There are no great surprises, but reading a book by Susan Mallery is a wonderful journey in itself. Her characters are so very real, experiencing the highs and lows of life that so many of us are so very familiar with. Her characters could be us, or our friends, and by the time I had finished this book, I didn’t want to say goodbye to my new friends.

I adored the character of Bianca, headstrong, and yet so very insecure. And I did wonder why Sunshine and Bianca’s mother would call one daughter Sunshine and the other Margot….but I’m afraid that is one question that will remain unanswered.

A delightful read.

****.5

THE AUTHOR: #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. She’s best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Susan is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.

Critics have dubbed Mallery “the new queen of romantic fiction.” (Walmart) Booklist says, “Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling,” and RT Book Reviews puts her “in a class by herself!” It’s no wonder that her books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list.

Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.

Susan lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin – Mira (US & Canada) via NetGalley for providing a digital copy of The Summer of Sunshine & Margot by Susan Mallery for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinion.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday/wordpess.com This review and others also appear on Twitter, Amazon, and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2769256712?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

We Were Sisters by Wendy Clarke

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EXCERPT: Noah is getting restless, squirming in my arms. Quickly, I place him back in the pram, but as I tuck the blanket around him, my hand touches something cold. Picking it out from the covers, I see it’s a locket.

My first instinct is that it’s mine. That the clasp must have come undone and the necklace fallen into the pram as I picked Noah up. My hand rises to my chest, but immediately my fingers make contact with the telltale shape of the locket beneath my jumper.

I stare at the one in my hand, not understanding. It looks just like mine.

Easing my thumbnails into the crack, I prise the two halves apart. Even though I know it’s not possible, I half expect it to contain photographs of my children, but of course it doesn’t. Both sides are empty.

I turn the locket over, a feeling of unease creeping up my spine. On its smooth surface, someone has scratched a word.

Sister.

The necklace slips through my fingers onto the tarmac. I know this locket. I haven’t seen it in fifteen years. It’s the one Freya was wearing the day she died.

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS: I never really got into this book. I didn’t like the main character, Kelly, at all and felt quite sorry for her poor husband, Mitch. Nor did I like Freya.

We Were Sisters was slow and drawn out with a lot of unnecessary introspection on Kelly’s part. The book lacks suspense and as I read on, I became more and more frustrated, both with the characters and the lack of plot development.

The story is set over two timelines, Kelly and Freya’s childhood together, and Kelly’s adulthood. Some chapters are interspersed with letters: we don’t know who has written them, or who they are to, until later in the book.

Overall, I thought the plot was poorly developed, the supposed surprises very hit and miss. This certainly isn’t the heart-pounding suspense thriller that the blurb promised.

This is the second book I have read by this author, and my reaction to both books is almost identical. I think that this author’s writing style just doesn’t suit my tastes, but I know that a lot of people will enjoy this read so, if after reading the EXCERPT this book appeals to you, please pick up a copy and read it.

Lovely cover.

#WeWereSisters #NetGalley

🤔🤔.5

THE AUTHOR: Wendy Clarke has had over three hundred short stories published in national women’s magazines. With a degree in psychology, and intrigued with how the human mind can affect behaviour, it was inevitable she would eventually want to explore her darker side. What She Saw is her debut psychological thriller, published by Bookouture. Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex and when not writing is usually dancing, singing or watching any programme that involves food!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of We Were Sisters by Wendy Clarke 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 profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2891289012?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

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

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

I am about to start

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This week I also plan on reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I received five new ARCs from Netgalley this week

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

Happy reading, my friends. 💕😍📚

The Doctor by Lisa Stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#TheDoctor #NetGalley

🙂🙂🙂.5 stars

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

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

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

The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

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EXCERPT: ‘Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,’ he quotes. ‘Sonnet 116, remember? We read it at our wedding. Four lines each in turn. Then the final couplet together.’

You shake your head. You don’t remember that, no.

‘It’ll come back to you.’ You wonder if he means the memory or the sentiment. ‘My point is, those weren’t just empty words to us. You were always unique, Abbie. Irreplaceable. A perfect wife. A perfect mother. The love of my life. Everyone says that, don’t they? But I really meant it. After I lost you, plenty of people told me I should move on, find someone else to spend my life with. But I knew that was never going to happen. So I did this instead. Was I right to? I don’t know. But I had to try. And even just talking to you now, for these few minutes – seeing you here, in our house, hearing you speak – makes all the years I put into this worthwhile. I love you, Abs. I will always love you. Forever, just like we promised each other on our wedding day.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s an icon of the tech world, the founder of a lucrative robotics company. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago, and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss. She is a miracle of science.

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

MY THOUGHTS: Fascinating. Creepy. Plausible.

This is not what I was expecting at all. It is unconventionally creepy on many levels, mostly because I can see it happening if it hasn’t already done so. That woman in the restaurant who merely pushes the food around her plate? That person who seems too good to be true. How many times have you asked yourself if someone is even real? This book will have you asking that question all over again.

All this is tied in with a ‘love story’. He is a visionary, a wunderkind. What Gates was to personal computers, Jobs was to smartphones, or Musk was to electric cars, Tim Scott is to AI. Abbie is a free spirit, artist, surfer. They are opposites who have attracted, who complement each other, two halves of a whole. Until they have a child who develops CDD. Tim sees Danny as a problem to be solved, he just needs reprogramming. Abbie wants to try every alternative therapy. Cracks begin to appear…

The story is told from two points of view, from that of an unknown narrator, and Abbie. Abbie’s story is split over two timelines – Abbie now, and Abbie then. The identity of the unknown narrator is revealed at the end of the story, and came as somewhat of a surprise to me.

The story itself keeps the reader slightly off balance. Every time I thought I had something figured out, Delaney tipped me on my head. Her characters are unpredictable and thoroughly believable, even the AI ones.

And I want to applaud Delaney for not reducing the impact of autism on the family, for not stinting on her descriptions of autistic behaviour, and for including the joy that is taken from every little gain, no matter how small, no matter if it is never repeated.

This is an excellent read. An unconventional read. A read that will make you think about the role of robots (or, in this case, cobots – emotionally intelligent companion robots ) in our lives.

#ThePerfectWife #NetGalley

😍🤩🤔🤩😍

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J. P. Delaney is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney 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 and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2891285546