Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday. Luke has just gone home with his Dad and I have done a quick sweep around the house. I found a pair of his socks halfway down the hall, and his raptor in the dining room after we had been playing dinosaur hide and seek.

We have also baked cookies, caught up with all the laundry, and read lots of stories. He is starting to make up stories of his own now. I should write them down for him and illustrate them. Something to keep in mind for his next visit. Luke turns 4 next week and we’re having a birthday party for him next Saturday.

But, on to books….. I am currently reading Sally Hepworth’s The Good Sister.

Die of Shame by Mark Billingham

And listening to Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, #2 in the Kate Burkholder series that I had somehow missed reading.

This week I am planning on reading The Whispers by Heidi Perks.

A MISSING WIFE. FOUR FRIENDS. WHO IS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Anna Robinson hasn’t been seen since she went on a night out with her four closest friends.

She has a loving husband and a son she adores. Surely she wouldn’t abandon them and her perfect life. . .

But what has happened to her?

At the school gates, it’s not long before the rumours start. Anna’s oldest friend Grace is beside herself with worry – desperately searching for answers, and certain that someone is hiding the truth.

With each day that passes, Anna’s life is under increasing threat. And a the pressure mounts, it won’t be long before something cracks. . .

I am keeping my reading load deliberately light because of my workload, but if I can, I will add a title from my backlist.

Only two new ARCs this week: Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

And A Family Affair by Julie Houston

What are you planning on reading this week? Have a great one.

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Dusk on Good Friday.

It’s Easter Sunday today, and despite the Easter Bunny forgetting me, it’s been a beautiful day, a beautiful weekend after a week of thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

Currently I am reading Hummingbird Lane by Carolyn Brown. This is the second book that I have read by this author and she is definitely on my favourites list. Her characters are superb.

I am listening to A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo, #10 in the Kate Burkholder series.

This week I am planning on reading The Best of Friends by Alex Day.

Susannah is rebuilding her life…
Susannah has had a tough year. After a sticky divorce and losing the life she had grown accustomed to, moving to a small town in the south of England with her two sons is exactly the fresh start she needs.

Charlotte seems to have it all…
Charlotte is delighted when Susannah moves in. Charlotte may appear to have the perfect husband, the perfect family, the perfect house, but deep down she’s lonely, and she needs someone to confide in.

But one of them is not who they pretend to be…
The two women instantly become best friends. But underneath the surface, secrets, lies and betrayals are all hiding. And when the truth comes out, not everyone will live to tell the tale…

That is probably all I will get read this week as I am training my new staff member plus have a number of functions on including a lunch for our over 60s group, an engagement party and the speedshear. We have travelled up to our son in Hamilton each day this week to help get his new workshop ready to move into. He had been planning the move for this weekend but delays in the electrical cabling for the hoists has put him behind. I have spent the weekend sanding down and painting the offices, customer area, lunch room, bathrooms and library. One final coat tomorrow and at least that area will be ready. I could hardly move when I got out of bed this morning. I have found muscles that I’d forgotten I had!

I received 4 new Netgalley ARCs this week, all of them from Carla and Susan’s lists from last week.

A Road Trip to Remember by Judith Kleim. Isn’t that cover delicious! I could do with some time at the beach right now.

A Bucket List to Die For by Lorraine Fouchet

The Lost Girls of Ireland by Susanne O’Leary

And Little Boy Lost by Ruhi Choudhary.

I am going to leave you with this morning’s sunrise. If you look closely you will see the Easter Cross lit up between the trees on the skyline.

Happy Easter, and happy reading my friends.

Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen

EXCERPT: I haven’t looked at this music since the day I bought it in Rome. Now, as I clip the page to the stand, I think of that gloomy antiques shop, and the proprietor, lurking like some cave creature in the alcove. Goose bumps suddenly stipple my skin, as if the chill of the shop still clings to this music.

I pick up my violin and begin to play.

On this humid afternoon, my instrument sounds deeper, richer than ever, the tone mellow and warm. The first thirty-two bars of the waltz are as beautiful as I’d imagined, a lament in a mournful baritone. But at measure forty, the notes accelerate. The melody twists and turns, jarred by the accidentals, and soars into the seventh position on the E-string. Sweat breaks out on my face as I struggle to stay in tune and maintain the tempo. I feel as if my bow takes off on its own, that it’s moving as though bewitched and I’m just struggling to hold onto it. Oh, what glorious music this is! What a performance piece, if I can master it. The notes skitter up the scale. Suddenly I lose all control and everything goes off-pitch, my left hand cramping as the music builds to a frenzy.

A small hand grasps my leg. Something warm and wet smears my skin.

I stop playing and look down. Lily stares up at me, her eyes as clear as turquoise water. Even as I jump up in dismay and wrench the garden tool from her bloody hand, not a ripple disturbs her calm blue eyes. Her bare feet have tracked footprints across the patio flagstone. With growing horror, I follow those footprints back to the source of the blood.

Then I start screaming.

ABOUT ‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’: What if your child wanted you dead?

Julia doesn’t understand what is happening to her daughter, but she thinks she knows what’s causing it. She is terrified for Lily, and for herself, but what scares her more is that no one believes her.

If she is going to help Lily, she will have to find the answers alone, embarking on a search that will take her to the shadowy back streets of Venice.

There, Julia uncovers a heartbreaking, long-buried tale of tragedy and devastation – a discovery that puts her in serious danger. Some people will do anything in their power to keep the truth silent…

MY THOUGHTS: Wow! I picked this up and didn’t put it down until I had finished. Playing With Fire is an extremely cleverly crafted novel. The melody in ‘Incendio’ is not the only thing that twists and turns.

We switch between present day Brookline, Massachusetts with violinist Julia Ansdell, and the late 1930’s in Venice, Italy with violinist Lorenzo Todesco, composer of Incendio.

Interspersed with Julia’s battles to master this complex composition, and the atrocities perpetrated by her three year old daughter Lily, is Lorenzo’s story which takes place as the rights of the Italian Jews are being eroded, and eventually as they are rounded up and sent north to ‘labour camps.’ But as we all know, they were no labour camps. The reality was far more grim.

Playing With Fire gripped me from the first page to the last. There is a palpable sense of menace emanating from both storylines. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to fear that your angelic looking three year old daughter is trying to kill you. Nor what it must be like to be torn from your home in the middle of the night with only the clothes on your back, herded away from everything that is familiar and dear to you, and then forcibly separated from your loved ones.

Playing With Fire was nothing like I expected. It was even better.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#PlayingWithFire #NetGalley #tess.gerritsen #bantampress

@tessgerritsen @BantamPress

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #historicalfaction #mystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishing, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen for review. I unreservedly apologise for taking so long to read this. 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 . . .

Storm clouds are gathering. The weather that has flooded New South Wales this week is due to hit New Zealand tonight. The sunrise this morning was spectacular, but I’m afraid that I just lay in bed and enjoyed it this morning. I did think about leaping out of bed and grabbing the camera, but my body wasn’t listening 🤷‍♀️

Currently I am reading Small Town Secrets by Alys Murray, which is absolutely delightful! This is a book that I requested because the cover appealed, but it is definitely a winner. It’s a light romance with a few life lessons. I love the characters, who are well developed, quirky, and believable.

I am listening to Partners in Crime by Stuart MacBride, (Logan McRae 6.5-7.5) I love this author’s sense of humour.

I am also reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. This is another book peopled by characters I love. This is the April group read for the ‘All About Books’ Goodreads.com group. This would make an excellent movie.

This week I am planning on reading Syrian Brides by Anna Halabi. The author provided me with an ARC.

This delightful collection of short stories offers insight into the lives of Syrian women, both the married and the brides-to-be. It reveals the warmth and humor as well as the oppression in the Syrian society. The stories make the reader laugh while addressing serious issues such as domestic violence.
Um Hussam can’t find a suitable bride for her son, testing each candidate’s sight, hearing and reading skills, occasionally cobbing a feel. Jamila’s husband Hassan can’t forget his deceased wife, until she makes sure he never mentions her again. Rami can’t help but wonder whether his new bride is a natural beauty or a talented surgeon’s masterpiece. Khadija’s maid stabs her in the back while Rana’s husband Muafak can’t find the right excuse to avoid a fight. 

And Of Magpies and Men by Ode Ray. This is also an author ARC.

Can any good come of longings that a person can never satisfy? If so, good for whom?

Two corpses wash ashore in a picturesque Italian village, the violence that put them there is bound to a long-held secret and two strangers living worlds apart with seemingly nothing in common.

Benedict Grant a wealthy Londoner, leading a lonely life.

Marie Boulanger a nurse and single mum, struggling to make ends meet in Marseille.

However, a mother’s illicit revelation will set in motion a chain of events that will reshape their identities, stir poignant family affairs and delve into the by-products of lawless decisions.

I am possibly being a little ambitious this week as it is the end of our financial year so there’s a lot of extra work to be done.

I received three new Netgalley ARCs this week:

The Last Night in London by Karen White

My Little Girl by Shalini Boland

and The Whispers by Heidi Perks

What are you planning on reading this week? I have three reviews I need to write, but as I am having trouble stringing my thoughts together coherently, I will wait until the morning to make a start, and hope that get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Has anyone else had any trouble downloading the audiobook Mrs Wiggins? I have made several unsuccessful attempts to download it to my ipod. It jams at around 10% and goes no further. I haven’t had this problem with any of the other audiobooks I have downloaded from Netgalley.

Have a wonderful week everyone!❤📚

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

EXCERPT: October 20

I look up as a man with ruddy cheeks walks into the restaurant, shaking rain from his baseball cap. ‘Hey, sweetheart,’ he calls to the pink-haired girl mixing drinks behind the bar. ‘Any chance you can hang this in the window?’

‘Sure thing,’ she says, nodding toward the piece of paper in his hand. ‘Another fundraiser for the fire department?’

‘No, someone’s gone missing,’ he says.

‘Missing? What happened to her?’

‘Not her. Him.’

‘Him? Well that’s not something you hear every day.’

‘Disappeared the night of the storm. Trying to get the word out.’

The door closes behind him as she walks to the end of the bar and picks up the flyer, reading aloud to the woman eating lunch at the corner seat. ‘Dr. Sam Statler, a local therapist, is six foot one, with black hair and green eyes. He’s believed to be driving a 2019 Lexus RX350.’ Whistling, she holds up the piece of paper. ‘Whoever he’s gone missing with is a lucky lady.’ I steal a glance at Sam’s photograph – those eyes, that dimple, the word MISSING in seventy-two-point font above his head.

‘I saw the story in the paper this morning,’ the woman at the bar says. ‘He went to work and never came home. His wife reported him missing.’

The pink-haired girl goes to the window. ‘Wife, huh? Sure hope she has a good alibi. You know the old saying: ‘When a man goes missing, it’s always the wife.’ ‘

ABOUT ‘GOODNIGHT BEAUTIFUL’: Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

MY THOUGHTS: I made this comment when I was 38% through Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy, ‘OMG! This is like a packet of chocolate biscuits. You just can’t stop at one!’ Only it’s not like a packet of chocolate biscuits, it’s like a box of your favourite chocolates. An endless box….

I read Goodnight Beautiful voraciously. I devoured it, and licked my fingers afterwards. This is a cleverly plotted and addictive read. I read it every moment I could, and many when I shouldn’t have.

Goodnight Beautiful is a true psychological thriller. I am not going to recap the plot, or talk about the characters. I read the synopsis back in September 2020 when I requested the ARC. I didn’t reread it before I started reading, and I recommend you do the same. The twists and turns will knock you for six, so clear your day and settle down to read this in one session.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#GoodnightBeautiful #NetGalley #aimeemolloy718 #hodderstoughton

@aimeenmolloy @hodderbooks

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Aimee Molloy is a New York Times bestselling author of several books such as: However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph. She is also the co-author of many non-fiction books like Jantsen’s Gift and The Perfect Mother.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy 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 . . .

Another weekend draws to a close here in New Zealand. I really don’t know where this one went. There’s a distinct nip in the air when the sun goes behind the clouds, and the first of the leaves are beginning to colour.

I got the plans for my new kitchen on Friday, and I love it. I am going to take a couple of hours out of work on Wednesday and go pick my bench top, cupboards, etc. So excited!

I am about to start reading Dear Neighbour by Anna Willett.

I am listening to The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

This week I am also planning on reading Whoever Fights Monsters by Angelo Marcos.

You’d kill to protect your family. The question is… how many times?

Three men are about to begin the worst bombing campaign in history, targeting schools in order to kill as many innocent children as they can.

One night, the mysterious Aurora appears and tells family man Nathaniel Bennett three things.

Firstly, that his daughter will be one of the victims.

Secondly, that he is the only one who can stop these atrocities from happening.

Thirdly, to stop them he’ll have to kill all three of the men. If even one is left alive, the bombings will still happen and hundreds of children – including his daughter – will die.

We follow Nathaniel as he wrestles with his mission – and himself. Is he a soldier following orders and saving children, or is he the monster, stalking and killing three men who – so far – have done nothing wrong?

And, to the rest of the world – and the police – does it even make a difference?

This week I received a Publisher’s widget for Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

A Netgalley ARC for The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden

and one audiobook ARC, Mrs Wiggins by Mary Monroe

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!❤📚

The Night Gate by Peter May

EXCERPT: A sound that whispers like the smooth passage of silk on silk startles him. Movement in the darkness ahead morphs into silhouette. Momentary light catches polished steel, before he feels the razor-like tip of it slash across his neck. There is no real pain, just an oddly invasive sensation of burning, and suddenly he cannot breathe. His hands fly to his neck, warm blood coursing between cold fingers. He presses both palms against the wound as if somehow they might keep the blood from spilling out of him. He hears it gurgling in his severed windpipe. Just moments earlier he had been consumed by anger. Now he understands that he is going to die, but somehow cannot accept it. It is simply not possible. Consciousness rapidly ebbs to darkness and he drops to his knees. The last thing he sees, before falling face-first to the floor, is his killer. Caught in a fleeting moment of moonlight. And he simply cannot believe it.

ABOUT ‘THE NIGHT GATE’: The body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree.

A famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house.

Both deaths have occurred more than 70 years apart.

Asked by a forensic archaeologist in Paris to take a look at the site of the former, Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter, and two narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding against a backdrop of real events in Occupied France in the 1940s; the other contemporary, set in a France going back into Covid lockdown in the autumn of 2020.

At the heart of both is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Tasked by de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of the Mona Lisa as it is moved from chateau to chateau by the Louvre, she finds herself both wooed and pursued by two Germans sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre has secretly engaged the services of the 20th century’s greatest forger to produce a duplicate of the great lady, one that even those who know her well find hard to tell apart. The discovery of its existence is the thread that links both narratives. And both murders.

MY THOUGHTS: The Night Gate is the seventh in the Enzo Files series by Peter May. It is a superb blend of contemporary fiction, historical fiction, and ‘whodunnit’ that switches between WWII in France and the current Covid pandemic.

In the 1940’s we follow Georgette Pignall as she lays her life on the line to protect La Jaconde from the Nazi invaders. This is a fascinating thread full of intrigue and action, and one that will leave you wondering about the provenance of what is probably the most famous painting in the world.

In 2020 the remains of a ranking officer of the Luftwaffe with a bullet hole in his skull are discovered in the tiny medieval village of Carennac on the banks of the River Dordogne when a dead tree is dislodged by a slip. Enzo is called in to cast a professional eye over the ‘grave’ when the forensic archaeologist Professor Magali Blanc is unable to travel to the site.

While he is there another, contemporary, murder is discovered and the local gendarmes, unused to dealing with such a crime, make use of Enzo’s expertise.

May’s characters are, as always, superb. They seem to jump from the page and stride about, such is the realism. The intertwining stories are intriguing, and the links between the timelines, other than the Mona Lisa (La Jaconde) not apparent until the end.

Many of the characters in The Night Gate are real, and many of the events actually occurred – the evacuation of artworks from the Louvre to various Chateaux around France; the Nazis burning of paintings; the shooting of Maquis fighters in Saint-Cere; the courageous action of Berthe Nasinec in preventing a massacre of the citizens of Saint-Cere; and the extraordinarily selfless work of Rose Valland in cataloguing the art the Nazis stole so that it could be tracked down, post-war, and returned to its rightful owners. And these are just a small portion of the actual historical events Peter May has woven through his narrative.

While The Night Gate is not my very favourite of the Enzo series, it is right up there. I don’t recommend that The Night Gate be read as a stand-alone as there is too much background of the contemporary characters that you would be missing out on and which would impact on your understanding of some of the events and references to the past storylines that are included in this book. But I do strongly recommend that you read it.

NOTE: The Night Gate is, apparently, the finale to the Enzo series.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheNightGate #NetGalley

#authorpetermay #quercusbooks

@authorpetermay @quercusbooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #historicalfiction #historicalfaction #murdermystery #WWII

THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BBC, he quit journalism and during the high-octane fifteen years that followed, became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists. He created three prime-time drama series, presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland as script editor and producer, and worked on more than 1,000 episodes of ratings-topping drama before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.

He has won several literature awards in France. He received the USA’s Barry Award for The Blackhouse, the first in his internationally bestselling Lewis Trilogy. In 2014 Entry Island won both the Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and a CWA Dagger as the ITV Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year.

Peter lives in South-West France with his wife, writer Janice Hally, and in 2016 both became French by naturalisation. (Peter May)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Night Gate by Peter May 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 . . .

After a week of cool,wet and stormy weather, the weekend has been magnificent. Clear blue skies, and hot. Just how I like it. 🏖

I have been working every day since my 2-i-c left, and will work right through until my new one starts after Easter. I have had Luke this weekend too, so other than Luke’s books, I haven’t read anything.

Currently I am reading The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich.

and listening to The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

This week I am planning on reading The Night Gate by Peter May

In a sleepy French village, the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree.
A week later a famous art critic is viciously murdered in a nearby house.
The deaths occurred more than seventy years apart.
Asked by a colleague to inspect the site of the former, forensics expert Enzo Macleod quickly finds himself embroiled in the investigation of the latter.  Two extraordinary narratives are set in train – one historical, unfolding in the treacherous wartime years of Occupied France; the other contemporary, set in the autumn of 2020 as France re-enters Covid lockdown.

And Enzo’s investigations reveal an unexpected link between the murders – the Mona Lisa.

Tasked by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle to keep the world’s most famous painting out of Nazi hands after the fall of France in 1940, 28-year-old Georgette Pignal finds herself swept along by the tide of history. Following in the wake of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as it is moved from château to château by the Louvre, she finds herself just one step ahead of two German art experts sent to steal it for rival patrons – Hitler and Göring.

What none of them know is that the Louvre itself has taken exceptional measures to keep the painting safe, unwittingly setting in train a fatal sequence of events extending over seven decades.

Events that have led to both killings.

And Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

This week I received 4 Kindle ARCs and 1 audiobook from Netgalley.

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

A Million Things by Emily Spurr

The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

and the audiobook is The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

I am super excited about both The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson and Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson.

And now I had better get back to Luke…he has devised another game for us to play, one that requires me to make a tent 🤣😂

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

EXCERPT: Herb says Myra has drowned herself with Charlotte, where the beach is rocky and the tide tinged gray-yellow, its crest effervescent.

At the inn, wind batters the wooden shingles like the ocean thrumming the shore at high tide. The squall sends sand whipping through the air. The pier empties of people, except for the lone fishermen who wear rubber boots and heavy yellow raincoats, casting their lines in turbid water.

Myra and Herb are ensconced in the inn, wrapped in sweaters and crocheted afghan blankets. Occasional guests trickle in, but not often. People visit the Oregon coast in summer.

Myra doesn’t take vacations during the off-season, no matter how many empty winters pass. Charlotte knows her mother is waiting. She lived for the scent of the ocean, for the lacquer of salt on her skin. The crabs hidden under mounds of sand and the starfish in the tide pools enchanted Myra’s youngest child. Myra supposes this is why Charlotte was so attracted to the mystery of the deep dark sea. The waves sweep away an entire pool of living things, but with the next tide, they begin again.

And so, Myra is not particularly surprised when her dead daughter walks in the door.

ABOUT ‘CALL ME ELIZABETH LARK’: Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.

MY THOUGHTS: Don’t go into Call Me Elizabeth Lark expecting a thriller. Yes, there is gunfire and a car chase. But this is not a thriller. A character driven mystery is, to my mind, a more apt description.

Myra has bi-polar. She is a mother who has become untethered by grief and, although she has two other children, her life centres around the missing, presumed dead (by everyone but Myra) Charlotte. Several times in the past she has believed that she has found Charlotte, only to be disappointed. But this time…

Gwen is Charlotte’s older sister. She was ‘looking after’ Charlotte when she disappeared. She believes her mother blames her for Charlotte’s disappearance, and mother and daughter don’t seem to connect at all. She overcompensates by being the ‘perfect mother’ to her daughters, and she is rigidly in control of her life as if that will make up for her mother’s flakiness. Jimi, the youngest, and only son, never knew Charlotte. He was born after she disappeared, but he has lived his life in her shadow.

Into their lives arrives Elizabeth and her five year old son Theo.

There are a lot of things I liked about Call Me Elizabeth Lark. The first is the cover, which is absolutely beautiful, but has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. I love the way Elizabeth is torn between wanting to give her son a wonderful home with the Barkley family, and not wanting to cause them any more pain than they have already endured. Similarly I love the way the author has depicted motherhood, the pressures to do it better than anyone else, the uncertainties, the doubts, the insecurities. I also love the way she has portrayed the intricacies of marriage, the give and take, the compromises, the flare-ups, the betrayals, the forgiveness, the stand-offs.

The mystery carried me along beautifully until almost the end of the book, when everything became overly dramatic and, dare I say it? – faintly ridiculous. The ‘white room’ in which several of the characters are held, the confrontation when he could have just ‘disappeared’ his captives, and the gunfight at the Okay Corral. All a bit OTT and unnecessary.

Yes, it does get a bit messy in places, but mostly I liked this read. The author has a great talent for getting to the essence of her characters. I will definitely be putting my name down to read whatever she comes up with next.

Also available as an audiobook.

⭐⭐⭐.5

‘Life is messy. Decisions are complicated. And dammit, you can’t change the past.’

#CallMeElizabethLark #NetGalley #melissacolasanti #crookedlanebooks

@mmcolasanti @crookedlanebks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #mentalhealth #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Melissa Colasanti is a mother and an author. She has a BFA in fiction from Boise State University. Her writing has appeared in Lithub, Memoir Magazine, The Coffin Bell Journal and others. She is the Stephen R. Kustra scholar in creative writing for 2019, and was awarded the Glenn Balch Award for fiction in 2020. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti 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 . . .

I am sitting in the shelter of the windbreak on our deck enjoying the heat of the sun on my back. It’s been a real mixed bag weatherwise today. We have had heavy downpours, strong winds and it was really cold overnight. I can always tell how cold it is by where Tighe, our cat, chooses to sleep. Last night it was on my raspberry mohair throw on the end of our bed. And she was in no hurry to move this morning. Neither was I, but I had to go to work so I had no choice.

After work Pete took me out for a late lunch in Otorohanga, the next town north of here, where he works. The Thirsty Weta has recently changed hands and has been beautifully renovated. We had a delicious lunch; fish and chips for him, and I had chili prawns and a glass of pinot gris as I wasn’t driving.

I think we will just be having something light for dinner tonight, eggs on toast, or toasted sandwiches.

I finished A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe in the early hours of this morning and will be posting my review tomorrow.

I am currently listening to Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray.

And reading Raven Black by Ann Cleeves for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group read.

This is the first in her Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez. I love her writing and am finding it hard to put this down. I will probably have finished it before the group read officially starts on the Street 15th (the ides of March?)

This week I am planning on reading Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colisanti, an author I haven’t previously read.

Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.

And The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

In the small, sleepy town of Moab, Florida, folks live for ice cream socials, Jackie Robinson, and the local paper’s weekly gossip column. For decades, Sheriff Winston Browne has watched over Moab with a generous eye, and by now he’s used to handling the daily dramas that keep life interesting for Moab’s quirky residents. But just after Winston receives some terrible, life-altering news, a feisty little girl with mysterious origins shows up in his best friend’s henhouse. Suddenly Winston has a child in desperate need of protection—as well as a secret of his own to keep.

With the help of Moab’s goodhearted townsfolk, the humble and well-meaning Winston Browne still has some heroic things to do. He finds romance, family, and love in unexpected places. He stumbles upon adventure, searches his soul, and grapples with the past. In doing so, he just might discover what a life well-lived truly looks like.

This week I have two new ebook ARCs, and one audiobook from Netgalley.

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

And audiobook The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

So that’s my lot for today. Let me know what you’re reading and what new books have found their way into your TBR piles.

We are back to the new normal as from 6am today, so just recording where we’ve been with whom, social distancing from people we don’t know and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! I hope restrictions are also easing wherever you are. ❤📚