My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

EXCERPT: . . . he centred himself over the telescope, and prepared to do a better job setting it in place.

Before he could, an image caught his eye: a white wall with a mantelpiece, and an abstract painting on the wall above it. It was captured in the eyepiece of the telescope, which was now pointing downward at the building across the street. Anthony’s eye had accidentally hovered at just the right distance above the eyepiece. The scene was in perfect focus.

Realizing he was looking through somebody else’s window, and uncomfortable with the idea, he moved to correct the angle of the scope quickly. Or, more accurately, he prepared to move. He gave his various limbs and their muscles a signal to move. But, before they could, something happened.

A figure streaked into the scene, clearly captured by Anthony’s new telescope.

It appeared to be a woman, though it all happened very fast. She was running. Scrambling. Her body was bent forward, as if to accelerate getting out of the way of something. Something behind her. Her head was bent slightly forward, her arms raised, hands hovering behind her head as if to protect it.

Then, just as quickly, a male hand and arm entered the view. It was a bare arm, save for the short sleeve of a white undershirt. It was noticeably hairy. In a disconnected and more or less inadvertent thought, it struck Anthony that he owned a very good telescope, because it could reveal hair on the arm of a man across the street.

The man’s hand grabbed the woman by her hair.

Anthony sucked in air with an audible gasp as he watched the woman’s head jerked backward. It was a breathtakingly violent gesture.

Then the woman disappeared from his view. Backward. Pulled back out of the scene. By her hair.

ABOUT ‘MY NAME IS ANTON’: It’s 1965, and life has taken a turn for eighteen-year-old Anton Addison-Rice. Nearly a year after his brother died in a tragic accident, Anton is still wounded—physically and emotionally. Alone for the holidays, he catches a glimpse of his neighbor Edith across the street one evening and realizes that she’s in danger.

Anton is determined to help Edith leave her abusive marriage. Frightened and fifteen years Anton’s senior, Edith is slow to trust. But when she needs a safe place to stay, she lets down her guard, and over the course of ten days an unlikely friendship grows. As Anton falls hopelessly and selflessly in love, Edith fears both her husband finding her and Anton getting hurt. She must disappear without telling anyone where she’s going—even Anton.

If keeping Edith safe means letting her go, Anton will say goodbye forever. Or so he believes. What would happen, though, if one day their paths should cross again?

MY THOUGHTS: Okay, so now I know what all the fuss is about. I read a book by this author a few months back, and it was okay, nothing special, and couldn’t really understand why everyone was raving about her writing. Now I do.

My Name is Anton is a deeply emotional read. Anton is grieving. In a short space of time he has lost his beloved grandfather, his brother and his right hand. Then into his life comes Edith. Anton couldn’t save his brother, but he can, he hopes, save her.

The story spans fifty-five years, starting in 1965 when Anton is eighteen, and Edith thirty-three. This is a story of great personal strength, of grief, love, loss, sacrifice, moral dilemmas and doing what is right. Not what is right for yourself, but what is right.

There is a wonderful mix of characters in this book. Anton’s grandmother Marion, and his Uncle Gregor, a psychiatrist, are towers of strength and fonts of wisdom. At the other end of the spectrum are Anton’s parents, Abel and Vera, who are horrible, self-obsessed people, more concerned with ‘what would people think!’ than about the welfare of their only surviving child.

Ryan-Hyde touches on a lot of subject matter – suicide, mental illness, alcoholism, domestic abuse, disability, child welfare and adoption – but weaves them all together seamlessly to produce a compelling narrative that I devoured in one sitting.

I will definitely be reading more from this author.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#MyNameisAnton #NetGalley

‘Looking directly at a painful truth hurts less than being stalked by it.’

THE AUTHOR: Catherine Ryan Hyde is an American author born in 1955. Hyde has found success both as a novelist and short story writer in the U.S and the U.K, winning numerous honors and awards in the process.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan-Hyde 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 . . .

Welcome from a wet and windy New Zealand.

It’s meant to clear up a little later this afternoon, but I am wondering if it will be fine enough for the BBQ we had planned for this evening. At the moment it’s not looking promising. Fingers crossed I guess.

I am about to start reading Suspicious Minds by David Mark.

I am currently listening to Olive Again (Olive Kitteridge #2) by Elizabeth Strout.

This week I am planning on also reading Limelight by Graham Hurley

Actress Enora Andressen is catching up with her ex-neighbour, Evelyn Warlock, who’s recently retired to the comely East Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. The peace, the friendship of strangers and the town’s prestigious literary festival . . . Evelyn loves them all.

Until the September evening when her French neighbour, Christianne Beaucarne, disappears. Enora has met this woman. The two of them have bonded. But what Enora discovers over the anguished months to come will put sleepy Budleigh Salterton on the front page of every newspaper in the land . . .

I will also, hopefully, catch up on another back title from my Netgalley list. I will pick it at random.

Only two ARCs this week from Netgalley:

Single Mother by Samantha Hayes

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

I seem to be going through one of those patches where everything I request goes onto my wishlist. Is anyone else having this problem? Mind you, it could be as a result of my geographical location.

I really can’t believe that we are in December in a couple of days time! Other than Luke’s gifts, I tend to pick up bits and pieces throughout the year, I have absolutely nothing organised. I hope that you are all better organized than I am!

I am looking forward to spending some time with Luke later this week. I am having him for the day Friday. We will have morning tea with his granny and grandma, who I haven’t caught up with since early this year, and then we have his daycare Christmas party in the afternoon.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Stay safe and read on!

The Survivors by Jane Harper

EXCERPT: She was lying on her side, lengthways along the beach with her back to the sea. Her arms were limp and her face was pressed against the sand. The careful highlights in her hair were dull and matted. Her baby-doll eyes were closed.

Kieran had a sudden flash of her, so different from this. Running through the spray after Audrey’s hat, looking out at the sea and laughing in frustration.

ABOUT ‘THE SURVIVORS’: Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

MY THOUGHTS: Small town dramas – love them! Evelyn Bay – Tasmania, population 900, give or take. To the north is mainland Australia, invisible, but there. And far to the south, Antarctica. A rugged and wild landscape not dissimilar to the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, from what I understand.

But home is home, and Kieran returns with his family to help his mother pack up the house and move his father, suffering from dementia, into care. And when you’re home, you catch up with old friends. Old friends who know your history, your secrets. And there’s plenty of those in Evelyn Bay.

The story moves at small town pace. Unhurriedly, but rife with gossip, innuendo and suspicion. The past comes back to confuse the investigation into the death of a summer visitor to the town, an artist who funds her stay by waitressing at the local bar/diner. There are no shortage of suspects. Liam, who also works at the diner, and who gave Bronte a lift home from work the night she was killed. Brian, Kieran’s dad, who sometimes wanders at night, and did so that night in the vicinity of Bronte’s home, and who was also last known person to see Gabby Birch who had died in the storm all those years ago. And others. I thought I had the killer pegged. I was wrong. Very wrong. About both girls. The ending is unexpected but I loved it. I loved the moral dilemmas the author created, and the delicate but realistic way she portrayed the survivors guilt.

This is a slow reveal, a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion, but far more pleasant. Harper paints portraits with her words, both of the dramatic scenery and the people. My heart ached for Verity, coping with the loss of a son in the tragedy of the storm, his death brought about by the actions of his younger brother, who has moved to Sydney and rarely returns home, and the rapid deterioration of her husband into the clutches of dementia. And for Olivia, older sister of Gabby, home to care for her mother after a failed suicide attempt and increasingly bizarre behaviour.

This is a satisfying read, more than satisfying. I enjoyed my first book by this author and have ordered her back titles to read. I like her style.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSurvivorsBook #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. Jane previously worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her husband, daughter, and son.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Survivors by Jane Harper 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

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

EXCERPT: She rolls over and reaches out into the space where she was placed. Reaches for her instinctively: her baby.

Her hand hits air, and flaps redundantly.

She sits up in bed and looks around her, head jerking wildly in first one direction, then the other. Perhaps someone lifted the baby off the bed and put her in the moses basket. She squints over at the corner of the room, but where the moses basket sat before, there’s just a patch of grimy carpet.

ABOUT ‘HER SISTER’S CHILD’: She rolls over and reaches for her instinctively: her baby. Her hand hits air and flaps redundantly. She stumbles out of bed and switches on the light. But this only confirms it. The baby is gone. Someone has taken her.

Sixteen years ago, Lizzie Armitage woke to find her newborn baby gone. Just days later, Lizzie was dead.

Her sister Paula swore she would do everything she could to find the child. If she hadn’t promised to keep Lizzie’s pregnancy secret, maybe the baby wouldn’t have disappeared. And maybe Lizzie would still be alive. But, in nearly a decade, Paula’s never found any trace. Until now…

When Paula bumps into an old friend from the past, she realises she wasn’t the only one who knew about her sister’s child. Someone knows what happened that day. Someone knows where Lizzie’s baby went.

But can Paula find out the truth before another family is ripped apart?

MY THOUGHTS: I failed to become invested in Her Sister’s Child at all. I wanted to like it. I enjoyed the previous two books that I have read by this author. But this just didn’t work for me beyond being merely an okay read.

It is, in the beginning, a confusing read. The author is telling two stories over two timelines, but these aren’t clearly delineated, so you don’t actually realise that this is what is happening until some way through the book. Once this became apparent I knew. And I really only read on, skimming, to confirm that I was right. I was. It was really all a bit too obvious. Or maybe I just read too many of this type of book.

An average read from an author I expect better of.

⭐⭐.5

#HerSistersChild #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the Cotswolds but spent most of my formative years abroad. I studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after my two children to take a law degree. After a three-year stint as a criminal paralegal, I worked as a commercial copywriter and then a TV storyliner, before coming full circle to write fiction again.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Sister’s Child by Alison James 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

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

EXCERPT: As I put the pictures back in the bag, I picked up the shreds of what I’d dismissed as blank scraps of paper that morning. Most of them were plain white, but I now noticed some had bits of printed letters on them, light gray and faded, made by one of those ancient dot-matrix printers I’d once seen in my school’s aging computer lab. I laid the pieces out on the desk and set to work, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Despite missing a few parts, three words became clear enough to decipher.

TELL NO ONE.

ABOUT ‘HER SECRET SON’: When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’ – Ray Charles

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is certainly an emotional page turner! How much bad luck can one man have? Well, like they say, ‘when it rains, it pours.’

Josh has made some bad decisions in his life, but just as he thinks that he’s finally got life sorted, found happiness, it’s ripped right out of his grasp again. Struggling to cope, he is determined to do his best by Logan, who he loves like his own. And he had promised Grace that if anything ever happened to her, he would look after him. He is determined not to let either Grace or Logan down. But this promise gets harder and harder to keep as Grace and Logan’s past is revealed to be layer after layer of lies.

I felt so sorry for Josh, and for Logan. Josh’s love for Logan simply radiates from the page as he battles with his own grief to give Logan a stable home. Ultimately he finds himself torn between doing the right thing by Logan, and doing the right thing.

Her Secret Son is a compelling page turner. I was heavily invested in the characters and the outcome. But then it all became overly dramatic, a bit like an episode of a soap opera (Dallas sprung to mind), with blazing guns and all. Although the ending was great entertaining reading, I thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse, and I felt let down by it. The quality of the rest of the story deserved better. A good candidate for a TV drama.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#HerSecretSon #NetGalley

‘Moving never sorted out your issues. They sneaked inside your suitcases when you weren’t looking and jumped out when you arrived.’

‘I’d rather be a hermit with a stack of good books and a box of chocolates.’

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the UK and grew up in Switzerland. Unsurprisingly I love chocolate, mountains and cheese, and books, of course.

When I moved to Canada with my husband and three sons in 2010 I went through an (early) mid-life crisis. Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion; writing – and never wanted to look back.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon 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

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is due for publication 26.11.2020

Her by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: 1909 – out in that country

Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by with his wife, who had cost him twelve shillings once upon a time, and a wispy girl, who had cost him ten.

The people of the hut heard them first, the clop two three four of hooves, the creature-in-torment shriek of an axle and a mad symphony of rocking and rattling. They froze. Then, from the scrub line, came a bony horse, a wagon hung with pots and pans, a dog panting along in the lurching shade and three faces, dusty and gaunt.

‘Whoa!’ said the man, spying the hut and hauling on the reins.

The dust settled over the clearing. The pots and pans fell silent on their hooks. The horse hung its head and the dog belly-flopped onto the dirt.

After a while a child appeared, wearing a flour-bag dress and slipping soundlessly from beneath a sulky parked broken-backed in a collar of grass. Other figures joined her, the odds and ends of a used-up family, materialising from the hut, a barn, a post-and-rail fence and the tricky corners of the mallee scrub. Count them: a mother, a father and eleven children, ranging from a baby on a hip to a boy whose voice had broken, all staring at the apparition.

ABOUT ‘HER’: Out in that country the sun smeared the sky and nothing ever altered, except that one day a scrap man came by . . .

Her name is scarcely known or remembered. All in all, she is worth less than the nine shillings and sixpence counted into her father’s hand. She bides her time. She does her work.

Way back in the corner of her mind is a thought she is almost too frightened to shine a light on: one day she will run away.

MY THOUGHTS: Dark. Unsettling. Heartbreaking.

We follow the unfortunate existence of ‘You’, a child sold into a life of slavery with the scrap man for the princely sum of nine shillings and sixpence. She becomes one of his possessions, his ‘assets’, along with Wife and Big Girl. She learns to read human character, not least that of Scrap Man, who is a lazy drunken wastrel, and abuser of women and children.

Her is not a pretty book. It is bleak, but beautifully written. It is a portrait of a time that I am glad I never had to live through. It is a time my grandparents lived through and sometimes spoke of, although their upbringing was somewhat easier than Hers. It is a time of making do, scratching a living, dressing in clothes made from flour sacks, and avoiding the authorities who might take a child away and put into care. For no matter how terrible life may be, it was better the known than the unknown. No school – she could not count, add, subtract, spell, read or write. She could pick pockets and act whatever role was required of her, and quietly rob a house while the Scrap Man kept the homeowner otherwise occupied.

If you have ever thought longingly of the past, this is the book to disabuse you of your romanticized notions. Just like now, vulnerable people were victimized, abused, and left powerless. The gap between the haves and the have nots was just as wide then as it is now. We are, with our constant communication, just far more aware of it today than it was possible to be then. Not that this ‘awareness’ has made any inroads into fixing the problem.

There are also certain parallels with today’s Covid crisis. The country’s population, already short of able-bodied men after the first world war, is then decimated by the Spanish Influenza. No more than five people in a shop. A five minute time limit to enjoy a beer in the pub. Social distancing, although that term had not then been coined. And, of course, the mandatory masks, made from whatever was at hand, a pillowcase, an old rag.

If Her teaches us anything, it is that the more things change the more they stay the same.

Her is a powerful book. I loved it. I hated it. It ripped my heart out, but still I came back for more.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Her, by Garry Disher, published by Hachette Australia from the Waitomo District Library. I actually went to borrow ‘Hell to Pay’, the first in a trilogy of which I have the second and third books, but it was out on loan. This was the only of his books sitting on the shelf. I am so glad that I picked it up.

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 and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

For some reason, today I have been thinking about the music I used to listen to as a teenager, and one song in particular came to mind – Lazy Sunday Afternoon, from the Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake album by the Small Faces.

The album cover was round – a tobacco tin. It was beautiful and I had it for many years before it got lost in one of my many moves. This particular track featuring today is probably the result of wishful thinking. It definitely wasn’t the most played track or album of my teenage years, that accolade would have gone to the Led Zeppelin II album.

I had, and still have, very eclectic music tastes.

Currently I am reading Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon. I only started this last night and I am almost finished (okay, my Kindle ran out of charge otherwise I would still be reading) and wow! What a page turner!

I am also reading Living Ayurveda. I started Ayurveda yoga earlier this year and really love it, so when I saw this book I knew I had to have it.

I am also reading it’s always the husband by Michelle Campbell

And listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I am back to work this week. Because I am still struggling with health issues, I am planning a light week commitmentwise, so am only going to commit to one other book, Her Sister’s Child by Alison James.

She rolls over and reaches for her instinctively: her baby. Her hand hits air and flaps redundantly. She stumbles out of bed and switches on the light. But this only confirms it. The baby is gone. Someone has taken her.

Sixteen years ago, Lizzie Armitage woke to find her newborn baby gone. Just days later, Lizzie was dead.

Her sister Paula swore she would do everything she could to find the child. If she hadn’t promised to keep Lizzie’s pregnancy secret, maybe the baby wouldn’t have disappeared. And maybe Lizzie would still be alive. But, in nearly a decade, Paula’s never found any trace. Until now…

When Paula bumps into an old friend from the past, she realises she wasn’t the only one who knew about her sister’s child. Someone knows what happened that day. Someone knows where Lizzie’s baby went.

But can Paula find out the truth before another family is ripped apart?

Only three ARCs this week – Susan, your 👑 is on the courier, winging its way back to you. 🤣😂👑 I am sure that you have far more new ARCs than me this week! I am sure to have many more next week after I check out Susan’s, Carla’s and Carol’s posts today.

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison

And, Ghosts by Dolly Alderton which has been sitting on my wishlist for ages. Thanks for the recommendation Ceecee.

And to finish off I would like to share a few bright spots of colour from my garden with you.

Happy Sunday everyone.

Sandy

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Apologies for disappearing on you so suddenly last week. I was rushed off to ED in the early hours of last Sunday morning with breathing difficulties, which resulted in a five day stay in hospital. I am not yet allowed back to work, and will be going for more tests and follow up during the week ahead.

Currently I am not reading anything. I have finished two books this morning, the delightful Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson

And Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Which as well as being a Netgalley ARC, was a group read for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group.

I started listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout this morning.

This week I only have one ARC that I need to read for review which is Nothing Good Happens After Midnight: A suspense magazine anthology, with contributions by Jeffrey Deaver, Linwood Barclay and John Lescroart, amongst others.

I will use any other reading time I get to catch up on back titles.

I have received ten new ARCs over the past two weeks:

The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

The Perfect Life by Nuala Elwood

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Limelight by Graham Hurley

Our Little Secret by Lesley Sanderson

And finally I’m So Effing Tired by Amy Shah

And on that note, I am off for a nap.

Happy reading ❤📚

The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean

EXCERPT: I looked about me at our attic – the library, the horrible bits of Victorian taxidermy we’d picked up from junk shops, the dust-furred oil paintings of bleak landscapes, the interesting and peculiar objects that inevitably gathered on any horizontal surface in the vicinity of either of us. The only significant thing we hadn’t added to the place was a large home-made dolls house, which we had discovered in the attic the first time we ever went up there, and had deemed both creepy enough to keep, and too heavy to move.

‘We’ll have to tidy up a bit.’

‘Yes. Get some extra lights, hide the books, that sort of thing. Make it look respectable.’

Abigail must have read some element of doubt in my face. She leaned forward in her armchair and fixed me with her dark eyes.

‘All we have to do is make out that it’s all fine. We take her up here, she sees how absolutely unhaunted our attic and indeed our entire house is, and that’s that.’ Abi touched her fingertips to her lips. ‘All we have to do is be normal for a while.’

And so it was agreed between us that Janice Tupp would come over to our house after school next Thursday, in order not to see a ghost.

ABOUT ‘THE APPARITION PHASE’: Tim and Abi have always been different from their peers. Precociously bright, they spend their evenings in their parents’ attic discussing the macabre and unexplained, zealously rereading books on folklore, hauntings and the supernatural. In particular, they are obsessed with photographs of ghostly apparitions and the mix of terror and delight they provoke in their otherwise boring and safe childhoods.

But when Tim and Abi decide to fake a photo of a ghost to frighten an unpopular school friend, they set in motion a deadly and terrifying chain of events that neither of them could have predicted, and are forced to confront the possibility that what began as a callous prank might well have taken on a malevolent life of its own.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose’ – Haldane

I couldn’t help but thinking of the Adams family children when I read the physical descriptions of Abi and Tim, intelligent twins with enquiring minds and a passion for the macabre.

Maclean has written an atmospheric and intriguing gothic thriller with all the required elements: a missing person, a select group of people confined together in a creepy old house, and unexplained phenomena. Mass hysteria? Cleverly orchestrated fraud? Or something darker and more sinister? This is what Maclean will have you wondering. His skilful machinations will have you changing your mind with every twist and turn.

Yarlings has a gruesome history and yet has never made it into the books of haunted houses, making it perfect for a scientific experiment to once and for all prove or disprove the existence of ghosts. ‘It seemed that, no matter how bright the day outside, the interior of Yarlings was always dark, always gloomy, always permeated with a troubled air, as if overthinking its presence.’ Ancient timbers crack like knuckles, the rooms are filled with an oppressing and brooding silence, almost an air of expectation, like it is waiting to be brought back to life, a place of ‘weird emotional textures.’ The ideal place in which to conduct a seance, or several.

The people who have been carefully selected for the experiment by Graham and Sally, are college students, all known to one another, and who seem to be a fairly ordinary lot. Tim enters the mix quite by accident, the seventh person, and catalyst for all that follows.

The Apparition Phase is unsettling rather than terrifying; unsettling, unnerving and deliciously creepy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheApparitionPhase #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Originally from the Wirral, Will Maclean has been fascinated by ghost stories since he was a child, and has been writing them almost as long as he can remember.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean 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 Drowned Woman (Jericho and Wright #2) by C.J. Lyons

EXCERPT: Flying. She was flying.

Wind sliced against her face. Time was fluid, slippery. Was it centuries, or seconds? She knew she was falling from the lurch in her stomach. She took a ragged breath, in and out, then a slam jolted through her, and her entire body propelled forward until the airbag blew and the seatbelt grabbed her, holding her in place with a bruising grasp.

Her eyes fluttered open as the first splash of frigid water crashed through the open window beside her. She shook her head, startled to be awake – to be alive. Her throat was raw, every breath an effort. Her head throbbed, ears shrieked, body bruised. Hands flailing, fighting…

More water, seeping up from below, streaming through the windows – the car, she was in her car. In the river – how? She blinked, tried to focus past the pain and the rushing noise that consumed her mind. Why?

He’d tried to kill her…Why?

ABOUT ‘THE DROWNED WOMAN’: One month since she lost her husband, Dr Leah Wright knows it’s time to return to her family home. Though the crime scene tape and blood stains are gone, she will never feel safe with her daughter there again. Receiving a call from Detective Luka Jericho to assist with a police investigation is a welcome distraction, until she sees the scene: a wife dead, another family ripped apart.

As Leah is the new head of the Crisis Intervention Center, Luka knows she can help him speak to the victim’s traumatized husband, who he suspects might have had something to do with his wife’s death. But when Leah interviews the woman who lives across the hall, they uncover evidence of a serial killer in their rural Pennsylvania town. The same person who claims responsibility for drowning Luka’s fiancée seventeen years ago…

With danger closer to home than ever before, Leah realises that to find the killer they may need to dig into Luka’s past. But the killer is already taunting Luka, promising to kill again. Is it already too late to save another innocent life?

MY THOUGHTS: Fast paced. Full of action and angst. There’s a lot going on and you need to keep your wits about you. You will also need to suspend a little belief in places.

The characters are all dynamic and damaged. My favourites are Walt, who has Huntington’s, and the two children, Nate and Emily. Nate is scared to love anything, anyone, believing that that if you love something, someone just comes along and steals it from you, and swears that he is never, ever going to love anyone. My heart literally broke for this child. Emily is more resilient, but then up until recently she has had a far more stable life. She shows wisdom beyond her years in her support of Nate and her approach to problem solving.

Leah and Luca and their associates are caught up in an intense and fraught situation which is certainly riveting and a definite page turner. But as I was reading there was this little voice whispering, ‘Isn’t there just too many too badly damaged characters?’ I guess that the answer for me was ‘yes.’ The same little voice also whispered the name of the killer quite early on in the book, and was right. After a split second of jubilation that I had actually detected correctly, I realized that I hate it when that happens.

This is the second book in the Jericho and Wright Thriller series. I recommend that you read the first book in the series, The Next Widow, prior to reading The Drowned Woman, as the backstory is frequently referred to.

If you love a lot of action then you will love The Drowned Woman. For me, Nate and Emily were the highlight.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheDrownedWoman #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart. She also writes YA SF and thrillers under the pen name Cat Lyons.

Two time winner of International Thriller Writers’ prestigious Thriller Award, CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday). (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Drowned Woman by C.J. Lyons 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