Weycombe by G.M. Malliet

Weycombe by G.M. Malliet
Weycombe 
by G.M. Malliet (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: What happened to Anna could so easily have been an accident. She could have been running flat out on her chubby legs, minding her own business, when some solicitor speeding by on his way to his office in Walton-on-Thames, anonymous in his ventilated helmet and ubiquitous black bike shorts, pushed her off the path, sending her rolling downhill and breaking her neck. That time of year, the path could be slick with wet fallen leaves. She might simply have slipped and fallen on her head.

That is certainly how it could have happened. Except that of course she was murdered, dead before her body came to rest at the edge of the river.

THE BLURB: Weycombe is the chocolate-box village of everyone’s dreams. For American Jillian White, a gated life of pleasure and comfort with her titled English husband was a fantasy come true.

But the murder of a local estate agent mars the village’s so-pretty surface. Are people actually dying to live in Weycombe? Jill investigates, piecing together clues along the snaking paths and winding lanes of her adopted village. She knows truth has many versions, depending on who is doing the telling. And that few can be trusted in Weycombe, where nothing is as perfect as it seems.

MY THOUGHTS: After reading the synopsis, I thought I was in for a cosy Agatha Christie like read. But it seems G.M. Malliet is very clever. She has written a chameleon of a novel. To start with, she uses her acerbic wit to paint a portrait of life in an English village. Even at slightly over half way, I made the following comment- “This is so not about murder. It is an amusing, sometimes laugh out loud hilarious, tongue-in-cheek, slightly bitchy poke at life in an English village. The murder is merely the vehicle.”

Yes, I was well and truly sucked in. For, almost without me noticing, the story turned in on itself in the second half and became something far more sinister. This was definitely not Christie!

This is a book that I read with a smile on my face, especially at the end. Although I picked up the odd hiccup with continuity, this was an uncorrected ARC and so I would expect these minor imperfections to have been corrected before Weycombe is unleashed on the public.

All in all, a very enjoyable read that kept my interest from the first page to the last. I have added all this authors other works to my reading list.

Thank you to Midnight Ink via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Weycombe for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2153334557?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick

The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick
The Promise Girls 
by Marie Bostwick (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: Three weeks into the book tour, Joanie still isn’t used to the silence of television studios, ponderous silence that feels like being closed in a concrete box with wall so thick no noise from the outside world can penetrate, just as no sound emanating inside can escape. Joanie can scream as loud as she wants and no one will hear her.

Joanie, Meg, and Avery, and their mother sit in upholstered side chairs, like the ones you see in the waiting rooms of doctors offices, motionless, waiting. Avery is so little her feet can’t touch the floor, but she doesn’t kick her legs or even fidget.

The audience is still as well. They stare at Joanie and her little sisters in a way that makes her think about people at the zoo staring through the glass at the reptile house, waiting for the snakes to do something interesting.

Soon they will – she will. If she doesn’t lose her nerve.

THE BLURB: Every child prodigy grows up eventually. For the Promise sisters, escaping their mother’s narcissism and the notoriety that came with her bestselling book hasn’t been easy. Minerva Promise claimed that her three “test tube” daughters–gifted pianist Joanie, artistic Meg, and storyteller Avery–were engineered and molded to be geniuses. In adulthood, their modest lives fall far short of her grand ambitions. But now, twenty years after the book’s release, she hopes to redeem herself by taking part in a new documentary.

Meg, who hasn’t picked up a paintbrush in years, adamantly refuses to participate, until a car accident leaves her with crushing medical bills. While she recuperates in Seattle, the three sisters reluctantly meet with filmmaker Hal Seeger, another former prodigy. Like them, he’s familiar with the weight of failed potential. But as he digs deeper, he uncovers secrets they’ve hidden from each other–and a revelation that will challenge their beliefs, even as it spurs them to forge their own extraordinary lives at last.

MY THOUGHTS: Family secrets and lies. Always a winner with me, especially when it is as well written and captivating as The Promise Girls by Marie Bostwick. This is the first time I have read anything by this author, but it won’t be the last. She will be joining my very short list of ‘go to’ authors for when I want a rest from the murder and mystery that is my normal fare.

I can say it no better than this- “Reading Marie Bostwick is like wrapping yourself up in a warm, hand-crafted quilt. Her books, rich in character and plot, are stitched together by a skilled wordsmith.” –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

In her letter at the end of the book, the author writes that this book is incredibly special to her, a rare instance when she finished the final manuscript and ‘felt entirely, completely, incandescently happy’with her work. I felt the same way. This is a ‘feel good’ book. A book about family and love, and how easy it is to lose your way in spite of, or perhaps because of, best intentions.

Bostwick has woven a captivating story around a very different type of family. And she has done it well, giving us a look at a childhood that under no circumstances could be termed normal, until it all blows up in their faces, and then we meet the sisters again as adults, all living lives very different than what we might have expected.

 

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Promise Girls for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

Friday Favorite – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Up until now, my Friday Favorite has been a book that I read some time ago, but that has stayed in my heart and my mind for one reason or another, and is ensconced on my bookshelves marked as a ‘keeper’.

This week is different. This week I read The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, a book that has only just been published this week. And I loved it. Several days after finishing it, the characters are still in my head. I am going to make Aunt Isabelle’s rosemary lemonade this weekend. Other delicious ideas are tucked away for future use. So take a look at The Rules of Magic. It is an unusual book, but in the nicest possible way.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #0) 
by Alice Hoffman (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. The children’s mother had done just that.’

THE BLURB: Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

MY THOUGHTS: I was bereft when I finished The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. This is a fairy story for adults. It is bewitching, enchanting and compelling. I want to move in with the Owen’s family, to be embraced by them, to become one of them.

Just as Mrs Russell was instantly in thrall to Vincent when she spied him in the kitchen, I was instantly in thrall to Hoffman’s writing. Alice (may I call you Alice?) writes in a lazy, indolent fashion that slowly seduces the reader, leaving one feeling languidly intrigued.

I scribbled pages of notes as I read, highlighted sections to quote. But as I prepared to write this review, I realised that, taken out of context, they mean nothing.

If you think this book is about witchcraft, you are wrong. Yes, there are black cats and spells and potions, but that is not what this book is about. It is about acceptance, of ourselves and of others. It is about family, and it is about love. And if you do not read The Rules of Magic then you will miss out on a wonderful book which really is all about finding the magic in yourself.

I am going out to buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. It is a ‘forever’ book. I am also going to read everything by this author that I can lay my hands on.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2115763233?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

 

 

If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark

 

If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark
If You Only Knew
by Cynthia Clark

Reviewed by


EXCERPT:’…..there was the crisp white envelope with my name written in a handwriting I didn’t recognize and no sender’s address.

Tearing open the envelope, I’d taken out the plain sheet of paper.

I FINALLY FOUND YOU, was written in block capitals. I KNOW WHAT YOU DID AND YOU’RE GOING TO PAY.’

THE BLURB: A wife, a mother, a killer.

One wrong decision, one terrifying night, leaves student Elizabeth with a stark choice – kill or be killed. And the consequences of that choice will shape her whole life.

Now a wife, a mother, and a lawyer, she must find a way to out run her past, protect her family and live with her secret. But is it really possible to live a happy life with such a huge shadow cast by the past? And as it becomes clear that someone else knows her secret and is hunting her down, time is running out for Elizabeth to keep her family safe.

In the bestselling tradition of Clare Mackintosh and Jenny Blackhurst, Cynthia Clark has written a heart-stopping story about the choices we make and how far we’d go to protect our families. Even if it means deceiving the people we love most…

MY THOUGHTS: Living with guilt must be one of the hardest things to do. I can imagine it eating away at you rather like the sea undermining a cliff face. On top, everything looks fine. Underneath, the foundations are crumbling.

And that pretty much sums up Elizabeth’s life. When she made her decision, she had no idea how far the repercussions would reach over the years, nor that she would have to keep adding layer upon layer of lies to keep her secret safe.

Cynthia Clark has written an absorbing and unpredictable story of a woman trapped by the undertow of her past. If You Only Knew is a tale of duplicity, one that packs quite an emotional punch. She has captured the raw emotions of a woman whose carefully constructed facade is being systematically demolished around her, but who cannot give up trying to resurrect and shore up that facade despite knowing that she is ultimately fighting a losing battle; a woman who knows that when she finally loses the battle, she is likely to lose everything and everyone she loves.

As I said, If You Only Knew packs quite an emotional punch. I held my breath in anticipation, I got angry, I was sad, frustrated, and shook my head in denial. I guess you could call it an interactive read! But one thing I never felt was bored.

Thank you to Aria via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2147531009

 

The Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell

Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell
Secrets of the Tides
by Hannah Richell (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: A half-empty train rattles through fields and farmland towards the grey concrete sprawl of the city. There is a young woman huddled in the farthest corner of the last carriage. Her hair is like a veil, hiding her tears. In her pocket is an antique brooch. Her fingers brush the cold arc of it before flipping it over and over in time to the rhythmic clatter of wheels on track. When she can resist no longer, she releases the clasp and stabs the pin deep into the flesh of her palm.
It’s agony, but she won’t stop. She presses the needle deeper still, until warm blood streams down her wrist and splashes crimson onto the carriage floor.
Finally, the train jerks and slows. Brakes squeal.
As they reach their destination she pushes the bloodied brooch deep into her coat pocket, grabs her bag and then drops down onto the platform.
People dart about her. Two women shriek and embrace. A tall man in a turban races for the ticket barriers. A spotty teenager hops from foot to foot, gazing up at the departures board as he shovels crisps into his mouth. Everything around her seems to buzz and hum while she just stands there on the platform, a single fixed point, breathing deeply.
Signs for the Underground point one way but she ignores them, hefting her bag onto her shoulder and making for the street exit. She strikes out across a busy pedestrian crossing and turns left for the bridge. Big Ben looms in the distance; it is three minutes to twelve.
She walks with purpose; she knows where she is going and what has to be done. But then she sees the river, and the sight of it, a shifting black mass carving its way through the city, makes her shudder. Whenever she’s imagined this moment the water has been grey and flat, not dark and viscous like seeping oil. But it doesn’t matter now. There is no going back.
She stops halfway across the bridge and leans her rucksack up against the wall. Then, with a quick glance about her, she scoots up and over the barrier until she is clinging to the other side of the balustrade.
The toes of her trainers balance precariously on the concrete ledge. She grips the wall, wincing as her bleeding palm scrapes the stone, and then twists so that she is facing the water below. The wind blows her hair, whipping it across her face and stinging her eyes until hot tears form. She blinks them back.
‘Hey!’ She hears a cry behind her. ‘Hey, what are you doing?’
She is out of time.
She locks her gaze on a sea of grey buildings on the far horizon and, with a final breath, lets go of the balustrade. Then she is falling, falling, falling.
Any breath left in her body is punched out by the ice-cold water. She fights the urge to kick and struggle, instead surrendering herself to the inky blackness, letting the weight of her clothes take her stone-like towards the bottom.
By the time Big Ben chimes midday she is gone, lost to the murky depths below.

THE BLURB: Every family has its secrets. Some are small, like telling a white lie or snooping through a private drawer. Others are more serious, like infidelity and betrayal. And some secrets are so terrible they must be hidden away in a deep, dark place, for if they ever came to light, they would surely tear a family apart . . .

The Tides are a family full of secrets. Returning to Clifftops, the rambling family house high up on the Dorset coastline, youngest daughter Dora hopes for a fresh start, for herself and the new life she carries. But can long-held secrets ever really be forgiven? And even if you can forgive, can you ever really learn to love again?

Secrets of the Tides is a family drama with a dark thread of suspense at its heart.

MY THOUGHTS: I love a good family drama. And Secrets of the Tides by Hannah Richell certainly ticked all the boxes. And believe it or not, this was a debut novel!

Secrets and lies. We all have them. We all tell them. It is just the scale, the magnitude that varies. And families? They are probably the worst culprits. For families keep secrets from one another, and for one another. And then there are the families who conspire to keep secrets from the outside world. I am not going to tell you which category this family falls into.

Hannah Richell portrays a very realistic family; the squabbles, the petty jealousies, the familiarity that breeds contempt and discontent, the wanting. ……..always wanting more, wanting something different.

Full marks Ms Richell. I will be reading more from you. And Secrets of the Tides is going on my ‘keeper’ shelf.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

For an explanation of my rating system, please visit my profile page on Goodreads.com or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/970113698

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen
The Surrogate
by Louise Jensen (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Is it really a coincidence she is here, or has she purposely tracked me down? And if so, why?

‘Revenge’ whispers the voice inside my head.’

THE BLURB: ‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

MY THOUGHTS: Twisted, twisty and oh so nerve wracking! I almost tore my fingernails out of their beds reading The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, and I do not bite my nails!

Full marks to Louise Jensen. She has demonstrated that she is mistress of her art. I thought I knew where she was going with this. She reinforced my beliefs. But she took me for a ride – up the wrong road. More than that, I am not going to say. I don’t want to give anything away. I don’t want to spoil any surprises. And they come thick and fast.

I am going to liken reading this book to riding a roller coaster in one of those spinning teacups with no seat belts. Thrilling, scary. Yes, you may have to suspend belief occasionally, but believe me, by then, you won’t care.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Surrogate for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2123237779

The Mistake by K.L. Slater

The Mistake by K.L. Slater
The Mistake
by K.L. Slater (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Billy, come out. Please. ..you’re scaring me now.’

It was true. Her heart was banging against her chest wall like a tin drum and her mouth and throat were dry with fear.

For five full, long minutes she walked up and down the long road, stepping into the bushes wherever there was a gap, searching everywhere for her brother.

But Billy was nowhere to be found.’

THE BLURB: You think you know the truth about the people you love.

But one discovery can change everything…

Eight-year-old Billy goes missing one day, out flying his kite with his sister Rose. Two days later, he is found dead.

Sixteen years on, Rose still blames herself for Billy’s death. How could she have failed to protect her little brother?

Rose has never fully recovered from the trauma, and one of the few people she trusts is her neighbour Ronnie, who she has known all her life. But one day Ronnie falls ill, and Rose goes next door to help him… and what she finds in his attic room turns her world upside down.

Rose thought she knew the truth about what happened to Billy. She thought she knew her neighbour. Now the only thing she knows is that she is in danger…

MY THOUGHTS: There were things I liked about this book, and things I didn’t. I will start with the negatives so that I can end on a good note.

Poor Rose was traumatized by everything that had happened. I was going to list all these things, but it would give away too much of the story. But personally, I found it all just a little too much, too overdone. It was bland and clichéd, and I failed to pick up any sense of suspense.

There was a lot of dialogue in this book, much of which didn’t add any value. There were a few loose ends, unresolved that I, personally, would have liked to have seen explained. For one, the deaths of her parents. The fact that they are dead is mentioned several times. So that I began to think that it must be important in some way, to the story. But, nothing. Grace is only 34. Her parents were not old. What are the chances that both parents would be dead of natural causes? And the threatened closure of the library where Rose worked….a lot was made of this issue, but we never learn the outcome. It is probably not important, but damn it, I WANT TO KNOW! Up until the end, it was all pretty predictable.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff – the end was superb. There is no doubt that Slater is a very clever writer. I have read all four of her books. Safe With Me and Liar were 5-star reads. Blink, 3-star. The Mistake 3.5-star, upgraded because of the ending, of which I am not going to speak again for fear of giving something away.

One more little niggle- authors, publishers, whoever is responsible, STOP putting things on the cover like ‘an unputdownable psychological thriller with a brilliant twist’. I don’t want to be looking for the twist. I want it to jump up and slap me in the face and go ‘There! You weren’t expecting that, were you!’ I know I am not the only one who feels like this.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Mistake by K. L. Slater for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com review page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2142849430?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Friday Favorite

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

I had always known Penny Vincenzi for her compelling and sweeping family sagas. So I was surprised and excited to find, in 2014, a collection of short stories by her. I have to admit to also being just a little apprehensive. ……after all, her going from writing tomes of 700+ pages to short stories was quite a change, and no doubt, something of a challenge. How did she do? Read on. …..

Love in the Afternoon and Other Delights by Penny Vincenzi
Love in the Afternoon and Other Delights
by Penny Vincenzi (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPTS: Because this is a book of short stories, I am going to give you two excerpts. The first is from a story titled ‘Knowing Best’.

‘Laura Maddox and Fergus O’Connell were very fond of telling people they had met at an old people’s home. Since they were both young, stylish and successful, it was not a story that was easy to believe; nevertheless, it was perfectly true in essence, if not in detail, and was made much of in speeches at their wedding.
The detail was that the meeting place had been not quite an old people’s home, rather a very expensive nursing home, where Laura’s widowed grandmother was recovering from a hip operation and complaining ceaselessly about having to live with a lot of old people (most of whom were in fact the same age as, if not a little younger than, herself), and Fergus’s twice-divorced great-uncle, in a room just two along the corridor, was recovering from a very nasty bout of pneumonia and was constantly in trouble with the nurses for locking himself in the lavatory with a flask of his best Irish whiskey.’

The second excerpt is from a story titled ‘The Brooch’.
‘It was a very beautiful brooch. It was what used to be called paste, and would now be called Diamante: glittery and brilliant and in the shape of a full moon and two stars trailing off it in two slender threads. It was the sort of thing you could make stories up about, which Anna had when she was little – like the moon wearing the stars as a sort of a sash. Or the stars were trying to get away from it. The brooch belonged to her grandmother, Bella, and was pinned to her large, cushiony bosom, and Anna would sit on her knee and play with it. Later on, she had been allowed to wear it when they went to tea with her and she would keep saying she wanted to go to the lavatory so she could pass the big mirror in the hall and admire it, pinned on to her cardigan, right in the middle of her small flat chest. One day, she thought, she would have wonderful bosoms like her grandmother and the brooch would show up much better. She had always known she would have the brooch; her grandmother had promised her that, adding quickly that Rachel, Anna’s older sister, would have her pearls.

THE BLURB: A fabulous collection of short stories and essays by much loved and multi-million-copy bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.

From her sweeping novels to her searing journalism, Penny Vincenzi has been writing all her life, and this is a collection of her work brought together in a single edition for the first time. As well as ten stunning short stories, Penny also shares some of her thoughts on a huge range of subjects from love and relationships to work and families, and gives us a peek at the tantalising first chapter of her new novel – making LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON AND OTHER DELIGHTS a must-have for any Vincenzi fan.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Penny Vincenzi – and this collection of short stories, like the sweeping family sagas she is known for, I just couldn’t put down. Along with the short stories is a preview of her then next book, A Perfect Heritage, and a series of published articles by Penny giving us a great insight into her character, including ‘Getting Older’, ‘Being a Mother’, and ‘My Career in a Nutshell’. She also gives some great tips on writing, and I think this may have overtaken Stephen King’s “On Writing” as my bible.
The short stories are amusing, entertaining and absorbing. Just the way they should be.

 

The Accident by Dawn Goodwin

The Accident by Dawn Goodwin
The Accident
by Dawn Goodwin (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: ‘Seeing her like that was a bit of a shock. Her dark hair was lank and scraped back in a messy ponytail – not the charmingly messy kind; rather, the kind that looks like you slept in it. The circles under her eyes made her look haunted and her skin had the grey tone of someone who has been indoors too long.
Not so perfect now, are we? ‘THE BLURB: A tragic accident, an unbearable loss and a marriage in crisis – but who can she trust or is she all alone? A gripping, debut psychological thriller that will keep you hooked. Perfect for the fans of Paula Hawkins and S.J. Watson.

Veronica Pullman’s comfortable suburban life comes to a shuddering halt when her young daughter, Grace, tragically dies in a car accident.

Months later, unable to come to terms with her daughter’s death, detached from her husband and alienated from her friends and family, a chance encounter on a rainy street pushes her into an unlikely new friendship.

Scarlet is everything Veronica could’ve been: feisty, adventurous, unpredictable. But as she approaches what would have been Grace’s 10th birthday, it becomes clear to Veronica that the friendship she thought was saving her life could be costing her everything.

Consumed by grief and left questioning her own sanity, is there anyone she can really trust or is someone out to torment her as part of their twisted game?

MY THOUGHTS: I have lain awake half the night thinking about The Accident, a debut novel by Dawn Goodwin. It made me think about friends, and the mostly random way we become them. We have different friends for different periods of our lives. There are our school friends, some of these we keep for life, others drop to the wayside as we, or they, move on. Our workmates, usually fleeting relationships that change with our jobs. The friends we make as mothers, our children encouraged to bond. And our neighbours, who sometimes also fit into one or more of the categories above.

If we are really lucky, we have one incredible friend. A friend that, if you don’t see her for months, it doesn’t matter, because you just pick up where you left off and it is like you have never been apart. Veronica Pullman doesn’t have a friend like that. She has a group of acquaintances, other mothers who meet for coffee and who vie to be the thinnest, have the newest kitchen, the fanciest SUV, the brightest most talented children.

When Veronica’s life falls apart following the accident, although her friends make the right noises and numerous casseroles, they are all secretly glad that it didn’t happen to them. Tom, her husband, is coping with his grief in his own way and has his work to sustain him. Only Veronica is isolated in her grief, which leaves her vulnerable.

You will recognize a lot of Goodwin’s characters. You’ve probably had one or two of them in your life. You may even have been, or be, one.

Dawn Goodwin has written an excellent first novel. It is like a slow burning fuse; the explosion at the end, devastating. This is an author whose career I will be following with great interest.

Thank you to Aria via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Accident by Dawn Goodwin for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2133954329

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
The Blackbird Season
by Kate Moretti (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘He felt sick. No matter what happened now, everything had just gotten worse. All the pieces he’d been clinging to had flown apart, scattering what was left of his life in a million directions. He was in trouble, he’d been in trouble, but now he was more than in trouble, he was as dead as a person could be while still being alive. In one heartbeat, he envisioned Alecia and Gabe huddled together on the couch, himself in prison, a 20/20 special. ….He had no way of knowing that this moment would become the linchpin, the moment that all the moments after would hinge upon. The papers would call him a murderer; the police would come to him; his ex-friends, his gym buddies, the guys who knew him for God’s sake; and say, Nate was the last one to see her alive, right? The last one is always the guilty one.’

THE BLURB: “Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

MY COMMENTS: I struggled somewhat to become involved with this book. I didn’t particularly relate to any of the characters, which is not necessarily a problem. But I was just over 40% into the story before I began to feel any kind of real interest, a spark, and that didn’t last long.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti is told from four points of view, that of Alecia, Nate, Lucia and Bridget, which also  wasn’t a problem.

The characters are well portrayed and rounded out. Nate’s life revolves around his baseball team and his students, with his wife Alecia and autistic son Gabe trailing somewhere behind in his priorities. He is not a bad man. He is very involved in the lives of his students, who both like and trust him. As do their parents. If he has a fault, it is that he is naive and can be arrogant.

Alecia’s life is consumed by Gabe, their five year old autistic son. She is totally focused on finding a ‘cure’ for him, so that he can live a ‘normal’ life; so that she can live a normal life, so that she can be a soccer mum and one of the mums in the cliques at the school gate. She resents that she is stuck in the house every day while Nate is out there ‘cavorting with his students’ and monitoring their every move on social media. She resents that he seems to care more for them, than for his own wife and child.

There is a recipe for trouble to start with. Add in Bridget Harris, Nate’s coworker and colleague, who is still depressed following the death of her husband, struggling with her job and who has always had a bit of a thing for Nate. And Lucia, trashy, blonde, abused and considered wierd Lucia who is randomly accepted and discarded by her classmates on a whim, and who has only ever had one true friend, Taylor. But even that is changing.

I so wanted to be captivated by the ‘haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns’, but I wasn’t. I regret to say that I didn’t find it any of these things. Instead of suspense filled, I got angst filled. Disappointing? Yes, but if the book had been depicted more accurately, my expectations may not have been so high.

Thank you to Atria Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Therefore if you enjoyed the excerpt above, please go ahead and read this book. For an explanation of my ratings, please visit my profile page on Goodreads.com or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com.

This review and others are also published on my blog sandysbookaday.wordpress.com.