Sandy’s July 2022 Reading Roundup

I started July with 18 books to read for review and ended up with 20 🤷‍♀️ Of those I read 15, and am almost finished the 16th, giving me an 80% review success rate, well up on my dismal 64% rate for June. Plus I read or listened to four books purely for pleasure during the month. And read and reviewed two titles from my backlist. So that was a total of twenty-two reads for the month of July.

I read one debut novel during July, A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett which I rated ⭐⭐⭐.6

plus I read five books by authors I haven’t previously read. They were: Aft the Flood by Dave Warner ⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Rejected Goddesses by Natalie Watson and Nina Holmes ⭐⭐.9

My Netgalley feedback ratio is still at 69%. I wonder what it will take to crack the 70% mark. I think I would need to stop requesting books entirely, and that’s not likely to happen.

The four books I didn’t read in July that are now added to my backlist are:

Guilt Trip by Ed James

Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries edited by Otto Penzler

Mother of All Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman

My five star reads for July were: In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Outside Looking In (DCI Matilda Darke #2) by Michael Wood

A Room Full of Killers (DCI Matilda Darke #3) by Michael Wood

The Lost Children (DCI Matilda Darke #9) by Michael Wood

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please

I have seventeen reads for review scheduled for August. Fingers crossed that there are no late approvals. If I don’t read anything from my backlist I should be able to get through all of these.

Happy August reading!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What an odd afternoon! Looking east, south and west, the sky is black, promising more of the heavy rain that we’ve had all week; north, and the sky is clear and blue, and the sun is shining! Let’s hope the sun wins out, at least for a day or two. The weather forecast is predicting fine weather tomorrow but beyond that it’s rain, and more rain! Speaking of which, it’s just started again. I’m not getting much walking in; I have managed to walk to work only twice in the past three weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to walk tomorrow morning.

Currently I am reading and loving the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber. Honestly, if I could open the pages and jump in with these characters, I would.

by Heather Webber

I am also reading The Other Girlfriend by Alex Stone. Isn’t this another stunning cover!

And I am listening to The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny.

This week I have an absolute mountain of books to read for review. They are: The Carnival is Over by Greg Woodland

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.

The New House by Tess Stimson

Three couples.

About to purchase their dream home.

How far would you go to get the perfect life?

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

Maggie Mackay has been haunted her entire life. No matter what she does, she can’t shake the sense that something is wrong with her. And maybe something is…

When she was five years old, without proof, Maggie announced that someone in the remote village of Blairmore in the Outer Hebrides had murdered a local man, sparking a media storm.

Now, Maggie is determined to discover what really happened and what the villagers are hiding. But everyone has secrets, and some are deadly. As she gets closer to the horrifying truth, Maggie’s own life is in danger…

Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

The media have descended on Garrett Island, a small, isolated community that is the setting of a visionary experiment. All the residents’ cars were sent to the mainland and for the past month the islanders have been “driving” the Arrival, a revolutionary autonomous vehicle. With a simple voice command, an Arrival will take you wherever you want to go and, because the fleet is networked and aware of one another, car travel is now 100% safe. The future, it seems, has arrived.

As the excitement reaches a fever pitch, Sandra Montrose – islander, single mom, and public relations executive – prepares for Arrival Inc.’s flashy press event. Sandra is more than ready for this new world. Her husband died after falling asleep at the wheel and she’s relieved that her two teens, Archie and Katie, will never need driver’s licenses.

But as the celebratory day gets underway, disaster strikes. A visiting journalist has vanished, possibly murdered. Before long, the Arrivals run amok, no longer taking orders from their passengers. They’re starting to organize. They’re beginning to hunt. And they seem hell-bent on killing any human they encounter.

Is this all just a tragic accident, a technological malfunction with deadly consequences? Or were the vehicles programmed to act this way in a cruel act of corporate sabotage? Or could it be that the Arrivals have a mind of their own?

Fasten your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. 

The Hidden Truth by Hilary Boyd

It was meant to be a summer of love. Then came the confession . . .

Sara Tempest has been alone since her husband died and daughters left home. But over the course of one summer she meets and falls in love with the charming Bernard. The years of heartache and loneliness are finally behind her.

She quickly moves into his beautiful home on the wind battered cliffs of Hastings. But, after a while, she begins to wonder if Bernard is all he seems.

He’s barely in touch with his children and with stifling reminders of his wife everywhere Sara looks, the walls begin to close in.

Then comes Bernard’s confession and Sara’s newfound happiness starts to crumble around her . . .

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

Based on a real-life event, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…​

Only two new ARCs this week. They are: All That We Are by Mariah Stewart

And Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

I still have several reviews to write . . . I try not to get behind with that but I have been so tired this week that I’ve found it difficult to string a sentence together. Hopefully I will catch up this week, although I will probably finish both In the Middle of Hickory Lane and The Other Girlfriend today, so there’s another two reviews to be written 😬

Wherever in the world you are, I hope you are safe from all the weather extremes. Keep calm and read on. ❤📚

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney

EXCERPT: Auntie’s job was to keep me under surveillance. I was not to break free again, once was enough. I was too much like my mother, who abandoned the mothering ship early; too much like my father, who we don’t talk about. He’s a traveller, not of the world, just the roads of Ireland, a king of the long acre. I’ve never heard his name, though he has plenty of labels. He’s a gypsy, a tinker, a knacker, a pikey, and plenty worse besides. I heard all of them from Granda, so I was well-prepared for what I was to hear at school. It bounced off me, the abuse of amateurs. Granda doesn’t have any truck with men who don’t own land, who don’t work it but who want to borrow it from time to time without paying their proper dues. It’s not decent to use land when it’s not going to be handed on.

One of the things that will make his fists form fast is the reality that I am his rightful heir. Indeed, I am his only heir, but I’m so tainted that he’s had to make alternative arrangements. He’s against anything of mixed blood – mongrels, Catholic and Protestant unions of any kind, Romany filth coming anywhere near a girl who was raised to be good. That I’m a bastard born under his roof is more than he can stomach. That he kept me and my mother is the single thing I have never been able to understand. His threat to put me and her out to the open road where we belonged was part of our daily bread.

ABOUT ‘THE SAINT OF LOST THINGS’: There was a time when Lindy Morris escaped to London and walked along the Thames in the moonlight. When life was full and exciting.

Decades later, Lindy lives back with her Auntie Bell on the edge: on the edge of Donegal and on the edge of Granda Morris’s land. Granda Morris is a complicated man, a farmer who wanted sons but got two daughters: Auntie Bell and Lindy’s mother, who disappeared long ago.

Now, Lindy and Bell live the smallest of lives, in a cottage filled with unfulfilled dreams. But when the secrets they have kept for thirty years emerge, everything is rewritten. Will Lindy grasp who she is again?

MY THOUGHTS: Raw and brutal, but with a beauty all its own.

These characters got inside my head. Lindy with her freaky-deaky smile – I just cracked up at her description of her antics in the supermarket – and a wicked sense of humour, one that I admired; and Bell, full of rage and resentment, are confined together in a cold and desolate house on the edge of a bog. Their detente is not at all cordial. They take what pleasure they can in rubbing one another up the wrong way. The one thing that they are united on is their fear of Granda. Quick with his fists and sharp with his tongue he never lets them forget.

Lindy is the ‘wrong child’ – in more ways than one. Granda punishes her for being alive, he punishes her for her dead mother’s sins, he punishes her because he can. Lindy uses her times of incarceration in ‘the Clinic’ to spread a little fear of her own.

But Lindy has a secret, one she has managed to keep from Bell and Granda, and the ‘wimmen’ who come to visit each week. Mrs. Martha Kennedy who is kind; Mrs. Kitty Barr, a ‘bitchy bitch’; and Mrs. Deirdre McCrossan who likes nothing better than to rake muck on people’s lives and spread it about. The sole light shining in Lindy’s miserable life is her friend Miriam, a happy, settled woman, with grandchildren who will occasionally distract Bell so that Lindy can get up to a little mischief.

She is resigned to her life until the Parish Priest, who enjoys a good chinwag with Lindy, makes a discovery . . . and nothing will ever be the same again.

The characterisation is superb, but if you’re looking for a joyous read, this isn’t it. It is beautiful, sad and bleak; tales of hopes dashed and crushed, but with perhaps a little redemption in the end.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheSaintofLostThings #NetGalley

I: #tishdelaney @randomhouseuk

T: @TishDelaney2 @HutchinsonBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #familysaga #historicalfiction #irishfiction #mentalhealth #sliceoflife #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Tish Delaney was born and brought up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles. Like a lot of people of her generation, she left the sectarian violence behind by moving to England. After graduating from Manchester University, she moved to London and worked on various magazines and broadsheets as a reporter, reviewer and sub-editor. She left the Financial Times in 2014 to live in the Channel Islands to pursue her career as a writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Hutchinson Heinemann via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Precious Jules by Shawn Nocher

EXCERPT: Up until last Saturday when Tess made her first frantic call to all the siblings, the Jules children were blissfully unaware that the family fiat – to always do what is best for the family – was about to be violated.

Now the Jules family finds they are in a quandary. It turns out that the Beechwood Institute where Ella lived is closing. Stone and Hillary Jules have known this was on the horizon for two years but neglected to share this information with their children. Apparently, at least according to what Tess reports, their parents failed, over the course of the last year, to participate in formulating a plan for Ella’s care. Instead, Ella’s caretaker, a woman the family has spoken of (however rarely) as Ella’s angel, has petitioned for and been granted guardianship by the state of Maryland. This, Belle now knows, had been the plan all along: Ella would live with Lynetta once Beechwood closed. But something had shifted recently and, for God-knows-what-reason, Hillary and Stone Jules have recently filed an appeal and are looking to bring the estranged Jules sibling home.

The five remaining Jules children – but especially Belle – having spent a lifetime adjusting to the strange jagged hole left by Ella’s departure – believing themselves finally settled around the wound of it, now stand on the edge of a sinkhole. The idea of Ella coming back to the family home changes everything they once understood regarding her banishment to Beechwood.

ABOUT ‘THE PRECIOUS JULES’: After nearly two hundred years of housing retardants, as they were once known, the Beechwood Institute is closing the doors on its dark history, and the complicated task of reassigning residents has begun. Ella Jules, having arrived at Beechwood at the tender age of eight, must now rely on the state to decide her future. Ella’s aging parents have requested that she be returned to her childhood home, much to the distress of Ella’s siblings, but more so to Lynetta, her beloved caretaker who has been by her side for decades. The five adult Jules children, haunted by their early memories of their sister, and each dealing with the trauma of her banishment in their own flawed way, are converging on the family home, arriving from the far corners of the country—secrets in tow—to talk some sense into their aging parents and get to the root of this inexplicable change of heart.

MY THOUGHTS: A mother’s love . . . A mother’s guilt . . . a perceived betrayal, and an empty nest.

There are six Jules children: George who bears scars from Ella’s violence, who is never over anything, who carries around each perceived slight ready to whip it out and recite it; Jax, a writer, laid-back and safely ensconced in California; Belle, Ella’s twin, the ‘lucky’ one who escaped Ella’s fate; Finney, who was only two when Ella was banished to Beechwood, his only memory of her being that she was “all gone.”; and Tess, who never knew her sister, is childless, lives closest to her parents, and on whose shoulders the mantle of care of their parents falls.

They are an upper middle class family. Stone is a successful businessman with a genuine affability. Hillary is religious, gracious and kind. They have never pretended to have more than they had, and never flouted what they did have. Hillary’s care of the disabled Ella while making sure that none of her other children missed out is admired. So what is it that causes the Jules to put Ella into residential care? And then thirty-two years later, when they are both in their sixties, to bring her home again?

The Precious Jules is an emotional read about family, love and doing the right thing for the greatest good.

The characters are fully rounded out, their strengths and weaknesses, their personalities clashing and complementing, their memories of Ella all vastly different, as are their perceptions of her.

There are secrets, some devastating, some held onto for all the wrong reasons, some weighing their bearers down.

Belle hasn’t seen Ella since she was removed from the family home. There has been none of the synchronicity between them that most twins experience. The thought that there might be terrifies her. Hillary has visited her daughter every Thursday, but for all that, she doesn’t know her daughter and has no real perception of what caring for Ella full time would entail. Nettie (Lynetta) realises that this family knows nothing about who Ella has become under her care. Nor do they realise how much of her life Nettie has invested in Ella, her precious jewel of nature, and what it will do to her if Ella is taken away.

This is a beautiful read, but not always an easy one. It tore at my heartstrings, I railed at the injustices, and my heart was heavy with the gravity of the decisions over Ella’s future that were needing to be made. Some of the treatments in the early years of Ella’s incarceration were barbaric, but they happened. That was the way of those times.

The Precious Jules is a family tragedy and a social commentary all rolled into one. It’s about love and guilt, about acceptance and redemption and about there being a place for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding it.

Life just unfolds, and it’s how we iron out the creases that matters.

Different is just that. Different. That’s all – no better, no worse.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#ThePreciousJules #NetGalley

I: @shawnnocher @ blackstonepublishing

T: @shawn_nocher @BlackstonePub1

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #historicalfiction #mystery #sliceoflife #mentalhealth

THE AUTHOR: Shawn Nochers compelling short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including SmokeLong Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Eunoia Review, and MoonPark Review, and she has been longlisted or won honorable mentions from both SmokeLong Quarterly and Glimmer Train.

She earned her master of arts in writing at Johns Hopkins University, has given wings to two children, and lives with her husband and an assortment of sassy rescue animals in Baltimore, Maryland, where she writes in a room of her own. This is her first novel. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Blackstone Publishing via Netgalley for providing both a digital ARC of The Precious Jules by Shawn Nocher 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

Girl, Forgotten (Andrea Oliver #2) by Karin Slaughter

EXCERPT: She wanted to make plans.

In two weeks, Emily would be eighteen years old. In another two months, she would be a mother. She would get a job. She would move out of her parents’ house. Gram would understand, and what she didn’t understand, she would forget. Dean Wexler was right about one thing: Emily had to grow up. She had more than herself to think of now. She had to get away from Longbill Beach. She had to start planning her future instead of letting other people plan it for her. More importantly, she would give her baby girl everything that Emily had never had.

Kindness. Understanding. Security.

Emily closed her eyes. She conjured the image of her baby girl joyfully floating around inside of her body. She took a deep breath and started to recite the mantra, this time from a place of love rather than duty.

‘I will protect – ‘

The sound of a loud snap made her eyes open.

Emily saw black leather shoes, black socks, the hem of a pair of black pants. She looked up. The sun flickered as a bat swung through the air.

Her heart clenched into a fist. She was suddenly, inescapably, filled with fear.

Not for herself – for her baby.

Emily curled inward, arms wrapped around her belly, legs pulled up tight, as she fell to the side. She was desperate for another moment, another breath, so that her last words to her little girl would not be a lie.

Someone had always planned to hurt them.

They had never been safe.

ABOUT ‘GIRL, FORGOTTEN’: A small town hides a big secret…

Who killed Emily Vaughn?

A girl with a secret…

Longbill Beach, 1982. Emily Vaughn gets ready for the prom. For an athlete, who is smart, pretty and well-liked, this night that should be the highlight of her high school career. But Emily has a secret. And by the end of the evening, that secret will be silenced forever.

An unsolved murder…

Forty years later, Emily’s murder remains a mystery. Her tight-knit group of friends closed ranks; her respected, wealthy family retreated inwards; the small town moved on from her grisly attack. But all that’s about to change.

One final chance to uncover a killer…

US Marshal Andrea Oliver arrives in Longbill Beach on her first assignment: to protect a judge receiving death threats. But, in reality, Andrea is there to find justice for Emily. The killer is still out there – and Andrea must discover the truth before she gets silenced, too…

MY THOUGHTS: Quietly stunning. It’s the characters: Andrea; Bible – her partner; Esther – the Judge and Emily’s mother; Emily herself whose presence is still felt forty years after her murder; and the ‘clique’: Nardo who is crooked, a con-artist; Blake – a chancer now deceased; Ricky – Blake’s twin; and Clay Morrow – wealthy, arrogant and selfish. But for some unfathomable reason, everyone loved Clay. And hanging around on the fringes, but never quite accepted into the fold, was Cheese – Jack Stilton, the Police Chief’s son.

Emily was much like her mother, Judge Esther Vaughn, in that they both excelled at everything they did and had no concept of how to deal with failure. Judge Vaughn is a complicated woman; imposing, imperious, intelligent and indomitable. Not a woman to be crossed. Emily’s pregnancy could hardly have come at a worse time for the Judge who is busy brokering her next step up the career ladder.

Told over two timelines, 1981 and forty years later, this is a harrowing tale of intrigue and subterfuge. Forty years on, and people are still hiding the truth. With the Judge succumbing to cancer, her husband severely disabled by a stroke, and Andrea detailed to guard them after the Judge received death threats, it seems like there’s no better time to find out if her own father, Clay Morrow, is guilty of murdering Emily.

There are layers and layers of lies for Andrea to wade through. Everyone, it seems, still has things to hide. Andrea is lucky to have Bible, an experienced Marshal at her side. He’s a man who makes up the rules as he goes along, but he is wise and thoughtful, and never oversteps the mark. Mike, a US Marshal from Andrea’s past, and who featured quite prominently in the first book of this series, Pieces of Her, makes a return appearance.

Now, I have to admit to not having enjoyed Pieces of her anywhere near as much as Girl, Forgotten and, as happens with books that I haven’t really enjoyed, I could remember nothing of the plot of the first book. But as you can tell, it really made no difference to my enjoyment of Girl, Forgotten.

The plot is complex, but engrossing. Emily was, at times, astute, at others, incredibly naive. It didn’t stop me wanting justice for her. I loved the way she played ‘Columbo’. That was a great touch. The thread involving the cult is almost secondary, but weaves into the main story with the involvement of two of the main characters. I don’t usually read anything involving cults, but I am glad I decided to override this preference in favour of Karin Slaughter’s writing. It was a good choice.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#GirlForgotten #NetGalley

I: @karinslaughterauthor @harpercollins

T: @SlaughterKarin @HarperCollins

#contemporaryfiction #crime #cultfiction #familydrama #detectivefiction #historicalfiction #murdermystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her eighteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programing. A native of Georgia, Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers UK, Harper Fiction via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

My tablet appears to be having memory issues – early onset Alzheimer’s? It’s not that old, but then I wonder about the ratio of computer years to human ones. Anyway it’s going into the computer doctor this morning because yesterday, when I was trying to take my spot on a blog tour, it kept deleting random parts of my post – being a sneaky wee beastie! Thank you to my lovely neighbour Helen, who loaned me her laptop so that I could participate. I’m back on my tablet now, so we’ll see what happens….

Currently I am reading The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney, set in the 1970s and 80s in Ireland and London, and currently in Ireland, it’s a poignant, sad and sometimes humorous read that I’m enjoying greatly.

I am also reading A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett, which I have just started.

Both are new authors to me.

I am listening to Outside Looking In by Michael Wood, (#2 in the DCI Matilda Darke series, then I think I am all caught up with it.

Books to be read for review this week are:

The Record Keeper by Charles Martin, #3 in the Murphy Shepherd series

Murphy Shepherd’s last rescue mission very nearly cost him his life. He’d like nothing more than to stay close to his wife and daughters for a while. But Bones’s brother must be stopped, and there are so many who need to know that they are worth rescuing.

As the cat-and-mouse game moves into the open, Murphy is tested at every turn—both physically and mentally. And then the unthinkable happens: his beloved mentor and friend is taken. Without a trace.

Murphy lives by the mantra that love shows up. But how can he do that when he has no leads?  With heart-stopping clarity, The Record Keeper explores the true cost of leaving the ninety-nine to find the one. 

Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries, Edited by Otto Penzler

For devotees of the Golden Age mystery, the impossible crime story represents the period’s purest form: it presents the reader with a baffling scenario (a corpse discovered in a windowless room locked from the inside, perhaps), lays out a set of increasingly confounding clues, and swiftly delivers an ingenious and satisfying solution. During the years between the two world wars, the best writers in the genre strove to outdo one another with unfathomable crime scenes and brilliant explanations, and the puzzling and clever tales they produced in those brief decades remain unmatched to this day.

Among the Americans, some of these authors are still household names, inextricably linked to the locked room mysteries they devised: John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Clayton Rawson, Stuart Palmer. Others, associated with different styles of crime fiction, also produced great works—authors including Fredric Brown, MacKinlay Kantor, Craig Rice, and Cornell Woolrich. 

All of these and more can be found in Golden Age Locked Room Mysteries, selected by Edgar Award-winning mystery expert and anthologist Otto Penzler. Featuring a delightful mix of well-known writers and unjustly-forgotten masters, the fourteen tales included herein highlight the best of the American impossible crime story, promising hours of entertainment for armchair sleuths young and old. 

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman

12-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.

When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murders, questions remain as to his guilt — questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free — or bury her deeper? 

Yours, Mine, Ours by Sinead Moriarty

What’s another branch on the family tree?

Things are finally looking up for Anna. Seventeen miserable years of marriage to man-child Connor have left her drained and ready for a new start. So when they separate, she couldn’t be more thrilled to move in with James, a handsome lecturer who is everything her ex-husband is not: kind, thoughtful, and above all, reliable.

But Anna and James’s kids hate living with the loved-up couple and the new set-up. Their teenage daughters – one a studious high achiever and the other a cool rich girl unbothered by grades or exams – have nothing in common. And Anna’s wild football-mad nine-year-old son declares war on bookish James.

Nobody said step-parenting was easy; Anna and James are about to find out exactly how complicated it can be. With exes, new partners-of-exes and money all in the mix, home life is fast becoming a minefield and their new-found happiness hangs in the balance. Do they have what it takes to make their blended family work?

I have six ARCs from Netgalley this week . . .

Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

The Way it is Now by Garry Disher

One Last Day of Summer by Shari Low

1989 by Val McDermid

The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry

My Darling Daughter by J.P. Delaney

Well, this has been an interesting experience. Tablet has now developed a stutter, amongst other things! I am saving each sentence as it finally appears on screen. It’s been a long and laborious process, but we’re finally here.

Have a wonderful week. ❤📚

Sandy’s June 2022 Reading Roundup

Here we are, halfway through the year.

My June reading was severely impacted by my return to work. Two of the books I had scheduled to read in June had their publishing dates moved to August so I rescheduled those (26 – 2 = 24) plus I received one late ARC, which brought the total up to 25. I have only read 16 of my 25 reads for review, though I did manage to sneak in two titles from my backlist and two reads purely for pleasure. So my read for review success rate dropped from the dismal 69% in May to an even more dismal 64% for June.

I read one debut novel in June, which was Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

plus I read five books by authors who were new to me. They were

The Secret World of Connie Starr by Robbi Neal

The Beach Babes by Judith Keim

The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain

Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne Maclean

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber

My Netgalley feedback rate is hanging in there at 69%, though I don’t quite know how 🤷‍♀️ Since I have been back at work I have been requesting more books that I am reading. I find it unwinds me from the stresses of the day.🤦‍♀️

The books that I didn’t get around to reading were:

The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

Backstory by William L. Myers

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson

Riverbend Reunion by Carolyn Brown

First Victim by Debbie Babitt

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney

The Lost Children by Michael Wood (a publisher’s widget) which I will be starting tonight

The Girl Who Left by Jenny Blackhurst

I read four ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ books in June. They were – in no particular order:

The Island by Adrian McKinty

Blind Justice by David Mark

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber

I have 18 reads for review scheduled for July and one blog tour to participate in. Hopefully I should be able to just about achieve my goal for the month.

Have you read any of the books I bypassed in June? Let me know.

Happy reading for July!

Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne Maclean

EXCERPT: Olivia – Miami 1990

I should have known better. I shouldn’t have said the things I did.

That’s what I told myself when I learned what happened to my husband on his return flight from the US Virgin Islands. But isn’t that what we all say after something goes terribly wrong and we look back and wish we had behaved differently.

ABOUT ‘BEYOND THE MOONLIT SEA’: Olivia Hamilton is married to the love of her life, Dean, a charismatic pilot who flies private jets for the rich and famous. But when he vanishes over the Bermuda Triangle, Olivia’s idyllic existence unravels. After years of waiting, Olivia must eventually let go of the fragile hope that her beloved husband might still be alive.

Melanie Brown is a particle physicist who spends late nights studying the Bermuda Triangle. But her research interests falter when her mother dies in a tragic accident. Struggling to reboot her life and career, Melanie begins a forbidden love affair with her therapist.

When a shocking discovery shows Olivia’s and Melanie’s paths are intertwined, it casts Dean’s disappearance in a new light. The two women’s strange connection threatens to unlock secrets that will change everything Olivia thought she knew about her marriage, her husband, and most importantly, herself.

MY THOUGHTS: I am a sucker for stories about or set around the mysterious disappearances that occur in the Bermuda Triangle.

I started Beyond the Moonlit Sea with great excitement and read almost half of it in the first sitting. The storyline, which spans from 1986 through to 2017, and is told from the multiple viewpoints of Olivia, Melanie and Dean, intrigued me although I often found the writing style quite stilted and, at times, awkward.

The second half of the book became predictable, and was largely quite mundane. I found myself skimming over pages until we came to the chapters involving the DNA when my interest was again piqued, but not to the same extent it had originally.

I was expecting suspense, and didn’t get it.

Would I have liked more about the mysteries surrounding the Bermuda Triangle? Definitely. Ditto for Melanie’s thesis.

I found it quite odd that Melanie as described by her ‘friends’ to the police is vastly different from the many facets of Melanie that we see through both her own and Dean’s eyes. This information is dropped into the book, and then – nothing!

Unfortunately, this was only an okay read for me, nothing more.

⭐⭐.5

#BeyondtheMoonlitSea #NetGalley

I: @juliannemaclean @amazonpublishing

T: @Julianne MacLean @AmazonPub

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #historicalfiction #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Julianne Maclean loves to travel and has lived in New Zealand, Canada, and England. MacLean currently resides on the east coast of Canada in a lakeside home with her husband and daughter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne 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

Dark Water (Detective Erika Foster #3) by Robert Bryndza

EXCERPT: Autumn 1990

It was a cold night in late autumn when they dumped the body in the disused quarry. They knew it was an isolated spot, and the water was very deep. What they didn’t know was that they were being watched.

ABOUT ‘DARK WATER’: Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

MY THOUGHTS: I love this series and Dark Water is an earlier book that I somehow missed reading when it was published.. It’s a great addition to the series and I absolutely flew through this. It’s fast paced and gripping.

Erika is one of those characters that isn’t always easy to warm to. She can be rude and arrogant. But she is thorough and stands up for what she believes in and those workmates who deserve her loyalty. She can be quick tempered – with everyone, including her sister Lenka. Yet despite all this, I can’t get enough of her.

Moss and Peterson continue with their supporting roles, as does gay pathologist, Isaac Strong. The original detective on the case, Amanda Baker is also an excellent character. Beaten down by her failure in the case, she has become an alcoholic recluse until Erika visits her to get her take on the case.

The Collins family, the family of the missing child, are hard to fathom. If you didn’t know that they were a family, you would think that they were a group of strangers thrown together.

I had no idea, until it was revealed, just who had abducted and killed Jessica Collins. My jaw dropped. I really didn’t expect that. And yet, it was just perfect.

Although this is book #3 of a series, the author provides enough background for Dark Water to be read as a stand-alone.

Dark Water is fast paced, gripping, absorbing and exciting!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#DarkWater #NetGalley

I: @robertbryndza @bookouture

T: @RobertBryndza @Bookouture

#detectivefiction #familydrama #mystery #policeprocedural #series #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Robert Bryndza was born in the UK and lived in America and Canada before settling in Slovakia with his Slovak husband Ján.

When he’s not writing Rob is learning Slovak, trying to train two crazy dogs, or watching Grand Designs all in the hope that hell be able to understand his mother-in-law, build his dream house, and get the dogs to listen.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Dark Water by Robert Bryndza 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 Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain

EXCERPT: Gracie was still asleep on his lap when I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! began at nine o’clock. In this episode, a comedian Albert had never found funny, a pop star he’d never heard of, and somebody who called himself a ‘social media influencer’, a profession he’d never understood, were sitting around the camp talking about their biggest fears.

‘Mine’s spiders,’ said the pop star, pulling a face.

‘Mine’s snakes,’ said the comedian, squirming. He turned to the influencer. ‘What’s yours?’

‘People,’ Albert said out loud, talking over the influencer. ‘People.’

As the chatter on TV continued, Albert couldn’t help considering his answer. He hadn’t always been frightened of people; when he’d been at school he’d been quite sociable and had lots of friends, friends like Tom Horrocks and Colin Broadbent. When they were little, the boys had played British Bulldog, Piggy, and Finger, Thumb, or Icky in the playground, later on meeting up to go to the pictures or the local temperance bar, later still sneaking into pubs, each of them doing their best to look old enough to be served at the bar, goading each other on and reveling in the shared thrill of transgression. It was a transgression they knew was only minor and might even make their fathers proud, reminding them of a similar rite of passage in their own youth.

But then everything had changed.

Albert had been given a blunt message about what his friends thought of people like him, what the world at large thought about people like him – of the real him, the him he’d been careful to keep well hidden. As a result, he’d gradually begun backing away from everyone and had first retreated into his work, later into caring for his mam. Little by little, he’d been overwhelmed by a new shyness, a shyness that was bolstered by fear, like a current he’d been powerless to swim against – until he was drowning in it.

But it doesn’t do to dwell.

ABOUT ‘THE SECRET LIFE OF ALBERT ENTWHISTLE’: Albert Entwistle is a private man with a quiet, simple life. He lives alone with his cat Gracie. And he’s a postman. At least he was a postman until, three months before his sixty-fifth birthday, he receives a letter from the Royal Mail thanking him for decades of service and stating he is being forced into retirement.

At once, Albert’s sole connection with his world unravels. Every day as a mail carrier, he would make his way through the streets of his small English town, delivering letters and parcels and returning greetings with a quick wave and a “how do?” Without the work that fills his days, what will be the point? He has no friends, family, or hobbies—just a past he never speaks of, and a lost love that fills him with regret.

And so, rather than continue his lonely existence, Albert forms a brave plan to start truly living. It’s finally time to be honest about who he is. To seek the happiness he’s always denied himself. And to find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he loved and lost—but has never forgotten. As he does, something extraordinary happens. Albert finds unlikely allies, new friends, and proves it’s never too late to live, to hope, and to love.

MY THOUGHTS: Love and loss. I bet there are a lot of Albert (and Alberta) Entwhistles out there, people who have hidden their love, their desires, their dreams in order to conform to society.

Albert is the loveliest character. It’s a wonderful journey, watching him come to terms with himself, come out of his shell, and work out what he really wants from life. Of course, he has some help along the way. Marjorie, his boss, has a terminally ill grandson, a diabolical digestive system, and is not coping well with menopause, a fact she is not at all reticent about sharing, much to Albert’s embarrassment. Nicole, a young black single mum with aspirations and an uncertain love life. Edith, elderly and alone, who used to be a great beauty with many suitors, but is now desperate for company.

Albert’s coming out is a wonderfully warm story that had me with earplugs in, listening at every opportunity. It’s a story of personal growth, of a man filled with fear and shame who slowly becomes honest with himself, optimistic and looking forward to his future. It’s an emotional story. I cried for Albert the teenager, and for his friend George. I was saddened by the unhappy, reclusive man Albert became. I wept tears of joy and relief as Albert found himself, his new self, a man who made friends and helped others. There were places I laughed out loud, and snorted coffee through my nose.

There’s really nothing surprising in this story, but that’s not a criticism. It’s a lovely heartwarming experience and one that I am glad to have had. Two things further enriched my listening pleasure: narrator Simon Vance was superb. He singly narrated a large cast of characters and not once was I confused about who was speaking. The second was author Matt Cain talking about his research and some excerpts of his interviews with gay men who lived through the eras that Albert’s story is set in.

Highly recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSecretLifeofAlbertEntwhistle #NetGalley

I: @mattcainwriter @recordedbooks

T: @MattCainWriter @rbmediaco

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #comingofage #historicalfiction #lgbt #romance

THE AUTHOR: Matt Cain is a writer, broadcaster, and a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues. Born in Bury and brought up in Bolton, Matt now lives in London with his partner, Harry, and their cat, Nelly.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to RB Media via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle 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