Watching what I’m reading . . .

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone is what I am currently reading. This author really knows how to create an atmosphere!

I am listening to The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James, an author I have been wanting to read for some time, but I am never approved for her ARCs on Netgalley. It’s definitely another atmospheric and suspenseful read.

I have only managed to complete two of my seven scheduled reads for the week, so I am carrying them over into this week where I only have one other read for review scheduled. It is Solace and Other Stories by M. Syaipul Nasrullah. Thank you to the author for kindly providing me with a copy for review.

As he stared at the corpse’s face, he realized an endless dark cavity beneath the dead skin. There’s no one there. Even if he shouted with all his might, it was not the echo that would greet him but the silence that engulfed his voice.

– SOLACE

In “Good Friends,” a little girl collects dolls her family can’t afford from the neighbor’s trash bin. But who is the ghostly figure sharing them with her? A mysterious married woman reaches out to an ojek driver in “Confide,” and a young man’s attempt to kill himself goes awry in “Zombie.” In “The Crains” a new wife discovers her in-laws’ dangerous forays into black magic, and “Solace” follows a young man with a terrifying secret in his bedroom… These are just some of the spine-tingling stories of Solace and Other Stories, a surreal collection sure to keep you up at night! 

I have received five new Netgalley ARCs this week. They are: Mothered by Zoje Stage. I don’t know about you, but I find that cover chilling! The possibilities . . .

This is Us by Helen McGinn

The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood (my nod to Christmas)

A Fearsome Moonlight Black by David Putnam

A Trace to Poison by Colleen Cambridge

My post is short and sweet today as I have to prepare some entrees for a friend’s birthday this afternoon.

It’s been another busy week workwise, but I am trying not to slip back into my old work habits and made sure to take some time for myself. I went swimming on Tuesday afternoon. Hilarious! My spirit was willing but my muscle memory was not cooperating. Floundering might be a more apt description of what I actually did. Thursday morning I went to aquarobics with my cousin which was not only a great workout but lots of fun. I have convinced another friend to come with us this coming week.

Have a wonderful week everyone, and happy reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Firstly, I have to apologise for lack of a post on Friday (NZ time). Our internet went down at lunchtime Friday and wasn’t restored until 2 am Saturday.

Currently I am reading One Last Day of Summer by Shari Lowe. I started this in the early hours of this morning and am really enjoying it.

As a flight to St Lucia leaves the runway, four passengers meet for the first time.

After escaping her controlling husband, Bernadette Manson is taking the first extravagant holiday of her new life. But when her best friend cancels, will she be strong enough to fly solo?

Tadgh Donovan is about to jet off to his destination wedding when he sees a shocking text. Has his bride-to-be written her wedding vows… or already broken them?

Hayley Ford is the wife of a top fertility specialist yet her battle to get pregnant has almost broken her marriage. Can a trip to the sun heal their relationship or should she brace for a crash landing?

Dev Robbins is crossing oceans to track down the woman he fell in love with at first sight. Will it be a one way trip to happy ever after or a return journey to singledom?

One Last Day of Summer is due for publication July 19th 2022.

I am also reading Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster. 

This is certainly a chilling read and will also be published July 19th, 2022.

After the Flood by Dave Warner. I was so excited to receive some real book mail, although the excitement was somewhat tempered by one of the three books missing out of the parcel. NOT the publisher’s fault. The bag had obviously been tampered with. Kudos and a huge thank you to Freemantle Press for sending out the missing book.

A disturbing, seemingly ritualistic murder on a remote North-West cattle station has Detective Inspector Dan Clement and his Broome police officers unnerved and baffled. Other local incidents – the theft of explosives from mine site, social justice protests at an abattoir, a break-in at an early childhood clinic- seems mundane by comparison.

But as Clement starts to make troubling connections between each crime, he finds himself caught in terrifying race. In a landmass larger than Western Europe, he must identify and protect an unidentified target before it’s blown to bits by an unidentified terrorist.

Now, don’t usually read books about terrorism, but this has me enthralled.

and I am listening to A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood (Matilda Darke #3) This is a backtitle read for me from 2017. Currently at 55% through, it’s looking like five star read.

Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood.

When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…

This week, in addition to Black Mouth and One Last Day of Summer, both of which I already reading, I have The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell scheduled for review.

I love Lisa Jewell’s writing and was excited to receive an ARC for this.

Early one morning on the shore of the Thames, DCI Samuel Owusu is called to the scene of a gruesome discovery. When Owusu sends the evidence for examination, he learns the bones are connected to a cold case that left three people dead on the kitchen floor in a Chelsea mansion thirty years ago.

Rachel Rimmer has also received a shock—news that her husband, Michael, has been found dead in the cellar of his house in France. All signs point to an intruder, and the French police need her to come urgently to answer questions about Michael and his past that she very much doesn’t want to answer.

After fleeing London thirty years ago in the wake of a horrific tragedy, Lucy Lamb is finally coming home. While she settles in with her children and is just about to purchase their first-ever house, her brother takes off to find the boy from their shared past whose memory haunts their present.

As they all race to discover answers to these convoluted mysteries, they will come to find that they’re connected in ways they could have never imagined.

This week I received eight new ARCs from Netgalley plus two from Freemantle Press, one being After the Flood by Dave Warner. The second book I received from Freemantle Press is The Ghost of Gracie Flynn by Joanna Morrison. Did I already mention how exciting it is to receive REAL book mail?

And from Netgalley I have received Foster by Claire Keegan

Lovely Girls by Margot Hunt

The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

Dead Real by Helen H. Durrant

The Stranger Vanishes by Wendy Corsi Staub, a Lily Vale Mystery

And the last is a publiher’s widget, There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

Have you read, or do you have any of these to read?

Have a wonderful week!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading…

Tomorrow, Monday 25 April, is a national day of remembrance observed in both Australia and New Zealand. Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War (1914–1918). Now it commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “acknowledges the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. My father served in the peace-keeping J-Force in Hiroshima. He loved his time in Japan and always wanted to return.

Autumn is definitely making its presence felt now. Our temperatures are down in single digits overnight and there is a very cool and gusty south-westerly blowing today. The trees are beginning to change colour and the grass growth has slowed down significantly. We’ve collected firewood this weekend and trimmed all the hedges.

Luke has been with us during the week and we took him home this morning. He starts school when it goes back in May. He seems to have grown up all of a sudden.

currently I am reading The Widow’s Husband by Lesley Sanderson

Forgotten by Nicole Trope, a title from my backlist.

and listening to One of Us is Dead by Geneva Rose

This week I have, again, overcommitted myself. My reads for review due are: In Bloom, a spring themed anthology by Fern Michaels, Carolyn Brown and Lori Foster

AMAZING GRACIE * Fern Michaels

After years spent traveling the world as a flight attendant, Gracie Walden is ready to stay a little closer to her roots, starting with two weeks at home in Amarillo, Texas. But there’s unexpected turbulence between her mother, Ella, and her older sister, Hope—and it will lead to a revelation that changes Gracie’s life in amazing ways . . .

THE MOTHER’S DAY CROWN * Carolyn Brown

Monica Allen still hasn’t forgiven Tyler Magee for breaking her heart when they were teenagers. Ten years on, they’re back in Luella, Texas, visiting their respective grandmothers. and there’s just a white picket fence and a whole lot of awkwardness between them. Will two weeks be long enough for Monica to learn to stop holding a grudge—and hold on to love?

MEANT TO BE * Lori Foster

When Cory Creed was just a little girl, she knew she’d grow up to marry Austin Winston—and she made the mistake of telling him so. Tired of watching him avoid her ever since, Cory has decided it’s time to leave Visitation, North Carolina, and Austin, behind. But Austin has finally realized what Cory was once so sure of, and now it’s his turn to prove they belong together . . . with a little help from their mothers.

No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’

It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca.

Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women in the town start to go missing.

If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever… 

A Body on the Beach (Kate Palmer #5) by Dee MacDonald

it’s

Tinworthy village’s summer fete: a brass band, cream teas, gentle gossip… and a body on the beach? The party’s just getting started for super sleuth Kate Palmer!

Kate Palmer thought spending the day at Tinworthy’s annual summer party would involve sea air, sunshine and Cornish cream cake – how very wrong she was! When Kate goes for a cliff-top walk she is shocked to spot the body of Sienna Stone – Cornwall’s biggest gossip – on the sandy beach below.

Rumours swirl around the close-knit community and all eyes are on Kate. Half the village saw her arguing with Sienna at the party earlier that day. It was the usual bickering between neighbours, but when Kate finds herself in the frame can she – and her new husband Woody Forrest – solve the puzzling death and clear her name?

There’s a long list of people who might have wanted to push Sienna – her long-suffering husband Irvin, her jealous younger sister Sally and Timmy Thomson, the man who idolised her, not to mention all the villagers who felt the sharp end of her tongue. Finding out the truth isn’t going to be easy…

Just as Kate thinks she’s getting closer to an answer, an unexpected afternoon visitor shares some curious information over tea and scones that sets her on an entirely different path. And soon she starts to wonder if she might be in real danger too…

Can Kate solve the curious case before the murderer declares the party over? Or have her days of sleuthing come to an end?

The Patient by Jane Shemitt

When Rachel meets Luc, the attraction is instant.
But she is a doctor, and he is her patient.
She gives him the drugs he needs – but in doing so, risks everything.
And when a secret is exposed, they’re both in the firing line.
Not all patients are telling the truth.

The Removal Man by R.J. Parker

Rose is moving. For her and her son, Noah, this is going to be a fresh start.

She’s almost finished packing but Noah is determined to spend one last night camping out in the garden like he used to. Rose agrees as long as he wraps up warm inside their small tent.

Four hours later she’s woken by a frantic banging on the window.

It’s Noah.

There’s someone in the garden.

That’s when Rose picks up the kitchen knife. 

And the audios Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke

From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away, and he and Grace have never been close – he was always their parents’ favourite.

Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured by the choices they’ve made.

And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. Grace can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything. 

The Bletchley Women written by Patricia Adrian, narrated by Imogen Wilde and Antonia Whillans

In a different world, Evie Milton would have accepted her fate, married an aristocrat, and become the doyenne of one of England’s finest estates, just like her mother.

In a different world, Rose Wiley would have married her fiancé, David, established a modest homestead, and brought up a brood of babies, just like her mother.

But this isn’t a different world and these women are not their mothers. Rose dreams of a life filled with more than family and duty to her husband – a life of purpose – and Evie dreams of a life far away from her rarefied existence. Now, as they perform vital work at Bletchley Park decoding intercepted Luftwaffe messages, their role in turning the tide of war in the Allies favour shows Evie and Rose they don’t have to settle for the life once laid out before them. 

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim (Yorkshire Escape #2) written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon

Ettie is trying to figure out her future.

Dominic’s just trying to forget his past.

But with the help of some unlikely friends, young and old, a secret lake hidden in the grounds of a beautiful estate and a scruffy dog, a new community is formed – right when they all need each other the most.

I received eight new ARCs for review this week. They are: The Murder Book by Mark Billingham

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

A Wedding at Sandy Cove by Bella Osborne

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Good Neighbours by Mary Grand

Lying Beside You by Michael Robotham

and the audio ARC of The Island written by Adrian McKinty and narrated by Mela Lee

Time is Marching on . . .

April’s here and March has gone, so it’s time to look back at what I managed to achieve and not complete during the month and what April is looking like (scary!)

I started March with eighteen books to read for review, but somehow ended up with twenty – again! I managed to read/listen to and review sixteen which is an 80% success rate, up on last month’s 75%.

In addition to these sixteen I read or listened to six books purely for pleasure and read two titles from my backlist, which has contributed to raising my Netgalley feedback ratio to 69%

The four books that are joining my backlist shelves are: The Baby Shower by S.E. Lynes

She

doesn’t know I’m there, watching her in the mirror. She slides her hand under her blouse. And then I see something impossible. She isn’t pregnant…

She bursts into my life like a storm, and nothing is the same again. She seems so perfect, with her lilting laugh and her beautiful face. One by one, I watch as my friends fall under her spell.

Only I seem to suspect something. Only I see that her smiles don’t reach her cold, furious eyes. And when I’m accused of things I didn’t do, when my home is vandalized, I know she’s behind it. But she only lets her mask slip when no one is looking, so if I say anything, I’ll look crazy.

So when the baby shower comes around I’m there, sitting on a velvet sofa in a posh hotel room, surrounded by balloons. We share gifts, we pour small glasses of champagne, and she beams, her bump just visible under her bright red shirt.

But that afternoon, I finally learn the unbelievable truth.

There is no baby…

One For Sorrow by Helen Sarah Fields, #7 in the DI Callanach series

One for sorrow, two for joy
Edinburgh is gripped by the greatest terror it has ever known. A lone bomber is targeting victims across the city and no one is safe.

Three for a girl, four for a boy
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach face death every day – and not just the deaths of the people being taken hostage by the killer.

Five for silver, six for gold
When it becomes clear that with every tip-off they are walking into a trap designed to kill them too, Ava and Luc know that finding the truth could mean paying the ultimate price.

Seven for a secret never to be told…
But with the threat – and body count – rising daily, and no clue as to who’s behind it, neither Ava nor Luc know whether they will live long enough to tell the tale…

Moonlight and the plot Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

Western Australia, 1886. After months at sea, a slow boat makes its passage from London to the shores of Bannin Bay. From the deck, young Eliza Brightwell and her family eye their strange, new home. Here is an unforgiving land where fortune sits patiently at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to be claimed by those brave enough to venture into its depths. An ocean where pearl shells bloom to the size of soup plates, where men are coaxed into unthinkable places and unspeakable acts by the promise of unimaginable riches.

Ten years later, the pearl-diving boat captained by Eliza’s eccentric father returns after months at sea—without Eliza’s father on it. Whispers from townsfolk point to mutiny or murder. Headstrong Eliza knows it’s up to her to discover who, or what, is really responsible.

As she searches for the truth, Eliza discovers that beneath the glamorous veneer of the pearling industry, lies a dark underbelly of sweltering, stinking decay. The sun-scorched streets of Bannin Bay, a place she once thought she knew so well, are teeming with corruption, prejudice, and blackmail. Just how far is Eliza willing to push herself in order to solve the mystery of her missing father? And what family secrets will come to haunt her along the way?

And Sundial by Catriona Ward

You

can’t escape what’s in your blood…

All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.

She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Have you read any of these four titles? If you did, what did you think of them?

New authors I discovered in March and the books I read were:

Sally Page – The Keeper of Stories

Stewart O’Nan – Ocean State

Steffanie Edward – My Mother’s Gift

Claire Askew – A Matter of Time

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – The Golden Couple

As I mentioned earlier, April’s looking incredibly scary with 24 read/listen for review scheduled. What was I thinking?

I hope you have a great month of reading ahead of you. As for me, I will try to keep calm and read on.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

EXCERPT: The sound grew louder.

Tennant had no idea she was screaming, too, until she ran out of breath and choked on the air – dirt, dust, flour – all filling her lungs at once. She coughed it back out, forced herself to stand, clawed at the cellar door.

Why had Poppa locked them in?

They’d die down here.

And Momma and Poppa out there?

On the ground at her feet, Sophie’s hands and arms wrapped around her head, her knees pulled close against her chest. Blood dripped from the corners of her eyes, from her button nose, seeped out from between her fingers over her ears. Thick, congealed blood, dark red, nearly black. One of her hands shot out and wrapped around Tennant’s ankles and squeezed so tight the pain brought her back down to the floor.

The sound grew louder.

Tennant wanted to hold her sister, but her arms and legs no longer obeyed her. Her heart drummed against her ribs, threatened to burst. She couldn’t get air, each gasp no better than breathing water. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her vision first went white, then dark, as the walls closed in. The cellar no better than a grave.

ABOUT ‘THE NOISE’: Young sisters, Sophie and Tennant Riggin, are the only two people to withstand a massive explosion that destroys their community, located in the shadow of Oregon’s Mt. Hood.

A team of elite government investigators are sent to research the fallout and the girls – why did only they survive? – but with conflicting objectives. For Dr Martha Chan, a psychologist who analyses large-scale medical emergencies: study them. For Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Fraser, a career military leader with an inherent mistrust of civilians: contain them.

But as the disturbance replicates across the Pacific Northwest, it threatens to topple the chain of command. Dr Chan and Lieutenant Colonel Fraser are caught between the perpetrators of the threat – and those who have the power to resist.

MY THOUGHTS: What the hell did I just read? I didn’t read the publicity blurb prior to requesting this, and I never read the publicity blurb before starting reading. The fact that J.D. Barker is co-author was good enough for me. And I hit the jackpot! I am so pleased I never read the blurb; I would never have requested this and I would have missed out on a spectacular read.

The story is told from the points of view of Tennant, the girl whose sister Sophie is affected by The Noise; Martha a psychologist who deals with large scale medical emergencies, and who is called on to study both this emergency and the sisters; Fraser, a career military officer who dislikes and distrusts civilians, and whose job it is to contain both the sisters and those brought in to examine them and the site; and briefly, the President of the United States, who faces a decision that no other president in history has ever faced.

If you are going to pick The Noise up, and I strongly recommend you do, set a day aside with no distractions or interruptions to read it. It’s not a long read, but it is action packed. This is no runaway train. There is no slow start, no build up. This is a bullet train – it starts fast and just gets faster, more suspenseful, more thrilling, and scarier.

Personally, I find the scariest things are those that are possible. The Noise falls into this category. It scared the living bejesus out of me. And I loved it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheNoise #NetGalley #RandomHouse

I: @jamespattersonbooks @jdbarker_author
@randomhouse

T: @JP_Books @ jdbarker @randomhouse

THE AUTHORS: James Patterson is the world’s bestselling author and most trusted storyteller. He has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today.

J.D. Barker is a New York Times and international bestselling American author of suspense thrillers, often incorporating elements of horror, crime, mystery, science fiction, and the supernatural.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker 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 will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

EXCERPT: A long gallery stretches before her, running the length of the house. The gallery has no windows. The air is cool, controlled to a fraction of a degree. Display cases and framed photographs line the walls, each lit by a single low spotlight. This is his collection; the museum, he calls it. She has heard of it. It is well known, if your interests lie in that direction. The man obtains things that most people can’t. Things that no one should see. He collects artifacts of death. Photographs, vials of blood stolen from evidence, letters in spiky Victorian copperplate, pieces of the unclaimed dead, the pieces the killer did not have time to eat before he was caught.

ABOUT ‘THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET’: This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

MY THOUGHTS: The Last House on Needless Street is one of, if not THE strangest book I have ever read, and loved.

It is told from three points of view: Ted, overweight, a recluse with a disabled daughter, who has episodes where he loses time; Olivia, the cat he rescued as a kitten and who is never allowed outdoors; and Dee, whose little sister Lulu (Little Girl with Popsicle) disappeared at the lake eleven years ago, and who has a pathological fear of snakes. Or, maybe it’s not.

The Last House on Needless Street is weirdly compelling. Twelve hours after finishing it (another one sitting read!) I am still unsure what I read. I am buzzing. It is mind-bending. Unsettling. Almost alive. It twisted and slithered and changed shape as I read. A hall of mirrors with an uneven floor, one that suddenly drops away into a void, one that moves as you walk.

Alice in Wonderland for adults with darker tastes.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheLastHouseonNeedlessStreet #NetGalley

I: @catward66 @serpentstail @viperbooks

T: @Catrionaward @serpentstail @ViperBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #horror #mentalhealth #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Serpent’s Tail, Viper Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward 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 . . .

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 Fireman by Joe Hill

25994058._sy475_

EXCERPT: His newfound calm did not entirely surprise her. Terror was a fire that held you trapped in the top floor of a burning building; the only way to escape it was to jump. He had been stoking himself up to this last leap for weeks. She had heard it in his voice, every time they talked on the phone, even if she didn’t recognize it at the time. He had made his choice at last and it had brought him the peace he was looking for. He was ready to go out the window; he wanted only to be holding her hand on the way down.

What did surprise her was her own calm. She wondered at it. In the days before the earth began to burn, she had carried anxiety to work with her every morning and brought it home with her every night; a nameless, inconsiderate companion that had a habit of poking her in the ribs whenever she was trying to relax. And yet in those days there was nothing really to be anxious about. Her head would spin at the thought of defaulting on her student loans, of getting into another yelling match with her neighbour about his dog’s habit of tearing open garbage and spreading it all over her lawn. And now she had a baby in her, and sickness crawling on her skin, and Jakob was crazy, sitting there watching her with his gun, and there was only this quiet readiness, which she irrationally believed had been waiting for her all her life.

‘At the end, I get to be the person I always wanted to be,’ she thought.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

MY THOUGHTS: I said it after reading NOS4A2,and I will say it again, ‘Joe Hill is definitely his father’s son. He writes with the same easy narrative flow and sardonic wit.’

Reading Joe Hill’s writing is like sitting down and having a good yarn with someone who has led the most fascinating life. It’s an immersive experience. I forgot I was reading. I experienced every step of Harper’s journey. I smelled the burning, felt the heat, and even imagined the beautiful glowing lacy patterns across my own skin.

Hill has written a chilling novel about a global pandemic long before the advent of Covid-19. Instead of a pneumonia-like infection, this spore causes spontaneous combustion, which threatens to reduce civilisation to ashes. But what if there was a way to harness it, to make it work for you, rather than against you? Enter the Fireman, aka John Rookwood. But are his skills enough to save his group from the Cremation Squad, a group of the uninfected determined to exterminate the infected.

He is aided by the pregnant nurse, Harper, a fan of Mary Poppins. ‘She had all her life longed for a world that operated like an early sixties Disney musical, with spontaneous song and dance routines to celebrate important events like sharing a first kiss or getting the kitchen spick and span.’ Despite these fantasies, this woman has a heart of gold and a core of steel.

There are a lot of parallels between the situations in The Fireman and our current situation. The chaos. The fear. The misinformation. The justification of certain actions – ‘The people in charge can always justify doing terrible things in the name of the greater good. A slaughter here, a little torture there. It becomes moral to do things that would be immoral if an ordinary individual did ‘em.’

But there are some wonderfully ‘good’ characters in this book to counterbalance the bad, the evil, the misguided. The hard part is working out who is who.

There are multiple musical references as well as literary ones. I have made a ‘Joe Hill – The Fireman’ playlist to go alongside my ‘Adrian McKinty – Sean Duffy’, and ‘Ken Bruen- Jack Taylor’ playlists.

I finished this read with tears seeping from my eyes. It doesn’t end how I expected. But the ending is perfect. The Fireman contains many lessons for us. I hope we learn them.

‘So much kindness. So many people looking after us. They don’t know a thing about us except that we’re in need….we need kindness like we need to eat. It satisfies something in us we can’t do without.’

Brilliant, beautiful, terrifying, sad and uplifting.

❤❤❤❤❤

#TheFireman #NetGalley

‘There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone always dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your children. Or your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.’

THE AUTHOR: Joe Hill, born in 1972 as Joseph Hillstrom King, is an American writer of speculative fiction. Hill is the second child of the authors Stephen and Tabitha King. His younger brother Owen King is also a writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Orion Publishing Group via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Fireman by Joe Hill 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…

As the Covid-19 numbers continue to escalate around the world, I am very grateful that we live in virtual isolation here in New Zealand. Even our closest neighbour, Australia, continues to have escalating outbreaks, particularly in Melbourne currently, so I guess that there’s little chance of the borders being opened between here and there any time in the near future. But as the Pacific Islands continue to remain Covid free, I would hope that the borders between us and our island neighbours will soon reopen. I would love a week in the Cook Islands to shake off the midwinter blues. In the meantime, I guess we just carry on and read!

Currently I am reading Grown Ups by Marian Keyes. Although I wasn’t too sure about this to begin with, largely due to the sheer number of characters in this mad family, I am now loving it.

51178496._sy475_

I am listening to All the Ways We Said Goodbye by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White.

Sorry, the cover photo just would not download. I think I had the same problem with my audiobook cover last week, which is just downright weird.

This week I am planning on reading All Our Summers by Holly Chamberlain

51818675._sx318_sy475_

It came as no surprise to anyone in Yorktide when glamorous Carol Ascher fled the little Maine town for New York City. While Carol found success as an interior designer, her younger sister, Bonnie, stayed behind, embracing marriage and motherhood. She even agreed to take in Carol’s teenage daughter during a tumultuous patch. Now both their girls are grown and Bonnie, recently widowed, is anticipating the day she’ll retire to Ferndean House, the nineteenth-century family home on the rocky Maine coast.

But forty-five years after leaving Yorktide, Carol suddenly announces that she’s moving back—into Ferndean. Bonnie is indignant. She’s the one who kept the homestead in order and tended to their dying mother. Now Carol expects to simply buy her out? As far as Bonnie is concerned, Ferndean is part of their heritage—not just another of Carol’s improvement projects, to be torn apart and remade according to her whim.

The entire Ascher family is in flux, uncovering secrets that upend their relationships. Carol’s longing to be welcomed home is fueled by a painful truth she’s carried for years. It will take an extraordinary
summer—in a remarkable place—to lead these women back to each other, buoyed by the tides of friendship and forgiveness.

And The Life She Left Behind by Nicole Trope

53450285

You tell him everything. The husband you adore, the father of your child, your best friend. He knows, just by looking at your sage-green eyes, when something is wrong. The two of you can communicate with a glance, or a touch of the hand. Except what if you can’t? What if your happy marriage has plastered over one huge lie? A lie you have even started to believe yourself, in order to survive? What if you have a secret, something you have hidden from your beloved husband and your strawberry-scented baby girl, to keep them safe? What if the guilt has kept you up, night after night, for as long as you can remember? What happens when suddenly, after twenty-eight years, that secret refuses to stay buried? What will you do now everyone you love, everything you cherish, is in harm’s way?

I did a little better with my requesting this week, and have received only four new ARCs, but what a mixed bag!

No One Will Hear Your Screams by Thomas O’Callaghan

53389137

Still Life by Val Mcdermid

53142911._sx318_

My Mother’s Choice by Ali Mercer

54061629

and finally, The Shore House by Heidi Hotstetter

53733352._sy475_

Happy Independence Day to all my American friends. Celebrate safely.

Cheers
Sandy