Gone But Still Here by Jennifer Dance

EXCERPT: My name is Mary, and I have Alzheimer’s disease.

Lurching gut.

It makes me think of AA meetings I’ve seen in the movies. My name is so-and-so, and I’m an alcoholic. It’s an acknowledgement, a way of facing your problem. Writing this is an acknowledgement too. A way of confronting the truth.

I’ve been telling myself that I’ve just been having a few memory lapses – part of normal aging. But I’m slipping away. I can feel it.

Getting confused.

Losing logic and understanding.

Having to tell myself that red means stop and green means go.

I’ve been trying to hide it. Hide from it. Ignore it. Make excuses. But one day I’ll be gone, even though I will still be here.

It’s hard to accept. Hard to believe. A living death. A dying life.

Will I know what’s happening? I hope not.

ABOUT ‘GONE BUT STILL HERE’: Coming to terms with advancing dementia, Mary has no choice other than to move into her daughter’s home. Her daughter, Kayla, caught between her cognitively impaired mother and her belligerent teenage son, soon finds caregiving is more challenging than she imagined. Sage, the family’s golden retriever, offers comfort and unconditional love, but she has her own problems, especially when it comes to dealing with Mary’s cat.

Throughout it all, Mary struggles to complete her final book — a memoir, the untold story of the love of her life, who died more than forty years earlier. Her confused and tangled tales span Trinidad, England, and Canada, revealing the secrets of a tragic interracial love story in the 1960s and ’70s. But with her writing skills slipping away, it’s a race against time.

MY THOUGHTS: Although Gone But Still Here is a work of fiction, Mary’s backstory is the author’s own.

This wonderful book can’t have been easy to write, but it is written with wisdom and wit. Gone But Still Here is an emotional read. I cringed at the treatment Mary and Keith received from both family and strangers because of their interracial marriage. I cried as Mary struggled to raise three small children alone with little support, but I also applauded her bravery and determination. And Mary’s journey into Alzheimer’s? That engendered a whole range of emotions.

The story is told from multiple points of view: Mary – we get to live her disease through her eyes; Kayla, Mary’s daughter who puts her own life on hold to care for her mother; Jesse, Kayla’s teenage son and Mary’s grandson whose life is also impacted by the arrival of his ‘nutty’ grandmother; and Sage, the wonderful family dog who provided a lot of light relief with her dog’s view of life.

The author shares the struggles, frustrations, fears, and incredible joys that accompany caring for an Alzheimer’s patient as a previously fractured family is drawn closer together by the experience.

While I loved this book and the storytelling, Sage (or Toby as Mary was sure she was called) is the outstanding character and earned this read an extra star.


#GoneButStillHere #NetGalley

I: #jenniferdance @dundurnpress

T: @JenniferDance1 @dundurnpress

#contemporaryfiction #historicalfiction #aging #familydrama #deathanddying #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Dance was born in England and holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Animal Science from the University of the West Indies. She migrated to Canada in 1979. With family in the Native community, Jennifer has a passion for equality and justice for all people.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Dundurn Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Gone But Still Here by Jennifer Dance 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 Girl She Wanted by K.L. Slater

EXCERPT: … this was the second case in the last few months where a patient admitted to the emergency ward with a seemingly fairly minor condition had deteriorated dramatically.

Nathan recalled the six-month-old baby girl who’d been admitted with a high temperature and vomiting – a suspected nasty viral infection. Following a period of intravenous rehydration, the child had appeared to be recovering; then, completely without warning, her condition had rapidly declined. Urgent tests had shown the onset of kidney failure and two days later she had died.

And now Angus Titchford was fighting for his life, even though his initial prognosis had been perfectly routine. It was unusual and troubling. Very troubling indeed.


What if my sister is unstable and everyone can see it but me? What was she really doing standing over Florence’s cot in the middle of the night?

Alexa has always looked up to her older sister Carrie. Carrie lives in Alexa’s family home, and adores her one-year-old niece Florence. Alexa doesn’t know how they would cope without her. So when Carrie is suspended from her job as a senior nurse, accused of the most terrible crime, Alexa reels in disbelief. Alexa knows how caring Carrie is, and as she watches Florence gurgling and cooing whenever Carrie is around, she knows her little girl is in safe hands.

Alexa’s husband doesn’t trust Carrie. He wants her out of the house, unable to ignore what people are saying about her. But when he suggests that Carrie could be a danger to their daughter, Alexa shuts him out. Nobody will ever come between her and her sister.

Then Florence is hurt while in Carrie’s care and Alexa at last starts to wonder. Alexa has always wanted to protect Carrie from the past they have hidden. But does Alexa know what Carrie wants? And will the secret that has kept the sisters together now destroy her little girl?

MY THOUGHTS: I don’t get the title. 🤷‍♀️ If anyone can explain the relevance, I would appreciate it.

The Girl She Wanted by K.L. Slater is quite slow moving initially. There is a lot of repetition of accusations, and of veiled clues to some past trauma in Alexa’s life that has affected her ability to cope with almost anything. She comes across as very neurotic, dependent and needy. I preferred Carrie’s character, although at times she could be quite manipulative of Alexa, and can appear unbalanced. There is a lot of tension in this household, with Alexa’s husband, Perry, resentful of the close relationship between the sisters and putting pressure on Alexa to make Carrie move out.

Ms Slater can also be manipulative. I shifted my suspicions of who, if anyone, was responsible for the deaths of the patients in A&E several times. To begin with I wasn’t entirely sure that anyone was responsible. These things do happen, especially with the very young and the elderly. But someone was responsible . . . and some of my suspicions were rather wild!

This is a quick, easy read. It is not my favourite amongst Ms Slater’s books, of which I have read most, if not all, but it is a decent read that contains a few surprises, and will have you scratching your head as to whom the culprit could be.


#TheGirlSheWanted #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottinghamshire with her husband. For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents and collected an impressive stack of rejection slips. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating in 2012, she gained literary agent representation and a book deal. As Kim says, ‘it was a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl She Wanted by K.L. Slater 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

The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry

EXCERPT: ‘You can’t go out there!’ Paul yells.

‘What if there’s a crazy shooter?’ Reese asks at the same time.

I ignore them and step outside before shutting the door tightly behind me. Three police cars race down the street and make a left at the corner just like all the others. I take off running. People are coming out of their houses, milling down the street while I sprint past them.

‘Dear God, please don’t let anything happen to my baby.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Best friends Lindsey, Kendra, and Dani endure every parent’s nightmare when a tragic accident befalls their teenage boys, leaving one dead, another in a coma, and a third too traumatized to speak.

Reeling from the worst night of their lives, the three mothers plunge into a desperate investigation of the bizarre incident. How could something so horrible happen in their wealthy Southern California suburb?

They soon discover that the accident was just the beginning, and troubling discoveries lead to chilling questions: Do they really know their children? Do they even know each other? As more secrets surface, a fog of doubt and suspicion threatens to poison their families, their friendships, and the whole community.

With the illusion of happiness and safety long gone, these women must now confront the hazards of heartbreak, the consequences of jealousy, and the dangers of living double lives.

MY THOUGHTS: I failed to become invested in The Best of Friends by Lucinda Berry. I have read this author previously, and really enjoyed her work, but this just left me cold. For a short novel, this felt inordinately long!

The characters were interchangeable, lacked definition, and I had difficulty in remembering what children belonged to which parents.

The chapters are narrated by the mothers of the children, Dani, Kendra and Lindsey. But it was easy to forget who was narrating.

There really is no feeling of suspense, and there are tantalizing tidbits dropped into the narrative which are never explored or explained – the most glaring of which is an oblique reference regarding something that happened when these three were at school, but that was it. A scandal waiting to be exposed, or the possibility of one, and there’s no clarification, no further reference to it. Frustrating!

Several times I thought of not finishing The Best of Friends, but I wanted to know what these three had been up to. As it is, we never find out. Disappointing, and mundane. Not at all what I expected from the author of Saving Noah, which I loved.

A lot of other readers love this book. Reading is a very personal subjective experience, and not every book is for every reader. So, if you enjoyed the extract, and the plot summary interests you, please do read Final Cut by S.J. Watson. I hope that you are one of the many who love this book.

** depressed stars

THE AUTHOR: Dr. Lucinda Berry is a former clinical psychologist and leading researcher in childhood trauma. Now, she spends her days writing full-time where she uses her clinical experience to blur the line between fiction and nonfiction. She enjoys taking her readers on a journey through the dark recesses of the human psyche.

If Berry isn’t chasing after her son, you can find her running through Los Angeles, prepping for her next marathon.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Best of Friends 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 sandysbooksday.wordpress.com

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

Elevation by Stephen King

EXCERPT: That was a gorgeous late October in Castle Rock, with day after day of cloudless blue skies and warm temperatures. The politically progressive minority spoke of global warming; the more conservative majority called it an especially fine Indian summer that would soon be followed by a typical Maine winter; everyone enjoyed it. Pumpkins came out on stoops, black cats and skeletons danced in the windows of houses, trick-or-treaters were duly warned at an elementary school assembly to stay on the sidewalks when the big night came, and only take wrapped treats. The high schoolers went in costume to the annual Halloween dance in the gym, for which a local garage band, Big Top, renamed themselves Pennywise and the Clowns.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

MY THOUGHTS: King has, in his own relaxed and enjoyable style, written an enigmatic medical mystery. No, there’s no beautiful nurses, but there is one elderly, retired physician, Doctor Bob Ellis, who initially believes that Scott Carey is playing some kind of prank on him. For Scott can stand on the good doc’s scale in his heaviest winter clothes with his pockets full of rocks and weigh the same as he does buck naked. But that’s not all . . . but then it never is with Mr King, is it?

This is not a horror story, so don’t be afeared that monsters are going to lure little kiddies down drains, or that evil clowns are going to pop out of them. This is a story that I read with a smile on my face, and finished with a tear in my eye.


‘Everyone should have this, he thought, and perhaps, at the end, everyone does. Perhaps in their time of dying, everyone rises.’

‘He thought he had discovered one of life’s great truths (and one he could have done without): the only thing harder than saying goodbye to yourself, a pound at a time, was saying goodbye to your friends.’

THE AUTHOR: Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels

DISCLOSURE: I own my paperback copy of Elevation by Stephen King, published by Hodder. I purchased it during the initial stages of the New Zealand Covid-19 lockdown, but it has only just called to me to be read. I have this strange relationship with Mr King’s books. I buy them as soon as they are released, then place them on my bedside table where I see them first thing in the morning and last thing at night, where I smile at them and think of the joy of reading them, and occasionally trail my fingers lovingly across the covers, until one day they seem to say to me, ‘All right, just get on with it, will you!’ And I do.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan


EXCERPT: She looked at him as she gathered her tote bag and new Pharminex briefcase. He seemed thoughtful, his eyes softening as he watched her. ‘Affectionate’, the word came to mind. Or maybe it was more tactics. She thought she’d been the first to lie in this relationship. But maybe he’d been the first. Maybe the first lie was only the beginning.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: What happens when an undercover reporter gets in too deep? And when a practiced liar has to face off with her own truth—how does she choose her true reality?

MY THOUGHTS: Talk about twisty – I was tied up in knots like a pretzel reading The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan! She bashed my brain around like it was a squash ball in a world championship game. I have no idea how the author managed to keep everything straight in her head as she was writing. Don’t go looking for any rest breaks while you are reading this, because there aren’t any. It’s full steam ahead the whole way!

Told from multiple points of view by Nora, a Pharminex sales rep; Ellie, an investigative journalist; Brooke, the daughter of the Vanderwald family, owners of Pharminex; and Lacey, married to Trevor the Vanderwald son and heir to the Pharminex empire, The First to Lie focuses on pharmaceutical ethics, – or should that be the lack of them? – the lack of culpability of medical and corporate professionals, betrayal, and revenge – the dish best eaten cold.

This is very much a cat and mouse game, but with a different twist. It is often difficult to tell who is the cat, and who is the mouse, and there’s no guarantee that the mouse is the mouse. It may well be another cat. Everyone lies. You cannot trust anyone. You definitely cannot take anyone at face value except, maybe, the detective. And then that’s only a ‘maybe’. ‘I know who I was when I got up this morning, Alice had told the Caterpillar, but I think I must have been changed several times since then. I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, because I’m not myself, you see.’

Exciting. Compelling. Incredibly clever.


#TheFirsttoLie #NetGalley

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: The First to Lie is set in Boston, Massachusetts.

THE AUTHOR: Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of eleven award winning novels of suspense. National reviews have called her a “master at crafting suspenseful mysteries” and “a superb and gifted storyteller.”

Hank is also an award-winning investigative reporter at Boston’s WHDH-TV. In addition to 37 EMMYs and 14 Edward R. Murrow awards, Hank’s won dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism.

Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for victims and consumers. She’s been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine, working with Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Avedon and Richard Goodwin.

Hank is a founding teacher at Mystery Writers of America University and served as president of national Sisters in Crime. She blogs at Jungle Red Writers and Career Authors.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Forge Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The First to Lie by Hank Phillipi Ryan 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

A Hope For Emily by Kate Hewitt


EXCERPT: You know the worst thing, that possibility you dread, the terrible what-if that keeps you up at night, heart racing, palms icy, the one thing you tell yourself will never happen, because it can’t, it just can’t, you wouldn’t survive it, you wouldn’t know how?

Well, sometimes it does happen. And you do survive it, even if you can’t understand how your body is still functioning – heart thudding steadily, breaths in and out, even your stomach gurgling, I mean, how? How can my body feel hungry when a doctor, a doctor I’ve put all my trust and hope in for over two years, has given me the worst news he possibly could?

No further tests. Those three words feel like a weapon wielded cruelly, a physical violence perpetrated against me, against my daughter. Emily.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: From the moment Emily was born, reaching out with her tiny little star-shaped hand towards her mother, blinking with long eyelashes over soft blue eyes, she became Rachel’s whole world.

But Rachel’s worst nightmare comes true when a rare auto-immune illness leaves four-year-old Emily in a coma the doctors say she may never come out of. And Rachel has to make a heartbreaking decision—one that her ex-husband, Emily’s dad James, doesn’t agree with.

Terrified she’s going to lose her daughter for good, Rachel knows she must find a way to keep the hope alive for Emily. But there is only one person she can turn to for help to convince James—and it’s his new wife, Eva.

As an unlikely but powerful friendship develops between the two women, both Rachel and Eva will have to ask themselves—what is truly the right choice for the tiny, fragile little girl who lies between them?

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Life is hard, and painful and messy and disappointing, but amidst all that, there’s hope, fluttering and ragged, the last thing left in the box.’

I have been in Rachel’s shoes. For four long years, between the ages of four and eight, my youngest son spent more time in hospital than he did at home. Every day he would have in excess of 100 grand mal seizures. He had them awake and asleep. He was permanently on oxygen. The neurologist told me to resign myself to him becoming brain damaged and having to wear a helmet for the remainder of his life. He recommended institutionalising him. And like Rachel, I fought. I removed my son from his care. Our family GP found us another specialist, out of our area, who supervised my son’s treatment via a pediatrician, and who made the world of difference to our lives.

So it is no wonder that I cried buckets throughout A Hope For Emily by Kate Hewitt. It brought everything back to me. I relived the weeks on end by his bedside, sleeping in a chair beside him. But I also recalled the good days, the days when we could take him out for an hour or two and, occasionally home. Rachel did not have those memories to hold on to, the possibility of there being another good day tomorrow or the day after, and that is where we differ.

But you don’t have to have been through something like this to feel her anguish. I defy any mother, any parent, to read A Hope For Emily and stay dry eyed.

This is, ultimately, a story of hope and strength, of love and friendship, of a mother leaving no stone unturned in an effort to save her daughter.


#AHopeForEmily #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of many books of women’s fiction. Her latest releases are A Vicarage Homecoming and Not My Daughter. Under the name Katharine Swartz, she is the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell.

She likes to read women’s fiction, mystery and thrillers, as well as historical novels. She particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and two Golden Retrievers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Hope For Emily by Kate Hewitt 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3085451544?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

A Winter in Ravensdale by Kate Fielding


EXCERPT: Laura knew that a building alone couldn’t create an air of mystery. It was the eye of the beholder that found secrets in the shadows, menace in the bolted windows and doors. Yet Ravenscar had always invited such wild imaginings. It stood isolated, bearing the brunt of the moorland winds, unsoftened by surrounding gardens, lacking the shelter of trees. It was stark, bare and lonely.

So, though the spring evening cast a pinkish light over the heather and the still water of the tarn,though the whistles and wheezy cries of birds soaring overhead and the steady grazing of sheep softened the picture, nevertheless Laura approached the house with a sense that its stones and slate were in some way responsible for the recent disasters and that they had gathered secrets in their grainy millstone crevices along with the moss and damp accumulated over the years.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The 2nd in a series of novels about a young woman doctor in the wild Yorkshire setting of the Dales.

It is Laura Grant’s 2nd winter working as a GP in the remote Yorkshire practice at Hawkshead. Snowbound and isolated, the Dales community is gripped by the curious circumstances surrounding the discovery of a body in the frozen tarn. Laura’s role is to comfort and support the grieving widow; her senior partner, Dr Scott issues the death certificate. But further details emerge and lead Laura to question the competence of her colleague. Can the practice hold together under the increasing strain of a police investigation.

MY THOUGHTS: An undemanding read, moderately enjoyable but not particularly memorable.

The characters are well portrayed, the plot decent, but I never quite felt fully engaged. There is a little romance, a little mystery, a little tragedy. It was a nice read, but nothing more. I won’t be seeking the two other books in this series, but if I happen to stumble across them in one of my charity shop forays, I will probably pick them up.


THE AUTHOR: Kate Fielding is the author of the Ravensdale trilogy set in the Yorkshire Dales.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of A Winter in Ravensdale by Kate Fielding, published by Orion. 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 and my webpage

This book has now been donated to a charity shop.

Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields


EXCERPT: He froze. Something had hold of his left ankle. He breathed hard, twice, three times, tried to get to grips with his fear, then he lost it.

‘Get off me!’ he yelled, wrenching his foot upwards, trying to scrabble away. He hit a wall with his head shortly before his foot locked solid and his hip popped from its socket. The scream he let out was loud enough to wake the entire terrace where he lived. He rolled right, instinct kicking in, and the displaced hip shifted again back into the socket, easing the dreadful pain and allowing him to lean forward to take hold of whatever had his foot.

He didn’t want to extend his hand. There was something about reaching his fingers out into the black void that seemed to be inviting a bite. Like slipping your hand into a murky river in the sort of place where, when animals attacked, the general reaction to the news was: ‘What the hell did the idiot tourist expect?’

What Bart found was both less and more terrifying. His ankle was bound by a leather strap. There was no bogeyman occupying the darkness with him. Not one that had hold of his leg anyway. The strap was thick and sturdy, with a chunky metal link sewn through it. At the end of that, he realised miserably, was a chain. What was at the end of the chain, Bart wasn’t sure he was ready to discover yet.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

MY THOUGHTS: This is the first book in this series, which I have long had marked down to read, that I have read, and I had absolutely no trouble with needing a backstory to fill things in. So if, like me, you haven’t previously read any of the series, don’t let it put you off picking up Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields. You won’t regret it.

This is a delightfully twisty plot that is, in places quite horrific and gruesome…. just what I love. The descriptions are graphic, vivid and leave little to the imagination. The squalor in which the captives are held, the cruel and inhumane treatment by those holding them are all described with a stark realism.

The characters are perfectly portrayed – there is no over the top exaggeration. They all fit and contribute to a breathtakingly horrific tale of human trafficking.

The two main characters, D.I. Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are well matched. Ava is prickly and extremely hard on herself. She is also decisive and thinks on her feet. Luc is kind and thoughtful, with a quick wit and a genuine liking for people. There has obviously been a relationship between these two in the past that has left them wary of one another, but still able to work as a team.

There is a good mix of personal and professional life, with neither one outweighing the other, and which blend seamlessly with each other.

I am impressed by Perfect Kill. I am, this year, making a concerted effort to read complete series of books I have enjoyed. The DI Callanach series is joining the list. I already have Perfect Remains.


#PerfectKill #NetGalley

A few of short passages from Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields that I would like to share with you:

‘I’m so glad we’ve always been friends. Mainly because as an enemy you’re terrifying.’

‘Do the letters DC in front of your name stand for Doesn’t Concentrate?’

‘You cremated dinner. It was a cruel and unusual act performed on innocent protein and carbohydrates.’

‘Most human beings move forward only by realising what they don’t want, rather than by experiencing a sudden revelation about what they are actually looking for.’

THE AUTHOR: Helen Fields originally studied law. After that, she worked as a barrister for over a decade. She is currently a successful author and also runs her media company with her spouse.

Fields first became a writer in print with the release of her first novel, Perfect Remains. It came out in early 2017 and quickly climbed through the ranks to become a best seller on Amazon. It is a crime mystery novel and the first in a series featuring a Scottish detective.

Helen Fields resides with her husband David in Hampshire. They have children together and two dogs. She has a deep love of licorice in addition to writing books and reading them.

She has also self published some of her fantasy books as part of her journey. Helen decided that she wanted to go even further and now has a literary representative.

Helen Fields is the creator and the author of the D.I. Callanach series. This engaging murder mystery meets crime fiction kicked off with the release of the first book, titled Perfect Remains. The novel came out in 2017 and was nominated for a McIlvanney Prize.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3076578383?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill


EXCERPT: ‘I think…’ The ball at the back of my throat nearly chokes me as I try to speak – whether it’s because Jenny is gone, or because Abbie and Josh are now motherless, or because I am going to be blamed for her death, I don’t know. I inhale and lengthen my back with a subtle stretch and rub my eyes. They’re red and raw from a combination of no sleep and lots of crying. She leans forward in response. I pause and inhale again, nerves making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. There is no other option but to say what I am about to say. At my momentary hesitation, she widens her eyes in expectation across the table. ‘I think Jenny was murdered and I think someone is framing me for her death.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Liam Buckley was a married man with two teenage children when he moved out of the family home to start a new life with his lover. His wife Jennifer never forgave him, but now she needs him to come back: she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the kids can’t cope alone.

One day after Liam moves home, Jennifer is found dead. Liam thinks it’s suicide. But the police, led by DS Louise Kennedy, are convinced it’s murder.

Liam hires a retired detective to help prove his innocence, but it’s no easy task. The children are distraught, and Jennifer’s best friend, Sarah, is waging a campaign against Liam, determined to expose him for a liar and a cheat.

As secrets surface from the complex web of Buckley family life, DS Kennedy must decide. Did Jennifer Buckley end her own life, or did Liam take it from her? The answer, when it comes, will shock them all…

MY THOUGHTS: I have had to think about When the Time Comes for a couple of days before writing my review. There are complex issues in this book – the right to decide how and when a person with a terminal illness is able to die, infidelity, blending families, teenage hormones….and the list goes on.

I enjoyed the read in varying degrees as the book progressed. It is not always an easy read. But it is, I think, a very realistic portrayal of a complicated situation.

It made me wonder how I would feel if I were in Alex’s shoes; my lover, my partner returning to his family to care for his children, with no plans in place for the future.

I wondered, if I was Jenny, would I be able to ask my ex to move back in to take care of the children? Although not little at almost eighteen and fifteen years old, they are still vulnerable.

I wondered, if I were Liam, would I be able to put my new life on hold while I move back into the old one?

Everyone in this story is somehow displaced, with futures up in the air, lives hanging in the balance. The uncertainty of everything is major influence in the storyline. Did Liam kill Jenny? There certainly seem to be strong motives for having done so. But would he take the risk of leaving his children without a parent? And if it wasn’t Liam that killed her, then who did?

All the time I was reading, I had questions which were, thankfully, answered by the end.

A thought provoking read and one that had me in tears more than once.

I didn’t realise until now that this is book 3 of the Kelly and Kennedy series. These characters actually paid quite a minor role in this book. But I am intrigued enough to want to read the others in this series.


#WhenTheTimeComes #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Having lived and worked in the UK and Dublin since college, Adele now lives in her home town in Co. Wicklow with her husband and two teenage daughters. She writes overlooking the Irish Sea and is an active member of the Wexford Literary Festival committee.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria Books, via Netgalley, for providing a digital ARC of When the Time Comes by Adele O’Neill 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3069024616

The Doctor by Lisa Stone


EXCERPT: It was pitch black outside except for the small light coming from the outbuilding at the very end of their neighbour’s garden. Emily could just make out the slither of light through the tall shrubs and trees that flanked their boundary fence. No moon or stars shone in the cloudladen sky and no wind stirred the foliage. She liked their secluded garden, it had been one of the reasons she and Ben had bought the house, but sometimes it felt just a bit creepy. Especially at night.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: How much do you know about the couple next door?

When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Alisha, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Alisha is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone.

When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger?

MY THOUGHTS: If you have a creepy neighbour, I don’t know if I should recommend you read this book, or not read this book…..

We all want to live forever, don’t we? Well, I don’t, but Dr Burman does. In fact he is fanatical in his quest. It rules his life……

I was prepared not to like this book. There were a few things in the first few pages that kind of annoyed me and I actually put the book down and walked away from it for a couple of days. Then I picked it up again….and found it difficult to put down.

The writing, in places, felt a little unweildly, but the plot is excellent, and for once the blurb was right…there was a twist that I just didn’t see coming. I don’t know that it was entirely necessary, but I didn’t see it coming. Personally I would have ended the book a little earlier than the author does, but that is just me….

All in all an interesting read. And love this cover!

#TheDoctor #NetGalley

🙂🙂🙂.5 stars

THE AUTHOR: I live in England and have three children. I have always been a writer – from when I was at school, with poems and articles in the school magazine. In my teens I began writing short stories, a few radio plays and novels. I finally made it into the bestseller charts with Damaged in 2007 which I wrote under the pseudonym Cathy Glass. Since then I have had 28 books published, many of which have become international bestsellers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to publishers Avon via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Doctor by Lisa Stone for review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on my webpage, sandysbookaday/wordpess.com This review and others also appear on Twitter, Amazon and my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2860835205