The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

EXCERPT: As she neared the double doors of the bus station, she slowed. Help wanted ads, business cards, and what seemed like a hundred missing kid flyers covered a bulletin board next to the door – row after row of innocent smiling faces lined up like faded yearbook photos. She’d always hated those photos: the word MISSING all in caps knocking you between the eyes, the grainy photos taken on happier days before the kids were abducted, when everyone was still blissfully unaware that they’d be stolen from their families some day. The flyers were plastered all over Staten Island, inside the grocery stores and post offices, outside the bowling alleys and movie theaters, on the mailboxes and telephone poles. Something cold and hard tightened in her chest. Would her twin sister’s face be on one of those damn flyers too? And where were all those poor innocent kids? What horrible things had they endured? Were they dead? Still suffering? Crying and terrified, wondering why their parents, the people who had promised to love and protect them forever, hadn’t saved them yet? She couldn’t imagine a worse fate.

ABOUT ‘THE LOST GIRLS OF WILLOWBROOK’: Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: I am torn by this book and may revise my rating once I have thought on it some more.

I honestly think a better title may have been ‘The Lost Souls of Willowbrook’.

I worked in a government mental institution in New Zealand in the 1970s and I am happy to report that it was mostly nothing like Willowbrook. There was the occasional ‘old school’ attendant or nurse who could be cruel and uncaring, but mostly we were bright young men and women who had learned respect and were intent on improving the lot of the residents by providing the best care possible. The only ‘locked wards’ were the ones that housed the criminally insane or the extremely violent. Our wards, even the old ones, were bright and clean, the residents well fed and, where possible, their independence nurtured. It wasn’t perfect, but it was ‘home’ to many long term residents, and a welcome refuge for acute admissions.

So Willowbrook came as a bit of a shock to me. After I finished listening to the audiobook I read some of the archived articles and examined the photos. I couldn’t get over the sheer size of Willowbrook, and the design of the building made it eminently unsuitable for housing the disabled, the ‘feeble-minded’. Mr Dewey, what were you thinking? There was obviously a demand, a need for accommodation and care; but just as obviously Willowbrook was not the answer.

Now, onto the book that I am reviewing. While I admire what the author set out to do, it just didn’t resonate for me. I didn’t like the plot and failed to feel anything at all for the characters. I think that I may have enjoyed this more had Sage been a more likeable character.

The language used to describe the conditions Sage encounters in Willowbrook is repetitious. I felt like the author was trying too hard to shock me, and it all felt ‘over-exposed’. And y’all that know me know that I prefer not to be belted about the ears with a piece of 4 x 2 when you’re trying to get your point across. Less is more.

There are numerous holes in the plot (view spoiler)

This should have been an atmospheric and chilling read but, sadly for me, it felt mostly flat.

⭐⭐.9

#TheLostGirlsofWillowbrook #NetGalley

I: @ellenmariewiseman @kensingtonbooks

T: @EllenMarieWise @KensingtonBooks

#comingofage #historicalfiction #humanrights #mystery #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: A first-generation German American, Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband and two spoiled Shih-tzus, Izzy and Bella. When she’s not busy writing, she loves spending time with her children and grandchildren.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books for supplying a digital ARC and to RB Media for supplying an audio ARC of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook written by Ellen Marie Wiseman and narrated by Morgan Hallett 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What a lovely almost summery day we’ve had. I’ve had all the doors windows wide open until late this afternoon. The washing all dried on line, and after I’d caught up with my cousin for coffee this morning, I spent the remainder of the day in the garden. Not that you can actually see where I’ve been. We’ve apparently got another four days of this, but as I have a big week at work this week, I’m unlikely to be able to take advantage of the lovely weather.

We took a drive to the beach yesterday and had a lovely lunch at the Awakino Hotel before going for a walk on the beach. We were stunned by the amount of damage this winter’s storms have wreaked. The locals were out in force clearing trees and driftwood from the beach. There’s going to be one massive Guy Fawkes bonfire! Quite what they are going to be able to do about the erosion, I don’t know.

Currently I am reading The Ex by S.E. Lynes. Deliciously evil!

What She Found (Tracy Crosswhite #9) by Robert Dugoni

And I am doing a read/listen of The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman which is one of the six reads for review (what was I thinking?) that I have to read for review this coming week.

Sage Winters always knew her sister was a little different even though they were identical twins. They loved the same things and shared a deep understanding, but Rosemary—awake to every emotion, easily moved to joy or tears—seemed to need more protection from the world.

Six years after Rosemary’s death from pneumonia, Sage, now sixteen, still misses her deeply. Their mother perished in a car crash, and Sage’s stepfather, Alan, resents being burdened by a responsibility he never wanted. Yet despite living as near strangers in their Staten Island apartment, Sage is stunned to discover that Alan has kept a shocking secret: Rosemary didn’t die. She was committed to Willowbrook State School and has lingered there until just a few days ago, when she went missing.

Sage knows little about Willowbrook. It’s always been a place shrouded by rumor and mystery. A place local parents threaten to send misbehaving kids. With no idea what to expect, Sage secretly sets out for Willowbrook, determined to find Rosemary. What she learns, once she steps through its doors and is mistakenly believed to be her sister, will change her life in ways she never could imagined.

The other five reads for review I need to complete by the end of the week are: And Then There’s Margaret by Carolyn Clarke

When Allison Montgomery’s beloved father-in-law and long-time confidant passes away, her mother- in-law, Margaret, ‘temporarily’ moves in. From rearranging the furniture and taking over the kitchen, to undermining and embarrassing Allie at every turn, including funding her daughter’s escape, throwing a hissy fit at the mall, and publicly equating Allie’s glass of Chardonnay to full blown alcoholism, Margaret turns Allie’s life upside down causing her to bounce between a sincere desire to support her grieving mother-in-law and an intense urge to simply push her out of the nearest window. Feeling annoyed, trapped and even a little childish, Allie struggles to avoid a complete meltdown with help from her fearless and audacious best friend, a plan for reinventing herself and enjoying a second act, and, yes, a few glasses of Chardonnay. Along the way, Allie discovers the reasons behind Margaret’s attitude toward her all these years. Does it help? Maybe…

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Carrie Soto is fierce, and her determination to win at any cost has not made her popular. But by the time she retires from tennis, she is the best player the world has ever seen. She has shattered every record and claimed twenty Grand Slam titles. And if you ask Carrie, she is entitled to every one. She sacrificed nearly everything to become the best, with her father, Javier, as her coach. A former champion himself, Javier has trained her since the age of two.

But six years after her retirement, Carrie finds herself sitting in the stands of the 1994 US Open, watching her record be taken from her by a brutal, stunning player named Nicki Chan.

At thirty-seven years old, Carrie makes the monumental decision to come out of retirement and be coached by her father for one last year in an attempt to reclaim her record. Even if the sports media says that they never liked “the Battle-Axe” anyway. Even if her body doesn’t move as fast as it did. And even if it means swallowing her pride to train with a man she once almost opened her heart to: Bowe Huntley. Like her, he has something to prove before he gives up the game forever.

The first book in the Escape to France series, Light Through the Vines by Fiona Valpy. This was previously published as The French for Love and includes editorial revisions.

Gina’s London life lies in tatters: she has lost her father, her steady job as a wine buyer and her suave but unfaithful boyfriend. When she also suffers the loss of her beloved aunt, a silver lining dawns in the shape of an unexpected legacy: Aunt Liz has left Gina her beautiful, if slightly ramshackle, house in the heart of Bordeaux wine country. With nothing left to lose, Gina takes a chance on a fresh start.

Throwing herself into her new life in the beautiful French countryside, Gina discovers the warmth of a close-knit—sometimes too close-knit—rural community and the exhausting exhilaration of the grape harvest under the late-summer sun. But just as she is beginning to feel like she belongs in her crumbling but charming home, she uncovers a long-hidden secret that makes her question the one person she used to trust the most. While she’s worrying that this is a sign to pack her bags and run, a storm blows a hole in the roof, and Gina finds herself with nowhere else to turn except her neighbour’s capable son for help.

Before long Gina finds herself admiring handsome Cédric for more than just his stonemasonry skills…But everyone she’s ever held dear has left her or betrayed her. And as the grapes ripen on the vine, can Gina find her way to forgiveness, and could it finally be time for her to open her heart to love again?

Another in the Escape to France series, The Season of Dreams by Fiona Valpy.

Once upon a time, in an ancient château nestled above a golden river among the vineyards of Bordeaux, Sara and Gavin opened a wedding venue where fairy tales come true…But when Sara discovers Gavin in the arms of a wedding guest, their own happiness crumbles to dust. Faced with five beaming couples yet to say ‘I do’, she realises it’s up to her to host the rest of their first make-or-break season alone.

For the summer to go off without a hitch, Sara must bury her broken heart and her fear that she’ll soon be packing her bags for London, and lean on her local team of helpers. So when handsome Thomas Cortini, wine salesman and amateur DJ, crosses her path, Sara’s thrilled to draft in further reinforcements—and finally dares to hope the summer might not be a total disaster…

But with her life savings at stake, can Sara pull off a successful season, save her budding business and—just maybe—find her own happy-ever-after before the summer ends?

And, because I thought that if I was virtually travelling to France, I may as well stay for as long as possible, I also have The Recipe for Hope by Fiona Valpy to read, which is both another book in the Escape to France series and a Christmas read.

Evie’s running away: from her soon-to-be ex-husband’s shiny new life, from the devastating loss of her baby last year, from a memory-filled London and, most particularly, from Christmas. A remote cottage in the South of France seems like the perfect peaceful place to soothe her sorrows.

But the countryside soon proves anything but quiet, from the rooster crowing at dawn to the barn owl hooting through the night—not to mention Evie’s handsome neighbour, doctor Didier, who works away in his garage at all hours.

Unexpectedly, the sights and sounds of life amid the sparkling beauty of the Dordogne give Evie a renewed sense of inspiration, and with her French grandmother’s recipe book for company, she begins to rediscover her love of cooking. Soon, the tight-knit community begins to enfold her, reminding Evie what really matters in life.

But are Didier’s gorgeous blue eyes on more than Evie’s delicious dinners? And can a cancelled Christmas—complete with a Not-Christmas feast for two—heal her heart?

After my deluge of ARCs last week I am pleased to be able to report that I have only received two this week. They are: The Next Best Day by Sharon Sala

And Outback by Patricia Wolf

Now I need to get dinner. Homemade chicken burgers tonight. Pete has just been told he has a 4am start in the morning, which means that he’ll be up before 3am. So he needs to eat and get some sleep.

Have a wonderful week everyone. ❤📚

The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark

EXCERPT: The first time I ever laid eyes on a dead person, I was six years old. And then it was never meant to happen…..

ABOUT ‘THE LAST HOUSE ON THE CLIFF’: On the death of her aunt Gwyn, Lowri returns once more to Gwyn’s home on the remote island of Anglesey, Wales, with young daughter Ruby in tow. Lowri hadn’t seen her aunt in years, but this beautiful island offers a fresh start.

Yet right away, strange things begin to happen. Ruby insists an old woman is visiting her when no one else is watching, and a tattered old doll keeps being left for Ruby to find.

Then Ruby goes missing. Desperately seeking answers no one seems to have, Lowri looks to her dark family past for clues. But the secrets she uncovers suggest that Ruby is not the only one in danger, and time is running out – for both of them…

MY THOUGHTS: I simply raced through the first half of The Last House on the Cliff, soaking up the atmosphere, the location, the quirky characters. Unfortunately in the second half, while the wheels may not completely fall off, they definitely come loose and the whole storyline teeters precariously.

While Wynn Clark takes her time creating all the wonderful atmosphere in the beginning, once we get to the second half of the story where Ruby is missing, it all becomes rather disjointed and frustrating.

I loved how she describes the house . . . (view spoiler) run down and decaying, damp, dark . . . it sent shivers down my spine!

Nina – just what was the point of sending Nina back home? She was a great forthright character. Yes, her dog is necessary to the plot, but surely Nina could have stayed too.

I don’t believe that the chapters titled ‘The Girl’s Story’ really added anything, in fact they gave away vital clues, and I became rather frustrated with them. In hindsight, I should have just skipped them.

I don’t think the Carys storyline was developed to it’s full potential. This could have been a far more powerful part of the story than it was.

The ending was what really killed this for me. It was totally ridiculous and implausible. Was the author trying to include too many elements (most of them towards the end) and in doing so over-complicated things? I believe so.

What started out as a solid +4⭐ read, deteriorated into a jumbled and unfulfilling denouement.

⭐⭐.5

I: #annewynclark @avonbooksuk

T: @EAClarkAuthor @AvonBooksUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #mentalhealth #murdermystery #mystery #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Anne Wyn Clark lives in the Midlands with her husband and son, plus a rather temperamental cat, a rabbit and a chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that…) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions. She has a penchant for visiting old graveyards and speculating on the demise of those entombed beneath. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark 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

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!❤📚

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

His Other Wife by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: She is fighting the drug, resisting it but at the same time letting go. She can’t be awake any more. How many hours has it been? Not hours, days and days. She’s not allowed to sleep or he will come for her child.

‘Your fault,’ he whispers outside her window at night. ‘Your fault and you don’t deserve her. Your fault and I will take everything.’

ABOUT ‘HIS OTHER WIFE’: She has my husband. She has my child. She has my life.

I never thought I would end up here. Alone, in a cold one-bedroom apartment, only seeing my precious daughter once a week.

Another woman is living the life that was once mine. I wish I was still married to my ex-husband, the love of my life. I dream of tucking my five-year-old child into her ballerina bed sheets every night. I miss living in a beautiful house, the perfect family home, with a winding staircase and a sprawling garden.

I’d do anything to be with my family again. To start over and prove to them that I’ve changed, that I won’t lose control like before.

But when I get my second chance, the vicious messages come. The noises at night. The feeling of being watched. It’s happening all over again. I know I’m not going mad, but no one will believe me. I don’t know if I even believe myself.

All I wanted was my life back. But now my life is under threat – and my darling little girl is in danger…

MY THOUGHTS: What is it at the moment with authors and ridiculously OTT endings? This is the second book in a row that I have read where an overly dramatic ending has killed most of the the pleasure I took in the read.

Other than the ending, His Other Wife has a lot going for it. Sarah has fallen victim to a grief induced psychosis and is admitted to a psychiatric clinic, surrendering the care of their daughter Emily to her ex-husband Gideon his new fiance, Charlotte. Gideon is a complex character. He is kind, and obviously still in love with Sarah, but is easily manipulated by Charlotte. She sees in Gideon the embodiment of everything she has ever wanted, plus she gets a readymade daughter in Emily whom she adores.

Sarah, when she is released, is grateful for Gideon’s support and envisages a happy future where they co-parent in harmony. She wants to make friends with Charlotte and make everything easy for Emily. It’s at this point that Trope ratchets up the tension. I was fearful for Sarah. Was she again falling prey to the psychosis, or was there something far more sinister going on? I thought I knew. And I was kind of right, but Trope had a few surprises in store for me, and there was so much more to the situation than I had imagined.

This was a great read, until it wasn’t.

⭐⭐⭐.3

#HisOtherWife #NetGalley

I: @nicoletropeauthor @bookouture

T: @nicoletrope @Bookouture

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.
The idea for her first published novel, The Boy under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of His Other Wife by Nicole Trope 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

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!

Forgotten by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: Malia is certain that if she can pinch herself hard enough she will wake up from this nightmare. She came to the 7-Eleven for milk, and now her baby is missing and she is surrounded by police. The sun’s heat increases minute by minute and assures her that she is, indeed, in hell.

ABOUT ‘FORGOTTEN’: In a single day, a simple mistake will have life-altering consequences for everyone involved.

A moment of distraction, an unlocked car and a missing baby. How on earth could this happen?

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

MY THOUGHTS: Nicole Trope writes family dramas like no one else. She has my heart pounding, then stopping, my breath caught in my throat. At one point I felt like I had been punched in the gut, all the breath just went wooshing out of me.

Forgotten encompasses so many issues including mental health, gambling addiction, and child abuse all neatly tied into one tense and riveting story which is told from the viewpoints of four women: Malia, the mother of baby Zach who is abducted from his car seat; Ali, the detective who has a young child of her own; Edna, the elderly and childless resident of a boarding house; and Jackie, newly released from prison also resident in the same boarding house as Edna.

Forgotten is a hard-hitting, fast paced read that kept me engrossed from beginning to end. All the emotions get an airing with this read!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#Forgotten #NetGalley

I: @nicoletropeauthor @allenandunwin

T: @nicoletrope @AllenAndUnwin

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.
The idea for her first published novel, The Boy under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Allen and Unwin via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Forgotten by Nicole Trope 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

No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride

EXCERPT: Lucy stopped.

That feeling of being watched had returned, even stronger than before.

She spun around.

There – standing on the corner, twenty feet away, where the road played host to another row of crumbling warehouses. It was the man in the corduroy jacket. The one who’d been outside the cottage this morning. The one who’d got away.

Not this time.

ABOUT ‘NO LESS THE DEVIL’: 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?

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

If you don’t believe that the human mind is the most dangerous place on earth, you are probably not going to get the most out of this book. Stuart MacBride delves into the deepest recesses of the mind: PTSD, paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and psychopathy. Delicious stuff for me!

Set in the fictional Scottish town of Oldcastle, MacBride treats us to a new protagonist, DS Lucy McVeigh and her sidekick, the very out of condition DC ‘the Dunc’ Fraser, a bit of a whinger, but a good hearted one. Lucy has, of course, a traumatic past, but it turns out to be a bit more traumatic than we first think. Which is part of the problem. If it is a problem. It may be her salvation.

I couldn’t help thinking, as I got to the end, that Lucy may have made a deal with the Devil, and we all know the Devil likes to come out on top. He just might have met his match in Lucy. This is definitely going to be an interesting series.

Now for those of you readers who don’t have a great deal of psychiatric knowledge/background, there comes a point a little over 3/4 of the way through the book when you’re going to be thinking ‘wtf?’ I thought that. I thought ‘Has Stuart MacBride lost his marbles?’ The short answer is no, he hasn’t. Stick with it. Go with the flow. It will all become clear. Or clear enough . . .

MacBride goes in hard and fast with No Less the Devil. There’s no fannying about. No sitting around drinking cups of tea and eating scones. It’s breathtaking.

Lead on, Mr MacBride. I’m following.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#NoLesstheDevil #NetGalley

I: @stuart.macbride @randomhouse

T: @StuartMacBride @randomhouse

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #mentalhealth #murdermystery #scottishnoir #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Stuart MacBride lives in the northeast of Scotland with his wife Fiona, cats Gherkin, Onion and Beetroot, some hens, some horses and an impressive collection of assorted weeds.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride 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