The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore

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EXCERPT: Mary was a little lamb,
Her soul as white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went
Death was sure to go.

He tracked her to the brook one day,
Which was against the rule.
He tempted her quite far astray
And made the lamb a fool.

She tried, she tried to turn him out
But still he lingered near
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did not fear.

What made the lamb trust him so
Most any would descry?
Oh! He loved Mary too, you know.
Tis pity she must die.

ABOUT THIS BOOK:
1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.

In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.

In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.

Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed the first third of this book, but then my interest began to wane as it was just more of the same. My interest flared briefly in a couple of spots, but it was not sustained. I found myself, by the 60% mark, skimming the text, desperate to find something that I could get my teeth into. It seemed an awful lot longer than its 268 pages.

The story swings back and forth between Lucy’s prison as she awaits her execution, and her life in the Burton household. This can get a little confusing as it does so without warning many times in each chapter, sometimes for only a paragraph or two, and serves absolutely no purpose.

None of the characters are in any way likeable…and although this isn’t necessary for me to enjoy a good read, I found myself not caring at all what happened to any of them. Which is just as well, really, as I found the ending quite odd and inconclusive.

There is little to no atmosphere, and if the love scenes were meant to be sensuous then they have completely missed the mark.

Not a read that I will be recommending.

😒😒

#TheCompanion #NetGalley

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. If you enjoyed the excerpt from The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. You may well enjoy it as have many other readers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore 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/2913850004?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood

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EXCERPT: She turned and went back into the room. Jonathon had drawn two adults, a child, and was currently on a second child: his family. Dr McCartney bent down next to him and watched him draw in all the details: the hair, the clothes, the eyes, the smiles. He then picked up a red felt-tip and with a forceful action that caused the doctor and the PC to jump, he scribbled all over the picture. He didn’t stop until his mother, father and brother were completely covered in blood.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda’s case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…

MY THOUGHTS: This is another series that I started mid-way through and liked so much that I have gone back to reading from the beginning. I started with #4, The Hangman’s Hold, and currently also have the fifth, The Murder House, on my shelf waiting to be read.

We have a police officer in crisis, a cold case, and a whole cast of very interesting characters. I was wavering right up to the end about who had actually killed Jonathon’s parents, and I was wrong, despite being right about a number of other things that occur during the book.

The plot is great….reminiscent of a locked room murder.

This is going to be an enjoyable series, and I will be devouring the lot.

***.5

THE AUTHOR: Before he became an author, Michael Wood used to serve as a journalist and a proofreader. Wood resides in Sheffield, Yorkshire. For Unknown Reasons was Michael Wood’s debut novel, which was published in the year 2015. HarperCollins published the second installment, Outside Looking In in 2016.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood, narrated by Stephanie Beattie, published by Killer Reads, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1561730340?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Other Woman by Jane Isaac

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EXCERPT: The moments before death were not at all how she imagined them to be. No images, carved from the recesses of her memory, flashed before her. No celebrated successes or missed opportunities. Instead, an overwhelming fear beat a tune beneath her skin, faster and faster, picking up momentum, immobilising her organs, one by one.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.

Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.

Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.

Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years.

Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.

As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…

Previously published as After He’s Gone.

MY THOUGHTS: While I didn’t struggle with The Other Woman, nor was I engaged by it. I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, and failed to feel excited at any point during the read. Having said that, there is nothing that I can really criticise, either. This is the first book in the DC Beth Chamberlain series.

The plot is good, with plenty of red herrings, and a twist at the end that lifted it from a 2.5 star read to 3. This is a good quick read, ideal if you don’t want to exercise the grey cells too vigorously.

🙂🙂🙂

#TheOtherWoman #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with their daughter and dogs. Jane’s debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014′.

Jane’ s seventh novel, Presumed Guilty, is the second in the highly acclaimed DC Beth Chamberlain (Family Liaison Officer) series. The third DC Beth Chamberlain novel is scheduled for release in 2020.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other Woman by Jane Isaac 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/3051776578?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Summer has returned to New Zealand after a week of very strong winds and cooler temperatures. The wind has browned off all the grass and everything is very dry . Even the lawn in our backyard has big cracks running through it. The farmers will be hoping for rain , and my garden could certainly use it, but please can we have it at night…😂🤣😂🤣

I am currently reading

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And listening to

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This week, despite the fact that I can only read my Kindle when it is connected to the power as it won’t hold a charge, I am planning on reading

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You are waiting for your husband to join you on holiday. But when he arrives, you know it’s not him…

This clever, twisty psychological thriller explores identity and pretence, paranoia and the disturbing notion that we are all, at some level, impostors.

They say she’s a murderess. She claims she’s innocent. But Lucy has been known to tell lies…

1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.

In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.

In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.

Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

I have received 4 new ARCs this week

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That’s my lot for the week.
Wishing you a happy and safe week.

Cheers and happy reading
Sandy
❤😍📚

I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty

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EXCERPT: ‘It was just out there where your Land Rover was parked. They must have been hiding behind the stone wall. Two of them, they said. Gave him both barrels of a shotgun and sped off on a motorbike. Point blank range. Dr McCreery said that he wouldn’t have known a thing about it.’

‘I’m sure that’s the case,’ I said and tried to let go, but still she held on.

‘He only joined for the money. This place doesn’t pay anything. We’ve forty sheep on twelve acres of bog.’

‘Yes, the–‘

She pulled me closer.

‘Aye, they say he didn’t know anything but he was still breathing when I got to him, trying to breathe anyway. His mouth was full of blood, he was drowning in it. Drowning on dry land in his own blood.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Sean Duffy knows there’s no such thing as a perfect crime. But a torso in a suitcase is pretty close.

Still, one tiny clue is all it takes, and there it is. A tattoo. So Duffy, fully fit and back at work after the severe trauma of his last case, is ready to follow the trail of blood-however faint-that always, always connects a body to its killer.

A legendarily stubborn man, Duffy becomes obsessed with this mystery as a distraction from the ruins of his love life, and to push down the seed of self-doubt that he seems to have traded for his youthful arrogance.

So from country lanes to city streets, Duffy works every angle. And wherever he goes, he smells a rat…

MY THOUGHTS: 1982 Northern Ireland. The Troubles. The Falklands war. The hope that the manufacturing plant for the De Lorean brings. This is the backdrop for the second book in the Sean Duffy series, I Hear The Sirens in the Streets’.

McKinty does a wonderful job of portraying the atmosphere…’the curling pigtails of smoke from hijacked cars, Army helicopters hovering above the city like mosquitoes over a water hole, heavily armed soldiers and policemen walking in single file on both sides of a residential street…’, the smell, the sound, the taste of a country at war with itself, the grinding poverty, the hopelessness and despair of both the people and the situation.

But overriding all this is the body in the suitcase and the brick walls he keeps hitting during his investigation.

I initially read the third book in this series, In the Morning I’ll be Gone, and fell in love with Sean Duffy, for all his faults, and so have gone back and am reading the series from the beginning. Loving it. McKinty has me reading late into the night, nails digging into palms, gasping, and laughing. Yes, laughing. Mr. McKinty has quite the sense of humour. Add to this his descriptive prowess and his brilliant ability to create characters far more human than I thought possible, and you have a winning combination.

I guess it helps that McKinty grew up in Carrickfergus, the setting for this series, but the whole time I am reading, I am also hearing the story in a lilting Irish brogue. Such is the strength of his writing.

If you haven’t yet read any of this author’s books, I urge you to give him a try. Highly recommended.

❤😯😳🤯.5

A few of my favourite lines from I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty:

‘….that tea’s too wet. I’ll get some biscuits.’

‘Even when you were completely wrong about something, the journey into your wrongness was always fucking interesting.’

‘…the coffee itself tasted like it had been percolated through a tube previously used for stealing petrol from parked cars.’

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2994284920

The Affair by Emma Kavanagh

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EXCERPT: I trail behind her, watching as the crowd begin to slip away into their waiting houses. One or two of them watch us as we leave, their faces pursed in disapproval, and my heart sinks. I know what people think of journalists – that we are simply there to cash in on the grief of others. I try to comfort myself with the notion that it isn’t only about that; I am offering this woman some sympathy where others have not, I’m getting her in out of the rain.

But lying to myself has never been one of my greater skills and, down at the heart of it, I understand my own motivations. That she was Sian’s friend. That she saw the Myricks on what was possibly their last day. And something else, tickling at the edges of my awareness – that there are things that happen in the privacy of people’s homes, that there are whispers.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A couple have been found dead in their living room.
Was it a simple domestic misunderstanding or is there more to it than meets the eye…?

MY THOUGHTS: A short story, 56 pages, in which a couple are found dead in their house. Brief, but with impact. I have previously read and enjoyed several of this author’s novels.

😊😊😊.5

THE AUTHOR: Emma Kavanagh was born and raised in South Wales. After graduating with a PhD in Psychology from Cardiff University, she spent many years working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe. Now she is lucky enough to be able to write for a living. She lives in South Wales with her husband, young sons, and a dog named Dobby.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free digital download of The Affair by Emma Kavanagh, published by Cornerstone Digital. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1238983107?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty

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EXCERPT: I shone my flashlight and then I saw her.

She was fully clothed, hanging under the limb of an oak tree. She had set up the noose, put her head in it, stepped off a tree stump and then regretted it.

Almost every person who hanged themselves did it wrong.

The noose is supposed to break your neck, not choke you to death.

Lucy had tried desperately to claw through the rope, had even managed to get a finger between the rope and her throat. It hadn’t done any good.

She was blue. Her left eye was bulging out of its socket, her right eyeball had popped onto her cheek.

Apart from that and the lifeless way the breeze played with her brown hair she did not look dead. The birds hadn’t found her yet.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two dead.

One left in a car at the side of a road. He was meant to be found quickly. His killer is making a statement.

The other is discovered hanged, deep in a forest. She is surely a suicide.

Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It’s no easy job – especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA, but last seen discussing business with someone from the UVF. Add to that the fact that as a Catholic policemen, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on, because nobody trusts him – and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation.

MY THOUGHTS: I discovered Sean Duffy late in this series, but loved him so much that I have gone back to read this series from the beginning.

McKinty’s writing is, though often brutal, like liquid honey. It flows easily, even as Duffy makes huge leaps of deduction, often unfounded and misguided. But he is no bumbling fool, merely a man who feels too much, who longs to make a difference, who wants to help stop the madness of the Irish troubles.

Set in the reign of Margaret Thatcher, with the marriage of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer looming, resources are stretched thin. Riots are an every day occurrence, political prisoners are on hunger strikes, and innocent civilians are being killed in the random bombings.

And yet amongst all this carnage and hatred, McKinty manages to convey that there are still good people, people not interested in either side winning, people invested in finding an equitable peace. He even manages to insert a little Irish folk lore – ‘My grandmother told me that the forest was an opening to someplace else. Where things lurked, things we could only half see. Older beings. Shees. Shades of creatures that once walked the natural world, redundant now, awaiting tasks, awaiting their work in dreams.’

McKinty is one of the most talented writers I have ever read for setting atmosphere. As I read, I can hear every inflection, every nuance in the voices, I can smell the odour of death, of putrefaction, I can taste the food, even the whisky – ‘It was the good stuff and it tasted of salt, sea, rain, wind and the Old Testament.’ He brings his work alive.

😍😲😍😲.5

My favourite quote from The Cold, Cold Ground: ‘William Burroughs said that a paranoid is somebody who knows what is actually going on.’

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of The Cold, Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2994284793