Watching What I’m Reading

It is late Sunday afternoon here in New Zealand and I have just gotten home after a busy weekend of fundraising for Te Reina Worsley. We had a brilliant day yesterday that continued late into the night, and then today our Euchre section hosted a tournament and the Club in general celebrated St Patrick’s Day. It was an enjoyable and, although I haven’t finished tallying everything up, successful weekend putting Te Reina several thousand dollars closer to the surgery she needs. If you haven’t done so yet, please check out her page at givealittle.co.nz

Of course, everything has been overshadowed by the terrible shootings at the Christchurch mosques. I simply do not understand the hatred. My sympathy and condolences to all those affected by this atrocity. I never thought we would have anything like this happen in New Zealand.

I have just started reading

Only Daughter
Kat experiences every mother’s worst nightmare when her only child’s body is found lifeless in an overgrown, abandoned quarry.

Desperate to find out what happened, Kat questions those closest to her as she tries to piece together the last days of Grace’s life. But as a darker side to her little girl begins to unravel, Kat wonders if she ever really knew Grace.

As Kat is drawn into a twisted game of lies, is she also in terrible danger? And will she be able to unlock her daughter’s final shocking secret?

Even if the truth is unthinkable

and just started listening to

The Dead Tracks (David Raker, #2)

The Dead Tracks” is the second in the David Raker series from Tim Weaver. A serial killer more terrifying than you could ever imagine…Seventeen-year-old Megan Carver was an unlikely runaway. A straight – a student from a happy home, she studied hard and rarely got into trouble. Six months on, she’s never been found. Missing persons investigator David Raker knows what it’s like to grieve. He knows the shadowy world of the lost too. So, when he’s hired by Megan’s parents to find out what happened, he recognizes their pain – but knows that the darkest secrets can be buried deep. And Megan’s secrets could cost him his life. Because as Raker investigates her disappearance, he realizes everything is a lie. People close to her are dead. Others are too terrified to talk. And soon the conspiracy of silence leads Raker towards a forest on the edge of the city. A place with a horrifying history – which was once the hunting ground for a brutal, twisted serial killer. A place known as the Dead Tracks…Hot on the heels of “Chasing the Dead”, “The Dead Tracks” by Tim Weaver revisits David Raker and his complex missing persons cases. Fans of Mo Hayder’s “Gone” and Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Straw Men” should look this way. Praise for Tim Weaver: “Impressive debut…Fans of Mo Hayder will be in seventh hell”. (“Guardian”). “Perfect plotting, great characterisation, and the kind of payoff that a thriller of this calibre deserves”. (Bookgeeks). “A taut thriller”. (Barry Forshaw). Tim Weaver was born in 1977. At eighteen, he left school and started working in magazine journalism, and has since gone on to develop a successful career writing about films, TV, sport, games and technology. He is married with a young daughter, and lives near Bath. “Vanished” is Tim’s third David Raker novel, which follow his highly acclaimed debut “Chasing the Dead” and its sequel, “The Dead Tracks”. Tortured by his wife’s early death, David Raker is one of the most charismatic, sensitive and unique missing persons investigators in current crime fiction.

This week I am planning on reading

In the Blink of an Eye

Originally titled Sixty Seconds

A deeply emotional drama that explores a family’s path to forgiveness and redemption in the aftermath of a tragedy.

The Brennans — parents, Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby — have made a sea change, from chilly Hobart, Tasmania, to subtropical Murwillumbah, New South Wales. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they’re still adjusting to work, school, and life in a sprawling purple clapboard house, when one morning, tragedy strikes.

In the devastating aftermath, the questions fly. What really happened? And who’s to blame? Determined to protect his family, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah — his innocence lost — faces a sudden and frightening adulthood where nothing is certain.

And I hope to start

My Daughter's Secret

My baby girl, I’ll never forget you – your smile, your laugh, the way your hair sparkles in the sun. I cannot comprehend this pain. I cannot breathe through it.

In the middle of the night, Claire wakes up to discover that her beloved daughter, Julia, is dead – and life, as she knows it, is over.

Searching for answers, Claire stumbles upon a pile of letters, hidden under Julia’s bed in an old, battered shoebox, and feels closer to her daughter than ever before. They tell her that Julia was happy, that she was thriving at university, that she was in love.

But as the letters go on, Claire starts to feel uneasy at something hidden between the lines. Even as she grieves, she must prepare to face a shocking discovery. Because Julia was hiding a terrible secret – and when it’s uncovered, it will devastate a family already torn apart by tragedy.

Two very similar covers there !

Three approvals this week from NetGalley

The Family Lie

What She Saw

Black Light

And one publisher’s request

The Return of Mister Campion

I wish you all a wonderful week’s reading. Please, pick up a book, not a gun.

💕📚

 

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Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence

Death Of A Doll by Hilda Lawrence


EXCERPT: She went back to the night before, to the afternoon that was just over. She retraced every step. I don’t think she knew me at first, she decided. Because of my glasses. I was wearing glasses before. But she knew me this afternoon. Maybe I have a special way of turning my head or using my hands. . . She looked at her hands and saw they were clenched. Maybe I did that this afternoon. Maybe I did that the other time.

She went back to the other time. She saw an office, richly furnished, saw two hatted men with hard eyes, saw another man, hatless, sitting in a leather chair behind an ornate desk. She saw the other girl, her face twisted with fury. She heard the voice again, low and quiet at first, then screaming: ‘I’ll kill you for this. Someday we’ll meet and I’ll kill you with my bare hands.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Hope House, a New York boarding home for women, has led a rather sleepy existence in terms of emergencies. One wastepaper basket fire surely doesn’t count as a five-alarm fire. That is until new tenant Ruth Miller’s limp and lifeless body is found in the courtyard after plummeting to her death.

In a clandestine and hot-chocolate infused meeting, the heads of the house decide Ruth’s death couldn’t possibly have been foul play: no, she must have fallen or jumped. Shy and mousy, it seems Ruth had no friends to question… or ask uncomfortable questions.

But this was no accident: upon Ruth’s arrival, the atmosphere of this happy house shifted, her paranoia was catching, and her last days were filled with dread. If the heads thought a scandal could be averted, they were wrong. It turns out Ruth did have a friend… and she’s out for justice.

This claustrophobic and tense mystery is heralded as Hilda Lawrence’s best. Equal parts cosy and suspenseful, it’s sure to captivate lovers of all genres of classic crime.

Death of a Doll was first published in 1947 and is the third in the Mark East Series:

Mark East
1. Blood Upon the Snow (1944)
2. A Time to Die (1945)
3. Death of A Doll (1947)

MY THOUGHTS: This book is a bit of a mixed bag of tricks. It brought to mind old movies where the private eye wears a fedora and always has a lit cigarette in his mouth, the women are all dames or dolls, and people have a ‘swell’ time. In that sense, it was very enjoyable. I could see and hear most of this playing out just like one of those old movies, and the dialogue is superb, if occasionally a little hard to follow, but only because our speech has changed greatly in the last seventy years. As has the writing style.

There are some delightfully odd characters to enjoy, Bessy and Beulah, for example. Mark East says of them, ‘With his own eyes he had seen them find needles in haystacks and thread them with camels’.
Two ladies of indeterminate age, independently wealthy (I should imagine that ten thousand a year was a great deal back then), and who don’t mind a tipple or two, they provide a great deal of color.

The plot is dated, but perhaps all the more appealing because of that. It would not work in a modern setting where young working women no longer live in heavily chaperoned boarding houses, required to sign in and out if going anywhere other than work. It brought to mind living in the nurses home when I started my training. We were all required to ‘live in’ for our first year. But back to the plot – I got a little lost once or twice and had to retrace my steps to see if I had missed something. But no, it is just the writing style, deliberately obscure at times.

All in all, an enjoyable read, and definitely recommended if you enjoy atmospheric period ‘whodunnits’. But I would also recommend that you read this series from the beginning to get a better knowledge of the main characters.

😊😊😊.5

THE AUTHOR: Hilda Lawrence was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1894. An avid reader of crime fiction, she wrote her first novel, Blood upon the Snow, in 1946. The novel introduced her three main series characters: Manhattan private investigator Mark East and sleuthing New England spinsters Miss Beulah and Miss Bessy. By combining these characters Hilda Lawrence’s novels are a clever mixture of the hardboiled and softboiled styles of detective fiction. Hilda Lawrence wrote only four novels, all in the 1940s. Death of a Doll, which was published in 1947, is considered her masterpiece. She died in Manhattan, New York, in 1976.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2736313799

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

EXCERPT: Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me. 

Someone has written in my diary. I didn’t recognize the handwriting. It was thin and spiky, written with what we used to call an italic pen. I keep thinking of that bit in I Claudius where Caligula drives his father to madness and death by, amongst other things, writing his name on the wall in tiny letters. One letter less each day until, by the time he got to the G in Germanicus, his father was dead.

Who is my Caligula?

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.

To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”

Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

MY THOUGHTS: Elly Griffiths never fails to impress me, entertain me, educate me and, in this case, make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Deliciously creepy is an apt description of The Stranger Diaries.

The story is told from multiple points of view, most notably: that of Clare, in whose diary the messages are being found; Harbinder, one of the investigating officers; and Georgia (Georgie), Clare’s teenage daughter. The narrative is also interspersed with extracts from Clare’s diary and the story The Stranger by author R.M. Holland, who used to live in the school where Clare now teaches, and on whom Clare is writing a book.

There are mysteries within mysteries, mysteries that cross the boundaries of time.

An excellent read, not to be missed. So why, you ask, only 💖💖💖💖.5 instead of the full five 💖? Two minor, and they were very minor, things irked me. The first: with the story being told from multiple points of view, we sometimes get to see the same incident again. But in one part of the book an interview is related again from another character’s point of view, word for word as it was narrated the first time. The second: As I have already said, the current story is interspersed with the story The Stranger by R. M. Holland. At the end we get the story in its entirety, not just the ending, but the whole thing again. I have to admit to skipping most of it to get to where the last extract had ended, and beginning again from there.

💖💖💖💖.5 very admiring stars

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. Though not her first novel, The Crossing Places was her first crime novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2590945275
You can also read a preview of The Stranger Diaries at
https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/…

Watching What I’m Reading

I am currently reading

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom

which I have to admit has enchanted me from the outset.

Meet Eliza Bloom: She likes to live life by the rules: long, blue skirt on Thursdays, dinner with mother on Fridays and if someone tells you a Valentine should be anonymous, give your new husband a blank card. Nothing is out of place in her ordered life…

But last night her teenage daughter found something in a hidden shoebox that no-one was supposed to see and started asking questions. Questions that might just change everything in Eliza’s carefully constructed world.

Join Eliza as she shows you how to run away with the love of your life (quite fast actually, as your family are coming after you), how to make your grandfather happy (this might involve a little bit of lying), how to let someone you love go (actually, this never gets easier) and how (now, this is a bad idea) to keep secrets from your new husband.

The only way to truly live is to learn how to open your heart.

And listening to

The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway, #6)

This is a series that I love, and this is one of the earliest books in the series that I have read .

Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of what might be a notorious Victorian child murdress and a baby snatcher known as “The Childminder” threatens modern-day Norfolk in the latest irresistible mystery from Elly Griffiths.

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk in this exciting new entry in a beloved series.
Every year a ceremony is held in Norwich for the bodies in the paupers’ graves: the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series Women Who Kill, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.

DCI Harry Nelson is immersed in the case of three children found dead in their home. He is sure that the mother is responsible. Then another child is abducted and a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility. Are there two murderers afoot, or is the Childminder behind all the deaths? The team must race to find out-and the stakes couldn’t be any higher when another child goes missing.

This week I am planning on reading

Between the Lies

The truth is hiding between the lies.

A page-turning psychological thriller with twists that keep the reader guessing until last page, this addictive read will be loved by fans of Shari Lapena’s A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE and Liz Lawler’s DON’T WAKE UP.

What would you do if you woke up and didn’t know who you were?

Chloe Daniels regains consciousness in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She doesn’t recognise the strangers who call themselves family. She can’t even remember her own name.

What if your past remained a mystery?

As she slowly recovers, her parents and sister begin to share details of her life.
The successful career. The seaside home. The near-fatal car crash.
But Chloe senses they’re keeping dark secrets – and her determination to uncover the truth will have devastating consequences.

What if the people you should be able trust are lying to you?

The Stranger Diaries

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”
Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

I have had 5 ARCs approved from NetGalley this week. . . I know, I know. I wasn’t going to request more than I can read in a week, but I had a bad case of book envy. . . The books I received this week were

The Woman at 46 Heath Street

Death Of A Doll

The Third Mrs. Durst

Run Away

 

Don't Let Go

Have a happy week of reading. 💕📚

Miss Marple’s Final Cases by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple's Final Cases (Miss Marple #14)

EXCERPT: The Vicar’s wife came around the corner of the vicarage with her arms full of chrysanthemums. A good deal of rich garden soil was attached to her strong brogue shoes and a few fragments of earth were adhering to her nose, but of that fact she was perfectly unconscious.

Christened by her optimistic parents Diana, Mrs Harmon had become Bunch at an early age for somewhat obvious reasons and the name had stuck to her ever since. Clutching the chrysanthemums, she made her way through the gate to the churchyard, and so to the church door.

The November air was mild and damp. Clouds scudded across the sky with patches of blue here and there. Inside, the church was dark and cold; it was unheated except at service times.

‘Brrrrrh,’ said Bunch expressively. ‘I’d better get on with this quickly. I don’t want to die of cold.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A collection of Miss Marple mysteries, plus some bonus short stories…First, the mystery man in the church with a bullet-wound…then, the riddle of a dead man’s buried treasure…the curious conduct oif a caretaker after a fatal riding accident…the corpse and a tape-measure…the girl framed for theft…and the suspect accused of stabbing his wife with a dagger. Six gripping cases with one thing in common – the astonishing deductive powers of Miss Marple.

MY THOUGHTS: Is there anything I could say about Christie’s Miss Marple that hasn’t been said before? I adore ‘Aunt Jane’, and this collection of short stories was new to me. Although it appears that Aunt Jane is becoming frailer, her mind is as sharp as ever.

June Whitfield played Miss Marple in the BBC Radio version I listened to, with a whole cast of other supporting narrators. And while I loved it, the sound effects are magnificent, you do miss out on a lot of extraneous details, which means that at some point in the future I will read the book.

THE AUTHOR: Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.

During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison.

Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.

In late 1926, Agatha’s husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.

In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie’s death in 1976.

Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie’s travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.

Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha’s greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.

During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital of University College, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels.

To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the BBC Radio full cast drama version of Miss Marple’s Final Cases, with Miss Marple played by June Whitfield, published by BBC Worldwide Ltd, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2673662073

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew

Happy Publication Day Anna Jean Mayhew and Kensington Books! 🎊🎉

EXCERPT: In August of 1954, we took our first road trip without Daddy, and Stell got to use the driver’s license she’d had such a fit about. It was just a little card saying she was Estelle Annette Watts, that she was white, with hazel eyes and brown hair. But her having a license made that trip different from any others, because if she hadn’t had it, we never would have been stuck in Sally’s Motel Park in Claxton, Georgia, where we went to buy fruit cakes and had a wreck instead. And Mary would still be with us.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Dry Grass of August offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation and what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood and for the woman who means the world to her.

On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family’s black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father’s rages and her mother’s benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.

Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence.

Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us from child to adult, wounded to indomitable.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a quietly powerful book that is going to merit a second reading from me at some point. Its characters, particularly Jubie, will stay with me for some time. She has a good heart, and I would like to know what happens to her as an adult.

I wasn’t quite born when this book starts out, and yet this time feels as familiar to me as if I had lived it. And it is a tribute to Mayhew’s writing skills that I did feel like I was living this road trip along with Jubie and her family.

I can remember the reports of racial unrest over the integration of schools and buses when I was a child. I had never realized that there were curfews, and had never thought about the difficulties encountered when travelling with a colored maid. The Dry Grass of August was an eye-opener in more ways than one. There is something very ‘personal’ about this book which has been lacking in other similar books I have previously read.

Particularly impressive is the fact that this is Mayhew’s debut novel – at the age of seventy-one. I feel that there is hope for me yet!

The one fly in the ointment for me was the unresolved question of the room at the back of Bill’s warehouse. Link says to Jubie at Mary’s funeral, ‘Ask your father about the room behind the warehouse.’ Despite it coming up again, we never actually find out about the room, what it was for, or why Link thought Jubie needed to be aware of it. A day after finishing this read, that room is still niggling at me. I want to know!

Beautiful cover!

❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Anna Jean (A.J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. She has been writer-in-residence at Moulin à Nef Studio Center in Auvillar, France, and was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. A native of Charlotte, NC, A.J. has never lived outside the state, although she often travels to Europe with her Swiss-born husband. Her work reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South. A.J.—a mother and
grandmother—now lives in a small town in the North Carolina Piedmont with her husband and their French-speaking cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2635333951

Believe In Me by Susan Lewis

Believe In Me

EXCERPT: Remember to live in the moment, she told herself firmly, as she left the shop. If you don’t, all these special times with these very special people will pass you by, and you’ll never get them back again.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Leanne and her teenage daughter Abby have recently been forced to move from London back to Kesterley-on-Sea, to Ash Morley Farm where Leanne grew up. Leanne’s husband Jack, Abby’s father, killed himself over a year ago, and the pair is still reeling from the shock waves caused by the tragedy.

Also living at Ash Morley farm is Leanne’s mother Wilkie, who is a rock for everyone, and family friend Klaudia and her two children. Klaudia has to face the backlash of the xenophobic feeling post the Brexit vote and is on tenterhooks to hear whether she and her children will be sent home to Poland.

Hoping to move forward and mend the wounds her family has suffered, Leanne decides to foster a child. And when she’s told that Daniel’s father is in prison for murder, she hardly bats an eyelid. But as Daniel becomes integrated into the family, Leanne starts asking herself questions about his father’s conviction. Is he really guilty? With the help of friend and ex-detective Andee Lawrence, Leanne sets out to right the wrongs of the past.

MY THOUGHTS: As with every other book I have read by this author, Believe In Me by Susan Lewis contains little reminders about how we should appreciate our lives and live them to the fullest. But it’s not done in a preachy way. Instead, it is wrapped in a story that most of us can relate to in one way or another.

Abby reminds me of myself as a teenager, passionate and prickly, subject to sudden mood swings, and of the opinion that if mum couldn’t guess what was wrong with me, then she didn’t deserve to know. I was a nightmare, just as Abby is, and equally as certain as Abby that my mother loved everyone else more than me, or even but me.

Believe In Me deals with many issues; single motherhood, suicide, fostering, racial intolerance, and bullying to name a few, with a little mystery thrown in for good measure.

Lewis has a beautiful turn of phrase. One particular passage that I loved was ‘ Today, when she looked in the mirror, she saw a kind of bad watercolor of herself, blurred about the edges, no longer defined as a confident, capable woman, more like someone who’d been left out in the rain.’

I love Lewis’ characters. They are honest and forthright, and the type of people who I would like to have for friends.

😊😊😊😊

THE AUTHOR: I was born in 1956, in Bristol. My father was a Welsh miner, a poet, an engineer and a thinker. My mother was one of 13 children who, at 20, persuaded my father to spend his bonus on an engagement ring instead of a motorbike. We were a normal, happy, nuclear family, living in a spanking new council house on the outskirts of town – my mother’s pride and joy. But we were going to do better, my mother had made up her mind about that. My father, an unabashed communist, was writing a book, I was signed up for ballet, elocution, piano and eventually a private boarding school, and my brother, (the real great love of my mother’s life) was going to succeed at everything he set his mind to.

I was 9 and my brother 5 when my mother died of cancer. She was 33, my father was 37, and he never married again.

I went to the boarding school, a rogue little pupil in amongst all the posh girls, with their plummy voices, rich parents and exotic tales of faraway places. I yearned for my mother and father, but it was for the best, I was told. My father couldn’t bring me up on his own. However, I believed he could, and because no one would listen to my pleas for freedom, I took it upon myself to get expelled. It took a while, and I had rather a fabulous time achieving it, and by the time I was thirteen I was back in our little council house with my father and brother.

The teenage years are too painful to go into.

When I was 18 I got a job at HTV in Bristol, and at 22 I moved to London to work for Thames. I began as a secretary in news and current affairs, then trained as a production assistant and moved on to light entertainment and drama. It was a love of drama, combined with a fierce ambition, that got me knocking on the Controller’s door to ask what steps to take to become a producer. “Oh, go away and write something,” came the reply. So I did.

Over 30 books later, my only regret is that none of them have yet made it to the screen. I left TV eighteen years ago to do the “novelist thing” of buying a house with a swimming pool in the South of France. Bliss! For the first summer! After that came a disastrous love affair with one of the FBI’s most wanted, the plunge of the pound, and the dawning realization that life full-time in France was very, very different to a two week holiday frolicking around on millionaire’s yachts on the sunny Riviera. Sure it was glamorous, and the yachts – along with the interesting people – all came back in the summer, but the endless months in between were not far short of hell.

So, off to sunny California and Hollywood. After equipping myself with a Mercedes estate for my beloved dogs Casanova and Floozie, a home in the hills complete with pool and perfect sunsets every night, I set about completing the obstacle course of cowboy agents, big-talking producers and wannabe directors. Once I realised that Hollywood was NOT waiting for me, I put the struggle behind me and from thereon life in Tinsel Town became just plain thrilling. From star-studded screenings and glitzy parties, to moonlit dinners on the beach and edgy nightclubs, it was the perfect town to be single. George Clooney was my neighbour, Jennifer Anniston, Charlize Theron and Julianne Moore shopped in the same places, Nick Cage was a guest at my house, and Steve Martin was a regular on our dog walks. Romances flourished and faded, some dreams came true and others were crushed.

After seven happy years of taking the best from Hollywood and avoiding the rest, I had to face up to the fact that I was losing touch with being English. I needed a fix of my own country, so once again my dogs and I were on the move. We returned to Wiltshire for two years where making the adjustment from Manolo Blahniks to Wellies, cocktails at sunset to nights in by the fire, and no more glittery invites to liven up the mail proved too crushing for a still young and lively spirit.

So, we returned to the South of France, not to the same village, but to an even prettier one than before, perched high above the Riviera with glorious views of the sea. It was wonderful to be back amongst old friends, and to make so many new ones – the stress of living in a language that wasn’t mine was still an issue, but seemed slightly easier to deal with second time around. Alas Casanova and Floozie both died aged 13 and 15 during our first few years there, but Coco and Lulabelle are doing a valiant job of taking over their places – and my bed!

Everything changed again three months after my 50th birthday when, having given up hope of ever finding the right man, I met James my now husband, who lived and worked in Bristol. For a couple of years we had a very romantic and enjoyable time of it flying back and forth to see one another at weekends, but at the end of 2010 I finally sold my house on the Riviera and we are now living on the edge of the Cotswolds in a delightful old barn with Coco and Lulabelle. James’s sons Michael and Luke are regular visitors; it’s been quite exhilarating and educational having a young musician and dedicated sportsman in my life!

Should you be interested to know a little more about my early life why not try Just One More Day, which is a memoir about me and my mother. The follow up book One Day at a Time continues the story with my father.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Believe In Me by Susan Lewis for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2682760783