The Betrayal (Olivia Sinclair #1) by Terry Lynn Thomas

EXCERPT: Sunday October 5th

When the alarm blared the Sunday financial recap, the woman woke with a start. She didn’t care about the Dow Jones Industrial Average, nor did she care about market volatility. Fumbling, she unplugged the old-fashioned clock radio and tossed it under the bed. Her thoughts, as they often did, went to her lover. She rolled over and pressed her face into his pillow, taking in the scent of him, that strange concoction of vanilla and citrus that made her senses reel.

Rolling over on her back, she took a deep breath and cradled her belly, thinking of the baby that grew inside her. The positive pregnancy test lay on the table next to her, its vertical pink line a source of unimaginable joy. She snuggled under the duvet as the automatic coffee maker kicked into gear, filling her apartment with the aroma of the dark roast coffee her lover preferred.

She saw the card on the doormat just as she poured her first cup of coffee.

I’ve rented a beach house for us tonight. I’ll send a key and the address by messenger. Meet you there around ten?

Leaning back against the counter, the woman closed her eyes, anticipating their rendezvous. Dear God, she craved him.

She did not know that she had less than fifteen hours to live.

ABOUT ‘THE BETRAYAL’: Attorney Olivia Sinclair is shocked when she receives an anonymous video showing her husband Richard sleeping with someone else. After years of handling other people’s divorces, she thought she could recognise a marriage in trouble.

She angrily throws Richard out of the home they share. But days later she’s arrested—for the murder of his mistress.

Olivia knows she’s innocent but, with all the evidence pointing at her and an obvious motive, she must find the real killer to clear her name.

She may be used to dealing with messy divorces, but this one will be her most difficult case yet. Olivia’s husband has already betrayed her—but would he set her up for murder?

MY THOUGHTS: Delicious! Tightly plotted. Fast-paced. Gripping. I didn’t want to put this down. And even though I suspected who the murderer was quite early on, and for once I was right, I enjoyed the journey. Immensely.

The Betrayal has all the ingredients of a great domestic drama – the cheating husband, the big reveal at the worst possible moment, a dead body, the finger – and a great deal of evidence – pointing to the wronged wife, revenge, and duplicity. And the author whips all these into a delicious, captivating and entertaining read.

Of course, Olivia – a very strong woman – doesn’t just have a cheating husband and a murder charge to deal with. She is also having issues with her daughter, who seems determined to cut her mother out of her life.

The characters are well portrayed, realistic and believable, the tension palpable.

I believe that this is the first in a series featuring Olivia. I will definitely be lining up to read the next.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheBetrayal #NetGalley

I: @ terrylynnthomasbooks @terrylynnthomas @hqstories

T: @TLThomasBooks @HQStories

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #murdermystery #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: The Betrayal and The Witness are Terry’s first foray into the world of domestic suspense, and introduce attorney Olivia Sinclair. When she’s not writing, Terry likes to spend time outdoors gardening and walking in the woods with her husband and her dogs.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to HQ, HQ Digital via Netgalley, for providing a digital ARC of The Betrayal by Terry Lynn Thomas 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 . . .

Oh my goodness, have seen what is happening in Tonga? My thoughts and prayers are with you all, and all those in low lying areas that may be impacted by tsunamis caused by the volcanic eruptions. The far north of the North Island has suffered some damage in marinas but thankfully no loss of life.

Currently I am reading The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley. If I hadn’t had to go to work today I would have finished this. All I can say is that if you don’t have this on your radar, add it!

I am also reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, purely for pleasure, and loving it!

I am currently listening to Fallen (Kate Burkholder #13) by Linda Castillo.

This week I plan on reading The Girl She Was by Alafair Burke

HOPE CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING…

She calls herself Hope Miller, but she has no idea who she really is.

Fourteen years ago, she was found thrown from an overturned vehicle, with no clue to her identity. Hope started a new life, but never recovered her memory.

Now she’s missing. With nowhere else to turn, Hope’s best friend, Lindsay Kelly, calls NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher.

In pursuit of answers, three women search for the truth beneath long-buried secrets. And when their searches converge, what they find will upend everything they’ve ever known.

And Where There’s A Will by Sulari Gentill. I absolutely loved the last book I read by this author and am really looking forward to reading this.

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

American millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard–literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise–and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock–and his luck–run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna.

I have read and enjoyed few books lately about families and inheritances, and loved this author’s previous book so I am looking forward to this.

I have another three books scheduled for this week, but as I am starting to train my replacement at work it’s unlikely that I will get to them on time. So apologies to authors and publishers.

Six new ARCs were approved this week; so much for keeping my TBR mountain under control!

This week I have been approved for: Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton. I have absolutely loved everything I have read by this author so am looking forward to reading this.

The Baby Shower by S.E. Lynes, an author I follow avidly.

Dead End Street by Trevor Wood

A Village Secret by Julie Houston

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

And the audiobook The Captain’s Wife by Norma Curtis and narrated by Josh Wichard.

I am honestly going to try and avoid Netgalley for the coming week. 🤣😂🤣😂 Well, you just know how successful that’s going to be!

Anyway, I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day at work and Pete has a 4am start tomorrow. I seldom go back to sleep after he goes to work so I need to cram as much sleep in before as I can.

Stay safe and keep reading. We’ve had our first community case of Omicron announced today so I guess we will soon be following in everyone else’s footsteps. We’ve had our boosters, and I interact with the public as little as possible, so I hope that will be enough to protect us.

Murder in Easy (Inspector Battle #4) by Agatha Christie

EXCERPT: Luke’s eyebrows rose. ‘Murder?’

The old lady nodded vigorously.

‘Yes, murder. You’re surprised, I can see. I was myself at first . . . I really couldn’t believe it. I thought I must be imagining things.’

‘Are you quite sure you weren’t?’ Luke asked gently.

‘Oh, no.’ She shook her head positively. ‘I might have been the first time, but not the second, or the third or the fourth. After that one knows.’

Luke said: ‘Do you mean there have been – er – several murders?’

ABOUT ‘MURDER IS EASY’: In a quiet English village, a killer is about to strike. Again and again.

Officer Luke Fitzwilliam is on a train to London when he meets a strange woman. She claims there is a serial killer in the quiet village of Wychwood. He has already taken the lives of three people and is about claim his fourth victim.

Fitzwilliam dismisses this as the ramblings of an old woman. But within hours she is found dead. Crushed by a passing car.

And then the fourth victim is found.

Each death looks like an accident. But in Wychwood nothing is as it appears….

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this romp in a series by Agatha Christie that I hadn’t come across previously. Although quite why this is included in the Inspector Battle series I am unsure, as Battle makes only a brief appearance at the end.

The mystery is an excellent one; one that had me quite sure that I had the murderer in my sight until I found that I didn’t. There is a little romantic interest and an interesting cast of characters from which to select the murderer. Luke doesn’t seem to be the brightest lightbulb in the pack, but then his mind was not entirely focused on the murders.

I listened to the audiobook of Murder is Easy, written by Agatha Christie and narrated by Hugh Fraser, published by Harper Collins Audio.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

The House Fire by Rosie Walker

EXCERPT: I haven’t been able to access reports from the post-mortem, so I don’t know if the flames touched her. What I do know is smoke is hot. And when it’s inhaled, it sears the respiratory tract.

She burned from the inside out, because of me. Because of what I did.

I have to live with that. What surprises me most is that I can.

ABOUT ‘THE HOUSE FIRE’: A tired old seaside town hiding a series of unsolved arson attacks.

A derelict mansion in the woods with a long-buried secret.

A bundle of old love letters that mask a dark story.

When Jamie’s documentary investigation gets too close to uncovering the truth behind a series of deadly arson attacks that tormented Abbeywick in the 1980s, her family might be the ones who pay the price.

But for her younger sister Cleo, the secrets Jamie uncovers have the potential to get exactly what Cleo wants: to remove her mum’s toxic new husband from their lives, forever.

All it takes is one spark to send everything up in smoke . . .

MY THOUGHTS: This was a surprising read. I did not enjoy the first 25% at all. It was boring, repetitive and I skimmed pages and pages. I was seriously considering abandoning this read, but then . . . it took off like a rocket and all my reservations were forgotten. I read the remainder of The House Fire in two sittings and had to pick my jaw up from the floor when I finished.

There are a number of issues addressed in this novel, but the author makes it clear at the end that she was showcasing that of coercive abuse. Unfortunately I think that it got tather overshadowed by the arson and the spectacularly bad behaviour of teenager, Cleo, who is at that stage where she is sure that she knows everything and will go to extraordinary lengths to prove herself right. While the motivation behind her actions may have been commendable, her methods of gaining attention left much to be desired.

The characters are mainly quite unlikable, with the exception of Jamie, Chloe’s older sister, and Lucasz, Chloe’s friend. They are complex and unreliable, all with their own agendas.

The story is told from three points of view, Chloe, Jamie and the arsonist. I am not convinced that the arsonist’s point of view added a lot to the story.

While I can’t say that I enjoyed The House Fire, it did, in the later parts, become compelling.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#NetGalley

I: @rosiejanewalker @onemorechapterhc

T: @ciderwithrosie @Onemorechapter @HarperCollinsUK

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #murdermystery #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Rosie Walker is a novelist who lives in Edinburgh with her husband Kevin and their dog Bella. Rosie has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh and an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Lancaster University.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The House Fire by Rosie Walker 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

Smoke and Mirrors (The Brighton Mysteries #2) by Elly Griffiths

This was a catch up on my backlist read as Smoke and Mirrors was the only book in the Brighton Mysteries series that I hadn’t read.

EXCERPT: Stan entered stage left. Of course he did; he was the villain. Villains always enter from the left, the good fairy from the right. It’s the first law of pantomime. But, in this case, Stan Parks (the Wicked Baron) came running onto the stage in answer to a scream from Alice Dean (Robin Hood). He came quickly because Alice was not normally given to screaming. Even when Stan had tried to kiss her behind the flat depicting Sherwood Forest she hadn’t screamed; instead she had simply delivered an efficient uppercut that had left him winded for hours. So he responded to the sound, in his haste falling over two giant toadstools and a stuffed fox.

The stage was in semi-darkness, some of the scenery still covered in dustsheets. At first Stan could only make out shapes, bulky and somehow ominous, and then he saw Alice, kneeling centre stage, wearing a dressing gown over her Principal Boy tights. She was still screaming, a sound that seemed to get louder and louder until it reached right up to the gods and the empty boxes. Opposite her something swung to and fro, casting a monstrous shadow on the painted forest.

Stan stopped, suddenly afraid to go any further. Alice stopped screaming and Stan heard her say something that sounded like ‘please’ and ‘no’. He stepped forward. The swinging object was a bower, a kind of basket chair, where the Babes in the Wood were meant to shelter before being covered with leaves by mechanical robins (a striking theatrical effect). The bower should have been empty because the Babes didn’t rehearse in the afternoon. But, as Stan got closer, he saw that it was full of something heavy, something that tilted it over to one side. Stan touched the basket, suddenly afraid of it’s awful, sagging weight. But he saw Betsy Bunning, the fifteen-year-old girl who was playing the female Babe. She lay half in, half out of the swinging chair. Her throat had been cut and the blood had soaked through her white dress and was dripping heavily onto the boards.

It was odd. Later, Stan would go through two world wars, see sights guaranteed to turn any man’s blood to ice, but nothing ever disturbed him quite as much as the child in the wicker bower, the blood on the stage and the screams of the Principal Boy.

ABOUT ‘SMOKE AND MIRRORS’: Brighton, winter 1951.

Pantomime season is in full swing on the pier with Max Mephisto starring in Aladdin, but Max’s headlines have been stolen by the disappearance of two local children. When they are found dead in the snow, surrounded by sweets, it’s not long before the press nickname them ‘Hansel and Gretel’.

DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate. The girl, Annie, used to write gruesome plays based on the Grimms’ fairy tales. Does the clue lie in Annie’s unfinished – and rather disturbing – last script? Or might it lie with the eccentric theatricals who have assembled for the pantomime?

For Stan (aka the Great Diablo), who’s also appearing in Aladdin, the case raises more personal memories. Back before the Great War, he witnessed the murder of a young girl while he was starring in another show, an event which has eerie parallels to the current case.

Once again Edgar enlists Max’s help in penetrating the shadowy theatrical world that seems to hold the key. But with both distracted by their own personal problems, neither can afford to miss a trick. For Annie and her friend, time is running out…

MY THOUGHTS: This is the only book in the Brighton Mysteries series that I hadn’t read, so I was excited to stumble upon it on my Kindle when I was searching for something else, and started it immediately. I don’t know how I missed it originally, but apologies to both author and publisher for the tardiness of my review.

I have loved this entire series and Smoke and Mirrors, #2 in the series, is no exception. Set in Brighton, 1951 in the pantomime season in the lead up to Christmas, there is a definite similarity between the current murder and one which occurred of a pantomime cast member in Hastings in 1912. Some of the same pantomime cast members are even on hand.

Smoke and Mirrors is a deliciously twisty mystery with a tremendous range of red herrings and some sharp detective work from DI Edgar Stephens and Sergeant Emma Holmes. As always Elly Griffiths has created a charming but sinister atmosphere in which she sets her story. Two children have literally vanished into thin air, one of whom writes macabre and violent tales, and several characters associated with the children who are perhaps more than they seem combine to produce a clever, engaging and gripping story of magic and muder that had me reading through the night. My suspicions swung wildly from one character to another but never actually alit on the actual murderer.

The children, both the missing and the present, are the stars of this tale. The precocious and imaginative Annie, her friend and acolyte Mark, her younger sister Betty, apparently even more intelligent and imaginative than her older sister, and Richard who loves and admires his sisters provide much entertainment and speculation.

A ripping good murder mystery.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#SmokeandMirrors #NetGalley

: @ellygriffiths17 @quercusbooks

T: @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

#fivestarread #crime #historicalfiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural #detectivefiction

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.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths 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 . . .

The first week of 2022 is done and dusted and now most of us are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, facing going back to work. We’ve had a lovely break, mixing getting a few of those niggly little jobs around the house and yard done with catching up with friends whom we don’t get to see very often. We’ve eaten out a lot, which has been a real treat, been to the beach, and had lot of fun. The weather has been absolutely magnificent. Now, it’s back to reality and work tomorrow and there is, apparently, rain on the horizon for which my garden will be grateful. I have been watering the fruit trees and vegetable garden, but everything else is having to fend for itself.

While I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions this year, I have decided to try and take control of my reading life. Instead of reading 3 books at a time, I am just going to read one and listen to one at any one time. I have been doing this for the past week and, so far, it’s working well. I am enjoying my reading more and feeling less pressured. I also intend reading more titles for pleasure and made a good start over the Christmas break while also reducing the number of titles on my backlist. I hope I can keep this up. I tried last year with variable results, although I did get my Netgalley ratio up to 68% from 64%.

Currently I am reading To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse which is due for publication 11 January. One third through and I have already shredded innumerable tissues.

I am listening to The Lost Days of Agatha Christie by Carole Owens and, although I am halfway through, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

This week I am planning on reading A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.

Matt Antony is just trying get by.

Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.

All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.

If it’s not already too late.

And, The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Two Couples. Three Secrets. One Murder.

In a beautiful house surrounded by woodland, the Drayton family and their dearest friends are enjoying dinner together. The wine is flowing, the meal has been lovingly prepared, and it’s going to be an evening none of them will ever forget…

A doting mother
with a manipulative daughter.

A loving husband
lying to his family.

A close friend
keeping a shocking secret.

A beautiful girl
who will be dead by the end of the night.

I have three new ARCs this week: Secrets to the Grave by Steve Frechs

One For Sorrow by Helen Fields

and One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose which I requested after reading Michael David’s review on https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/

In the past week my reading travels have taken me to the Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide in South Australia; Louisiana in the USA; Hastings in the UK; Sèvèrac Le Chateau, France; Langdale, North Yorkshire; and Marin County, San Francisco. Have we crossed paths this week?

To all my friends in the Fraser Coast area of Queensland, Australia please stay safe. Although Tropical Cyclone Seth has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still has sting in its tail with heavy rain and severe flooding.

Everyone, no matter where you are, take care. Stay safe and read on.

Such A Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass

EXCERPT: I look at my shaky hands on the steering wheel and notice I don’t have my wedding ring on. That whole time, he never saw a ring. Not that Luke Ellison was flirting with me. I am 100 per cent positive that the stress has made me delusional,and he was just being friendly the way he would with anyone he found sitting reading his book. He wasn’t making a pass. No.

I look at my naked ring finger. I didn’t leave it off intentionally. I was making turkey meatballs with Ben, and I was wrist deep in raw meat. Last time we made them, bits got stuck in the grooves in my ring, and it took me half a day to figure out why a tinny, bloody smell was following me around. It’s sitting on the windowsill above the sink right now. But it doesn’t matter. He wasn’t coming on to me. I didn’t do anything wrong. Except that I was going to let him.

ABOUT ‘SUCH A GOOD WIFE’: Melanie Hale is a devoted mother to her two children, a diligent caregiver to her ailing mother-in-law and a trusted neighbor in their wealthy Louisiana community. Above all, she’s a loving partner to her wonderful husband, Collin.

Then there are the parts of herself that Mel keeps hidden. She’s exhausted, worried and unfulfilled. So much so that one night, after a writers’ group meeting, Mel begins an affair with a successful local author named Luke. Suddenly she’s transformed into a role she doesn’t recognize—a woman who deceives with unseemly ease. A woman who might be capable of just about anything.

When Mel finds Luke’s dead body in his lavish rented house, she realizes just how high the stakes have become. Not only does she have to keep her affair a secret in order to preserve her marriage, but she desperately needs to avoid being implicated in Luke’s death. But who would want to kill him? Who else in her life is keeping secrets? And most terrifying of all, how far will they—and she—go to keep those secrets hidden?

MY THOUGHTS: Every now and then I come across a book that is deliciously trashy and that I just love. Such a Good Wife doesn’t quite make the grade, but it comes close. It’s a good read and I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it.

The characters are all flawed, and even though Mel makes some stupid decisions I could relate to her. I loved her take on the book club women. I think we all know women like them!

I had totally the wrong person picked for who had killed Luke, so that was a twist that surprised me. I’m still not 100% sure about the ending. On one hand I think it was quite clever, but I think it would be extremely difficult for Mel to have done what she did and pull it off.

One thing puzzled me though, and that was how Mel, who has her mother-in-law Claire who has dementia living with her, sometimes hires a day nurse to look after Claire while she keeps her assignations, and at other times seems to just waltz off and leave Claire to fend for herself. Minor quibble, I know, but it annoyed me.

Altogether Such a Good Wife is a quick, easy and entertaining read.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#SuchaGoodWife #NetGalley

I: @seraphinanovaglass @titanbooks

T: @SeraphinaNova @TitanBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Seraphina Nova Glass is an Assistant Professor of Instruction and Playwright-In-Residence at the University of Texas, Arlington where she teaches Film Studies and Playwriting.

She holds an MFA degree in Dramatic Writing from Smith College, and a second MFA in Directing from the University of Idaho.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Titan Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Such a Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass 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

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

EXCERPT: She thought she’d eventually become a professor at a school similar to Olyphant, teaching film studies to the next generation of cinephiles.

What she hadn’t planned on was Madeleine Forrester swanning into their dorm room that first day of college on a gust of cigarette smoke and Chanel No. 5. She was beautiful. That was the first thing Charlie noticed. Pale and blonde and voluptuous, with a heart-shaped face that reminded her of Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. Yet she seemed slightly worn around the edges. An intriguing exhaustion. Like a hungover debutante dragging herself home the morning after a cotillion.

Framed in the doorway, teetering on three inch heels, she surveyed their room and declared, ‘What a dump!’

Charlie got the reference – Maddy was impersonating Liz Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? impersonating Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest – and her whole body fizzed like a jostled bottle of champagne. She’d just met a kindred spirit.

‘I think I adore you,’ she blurted.

ABOUT ‘SURVIVE THE NIGHT’: Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.

As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.

Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

MY THOUGHTS: I had heard so many great things about author Riley Sager, and started Survive the Night in great anticipation, which soon waned. This book is just NUTS! And sorry, but I don’t mean that in a good way. I struggled to survive this.

I love an unreliable narrator, but Sager has taken this trope a step or two too far. At first I was intrigued, then I became disgruntled, and finally bored by the whole ‘is this real?/is this a hallucination/dream?’ minefield.

The story has oodles of potential, and there was one twist that I didn’t see coming that earned this read an extra half star. Sager’s description of Charlie and Maddy’s first meeting is absolutely superb, but honestly? I could have done without the endless movie references. And yes, I have watched and enjoyed the majority of the movies referred to but, as I am fond of saying, sometimes less is more, and these were overdone.

Will I read more from Riley Sager? Yes. But I won’t be recommending Survive the Night to anyone.

⭐⭐.2

#SurvivetheNight #NetGalley

I: @riley.sager @hodderbooks

T: @Riley_Sager @HodderBooks

#historicalfiction #mentalhealth #murdermystery #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Survive the Night by Riley Sager for review. I’m just sorry I didn’t like this more. 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

Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

EXCERPT: Two months before 9/11

Death was in the air.

He smelled it as soon as he ducked under the crime scene tape and stepped onto the front lawn of the palatial estate. The Catskill mountains rose above the roofline as the early morning sun stretched shadows of the trees across the yard. The breeze rolled down from the foothills and carried the smell of decay, causing his upper lip to twitch when it reached his nostrils. The smell of death filled him with excitement. He hoped this was because this was his first case as a newly minted homicide detective, and not from some perverse fetish he had never known he possessed.

A uniformed police officer led him across the lawn and around to the back of the property. There he found the source of the foul odour. The victim was hanging naked from a second story balcony, his feet suspended at eye level, and the white rope around his neck angling his head like a broken-stemmed lollipop. The detective looked up to the terrace. The rope stretched over the railing, tight and challenged by the weight of the body. The twine disappeared through french doors that led, he presumed, into the bedroom.

The victim had likely twirled for most of the night, the detective imagined, and had now unfortunately come to rest facing the house. Unfortunate because, as the detective walked across the back lawn, the first thing he saw was the man’s naked buttocks. When he reached the body he noticed welt marks covering the man’s right burr cheek and upper thigh. The contusions flared a faint lilac against the liver mortis blue of the dead man’s skin.

ABOUT ‘TWENTY YEARS LATER’: Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story–a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal–is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.

Emma Ford has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.

But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life belies a much darker mystery. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past–one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I liked Twenty Years Later a lot, but I didn’t love it. I failed to become totally immersed in the story and am not really sure if it was because the narrator didn’t narrate with much emotion, or because the reader is being told much of the story rather than experiencing it.

There are several different storylines going on, narrated in the present and in flashbacks, primarily by Avery, secondly by Walt, and thirdly by various other minor characters. It was the murder that opens the book that I was mainly interested in, but that is very much a secondary thread though, to me, it was definitely the more interesting. I really had no interest in Avery’s salary negotiations which went on, and on, and had no real relevance that I could fathom.

I found Avery’s character difficult to relate to and I never really warmed to her, although I did admire her cleverness in resolving her family problem.

I really liked the way Donlea tied everything up at the end, even if it was a little tedious in parts getting there.

But the absolute ending, where the solution to the murder is revealed, that is absolutely delicious and made wading through all the other stuff worthwhile.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TwentyYearsLater #NetGalley

I: @charliedonlea @recordedbooks

T: @CharlieDonlea @recordedbooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #familydrama #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Charlie Donlea resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children.

He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane.

DISCLOSURE: Thanks to RB Media, Recorded Books, via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Twenty Years Later written by Charlie Donlea and narrated by Vivienne Leheney 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 . . .

Well here we are, the first Sunday of 2022. I am still very much in holiday mode and not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, although it is only for the one day and then I have the remainder of the week off. I’m not sure that I can drag myself out of bed in time!

Currently I am reading The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller. What characters!

And The Family Inheritance by Tricia Stringer, a library book. This is my first book by this Australian author and I am loving it.

I am also listening to an audiobook from the library, Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4) by Agatha Christie. I haven’t previously read any of this series, but am enjoying this immensely. I have a firm suspect in mind for the murderer, but am I right?

This week I am planning to read The House Fire by Rosie Walker

Play with fire and you’ll get burned . . .

Who can you trust in this brand new edge-of-your-seat thriller.

A tired old seaside town hiding a series of unsolved arson attacks.

A derelict mansion in the woods with a long-buried secret.

A bundle of old love letters that mask a dark story.

When Jamie’s documentary investigation gets too close to uncovering the truth behind a series of deadly arson attacks that tormented Abbeywick in the 1980s, her family might be the ones who pay the price.

But for her younger sister Cleo, the secrets Jamie uncovers have the potential to get exactly what Cleo wants: to remove her mum’s toxic new husband from their lives, forever.

All it takes is one spark to send everything up in smoke . . .

And The Betrayal by Terry Lynn Thomas

Attorney Olivia Sinclair is shocked when she receives an anonymous video showing her husband Richard sleeping with someone else. After years of handling other people’s divorces, she thought she could recognise a marriage in trouble.

She angrily throws Richard out of the home they share. But days later she’s arrested—for the murder of his mistress.

Olivia knows she’s innocent but, with all the evidence pointing at her and an obvious motive, she must find the real killer to clear her name.

She may be used to dealing with messy divorces, but this one will be her most difficult case yet. Olivia’s husband has already betrayed her—but would he set her up for murder?

I received three new ARCs in the past week: The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown

Shadow in the Glass by M.E. Hilliard

And, better late than never, The Bells of Christmas II: Eight stories of Christmas hope

What are you reading this New Year?

Happy reading my friends. It’s too hot to be out in the garden so I am going to stretch out on the daybed out on my deck where there is a little breeze and read some more. Enjoy your New Year reads my friends.