The Other You by J.S. Monroe

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EXCERPT: ‘We’ve all got a double out there somewhere, watching, waiting. Shadowless.’ He looks around the cove, up at the clifftop behind them. The man with the binoculars has gone. ‘And I’ve already met mine, a long time ago.’

‘When?’ she asks. He doesn’t answer.

‘They say it’s bad enough to see your double once, but it’s meant to be much worse if you meet them a second time.’ He pauses. ‘The day I see him again will be my last. He’ll take over my life, me, you, the house, my company, all that I’ve achieved, everything that’s precious to me.’

He pauses, eyes welling as the Cornish sun disappears behind a solitary cloud, casting the beach into sudden shade. ‘He’ll steal my soul.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: 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.

MY THOUGHTS: Clever. Twisty. Chilling. I won’t be sleeping any more tonight.

This is the second book I have read by this author, and he continues to stun me with his unusual plots and his ability to totally creep me out. I love to be creeped out. I can’t remember the last time I had a sleepless night because of it.

This book is edgy and tense, The. Whole. Way. Through. If you are looking for a relaxing read, this isn’t it. This is heart-pounding paranoia. This will have you looking twice at anyone acting a little out of character. This will have you doubting and questioning everything you know about everyone. This will give you sleepless nights…

A ‘couldn’t bear to put it down’ read.

😱😱😱😱😱

#TheOtherYou #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock. Jon is the author of five spy novels and a new standalone psychological thriller, Find Me, to be published in 2017 under the name of JS Monroe. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other You by J.S. Monroe 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/3137489876?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison

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EXCERPT: The girl’s body dangles from the tall, iron gates guarding the school’s entrance. A closer examination shows the ends of a red silk tie peeking out like a cardinal on a winter branch, forcing her neck into a brutal angle. She wears her graduation robe and multicolored stole as if knowing she’ll never see the achievement. The last tendrils of dawn’s fog laze about her legs, which are five feet from the ground. It rained overnight and the thin robe clings to her body, dew sparkling on the edges.

There is no breeze, no birds singing or squirrels industriously gathering for the long winter ahead, no cars passing along the street, only the cool, misty morning air and the gentle metallic creaking of the gates under the weight of the dead girl. She is suspended in midair, her back to the street, her face hidden behind a curtain of dirty wet hair, dark from the rains.

Because of the damage to her face, it will take them some time to officially identify her. In the beginning, it isn’t even clear that she attends the school, despite wearing the Goode School robes. But she does. The fingerprints will prove it.

Of course there are a few people who know exactly who is dangling from the school gates. Know who,and know why. But they will never tell.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping.’ – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

And lies certainly do flow from everyone’s lips in J.T. Ellison’s latest thriller, Good Girls Lie. The opening chapters had my pulse pounding and I voraciously flicked over the pages until my Kindle went flat. The pace does settle for a time before the climactic ending.

Ellison has written an atmospheric and creepy novel with cutting edge characters. These teenage girls are rich and privileged, cliquey and bitchy. They can be cruel and manipulative. They are adept at hiding their true feelings, preferring to be seen as ‘cool’, to be admired and emulated.
The culture of their school almost encourages their behaviour… until it all backfires and popular students start dying. Is it a coincidence, or perhaps just plain bad luck, that there is a new girl at the school. One whose entire family is dead…

Highly recommended.

😯😯😯😯.5

#GoodGirlsLie #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: J.T. Ellison began her career as a presidential appointee in the White House, where a nuclear physicist taught her how to obsess over travel itineraries and make a seriously good pot of Earl Grey, spawning both her love of loose leaf and a desire for control of her own destiny. Jaded by the political climate in D.C., she made her way back to her first love, creative writing. More than 20 novels later, she is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with thrillers published in 27 countries and 15 languages. She is also the EMMY-award winning cohost of A WORD ON WORDS, a literary interview TV show. She lives in Nashville with her husband and two small gray minions, known as cats in some cultures. She thinks they’re furry aliens.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin MIRA for providing a digital ARC of Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2895238825

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

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EXCERPT: The Reach is wide and quiet this morning, the pale blue sky streaked with pink mackerel-belly clouds, the shallow sea barely rippling in the slight breeze, and so the sound of the dog barking breaks into the calm like gunshots, sending flocks of gulls crying and wheeling in the air.

Plovers and terns explode up as the dog bounds joyously down the riverbank, scampering down the runnelled side, where the earth turns from spiky grass dunes to reed-speckled mud, where the water wavers between salt and fresh.

In the distance the Tide Mill stands sentinel, black and battered against the cool calm of the morning sky, the only man-made structure in a landscape slowly crumbling back into the sea.

‘Bob!’ The woman’s voice rings out above the volley of barks as she pants to catch up. ‘Bob, you rascal. Drop it. Drop it, I say. What’ve you found?’

As she draws closer, the dog tugs again at the object protruding from the mud, trying to pull it free.

‘Bob, you filthy brute, you’re covered. Let it go. Oh God, it’s not another dead sheep, is it?’

It’s the last heroic yank that sends the dog staggering back along the shore, something in its jaw. Triumphant, he scrambles up the bank to lay the object at the feet of his owner.

And as she stands, looking dumbstruck, the dog panting at her feet, the silence returns to the bay like a tide coming in.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

MY THOUGHTS:’A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on’.

I have only read Ruth Ware’S debut novel previously, and I DID NOT LIKE IT. Not one bit. The Lying Game, however, is brilliant. It is told from the point of view of one of the four girls, now all women, Isa, mostly in the present, but with flashbacks to when they were in school.

The Lying Game had 5 rules –
Rule 1: Tell a lie.
Rule 2: Stick to your story
Rule 3. Don’t get caught.
Rule 4. Never lie to each other.
Rule 5. Know when to stop lying.
– the most important being “Never Lie to Each Other.’ It slowly becomes apparent someone has broken this rule….and the day of reckoning may well be nigh with consequences far beyond what their teenage selves could ever have imagined.

Ware has cunningly depicted the pack mentality of the teenager, the narcissistic tendencies, the brash certainty that they know best, and woven it into an atmospheric, twisty tale that left me breathless and wanting more.

Imogen Church was the ideal narrator. She is brilliant with voices.

****.5

THE AUTHOR: Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer. She is married with two small children, and In a Dark, Dark Wood is her début thriller.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, narrated by Imogen Church and published by Random House Audio, via OverDrive. 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 my https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3086319398

The Daughter’s Promise by Sarah Clutton

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EXCERPT:…he said, ‘I was thinking about the house in Tasmania.’

‘Me too,’ she said.

‘I was thinking about who the woman might be.’

Willa could hear the hint of forced cheer in his voice.

‘Yes, me too.’

‘I…I know you won’t want to hear this, but I think there’s only one person who it can be,’ said Hugo. He turned and looked at her, and Willa looked back. She could see his love, his open trusting heart, but beneath all that she could see a hint of fear, and she almost couldn’t bear it.

He squeezed her gloved hand.

Willa was holding the coffee cup with her other, bare hand and focused on the warmth of it in her palm, the cold air against her knuckles. She reached down and placed it at her feet.

‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I suppose you’re right.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two years after a family tragedy, and still consumed by her grief, Willa receives a strange letter from halfway across the globe. She has inherited a house in Australia, in a town she’s never heard of, from a woman she doesn’t know…

Following the mystery to the inviting shores of Sisters Cove, Willa is entranced by the dilapidated old Chapel House she now owns, perched high on a windy cliff within the grounds of Merrivale Estate. As Willa’s suspicions grow about her connection to the place, she begins to look amongst the dusty artwork and sealed boxes of papers left to her, and it becomes clear that the truth is not at all what she expected.

At Merrivale, social butterfly Annabelle is alarmed by Willa’s arrival. Why did her old friend and confidante Lillian leave her home to this stranger? As the two women’s lives intersect in the small, insular world of Sisters Cove, neither realises the dark truth that connects them until it’s too late. And when that terrible secret is exposed, it could destroy the lives of everyone involved…

MY THOUGHTS: What begins as a quietly charming read about a family still devastated by the unexpected death of their teen aged daughter two years previously, slowly turns into a slightly darker read when secrets, lies, betrayals and worse are brought to light by Willa’s presence in Tasmania.

I enjoyed this book. It was touching, sad and heartwarming. There is a lot of grief in this book, beyond the obvious. And yet it is not a depressing read. There is also a lot of love, not of the sickly, romantic kind, but a deep enduring love. The characters are well portrayed, all of them with multiple layers, hidden depths.

The story is told from multiple points of view – Willa, Sylvia and Annabelle – over two timelines, currently and the 1970’s.

This was not a quick read, it is one I lingered over, enjoying the author’s depiction of the characters, her descriptive prowess. I did not enjoy Sarah Clutton’s first book, Good Little Liars, but I could see that she had talent. She has proved that with The Daughter’s Promise. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

The Daughter’s Promise is due to be published January 8, 2020.

****

#TheDaughtersPromise #NetGalley

A few of my favorite snippets from The Daughter’s Promise:

‘Kilometers made so much more sense. There were more of them for a start, so you felt better about how much exercise you’d achieved.’

‘Stars were sprinkled through the sky like powdery gems, and out to her right, the ocean was a black mass of nothingness.’

‘She’d always liked the French attitude that her mother had explained to her as a girl – one’s appearance was a favour to other people. They were the one’s who had to look at you, so you should make an effort as a sign of courtesy.’

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Clutton is an Australian author and former lawyer who writes suspense novels packed with drama and nuanced characters. Having majored in psychology in her original degree, Sarah is fascinated by people. How does the past shape us? Can we can learn empathy? What determines the outcomes when moral and legal boundaries collide?

Sarah’s work earned her the Dymocks/Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Scholarship in 2018, a national award run by one of Australia’s most successful commercial fiction authors and sponsored by one of Australia’s largest book chains. An alumna of the Australian Writers’ Centre novel writing course, and with a mostly-finished Master of Arts (in Writing) that she has no interest in finishing because she prefers making stuff up, Sarah lives with her family in the very pretty tourist town of Bowral, near Sydney. She has lived all over Australia, and if she didn’t live in Bowral, she would live in Hobart, the most beautiful city she knows.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Daughter’s Promise by Sarah Clutton 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/3085455258?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Happy New Year y’all. I hope you have had a happy and safe holiday season. I don’t know what it was like wherever you may be, but we had brilliant weather up in the Bay of Islands. I had forgotten how beautiful it is up there and we’re planning on heading back up there soon.

I have just started reading

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And OMG! What an opening chapter…I can feel an all nighter coming on.

I need to download a new audiobook fo my walk to work tomorrow, but at this point have no idea what it will be.

This week I am planning on reading

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You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

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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…

I have received five new ARCs since I last posted, just prior to Christmas.

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Happy reading my friends.
Cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚

Behind Dark Doors (One) by Susan May

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EXCERPT: Then this producer rang from ‘Today Tonight’ – or ‘Yesterday Morning’, or something sounding equally cliched – and asked if he could do a piece on them.

A piece, he thought. He wished he could have done just a piece of marriage, instead of the whole lot. They never ask you that during the wedding ceremony. ‘How much do you think you can do? Five years? Twenty? Fifty? After fifty we’ll come and get you out, George.’ No, they do not. They say ‘until the day you die.’ And that is that.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Twilight Zone, Darker Things and Black Mirror.
These tales will delight fans of the horror short story with their ingenius twists and wicked irony. Brought to you by the international best-selling author readers have named the new Stephen King.

Enter strange worlds and meet their unusual and sometimes terrifying residents.Dive into the first collection of ;Behind Dark Doors, filled with stories of suspense, horror, paranormal and supernatural, from the dark mind of short story award-winning author Susan May.

DO US PART
When you’ve been married seventy years, what secret and deadly thoughts lie behind the smiles?

HELL’S KITCHEN
Gordon must survive the elimination round in an intense cooking competition. But he’s made a fatal mistake and winning is now a matter of life and death.

MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES
When a mother feels she’s not being heard at a parent-teacher meeting, sometimes actions can speak louder than words.

I HATE EMMA CARTER
New girl in school, Emma Carter, is assigned Angie Dutton as her babysitter. Angie’s nobody’s keeper but perhaps this time she’s picked the wrong victim.

IT’S IN THE GENES
Ever since Brandon joined his father on his late-night fishing trips he’s changed from Helen’s happy-go-lucky son. Today, she’ll discover why.

THE WAR VETERAN
For seventy years, World War II veteran Jack Baker has endured vivid flashbacks to that horrific June day on Omaha Beach. Tonight, Jack’s seventy-year-old secret comes back to claim him.

MY THOUGHTS: Susan May has a twisted mind….be very careful around her and her family. Don’t upset her. You may, if her stories are anything to go by, live (or not live, as the case may be) to regret it.

My favourite story was Do Us Part. It’s something that I have often wondered about…. as my dear husband often says, you get less for murder.

This is a wonderful collection of macabre stories, some of which will amuse, while others will chill. Sit back and enjoy the ride…..

🤣😱🤯😳

THE AUTHOR: I was four when I decided I would be a writer, packed a bag, and marched down the road looking for a school. But for forty-six years, I suffered from life-gets-in-the-way-osis. Setting a goal to write just one page a day cured me in 2010. This discipline grew into an addictive habit that has since borne several novels, and dozens of short stories and novellas–many of which are published award-winners in Australia, the US and the UK.

My childhood reading diet consisted of Edgar Allen Poe, O’Henry, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus horror comics like Tales From the Crypt. Anything out of this world like The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits had me glued to the television.

Inspired by these classics, I attempt to pen tales that are simply about the story and the characters and not about fancy words or beautiful descriptions. At the end of my stories I hope, wonderful reader, that you will feel you’ve enjoyed a journey into the fantastic with a neat twist at the end.

Every day I pinch myself that I am able to do what I love and be in control of every facet of it. And I can wear my track suit pants and slippers while doing it. Bliss.

Most days I’m just an average mother and wife living in Perth, Western Australia, but this darn imagination of mine keeps constantly venturing into the crevices of dark worlds, whether I want to go there or not.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Susan May for providing a digital copy of her short story collection Behind Dark Doors 1 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1386311068?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Never Have I Ever by Lucy V. Hay

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EXCERPT: I think briefly about screwing up the letter, shoving it in the recycling box; even burning it. But I know curiosity alone won’t allow me to do that, and it could be nothing. I am probably overreacting again. I find myself muttering ‘I reject fear,’ just like Lindy does.

There must be a logical explanation.

Perhaps someone from school has seen me in town. Or maybe they even live near my new house, have seen me coming and going? But why not come up to me, like Michael had? Maybe they were shy. Or maybe they weren’t sure it’s me. But if they’d recognized me from afar in the street, they could recognize me online, even with my SJ Scherer pseudonym. Why not send me a message on Facebook? Why go to the trouble of putting something through the door? It’s so old fashioned.

Unable to take it any longer, I rip the envelope open. A thin slip of paper flutters to the floor. I lean down to grab it, eager to read what it says. Once I have, I wish I’d never set eyes on it.

‘Never Have I Ever been punished for what I have done.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Sam is doing well in her career, she has a husband and a baby and life is going well. That is until she gets the note through her door that stops her heart in her chest. Never Have I Ever Been Punished For What I Have Done.

Sam is catapulted back to those teenage years spent with her best friends, teasing out each other’s secrets by announcing things they had Never, ever done. Pushing each other’s boundaries, growing closer and growing up.

If only they had stopped there. But they added their own rules. They went from sharing secrets to sharing firsts. First kisses, first drinks, first fake IDs. And that was before it all went spiraling out of control. Before that day in the woods ended it all.

Because no matter how far it goes, you have to obey the rules of the game. Even if what you’ve never done should stay that way. And now Sam is about to discover that the game isn’t over . . .

MY THOUGHTS: Never Have I Ever lacks a few things, including cohesion and momentum. And I am not overthinking (one of the author’s favourite words, along with ‘maybe’) this. I was tempted, multiple times, to abandon this read, but how could I abandon my first read of the year? Of the decade? I stuck with it and stumbled through the read.

This book is repetitive….we hear the same things repeated over and over. And mundane…..there is a lot of ‘filler’ in there. I didn’t find Never Have I Ever even remotely suspenseful or thrilling. One thought was running through my mind from early on in the book – ‘Just get on with it, will you?’

And when I finally got to the climax? Doubtful… and really not worth wading through all the dross for.

Beautiful cover!

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. If you enjoyed the excerpt from Never Have I Ever by Lucy V Hay, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. You may well enjoy it as have many other readers.

😒😒

#NeverHaveIever #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lucy V. Hay script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers DEVIATION (2012) and ASSASSIN (2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for The London Screenwriters’ Festival. Lucy is also an author, writing both screenwriting books and crime fiction.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Never Have I Ever by Lucy V Hay 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/3110637080