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.

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.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s a beautiful, fine,hot Boxing Day here in New Zealand. Dustin and Luke left for Lake Taupo late this afternoon, and I have been pottering around the house, pausing every now and then to read a story from A Place Like Home, a wonderful collection of short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher published posthumously.

I am almost finished Survive the Night by Riley Sager

An also almost finished listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

I haven’t got anything scheduled for read for review this week other than Twenty Years Later, so I am going to read books picked totally at random from my backlist.

I received three new ARCs this week: The Child I Never Had by Kate Hewitt

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins ( a widget from the publisher)

And Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan

A short post today as I am in holiday mode, and I am guessing that you all will be too. Happy holidays and enjoy your families and friends. And please, be kind.

The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay

EXCERPT: Do you ever hear anything at night like someone moving around? That might be Sven or Murdo.

Obviously, with the way this place was built originally, the first and second floors are continuous round the whole quad. So through the wall from me is one of the rooms where Sven runs his business. I think he must be up during the night. He looks like the sort who needs little sleep – he has a type of restless energy about him. Murdo collects all kind of weird stuff and stores it in the attic. Pauline told me he has a humidifier and everything.

Or it might be the noises of the spirit of the man who died in the vat of pure alcohol. However, sometimes when I am upstairs, looking out of the window the way you do when you can’t sleep, I see a face at the window on the corner. Or maybe that’s the gin. This is a weird place we live in.

ABOUT ‘THE SILENT CONVERSATION’: It’s been four years since four-year-old Johnny Clearwater disappeared without trace one hot summer afternoon. Now, a new TV documentary series is revisiting the case, dredging up memories perhaps best left forgotten.
On the night the TV show is broadcast, detectives Anderson and Costello are called out to investigate the murder of a female police officer. On arriving at the scene, they discover that nothing about this death is as straightforward as it would appear. What was the victim doing in the garden of the exclusive gated residence where she was found? How did she die? Why is the key witness so reluctant to speak to them? Even the off-duty police officer who was first on the scene isn’t telling them everything.
The pressure intensifies when a link is discovered between the dead woman and the disappearance of Johnny Clearwater four years earlier. What secrets are lurking behind the closed doors of this small, exclusive community . . . and what really happened to little Johnny Clearwater?

MY THOUGHTS: Although The Silent Conversation is the 13th book in this series, it is the first that I have read. The mystery is a complex one, multi-layered and twisting but is able to be read as a stand-alone despite references to an earlier case which is well-explained.

I really enjoyed the characters and getting to know them. By far the most interesting character is Carol Holman, a new resident at the Maltman. She is clearly an extremely intelligent woman, yet a recluse who has suffered some great trauma.

The two main characters are DCI Colin Anderson and DI Costello. Although they work well together, they often don’t see eye to eye. Costello, although dedicated, can be hard to like. She is often abrasive and has no home life, while Anderson sees the birth of his third child with Down’s syndrome as a chance to redress his work/life balance.

There’s a lot going on in this book, and an equally large cast of characters which, at times, became a little confusing. But, Ramsay has written a dark, gritty and gripping thriller which I read over the course of a day. There are plenty of secrets, manipulative characters, smoke and mirrors, and unexpected twists that kept me entertained and wanting more from this author.

I admit to initially being attracted by the title – it intrigued me, and am pleased that I followed my instinct. The title is perfect for the book.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheSilentConversation #NetGalley

I: #caroramsay @severnhouseimprint

T: @CaroRamsayBooks @severnhouse

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Caro Ramsay was born and brought up in Glasgow, and now lives in a village on the west coast of Scotland. She is an osteopath, acupuncturist and former marathon runner, who devotes much of her time to the complementary treatment of injured wildlife at a local rescue centre. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House, Canongate Books, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay 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

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

EXCERPT: I heard Emily before I met her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The gentle buzz of a phone followed by a surge of high-pitched notes, sometimes angry, sometimes excited, rarely sad. The sadness came through the slim pipes in the bathroom, the soft gurgles that slipped down the plumbing and escaped through my extractor fan. The incessant music thrumming through the ceiling, invading my space. Emily has terrible taste, mostly new tracks, screeching pop singers holding long, high notes, the same beat in every song.

I knew Emily before I met her. Italian food on Mondays, meatballs rich and smothered in tomato sauce. Tuesdays, something eggy. Wednesdays, something meaty. Thursdays and Fridays, mostly wine. A takeaway on Saturdays, usually Chinese, the sticky leftover noodles escaping through the shared food waste bin like silky worms breaking through soil. Sometimes I could smell the food and other times I knew from a discarded receipt in our communal hallway.

On Sundays the shake of bottles being emptied into the recycling bin outside from her weekly wine shop. A crate of six, always. They sound lovely from the tasting notes I found clinging to the letter box. A malbec, blackberry and vanilla notes with a finish of chocolate and nutmeg, soft and warm.

I’ve been in London over ten years now and I haven’t found a quiet place. I live in Angel, Islington. The nice part, with the grand white townhouses, the ones advertised as being on tree-lined streets. I can’t see any trees, just blunt shavings in the ground, weeds rising and arching over the stubs like gravestones. I’m on the ground floor of a two-storey house and Emily is above me. She moved in over six months ago and I thought she might leave, as people do here. People Emily’s age, early twenties, they come and go like the seasons, and it’s spring now. Time for Emily to leave.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL UPSTAIRS’: How well do you know your neighbour?
Would you trust them with your life?

I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music.

I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox.

Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her.

Because I know her best, and I heard everything.

The Girl Upstairs is a spine-tingling psychological thriller of grief and obsession that explores how lonely London can be and how sometimes it’s our neighbours who see us most, who know us best…

MY THOUGHTS: While I didn’t find this to be an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, it is an interesting and compelling debut novel that I would put firmly into the domestic thriller camp.

It’s funny the things that you miss when they’re gone. Suzy has a noisy, inconsiderate neighbour upstairs, but when she hasn’t heard any noise for a few days, she becomes concerned and raises the alarm because, strange as it may seem, no one else is remotely worried about where Emily might be. This lack of concern worries Suzy, and it becomes her purpose in life to find the missing woman.

I enjoyed this debut novel. It’s realistic, sympathetic and utterly believable. It doesn’t set out to shock, or apall; the author just goes quietly about her business of telling an intriguing story with just a soupçon of lingering menace to entice the reader onwards.

Both Emily and Suzy are interesting characters. Emily is an aspiring writer, shunted off to London by her parents while they endeavour to repair their fractured relationship. Suzy lost her husband suddenly and tragically and is struggling to cope. Both women are emotionally fragile and vulnerable, and have far more in common than either realise.

I really enjoyed the subtlety of the writing, and I will definitely be lining up for this author’s next offering.

I read/listened to The Girl Upstairs and enjoyed the narration as delivered by Meg Travers.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#TheGirlUpstairs #NetGalley

I: #georginaleesauthor @onemorechapterhc

T: @GLees_author @OneMoreChapter_

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdram #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Georgina studied creative writing and film at university and has since pursued a career in video-games journalism, covering some of the most popular games in the world. Her psychological thrillers are inspired by her surroundings, from the congested London streets to the raw English countryside. She can be found playing games, writing stories, and reading anything from fantasy to crime fiction.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC of The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees 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 . . .

Only a week until Christmas. I hope everyone is better organised than I am! It’s our work Christmas party today, so this will be a brief post sandwiched between the committee meeting, which has just finished, and the party which begins in an hour.

I am currently reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin, a title off my backlist.

Winter Honeymoon by Jacob M. Appel, a collection of short stories from my backlist and the cover of which for some reason won’t download for me . . . 🤷‍♀️

and How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid,yet another backtitle.

And I am listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

This week I am planning on reading The Road Leads Back by Marci Bolden

Kara Martinson and Harry Canton weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, but they did share one night neither will ever forget. Twenty-seven years later, Harry surprises Kara at an art gallery opening and discovers he left her with more than just memories when he went away to college. Desperate to connect with the family he never knew existed, Harry convinces his son to move to Stonehill—and pleads with Kara to come, too.

Kara hasn’t stepped foot in their hometown since the day she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers. Now Harry’s back in her life and as they put together the pieces of his parents’ betrayal, old heartaches start to feel anew. She wants to be near her family, but returning to Iowa means facing some things…and some people…she isn’t quite ready to.

Can Harry convince her to forgive those who betrayed her so they can embrace the future they were robbed of so long ago? Or will the pain of the past be too much for Kara to overcome? 

And Survive the Night by Riley Sager

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.

This week I have received a total of 4 new ARCs, 3 digital and 1 audio. They are: The Wedding Murders by Sarah Linley

The Patient by Jane Schemilt

And Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton

And the audiobook is The Lucky Ones by Kiersten Modglin

This week I have travelled to London, England; Glasgow, Scotland; Summers Lake in the Adirondacks; New York City; and Bradseden, a fictional village on the outskirts of Bradfield in South Yorkshire.

Have a wonderful Christmas and be kind.

Prose and Cons by Wendy Corsi Staub

EXCERPT: She turns off the overhead light so she can see outside. Pressing her forehead against the glass, she finds the porch vacant, as it should be. The stained-glass angels are twirling slowly, lacking sufficient wind to make them chime. Beyond the porch lamp’s glow, there’s nothing but falling rain and darkness.

Bella turns away.

‘See that Chance? You don’t have to worry, because everything’s okay out there. In here, too.’

The cat’s green eyes glitter at her across the dim hall.

‘Yeah, I know. I don’t believe me either.’ With a sigh, Bella slowly returns to the kitchen to clean up the pomegranate confetti. The seeds are starting to thaw, pooling and glistening like droplets of blood.

ABOUT ‘PROSE AND CONS’: It’s been nine months since widowed mom Bella Jordan and her young son Max moved to Lily Dale, the quirky, close-knit New York community populated by people who can speak to the dead . . . if one believes in that kind of thing. Now she counts Valley View, the guesthouse she runs, as home and her psychic medium neighbours as friends. Even haughty, British Pandora, who used to own Valley View before her difficult divorce.
So when Pandora sweeps in, requesting an urgent tete-a-tete, Bella expects it to be another complaint about book club. It isn’t. Pandora airily reveals her elderly Auntie Eudora is taking a last-minute cruise from London to New York with her gentleman friend Nigel – and minutes later Bella is bemused to find she’s agreed to host them at Valley View free of charge.
Bella has enough on her plate: her son Max, their two kitties, a budding relationship with local vet Drew . . . not to mention this month’s book club pick to read. But when she begins to have suspicions about one of her new guests, she’s determined to uncover the truth for Pandora’s sake – even if it kills her first.

MY THOUGHTS: This was fun, and the first in this four book series that I have read, but it won’t be the last.

Prose and Cons – I loved the title and it is relevant – moves along at a meandering pace, yet the read just flew by. The characters are engaging, although not entirely believable. But then, they don’t have to be. Max and his friend Jiffy stole my heart. Typical young boys who are always hungry and love a good practical joke.

The women, with the exception of Pandora who is a pain in the derriere, are a delight. They revel in their characters and aren’t about to change for anyone – Except for Bella, who is still trying to find her feet in this odd little town, and is trying to please everyone to her own detriment. She really needs to grow a pair! But having said that, I also loved her character and she is a great foil for Pandora.

I guessed early on what the mystery was, but it was fun following the characters in their discoveries.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#ProseandCons #NetGalley

I: @wendycorsistaub @severnhouseimprint

T: @WendyCorsiStaub @severnhouse

#contemporaryfiction #cozymystery #crime #paranormal #romance

THE AUTHOR: New York Times bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than ninety novels, best known for the single title psychological suspense novels she writes under her own name. She also writes women’s fiction under the pseudonym Wendy Markham.

Raised in Dunkirk, NY, Wendy graduated from SUNY Fredonia and launched a publishing career in New York City. She was Associate Editor at Silhouette Books before selling her first novel in 1992. Married with two sons, she lives in the NYC suburbs. An active supporter of the American Cancer Society, she was a featured speaker at Northern Westchester’s 2015 Relay for Life and 2012 National Spokesperson for the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation. She has fostered for various animal rescue organizations.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Cannongate Books, Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Prose and Cons by Wendy Corsi Staub 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 . . .

Two weeks until Christmas. I have wrapped the presents this morning and made out my shopping list for tomorrow so that all I will have to do in the days leading up to Christmas is pick up fresh fruit and cream. We are spending Christmas Day with my cousins who would otherwise also be on their own as it’s the year that their children and grandchildren go to their partners families. We are having Boxing Day with Dustin and Luke. Lucky boy gets two Christmas Days!

With all the excitement of Bathurst last weekend, I forgot to mention where I’d been on my reading travels: Currently I am in London and Glasgow. I have been to Mapleton, a small village on the outskirts of Stoke-on-trent; Arthurville in the western plains of NSW, Australia; Cornwall; Gosford and the NSW central coast; Stillwater, Minnesota; Lily Dale, NY State; Derby in the Kimberly region of western Australia; Newton, Texas; the Sierra Nevada mountains in California; Brighton, Whitby and Roedean in England in the mid-1960s; and Hull in east Yorkshire. Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Currently I am reading The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay, and I must say it’s very good. This is the 13th book of the series, but the first that I have read, and I am having no trouble whatsoever with the characters or backstories.

I am listening to The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees. I am 80% through and still don’t know what is going on. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes!

This week I am planning to read/listen to Why She Left by Leah Mercer

Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years wondering why her daughter Isobel left. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her family’s bright future which vanished in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a teenage grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of relief. Despite the years of hurt she never stopped loving Isobel and wants to help rebuild her life. Enrolling her grandson at the school, Ruth wants to make sure they stay for good.

Isobel has spent her life running from a painful secret. A secret which could have destroyed her family. Now, as she flees a bad relationship, she knows that her childhood home is the only place where she can be safe.

But as Isobel looks at her son in his crisp new uniform, she is taken straight back to the reason she ran all those years ago. Soon it becomes clear that she is not the only one tormented by the past. Someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth and Isobel hold dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

And The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn

As

twinkling lights go up and snowflakes begin to fall, Laurel Hanover and her eight-year-old son are going home to the Cranberry Inn in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Laurel can’t wait to leave New York behind to help her father run the family business, and make snow angels with her son, even if it’s just for Christmas. But when she walks through the door, she’s shocked to find the inn in disrepair, and a letter saying her father will be gone until Christmas Eve…

No one in town knows where Laurel’s father is, and she doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry – but she won’t let the inn go under, and nothing will get in the way of the perfect Christmas for her son. Seeing the worn-out wooden bannisters, bare of festive lights, she immediately recruits her childhood friend, brooding local carpenter Joel Hutcherson. They might disagree on whether any walls actually need to come down, but each rip in the carpet makes Laurel more concerned for her father, and Joel is a welcome distraction. And when he admits that Laurel was his first crush, she realises she’s falling for him.

But then Laurel uncovers a card with beautiful, ornate writing amongst her father’s things and learns the real reason he disappeared. And it changes everything. Worse still, she thinks Joel knew the truth all along.

I will also be participating in a cover reveal for Remember the Butterfly by Rebecca Marsh on Wednesday 15th December, so please do watch for that.

This week I have received one audiobook ARC, and three digital ARCs. They are: the audiobook of Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller

The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

And Bride For a Day by Carolyn Brown

Do you have any of these on your reading radar?

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. ❤📚🎄☃️🎅

A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch

EXCERPT: The room had been built out of that thick grey stone, the doorway opening out onto a wide spacious room that nonetheless felt quite dark; instead of the large casement windows overlooking the grounds that the downstairs rooms had, the exterior wall here, in the older part of the house, had a row of small windows hung with thick tapestry curtains, which blocked out the weak sunlight. An internal wall had been added to partition off what I assumed was an en-suite bathroom or dressing room. It was painted a rich dark red – blood red, I thought. The floor was more of the grey stone, but covered in a thick rug that felt soft and warm underfoot. The overall effect was surprisingly warm and cosy, a perfect romantic winter retreat – but for the shape of the body on the beautifully carved wooden four poster bed.

ABOUT ‘A CORNISH CHRISTMAS MURDER’: A PINCH OF PARANOIA
It’s three days before Christmas, and detective-turned-chef Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is drafted in to cater a charity event run by a notorious millionaire at a 13th-century abbey on Bodmin Moor.

A DASH OF DECEPTION
Things get more complicated when a snowstorm descends, stranding them all, and the next morning they find one of the guests has been gruesomely murdered in their bed…

A MURDER UNDER THE MISTLETOE
Secrets mull like wine on the stove in every corner – can Jodie solve the crime before the killer strikes again?

MY THOUGHTS: Three nights before Christmas, and all through the house, nothing is stirring – except for a murderer.

Although I had not read any of the three previous books – something I intend to remedy immediately – I soon felt like I knew these characters well. Jodie just can’t keep her nose out of other people’s business, and it seems that it’s a family trait thirteen year old Daisy has inherited. Jodie’s mother Shirley is a menace; she has absolutely no filter and eats all the biscuits. Friend Debbie an ex-nurse, along to help with the catering, finds herself assisting in a murder enquiry. These four form an irascible bunch, and a formidable one. But wait! I’m forgetting Germaine, an adorable Pomeranian who completes the troupe. Yes, there are references to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five made.

The story flows freely with a good cast of supporting characters, none of whom seem to have any sort of motive for killing the obese Santa impersonator. There are plenty of red herrings to keep the reader entertained, and the story is written with well judged humor and wit.

The setting is a magnificent and atmospheric old abbey in the throes of being converted into a luxury hotel. It boasts a ghost, secret rooms and passages, a wonderful library or two, and a whole heap of history.

This is a fun entertaining read, and I can’t wait to read more in this series. And the bonus: a lovely Christmas recipe is provided at the end. I’ve never made my own Christmas mince pies, but I am tempted to give these a try.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.7

#ACornishChristmasMurder #NetGalley

I: @leitchfiona @onemorechapterhc

T: @fkleitch @OneMoreChapter

#christmasfiction #contemporaryfiction #cookbook #cozymystery #detectivefiction #domesticdrama #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch 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

A Little Bird by Wendy James

EXCERPT: She hadn’t thought, hadn’t worried. That had always been her major failing, this failure to see into the future, this ability to shrug off the consequences, to wait until it was too late to remedy. That was how she’d ended up pregnant and married in the first place. It was how she’d ended up pregnant to a man she’d known for only a few days.

It was how she ended up dead.

ABOUT ‘A LITTLE BIRD’: Running from a bad relationship, journalist Jo Sharpe heads home to Arthurville, the drought-stricken town she turned her back on years earlier. While some things have changed—her relationship with her ailing, crotchety father, her new job at the community newspaper—Jo finds that her return has rekindled the grief and uncertainty she experienced during her childhood following the inexplicable disappearance of her mother and baby sister.

Returning to Arthurville has its unexpected pleasures, though, as Jo happily reconnects with old friends and makes a few new ones. But she can’t let go of her search for answers to that long-ago mystery. And as she keeps investigating, the splash she’s making begins to ripple outward—far beyond the disappearance of her mother and sister.

Jo is determined to dig as deep as it takes to get answers. But it’s not long before she realises that someone among the familiar faces doesn’t want her picking through the debris of the past. And they’ll go to any lengths to silence the little bird before she sings the truth.

MY THOUGHTS: Wendy James has been called ‘Queen of Australia’s domestic thriller’ and ‘master of suburban suspense’. I would have to agree. I read A Little Bird in one sitting, it’s characters and setting enchanting me, the plot captivating me.

Set in a small town on the Western Plains of NSW, Australia, Arthurville was a once thriving community. Now, in the grip of a relentless drought and as a result of young people moving to the cities for work, it’s once bustling main street is mostly boarded up, and the young who have remained in town are mostly unemployed and addicted to drink and or drugs. But it is also a town stuck in some kind of time warp. One where relationships and family breeding are still important; where old social traditions still matter; where a hierarchy is still in place and where some people will kill rather than have their secrets revealed.

A Little Bird is quietly brilliant, very much a character based mystery set over two timelines: the 1990’s through Miranda’s (Merry’s) eyes; and 2018 when Jo, Merry’s daughter, having lost both her relationship and her job in Sydney, returns home to be with her father while he receives treatment for cancer – not that he’s grateful – and as the only paid employee of the local paper, where she is only allowed to write ‘good news’.

The characterisation is strong with much of the story resting firmly on Jo’s shoulders. It’s a story that examines the bonds of family and friendship and long term relationships; the fact that they are not always as they seem; that our memories can deceive us.

These are characters that I could see and hear; I could feel that infernal red dust that leaves a fine layer over everything; and enjoyed the atmosphere of the pub where the locals go to escape the relentless heat.

James writing is vivid, the plot compelling, the outcome shocking.

She has previously written a novel called Where Have You Been, which is a good question. Where have I been that I have never before read this author?

⭐⭐⭐⭐.6

#ALittleBird #NetGalley

I: @wendyjamesbooks @amazonpublishing

T: #wendyjamesbooks @AmazonPub

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Wendy James is the celebrated author of eight novels, including the bestselling The Mistake and the compelling The Golden Child, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Ned Kelly Award for crime. Her debut novel, Out of the Silence, won the 2006 Ned Kelly Award for first crime novel, and was shortlisted for the Nita May Dobbie award for women’s writing. Wendy works as an editor at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation and writes some of the sharpest and most topical domestic noir novels in the country.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Little Bird by Wendy James 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