Watching what I’m reading . . .

Welcome from a wet and windy New Zealand.

It’s meant to clear up a little later this afternoon, but I am wondering if it will be fine enough for the BBQ we had planned for this evening. At the moment it’s not looking promising. Fingers crossed I guess.

I am about to start reading Suspicious Minds by David Mark.

I am currently listening to Olive Again (Olive Kitteridge #2) by Elizabeth Strout.

This week I am planning on also reading Limelight by Graham Hurley

Actress Enora Andressen is catching up with her ex-neighbour, Evelyn Warlock, who’s recently retired to the comely East Devon seaside town of Budleigh Salterton. The peace, the friendship of strangers and the town’s prestigious literary festival . . . Evelyn loves them all.

Until the September evening when her French neighbour, Christianne Beaucarne, disappears. Enora has met this woman. The two of them have bonded. But what Enora discovers over the anguished months to come will put sleepy Budleigh Salterton on the front page of every newspaper in the land . . .

I will also, hopefully, catch up on another back title from my Netgalley list. I will pick it at random.

Only two ARCs this week from Netgalley:

Single Mother by Samantha Hayes

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

I seem to be going through one of those patches where everything I request goes onto my wishlist. Is anyone else having this problem? Mind you, it could be as a result of my geographical location.

I really can’t believe that we are in December in a couple of days time! Other than Luke’s gifts, I tend to pick up bits and pieces throughout the year, I have absolutely nothing organised. I hope that you are all better organized than I am!

I am looking forward to spending some time with Luke later this week. I am having him for the day Friday. We will have morning tea with his granny and grandma, who I haven’t caught up with since early this year, and then we have his daycare Christmas party in the afternoon.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Stay safe and read on!

The Survivors by Jane Harper

EXCERPT: She was lying on her side, lengthways along the beach with her back to the sea. Her arms were limp and her face was pressed against the sand. The careful highlights in her hair were dull and matted. Her baby-doll eyes were closed.

Kieran had a sudden flash of her, so different from this. Running through the spray after Audrey’s hat, looking out at the sea and laughing in frustration.

ABOUT ‘THE SURVIVORS’: Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

MY THOUGHTS: Small town dramas – love them! Evelyn Bay – Tasmania, population 900, give or take. To the north is mainland Australia, invisible, but there. And far to the south, Antarctica. A rugged and wild landscape not dissimilar to the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, from what I understand.

But home is home, and Kieran returns with his family to help his mother pack up the house and move his father, suffering from dementia, into care. And when you’re home, you catch up with old friends. Old friends who know your history, your secrets. And there’s plenty of those in Evelyn Bay.

The story moves at small town pace. Unhurriedly, but rife with gossip, innuendo and suspicion. The past comes back to confuse the investigation into the death of a summer visitor to the town, an artist who funds her stay by waitressing at the local bar/diner. There are no shortage of suspects. Liam, who also works at the diner, and who gave Bronte a lift home from work the night she was killed. Brian, Kieran’s dad, who sometimes wanders at night, and did so that night in the vicinity of Bronte’s home, and who was also last known person to see Gabby Birch who had died in the storm all those years ago. And others. I thought I had the killer pegged. I was wrong. Very wrong. About both girls. The ending is unexpected but I loved it. I loved the moral dilemmas the author created, and the delicate but realistic way she portrayed the survivors guilt.

This is a slow reveal, a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion, but far more pleasant. Harper paints portraits with her words, both of the dramatic scenery and the people. My heart ached for Verity, coping with the loss of a son in the tragedy of the storm, his death brought about by the actions of his younger brother, who has moved to Sydney and rarely returns home, and the rapid deterioration of her husband into the clutches of dementia. And for Olivia, older sister of Gabby, home to care for her mother after a failed suicide attempt and increasingly bizarre behaviour.

This is a satisfying read, more than satisfying. I enjoyed my first book by this author and have ordered her back titles to read. I like her style.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheSurvivorsBook #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane Harper is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. Jane previously worked as a print journalist in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne with her husband, daughter, and son.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Survivors by Jane Harper 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

EXCERPT: She rolls over and reaches out into the space where she was placed. Reaches for her instinctively: her baby.

Her hand hits air, and flaps redundantly.

She sits up in bed and looks around her, head jerking wildly in first one direction, then the other. Perhaps someone lifted the baby off the bed and put her in the moses basket. She squints over at the corner of the room, but where the moses basket sat before, there’s just a patch of grimy carpet.

ABOUT ‘HER SISTER’S CHILD’: She rolls over and reaches for her instinctively: her baby. Her hand hits air and flaps redundantly. She stumbles out of bed and switches on the light. But this only confirms it. The baby is gone. Someone has taken her.

Sixteen years ago, Lizzie Armitage woke to find her newborn baby gone. Just days later, Lizzie was dead.

Her sister Paula swore she would do everything she could to find the child. If she hadn’t promised to keep Lizzie’s pregnancy secret, maybe the baby wouldn’t have disappeared. And maybe Lizzie would still be alive. But, in nearly a decade, Paula’s never found any trace. Until now…

When Paula bumps into an old friend from the past, she realises she wasn’t the only one who knew about her sister’s child. Someone knows what happened that day. Someone knows where Lizzie’s baby went.

But can Paula find out the truth before another family is ripped apart?

MY THOUGHTS: I failed to become invested in Her Sister’s Child at all. I wanted to like it. I enjoyed the previous two books that I have read by this author. But this just didn’t work for me beyond being merely an okay read.

It is, in the beginning, a confusing read. The author is telling two stories over two timelines, but these aren’t clearly delineated, so you don’t actually realise that this is what is happening until some way through the book. Once this became apparent I knew. And I really only read on, skimming, to confirm that I was right. I was. It was really all a bit too obvious. Or maybe I just read too many of this type of book.

An average read from an author I expect better of.

⭐⭐.5

#HerSistersChild #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the Cotswolds but spent most of my formative years abroad. I studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after my two children to take a law degree. After a three-year stint as a criminal paralegal, I worked as a commercial copywriter and then a TV storyliner, before coming full circle to write fiction again.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Sister’s Child by Alison 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

EXCERPT: As I put the pictures back in the bag, I picked up the shreds of what I’d dismissed as blank scraps of paper that morning. Most of them were plain white, but I now noticed some had bits of printed letters on them, light gray and faded, made by one of those ancient dot-matrix printers I’d once seen in my school’s aging computer lab. I laid the pieces out on the desk and set to work, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Despite missing a few parts, three words became clear enough to decipher.

TELL NO ONE.

ABOUT ‘HER SECRET SON’: When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’ – Ray Charles

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is certainly an emotional page turner! How much bad luck can one man have? Well, like they say, ‘when it rains, it pours.’

Josh has made some bad decisions in his life, but just as he thinks that he’s finally got life sorted, found happiness, it’s ripped right out of his grasp again. Struggling to cope, he is determined to do his best by Logan, who he loves like his own. And he had promised Grace that if anything ever happened to her, he would look after him. He is determined not to let either Grace or Logan down. But this promise gets harder and harder to keep as Grace and Logan’s past is revealed to be layer after layer of lies.

I felt so sorry for Josh, and for Logan. Josh’s love for Logan simply radiates from the page as he battles with his own grief to give Logan a stable home. Ultimately he finds himself torn between doing the right thing by Logan, and doing the right thing.

Her Secret Son is a compelling page turner. I was heavily invested in the characters and the outcome. But then it all became overly dramatic, a bit like an episode of a soap opera (Dallas sprung to mind), with blazing guns and all. Although the ending was great entertaining reading, I thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse, and I felt let down by it. The quality of the rest of the story deserved better. A good candidate for a TV drama.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#HerSecretSon #NetGalley

‘Moving never sorted out your issues. They sneaked inside your suitcases when you weren’t looking and jumped out when you arrived.’

‘I’d rather be a hermit with a stack of good books and a box of chocolates.’

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the UK and grew up in Switzerland. Unsurprisingly I love chocolate, mountains and cheese, and books, of course.

When I moved to Canada with my husband and three sons in 2010 I went through an (early) mid-life crisis. Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion; writing – and never wanted to look back.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is due for publication 26.11.2020

Watching what I’m reading . . .

For some reason, today I have been thinking about the music I used to listen to as a teenager, and one song in particular came to mind – Lazy Sunday Afternoon, from the Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake album by the Small Faces.

The album cover was round – a tobacco tin. It was beautiful and I had it for many years before it got lost in one of my many moves. This particular track featuring today is probably the result of wishful thinking. It definitely wasn’t the most played track or album of my teenage years, that accolade would have gone to the Led Zeppelin II album.

I had, and still have, very eclectic music tastes.

Currently I am reading Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon. I only started this last night and I am almost finished (okay, my Kindle ran out of charge otherwise I would still be reading) and wow! What a page turner!

I am also reading Living Ayurveda. I started Ayurveda yoga earlier this year and really love it, so when I saw this book I knew I had to have it.

I am also reading it’s always the husband by Michelle Campbell

And listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I am back to work this week. Because I am still struggling with health issues, I am planning a light week commitmentwise, so am only going to commit to one other book, Her Sister’s Child by Alison James.

She rolls over and reaches for her instinctively: her baby. Her hand hits air and flaps redundantly. She stumbles out of bed and switches on the light. But this only confirms it. The baby is gone. Someone has taken her.

Sixteen years ago, Lizzie Armitage woke to find her newborn baby gone. Just days later, Lizzie was dead.

Her sister Paula swore she would do everything she could to find the child. If she hadn’t promised to keep Lizzie’s pregnancy secret, maybe the baby wouldn’t have disappeared. And maybe Lizzie would still be alive. But, in nearly a decade, Paula’s never found any trace. Until now…

When Paula bumps into an old friend from the past, she realises she wasn’t the only one who knew about her sister’s child. Someone knows what happened that day. Someone knows where Lizzie’s baby went.

But can Paula find out the truth before another family is ripped apart?

Only three ARCs this week – Susan, your 👑 is on the courier, winging its way back to you. 🤣😂👑 I am sure that you have far more new ARCs than me this week! I am sure to have many more next week after I check out Susan’s, Carla’s and Carol’s posts today.

Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colasanti

The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison

And, Ghosts by Dolly Alderton which has been sitting on my wishlist for ages. Thanks for the recommendation Ceecee.

And to finish off I would like to share a few bright spots of colour from my garden with you.

Happy Sunday everyone.

Sandy

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight collated by Jeffrey Deaver

EXCERPT: A moment later Beth heard a soft sound behind her.

Humming.

Gasping, Beth turned and, in shock, stared at Joanne, who was gazing at her sister-in-law. Her face had the same eerie, blank expression as Robert’s.

And the humming too, was the same as earlier, the notes her husband had hummed over and over again.

The notes that spelled D-E-A-D.

– A Creative Defense by Jeffrey Deaver.

ABOUT ‘NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS AFTER MIDNIGHT’: The sun sets. The moon takes its place, illuminating the most evil corners of the planet. What twisted fear dwells in that blackness? What legends attach to those of sound mind and make them go crazy in the bright light of day? Only Suspense Magazine knows…

Teaming up with New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver, Suspense Magazine offers up a nail-biting anthology titled: “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight.” This thrilling collection consists of thirteen original short stories representing the genres of suspense/thriller, mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, and more.

Readers’ favorites come together to explore the mystery of midnight. The ‘best of the best’ presenting these memorable tales, include: Joseph Badal, Linwood Barclay, Rhys Bowen, Jeffery Deaver, Heather Graham, Alan Jacobson, Paul Kemprecos, Shannon Kirk, Jon Land, John Lescroart, D. P. Lyle, Kevin O’Brien, and Hank Phillippi Ryan.

Take their hands…walk into their worlds…but be prepared to leave the light on when you’re through. After all, this incredible gathering of authors, who will delight fans of all genres, not only utilized their award-winning imaginations to answer that age-old question of why “Nothing Good Happens After Midnight”—they also made sure to pen stories that will leave you…speechless.

MY THOUGHTS: An interesting collection. There is not one story in this collection that I disliked. And there’s three good solid five star reads amongst the thirteen offerings. There are authors that I am familiar with, and others that I have not previously read. The title line, ‘Nothing good happens after midnight’ appears in several of the stories.

My favourite three stories, in the order that they appear in this anthology, are:

Night Shift by Linwood Barclay, who is a ‘go to’ author for me;
Midnight in the Garden of Death by Heather Graham, a new author to me, and which had my heart pounding; and
A Creative Defense by Jeffrey Deaver.

My least favourite was 12:01am by Alan Jacobson

A good collection for dipping into when you have five minutes to fill.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#NothingGoodHappensAfterMidnight #NetGalley

ABOUT JEFFREY DEAVER: #1 international bestselling author of over thirty novels and three collections of short stories. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. His first novel featuring Lincoln Rhyme, The Bone Collector, was made into a major motion picture starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. He’s received or been shortlisted for a number of awards around the world.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Suspense Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Nothing Good Happens After Midnight, collated by Jeffrey Deaver, 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, Instagram and my webpage

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

EXCERPT: Alive, I was Cleo Sherwood. Dead, I became the Lady in the Lake, a nasty broken thing, dragged from the fountain after steeping there for months, through the cold winter, then that fitful, bratty spring, almost into summer proper. Face gone, much of my flesh gone.

And no one cared until you came along, gave me that stupid nickname, began rattling doorknobs and pestering people, going places you weren’t supposed to go. No one outside my family was supposed to care. I was a careless girl who went out on a date with the wrong person and was never seen again. You come in at the end of my story and turned it into your beginning. Why’d you have to go and do that, Madeline Schwartz? Why couldn’t you stay in your beautiful house and your good-enough marriage, and let me be at the bottom of the fountain? I was safe there.

Everybody was safer when I was there.

ABOUT ‘LADY IN THE LAKE’: Cleo Sherwood disappeared eight months ago. Aside from her parents and the two sons she left behind, no one seems to have noticed. It isn’t hard to understand why: it’s 1964 and neither the police, the public nor the papers care much when Negro women go missing.

Maddie Schwartz – recently separated from her husband, working her first job as an assistant at the Baltimore Sun- wants one thing: a byline. When she hears about an unidentified body that’s been pulled out of the fountain in Druid Hill Park, Maddie thinks she is about to uncover a story that will finally get her name in print. What she can’t imagine is how much trouble she will cause by chasing a story that no-one wants her to tell.

MY THOUGHTS: I ended up liking Lady in the Lake a lot more by the end than I did at the start. This is a book that is impossible to categorise; there are just so many facets to it. But they all meld seamlessly together to paint a portrait of life in the 1960s, a time when I was becoming a teenager, a time of great social change. Maddie is merely the vehicle for this story of the changing role of women in society, and the initial tentative steps towards racial equality, as is the death of Chloe (Eunetta) Sherwood. Don’t go into this book expecting a murder mystery; you will be disappointed. It is more of a social commentary.

I have to say that I didn’t much like the character of Maddie. She is cold, aloof, and selfish, and not inclined to think things through. Yet, I can also empathise with her. She had a dream and she followed it. We also find out more about her earlier life towards the end of the book and the events that shaped her.

Even though her ‘dream job’ of journalist left a lot to be desired – women didn’t get promoted and she still had to answer to men who were much like her husband – she stuck with it and stuck by her principles. While she grows as a person, and becomes more politically aware, she is still rather careless of the feelings of those around her. Her ambition is paramount. She is not a woman to whom relationships mean much, and she doesn’t appear to have friends. So, no, I didn’t much like Maddie, but I did have a little sneaking admiration for her here and there.

The ending of Lady in the Lake is interesting, and entirely unexpected.

The author’s notes at the end of the book are illuminating. While the two murders are inspired by two cases from 1969, the author has created her own version of these, and set them amongst real events from some years earlier.

While Lady in the Lake didn’t bowl me over, and I am not about to recommend it widely, it is an interesting and thought provoking read made up of a blend of historical fiction, politics, human rights and mystery.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#LadyInTheLake #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Since her debut in 1997, New York Times bestseller Laura Lippman has been recognized as one of the most gifted and versatile crime novelists working today. Her series novels, stand-alones and short stories have all won major awards, including the Edgar and the Anthony, and her work is published in more than 20 countries. A former Baltimore Sun journalist, she has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Glamour and Longreads. “Simply one of our best novelists, period,” the Washington Post said upon the publication of the ground-breaking What the Dead Know. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber and Faber via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Apologies for disappearing on you so suddenly last week. I was rushed off to ED in the early hours of last Sunday morning with breathing difficulties, which resulted in a five day stay in hospital. I am not yet allowed back to work, and will be going for more tests and follow up during the week ahead.

Currently I am not reading anything. I have finished two books this morning, the delightful Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson

And Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Which as well as being a Netgalley ARC, was a group read for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group.

I started listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout this morning.

This week I only have one ARC that I need to read for review which is Nothing Good Happens After Midnight: A suspense magazine anthology, with contributions by Jeffrey Deaver, Linwood Barclay and John Lescroart, amongst others.

I will use any other reading time I get to catch up on back titles.

I have received ten new ARCs over the past two weeks:

The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

The Perfect Life by Nuala Elwood

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Limelight by Graham Hurley

Our Little Secret by Lesley Sanderson

And finally I’m So Effing Tired by Amy Shah

And on that note, I am off for a nap.

Happy reading ❤📚

The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean

EXCERPT: I looked about me at our attic – the library, the horrible bits of Victorian taxidermy we’d picked up from junk shops, the dust-furred oil paintings of bleak landscapes, the interesting and peculiar objects that inevitably gathered on any horizontal surface in the vicinity of either of us. The only significant thing we hadn’t added to the place was a large home-made dolls house, which we had discovered in the attic the first time we ever went up there, and had deemed both creepy enough to keep, and too heavy to move.

‘We’ll have to tidy up a bit.’

‘Yes. Get some extra lights, hide the books, that sort of thing. Make it look respectable.’

Abigail must have read some element of doubt in my face. She leaned forward in her armchair and fixed me with her dark eyes.

‘All we have to do is make out that it’s all fine. We take her up here, she sees how absolutely unhaunted our attic and indeed our entire house is, and that’s that.’ Abi touched her fingertips to her lips. ‘All we have to do is be normal for a while.’

And so it was agreed between us that Janice Tupp would come over to our house after school next Thursday, in order not to see a ghost.

ABOUT ‘THE APPARITION PHASE’: Tim and Abi have always been different from their peers. Precociously bright, they spend their evenings in their parents’ attic discussing the macabre and unexplained, zealously rereading books on folklore, hauntings and the supernatural. In particular, they are obsessed with photographs of ghostly apparitions and the mix of terror and delight they provoke in their otherwise boring and safe childhoods.

But when Tim and Abi decide to fake a photo of a ghost to frighten an unpopular school friend, they set in motion a deadly and terrifying chain of events that neither of them could have predicted, and are forced to confront the possibility that what began as a callous prank might well have taken on a malevolent life of its own.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose’ – Haldane

I couldn’t help but thinking of the Adams family children when I read the physical descriptions of Abi and Tim, intelligent twins with enquiring minds and a passion for the macabre.

Maclean has written an atmospheric and intriguing gothic thriller with all the required elements: a missing person, a select group of people confined together in a creepy old house, and unexplained phenomena. Mass hysteria? Cleverly orchestrated fraud? Or something darker and more sinister? This is what Maclean will have you wondering. His skilful machinations will have you changing your mind with every twist and turn.

Yarlings has a gruesome history and yet has never made it into the books of haunted houses, making it perfect for a scientific experiment to once and for all prove or disprove the existence of ghosts. ‘It seemed that, no matter how bright the day outside, the interior of Yarlings was always dark, always gloomy, always permeated with a troubled air, as if overthinking its presence.’ Ancient timbers crack like knuckles, the rooms are filled with an oppressing and brooding silence, almost an air of expectation, like it is waiting to be brought back to life, a place of ‘weird emotional textures.’ The ideal place in which to conduct a seance, or several.

The people who have been carefully selected for the experiment by Graham and Sally, are college students, all known to one another, and who seem to be a fairly ordinary lot. Tim enters the mix quite by accident, the seventh person, and catalyst for all that follows.

The Apparition Phase is unsettling rather than terrifying; unsettling, unnerving and deliciously creepy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheApparitionPhase #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Originally from the Wirral, Will Maclean has been fascinated by ghost stories since he was a child, and has been writing them almost as long as he can remember.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean 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 Who Never Came Home by Nicole Trope

EXCERPT: They find her body after twenty-three hours of searching.

She is lying at the bottom of a small outcrop of grey-brown rock. The rock is covered in a slippery green moss and one of the searchers, a woman named Adelaide, almost loses her footing as she peers over the edge despite being a resident of the mountains and a keen hiker. She attributes her near slip to the tears clouding her view. It is a terrible thing to see. The girl lies with one leg slightly angled and her arms above her head, her eyes closed and her arms above her head, her eyes closed and her blonde hair tangled around her face, a sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks. Her phone is lying in one hand, the screen unbroken.

Unlike her.

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL WHO NEVER CAME HOME’: Nothing tests your faith like being a mother. The first time your children walk to school alone, their first sleepover, when they finally fly the nest. As a parent, you have to believe that everything will be OK.

It’s why, when Lydia’s sixteen-year-old daughter Zoe goes on a school camping trip, she has no idea of the horrors that will unfold. It’s why, when Lydia gets a call saying that her daughter has disappeared, she refuses to give up.

As she searches the mountains, her voice hoarse from calling Zoe’s name, she imagines finding her. She envisions being flooded with relief as she throws her arms around her child, saying, ‘you gave us such a scare’. She pictures her precious girl safely tucked in bed that evening.

It’s why, when they find Zoe’s body, Lydia can barely believe it. It is unthinkable. Her little girl has gone.

Something terrible happened, she is sure of it. Something made Zoe get out of her sleeping bag in the middle of the night, walk out of the warmth and safety of the cabin, into the darkness of the mountains. Driven by the memory of her youngest child, Lydia needs to find out the truth. What kind of mother would she be if she didn’t?

MY THOUGHTS: I always look forward to a new Nicole Trope book, and ‘The Girl Who Never Came Home’ is no exception. Trope manages to combine an interesting and realistic storyline that will wrench your heartstrings, particularly if you are a parent, with wonderfully relatable characters.

Having a child go missing is every parent’s worst nightmare. Somehow, when you send your child off to school camp, you expect to get that child back. Trope explores what happens when that child doesn’t come back, when that child is found dead, and what happens when a death that initially looks accidental, becomes something else. She explores the complicated relationships between teenage girls, between them and their families, between them and the people they ‘meet’ on social media. She explores the disparity between the the actuality of these girls and the image that they present to the world, the competition between and pecking order in friendships.

The Girl Who Never Came Home is a delicious, sad, emotional, exciting read, one that will have you glued to the pages as the possible identity of Zoe’s killer becomes numerous as secrets are revealed and lies exposed.

The story is told from the viewpoints of Lydia, Zoe’s mother; Shayna, Zoe’s best friend; Bernadette, the teacher; and Jessie, Zoe’s sister. Detectives Gold and Holland are the lead investigators and the tragedy takes place just outside Leura in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia. I have been there and it is spectacularly beautiful, but it would also be extremely easy to get lost, especially in the middle of the night if you were alone. But it seems that Zoe wasn’t alone . . .

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

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THE AUTHOR: Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realised the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because-as her professor pointed out- ‘It’s not meant to be a story.’ She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters’ degree in Children’s Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl Who Never Came Home by Nicole Trope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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