The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

The Dollhouse by Fiona  Davis
The Dollhouse 
by Fiona Davis (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: “Patrick, when did you start working here?”

He turned to face her, eyebrows raised in surprise. She gathered that few residents asked him personal questions. “Back in the seventies. Things were very different then.”

She liked the way things came out as ‘tings’. “Do you know many of the older residents?”

“The ladies? Of course. I know them all.”

“What about the woman who left a little while ago? The one with the dog.”

He smiled. “Miss McLaughlin. And Bird. Odd woman.”

A woman with buttery blond hair clopped toward them carrying several packages. Patrick left Rose’s side and scuttled over to her. Rose checked her watch. She really should get back upstairs, not stand around chatting, but Patrick quickly reappeared. “Can I get you a taxi, Miss Lewin?”

“No,no.” She waved a hand in front of her. “I was hoping you could tell me more about Mrs McLaughlin.”

“Miss McLaughlin.” He was about four inches shorter than she was and he lifted his ruddy, round face to hers. “I don’t like to talk too much about the other residents, you know. ”

Patrick loved to talk about the other tenants, but Rose put on a serious expression and nodded.

“She’s from way back, the fifties, that was when she first moved in. Came here to go to secretarial school.”

“She seems like an interesting woman, the way she dresses and all.”

“Not many friends in the building. Management can’t stand her. She kicked and screamed when they said she had to move from her apartment down to 4B, with the rest of the longtimers. Threatened to call her lawyer. But she never did. In the end, I helped her to pack up and move. She’s a retired lady, couldn’t afford proper movers, and I was happy to do it. She always remembers me at Christmas with a card and a small token.”

Apartment 4B was the one directly under theirs. The one with the music. “That was very kind of you, to help her move.”

“Terrible story, what happened to her.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where in the 1950s a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side by side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

MY THOUGHTS: 4.5 jazz trumpeting stars for The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis. This is a simply exquisite story divided between the early 1950s and the current day, between Darby McLaughlin and Rose Lewin.

I can’t believe that this was Davis’s debut novel. Her characterisation is masterful, as is her talent for setting the scene. The writing flows seamlessly from era to era, character to character. Davis brings to life the jazz dives, the condescension and petty rivalries between the ‘Ford girls’, or giraffes as Esme describes them, and the lesser mortals residing in what was the premier hotel for ladies.

The sharp contrast in lifestyle between the two time periods, and the similarities, are well used to further the plot which evolves into a mystery, and a romance, that had me hanging onto the author’s every word.

I listened to to the audiobook of The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis, narrated by Tavia Gilbert and published by Penguin Audio via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

Currently I am reading

The Scent Of Guilt     

Which was published 17 February 2018, and

Lily and the Octopus

Which, I am ashamed to say, has been sitting on my shelf for 18 months.

In the coming week, I am planning on reading

An Unquiet Ghost (Mina Scarletti #3)

Mina Scarletti returns in her most thrilling mystery yet! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Antonia Hodgson…

A family is being torn apart by rumours of a murderer in their midst. Can Mina solve the mystery and lay the ghosts to rest? 

Brighton, 1871 .

Mina Scarletti is becoming well known for unmasking fraudulent psychics. So it is no surprise to her when a young couple write to her seeking her advice.

George Fernwood and Mary Clifton, betrothed distant cousins, have a family secret that is preventing them from getting married. Twenty years ago, their alcoholic grandfather died in his bed and since then rumours have been circulating that someone in the family murdered him.

Desperate to find out the truth, they have decided to seek out a medium to communicate with their grandfather, and they want Mina to help them find one who is genuine.

Though she is not a believer in ghosts, Mina is intrigued by the family mystery and decides to help them in any way she can.

Could one of the new mediums advertising in Brighton really be genuine? Will they help George and Mary find the answers they are looking for? 

Or will this Unquiet Ghost ruin the chance of happiness for future generations …?

AN UNQUIET GHOST is the third cosy mystery in Linda Stratmann’s intriguing historical series, the Mina Scarletti Mysteries, a traditional British detective series with a feisty woman sleuth set in Victorian Brighton.

The Last Laugh

I’ve googled it, how to die,’ Jenny says to Maureen. ‘It was full of climbing this mountain, swimming that sea, becoming a marathon runner and raising millions for charity.’

‘Sounds like bloody hard work. You can make it more fun than that surely?’

Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, her life was tough enough already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this: a cheating husband and a death sentence.

Enough is enough. Jenny vows to keep both catastrophes a secret. She takes her life – and death – into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990’s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?

From No. 1 bestseller Tracy Bloom, The Last Laugh is both hilarious and heartbreaking, a book about how to find happiness and live your life as though every day is your last. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and The Kicking the Bucket List.

And books I have received from NetGalley this week are

White is the Coldest Colour (Dr David Galbraith, #1)          The Retreat

The Visitor          The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

A  reasonably restrained requesting week for me, particularly since I requested The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton months ago, and it has been sitting on my pending shelf ever since. I had almost given up all hope of ever being approved for it. But I have just been to NetGalley and requested Sold on a Monday

after reading Susan Dyers blog, Susanlovesbooks. Thanks Susan!

It looks like a pretty wet week ahead of us here in New Zealand, so I should get plenty of reading in.

Don’t forget to let me know what you’re reading and, if you have read any of my upcoming reads, what you thought of them.

Happy reading everyone!


Friday Favorite- Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

I first read Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson last year. I received an advance copy directly from the author, despite the fact that I had slated his previous book. I love Mister Tender’s Girl, as you will see when you read my review.

To the people who have been following me from the start, I apologise as you would have seen this review in November 2017. But as Mister Tender’s Girl was only published this week, I wanted to bring it to the attention of all my newer readers because I would hate anyone to miss out on this thrilling read!

Mister Tender's Girl by Carter   Wilson

Mister Tender’s Girl 
by Carter Wilson (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

EXCERPT: …..I catch his stare, and his gaze is locked on me. There’s an endless longing to it, as if I’m the ghost of someone he once loved. . .

Sometimes I meet a person and my paranoia insists they already know me. Know everything. Where I live. How many scars I have. My real last name. It’s a game my mind likes to play when it thinks I’m getting complacent, or cured.

THE BLURB: How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?

At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels.

Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear…

Inspired by a true story, this gripping thriller plunges you into a world of haunting memories and unseen threats, leaving you guessing until the harrowing end.

MY THOUGHTS: I savoured every word in Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson. It was a book I read slowly, afraid to miss even one word. I wanted to know what happened, but I wanted it never to end. It was with very mixed feelings that I turned the last page and closed the cover. I was sad because it was over, and excited because it was so damned good! Better than good.

The suspense is insidious. I was reading along, and slowly became aware that I was gripping the book tightly, holding my breath, eyes wide, not blinking. And that became my default pose.

When I was just 20% into the book, I made the following comment- “OMG! With just one click of her mouse, Alice has tumbled down the rabbit hole. But it’s not Wonderland she finds herself in. . .”

I will never forget the phrase ‘Alice, what did the penguin always tell you?’ And I ‘m not giving you the answer. For that you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

This is not a book that is going to hang around on the shelves.

Thank you to author Carter Wilson for providing an ARC of Mister Tender’s Girl for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page


Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter

Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter
Beneath the Water 
by Sarah Painter (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Downstairs, her second mug of coffee was on the low table in the living room, cold, and the television was playing, the sound muted. At once, Stella knew she couldn’t stay in this house any longer. She had managed four months, had imagined that she had turned a corner, was on an even keel – and a million other trite phrases for the ability to get through the day without falling into a black hole – but the jacket had shattered that illusion. ‘I am not okay,’ Stella said to the table. The words came out very quietly, almost a whisper. It was like a promise. I am not okay. I am not okay.

THE BLURB: Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…

Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.

At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.

Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?

MY THOUGHTS: I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the first part of Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter. I wanted to shake Stella and tell her to get a grip. It took me until I was half way through the book to really come to grips with it, and then it gripped me.

Told over two timelines, the current day and the 1840’s, I at first failed to see the relevance of the letters from a young, frightened, newly married woman. But it is worth persevering, all becomes clear and several secrets are revealed.

As you may have noted, I didn’t particularly like Stella in the beginning. I thought she was wimpy and weak. But as the story progresses and Stella is forced to deal with a variety of situations, her strength of character is revealed.

Jamie, Stella’s new boss, at first comes across as ‘superior’ and, in my eyes, slightly unhinged. But as his character developed and the reasons for his behavior were revealed, he began to grow on me.

The second part of the book was definitely superior to the first, in my humble opinion. It was full of suspense, surprises, and revelations, and I found it hard to put down.

3.5 stars from me for this romantic suspense mystery novel, Beneath the Water.

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Beneath the Water by Sarah Painter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system.

This review and others are also published on my page

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

Currently I am reading and really enjoying

Little Liar

Which was published Thursday 1 February by Bookouture.

I have just started listening to

Orange Blossom Days

I haven’t read Patricia Scanlan for some time, so was pleased to come across this when I was scrolling through the OverDrive selection available from my local library.

In the coming week I am planning on reading

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive – not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story. Publisher’s Summary

Seven Dead

Ted Lyte, amateur thief, has chosen an isolated house by the coast for his first robbery. But Haven House is no ordinary country home. While hunting for silverware to steal, Ted stumbles upon a locked room containing seven dead bodies. Detective Inspector Kendall takes on the case with the help of passing yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean. The search for the house’s absent owners brings Hazeldean across the Channel to Boulogne, where he finds more than one motive to stay and investigate.

I have read and enjoyed several other of this author’s detective stories.

The Lying Kind (Detective Rachel Prince #1)


Six-year-old Lola Jade Harper is taken from her bedroom. Her mother is distraught. She is convinced her estranged husband, Gavin Harper, has abducted their daughter.

Detective Rachel Prince is leading the investigation but is soon out of her depth as she searches for the most high-profile missing child in the country. To uncover the truth about Lola’s disappearance, Rachel must untangle the Harper family’s complicated web of secrets and lies.

As the case progresses, the body of a local woman is found. The death at first seems unrelated, until a trail of social media posts lead Rachel to a chilling discovery.

And then another little girl is taken…

With growing pressure from the public and the appearance of someone from her past she’d rather forget, will Rachel be able to solve the connection between the two missing children and the murder – before it’s too late?

Truly addictive from start to finish, The Missing Child is a tense, enthralling crime thriller by one of the best new voices in crime fiction. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Peter James and Karin Slaughter.

Previously called The Missing Child

And finally, books I have been approved for from NetGalley this week. As you can see, I went a bit overboard with my requests this week. But the publication dates are nicely spread out, so I should be able to keep up with my reading schedule.

I, Witness (Madison Attalee, #1)      After Nightfall

BEFORE I FOUND YOU a gripping mystery full of killer twists      A Steep Price (The Tracy Crosswhite Series Book 6)

Cold Heart (Detective Kate Matthews, #3)      The Gallery of the Dead

Bring Me Back      The Babysitter

See what I mean. . .

But isn’t there a beautiful range of covers. No two are alike.

That is my reading plan for the week. I look forward to you sharing your plans with me. I love to see what everyone else is reading.

Happy reading!

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The young policewoman stood in the corner of the room. Plain whitewashed walls, a heavy wooden door, a wooden table with two chairs, and one small window with frosted glass rendered the room soulless. It was a cold afternoon and she had been in the corner since coming on duty two hours ago, her only company the rumpled and bent girl sitting in the chair that faced the wall. Others had come into the room to sit in the second chair: first Detective Inspector Richard Stratton with Detective Sargeant Caldwell standing behind him; then Stratton standing while a doctor from the Maudsley Hospital sat before the girl, trying to get her to speak. The girl – no one knew her age or where she had come from because she hadn’t spoken a word since she had been brought in this morning, her blood-stained dress, hands and face showing a month’s worth of dirt – was now waiting for another person who had been summoned to question her: a Miss Maisie Dobbs. The policewoman had heard of Maisie Dobbs, but from what she had seen today, she wasn’t sure anyone could get this young scrubber to talk.

THE BLURB: In the third novel of this bestselling series, London investigator Maisie Dobbs faces grave danger as she returns to the site of her most painful WWI memories to resolve the mystery of a pilot’s death

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe. Every once in a while, a detective bursts on the scene who captures readers’ hearts — and imaginations — and doesn’t let go. And so it was with Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, who made her debut just two years ago in the eponymously titled first book of the series, and is already on her way to becoming a household name.

A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world.

In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission also brings her together once again with her college friend Priscilla Evernden, who served in France and who lost three brothers to the war — one of whom, it turns out, had an intriguing connection to the missing Ralph Lawton.

Following on the heels of the triumphant Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies is the most compelling installment yet in the chronicles of Maisie Dobbs, “a heroine to cherish (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review).

MY THOUGHTS: Pardonable Lies is my first encounter with Maisie Dobbs, a very pleasurable encounter. This novel covers a lot of different topics, including homophobia and mysticism.

Set in 1930, Maisie is a seemingly strong willed woman who has carved out a career for herself as a Psychologist/Investigator. But during the course of her investigations, Maisie is forced to confront some of her own demons, and some of her past actions may be placing her in danger.

Jacqueline Winspear has created a wonderful cast of characters and a deliciously compelling plot. Maisie Dobbs has a new fan in me.

I listened to the audiobook of Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my

Take Two and Call Me In the Morgue (Bennington #2) by D W Ulsterman

Take Two and Call Me In The Morgue by D.W. Ulsterman
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘Cancer is that company’s great money maker. Not the curing of cancer . . . . but the long drawn out, and always costly treatment, and the protection of cancer as a business, cancer as profit.’

THE BLURB: Former D.C. politico turned private investigator Frank Bennington is in a race to save the life of his friend. It is a case that opens doors some feel are better left closed, particularly those representing the interests of corporations and their government cohorts earning billions of dollars off of a cure that kills.

This is the second installment of the Bennington P.I. series, and will leave readers guessing as to what is truth, and what is fiction – the hallmark of all of D.W. Ulsterman’s many best-selling novels.

MY THOUGHTS: While I am a great fan of the mystery and murder-mystery genre, I have never been a great fan of the political thriller. But D W Ulsterman’s Take Two and Call Me In the Morgue (Bennington #2) manages to blend the two genres perfectly with the medical thriller to create a suspenseful and topical read. In my opinion, the bookcover doesn’t do the content justice. Nor does the title, which sounds more like a ‘cosy’.

Take Two and Call Me In the Morgue is fast paced and full of scenarios that will make you wonder, as you read, just what is fiction and what is truth? It chronicles corruption, both political and corporate, and greed, and after a very satisfying read will leave you wondering. . . .really wondering.

Take Two and Call Me In the Morgue by D W Ulsterman was a free Kindle download. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page

The Confession by Jo Spain plus a glimpse of what I am currently reading, what is coming up, and ARCs I have been approved for this week.

You’re going to get a mixed bag today! It ‘s been busy, busy, busy in the world of books. So don’t tune out after the review!

Firstly, let’s do the ‘What I ‘ve been reading’ – The Confession by Jo Spain

The Confession by Jo Spain
The Confession 
by Jo Spain (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: It’s the first spray of my husband’s blood hitting the television screen that will haunt me in the weeks to come – a perfect diagonal splash, each droplet descending like a vivid red tear.

That and the sound of his skull cracking as the blows from the golf club rain down.

THE BLURB: Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

MY THOUGHTS: I was excited by the first third of The Confession by Jo Spain. After that point, the novel seemed to lose some impetus and I began to struggle to maintain my interest. I found myself skimming large parts of the characters back stories, which were mainly irrelevant, in parts downright depressing, and far too long. And it never really picked up again. I never regained that feeling of excitement and by 70% in I had figured out what was going on, which is not necessarily a problem, as it could have been clever, but I found the ending to be somewhat clumsily executed and too drawn out.

The story is told from three points of view: that of Julie, the victim’s wife; JP, the victim’s killer; and Alice, the investigating officer. Don’t expect to like any of the characters, not even the murder victim.
They are all thoroughly unlikeable, but quite realistic, so full marks to Jo Spain for her characterisation. She has a good grasp of human relationships, the petty jealousies and games of oneupmanship.

Instead of just being an okay read, The Confession could be a really good book. It just needs a bit more judicious editing. Having said that, a lot of people will love this book, and you may be one of them. So if you enjoyed the excerpt and like the sound of the blurb, please go ahead and get a copy of The Confession and let me know what you think of it.

The Confession by Jo Spain will be published by Hachette Australia 11 January, 2018.

Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Confession by Jo Spain for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page

Never one to do things by halves, I have 3 books on the go at the moment.
I always like to have an audio book loaded to listen to while I am working around the house and the yard. Currently I am listening to
The Red Hunter
What is the difference between justice and revenge?

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house–one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past–and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course–because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the terrifying monsters at the door.

Yesterday I began a book loaned to me by a friend,
The Agency (The Dan Calder Series Book 1)
I am only 20 pages into this, but it is a very interesting and controversial premise. I am looking forward to seeing how it progresses. It is not at all what I was expecting!
Dan Calder is an ex Brit and ex policeman looking for a fresh start in a new country but still carrying the baggage of failed relationships and a depressed, repressed past. He chose New Zealand because it was as far as he could get from his old life but did not take into account the universal six degrees of separation is no more than two or three in the land of the long white cloud.

The Agency provides a service like no other and New Zealand is the ideal location to find a new client. When Calder first encounters it by sheer chance, his life instantly changes and before long others are depending on him too.

Engaged in a deadly game with an unknown foe; this was not the new life Dan Calder planned for himself but now at stake is the ultimate reward; his own salvation.

And I am just about to begin a Netgalley ARC
Coming Home to Island House
From Erica James, bestselling author of Summer at the Lake, comes an enchanting tale of one family coming together and finding their way.

It’s the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux.

But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together.

With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

I have always enjoyed this author as a little light relief from my darker reading habits.
And finally, ARC books I have been approved for from NetGalley this week
Portrait of a MurdererNight-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense
Bring Me Flowers (Detectives Kane and Alton, #2)
Let me know what you are reading, and what you have coming up! Happy reading.

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre
The Ghostwriter 
by Alessandra Torre (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: “What’s happened to you, Helena?”
What’s happened to me? I have a story that I don’t have time to tell. I have an empty house that reeks of death. I have no friends, no family, and no one to ask for help. I’m dying, and it’s the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time.

THE BLURB: Four years ago, I lied. I stood in front of the police, my friends and family, and made up a story, my best one yet. And all of them believed me.

I wasn’t surprised. Telling stories is what made me famous. Fifteen bestsellers. Millions of fans. Fame and fortune.

Now, I have one last story to write. It’ll be my best one yet, with a jaw-dropping twist that will leave them stunned and gasping for breath.

They say that sticks and stones will break your bones, but this story? It will be the one that kills me.

This book is not a romance. It is contemporary fiction, but very suspenseful in nature. It is about a famous romance author and a dark secret she keeps.

MY THOUGHTS: The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre gripped me from the start- I come, I eat, and afterward, while Bethany draws and I settle into the recliner to write, he does the dishes. A perfect morning. A perfect husband. A perfect daughter. A perfect lie. 

This is a book that I devoured, hungrily, yet a book in which I savoured every word. It is a book in which I became completely absorbed. It is intense. It is vivid. In its own way, it is scary. It is painful. It is wonderful! It is a story that is not going to leave me in a hurry, not just for its magnificent plot, but for the emotions it engendered.

5 very bright and shining stars ☆☆☆☆☆

Thank you to DCA via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Ghostwriter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page

Blame by Nicole Trope

Blame by Nicole Trope
by Nicole Trope (Goodreads Author)

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EXCERPT: You’re not supposed to bury your child. . . . . And when you do, it feels. . . it feels like one of those movies where the characters realise they’re about to die because a tsunami is on the way and there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. It feels like it is literally the end of the world (and) you’re not supposed to survive the end of the world.

THE BLURB: ‘I am here because they suspect me of something. I am here because I am a suspect. I know that, she knows that. Everyone knows that.’ Anna

‘It wasn’t my fault. None of this is my fault!’ Caro

Caro and Anna are best friends… they were best friends. Over a decade, Caro and Anna have bonded while raising their daughters, two little girls the same age but living two very different lives. The women have supported each other as they have shared the joys and trials of motherhood, but now everything has changed.

There’s been a terrible car accident, an unimaginable tragedy that leaves both families devastated. Over two days as Caro and Anna each detail their own versions of events, they are forced to reveal hidden truths and closely guarded secrets.

The complicated lives of wives and mothers are laid bare as both women come to realise that even best friends don’t tell each other everything. And when hearts are broken, even best friends need someone to blame.

A hard- hitting, provocative and gripping read from the queen of white-knuckle suspense and searing family drama.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a heart-wrenching read. At first it all seemed so simple. Caro, driving drunk, has run over and killed her best friend Anna’s daughter Maya. An open and shut case? Not quite.

Trope does a wonderful job telling each woman’s story, interweaving them, entangling the story lines and emotional responses. I became so heavily invested in Blame that I read it in one sitting, then sat stunned. Even thinking about it now, some months later, I can feel my pulse quicken and my chest tighten. Nicole Trope is an author to follow.

4.5 shimmering stars

Thank you to Allen & Unwin via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Blame by Nicole Trope for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my profile page or the ‘about’ page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on