Whoever Fights Monsters by Angelo Marcos

EXCERPT: He placed the phone back in it’s cradle – noting what a struggle it was with his hand trembling – and stared at the door. William was due any moment now, he had to be ready.

Aurora sat patiently in the corner of the room. Nathaniel caught her gaze and she smiled, her face telling him everything he needed to know. He could do this. He needed to.

It was the only way to save his daughter.

ABOUT ‘WHOEVER FIGHTS MONSTERS’: You’d kill to protect your family. The question is… how many times?

Three men are about to begin the worst bombing campaign in history, targeting schools in order to kill as many innocent children as they can.

One night, the mysterious Aurora appears and tells family man Nathaniel Bennett three things.

Firstly, that his daughter will be one of the victims.

Secondly, that he is the only one who can stop these atrocities from happening.

Thirdly, to stop them he’ll have to kill all three of the men. If even one is left alive, the bombings will still happen and hundreds of children – including his daughter – will die.

We follow Nathaniel as he wrestles with his mission – and himself. Is he a soldier following orders and saving children, or is he the monster, stalking and killing three men who – so far – have done nothing wrong?

And, to the rest of the world – and the police – does it even make a difference?

MY THOUGHTS: I think that this is the first of the many books that I have read by this author that I haven’t absolutely loved. I liked Whoever Fights Monsters. I didn’t love it.

The premise is interesting, and Angelo Marcos jumps straight into the action. There’s no mucking about here and I was eagerly turning the pages, the burning question for me being was Aurora real, or was Nathaniel gripped by a delusional psychosis? I’m not going to tell you.

The problem for me was Nathaniel’s endless angst and introspection. I guess I have to qualify that statement. Aurora is telling Nathaniel that he has to kill three people that he knows otherwise many hundreds of children will die and he is able to ‘see’ what will happen if he doesn’t. But in between the killings he is beset by doubt. Yes, natural. But the angst and self-recrimination got a tad too repetitive, and wearing.

Despite this, I still enjoyed this read.


#WhoeverFightsMonsters #angelomarcos @theangelomarcos

#contemporaryfiction #crime #paranormal #scifi #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Angelo Marcos is a writer, actor and stand-up comedian, who for some reason refers to himself in the third person.

He writes psychological thrillers and crime fiction, often with a dash of humour thrown in for good measure.

Drawing on his background in law and psychology, he crafts memorable characters and suspenseful mysteries which shine a light on human behaviour and why people do what they do.

See? I told you he refers to himself in the third person…

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Angelo Marcos for providing a digital ARC of Whoever Fights Monsters 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

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

EXCERPT: Only later would I mark how he watched my approach with both sadness and trepidation.

‘Oh!’ I exclaimed, dragging up some vestige of coquettishness. ‘A late Christmas present for me?’

‘Yes,’ he said, refusing to meet my eye. ‘Take it as such. I won’t be charging you. Truth be told, I don’t know if I should give it to you at all.’

And then he was gone, disappeared like a puff of dark dust. Upon closer inspection, I saw the package had been wrapped, sealed and tied with the string circled three times around. Unable to open it with my own power, I walked to the desk and asked Mr Sylvan to lend me his letter opener. Silver and sharp, it weighed heavy in my hand as I sliced through the string and along the sealed edges.

‘It’s my Christmas portrait,’ I said as much to myself as to Mr Sylvan. I unwrapped the layers and uncovered the image printed on heavy paper. I felt myself frown at first. Haley had promised a tint, but I saw nothing but ordinary black and white.

Then the image blurred in my trembling hand.

‘Mrs Krause?’ Mr Sylvan’s voice lurked beyond the roaring of the rush of blood in my ears.

I dropped the image to the desktop and braced my hands beside it. A sob caught in my throat, perfectly timed to Mr Sylvan’s un-Sylvan-like gasp.

The Christmas tree it seemed, had failed in its spell to protect me from the ghost of Sallie White. For there she was, in the photograph. Right behind me. Her hand resting on my shoulder.

ABOUT ‘THE LADY IN RESIDENCE’: Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

MY THOUGHTS: An enjoyable read, but not a particularly gripping or memorable one. I guess I was expecting more ‘gothic’ atmosphere.

The Lady in Residence is a combination of romance and a ‘paranormal’ mystery set over two timelines. I enjoyed the characters of Dini and Quin, but I found Hedda to be quite cold and calculating. Although I guess that had I found myself in her circumstances in that time, I might be much the same.

I have to admit to skimming large tracts in the second half of the book when my interest began to wane and it seemed that we were just rehashing old ground. So I may have missed it, but I can’t recall seeing any reference to ‘true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again’. If there are indeed references to this, please don’t hesitate to correct me.

I found the author’s notes at the end of the book most interesting. ‘There’s a Russian nesting doll structure to The Lady in Residence. Sallie haunts Hedda, Hedda haunts Dini,’ which explains the central theme of the novel perfectly. That and obsession.

‘The story of Sallie White is true, and the details of it depicted in The Lady in Residence fall in line with the newspaper accounts of the time.’

Pittman also talks about the beauty of the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, calling it ‘historically exquisite, but there is a sense of heaviness to it too.’

So please do read the Author’s note, but not before the book as it contains at least one spoiler that I can think of.


#TheLadyinResidence #NetGalley
#contemporaryfiction #historicalfiction #christianromance #mystery #paranormal

‘She fixated on the idea that a man who had sisters knew how to be kind to a woman.’ – I snorted at this! I have three brothers and they spent most of our days enjoying making mine miserable!

THE AUTHOR: Allison Pittman is the author of For Time and Eternity, Stealing Home, the Crossroads of Grace series, and her nonfiction debut, Saturdays With Stella. A high-school English teacher, she serves as director of the theater arts group at her church. She is also the co-president of a dynamic Christian writers group in the San Antonio, Texas area, where she makes her home with her husband and their three boys.

DISCLOSURE: Thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing a digital ARC of The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman 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 ❤📚

An interview with author of The Day Henry Died, Lynda Renham


I reviewed this wonderfully charming and unusual book at the end of May, but I haven’t been able to dislodge it from my mind. So I contacted author Lynda Renham to ask her how she came to write The Day Henry Died:

Sandy:I found this book somewhat unique. How did The Day Henry Died come about?

Lynda:Now, there’s a question. I had no plans to write a book as unusual as this. The idea came from a comment made by a neighbour. We were discussing my closest neighbour who had died. Although she was elderly, no one had been prepared for it. My neighbour happened to say something along the lines of ‘You never know, do you? One day you’re here and the next you’re reading your own obituary.’ I immediately wondered what it would be like if you woke up one morning and found yourself doing just that.

Sandy: What came to you first – the plot or the characters?

Lynda:With ‘The Day Henry Died’ the plot certainly came first and the characters grew out of that. The characters were already there somehow which sounds odd I know but it was like they had been waiting for the plot.

Sandy:Does it always work that way for you?

Lynda:Usually an idea forms and then the whole novel seems to unravel in a vague way in my head and then when I start writing, it all becomes clear.

Sandy: How well do you plan your books? Do you work out what you want to happen and then go about making it happen? Or do your characters sometimes take control?

Lynda:My characters always take control. There is no doubt about that. I usually know what I want to happen but often a character will appear that I hadn’t even considered and sometimes they can become a leading character in the story. An idea often changes in the writing. I never stick to an original idea if something better materialises in the process.

Sandy: Your characters are always very easy to relate to. Do you insert bits of yourself or people you know into them?

Lynda:I tend to write about people as I know them. I think there may be a fair amount of me in some of the characters. I like my characters to be relatable in some way, even the baddies.

Sandy: Do you, personally, believe in life after death? And how did your belief/nonbelief aid/hinder your writing of The Day Henry Died?

Lynda:I sit on the fence a bit regarding life after death. I think the book expressed differing opinions on that. Which is fairly realistic, I think. The writing of the novel gave me much to think about and I enjoyed exploring the concept of reality.

Sandy: What would you like the reader to take away from this book?

Lynda:That it is important to make the most of what you have. Not to sweat the small stuff. You can’t do any of this again. You are here the once, enjoy it and do everything you want to do.

Sandy: Are you currently working on another novel?

Lynda:Yes, I’m currently working on several in fact. I don’t know how that happened as it is sheer madness.

Sandy: What is your routine like when you are writing? Do you treat it as a job and head ‘off to the office’ at the same time every day, or do you just write when inspiration strikes you?

Lynda:It’s my job, although I am slowing down. I write from 10 in the morning until about 5. I’ve always had a writing routine and a writing place. I think routine is important even if you don’t feel like working.

Sandy: How do you feel when you have finished writing a book?

Lynda: Relieved and anxious. Relieved it’s finally done and anxious about how it will sell. When a book is slightly different to your usual style, I think the reader is unsure about reading it.

Sandy: What do you find hardest to write, dialogue or narrative? And how do you overcome this?

Lynda:I find narrative difficult. I’d like to be better at that. Dialogue is my strength, I think. I enjoy writing dialogue very much.

Sandy: Now, I haven’t read your very first book, (Croissants and Jam) , but if you were to write that book now, would it be different, and how?

Lynda:Oh yes. I would work much harder at it. I think I have learnt a lot since that book and though it was very popular, I would certainly improve on it if I wrote it now.

Thank you Lynda for taking the time to talk with me. I adored Henry, and his story, and I am eagerly awaiting your next book/s.

Here is the link to my review of The Day Henry Died

and, for a little variety also the link to Tina’s from NovelMeals wonderful review: https://novelmeals.wordpress.com/2020/07/22/the-day-henry-died-by-lynda-renham/

If you haven’t yet read this little gem, you don’t know what you are missing!

The House on Widow’s Hill by Simon R. Green


Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones’s Reviews > The House on Widows Hill
The House on Widows Hill by Simon R. Green
The House on Widows Hill (Ishmael Jones #9)
by Simon R. Green
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Jones’s reviewJul 10, 2020 · edit
really liked it
bookshelves: 2020, netgalley-arc, series, 3-star, 4-star, contemporary-fiction, crime, murder-mystery, paranormal, sci-fi

EXCERPT: ‘I don’t like the feel of the house,’ I admitted. ‘As though it’s hiding something from us.’

‘Are you feeling anything specific?’

Nothing I can put a name to. Not dread or horror, just . . . a general feeling of being watched, by unseen eyes.’

‘I am definitely feeling all of that,’ said Penny.

‘Remember the ink blot,’ I said. ‘It’s more than likely we are only feeling these things because the file told us we would.’

‘But we’re professionals,’ said Penny. ‘You are Space Boy,I am Spy Girl; we’re used to walking into dangerous situations. We don’t get nervous; we make other people nervous. And yet . . . it does feel as if something in that house is waiting for us, and rubbing its hands together in anticipation.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Set high on top of Widows Hill, Harrow House has remained empty for years. Now, on behalf of an anonymous prospective buyer, Ishmael and Penny are spending a night there in order to investigate the rumours of strange lights, mysterious voices, unexplained disappearances, and establish whether the house is really haunted.

What really happened at Harrow House all those years ago? Joined by a celebrity psychic, a professional ghost-hunter, a local historian and a newspaper reporter, it becomes clear that each member of ‘Team Ghost’ has their own pet theory as to the cause of the alleged haunting. But when one of the group suddenly drops dead with no obvious cause, Ishmael realizes that if he can find out how and why the victim died, he will have the key to solving the mystery

MY THOUGHTS: Another amusing and entertaining romp with Ishmael and Penny. Although this is a series, the books are easily enjoyed as stand alones. Author Simon R. Green gives enough information on the unique Ishmael Jones’ history to keep the reader up to speed.

While I easily guessed the murderer and motive, this in no way diminished my enjoyment.

The House on Widow’s Hill is a quick read, read easily in an afternoon, that blends a number of genres and sets us up for the next installment.


#TheHouseonWidowsHill #NetGalley

‘Fight fire with fire. When science can’t protect you, and logic is off in a corner having a panic attack, magic is right there kicking arse and taking names.’

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Because if you do it today and you like it, you can do it again tomorrow.

THE AUTHOR: and fantasy-author. He holds a degree in Modern English and American Literature from the University of Leicester.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The House on Widow’s Hill by Simon R. Green 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 profile page on Goodreads.com or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Day Henry Died by Lynda Renham


EXCERPT: A spoonful of porridge laced with honey was poised to enter his mouth when Henry uncharacteristically dropped the spoon with a clatter back in to the bowl, sending bits of blueberry-tinted porridge across the well-scrubbed table. Henry’s eyes scanned the words in front of him, his brain struggling to comprehend what it was seeing. This couldn’t be right. He blinked and removed his glasses, rubbing at them vigorously with a piece of kitchen towel. He replaced the spectacles and read the words again. They hadn’t changed. Henry Booker Frazer was still reading his own obituary.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Suppose you wake up one morning to find yourself dead. You can see yourself clearly in the mirror, and feel the same as you did the day before. But today is the day of your funeral. What do you do?

This was Henry’s dilemma. Henry decides he can’t possibly be dead, so he sets out to prove he is alive. Then, he discovers that Rita, a product demonstrator at the supermarket, can see him.

Even with the help of Rita, proving you’re not dead was harder than Henry imagined, but when Henry discovered that he was murdered, the question was why and by whom?

MY THOUGHTS: I read The Day Henry Died by Lynda Renham in one sitting, and loved it. It is not a book that is easy to categorize – there’s a little mystery, a little romance and a touch of murder, not to mention some relationship issues.

I really liked the way Lynda portrayed Henry and highlighted the vast gap between how Henry saw himself (successful, well-organised, competent and confident), and how others saw him (puffed up, pedantic, and controlling).

We don’t get to see a lot of Imogen, Henry’s wife, who has spent the whole of her married life firmly under Henry’s thumb, until after the funeral.

Rita, a product demonstrator at a local supermarket, is the only person who can see, hear and talk to Henry. And she has a soft spot for Henry, sees him as a real gentleman, someone she would like to have in her life. Rita is quite a quirky character. Her backstory is heartbreaking, and her current circumstances are little better. But she is a battler. And is determined to battle on Henry’s behalf.

I really thought that I had this sorted, that I knew exactly who had killed Henry and why. WRONG!

Lynda Renham has written an unconventional and entertaining book. I just had to know what had prompted her to write a novel with this particular theme. Here’s her reply: ‘The idea came when my neighbour popped in ages back and we were talking about another neighbour who had suddenly died. He said ‘That’s how it goes. One day here and the next you’re reading your own obituary in The Times newspaper.’ Something clicked in my head and the novel was born.’


MEET THE AUTHOR: Lynda Renham has been writing for as long as she can remember and had her first work published in a magazine at age nine and has continued writing in various forms since. She has had several poems published as well as articles in numerous magazines and newspapers. Recently she has taken part in radio discussions on the BBC.

She has studied literature and creative writing.

Lynda lives with her second husband and cat in Oxfordshire, England. She is Associate Editor for the online magazine The Scavenger and contributor to many others. When not writing Lynda can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Lynda Renham for providing a digital ARC of The Day Henry Died, published by Raucous Publishing 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 . . .

We are enjoying a long weekend here in New Zealand. The weather has been varied, and I have worked two days, but am looking forward to my day off tomorrow. The weather forecast is for heavy rain and strong winds all day, so I feel a day of reading in front of the fire coming on.

I managed to squeeze in an extra read this week – The Day Henry Died by Lynda Renham which is due to be published 01st June. You can read my review here tomorrow. I loved this book, and also love the cover.


I am listening to In the Dark (DI Adam Fawley #2)by Cara Hunter.


A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive.

No one knows who they are — the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.

The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

And that no one is as innocent as they seem ..

I am about to begin reading The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris.


Cate Morris thought she’d met her match in Simon at university—until she laid eyes on his best friend, Richard. Cate and Richard felt an immediate and undeniable spark, but Richard also felt the weight of the world more deeply than most.

Now, four years after Richard’s suicide, Cate is let go from her teaching job and can’t pay the rent on the London flat she shares with her and Richard’s son, Leo. She packs the two of them up and ventures to Richard’s grandfather’s old Victorian museum in the small town of Crouch-on-Sea, where the dusty staff quarters await her. Despite growing pains and a grouchy caretaker, Cate falls in love with the quirky taxidermy exhibits and sprawling grounds and makes it her mission to revive them. When the museum is faced with closure because of a lack of visitors, Cate stages a grand reopening, but threats from both inside and outside the museum derail her plans and send her spiraling into self-doubt.

As Cate becomes more invested in Hatters, she must finally confront the reality of Richard’s death—and the role she played in it—in order to reimagine her future.

This week I also plan on reading The House Guest by Mark Edwards.


When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

Only 4 new ARCS this week:

What We Hide by Lesley Sanderson


My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan-Hyde


A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen


The House of a Hundred Whispers by Graham Masterton


I hope that wherever you live, the Covid-19 situation is improving. Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep on reading.


Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Good afternoon from a chilly, grey and dismal New Zealand afternoon. I am currently reading, and loving, The Banty House by Carolyn Brown.


I am listening to the delightfully touching and humorous The Sparkle Pages by Meg Bignell.


This week I am planning on reading Stories We Never Told by Sonja Yoerg


Psychology professor Jackie Strelitz thought she was over her ex-lover and colleague, Harlan Crispin. Why should she care if Harlan springs a new “friend” on her? After all, Jackie has everything she ever wanted: a loving husband and a thriving career. Still, she can’t help but be curious about Harlan’s latest.

Nasira Amari is graceful, smart, and young. Worse, she’s the new member of Jackie’s research team. For five years, Harlan enforced rules limiting his relationship with Jackie. With Nasira he’s breaking every single one. Why her?

Fixated by the couple, Jackie’s curiosity becomes obsession. But she soon learns that nothing is quite what it seems, and that to her surprise—and peril—she may not be the only one who can’t let go. (

Followed by When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard


‘Functionally dysfunctional.’ That’s how financial analyst Grace Fairley describes her family in the small South Australian farming community of Miners Ridge – a family fractured by tragedy and kept that way by anger, resentment and petty jealousies. As the eldest sibling, Grace tries to keep the family in touch, but now she’s accepted a promotion to the London office. Time-zones and an enormous workload mean she’s forced to take a step back, although she finds time to stay in contact with Miners Ridge landscape gardener Aaron Halliday.

Sarah Fairley, Grace’s mother, fled Miners Ridge and her embittered husband eight years ago. Now, in the absence of Grace, she finds herself pulled back to the small town where her estranged children and grandchildren live. Drawn into the local community, and trying to rebuild family relationships, she uncovers a long-kept secret that could change her world …

Can Grace, Sarah and their family find a way to heal? Who will have the courage to make the first move?

This week I have received 4 new ARCs:

Breaking and Mending by Joanna Cannon.


The House on Widow’s Hill by Simon R. Green


Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz


And The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths


Wherever you are, I hope that you are enjoying your weekend. I plan on spending the remainder of the afternoon reading in front of the fire. Whatever you are doing, have fun, stay safe and be kind my friends.

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins


EXCERPT: ‘A little boy died here!’ Mariah’s voice trembled from the bed,close to tears. ‘A little boy was murdered in this house!’

I walked over. ‘What?’

‘That house detective person just phoned-I’d forgotten all about him. He was asking for you, for some reason, he says he’s trying your mobile but you won’t pick up. Why’s he phoning you ? I was sleeping-he just woke me up and he told me to tell you a little boy was murdered here. A little boy was poisoned in this house! In the First World War! Oh my God, a … little … boy’ Her words dissolved into sobs.

I tried to soothe her. ‘Ach, I’m sure lots of people have died here,’ I said. ‘It’s a 400 year old house.’

The room was boiling and the air smelled sweet and sickly. ‘But a child was murdered here!’ Mariah wailed. ‘This is so horrible. So horrible. It makes sense now, the atmosphere in this place. Don’t you feel it? You have to!’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

MY THOUGHTS: Step up into the spotlight, Lucy Atkins, and take a bow. Magpie Lane was one riveting read. One that started out quite innocuously, then slowly cranked up the tension until I was forgetting to breathe.

The story is revealed as Dee, the Scottish nanny, is interviewed by the police about the disappearance of the child she cares for. Felicity is selectively mute, following the death of her mother. Bereaved and bullied, she cannot speak to her stepmother or at school. In fact, other than a few words to her father, Felicity speaks to no one, until she senses a kindred spirit in Dee. But Dee has secrets of her own. Ones that would come to light if any of the desperate parents who employed her ever bothered to run a police check.

And then there is Linklater, employed to write a history of the house the family occupies in Oxford. For some reason, although Felicity is terrified by the ghosts that inhabit her room, she is captivated by his ghost tours through the graveyards and streets of Oxford.

This is such an atmospheric read, both setting and characterwise. I was appalled by the ‘absolutely horrible’ and ‘narcissistic’ parents this poor child had, and totally captivated by the story that unfolded. We learn a little of the history of Oxford, a little about mathematics, and there are frequent literary references and a few musical ones.

I had an inkling of an idea as to what had happened to Felicity but we are held in suspense until almost the end.

I had previously read The Other Child by this author, but now I will also be reading her other two novels.


#MagpieLane #NetGalley

‘Even in something as apparently concrete as maths, things can be right and wrong at the same time.’

THE AUTHOR: Lucy Atkins is an award-winning author, Sunday Times book critic and journalist. Her new novel, Magpie Lane, is a literary thriller narrated by the nanny of a missing girl, and set in an Oxford College. Her other novels are The Night Visitor, The Other Child and The Missing One.

Lucy reviews books for The Sunday Times and has written for newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, the T.L.S, and many magazines. She has also written several non fiction books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Magpie Lane for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3171659878

Night train to Murder by Simon R Green


EXCERPT: The toilet door was closed, but the railway guard was knocking on it loudly. He looked around sharply and actually jumped a little as I moved forward to join him.

‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘What’s happening?’

The guard stepped back from the toilet door. He seemed a little relieved now he had someone else to share his problem with.

‘I saw the gentleman go into this cubicle a while ago, sir, but he hasn’t emerged yet. It does seem to me that he’s been in there rather a long time, and I’m concerned the gentleman might have been taken ill…’

I hammered on the toilet door with my fist. There was no response. I called Sir Dennis’s name and pressed my ear up against the door, but I couldn’t hear anything from inside. I stepped back and looked steadily at the guard.

‘I’m security. Here to look after Sir Dennis. Is there any way of opening this door from the outside?’

‘I’m Eric Holder, sir, guard on this train. I can override the electronic lock, but I’m not sure I should. If the gentleman is ill, he might not want to be seen being ill, if you follow me, sir…’

‘Open the door,’ I said. ‘I’ll take responsibility.’

The guard removed a small device from his jacket pocket and fumbled with the controls in a way that suggested he didn’t get to use it very often.

‘I didn’t know these locks could be opened from the outside,’ I said.

‘We don’t advertise the fact, sir. People like to feel secure on the toilet. But I can use this little device to override any electronic system on the train, in an emergency.’

He finally got the thing to work and the lock disengaged. The door slid smoothly to one side, and there was Sir Dennis, sitting on the toilet with his trousers round his ankles, leaning over to one side. And quite definitely dead.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are asked to escort a VIP on the late-night train to Bath, it would appear to be a routine case. The Organisation has acquired intelligence that an attempt is to be made on Sir Dennis Gregson’s life as he travels to Bath to take up his new position as Head of the British Psychic Weapons Division. Ishmael’s mission is to ensure that Sir Dennis arrives safely.

How could anyone orchestrate a murder in a crowded railway carriage without being noticed and with no obvious means of escape? When a body is discovered in a locked toilet cubicle, Ishmael Jones has just 56 minutes to solve a seemingly impossible crime before the train reaches its destination.

MY THOUGHTS: I joined this quirky series at book #5, Into the Thinnest Air, and I have enjoyed every one of the subsequent books, until now. This wasn’t a bad read, but neither was it up to the standard of the previous books. It felt hastily written, not well thought out, and was distinctly lacking in mystery. Yes, I guessed ‘whodunnit’. It was, to me – and I am usually not good at solving these things – blindingly obvious. it should also have been blindingly obvious to Ishmael, who certainly is no dummy, and to Penny.

There was an awful lot of ‘filler’ in this book, i.e. passages/chapters that had no real point other than to fill up a prerequisite number of pages. There were no red herrings, only a few oblique references to the possibility of ‘psychic assassins’. I was looking forward to a brilliant locked room murder. I didn’t get it.

Although this was a quick and easy read, I disposed of it in one sitting, it was slow, plodding and, dare I say, quite boring reading. I do love this series and will continue to follow it. I hope this is just one of those uncharacteristic ‘blips’. If you haven’t read this series previously, I don’t suggest that you start with this book.


‘I’ve always had a fondness for crowds. They make such excellent places to hide in.’

‘Testosterone. I keep hoping they will come up with a cure.’

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Simon Richard Green is a British science fiction and fantasy-author. He holds a degree in Modern English and American Literature from the University of Leicester.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Night Train to Murder by Simon R. Green 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

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