The Day Henry Died by Lynda Renham

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

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A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen

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The House of a Hundred Whispers by Graham Masterton

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

Cheers
Sandy

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.

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

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

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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

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‘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.

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

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Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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And The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

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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

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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

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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.

**.5

‘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

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3222203285

Watching What I’m Reading…

It is a hot summer day here in my little corner of New Zealand. It is not often that you will hear me say this, but it’s actually too hot to be out in the garden. It was the same yesterday, and apparently we have a whole week of this lovely weather to look forward to. Bring on summer…this is my kind of weather. It is lovely sitting out on the deck in the shade, my book in one hand and a nice cold drink in the other.

I actually squeezed an extra book in last week

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Which I read last night. Watch for my review.

I am about to begin

And I am listening to

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the follow up to The Lilac Girls.

This week I am planning on reading

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When Nick’s wife Kerry falls ill and dies, he realises for the first time how fragile his happiness has always been, and how much he’s been taking his good life and wonderful family for granted. Now, he suddenly finds himself navigating parenthood alone, unsure how to deal with his own grief, let alone that of his teenage son, Olly.

In the depths of his heartbreak, Nick must find a way to navigate life that pleases his son, his in-laws, his family and his friends—while honouring what Kerry meant to them all. But when it comes to his own emotions, Nick doesn’t know where to begin. Kerry was his childhood sweetheart—but was she really the only one who could ever make him happy?

And in the aftermath of tragedy, can Nick and his son find themselves again?

And hopefully I will also be able to start

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Louise Bridges has the perfect life.

A loving husband, Patrick. Two adorable children. A comfortable home.

So when PC Becca Holt arrives to break the news that Patrick has been killed in an accident, she thinks Louise’s perfect world is about to collapse around her.

But Louise doesn’t react in the way Becca would expect her to on hearing of her husband’s death. And there are only three plates set out for dinner as if Louise already knew Patrick wouldn’t be home that night…

The more Becca digs, the more secrets she uncovers in the Bridges’ marriage – and the more she wonders just how far Louise would go to get what she wants…

Is Louise a loving wife – or a cold-hearted killer?

And I have seven new ARCs from Netgalley….well what can I say? There are currently just so many tempting titles out there begging to be read. And those of you who know me well will know that I can resist everything but temptation 🤣😂🤣😂

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I also bought two books this week…

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So I had better go get some reading done! I hope you got some lovely books to read this week….

Happy reading my friends
❤😍📚

The Return of Mr. Campion by Margery Allingham

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Somehow, I have lost my notes containing the excerpts from this collection of short stories thatthat I wanted to share with you. Hopefully they will turn up in some unexpected place, some time in the future, and I will be able to add them.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In this fantastic collection of thirteen short stories, Margery Allingham explores both the Mystery and the other genres it has allowed her to write.

From a Christmastime story and a portrait of her leading man, Albert Campion, to classic capers and the traditional British mystery, Allingham displays her wit, her humour, and her prowess not just as a Mystery writer but as a storyteller.

Published thirty years after it’s first publication, The Return of Mr Campion proves that both The Mystery and Allingham are still everywhere.

The Return of Mr Campion was first published in 1989 and contains the following short stories:
The case is altered — Mr friend Mr. Campion — The dog day — The wind glass — The beauty king — The black tent — Sweet and low –Once in a lifetime — The kernel of truth — Happy Christmas — The wisdom of Esdras — The curious affair in Nut Row — What to do with an ageing detective

MY THOUGHTS: This was a mixed bag of short stories, many of which didn’t actually feature Mr Campion. But there is plenty to keep the reader interested, with tales of crime, blackmail, romance and even a ghost story.

Of great interest to me is the lack of political correctness that was very evident at the time this collection was written. Very strict social mores are also in evidence. People talk of living in simpler times, but it seems to me that the difficulties were just different.

3.5

THE AUTHOR: Margery Louise Allingham was born in Ealing, London in 1904 to a family of writers. Her father, Herbert John Allingham, was editor of The Christian Globe and The New London Journal, while her mother wrote stories for women’s magazines. Margery’s aunt, Maud Hughes, also ran a magazine. Margery earned her first fee at the age of eight, for a story printed in her aunt’s magazine.

Soon after Margery’s birth, the family left London for Essex. She returned to London in 1920 to attend the Regent Street Polytechnic (now the University of Westminster), and met her future husband, Philip Youngman Carter. They married in 1928. He was her collaborator and designed the cover jackets for many of her books.

Margery’s breakthrough came 1929 with the publication of her second novel, The Crime at Black Dudley . The novel introduced Albert Campion, although only as a minor character. After pressure from her American publishers, Margery brought Campion back for Mystery Mile and continued to use Campion as a character throughout her career.

After a battle with breast cancer, Margery died in 1966. Her husband finished her last novel, A Cargo of Eagles at her request, and published it in 1968.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham 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 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/2753056259?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

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EXCERPT: May 19, 1924
It had started when Hattie was a little girl.

She’d had a cloth-bodied doll with a porcelain head called Miss Fentwig. Miss Fentwig told her things – things that Hattie had no way of knowing, things that Hattie didn’t really want to hear. She felt it deep down inside her in the way that she’d felt things all her life.

Her gift.

Her curse.

One day, Miss Fentwick told her that Hattie’s father would be killed, struck by lightening, and that there was nothing Hattie could do. Hattie tried to warn her daddy and her mother. She told them just what Miss Fentwick had said. “Nonsense, child,” they’d said, and sent her to bed without supper for saying such terrible things.

Two weeks later, her daddy was dead. Struck by lightening while he was putting his horse in the barn.

Everyone started looking at Hattie funny after that. They took Miss Fentwig away from her, but Hattie, she kept hearing voices. The trees talked to her. Rocks and rivers and little shiny green beetles spoke to her. They told her what was to come.

‘You have a gift,’ the voices told her.

But Hattie, she didn’t see it that way, Not at first. Not until she learned to control it.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home–wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks–she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.

MY THOUGHTS: This wasn’t chilling, but it was a good listen. It didn’t give me goosebumps, or night horrors, or any sort of horror really, but it kept me interested.

Really this is a family drama with a little paranormal thrown in. It centres on greed, obsession and jealousy, and the effects it has on people. Which is a lot scarier than ghosts, any day.

😱😱😱.5

THE AUTHOR: I’m the author of seven suspense novels, including Promise Not to Telll, The Winter People, and most recently, The Night Sister . I live in central Vermont with my partner and daughter, in an old Victorian that some neighbors call The Addams Family house.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Invited by Jennifer McMahin, narrated by Amanda Carlin and Justine Eyre, published by Random House Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This, and other reviews, are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3031299201?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

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EXCERPT: Even now I still dream about Brodie’s Watch, and the nightmare is always the same. I am standing in the gravel driveway and the house looms before me like a ghost ship adrift in the fog. Around my feet mist curls and slithers and it coats my skin in icy rime. I hear waves rolling in from the sea and crashing against the cliffs, and overhead, seagulls scream a warning to stay far, far away. I know that Death waits behind that front door, yet I do not retreat because the house is calling to me. Perhaps it will always call to me, its siren song compelling me to once again climb the steps to the porch, where the swing creaks back and forth.

I open the door.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A woman trying to outrun her past is drawn to a quiet coastal town in Maine–and to a string of unsolved murders–in this haunting tale of romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

Ava Collette is punishing herself for an unspeakable tragedy. So she flees Boston and rents an old home named Brodie’s Watch on a remote coastal peninsula of Maine, hoping to work on a cookbook inspired by New England cuisine that she’s been trying to finish for months. She immediately feels at peace in the isolated house–until she starts to hear strange noises.

Rumor has it that a sea captain named Brodie has haunted the house for decades. Then, one night, Ava is awakened to find herself face to face with an apparition who looks–and feels–all too real. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of accidental deaths nearby that don’t add up. And as Ava starts to check into the previous renter’s mysterious disappearance, she starts to realize that there’s a disturbing secret some in town are desperate to keep hidden.

Soon all of Ava’s waking hours are consumed by her investigation, and her nights are ignited by Captain Brodie’s ghostly visits. But even as she questions her own sanity, she knows she must uncover the truth before a killer strikes again.

MY THOUGHTS: 12% onto this 5 star read I wrote: “There is something in the cadence of Gerritsen’s writing, the atmosphere she has created, that is reminiscent of Du Maurier’s Rebecca. This is delicious. It sends tingles down my spine.” After finishing The Shape of Night and mulling it over for a couple of days, I would not change one word of my comment.

This is a delicious book set in a house of secrets, in a town with secrets. But Ava has secrets too. And guilt. A terrible, crippling guilt that threatens to smother her and causes her to cut herself off from those she loves most.

Gerritsen introduces a paranormal aspect to her book, something she does not normally do, and something I am not normally attracted by. But this works, and works superbly. I almost fell in love with Captain Brodie myself. There are also several sex scenes in the text, not graphic, but tastefully done with more left to the imagination than not. They are not gratuitous, but a wonderful part of this story.

This is a real departure for Gerritsen, but one I enthusiastically applaud, and I would like to see more in this vein from her. Two comments, and neither a criticism…..each page should come with a bold reminder to ‘KEEP BREATHING’, because many times during this read I found myself holding my breath with anticipation and/or suspense. And the second….I wish she had included some of the lovely recipes.

One of my favorite passages from The Shape of Night: Brodie’s Watch was where I found inspiration, and it’s true. Here is where I tested and perfected my recipes, where I learned there is no finer condiment than the scent of sea air. It’s where I learned that wine does not cure grief, and when you dine with guilt, even the most tenderly prepared meal is tasteless.

Five brightly shining stars from me 🙂

THE AUTHOR: Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press vis Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen 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 book review is also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2931222169

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

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EXCERPT: Her father was a great rabbi, but she was the one who had a true talent. For the thousandth time she wished she were a boy. She had no interest in marriage or babies, only in the world of scholars, from which she was prohibited. She could taste the bitter dirt as they finished digging, and she nearly choked on it. It occurred to her that once she broke the rules of her family and her faith, there would be no going back. But on this morning, all she knew was that she wanted to live.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In 1941, during humanity’s darkest hour, three unforgettable young women must act with courage and love to survive, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman.

In Berlin, at the time when the world changed, Hanni Kohn knows she must send her twelve-year-old daughter away to save her from the Nazi regime. She finds her way to a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Lea and Ava travel from Paris, where Lea meets her soulmate, to a convent in western France known for its silver roses; from a school in a mountaintop village where three thousand Jews were saved. Meanwhile, Ettie is in hiding, waiting to become the fighter she’s destined to be.

What does it mean to lose your mother? How much can one person sacrifice for love? In a world where evil can be found at every turn, we meet remarkable characters that take us on a stunning journey of loss and resistance, the fantastical and the mortal, in a place where all roads lead past the Angel of Death and love is never ending.

MY THOUGHTS: ‘Once upon a time something happened that you never could have imagined, a spell was broken, a girl was saved, a rose grew out of a tooth buried deep in the ground, love was everywhere, and people who had been taken away continued to walk with you, in dreams and in the waking world.’

This is a book that can’t be buttonholed into one or even two categories. Historical, magical, fantasy, love, family drama doesn’t even begin to describe The World That We Knew.

The author’s introduction is one of the most moving that I have read. Please don’t skip it. It tells how this book was born. And the relationship between fairytales and real life. If you don’t think there is one, then you really do need to read it.

The magical aspects of Hoffman’s writing does nothing to dilute the horrors of the Holocaust; in fact, if anything, it heightens the inhumanity of man against man. She writes beautifully and lyrically about one of the darkest periods in the history of man, holding nothing back, but always there is hope that shines like a beacon.

I was a history student, and WWII was one of my pet subjects, but I have learned more from Hoffman’s writing than I ever did in school. It is far easier to relate to and has far greater significance when it is on a more personal level.

I finished The World That We Knew last night and I have written a dozen reviews in my head during the day, all of which were far more eloquent and reflective than this. I had highlighted dozens of passages in an effort to capture the essence of this book. But after reading and rereading them, I stayed with the first; the one that says ‘all she knew was that she wanted to live.’ There is no greater desire in life than to live and to keep your loved ones safe. ‘If you are loved, you never lose the person who loved you. You carry them with you all your life.’ And the reverse is true, that if you love someone, you can never lose that person. You carry them with you all your life. And that, to me, is the essence of The World That We Knew; the magic of love.

❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Alice Hoffman is the author of more than thirty works of fiction, including The World That We Knew, The Rules of Magic, The Marriage of Opposites, Practical Magic, The Red Garden, the Oprah’s Book Club selection Here on Earth, The Museum of Extraordinary Things, and The Dovekeepers. Her most recent novel is The World That We Knew. She lives near Boston.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The World That We Knew 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 or the about page on my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2941683080?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1