First Lines Friday . . .

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Welcome to First Lines Friday originally hosted by Reading is my SuperPower.

Instead of judging a book by its cover, here are the first few lines which I hope will make you want to read this book.

<i>A bride is not supposed to get arrested on her wedding day. </i>

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to read more?

These are the opening lines of one of my current reads, <i>The Bride To Be</i> by <i>Daniel Hurst</i>

Kate is getting married. It’s an exciting time, but she has some doubts – her partner Mark sometimes mistreats her, and she is beginning to wonder if he is really “the one”.

Her concerns only grow when she spots a ridiculously happy couple during a wedding dress fitting. Realising that they have everything she wants, she becomes obsessed with the pair.

She decides that the groom, Tristan, is her ideal man and becomes fixated on getting closer to him. As she does, she discovers more and more about him and his seemingly perfect life with his bride-to-be, Tess.

And realises that below the surface they have their problems too.

As the wedding draws nearer, Kate has some big decisions to make. Should she leave Mark? Is Tristan the one she should really be with? And what will happen when the dark secrets that both couples are hiding come out into the open?

The Bride To Be by Daniel Hurst is published 07 May 2023

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Sorry I haven’t posted or interacted much much this week. Events rather overtook me, but more about that later.

I picked up a book this morning, one from my backlist that is the April selection for the Mystery, Crime and Thriller groupread. I intended to just read a chapter a day to eke it out over the month. BUT, I was immediately absorbed and intrigued and finished this stunning debut, published August 2017, just after lunch.🤣🤣🤣 Maybe there was a reason I have left it sitting unread for almost six years, because it was just the tonic I needed. The book is Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to have published anything since.

I am currently listening to A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5) by Elly Griffiths, continuing – after a detour or two – my personal ‘read this series in 2023’ challenge.

I still have three titles for review that were published in March that I haven’t managed to read, but hopefully I can catch up in April – not this week as I have four reads for review due!

This week I am planning to read The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman, a new author to me.

I just love this cover!

When Anna Bradshaw wakes up in a hospital bed in London, she remembers nothing, not even her loving husband, Stephen. The doctors say her amnesia is to be expected, but Anna feels cut adrift from her entire life.

In Bristol, Livvy Nicholson is newly married to Dominic and eager to get back to work after six months’ maternity leave. But when Dominic’s estranged mother appears, making a series of unnerving claims, Livvy is sucked into a version of herself she doesn’t recognise.

A hundred miles apart, both women feel trapped and disorientated, and their stories are about to collide. Can they uncover the secret that connects them and reconstruct their fractured lives?

You Should Have Known by Rebecca Keller, which I requested after reading Jayme’s enthusiastic review. This is another author who is new to me.

When retired nurse Frannie Greene moves into a senior living apartment, she finds a compelling friendship with her new neighbor Katherine, only to discover that Katherine is married to the judge who Frannie believes is implicated in the death of her beloved granddaughter.

Observing the medication cart sparks Frannie’s darkest imagination, and her desire for revenge combines with her medical expertise. In one dreadful, impulsive moment, she tampers with the medicine. However, the next day, someone is dead and Frannie realizes the gravity of what she’s done.

The police get involved, and suspicions gather around someone Frannie knows to be innocent. Wracked with remorse, Frannie’s anxiety becomes unbearable. As she works to make it right, Frannie discovers that things are more complicated than they seem.

She’s spent years aching for accountability from people in power. Is she the one who now needs to be held culpable? What really happened that night?

Summer Nights in the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I have been requesting her books for ages so was excited to finally get an ARC.

A new beginning…

As her summer wedding to Jake approaches, Hollie is excited for their new beginning as a family. But when some unexpected news threatens the future she and Jake had hoped for, Hollie will need to find the strength to overcome heartache once more.

A fragile heart…

Single mum, Kerry, loves her job at The Starfish Café, but behind the brave smiles and laughter with customers there is a sadness deep within. So when someone from her past re-appears in her life, Kerry can either hide away or face her demons and try to finally move on from her heartbreak.

A summer to remember…

For Hollie and Kerry it promises to be an emotional rollercoaster of a summer, but the community at The Starfish Café will always be there to help them through – after all, with courage nothing is impossible…

And The Lost Wife by Georgina Lees, a widget I received directly from the publisher.

You always underestimated me and I always overestimated you.
Maybe that was our problem.

A woman and a child arrive at a cottage in the Peak District in the dead of night.

Alone. Desperate. Hunted.

She knows they’re coming for her. It’s only a matter of time.

Because her husband kept a secret from her. Until he was ready to destroy her.

Now, it’s her turn.

These books are all due for publication this coming week.

During a sleepless night this week I caved in and went on a requesting spree, netting five new reads.

All Good Things by Amanda Prowse, an author I love.

The Wedding Gift by Carolyn Brown

The Bride To Be by Daniel Hurst

One Last Kill by Robert Dugoni

Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves by Quinn Connor, yet another author new to me.

Pete had a meeting with his care team Friday morning and begins his radiation treatment Wednesday. He is to stay in the cancer lodge for the first two weeks at least so that he can be monitored, but he is allowed home for the weekends.

I didn’t accomplish everything that I needed to at work this week, but I came close, so that will have to do. There was only one set of accounts that I didn’t manage to straighten out, but only because I didn’t have the supporting documentation.

I was exhausted by Friday night and came home, had a cup of tea, a sandwich and went to bed.

We went to a 100th birthday party Saturday afternoon – a first for us – of a family friend. It was a lovely afternoon, with a spectacular cake and lots of great company. Everything was just winding up when all the excitement of the afternoon caught up with the birthday boy who took a bit of a turn and was unconscious for several minutes. He departed his party in an ambulance and spent the night in hospital under observation. He is back home today and reportedly in fine form.

The rain cleared just after lunch today and I planted the spinach plants I had picked up during the week. My winter lettuce are starting to look good, but my red cabbage are not hearting up at all. I am still picking the occasional tomato and cucumber, and I ate six luscious sweet sun warmed strawberries this afternoon. I keep thinking that they must nearly be at an end, but there’s still green strawberries and flowers on the plants.

Leftovers for dinner tonight.

I hope you have all had a satisfying week, and happy reading for the coming week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to have heavy rain all day, but other than a couple of light drizzly showers, there’s been nothing, so I have had to water the vege garden. I picked another seven cucumbers for Luke’s roadside stand, but I fear that’s the last of them. It doesn’t look as though there are many feijoas on the tree, and there’s no sign yet of mandarins, so he may have a bit of a dry spell for a while. Dustin and Luke have been down for the afternoon and have just left to go back home so that they’ve time to give Timmy a run before it’s dark. Daylight saving ends here next week, so it will get dark even earlier.

Helen and I went and investigated the two new antique shops in the area Friday morning. We had a lovely time and finished with coffee out.

Currently I am reading, and almost finished, The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish. I’m not over-enamoured, but reserving my final opinion as she often pulls something out of the hat right at the end.

I am still listening to the family saga, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.


I am not quite caught up with my March reads yet, hopefully this week. I have two reads for review due this week: Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .

And A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall, which I can’t wait to get to. I loved the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up with Liz, Pat and Thelma again.

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

Only one publisher’s Widget this week, and one ARC. The widget is Summer at the Cornish Farmhouse by Linn B. Halton

And ARC is The Widow of Weeping Pines by Amanda McKinney

I am back at work fulltime from Monday. Hopefully not for too long. I will still be going to aquarobics, but other interests will be taking a back seat while I deal with the end of the financial year and training someone new for my job. *sigh* I have a meeting with the outgoing manager tomorrow. She walked off the job at lunchtime Friday after having, only days earlier, agreed to work through to the end of March. 🤷‍♀️

Enjoy however much remains of your weekend. I’m making toasted sandwiches for dinner tonight – ham, cheese, mustard. Then I will sort out the menu for the rest of the week and make a shopping list. We’re a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard here as I haven’t done a grocery shop for two weeks.

Happy reading!❤📚

The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan

EXCERPT: She patted her face dry with a fluffy white towel, monogrammed, and wondered if she could somehow cut all the monograms off. She reached out to pull down the blue-and-white striped duvet, then paused, arm in mid-air. She had never been in this bed alone.
Now she stared at it, a thing suddenly from another life. The elaborate headboard had been crafted from local driftwood, buffed and painted a bleached blue, like a stone tumbled by the waves and left in the sand. Blue-striped linens, thin white matelassé blankets, and an oversize almost threadbare antique quilt of pale blue and white diamonds draped across the foot of the bed, so lavish that both ends draped on the floor. Bill’s favourite ship model, the Cutty Sark, he’d explained, still sailed to nowhere atop three steamer trunks, stacked like unpacked Russian Dolls in the corner. She had half a mind to throw the thing over the balcony and onto the grass below, and it gave her chills, thinking about destroying Bill’s possessions. Destroying what he loved, just the way he’d destroyed her.

ABOUT ‘THE HOUSE GUEST’: After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.

MY THOUGHTS: Yeah, nah, maybe . . .

Sometimes reading this was like wading through molasses, or being caught in a whirlpool, going round and round and round in circles over and over again. At other times it was intriguing and engaging.

The story started well with Alyssa meeting another down on her luck woman in a bar and taking her home to stay with her. Shortly after this the story gets a bit bogged down and repititious, not really becoming interesting again until the final 20%.

During the middle period my mind ran over all the possible scenarios and I was 90% correct with my predictions. Which isn’t a criticism, but had I been fully engaged and living ‘in the moment’ of the storyline, I wouldn’t have had time for my mind to wander . . .

None of the characters, with the exception of Mickey, are particularly likeable. And I was kind of rooting for Alyssa throughout but, for such a smart woman, she made some remarkably dumb decisions.

The plot is clever, but I never became fully invested. I have previously read books by this author and loved them. Had I gone into this not knowing who the author was, I never would have picked it to be Hank Phillipi Ryan.

A story of love, betrayal and revenge that isn’t up to the author’s normal standard. But I adore the cover.

⭐⭐⭐.2

#TheHouseGuest #NetGalley

I: : @hankpryan @macmillanusa

T: @MacmillanUSA

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #friendship #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Hank Phillippi Ryan is an American investigative reporter for Channel 7 News on WHDH-TV, a local television station in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also an author of mystery novels.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara

EXCERPT: Just because you imagine yourself doing something and enjoy the way it makes you feel, doesn’t mean you actually want to do it. It doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. Of course not. Because sometimes the very opposite is true and something you never in a million years could imagine yourself doing is done in the blink of an eye and changes your life forever.
So if, in my head, I’m grabbing a handful of her braids and slamming her head into a brick wall till her skull’s smashed in, it doesn’t mean that’s what I’ll do. It doesn’t make me a bad person just thinking about it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s normal to have the odd violent fantasy about someone you hate so much every muscle in your body contracts when you think of them. I mean, everybody does it sometimes, don’t they? Don’t they?
Seven slams, if you’re interested. That’s how many it takes till her braids run red.

ABOUT ‘WHO DID YOU TELL ?’: It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around. Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged. But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected. Some mistakes, you have to pay for.

MY THOUGHTS: Wow! That was a crazy ride and a half!

Astrid is a resentful and angry character. She is an alcoholic, back living with her mum, who is insisting that she attends AA. Astrid can’t get her head around the whole ‘God’ thing and believes that only a few of the twelve steps apply to her.

Her fellow AA attendees are an odd bunch, but only three play a significant role in the storyline. Rosie is an older homeless woman who seems to be taking an unusual amount of interest in Astrid’s life. She repeatedly warns Astrid against continuing her friendship with Helen, another new attendee, the only person Astrid feels that she can relate to. She is surprised to find that a colourless seemingly ineffective man, Jeremy (Jez), is actually a well-respected lawyer and connected to a family Astrid is painting for. Which worries Astrid as she hasn’t revealed to them that she is an alcoholic.

It’s really engaging following Astrid’s faltering steps through her recovery which are complicated by a past she is unprepared to reveal and a series of threatening notes she receives which makes her sure that she is being targeted by someone who knows exactly what she is guilty of.

While initially I didn’t particularly care for Astrid, by the end of the book, I came to like and admire her.

Astrid’s mum is another great character. She loves her daughter and will do anything within her power to help her daughter through her battle with alcohol. But she’s no pushover. She doesn’t take any shit from her daughter.

There’s a little romance, but it fits nicely into the storyline and isn’t overpowering.

Lesley Kara has created a wonderful mix of psychological drama and personal struggles that was difficult to put down.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#WhoDidYouTell? #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @lesleykarawriter @penguinukbooks

T: @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: THE AUTHOR: Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Writing Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in the small town of Flinstead-on-Sea on the North Essex coast. The Rumour is her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for providing a paperback copy of Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon. We’ve had a lazy weekend and have accomplished very little. I don’t even have to think about dinner tonight as we’re off to a friend’s later this afternoon to watch the Supercar racing out of Australia and staying for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it.

I didn’t manage to accomplish much reading wise over the past week either. I have only managed to finish one of my six reads for review for the week, but will probably finish the second tonight.

Currently I am reading The Summer

And a book by a new to me New Zealand author, Vanda Symon. Loving it!

A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…


The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’ s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

I am listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I am hoping to catch up on the reads I didn’t get to last week as I have only one read for review due this week. It is Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams.

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

There’s something strange about the scene . . . Famous artist Elaine appears to have passed peacefully in her sleep as she rested against a tree in the garden of her home, the Willows. Her legs are outstretched, hands tenderly clutching a small blue flower.

But upon closer inspection, things don’t add up. Where is Elaine’s trusty walking stick? Why did she choose to slumber on the ground when there is a comfortable lounge chair nearby? Where did that blue flower come from? . . . not from her garden, that’s for sure.

The clues soon point to murder. Elaine was beloved by the community, who would do such a thing? Her grandson is determined to uncover the truth and hires Rina to investigate.

The trail leads Rina to a series of shocking secrets, stretching back over twenty years. And a murderer who has unfinished business . . . Can our favourite amateur sleuth catch this killer before it’s too late?

Suddenly, because I decided to stop requesting ARCs for review, several that were on my pending list were approved, and I received three widgets from publishers!🤣🤣🤣 Is someone in the great library in the sky trying to tell you something?

The three publishers widgets are:

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins

The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

And Don’t Look Back by Jo Spain

Other ARCs I received via Netgalley are:

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

A Cornish Seaside Murder by Fiona Leitch

A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun by David Putnam

and The Lucky Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

Oh, well, I was obviously meant to have these. 🤷‍♀️❤📚

Thanks to all of you who have been asking after Pete. We’re back to Oncology Monday when they will plot a detailed map of the cancer for the radiation treatment which will be starting in the next two to three weeks.

Have a great week of reading and I’ll be popping in whenever I can. 🤗❤📚

All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

EXCERPT: ‘As I’m sure you all know, my name is Isabelle Drake, and my son, Mason, was kidnapped one year ago,’ I say. ‘His case is still unsolved.’
Chairs squeak; throats are cleared. A mousy woman in the front row is shaking her head gently, tears in her eyes. She is loving this right now, I know she is. It’s like she is watching her favourite movie, mindlessly snacking on popcorn as her lips move gently, reciting every word. She’s heard my speech already; she knows what happened. She knows, but she still can’t get enough. None of them can. The murderers on the t-shirts are the villains; the uniformed men in back, the heroes. Mason is the victim . . . and I’m not really sure where that leaves me.
The lone survivor, maybe. The one with a story to tell.

ABOUT ‘ALL THE DANGEROUS THINGS’: One year ago, Isabelle Drake’s life changed forever: her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her—literally.

Except for the occasional catnap or small blackout where she loses track of time, she hasn’t slept in a year.

Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

MY THOUGHTS: First off, I don’t class this as a thriller. Go into All the Dangerous Things expecting a thriller, and you will be disappointed. A more honest classification, in my opinion, is psychological drama. A slow-burning psychological drama.

The story is told entirely from Isabelle’s pov, over two timelines – the present and the past, encompassing her own childhood and her early years with Ben – so we are privy to her innermost thoughts, her doubts and fears. She has a lot of both.

Obsessed with finding her son, her marriage to Ben has broken down and she is sleep deprived. Isabelle has always had sleep issues. She was a sleepwalker as a child and is now an insomniac. Flickers of the memory of something that happened when she was a child, and a death she has always blamed herself for continue to haunt her. Is it possible that she has harmed her own son?

For most of this read I was thinking 3-stars, but the final twenty percent totally blew me away.

⭐⭐⭐.9

#AlltheDangerousThings #NetGalley

I: @stacyvwillingham @harpercollinsuk

T: @svwillingham @HarperCollinsUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicaldrama

THE AUTHOR: Prior to writing fiction full time, Stacy worked as a copywriter and brand strategist for various marketing agencies. She earned her BA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Georgia and MFA in Writing from the Savannah College of Art & Design.

She currently lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, Britt, and her Labradoodle, Mako.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of All the Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It’s been a lovely autumn day here in New Zealand. Cool overnight, which is lovely for sleeping, and in the mornings, but beautifully warm days. The evenings are also cool. The leaves are also starting to turn, much earlier than usual.

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Currently I am reading Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry – lovely atmospheric Irish fiction.

And listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt.

This week I have seven titles to read for review and I know that I am not going to be able to complete them all, but I will do my best.

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson, which I am excited about.

There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity becomes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive.

The Summer House by Keri Beevis

Mead House was once our childhood home.

Despite my fears, I always knew we would have to return to face the demons of our past.

Back to the place where it happened, to where, as carefree teenagers, we lost our elder sister in the most brutal of circumstances.

As executors of our grandmother’s will, my twin brother, Ollie, and I needed to empty the house for resale.

What I didn’t expect to discover was my sister’s secret journal that contained her most private thoughts and shocking dark secrets.

Now I am questioning everything that I saw that night. Did I get it wrong, who I saw?

Did my evidence send an innocent man, my then boyfriend’s brother, to jail for the last 17 years?

I know I have no choice. If I want to find answers, I will have to go back to that fateful night my sister died. When she made her last visit to the summer house.

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea

Ariel Shepherd is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown French château they’d visited on their honeymoon four years ago. With finances tight she has no choice but to swap her Manhattan apartment and city lifestyle for a renovation project in a peaceful French village.

When Ariel hires an expert to help her uncover the legacy of her beautiful ruin, life only becomes more complicated. Christiane, the historian, is found dead in the moat, and although the local police aren’t suspicious, Ariel is. She joins two other ex-pats, Pippa and Katherine, to investigate, but with plenty of workmen – and errant tools – around the château, many people had the means, but who had the motive? Why would anyone want to kill a historian?

Ariel begins to suspect that her French village life will be anything but peaceful! Can she solve the suspicious murder and make her château in Burgundy the perfect new home?

A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis – a new author to me.

On a hot Saturday night in Manhattan, Father Duffy sits in a confessional, growing alarmed as he listens to the voice of a distraught young man who speaks of bloody hair and a dead woman and a compulsion to do things with a hammer that he does not understand. Before the priest can persuade the man to confess to the police, the killer flees, still clutching the hammer.

The next day, Father Duffy learns that a high-class call girl on the East Side has been savagely murdered, and no suspect has been found. As he searches for the disturbed young man who he fears will kill again, cerebral New York Police detective Sergeant Ben Goldsmith takes the lead in the investigation of the call-girl murder, racing against the clock to catch a very clever killer who, when enraged, cannot control his need to swing a hammer.

Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin, another new author.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, Kate meticulously plans a dinner party – from the fancy table setting to the perfect baked alaska waiting in the freezer. But by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests are gone, and Kate is spinning out of control.

Set between from the 1990s and the present day, from Carlow to Dublin, the family farmhouse to Trinity College, Dinner Party is a beautifully observed, dark and twisty novel that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish, an author I love.

Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong man.
 
Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most sociable guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
 
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
 
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
 
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed. It still isn’t.
 
No one else could have done it. Could they?

Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins, yet another new author to me.

Twenty-six-year-old Rory rarely leaves her apartment, though her little dog Buster keeps her company. Days are spent working for her aunt’s PI business, and watching and imagining histories for the homeless men, the Dossers, across the road. At night she walks Buster on the roof, gazes at the stars and wonders.

The night before New Year’s Eve, one of the Dossers is murdered, an incident which brings the world – police, new neighbours, her dark past and new possibilities – crashing through Rory’s front door.

She thought she was keeping her fears at bay. But has her sanctuary turned into her prison? Or is it safer for everyone if Rory stays locked away?

I have had no new ARCs this week. I haven’t requested any, and I have deleted a number titles from my pending list. I have also deleted a number of titles from my ARC list, but still have somewhere around 240 to read for review. But these are titles I really want to read.

After the video conference with Pete’s care team on Friday we now know that there is more cancer in his face, mainly in the area under his right eye. Because of the proximity to his eye it is going to require a multi-faceted approach. We have an appointment with the oncologist this coming Friday and, in conjunction with the surgeon, a plan of attack will be finalised.

Because of this, and increasing pressures at work, I have decided to take a break from posting every day. I hope to be able to continue with my weekly catch up, and to post reviews as I finish a read. I am currently only reading two books a week as I am so tired from running around and stress. I will still try to interact with you all, but it may not be possible every day, so please cut me some slack.

Thank you all for your understanding, and happy reading my friends.

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Another week down and dusted.

We’ve had Luke for the weekend and he has just gone home. He fell off the swing at school the Friday before last and broke his right wrist. It doesn’t seem to worry him at all except this morning when he wanted to play tennis. I explained that I didn’t think it was a good idea or that he would be able to, but . . . he tried, couldn’t, and had a meltdown. He was soon distracted by a couple of Oreos and the basketball hoop. He managed to score 42 times and was quite happy. I,on the other hand, am exhausted. Although I am doing aquarobics and walking when the weather permits, I am obviously unfit. I haven’t played tennis at all this summer, and it shows. I need to get back into it.

I am currently reading Life or Death by Michael Robotham, an Australian author I love. This is a paperback copy I picked up in a charity shop. Robotham always manages to draw me in with his beautifully crafted characters and his intriguing plots. Life or Death is no exception and I can’t wait to find out why Audie Palmer has escaped from prison the day before he is due to be released.

I am almost finished listening to Midnight at the Blackbird Café. I adore Heather Webber’s writing and have been savouring this. I will probably finish this tomorrow.

This week I am hoping to read four books: A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett.

When a driver dies during a glamourous classic car event at her family’s estate, Dr Nell Ward is in a race against time to uncover the truth and prevent the killer from making a speedy getaway…

Back in her natural habitat, Dr Nell Ward heads to a woodland pond to survey local newt populations. She’s shocked to discover a car submerged in the water – with the driver dead behind the wheel.

Nell recognises the dead man as professional racing driver, and tabloid love rat, Jack Rafferty, whose performance on (and off) Finchmere’s racetrack had earned him enemies.

Suspecting this isn’t the tragic accident it appears DI James Clark calls upon Nell and her ecological skills to help find the murderer. But she soon finds that more lurks under the surface than she could ever have imagined. Despite the danger, Nell is determined to dredge up the truth from the murky depths of this case, before it’s too late…

The Holiday Home by Daniel Hurst. I have both Kindle and audio format for this so will switch from one to the other.

I sit sipping champagne in the warm water, bubbles frothing around me as I admire the breath-taking view of gorgeous blue skies and mountains. I can’t believe I’m here, at this stunning holiday home. It’s to die for…

My best friend and her husband have invited me and my family to their lakeside property for the weekend, to experience their luxury lifestyle. I’m not envious of their wealth, although I know my husband Ryan is. All I want is to escape from our recent troubles and get my marriage back on track.

Then I overhear Ryan having a whispered conversation late one evening, and he says something that sends a shiver down my spine. In this beautiful paradise my whole world is turned upside down.

Just when I think things can’t get any worse, I discover a second secret. The truth is even more shocking than I imagine, and now I have no idea who to trust.

This was meant to be the perfect holiday, but someone isn’t going to survive it…

The Close by Jane Casey. I read this author’s previous book and loved it.

At first glance, Jellicoe Close seems to be a perfect suburban street – well-kept houses with pristine lawns, neighbours chatting over garden fences, children playing together.

But there are dark secrets behind the neat front doors, hidden dangers that include a ruthless criminal who will stop at nothing.

It’s up to DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent to uncover the truth. Posing as a couple, they move into the Close, blurring the lines between professional and personal as never before.

And while Maeve and Josh try to gather the evidence they need, they have no idea of the danger they face – because someone in Jellicoe Close has murder on their mind.

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry, a new author to me.

Recently retired policeman Tom Kettle is settling into the quiet of his new home, a lean-to annexed to a Victorian castle overlooking the Irish Sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, catching only glimpses of his eccentric landlord and a nervous young mother who has moved in next door. Occasionally, fond memories return, of his family, his beloved wife June and their two children, Winnie and Joe.

But when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case, one which Tom never quite came to terms with, he finds himself pulled into the darkest currents of his past.

I have received two new ARCs through Netgalley this week. They are:

The Fall by Gilly Macmillan

The Monk by Tim Sullivan, another new author to me.

I am seriously considering taking an hiatus, or even a semi-hiatus, of indeterminate length. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with dealing with Peter’s health problems and ongoing problems at work. Things will hopefully become clearer after his video-conference with his care team on Friday and I will wait until after this to make my final decision. So if I miss a post or two in the interim, or am not interacting with you as normal please understand why. I am struggling to concentrate on what I am reading and feel like I don’t have an original thought in my head when it comes to writing reviews. Thanks for your understanding.

Happy reading all.

Cheers

Sandy

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Today it almost feels like autumn is already here. Cool and breezy, it’s been ideal weather for mowing the lawn. Afterwards I went out on the deck to enjoy a sandwich and a cup of coffee, but it was unpleasantly cool and I had to move back inside. Please, no autumn yet – we’ve hardly had a summer!

Currently I am reading The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown

For Grace Dalton, her sister, Sarah, and her cousin Macy, the Devine Doughnut Shop is a sweet family legacy and a landmark in their Texas town. As the fourth generation to run the Double D, they keep their great-grandmother’s recipe secret and uphold the shop’s tradition as a coffee klatch for sharing local gossip, advice, and woes. But drama brews behind the counter, too.

Grace is a single mother struggling with an unruly teenage daughter. Heartbroken Sarah has sworn off love. Macy’s impending wedding has an unexpected hitch. And now charming developer Travis Butler has arrived in Devine with a checkbook and a handsome smile. He wants to buy the shop, expand it nationally, and boost the economy of a town divided by the prospect.

With the family’s relationships in flux, their beloved heritage up for grabs, and their future in the air, it’s amazing what determination, sass, a promise of romance, and a warm maple doughnut can do to change hearts and minds.

And doing a read/listen to The Mistress Next Door by Lesley Sanderson

<i>I know what you did. You destroyed my life. Now I’m going to take everything from you, starting with your husband. I’m your worst nightmare, and I’m closer than you think.</i>

Oliver, my husband and the father of our three little girls, used to be my rock. But recently he’s been behaving strangely, staying out late, working weekends and emotionally absent even when home. Now as I clutch a receipt for a hotel room and champagne for two, hidden away in his coat pocket, I’m devastated. What else can I assume other than he’s cheating?

I’ve risked everything for the life I have now, a life that’s a million miles from… before. Not that Oliver would know anything about that. I would do anything to hold on to the perfect future I so dearly long for. A future that is now about to come crashing down.

Because Oliver’s cheating isn’t the only threat to my family. This morning I received an anonymous note. One that changes everything. The past isn’t just haunting me, it’s coming back to destroy me. It seems that someone in our close-knit community of Prospect Close knows my secret. Someone who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get their revenge. They’ve already stolen my husband. How much further will they go? And what can I do to stop them…?

This week I have only one other book to read for review – The House Guest by Hank Phillipi Ryan

After every divorce, one spouse gets all the friends. What does the other one get? If they’re smart, they get the benefits. Alyssa Macallan is terrified when she’s dumped by her wealthy and powerful husband. With a devastating divorce looming, she begins to suspect her toxic and manipulative soon-to-be-ex is scheming to ruin her—leaving her alone and penniless. And when the FBI shows up at her door, Alyssa knows she really needs a friend.

And then she gets one. A seductive new friend, one who’s running from a dangerous relationship of her own. Alyssa offers Bree Lorrance the safety of her guest house, and the two become confidantes. Then Bree makes a heart-stoppingly tempting offer. Maybe Alyssa and Bree can solve each others’ problems.

But no one is what they seem. And the fates and fortunes of these two women twist and turn until the shocking truth emerges: You can’t always get what you want. But sometimes you get what you deserve.

After that I want to read the next book in Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series and hopefully I will fit in at least one title from my backlist.

I have received five new ARCs from Netgalley and a publisher’s widget this week to read for review. They are:

Blind Eye by Aline Templeton

The Holiday Home by Daniel Hurst

The Summer House by Keri Beevis

A Fatal Affair by A.R. Torre

Murder at an Irish Bakery by Carlene O’Connor

And the publisher’s widget is I’ll Leave You With This by Kylie Ladd

And that’s where I will leave you for the day. I have a review to write, laundry to bring in off the line and dinner to prepare.

It’s Waitangi Day here in New Zealand tomorrow, and today is the wedding anniversary of a young couple who are very dear to my heart. Happy anniversary Dan and Nettie. It was wonderful catching up with you. ❤💐🥂

Happy reading my bookish friends. ❤📚