Watching what I’m reading . . .

A glorious morning has turned into a wet and stormy afternoon here in New Zealand. Pete has been away for the weekend fishing up the Coromandel. He had a wonderful time with his mates and they even brought home a few fish! I had to work this weekend otherwise I would have been with them. I haven’t been up the Coromandel for almost 40 years.

8I am currently reading Pianos and Flowers by Alexander McCall. It is a collection of short stories written about some historical photos. I am really enjoying this.

I am currently listening to Murder in Paradise: Thirteen Mysteries from the Travels of Hercule Poirot. I have read/listened to some of these previously, but some of the stories are new to me.

This week I am planning on reading The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, the Goodreads.com Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers January group read. I am a little late starting as I committed to two group reads this month. But I have been wanting to read this ever since it came out, so I simply couldn’t pass on this.

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems. 

I have ten books due to be read for review this week 🤦‍♀️ and obviously I am not going to get them all read. Bad planning, I know, and a mistake I am trying not to repeat. So I am planning on reading Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

Who can forgive a mother who poisons her eight-year-old son? Even if it was an accident.

Tasha thought she had everything under control – her family life, her career as a nurse – until her son got into her stash of painkillers. Now, during her first weekend home from drug treatment, she must come to grips with the damage she’s done and somehow pick up the pieces. Told from the points of view of four different family members, Weekend Pass is a story about the lies we tell ourselves and the people we love. And it’s about struggling to rise above the mistakes that threaten to define us.

And Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

Not all secrets are meant to come out…

Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick or treating with friends.
Her body was found three days later, floating face down, on the banks of the Creggan Reservoir by two of her young classmates.
It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating – but someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. As she digs further, Ingrid starts to realise that the Doherty family are not as they seem. But will she expose what really happened that night before it’s too late?

I have a busy week ahead at work so I probably won’t be able to sneak any extra reads in this week, but if I can, I will.

And of course I have already read and reviewed the amazing gangland crime thriller Family by Owen Mullen, which is being released 21 January.

Check out my review which I posted 11 January. This is one book that you won’t want to miss out on!.

I have only two new ARCs from Netgalley this week, so I am back on track. The first is The Words We Whisper by Mary Ellen Taylor

And Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. This is my first book by this author so I am very excited!

Happy reading everyone, and enjoy whatever is left of your weekend!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Due for publication 7 January 2021

EXCERPT: They call it shopping for pain.

My husband leaves the room with our son in his arms and I snatch up the phone he has left on the coffee table and I start scrolling through all the secret corners of his life.

His text messages. His WhatsApp. His email. I quickly ransack them all. The possibility of pain – real life-wrecking, heartbreaking, how-could-you, tears-of-rage pain – is everywhere. There are so many places now for him to leave the evidence of betrayal. Or the thought of betrayal. Or the flirtatious foreplay of betrayal. Or the sordid sweet nothings of real betrayal. All the damning, undeniable proof of his secret life.

ABOUT ‘YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE’: Tara Carver seems to have the perfect life. A loving mother and wife, and a business woman who runs her own company, she’s the sort of person you’d want to live next door to, who might even become your best friend.

But what sort of person is she really?

Because in one night of madness, on a work trip far from home, she puts all this at risk. And suddenly her dream life becomes a living nightmare when the married man she spent one night with tells her he wants a serious relationship with her. And that he won’t leave her or her precious family alone until she agrees.

There seems to be only one way out.
And it involves murder …

MY THOUGHTS: I read Your Neighbour’s Wife in less than twenty four hours. This is the fifth of Tony Parsons books that I have read, and the fifth five star rating. This is very different to his Max Wolfe series, but every bit as compelling, as good, if not better. This is a gripping story of love, family, friendship, marriage and infidelity.

The story is told from the points of view of Tara and her husband Christian.

Tara has a one night stand when she is away on a business trip, one that just won’t lie down and die. Tara regrets her actions and wants to forget that it ever happened. James has no intention of letting Tara forget. He wants more of Tara, all of Tara, and will go to any length to get what he wants.

Your Neighbour’s Wife is absolutely terrifying in its plausibility. If anyone is considering infidelity, I strongly urge them to read Parsons book first.

Gripping. Compelling. Plausible. And full of twists that I could never have predicted. Just read this.

The only thing that I don’t get is the title. But who cares? It could be called ‘Hot Buttered Toast’ and it would still be a five star read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

‘We spend our youth looking for love and sex and then we spend our married lives trying to avoid it.’

THE AUTHOR: Tony Parsons (born 6 November 1953) is a British journalist broadcaster and author. He began his career as a music journalist on the NME, writing about punk music. Later, he wrote for The Daily Telegraph, before going on to write his current column for the Daily Mirror. Parsons was for a time a regular guest on the BBC Two arts review programme The Late Show, and still appears infrequently on the successor Newsnight Review; he also briefly hosted a series on Channel 4 called Big Mouth.

His novels typically deal with relationship problems, emotional dramas and the traumas of men and women in our time. He describes his writing as ‘Men Lit’, as opposed to the rising popularity of ‘Chick Lit’.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century for providing a digital ARC of Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons 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…2021!

Here we are, 3 days into 2021 already, and nothing much seems to have changed except my back yard looks much tidier than it has for ages. I have olives forming on my olive tree for the first time, and my avocado tree which bore 9 avocado last year is absolutely laden! I need to get a watering system up to that corner of the garden as the hose doesn’t reach and, apparently, if they don’t get enough water they will just drop their fruit.

Is anyone else having difficulty referring to 2020 as last year? I am still referring to 2019 as last year!

I was reading in the early hours of New Year’s Day, a paperback as my Kindle was on the charger, and decided that I really did need some sleep when I started tapping the right hand side of the page and wondering why it wasn’t going to the next page! 🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️😂🤣❤📚

Currently I am reading The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher on my Kindle and all I can say is wow! It’s making the back of my neck tingle in anticipation. The Wrong Family is due for publication 6 January. Order your copy now!

I am halfway through reading the paperback of Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2) by Australian author Jane Harper. So far I am enjoying it even more than The Dry.

I am currently listening to Blue Genes by Val McDermid, #5 in the Kate Brannigan series. I haven’t previously read or listened to any of this series, but that isn’t impacting my enjoyment at all.

This week I plan on reading Family by Owen Mullen

Family – might be the death of you…
The Glass family business is crime, and they’re good at what they do. Vengeance took Luke Glass behind bars – but now he’s free and he’s never going back. Luke wants out of the gangster life – all he has to do is convince his family to let him go.

His brother holds the reins of the South London underworld in his brutal hands – nobody tells Danny Glass no and expects to live – not even DCI Oliver Stanford, bent copper and one of the Met’s rising stars. The way Danny sees it, his younger brother and sister Nina owe him everything. The price he demands is loyalty, and a war with their arch enemy gives him the leverage he needs to tie Luke to the family once more.

Luke can’t see a way out, until Danny commits a crime so terrible it can’t be forgiven. Love turns to hate when secrets are unearthed which pit brother against brother. Left with no choice but to choose a side, Nina holds the fate of the family in her hands.

And Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Tara Carver seems to have the perfect life. A loving mother and wife, and a business woman who runs her own company, she’s the sort of person you’d want to live next door to, who might even become your best friend.

But what sort of person is she really?

Because in one night of madness, on a work trip far from home, she puts all this at risk. And suddenly her dream life becomes a living nightmare when the married man she spent one night with tells her he wants a serious relationship with her. And that he won’t leave her or her precious family alone until she agrees.

There seems to be only one way out.
And it involves murder …

Only one Netgalley ARC this week, and that’s an audiobook, Bibliomysteries, A must-listen collection of thirteen bibliomysteries by bestselling and award-winning authors Bibliomysteries Volume 1 includes: – “An Acceptable Sacrifice” by Jeffery Deaver – “The Final Testament” by Peter Blauner – “What’s in a Name?” by Thomas H. Cook – “Book Club” by Loren D. Estleman – and many others

Thank you Carla! I will be starting this as soon as I finish Blue Genes, probably tomorrow.

Enjoy whatever is left of your holiday period and keep calm, we survived 2020.

The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: I rip the takeaway menus off the cork noticeboard on the wall to make space for a Grace collage. The dark images from outside her flat and the light ones from the brightly lit department store. There’s room for plenty more.

I wonder what she’ll think of my photos. But my collection isn’t ready yet. I want to win her over first before I surprise her with my work and she sees how good it is. I thought she might be in touch after seeing me this morning, but my phone stays silent. I’ll give her a bit more time and if I don’t hear from her I’ll send another photo to stop her forgetting me. The photo board looks good on the wall, makes the flat look more like home. Grace’s eyes follow me around the room, warming me inside. The adult Grace has taken over from the teenager who used to live in my head, whose face I was afraid of forgetting. My favourite photo is the one where she looked up and saw me this morning. When our eyes met across the room. I’ve captured the haunted look that flitted across her face.

I won’t stop haunting her until she gives me what I want.

ABOUT ‘THE ORCHID GIRLS’: They called them the Orchid Girls.

Grace. Charlotte. Molly.

One of them is in love.

One of them is a liar.

One of them is dead.

One day, three became two – and no one knows the truth. What really happened that summer?

MY THOUGHTS: This is not the ‘breathless, gripping and twisty story of love, obsession and dark secrets’ that the promotional blurb promises, at least not for me. Initially I felt that there was a more palpable air of menace present than in this author’s most recent book, The Birthday Weekend, which I read last week. But the story quickly becomes slower and quite repetitive. There is a distinct lack of suspense, and at times the writing appears quite disordered.

The plot holds great promise, and had the author been able to inject some suspense into her writing, and organize her thoughts a little better, this could have been a really good read. There are certainly some interesting concepts that could have been better developed.

The story is told over two timelines, 2002, and the current day from the points of view of Molly and Grace. This is interspersed with extracts from the diaries of all three girls, and newspaper reports.

I honestly didn’t feel that the diary extracts added much, if any value, to the story. They felt like filler. The newspaper reports were far more informative.

(view spoiler)

I loved The Woman at 46 Heath Street, but the other books I have read by this author have failed to live up to it. I hate to say it, but I think that my reading relationship with this author may be at an end.

⭐⭐⭐.2

THE AUTHOR: Lesley attended the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 The Orchid Girls (then On The Edge) was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading…

Only a few days to go, and Christmas will be all over again. We aren’t seeing Dustin and Luke until Boxing Day, so we have invited a few other empty nesters for Christmas. It will be a fairly laid back affair; lots of nibbles, salads and bbq.

I don’t seem to have read much this week, a combination of work and my ongoing health issues. I have to learn not to overdo it when I am having a good day because I inevitably crash and burn the following day.

I am currently reading The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson, which is a backlist title from Netgalley. I have had it since 2018,so it’s good to get it read. One less bank-title to feel guilty about. I am much preferring it to The Birthday Weekend which I finished this week.

I am almost finished A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride, another back-title from Netgalley.

And I have just finished listening to The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7) by Elly Griffiths.

I have yet to download something new to listen to. I also need to write my review, which I will post tomorrow.

I have nothing from Netgalley that needs reading for review this week, but another member of my local library book club has passed on a new release she thought I would like, Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden. Betty really enjoyed it. Another new Australian author for me.

You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.

As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…

And I have a copy of The Dry by Jane Harper, so I would also like to read that this week.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

I only have two new ARCs from Netgalley this week (Susan stop rolling your eyes!)

Eudora Honeysett is Just Fine Thank You by Annie Lyons is my first audiobook download, which has been beset by problems. Like my ipod is too old to support the Netgalley Shelf app! So I guess I will be buying a new ipod tomorrow.

I have also received The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

My posting may well be a bit erratic again this week, so I will wish you all a happy, healthy and safe festive season now, just in case.

Btw, my tree looks NOTHING like this!

The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: I go back downstairs. Daisy is in the kitchen with Amy. They both look startled to see me, as if I’ve disturbed something.

‘What’s up?’ Daisy’s posture is rigid and Amy is twisting a curl around her finger.

‘You tell her,’ Daisy says.

‘It’s Sam,’ Amy says. ‘He’s going to be arriving much later than he said.’

‘That’s okay,’ I say. ‘We already knew that, and it doesn’t really matter -‘

‘No, it isn’t okay.’ Daisy’s sharp tone takes me by surprise, makes me flinch.

‘Sorry.’ I hold up my hands. ‘Nothing to do with me.’

‘It’s not that,’ Amy says. ‘It’s the reason he’s late. He isn’t working, like he said he was.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘He’s at the police station.’

‘Oh no.’ I sit down with a bump on the hard wooden chair. Images of police cars, ambulances, a broken body flash into my mind. ‘Has he had an accident?’

‘He’s been called in to answer some questions.’ Amy looks at me as she says this, and a chill envelops my body. I know what she’s going to say. Hannah. The journalist. Blackwood Forest. My mind is on fast-forward, willing her to spit it out. ‘About what he was doing the day Hannah disappeared.’

ABOUT ‘THE BIRTHDAY WEEKEND’: Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.

Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They’ve not met as a group since. Until now.

As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.

MY THOUGHTS: Better than average, but not great.

Amy, Kat, Louise and Daisy were a tight bunch at university, along with Hannah whose death was ruled a suicide. For Louise, going to university was a big adventure. For Kat, it was the chance to escape a miserable home life. Amy had a passion for knowledge. Daisy wanted to be on stage, the star of the show. All Hannah had ever wanted was to be loved. These five gravitated towards one another and formed a tight knit group until Hannah’s death. Although her death is ruled a suicide, and this suits each of them for one reason or another, none of them have ever really believed it.

The thing that I had most difficulty with was that if they were all so close, wouldn’t they have turned to each other for support after Hannah’s death? ‘They’ve never met as a group since.’ I find that more than odd. And they’ve never talked about it together? Really? That is just downright strange! Even stranger, Louise has never told her husband Theo about Hannah’s death. This is a major life event! Could you just blithely sail on through the rest of your life and never mention your friend’s name again? I couldn’t.

Then there’s a journalist who is introduced into the story and then . . . nothing. What was the point?

I guessed reasonably early on who was responsible for Hannah’s death, and I was mostly right, but there was an unexpected twist to the denouement.

I mostly enjoyed The Birthday Weekend, but it doesn’t measure up to the two other books I have read by this author.

The Birthday Weekend was originally to have been released as Our Little Secret but has undergone a prepublication title change.

⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheBirthdayWeekend #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lesley attended the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 The Orchid Girls (then On The Edge) was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson 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…

Currently I am sitting on the deck enjoying the view and the birdsong. There is a gentle breeze, it’s not overly hot, and I feel very relaxed (lazy!) Peter mowed the lawns and tidied the vegetable garden while I was at work this morning, there is a cake baking in the oven, and my neighbour has dropped over some bok choy which I will use in a stir fry for dinner tonight. My Christmas shopping is all sorted, just the wrapping to do now. Oh yes, and find the Christmas lights, which are who knows where….I haven’t actually seen them in the eighteen months since we moved.

Currently I am reading Consolation by Garry Disher, #3 in the excellent Australian crime series based around country cop Paul Hirschausen.

I am also almost half way through A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride. I love his dark humour.

And I am listening to The Ghost Fields #7 in Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series.

I only have one read for review due this week, The Birthday Weekend, previously titled Our Little Secret, by Lesley Sanderson. I will read this after I finish Consolation.

Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.

Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They’ve not met as a group since. Until now.

As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.

Time permitting, I will read a few more back titles and get a few more of those overdue ARCs off my Netgalley shelf.

After having a few weeks of only one or two new ARCs, I have seven this week. What can I say? They are my Christmas present to myself! Plus Carla of https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com and Susan of https://susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com have a lot to answer for. I have my Netgalley search for titles page open ready and waiting as I read their posts!

My new ARCs are: Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths, #13 in the Ruth Galloway series

The Art of Death by David Fennell

And, finally, A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker

That’s my lot for today. I am off to take a look at this cake then take a look in the garage in case the lights are down there. We went away over Christmas and New Year last year, so never put them up…

Have a happy Sunday.

Cheers

Sandy

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s been a bit of an up and down week for me. I had a bit of a relapse mid week, which while not bad enough to put me back in hospital, certainly knocked the stuffing out of me. I have read only two books this week, which is pretty much unheard of! I just kept falling asleep 😴😴😴😴😴😴

Friday and Saturday I spent with my grandson. We had morning tea with his other grandma, and her mother whom he calls Granny. We had a lovely catch up, then Luke and I went home and had a rest before heading off to his daycare Christmas party. That was lots of fun and I took plenty of photos

We were both pretty tired after that and went home and lay on our beds and read until dinner. Saturday morning and he had a birthday party to attend, and after I collected him it was a replay of Friday afternoon. Rest and read. I am back home today and just taking it easy. Pete is out fishing, so hopefully we will have nice fresh fish for dinner tonight.

Currently I am reading Bitter Wash Road by Garry Disher, an Australian author. This is the first book in his Paul Hirschausen series, of which I have the second and third books, Peace, and Consolation, from Netgalley to read. Loving this so far.

I am also reading Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristen Harper.

I have just this morning finished listening to Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. Watch for my review tomorrow.

Not sure what I am going to listen to next, but I have lots of wonderful suggestions from Carla to follow up on. Check out her blog https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com , she is the queen of audiobooks!

This week I am planning on reading The Open House by Sam Carrington

Everyone’s welcome. But not everyone leaves…

Nick and Amber Miller are splitting up and selling their Devon family home. But despite the desirable location, the house isn’t moving. Not a single viewing so far.

When their estate agent suggests an open house event, Amber agrees, even as she worries about their gossiping neighbours attending and snooping around their home.

But Amber has more to worry about than nosy neighbours. Because thirteen people enter her house that afternoon, and only twelve leave.

And I would like to start Peace by Garry Disher, which is my idea of a Christmas read. 😉

Constable Paul Hirschhausen runs a one-cop station in the dry farming country south of the Flinders Ranges. He’s still new in town but the community work-welfare checks and working bees-is starting to pay off. Now Christmas is here and, apart from a grass fire, two boys stealing a ute and Brenda Flann entering the front bar of the pub without exiting her car, Hirsch’s life has been peaceful.

Until he’s called to a strange, vicious incident in Kitchener Street. And Sydney police ask him to look in on a family living outside town on a forgotten back road.

Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a season of goodwill at all.

I have only two new ARCs from Netgalley this week:

An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

Oh! Isn’t that a beautiful cup and saucer set!

And The Day My Husband Left by Amy Miller

That’s my lot for today. I shall try to post more regularly this week, which means taking better care of myself. The problem is that I am so used to doing certain things at work that I just do them automatically without thinking, and then pay the price later. I guess I will learn with time!

Stay safe everyone!

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

EXCERPT: It didn’t matter that this was where his last real lover had died.

It was their place now.

Theirs

She saw a tartan blanket, a thermos of tea; triangular sandwiches packed in opaque Tupperware, all plucked from a wicker hamper. She’d visualized him, leaning against the old beech tree, both arms around her like lengths of tarred rope, telling her the names of the plants and plucking stray twigs and silvery catkins from her hair. She saw herself barefoot; dirty-kneed in a ragamuffin dress, a tartan shawl pinned with a sprig of holly. Fantasy, of course, but one of her best…

‘Sweet chestnut,’ he’d said, slapping a random tree trunk. ‘This one’s ash. The brambles have bound their branches. They’re holding hands, look. And up there; that bracket of mushrooms – they can cure sore throats. Taste OK too. Nice in a stir-fry. They tend to explode if you let the fat get too hot, but I like a meal that offers an element of danger . . . ‘

Come back, Liz. Liz! Oh for God’s sake . . . Betsy!’

The words come from within her: a chorus of voices, each gasping as if running out of air. She registers pain, suddenly. Pain and loss and fear.

ABOUT ‘SUSPICIOUS MINDS’: Liz Zahavi is desperate. Desperate for her controlling partner, Jay, to stay with her, to actually love her. Desperate to be well again, after a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Desperate to be understood.

Private therapy seems like the answer to her prayers, but Liz doesn’t even make it to her first appointment. Lost in a maze of country roads, she crashes her car, only to be rescued by a brooding local farmer . . . who just keeps on rescuing her. Attractive and intense, Jude is a dream, and Liz doesn’t want to wake up.

But four years ago, Jude’s perfect, pretty wife died alone in the woods near their house. And as Jude’s past boils into the present, threatening to destroy their new happiness, Liz begins to wonder what exactly her new man is capable of . . . and how far he’s willing to go.

MY THOUGHTS: David Mark’s writing style is both raw and brutal, and almost poetic. He certainly has a way with words and an innate ability to draw the reader into the scene he has created. His characters are larger than life – they seem to explode from the page and wedge themselves firmly into the reader’s mind.

Liz Zahavi, legally Elizabeth, but Betsy in her heart, has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. It is characterized by emotional instability, disturbed patterns of thinking, impulsive behaviour and the tendency to form intense but unstable relationships. Her partner, Jay, is controlling, domineering, almost OCD. Liz, not Betsy, thinks that if she ran past him in flames, his major concern would be that the curtains didn’t catch alight. He threatens her, often, telling her that no one else would put up with her,that she cannot survive without him. He erodes her confidence, stamps out any small spark of independence. But she has a good relationship with his young daughter Anya, who sees her as a free spirit, a welcome antidote to her rigid, work obsessed parents. Her family is a nightmare. Her mother was abusive. Her sister thinks she is lucky to have Jay to look after her.

Lost and alone she meets Jude, who rescues her from an encounter with Campion, local landowner, bully and worse. I thought of Hitler. And then he just keeps on rescuing her, dismissing her concerns about her BPD, saying that he loves the fire in her, that it should never be dampened or extinguished. And Betsy (not Liz, though Liz will come to visit from time to time) senses something timeless in Jude. He is nurturing and gentle, but there is a sense of darkness and violence lurking beneath.

Suspicious Minds is a book that crosses a lot of boundaries. There is a fair bit of darkness and violence in this story. But it is not gratuitous. It fits. It is a story of greed and dominance, of people who use violence and threats as a means to an end, interwoven with a beautiful story of two lost people finding themselves and each other. It is also tempered with a dry wit that had me snorting with laughter at times. I was impressed and will be seeking out other books this author has written.

Oh, and just for the record, the cover doesn’t do this book justice.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#SuspiciousMinds #NetGalley

‘She finds herself furious that she smell of freshly baked scones cannot be trapped in an aerosol and sold as a room deodoriser.’

‘Don’t overthink it. Don’t analyse it to death. Don’t deconstruct it, because it might not fit back together again.’

‘Long before social media, the world was full of wankers.’

THE AUTHOR: David Mark spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post—walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels. He lives in Yorkshire, England.

DISCLOSURE Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Suspicious Minds 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 . . .

Welcome from a wet and windy New Zealand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only two ARCs this week from Netgalley:

Single Mother by Samantha Hayes

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

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

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

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

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