Sandy’s June 2022 Reading Roundup

Here we are, halfway through the year.

My June reading was severely impacted by my return to work. Two of the books I had scheduled to read in June had their publishing dates moved to August so I rescheduled those (26 – 2 = 24) plus I received one late ARC, which brought the total up to 25. I have only read 16 of my 25 reads for review, though I did manage to sneak in two titles from my backlist and two reads purely for pleasure. So my read for review success rate dropped from the dismal 69% in May to an even more dismal 64% for June.

I read one debut novel in June, which was Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

plus I read five books by authors who were new to me. They were

The Secret World of Connie Starr by Robbi Neal

The Beach Babes by Judith Keim

The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain

Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne Maclean

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber

My Netgalley feedback rate is hanging in there at 69%, though I don’t quite know how 🤷‍♀️ Since I have been back at work I have been requesting more books that I am reading. I find it unwinds me from the stresses of the day.🤦‍♀️

The books that I didn’t get around to reading were:

The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark

Backstory by William L. Myers

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson

Riverbend Reunion by Carolyn Brown

First Victim by Debbie Babitt

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney

The Lost Children by Michael Wood (a publisher’s widget) which I will be starting tonight

The Girl Who Left by Jenny Blackhurst

I read four ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ books in June. They were – in no particular order:

The Island by Adrian McKinty

Blind Justice by David Mark

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber

I have 18 reads for review scheduled for July and one blog tour to participate in. Hopefully I should be able to just about achieve my goal for the month.

Have you read any of the books I bypassed in June? Let me know.

Happy reading for July!

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Welcome to my weekly update post, where I share what I’m currently reading, what my reading choices are for the coming week, and what new ARCs I have received.

Earlier this week I received a paperback copy of Out of Her Depth from the author Lizzy Barber. I was so excited to receive a real book in the post that I started it immediately I opened the parcel. Thank you Lizzy for sending this all the way from England. I am loving this and eager to know what Sebastian has done, or is supposed to have done, and just why he thinks Rachel holds the key to proving his innocence.

For headstrong Rachel, it is the chance of a lifetime: a summer job in the Tuscan hills, receiving room and board in exchange for her services at the luxurious Villa Medici hotel. It’s not long before she finds herself drawn into a cosmopolitan crowd of friends for whom money is no object, and allegiances can change with the toss of a coin.

When she asks her new friend Diana to help her win the affections of the handsome and charming Sebastian, she thinks she might finally have a chance to become part of their world, but when she discovers that Diana may have intentions of her own, she begins to learn the real cost of friendship. And when Sebastian begins to focus on the sweet and innocent Valentina, Rachel discovers there may be an even higher price to pay.

The suffocating heat, the blinding wealth, the beautiful people: it soon becomes too much, and Rachel finds herself not just out of her depth, but drowning in lies . . .

I am also reading The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson

And almost finished my read/listen of Fatal Witness – Detective Erika Foster #7 – by Robert Bryndza.

This coming week I have the following reads for review:

His Other Wife by Nicole Trope

She has my husband. She has my child. She has my life.

I never thought I would end up here. Alone, in a cold one-bedroom apartment, only seeing my precious daughter once a week.

Another woman is living the life that was once mine. I wish I was still married to my ex-husband, the love of my life. I dream of tucking my five-year-old child into her ballerina bed sheets every night. I miss living in a beautiful house, the perfect family home, with a winding staircase and a sprawling garden.

I’d do anything to be with my family again. To start over and prove to them that I’ve changed, that I won’t lose control like before.

But when I get my second chance, the vicious messages come. The noises at night. The feeling of being watched. It’s happening all over again. I know I’m not going mad, but no one will believe me. I don’t know if I even believe myself.

All I wanted was my life back. But now my life is under threat – and my darling little girl is in danger…

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara

Scarlett’s aunt lived – and was brutally murdered – in the apartment upstairs. But Scarlett is determined that life should return to some kind of normal, even if that means living with just a ceiling between her and the scene of such a devastating crime. After all, this is her home. She’s safe here. Isn’t she?

Dee is busy balancing her job as a funeral director with organizing an event to mark the disappearance of her best friend, ten years ago. So she’s got enough on her plate without worrying about the threatening messages that are appearing on her company’s Facebook page.

When Scarlett approaches Dee about planning her aunt’s funeral, an unexpected link between them emerges. Together, the two women could uncover secrets that have long been buried. Even while someone wants to stop them digging . . .

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.

Ronnie’s going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can’t be gone, Ronnie won’t believe it.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it, she has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.

Lewis can believe it too. But he can’t reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.

Five days later, Esther’s buried body is discovered.

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was wrongfully convicted of plotting to murder her husband.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals: repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, clear her name, and bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her? Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life… 

And Girl Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

A small town hides a big secret…

Who killed Emily Vaughn?

A girl with a secret…

Longbill Beach, 1982. Emily Vaughn gets ready for the prom. For an athlete, who is smart, pretty and well-liked, this night that should be the highlight of her high school career. But Emily has a secret. And by the end of the evening, that secret will be silenced forever.

An unsolved murder…

Forty years later, Emily’s murder remains a mystery. Her tight-knit group of friends closed ranks; her respected, wealthy family retreated inwards; the small town moved on from her grisly attack. But all that’s about to change.

One final chance to uncover a killer…

US Marshal Andrea Oliver arrives in Longbill Beach on her first assignment: to protect a judge receiving death threats. But, in reality, Andrea is there to find justice for Emily. The killer is still out there – and Andrea must discover the truth before she gets silenced, too…

This week I have six new digital ARCs from Netgalley and my paperback copy of Out of Her Depth written and gifted to me by Lizzy Barber, who also very kindly signed it.❤ The new ARCs are:

So Long Chester Wheeler by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

The Night Watch by Neil Lancaster

Light Through the Vines by Fiona Valpy

The Season of Dreams by Fiona Valpy

and The Recipe for Hope, also by Fiona Valpy. These three titles form The Escape to France collection.

My final title is All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien, and was a widget sent to me by publishers Harlequin Australia. Isn’t the cover rather spectacular!

It’s been a grey sort of day after a lovely sunny start, but at least it hasn’t rained since the very early hours of the morning, and it wasn’t foggy. I think that this is the first day in over three weeks that it hasn’t rained.

I got out into the garden for a short time this morning and raked leaves for composting and got rid of all the dead tomato vines. We’re meant to have a few more days of fine weather and even some sun, so hopefully it will dry out enough for me to mow the lawns which are looking decidedly ragged. I was going to bake a banana loaf, but it’s almost time for the roast pork to go in the oven, so that will have to wait for another day.

I spent some time with Luke after school on Tuesday. He loves doing jigsaws and read me a bedtime story! I enjoyed that.

I hope that you have all had a wonderful week, and I wish you another to come. Happy reading all!

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It seems like an awfully long time since I last did this post,but in reality it was three Sundays ago. I had a wonderful time with Kyle while he was home. Some days we just sat around and talked, some we visited old haunts like Mokau Beach where we used to go every Christmas holidays when he was small, and other days he went and visited his friends. He’s planning on coming home again somewhere around Christmas. And we are planning to go visit him next winter. Luke was very excited to meet his Uncle Kyle again and they spent hours building Lego together. We’ve had Luke stay two nights this week as his school had a teacher only day Friday. We took him home Saturday morning and watched him play soccer before we came back home. He really enjoyed the ducks and ducklings that seem to have moved into the neighbourhood and drew pictures of them which are now on the fridge doors. As is usual when Luke stays, we read and reread many of his books, and I did very little reading for myself.

Currently I have reading The Beach Babes by Judith Keim, A Seashell Cottage Book.

Although I am enjoying the storyline, I’m finding the dialogue stilted and formal. It’s a quick, enjoyable read though.

I have just started a backlist title from February, The Wedding Murders by Sarah Linley. So far, so good.

And I am listening to The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain. Again I have only just started this, but so far, so good.

This week I have five books to read for review. They are:

Blind Justice by David Mark, #10 in the DS McAvoy series

The call comes in before DS Aector McAvoy has had time for breakfast. The news is bad: A body. Found in the woods out at Brantingham.

The reality is even worse.

The young man’s mutilated corpse lies tangled in the roots of a newly fallen tree, two silver Roman coins nailed through his sightless eyes. Who would torture their victim in such a brutal manner – and why?

DS McAvoy makes the victim a promise: I will find answers. You will know justice. But justice always comes at a cost, and this time it may be McAvoy’s own family who pay the price.

Backstory by William L. Myers Jr. I haven’t previously read this author.

In the aftermath of his wife’s apparent suicide, Jackson Robert Hunter wakes up outside a bar with a badly battered head and no memory. Revelations convince Jackson that his wife’s death wasn’t a suicide, but a murder, and he sets out to find the killer.

While hunting the villain and struggling with his amnesia, Jackson discovers that his own backstory is a dark one, littered with broken hearts and dead bodies: a wife he betrayed; a lover he abandoned; a squad of crooked cops he double-crossed; and a city that lives in fear of his name.

Jackson’s odyssey takes him from a small town in Kansas to Philadelphia, then back cross-country to Las Vegas. Along the way he encounters a sister he didn’t know he had, a niece he failed to save, and a mentor ready to lead Jackson down the darkest of paths.

Finally, at the end of his journey, Jackson discovers that it’s not another man he’s been running to, or from, but his own damning deeds, and the paradoxical redemption they might bring.

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson. This appears to be a debut novel.

Aspiring filmmaker June Masterson has high hopes for her first documentary, the true story of the disappearance of famed mystery author Greer Larkin. June learned about the vanishing at age fourteen, locked down on her family’s isolated commune. Now, the deeper she digs into the project, the darker the story gets.

Everyone has a theory. Greer’s mother, Blanche, and her best friend, Rachel, believe that Greer’s fiancé, Jonathan, is the culprit. Greer’s agent is convinced that Greer committed suicide after a debilitating bout of writer’s block. And Jonathan claims it was either Greer’s controlling mother or Rachel, whose attachment to Greer went way beyond friendship.

In desperation, Rachel gives June a suitcase full of Greer’s most personal writings in hopes of finding proof against Jonathan. Then Rachel turns up dead. As June pores over Greer’s writings, she makes a devastating discovery that could finally reveal the truth about the author’s fate. But now, June finds herself in the sights of a killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep their darkest secret. 

Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton, whose writing I love.

Elise King is a successful and ambitious detective–or she was before a medical leave left her unsure if she’d ever return to work. She now spends most days watching the growing tensions in her small seaside town of Ebbing–the weekenders renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes.

Elise can only guess what really happens behind closed doors. But Dee Eastwood, her house cleaner, often knows. She’s an invisible presence in many of the houses in town, but she sees and hears everything.

The conflicts boil over when a newcomer wants to put the town on the map with a giant music festival, and two teenagers overdose on drugs. When a man disappears the first night of the festival, Elise is drawn back into her detective work and starts digging for answers. Ebbing is a small town, but it’s full of secrets and hidden connections that run deeper and darker than Elise could have ever imagined. 

And The Gin Sisters Promise by Faith Hogan, an Irish author I have read and enjoyed previously.

When Georgie, Iris and Nola’s mother died and their father disappeared into his grief, the sisters made a pact: they would always be there for one another, no matter what.

Now, decades later, they haven’t spoken for years and can barely stand to be in the same room. As his health declines, their father comes up with a plan to bring them back to one another. In his will, he states that before they can claim their inheritance, they must spend six months living together in their childhood home in the village of Ballycove, Ireland, and try to repair their broken relationships.

As the months progress, old resentments boil over, new secrets threaten to come out and each sister must decide what matters more: their pride, or their family. Can they overcome their past and find a way to love each other once more?

And now to new ARCs I’ve received since I last posted. I’m guessing that there’s going to be quite a few!

The Dark Room by Lisa Gray

The Beach Babes by Judith Keim, which I am currently reading.

Guilt Trip by Ed James, DS Vickie Dodds #5

Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship by Willie Nelson with David Ritz

After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl

The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please, a new author to me.

The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson

The Will by Rebecca Reid, another new author to me.

Everything in Between by Valerie G. Miller, a collection of short stories on love, loss and family by another new to me author.

The Girl Who Left by Jenny Blackhurst, yet another new author to me.

And one audiobook – The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder, narrated by Dan Bittner and Khristine Hvam

So twelve books over three weeks, I haven’t gone overboard averaging four books a week. I did try to drop in occasionally to see what everyone was doing.

Have a great week of reading. ❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Good afternoon from a damp and drizzly New Zealand. My garden and all the farmers will be loving this weather. It’s cool, but not cold and the rain hasn’t been so heavy that it will run off the baked hard ground instead of sinking into it. And I believe that we’ve been forecast rain for the week. That’ll make the weeds grow!

Less than a week now until Kyle arrives home. I pick him up from the airport on Friday. I’m excited and counting down!

I have just finished The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain. It was an overnight read for me. I couldn’t put it down. Watch for my review.

I am also reading Before the Storm by Di Morrissey. This is a title from my backlist and I am really enjoying it. It’s been far too long since I last read anything by this author.

and I am listening to The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon. Etti is a hoot! Who wouldn’t love her?

I have five books to read for review in the coming week, but I doubt I will get through them all because of work commitments and Kyle coming home. Rest assured, I will do my best!

Long Lost Girl by Jill Childs

The little girl you lost is back… but who is she really?

When three-year-old Sara disappeared from their lives, it tore the Turner family apart. Years later, they are still startling at every knock, convinced it is Sara at the door. But the only trace of the cherished little girl is a fading photo in the hall, a single white knitted baby shoe tucked behind the frame.

Then, one day, as they pick at sandwiches in a crowded local café, a beautiful girl approaches, claiming to be Sara. With her wide green eyes and soft, straight hair, could she really be their long-lost girl? But where has she been all this time, and what happened to stop her from coming home?

Soon, Sara is turning up for Sunday lunch, and then moving her things into the little bedroom upstairs. But as Sara makes herself at home, not everyone is happy that she’s back in their lives once more. Long-held secrets are threatening to surface, and someone in this tight-knit family doesn’t want them to be told…

Gone But Still Here by Jennifer Dance

Coming to terms with advancing dementia, Mary has no choice other than to move into her daughter’s home. Her daughter, Kayla, caught between her cognitively impaired mother and her belligerent teenage son, soon finds caregiving is more challenging than she imagined. Sage, the family’s golden retriever, offers comfort and unconditional love, but she has her own problems, especially when it comes to dealing with Mary’s cat.

Throughout it all, Mary struggles to complete her final book — a memoir, the untold story of the love of her life, who died more than forty years earlier. Her confused and tangled tales span Trinidad, England, and Canada, revealing the secrets of a tragic interracial love story in the 1960s and ’70s. But with her writing skills slipping away, it’s a race against time.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The moment she laid eyes on Heather Wisher, Tully knew this woman was going to destroy their lives.

Tully and Rachel are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact that Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is in a care facility with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win Tully and Rachel over – particularly while carrying the shameful secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, her soon-to-be stepdaughters have secrets of their own.

The announcement of Stephen and Heather’s engagement threatens to set off a family implosion, with old wounds and dark secrets finally being forced to the surface.

A garage full of stolen goods. An old hot-water bottle, stuffed with cash. A blood-soaked wedding. And that’s only the beginning… 

Good Neighbours by Mary Grand

was meant to be a safe place to start again…

In need of an escape from her failing marriage, Nia agrees to house-sit her aunt’s cottage on the Isle of Wight. She feels sure the cosy close in a quaint harbour town will be a safe place to hide and figure out what to do next.

But things are not all as they seem in the close, and the neighbours who welcome her with open arms, are keeping secrets. When Nia finds the body of one of her new friends lying on the beach, she feels sickeningly sure that the killer is dangerously near to home.

Who killed her friend and why did she have to die? And if Nia discovers the answers she’s looking for, is she next on their hit list? Good neighbours may become good friends, but they can also make deadly enemies…

And I have the audiobook of The Island written by Adrian McKinty and narrated by Mela Lee

After moving from a small country town to Seattle, Heather Baxter marries Tom, a widowed doctor with a young son and teenage daughter. A working vacation overseas seems like the perfect way to bring the new family together, but once they’re deep in the Australian outback, the jet-lagged and exhausted kids are so over their new mom.

When they discover remote Dutch Island, off-limits to outside visitors, the family talks their way onto the ferry, taking a chance on an adventure far from the reach of iPhones and Instagram.

But as soon as they set foot on the island, which is run by a tightly knit clan of locals, everything feels wrong. Then a shocking accident propels the Baxters from an unsettling situation into an absolute nightmare.

When Heather and the kids are separated from Tom, they are forced to escape alone, seconds ahead of their pursuers.

Now it’s up to Heather to save herself and the kids, even though they don’t trust her, the harsh bushland is filled with danger, and the locals want her dead.

Heather has been underestimated her entire life, but she knows that only she can bring her family home again and become the mother the children desperately need, even if it means doing the unthinkable to keep them all alive.

I overextended myself yet again. The Netgalley fairies dropped six new ARCs onto my Kindle . . .

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza

His Other Wife by Nicole Trope

The Party Guest by Amanda Robson

The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell

The Lost Children by Michael Wood

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen-Marie Wiseman

Do we have any books in common this week?

Have a great week. I am planning on taking a sabbatical while Kyle is home so once we get to Friday (New Zealand time) I will be offline until June.

Happy reading!

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good afternoon all. Currently I am reading The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan. This is very different to her Cormac Reilly series, but is definitely gripping.

I am also reading Beneath Cruel Waters by Jon Bassoff.

and am almost finished listening to The Bletchley Women by Patricia Adrian. Although it’s not what I was expecting, I am enjoying it.

I’ve had a good reading week and will finish all four books I had scheduled either tonight or early tomorrow, although I am again a bit behind with writing reviews.

This week I am reading The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Six Graves by Angela Marsons

It’s a typical teenage bedroom with posters covering the walls and clothes littering the floor. But the girl lying on her bed, wearing a delicate chain around her neck, is lifeless. A circle of red stains her white vest top and Kim feels a sharp stab of sadness. How had the girl’s mother looked down at her sleeping child and pulled the trigger?

When Detective Kim Stone rushes to the scene of a house fire, she’s shocked to discover it’s claimed the lives of two teenage children and their parents. But this tragedy is not quite as it seems. Each body is marked by a gunshot wound and the mother, Helen Daynes, is holding the gun.

The case sparks painful childhood memories for Kim who suffered at the hands of her own abusive mother. As she begins to untangle the dark web of secrets within the Daynes family, Kim and her team discover Helen had a history of clinical depression. But could it have driven her to murder her loved ones?

Then Kim uncovers a tiny, vital clue in Helen’s bedroom that throws the investigation wide open. Could someone else have killed the Daynes family?

With the case only just underway, a deadly threat is made to Kim’s own life. Years ago, she rescued two little girls from the clutches of a dangerous psychopath who has just escaped prison and is coming for her.

A witness protection officer glued to her side, Kim must bite back her fear, as she keeps digging into the Daynes’s background and soon hits upon a shocking secret from Helen’s past that could crack the case. With the remaining family members in danger, Kim is under pressure like never before.

The monster circling Kim raises the stakes when he threatens the life of another innocent victim. He’s leading Kim straight to him. Forced to go against direct instructions from her superiors, will that one fateful decision cost her more than her job?

Blood Sugar by Sacha Rothchild

“I could just kill you right now!” It’s something we’ve all thought at one time or another. But Ruby has actually acted on it. Three times, to be exact.

Though she may be a murderer, Ruby is not a sociopath. She is an animal-loving therapist with a thriving practice. She’s felt empathy and sympathy. She’s had long-lasting friendships and relationships, and has a husband, Jason, whom she adores. But the homicide detectives at Miami Beach PD are not convinced of her happy marriage. When we meet Ruby, she is in a police interrogation room, being accused of Jason’s murder. Which, ironically, is one murder that she did not commit, though her vicious mother-in-law and a scandal-obsessed public believe differently. As she undergoes questioning, Ruby’s mind races back to all the details of her life that led her to this exact moment, and to the three dead bodies in her wake. Because though she may not have killed her husband, Ruby certainly isn’t innocent.

And The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

A small town. A frozen lake. Three missing women. One body.

When young London professional Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his irresponsible sister accidentally drowned. He travels to the wealthy winter resort where Vicky worked as a tour-guide and meets Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge. Agatha is a no-nonsense single mother of three who already thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye.

As the two form an unlikely alliance, Alex also begins to suspect the small town where his sister lived and died is harbouring secrets. It’s not long before he learns that three other women have gone missing from the area in the past and that his sister may have left him a message.

On the surface, Koppe, Lapland is a winter wonderland. But in this remote, frozen place, death seems only ever a heartbeat away. 

I will be listening to After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen

Maggie Dolan finds herself at forty-five at a crossroads in her life. Once a high-level executive, she’s chosen to be a stay-at-home mom for the last seventeen years. But now with her daughter, Gia, soon leaving for college, and her husband, disconnected and with secrets he hasn’t shared, Maggie decides it’s time to figure out what she wants for the rest of her life. As she begins her journey, she has to deal with a narcissistic mother, a brother who doesn’t like her and most damaging of all, the news that her father, her rock, has medical issues that may take him from her. Overwhelmed by all these issues, she’s led in a direction that could destroy what she’s built and make her question the choices she’s made. She’s torn between the life she’s always known and something more exciting that she never expected.

Five new ARCs this week: An Island Summer by Jenny Hale

The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C. McPhail

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

and The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney

The fire is blazing and a roast of lamb is cooking in the oven. We are forecast rain tomorrow. Will it arrive? The clouds look promising, but we’ve been here before . . . To all my friends in Queensland please stay safe. It looks like you have another week of heavy rain on the way. Keep calm and read on.

❤📚

The Beach House by Beverley Jones (no relation, unfortunately)

EXCERPT: Without warning, a ticking fills the afternoon, a countdown reverberating around the winter-light kitchen in segments sharp and clear. As it divides the bursts of my breath, I know I should bolt, but there’s a delay between my brain and my anchored feet. It’s only when the sun slants in through the picture window, filling it with the glowing weight of the afternoon ocean at my back, that I see the figure on the floor.

It’s lying in a classic dead-body pose, invisible crime scene tape around the one bent leg, one arm out as if he’s sleeping on his stomach. But no one could nod off with that much blood pooling around their head, so much blacker than the red of the ribbon on the rope, a shiny, jet slick the exact shade the edges of my vision is turning. My grocery bag escapes disloyally to the floor, leaving me exposed, as I see by my left foot the blunt, metal baton Eli calls ‘the pewter penis’, my name etched on the plaque at its base, smeared with blood.

ABOUT ‘THE BEACH HOUSE’: When Grace Jensen returns to her home in the ocean-front town of Lookout Beach one day, she finds a body in a pool of blood and a menacing gift left for her: a knife, a coil of rope and handcuffs.

The community of Lookout Beach are shocked by such a brutal intrusion in their safe, close-knit community – particularly to a family as successful and well-liked as the Jensens – and a police investigation begins to find the trespasser.

But Grace knows who’s after her. She might have changed her name and moved across the world, deciding to hide on the Oregon coast, but she’s been waiting seventeen years for what happened in the small Welsh town where she grew up to catch-up with her.

Grace might seem like the model neighbour and mother, but nobody in Lookout Beach – not even her devoted husband Elias – knows the real her. Or how much blood is on her hands.

MY THOUGHTS: The Beach House is full of tension. It’s a short, fast paced read with an intriguing main character. Grace used to be Laura. She has moved halfway around the world and reinvented herself, but Laura is still very much with her. One of the things that I most enjoyed was the way nice Grace would be saying/doing something in keeping with her new life, and wild Laura will be whispering subversively in her mind. But that’s the psychiatric nurse coming out in me.

Grace is certain that it is her past catching up with her when a body is found on her kitchen floor. Determined to brazen it out she puts her Grace face on for the world, but listens carefully to Laura.

There are more secrets in this neighbourhood than the one Grace hides, and these are slowly revealed as the police investigation proceeds. But, the big question is, can Grace keep her past secret and just how far is she prepared to go to do it?

⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheBeachHouse #NetGalley

I: @bevjoneswriting @littlebrown

T: @bevjoneswriting @Little BrownUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: I’m a former journalist who worked for The Western Mail newspaper and BBC Wales Today in Cardiff before becoming a press officer for the police.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Little, Brown Book Group UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Beach House by Beverley Jones 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

Watching what I’m reading…

Tomorrow, Monday 25 April, is a national day of remembrance observed in both Australia and New Zealand. Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War (1914–1918). Now it commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “acknowledges the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”. My father served in the peace-keeping J-Force in Hiroshima. He loved his time in Japan and always wanted to return.

Autumn is definitely making its presence felt now. Our temperatures are down in single digits overnight and there is a very cool and gusty south-westerly blowing today. The trees are beginning to change colour and the grass growth has slowed down significantly. We’ve collected firewood this weekend and trimmed all the hedges.

Luke has been with us during the week and we took him home this morning. He starts school when it goes back in May. He seems to have grown up all of a sudden.

currently I am reading The Widow’s Husband by Lesley Sanderson

Forgotten by Nicole Trope, a title from my backlist.

and listening to One of Us is Dead by Geneva Rose

This week I have, again, overcommitted myself. My reads for review due are: In Bloom, a spring themed anthology by Fern Michaels, Carolyn Brown and Lori Foster

AMAZING GRACIE * Fern Michaels

After years spent traveling the world as a flight attendant, Gracie Walden is ready to stay a little closer to her roots, starting with two weeks at home in Amarillo, Texas. But there’s unexpected turbulence between her mother, Ella, and her older sister, Hope—and it will lead to a revelation that changes Gracie’s life in amazing ways . . .

THE MOTHER’S DAY CROWN * Carolyn Brown

Monica Allen still hasn’t forgiven Tyler Magee for breaking her heart when they were teenagers. Ten years on, they’re back in Luella, Texas, visiting their respective grandmothers. and there’s just a white picket fence and a whole lot of awkwardness between them. Will two weeks be long enough for Monica to learn to stop holding a grudge—and hold on to love?

MEANT TO BE * Lori Foster

When Cory Creed was just a little girl, she knew she’d grow up to marry Austin Winston—and she made the mistake of telling him so. Tired of watching him avoid her ever since, Cory has decided it’s time to leave Visitation, North Carolina, and Austin, behind. But Austin has finally realized what Cory was once so sure of, and now it’s his turn to prove they belong together . . . with a little help from their mothers.

No Less the Devil by Stuart MacBride

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’

It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer to catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Linda has lived in a quiet neighborhood since fleeing the dark events of her childhood in Wales. Now she sits in her kitchen, wondering if this is all there is: pushing the vacuum around and cooking fish sticks for dinner, a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle she sees in the glossy magazines coming through the mail slot addressed to the previous occupant, Rebecca.

Linda’s husband Terry isn’t perfect—he picks his teeth, tracks dirt through the house, and spends most of his time in front of the TV. But that seems fairly standard—until he starts keeping odd hours at work, at around the same time young women in the town start to go missing.

If only Linda could track down and befriend Rebecca, maybe some of that enviable lifestyle would rub off on her and she wouldn’t have to worry about what Terry is up to. But the grass isn’t always greener and you can’t change who you really are. And some secrets can’t stay buried forever… 

A Body on the Beach (Kate Palmer #5) by Dee MacDonald

it’s

Tinworthy village’s summer fete: a brass band, cream teas, gentle gossip… and a body on the beach? The party’s just getting started for super sleuth Kate Palmer!

Kate Palmer thought spending the day at Tinworthy’s annual summer party would involve sea air, sunshine and Cornish cream cake – how very wrong she was! When Kate goes for a cliff-top walk she is shocked to spot the body of Sienna Stone – Cornwall’s biggest gossip – on the sandy beach below.

Rumours swirl around the close-knit community and all eyes are on Kate. Half the village saw her arguing with Sienna at the party earlier that day. It was the usual bickering between neighbours, but when Kate finds herself in the frame can she – and her new husband Woody Forrest – solve the puzzling death and clear her name?

There’s a long list of people who might have wanted to push Sienna – her long-suffering husband Irvin, her jealous younger sister Sally and Timmy Thomson, the man who idolised her, not to mention all the villagers who felt the sharp end of her tongue. Finding out the truth isn’t going to be easy…

Just as Kate thinks she’s getting closer to an answer, an unexpected afternoon visitor shares some curious information over tea and scones that sets her on an entirely different path. And soon she starts to wonder if she might be in real danger too…

Can Kate solve the curious case before the murderer declares the party over? Or have her days of sleuthing come to an end?

The Patient by Jane Shemitt

When Rachel meets Luc, the attraction is instant.
But she is a doctor, and he is her patient.
She gives him the drugs he needs – but in doing so, risks everything.
And when a secret is exposed, they’re both in the firing line.
Not all patients are telling the truth.

The Removal Man by R.J. Parker

Rose is moving. For her and her son, Noah, this is going to be a fresh start.

She’s almost finished packing but Noah is determined to spend one last night camping out in the garden like he used to. Rose agrees as long as he wraps up warm inside their small tent.

Four hours later she’s woken by a frantic banging on the window.

It’s Noah.

There’s someone in the garden.

That’s when Rose picks up the kitchen knife. 

And the audios Every Little Secret by Sarah Clarke

From the outside, it seems Grace has it all. Only she knows about the cracks in her picture-perfect life… and the huge secret behind them. After all, who can she trust?

Her brother Josh is thousands of miles away, and he and Grace have never been close – he was always their parents’ favourite.

Her best friend Coco walked away from her years ago, their friendship irreparably fractured by the choices they’ve made.

And her husband Marcus seems like a different man lately. Grace can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something.

But when her seven-year-old daughter makes a troubling accusation, Grace must choose between protecting her child and protecting her secret… before she loses everything. 

The Bletchley Women written by Patricia Adrian, narrated by Imogen Wilde and Antonia Whillans

In a different world, Evie Milton would have accepted her fate, married an aristocrat, and become the doyenne of one of England’s finest estates, just like her mother.

In a different world, Rose Wiley would have married her fiancé, David, established a modest homestead, and brought up a brood of babies, just like her mother.

But this isn’t a different world and these women are not their mothers. Rose dreams of a life filled with more than family and duty to her husband – a life of purpose – and Evie dreams of a life far away from her rarefied existence. Now, as they perform vital work at Bletchley Park decoding intercepted Luftwaffe messages, their role in turning the tide of war in the Allies favour shows Evie and Rose they don’t have to settle for the life once laid out before them. 

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim (Yorkshire Escape #2) written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon

Ettie is trying to figure out her future.

Dominic’s just trying to forget his past.

But with the help of some unlikely friends, young and old, a secret lake hidden in the grounds of a beautiful estate and a scruffy dog, a new community is formed – right when they all need each other the most.

I received eight new ARCs for review this week. They are: The Murder Book by Mark Billingham

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd

A Murder of Crows by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

A Wedding at Sandy Cove by Bella Osborne

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Good Neighbours by Mary Grand

Lying Beside You by Michael Robotham

and the audio ARC of The Island written by Adrian McKinty and narrated by Mela Lee

First Born by Will Dean

EXCERPT: Next to my phone is a photo of them both. My parents: Paul and Elizabeth Raven. Good people. Caring and straightforward and down-to-earth. Honest, mostly. Mum is, at least. Next to that is a photo of me, Molly Raven, and my monozygotic twin, Katie, or as I call her, KT. I don’t use the term ‘identical twin’ because it’s a blatant lie. A travesty. Our base DNA is identical, sure, but that’s about all that is.

We were once one person.

We are not any more.

ABOUT ‘FIRST BORN’: Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.

MY THOUGHTS: Another single sitting read that I just couldn’t put down! Will Dean sure knows how to tick all my boxes, push all my buttons.

I became totally caught up in Molly’s world. It’s a strange world. Molly says that she got all of the introvert genes and Katie all the extrovert genes when their egg divided. Not only is she an introvert, she’s anxious. Incredibly anxious. In fact, if you suffer from anxiety, this is probably not the book for you. I don’t suffer from anxiety, but I started becoming anxious just reading the things she is anxious about! Inside Molly’s head is not a comfortable place to be. She’s fragile, anxious, delusional, and paranoid.

First Born, Katie was born first three minutes before Molly, starts slowly. We are immersed in Molly’s world as she struggles to come to terms with her sister’s death and tries to help her sweet but ineffectual parents cope with their loss. And once Katie’s death is confirmed as murder she sets herself the task of finding the killer. Is it the landlady’s creepy basement dwelling son? Is it Katie’s unfaithful student boyfriend? Is it the predatorial married professor? Is it Katie’s possessive and obsessive friend Violet? Or the man who flies Katie all over the world in his private jet? There’s no shortage of suspects. Molly thought she knew everything about Katie, but she’s quickly discovering that she’s wrong.

The first twist is slipped in almost unobtrusively. I had to go back and read it again, twice, to make sure that my eyes hadn’t deceived me. After that, it’s full steam ahead, hold onto your hat, pick your jaw up from the floor and be prepared to be twisted around like a pretzel.

First Born is an a read full of surprises, totally unpredictable, totally engrossing. Exhilarating.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#FirstBorn #NetGalley

I: @willrdean @hodderbooks

T: @ willrdean @HodderBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #murdermystery #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of First Born by Will Dean 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

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

EXCERPT: Fear, a slippery coil of it, tightened in Julianne’s stomach. She forced herself to look upwards.

The Holdens had bought the original art deco light fitting from a specialist dealer when the hotel had closed down a couple of years ago. With dozens of antique icicle droplets, it had cost tens of thousands of pounds.

Piper was always complaining that the bottom tier of the chandelier hung too low, especially as she was so tall. But Julianne wasn’t thinking about that now.

All she could see was the fine mist of blood that coated the delicate pendalogues.

ABOUT ‘INTO THE DARK’: THE PLACE: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea.

THE CRIME: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace.

THE DETECTIVE: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.

One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:

Make
Them
Stop.

What happens next?

MY THOUGHTS: Buckle up your seat belt and hold on tight, for here the evil hides within plain sight.

Think the Marie Celeste in a suburban home. The coffee’s hot, the toast is made, the phones are plugged in and charging, keys and wallets waiting to be picked up on the way out the door, but no one’s home . . .

My heart is still pounding, my mind reeling. I want to jump up and run around fist pumping, yelling ‘hell, yes!’

Into the Dark starts off quite innocuously. It’s like, ‘there’s nothing to see here folks that you haven’t already seen in a hundred other domestic dramas/psychological thrillers’ until it’s not. The shift is infinitesimal. There’s a change in the feel to the writing, it’s subtly darker. Then the worms start crawling out of the woodwork, and all hell breaks loose.

The characters are cleverly and deviously constructed. What you see isn’t what you get. There is so much more to every character than you could ever imagine when you begin reading. There are decades old secrets and lies. There are a number of people manipulating each other, but amongst it all is one person intent on the ultimate revenge and willing to play the long game to get it; a master manipulator at work, pulling strings, blackmailing, calling in favours owed and setting events in motion that will leave many lives shattered.

A one sitting read. Bump this one up to the top of your TBR list.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#IntotheDark #NetGalley

I: @fionacumminsauthor @panmacmillan

T: @FionaAnnCummins @panmacmillan

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #policeprocedural #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins 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

The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson

EXCERPT: . . . she puts her arms on the table and folds her hands. Gleaming nail polish, raven black.

‘I tell you about the disappeared.’ Her gaze is steady. ‘No one else.’

‘The disappeared?’ It takes me a second, then I connect the pieces. ‘Right. Logan Yates.’

‘No,’ she says, raising four fingers. ‘There are four disappeared.’

I look at Maya, who gives me the same uncomprehending expression I give her. Turning back to Abril, I say, ‘Four?’

She nods. ‘Mr Yates. Both his daughters. His grandson. All disappeared. Four.’

ABOUT ‘THE NEW NEIGHBOR’: Aidan holds the winning Powerball numbers.

Is today the best day of his life… or the worst?

Aidan Marlowe is the superstitious type—he’s been playing the same lottery numbers for fifteen years, never hitting the jackpot. Until now. On the day of his wife’s funeral.

Aidan struggles to cope with these two sudden extremes: instant wealth beyond his imagination, and the loss of the only woman he’s ever loved, the mother of his twin children. But the money gives him and his kids options they didn’t have before. They can leave everything behind. They can start a new life in a new town. So they do.

But a huge new house and all the money in the world can’t replace what they’ve lost, and it’s not long before Aidan realizes he’s merely trading old demons for new ones. Because someone is watching him and his family very closely. Someone who knows exactly who they are, where they’ve come from, and what they’re trying to hide. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want…

MY THOUGHTS: The New Neighbor started out as a truly gripping and suspenseful read. I was holding my breath as I eased the pages over, almost frightened of what might be hiding behind them. I haven’t had such a visceral reaction to a book in a long time. This reaction continued for the majority of the book. If Carter Wilson let me relax, breathe normally, I knew it was only because there was more and worse to come.

Twist after twist kept my anxiety at peak levels. The plot is fast paced, and I loved it, reading it overnight, but I had a hard time connecting with the main character, Aiden. Marlowe I loved. Aiden? Nah. A great deal of the time his actions just didn’t make sense to me, but I managed to keep a lid on my frustrations, swept along by the tension and drama, until almost the end. And then, I’m afraid Mr Wilson, you lost me. I deflated like a balloon.

I read through to the end, but the damage was done. I still, mostly, loved this read. It was never boring, or slow. The chapters are short and each packs a punch. But it also frustrated me that a mystery that was a major thread in the plot was totally ignored at the end. Not. Even. Mentioned.

⭐⭐⭐.7

I: @carterwilsonauthor @poisonedpenpress

T: #CarterWilsonAuthor @PPPress

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #mentalhealth #mystery #psychologicalthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: USA Today bestselling author Carter Wilson has written eight critically acclaimed, standalone psychological thrillers, as well as numerous short stories. He is an ITW Thriller Award finalist, a four-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, and his works have been optioned for television and film. Carter lives in Erie, Colorado in a Victorian house that is spooky but isn’t haunted…yet.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson 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