Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

Currently I am reading

The Scent Of Guilt     

Which was published 17 February 2018, and

Lily and the Octopus

Which, I am ashamed to say, has been sitting on my shelf for 18 months.

In the coming week, I am planning on reading

An Unquiet Ghost (Mina Scarletti #3)

Mina Scarletti returns in her most thrilling mystery yet! Perfect for fans of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and Antonia Hodgson…

A family is being torn apart by rumours of a murderer in their midst. Can Mina solve the mystery and lay the ghosts to rest? 

Brighton, 1871 .

Mina Scarletti is becoming well known for unmasking fraudulent psychics. So it is no surprise to her when a young couple write to her seeking her advice.

George Fernwood and Mary Clifton, betrothed distant cousins, have a family secret that is preventing them from getting married. Twenty years ago, their alcoholic grandfather died in his bed and since then rumours have been circulating that someone in the family murdered him.

Desperate to find out the truth, they have decided to seek out a medium to communicate with their grandfather, and they want Mina to help them find one who is genuine.

Though she is not a believer in ghosts, Mina is intrigued by the family mystery and decides to help them in any way she can.

Could one of the new mediums advertising in Brighton really be genuine? Will they help George and Mary find the answers they are looking for? 

Or will this Unquiet Ghost ruin the chance of happiness for future generations …?

AN UNQUIET GHOST is the third cosy mystery in Linda Stratmann’s intriguing historical series, the Mina Scarletti Mysteries, a traditional British detective series with a feisty woman sleuth set in Victorian Brighton.

The Last Laugh

I’ve googled it, how to die,’ Jenny says to Maureen. ‘It was full of climbing this mountain, swimming that sea, becoming a marathon runner and raising millions for charity.’

‘Sounds like bloody hard work. You can make it more fun than that surely?’

Jenny discovers her days are numbered at the same time she discovers her husband is having an affair…

Frankly, her life was tough enough already. Two tricky teenagers, her mother’s constant complaints, friends who aren’t up to the job and a career which has been spiralling downwards since she won ‘Sunseeker Tour Rep of the Season’ twenty years ago.

And now this: a cheating husband and a death sentence.

Enough is enough. Jenny vows to keep both catastrophes a secret. She takes her life – and death – into her own hands and decides to live as she did when she was happiest… in 1996. She plans a spectacular 1990’s themed party in place of a wake that she herself will attend. But will she be able to keep her secrets for long enough to have the party of a lifetime?

From No. 1 bestseller Tracy Bloom, The Last Laugh is both hilarious and heartbreaking, a book about how to find happiness and live your life as though every day is your last. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and The Kicking the Bucket List.

And books I have received from NetGalley this week are

White is the Coldest Colour (Dr David Galbraith, #1)          The Retreat

The Visitor          The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

A  reasonably restrained requesting week for me, particularly since I requested The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton months ago, and it has been sitting on my pending shelf ever since. I had almost given up all hope of ever being approved for it. But I have just been to NetGalley and requested Sold on a Monday

after reading Susan Dyers blog, Susanlovesbooks. Thanks Susan!

It looks like a pretty wet week ahead of us here in New Zealand, so I should get plenty of reading in.

Don’t forget to let me know what you’re reading and, if you have read any of my upcoming reads, what you thought of them.

Happy reading everyone!

 

Friday Favorite- Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

I first read Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson last year. I received an advance copy directly from the author, despite the fact that I had slated his previous book. I love Mister Tender’s Girl, as you will see when you read my review.

To the people who have been following me from the start, I apologise as you would have seen this review in November 2017. But as Mister Tender’s Girl was only published this week, I wanted to bring it to the attention of all my newer readers because I would hate anyone to miss out on this thrilling read!

Mister Tender's Girl by Carter   Wilson

Mister Tender’s Girl 
by Carter Wilson (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

EXCERPT: …..I catch his stare, and his gaze is locked on me. There’s an endless longing to it, as if I’m the ghost of someone he once loved. . .

Sometimes I meet a person and my paranoia insists they already know me. Know everything. Where I live. How many scars I have. My real last name. It’s a game my mind likes to play when it thinks I’m getting complacent, or cured.

THE BLURB: How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?

At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels.

Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear…

Inspired by a true story, this gripping thriller plunges you into a world of haunting memories and unseen threats, leaving you guessing until the harrowing end.

MY THOUGHTS: I savoured every word in Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson. It was a book I read slowly, afraid to miss even one word. I wanted to know what happened, but I wanted it never to end. It was with very mixed feelings that I turned the last page and closed the cover. I was sad because it was over, and excited because it was so damned good! Better than good.

The suspense is insidious. I was reading along, and slowly became aware that I was gripping the book tightly, holding my breath, eyes wide, not blinking. And that became my default pose.

When I was just 20% into the book, I made the following comment- “OMG! With just one click of her mouse, Alice has tumbled down the rabbit hole. But it’s not Wonderland she finds herself in. . .”

I will never forget the phrase ‘Alice, what did the penguin always tell you?’ And I ‘m not giving you the answer. For that you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

This is not a book that is going to hang around on the shelves.

Thank you to author Carter Wilson for providing an ARC of Mister Tender’s Girl 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 and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2192373734

 

Little Liar by Clare Boyd

Little Liar by Clare Boyd
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: What had she actually seen next door? Her heartbeat escalated. What had she seen? She had seen guilt in Gemma’s eyes. She had seen fear in Rosie’s.

THE BLURB: The perfect family… or the perfect lie?

When a child’s scream pierces the night, Mira does what any good neighbour would do: she calls the police. She wants to make sure that Rosie, the little girl next door, is safe.

Opening her front door to the police the next morning, Gemma’s picture-perfect family is forced under scrutiny of social services.

As her flawless life begins to crumble around her, Gemma must fight to defend the family she loves and protect her daughter from the terrible secret she’s been keeping.

But who has Rosie been confiding in when Gemma’s back is turned? And why has she lied to the police?

When Rosie disappears without a trace, Gemma thinks she only has herself to blame. That is, until she finds a little pink diary containing a truth even more devastating than the lie…

If you loved The Couple Next Door and Big Little Lies, you’ll adore this razor-sharp, tense and utterly engrossing page turner about the people we choose to trust and the secrets we keep behind closed doors.

MY THOUGHTS: Another brilliant debut novel! I just loved Little Liar.

Clare Boyd captivated me with her firm grasp of family dynamics and personal characteristics in Little Liar. We have supermum Gemma, juggling a demanding career, pregnancy, a volatile ten year old, and keeping a secret, determined to ‘have it all’. Rosie is the ten year old daughter. She throws tantrums like I eat chocolate, and is quite adept at manipulating people. Add to the mix one nosey neighbour, Mira or ‘Mrs E’ as Rosie calls her. Mira has her own problems, her own secrets, her own unfulfilled needs.

Little Liar is a slow burner, an onion. By 25% in, I was hooked and read most of the night, captivated, mesmerized and agog! And the revelations just kept coming.

I also really liked how, at the end, it wasn’t tied up all neat and tidy. There are a lot of things that I was left wondering about, but in a pleasant way. I think that perhaps I wasn’t quite ready to let this family go. 4.5☆

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Little Liar by Clare Boyd 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 and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2245167485

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

Currently I am reading and really enjoying

Little Liar

Which was published Thursday 1 February by Bookouture.

I have just started listening to

Orange Blossom Days

I haven’t read Patricia Scanlan for some time, so was pleased to come across this when I was scrolling through the OverDrive selection available from my local library.

In the coming week I am planning on reading

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught, he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.

There have been many books about the Holocaust – and there will be many more. What makes this one so memorable is Lale Sokolov’s incredible zest for life. He understood exactly what was in store for him and his fellow prisoners, and he was determined to survive – not just to survive but to leave the camp with his dignity and integrity intact, to live his life to the full. Terrible though this story is, it is also a story of hope and of courage. It is also – almost unbelievably – a love story. Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight, and he determined not only to survive himself but to ensure that Gita did, too. His story – their story – will make you weep, but you will also find it uplifting. It shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Like many survivors, Lale and Gita told few people their story after the war. They eventually made their way to Australia, where they raised a son and had a successful life. But when Gita died, Lale felt he could no longer carry the burden of their past alone. He chose to tell his story. Publisher’s Summary

Seven Dead

Ted Lyte, amateur thief, has chosen an isolated house by the coast for his first robbery. But Haven House is no ordinary country home. While hunting for silverware to steal, Ted stumbles upon a locked room containing seven dead bodies. Detective Inspector Kendall takes on the case with the help of passing yachtsman Thomas Hazeldean. The search for the house’s absent owners brings Hazeldean across the Channel to Boulogne, where he finds more than one motive to stay and investigate.

I have read and enjoyed several other of this author’s detective stories.

The Lying Kind (Detective Rachel Prince #1)

A MISSING CHILD. A DEAD WOMAN. A SHOCKING MYSTERY. 

Six-year-old Lola Jade Harper is taken from her bedroom. Her mother is distraught. She is convinced her estranged husband, Gavin Harper, has abducted their daughter.

Detective Rachel Prince is leading the investigation but is soon out of her depth as she searches for the most high-profile missing child in the country. To uncover the truth about Lola’s disappearance, Rachel must untangle the Harper family’s complicated web of secrets and lies.

As the case progresses, the body of a local woman is found. The death at first seems unrelated, until a trail of social media posts lead Rachel to a chilling discovery.

And then another little girl is taken…

With growing pressure from the public and the appearance of someone from her past she’d rather forget, will Rachel be able to solve the connection between the two missing children and the murder – before it’s too late?

Truly addictive from start to finish, The Missing Child is a tense, enthralling crime thriller by one of the best new voices in crime fiction. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Peter James and Karin Slaughter.

Previously called The Missing Child

And finally, books I have been approved for from NetGalley this week. As you can see, I went a bit overboard with my requests this week. But the publication dates are nicely spread out, so I should be able to keep up with my reading schedule.

I, Witness (Madison Attalee, #1)      After Nightfall

BEFORE I FOUND YOU a gripping mystery full of killer twists      A Steep Price (The Tracy Crosswhite Series Book 6)

Cold Heart (Detective Kate Matthews, #3)      The Gallery of the Dead

Bring Me Back      The Babysitter

See what I mean. . .

But isn’t there a beautiful range of covers. No two are alike.

That is my reading plan for the week. I look forward to you sharing your plans with me. I love to see what everyone else is reading.

Happy reading!

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt
Best Friends Forever 
by Margot Hunt (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Suddenly it all became clear. Kat wasn’t just wealthy. She came from capital M money. The sort of money that doesn’t just last a lifetime, but through multiple generations thereafter. It would be nothing to a multimillionaire to set up his daughter in a Palm Beach art gallery. Just a carrot to tempt his headstrong daughter to return home to South Florida.

I had never thought of myself as a covetous person and firmly believed jealousy was wasted energy. There would always be someone with more than you, any way you chose to measure it – intelligence, beauty, wealth, happiness. Even so, it was hard not to look around the beautiful home of the woman who was quickly becoming one of my closest confidantes, remember the pile of unpaid bills on my desk at home and not whine silently, ‘It’s not fair.’ Of course, life wasn’t fair. But sometimes the sheer magnitude of the unfairness could stick in your throat like a bitter pill.

THE BLURB: How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

MY THOUGHTS: There are a lot of books currently out there claiming to be psychological thrillers, but don’t even come close. Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt is the real deal. It is a superb read. Don’t be fooled, as I was, by the chick-lit like start to the book. This book has depth and character.

The story is told from Alice’s point of view, over two converging time lines – the current time from when Alice is first interviewed about Howard’s murder, and from three years earlier when Kat and Alice first meet.

Best Friends Forever is based on two premises-

‘Everyone lies about something.’ The trick being to pick out the truth from the lies; and

‘Everything looks better from a distance.’ Especially other people’s lives. Unless you are living it, you only know what they want you to know.

I read this overnight because I simply could not bear to stop reading. 4.5 very bright stars

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt 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 and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2263716268

The Sunday Summary

I have decided to move taking a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the next week and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley to Sunday instead of Wednesday.

So here we go –

I’m going to start reading as soon as I finish this post.

The Daughter

You lost your daughter. You will never forgive yourself. And now someone’s determined to make you pay…
Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire… but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt.

To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years.

And while I was mowing the lawns earlier,  I started listening to

Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3)

In the third novel of this bestselling series, London investigator Maisie Dobbs faces grave danger as she returns to the site of her most painful WWI memories to resolve the mystery of a pilot’s death

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone. Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe. Every once in a while, a detective bursts on the scene who captures readers’ hearts — and imaginations — and doesn’t let go. And so it was with Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs, who made her debut just two years ago in the eponymously titled first book of the series, and is already on her way to becoming a household name.

A deathbed plea from his wife leads Sir Cecil Lawton to seek the aid of Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator. As Maisie soon learns, Agnes Lawton never accepted that her aviator son was killed in the Great War, a torment that led her not only to the edge of madness but to the doors of those who practice the dark arts and commune with the spirit world.

In accepting the assignment, Maisie finds her spiritual strength tested, as well as her regard for her mentor, Maurice Blanche. The mission also brings her together once again with her college friend Priscilla Evernden, who served in France and who lost three brothers to the war — one of whom, it turns out, had an intriguing connection to the missing Ralph Lawton.

Following on the heels of the triumphant Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies is the most compelling installment yet in the chronicles of Maisie Dobbs, “a heroine to cherish (Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review).

WHAT I AM PLANNING ON READING THIS WEEK-

This is How it Ends

There’s plenty of intrigue, sex, and drugs in this fast-paced mystery, set against a backdrop of gentrifying London.

Ella Riordan is a community activist who became famous when she was beaten by police during a social protest. Now Ella is a squatter in a building where the owners are evicting tenants so they can convert it into luxury condos, and she’s determined to stay and defend the few holdout tenants, despite death threats.

One night after a rooftop party with her fellow holdouts, Ella finds a horrible scene awaiting her in her apartment. In a panic, she calls her neighbor Molly, who convinces her that the police won’t believe she’s innocent. Together the two women concoct a gruesome plan to hide the body down the building’s elevator shaft.

But the secret won’t stay buried for long. As truth hangs in the balance, a neighbor tells Molly he had heard Ella arguing with a man in the hallway and mistrust grows between Ella and Molly, as repercussions of that night threaten to change both women’s lives forever.

And, sorry but I can’t bring up a cover image, Dark Angel by Helen Durrant

DARK ANGEL by HELEN H. DURRANT

Love gripping crime fiction? Discover Detective Stephen Greco, a meticulous policeman with a messy personal life.

Two young men break into an expensive house in Cheshire. They take money and jewellery — and a large amount of heroin. Within twenty-four hours they are found brutally murdered.

The killings have the hallmarks of a local drug baron. The two victims were also “angels” helping in a community project which seems to have been lowering the crime rate in the area.

Meanwhile, Detective Stephen Greco’s colleague and on-off girlfriend Grace is pregnant. He isn’t sure how he feels, and they haven’t told the boss.

This gripping and fast-paced crime mystery ends with a series of shocking twists.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

THE DETECTIVES
DCI Stephen Greco is a meticulous policeman with a touch of O.C.D. Easy to admire, but difficult to like. He has created a new team after a personal tragedy threatened to end his career, and is struggling to care for his daughter.
DS Grace Harper is an ambitious young policewoman with excellent people skills. Like Greco, she is a single parent and tries to balance work and childcare.

THE SETTING
The Northern city of Manchester is a place of great diversity, from high-end restaurants and clubs for the moneyed classes to grim housing estates riven by crime and drugs.

AND FINALLY, THE ARCs I HAVE BEEN APPROVED FOR FROM NETGALLEY THIS WEEK-

The Friend      The Girlfriend

and one that was sitting on my request shelf for months that I had given up on ever being approved for

Anything For Her

That is the reading plan for my week. I look forward to you sharing your plans with me. I love to see what everyone else is reading.

Happy reading!

 

The Confession by Jo Spain plus a glimpse of what I am currently reading, what is coming up, and ARCs I have been approved for this week.

You’re going to get a mixed bag today! It ‘s been busy, busy, busy in the world of books. So don’t tune out after the review!

Firstly, let’s do the ‘What I ‘ve been reading’ – The Confession by Jo Spain

The Confession by Jo Spain
The Confession 
by Jo Spain (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744

EXCERPT: It’s the first spray of my husband’s blood hitting the television screen that will haunt me in the weeks to come – a perfect diagonal splash, each droplet descending like a vivid red tear.

That and the sound of his skull cracking as the blows from the golf club rain down.

THE BLURB: Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP – is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

MY THOUGHTS: I was excited by the first third of The Confession by Jo Spain. After that point, the novel seemed to lose some impetus and I began to struggle to maintain my interest. I found myself skimming large parts of the characters back stories, which were mainly irrelevant, in parts downright depressing, and far too long. And it never really picked up again. I never regained that feeling of excitement and by 70% in I had figured out what was going on, which is not necessarily a problem, as it could have been clever, but I found the ending to be somewhat clumsily executed and too drawn out.

The story is told from three points of view: that of Julie, the victim’s wife; JP, the victim’s killer; and Alice, the investigating officer. Don’t expect to like any of the characters, not even the murder victim.
They are all thoroughly unlikeable, but quite realistic, so full marks to Jo Spain for her characterisation. She has a good grasp of human relationships, the petty jealousies and games of oneupmanship.

Instead of just being an okay read, The Confession could be a really good book. It just needs a bit more judicious editing. Having said that, a lot of people will love this book, and you may be one of them. So if you enjoyed the excerpt and like the sound of the blurb, please go ahead and get a copy of The Confession and let me know what you think of it.

The Confession by Jo Spain will be published by Hachette Australia 11 January, 2018.

Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Confession by Jo Spain 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 and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2199347899

WHAT I ‘M CURRENTLY READING –
Never one to do things by halves, I have 3 books on the go at the moment.
I always like to have an audio book loaded to listen to while I am working around the house and the yard. Currently I am listening to
The Red Hunter
What is the difference between justice and revenge?

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house–one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past–and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course–because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the terrifying monsters at the door.

Yesterday I began a book loaned to me by a friend,
The Agency (The Dan Calder Series Book 1)
I am only 20 pages into this, but it is a very interesting and controversial premise. I am looking forward to seeing how it progresses. It is not at all what I was expecting!
Dan Calder is an ex Brit and ex policeman looking for a fresh start in a new country but still carrying the baggage of failed relationships and a depressed, repressed past. He chose New Zealand because it was as far as he could get from his old life but did not take into account the universal six degrees of separation is no more than two or three in the land of the long white cloud.

The Agency provides a service like no other and New Zealand is the ideal location to find a new client. When Calder first encounters it by sheer chance, his life instantly changes and before long others are depending on him too.

Engaged in a deadly game with an unknown foe; this was not the new life Dan Calder planned for himself but now at stake is the ultimate reward; his own salvation.

And I am just about to begin a Netgalley ARC
Coming Home to Island House
From Erica James, bestselling author of Summer at the Lake, comes an enchanting tale of one family coming together and finding their way.

It’s the summer of 1939, and after touring an unsettled Europe to promote her latest book, Romily Temple returns home to Island House and the love of her life, the charismatic Jack Devereux.

But when Jack falls ill, his estranged family are called home and given seven days to find a way to bury their resentments and come together.

With war now declared, each member of the family is reluctantly forced to accept their new stepmother and confront their own shortcomings. But can the habits of a lifetime be changed in one week? And can Romily, a woman who thrives on adventure, cope with the life that has been so unexpectedly thrust upon her?

I have always enjoyed this author as a little light relief from my darker reading habits.
And finally, ARC books I have been approved for from NetGalley this week
Portrait of a MurdererNight-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense
Bring Me Flowers (Detectives Kane and Alton, #2)
Let me know what you are reading, and what you have coming up! Happy reading.

Where We Went Wrong by Andi Holloway

Where We Went Wrong by Andi Holloway
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: “I’m sorry, but your son is dead.” Detective Vern Wilkes inspects your study, workplace of the great Bertram Stone, former best-selling and now bereaved novelist. This is a career-making case, and though he apologizes for your loss, he isn’t sorry. He’s suspicious, and I wonder how much he knows.

THE BLURB: Two families’ pasts unravel when the last person to see a missing girl alive is murdered and the victim’s crime-writing father becomes the prime suspect.

“This suspenseful narrative will grip even the most discerning readers of thriller/suspense. There are elements of such engaging texts as Gone Girl and even Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and there’s a lot to like about this book. The author does a wonderful job with the slow burn, making me believe but simultaneously question most of the characters, and the revelations that unfold in the last act are truly surprising.” Kate B., Line Editor, Red Adept Editing

“With its great storytelling and jaw-dropping revelations, this book is hard to put down. Readers who enjoy a tightly crafted mystery and well-written characters will appreciate this story. Highly recommended!” Kristina B., Proofreader, Red Adept Editing

Second wife Harper Stone’s life is nothing like she imagined. A talented writer bound for the kind of greatness she inspires in her husband, Harper exchanges her lifelong dreams of becoming a bestselling author for the ready-made family of her nightmares.

With her eight-year-old stepson at the center of a missing person’s investigation, Harper struggles to balance the obligations of motherhood with her calling as an author, ultimately sacrificing her success in support of her husband, whose crime-writing career is fueled by their ordeal.

It’s only when he becomes the prime suspect in his son’s murder, years later, that she begins asking the difficult questions about his past, about their marriage, and about the disappearance of the little girl whose remains have never been found.

As Harper looks into the cold case where their problems began, she discovers people aren’t who they seem. Not the missing girl’s mother. Not Matthew, the last person to see the girl alive. Not her husband, whose obsession with the disappearance has caused an irreparable rift between them. Not even Harper herself, a woman trapped by obligation and circumstance.

In the throes of an investigation based in the past, solving Matthew’s murder means getting to the bottom of what happened all those years ago. Two families are destroyed by a single bad decision. The question is which decision, and whose was it?

MY THOUGHTS: Where We Went Wrong by Andi Holloway explores the complications of blended families, of second marriages, infidelity, jealousy, resentment, mental illness, success and failure. And if that’s not complicated enough, throw in the disappearance of a child, the murder of another child, and many many lies and deceptions. And while parents are expected to love their children unconditionally, it would seem that children are able to blame their parents for everything that is wrong with their lives.

We all tell lies of some sort, even if they are only little white lies. We all have secrets. Most of us have self-serving agendas. But believe me, the characters in Where We Went Wrong take this to a whole new level.

It did take me a few pages to get accustomed to Andi Holloway’s writing style, which at first I found a little confusing, but it suits the plot brilliantly. The story is told in the first person by Harper, Bert’s second wife, step-mother to Matthew, Bert’s disturbed son who, as a child, was involved in the disappearance of his friend Hannah. As an adult, estranged from his father and step-mother, his body is discovered stabbed to death in a park. Prime suspect is his father.

This is an amazing debut novel. Andi Holloway is an author to watch.

Thank you to Andi Holloway via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Where We Went Wrong 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 and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2241528382

Friday Favorite- My top ten books of 2017

I know that it is not quite the end of the year yet, but the run up to Christmas is always hectic with last minute preparations and catching up with friends. Plus you might need a few ideas for last minute gifts, or books to read yourself over the holiday period.

So here are my top ten picks for 2017. I am not going to rank them into any order of preference because they were all outstanding reads.

Please note, some of these books are reviewed in an old review format and do not contain excerpts. This list only contains books that have been published in 2017 or earlier and are currently available.

The first, you are already familiar with if you have been following me for some time. But it is always the book I think of first when someone is looking for a really great crime thriller. A brilliant read from a favorite author-

And So It Began by Owen Mullen
And So It Began (Delaney #1) 
byOwen Mullen(Goodreads Author)



EXCERPT: ‘It was good to feel apart from the herd. Different from the masses. What could be worse than being just another walking number on the earth? Thank God that wasn’t the way of it. Society saw it otherwise of course, that was to be expected. Closed minds.

A woman passed with a child dressed in top hat and tails. Fred Astaire? The kid was bawling something impossible to make out, its small face distorted in an anguish that would cease the second the mother relented and let it have its way. When children acted like that they were almost as unattractive as the adults who spawned them. Well, the mother could relax, her whining offspring was safe; repulsively secure.

No matter, there were plenty more.

Lots and lots and lots more.

Where to begin? The biggest question. The answer would dictate how the rest of the day would go. The trick was not to wait too long. That was dangerous. Anxiety about missing out produced poor-quality decisions. Risk was all very well so long as the thrill allowed for escape.

It was all about timing.

A lost looking girl came close. Pretty, but pretty wasn’t enough. There were many here who outscored her on that, boys as well as girls, it didn’t matter.

Cute. Cute. Cute. Nothing but cute.

‘Darlene! Darlene, honey!’

A woman bent to scoop up her daughter.

Mother and child reunion.

Time to make a move. But what was the rush? There was a whole day ahead.

All day. All day, every day if need be.

THE BLURB: PI Vincent Delaney thought he was done with the NOPD until a string of seemingly unrelated child murders brings an unexpected invitation from the FBI, and his old boss.

A serial killer is roaming the South, preying on children appearing in pageants, and the police want him to go undercover using his own family. Accepting would mean lying to people he loves and maybe even putting them in harm’s way.

In Baton Rouge, a violent criminal has escaped and is seeking revenge for the brother Delaney shot dead. But Delaney isn’t going anywhere. He has unfinished business.

Meanwhile, north of the French Quarter, shopkeepers are being extorted and ask for Delaney’s help. Extortion is a matter for the police.

But what do you do when those responsible are the police?

Delaney has his work cut out and he’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this alive…

MY THOUGHTS: Owen Mullen knows how to write.

I rank him right up there with Mr King. Different genres, but there is something in the writing style that just sucks me right in. Cocoons me from the outside world. Has me snarling at anyone that would dare try interrupt my reading.

I fell in love with Charlie Cameron, Mullen’s Glaswegian PI in his first series. Now we have Delaney in New Orleans. And I’m in love all over again.

Delaney has a past. But that doesn’t guarantee he has a future. Delaney is dedicated. When he is on a case, all else is pushed to the side. I would hate to be in a relationship with this man. He is unfailingly loyal. He is stubborn. And tenacious. He reminds me of my very favorite chocolates, strong and hard on the outside, liquid inside. This is a man who will go to any lengths to protect those he loves.

And he is a man with old scores to settle.

And So It Began by Owen Mullen is a breathtaking read. There is nothing ordinary or mediocre about this book. It grips from page one and never lets go.

Crime fiction has a new master.

Thank you to author Owen Mullen for providing an ARC of And So It Began. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis

THE BLURB: A tragic suicide?

When Rose’s daughter, Vivien, is found dead in a suspected suicide, Rose has questions nobody can answer. Wasn’t Vivien living the perfect life? A caring husband, a sweet little girl of her own.

Or the perfect murder?

But as the police investigation develops, their findings raise new questions. Did Vivien kill herself, or was she attacked? If so, who has something to hide?

As Rose struggles to piece together the secrets of her daughter’s life, the cracks in the family begin to show. But once Rose knows the answers, there’s no going back…

MY THOUGHTS: Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis is a deceptive book on many levels.

It is simply written, and this in itself is deceptive, for it is not a simple book. It is a multi-layered book; there are layers and layers of lies and near lies, things that are hidden; more deception. And yet it is an easy read. The characters are well defined, the plot complex but simple. Nothing blurs. The author writes fluidly and with great clarity.

Set amid complex family relationships, a young woman, Vivien – a mother, a daughter, a wife – dies. Was it suicide? Was it murder? Told mainly through the eyes of Vivien’s mother Rose, with occasion flashbacks from Vivien herself, this is a book that slowly drew me in until I was completely immersed in the story. It left me breathless, stunned and very, very satisfied.

Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Corgi via NetGalley for a digital ARC of Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

I have long had a love affair with Penny Vincenzi’s family sagas. And in 2017 I read and fell in love with
A Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi

THE BLURB: The House of Farrell – home of The Cream, an iconic face product that has seen women flocking to its bijoux flagship store in the Berkeley Arcade since 1953.

At Farrell, you can rely on the personal touch. The legendary Athina Farrell remains the company’s figurehead and in her kingdom at the Berkeley Arcade, Florence Hamilton plies their cosmetics with the utmost discretion. She is sales advisor – and holder of secrets – extraordinaire.

But of course the world of cosmetics is changing and the once glorious House of Farrell is now in decline, its customers tempted away by more fashionable brands.

Enter Bianca Bailey, formidable business woman, mother of three, and someone who always gets her way. Athina and Bianca lock horns over the future of the House of Farrell but it is the past that tells its devastating tale of ambition and ego, passion and wonder.

Here is a tale of survival … and a perfect heritage.

MY THOUGHTS: I have mixed feelings when I finish a Vincenzi novel. Exhilaration and sadness to name but two. Her plots are always complex with a large cast of characters. Characters whom, by the time you have finished the book, have completely enchanted you, as has the plot.

A Perfect Heritage is no different. A door stopper of a book, I have been sitting on it since publication in 2014. Perhaps ‘hoarding’ is a more apt description.

I adore my Kindle, but I have to read Vincenzi in a physical book. And now, having finished this marvelous saga, it will join my Vincenzi collection, to be taken out and reread numerous times, sighed and exclaimed over, treasured.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

And one from one of my all time favorite authors, Susan Hill, but surprisingly not one of the Simon Serrailler series!
From the Heart by Susan Hill

EXCERPT: ‘…it occurred to her that she had a choice- now, here. She could fret about whether her father had done the right thing, marrying again, coming to this town, confining his life to a small space, and whether he would be able to grow old here in some sort of contentment- and she was right, he was not old yet, only in his early sixties. Or she could simply leave him- them- to it, let them carry on with their life as they would have done if she had not existed. Trying to discover how happy he really was, if he had regrets, was pointless because his life was not hers.’

THE BLURB: You’re a young woman. You can choose. Which career to pursue. Who to have sex with. Who to marry and have children — or not — with. This is now.

Step into the shoes of Olive. You’re a happy, open-hearted girl. Your (tricky) mother is dead and you live with your father in a solid, Edwardian house with apple trees in the garden. He’s a kind man who does his fair share around the house. Your passion for books gets you easily into university, where the world is surely waiting for you.

There, you take part in a play, and are noticed by the leading man. Even though he’s not as glamorous off-stage, he becomes your boyfriend. But then you make a mistake – the kind any one of us could make – and face an impossible choice. You are young, still, and full of hope. You can’t possibly know how that mistake will sit in your heart. Or that when you get a job at a wonderful school you will meet an older colleague and fall in love. But the affair must stay secret; the world won’t have it any other way.

All you have ever wanted is for your heart to be free. But you are living in a time and place where freedoms we now take for granted had the power to destroy.

MY THOUGHTS: Susan Hill, no matter in what genre she is writing, and she is a very versatile author, never fails to inspire me to want to write.

She writes from the heart, so this book is aptly titled. She takes perfectly ordinary situations- friendship, love, birth, death, marriage, second marriages – and explores the emotions of them and the impact on the lives of the characters, the choices they make.

Hill’s writing makes me think of friends, of choices I have made, of relationships that have flourished, and those that have failed. She makes me question if I could have done, or indeed could do, better. There is a lot of wisdom in her writing.

Don’t expect conventional endings, happy ever afters; you won’t get them. You will get an interesting and thought provoking read.

My favorite quote from this book- ‘Books had been all to her. They saved her. …’

Thank you to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Chatto and Windus for providing a digital copy of From the Heart by Susan Hill for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

You by Caroline Kepnes

EXCERPT: YOU walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it’s impossible to know if you’re wearing a bra but I don’t think that you are. You’re so clean that you’re dirty and you murmur your first word to me—hello—when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte’s Web and where did you come from?

You are classic and compact, my own little Natalie Portman circa the end of the movie Closer, when she’s fresh-faced and done with the bad British guys and going home to America. You’ve come home to me, delivered at last, on a Tuesday, 10:06 a.m. Every day I commute to this shop on the Lower East Side from my place in Bed-Stuy. Every day I close up without finding anyone like you. Look at you, born into my world today. I’m shaking and I’d pop an Ativan but they’re downstairs and I don’t want to pop an Ativan. I don’t want to come down. I want to be here, fully, watching you bite your unpainted nails and turn your head to the left, no, bite that pinky, widen those eyes, to the right, no, reject biographies, self-help (thank God), and slow down when you make it to fiction.

Yes.

I let you disappear into the stacks—Fiction F–K—and you’re not the standard insecure nymph hunting for Faulkner you’ll never finish, never start; Faulkner that will harden and calcify, if books could calcify, on your nightstand; Faulkner meant only to convince one-night stands that you mean it when you swear you never do this kind of thing. No, you’re not like those girls. You don’t stage Faulkner and your jeans hang loose and you’re too sun-kissed for Stephen King and too untrendy for Heidi Julavits and who, who will you buy? You sneeze, loudly, and I imagine how loud you are when you climax. “God bless you!” I call out.

You giggle and holler back, you horny girl, “You too, buddy.”

Buddy. You’re flirting and if I was the kind of *sshole who Instagrams, I would photograph the F–K placard and filter the sh*t out of that baby and caption it:

F—K yes, I found her.

Calm down, Joe. They don’t like it when a guy comes on too strong, I remind myself. Thank God for a customer and it’s hard to scan his predictable Salinger—then again, it’s always hard to do that. This guy is, what, thirty-six and he’s only now reading Franny and Zooey? And let’s get real. He’s not reading it. It’s just a front for the Dan Browns in the bottom of his basket. Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are. I bag the Dan Brown first like it’s kiddie porn and tell him Franny and Zooey is the sh*t and he nods and you’re still in F–K because I can see your beige sweater through the stacks, barely. If you reach any higher, I’ll see your belly. But you won’t. You grab a book and sit down in the aisle and maybe you’ll stay here all night. Maybe it’ll be like the Natalie Portman movie Where the Heart Is, adapted faithlessly from the Billie Letts book—above par for that kind of crud—and I’ll find you in the middle of the night. Only you won’t be pregnant and I won’t be the meek man in the movie. I’ll lean over and say, “Excuse me, miss, but we’re closed” and you’ll look up and smile. “Well, I’m not closed.” A breath. “I’m wide open. Buddy.”

THE BLURB: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

MY THOUGHTS: In her author’s acknowledgements, Kepnes thanks Joe Goldberg for demanding to be heard. I would like to thank Kepnes for listening to him.

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. It is at once both irritating and compelling.

I loved this book. I hated this book.

I loved Joe. I hated Joe. Ditto Beck. I was captivated/ repelled by Joe’s obsession with her. He has total control over his life. He has no control over his life.

I guess we have all had an earworm experience at some stage; probably more than one. I had a bookworm experience with ‘You’. It wormed its way into my head and would not leave me alone. I tried to leave it alone, but it stalked me. I had to finish it.

Stephen King tweeted Caroline Kepnes that her book YOU was “hypnotic and scary” and having “never read anything like it before.”

Full marks to Kepnes for a very clever piece of writing. And a plea for more please.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

A collection of short stories from another of my very favorite authors-
The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M. Appel

EXCERPT: My best friend that spring was Lacey Moretti. Soon enough we would drift apart, our natural differences overcoming our common history, so when I saw her at the twentieth reunion last year, where Lacey gulped champagne from a slipper and made a sloppy pass at every unhitched male within groping distance, I could hardly remember what had drawn us together on long-ago evenings studying the polarity of magnets and the trajectories of cannon balls. Yet in those final months at Laurendale, we were truly inseparable–so much so that when a third former classmate sensed the tension between us at the reunion, she’d confessed she’d always suspected we’d been lovers. The reality was that we’d both been far too innocent for anything like that. – Prisoners of the Multiverse

The wipers swept the windshield hypnotically, and when the rain stopped, the rubber blades scraped furiously across the dry glass. I didn’t even register the sound until Sheila reached across the steering column and snapped them off.
“What can a forty-six year old man possibly see in my mother?” she demanded. “I’ll tell you what! He’s either after a green card or he’s after her money. ”
“Or both, ” I offered.
Sheila glared at me. “Don’t you dare take her side. ”
“I’m not taking sides, Sheila. ”
“How can you not take sides?” she snapped. “That’s like not taking sides about the Holocaust. Not taking sides is the same thing as taking sides. ”
Sheila had worked in the creative division at an advertising agency before we married. She has a winning slogan for every argument. – Good Enough For Guppies

THE BLURB: SHORT STORY COLLECTION: The frustrations of romantic love in its various guises—a domineering kindergarten teacher for a dashing artificial foliage designer, a suicidal physicist for his star student, a dialysis patient at a sleep-away camp for the camp owner’s daughter—provide the common theme for the stories in Jacob M. Appel’s seventh collection. We meet a psychiatrist dabbling with infidelity during a crisis in which rain turns into truth serum, a Finnish-American soldier charged with facilitating his commanding officer’s extra-marital affair, and a couple transporting a wealthy, “locked-in” patient across the Piedmont to his new nursing home. Appel’s literary short fiction offers a quirky window into the pangs and promise of love.

MY THOUGHTS: I have a special place reserved both in my heart and on my shelves for Jacob Appel’s books. I have almost the full set and they are on the shelf right beside my favorite reading chair. It is a collection that I dip into frequently and The Liars’ Asylum will take pride of place amongst them.

This is yet another wonderful collection of eight short stories from an extremely talented writer. The focus in this collection is love. But they are not your traditional love stories. They range from tales of first love to that of a last love, and everything in between. And don’t expect happy ever after. There is duplicity and truth, desire and rejection, hope and despair, success (of sorts) and failure.

Appel demonstrates an excellent understanding of human character. From the young couple who become more interested in scoring points over each other than in the truth of their relationship, to the desperate for a husband Aunt Jill, all these characters are people we know, we can relate to and, if we are honest, there is probably more than a little bit of ourselves in there too.

Appel has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous which he crafts into clever and believable stories. Another winner from a favorite author.

Publication date is October 15, 2017.

Thank you to author Jacob M Appel, Black Lawrence Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of The Liars’ Asylum for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

Not a new book, but definitely oneof the top reads of my year was
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

EXCERPT: Yes, an illustrious career.

I should hasten to admit, however, that there was a considerable hiatus between the first stolen book and the second. Another noteworthy point is that the first was stolen from snow and the second from fire. Not to omit that others were also given to her. All told, she owned fourteen books, but she saw her story as being made up predominantly of ten of them. Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.

When she came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything. Was it when she first set eyes on the room with shelves and shelves of them? Or when Max Vandenburg arrived on Himmel Street carrying handfuls of suffering and Hitler’s Mein Kampf ? Was it reading in the shelters? The last parade to Dachau? Was it The Word Shaker? Perhaps there would never be a precise answer as to when and where it occurred. In any case, that’s getting ahead of myself. Before we make it to any of that, we first need to tour Liesel Meminger’s beginnings on Himmel Street and the art of saumensching:

Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers. Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile.

Her hair was a close enough brand of German blond, but she had dangerous eyes. Dark brown. You didn’t really want brown eyes in Germany around that time. Perhaps she received them from her father, but she had no way of knowing, as she couldn’t remember him. There was really only one thing she knew about her father. It was a label she did not understand.

A STRANGE WORD

Kommunist

She’d heard it several times in the past few years.

“Communist.”

There were boardinghouses crammed with people, rooms filled with questions. And that word. That strange word was always there somewhere, standing in the corner, watching from the dark. It wore suits, uniforms. No matter where they went, there it was, each time her father was mentioned. She could smell it and taste it. She just couldn’t spell or understand it. When she asked her mother what it meant, she was told that it wasn’t important, that she shouldn’t worry about such things. At one boardinghouse, there was a healthier woman who tried to teach the children to write, using charcoal on the wall. Liesel was tempted to ask her the meaning, but it never eventuated. One day, that woman was taken away for questioning. She didn’t come back.

THE BLURB: A story about, among other things: A girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Ruby Award.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

MY THOUGHTS: The Book Thief is brutal and beautiful. It is sad and inspiring. It is unforgettable and haunting. It is a book that should be read by everyone.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death himself. There are some things you probably need to know about Death. He does not carry a sickle or a scythe. He only wears a hooded black robe when it is cold. He doesn’t have those skull- like facial features so often ascribed to him. Do you want to know what he truly looks like? Take a look in the mirror. And, believe it or not, he has a heart.

We meet Leisel for the first time in January 1939. She is nine years old. Death also meets her for the first time when he stops to collect the soul of her six year old brother. He will meet her again. And Leisel is about to steal her first book.

The book is written in parts, each titled and with a brief description, eg Part Three, Mein Kampf, featuring: the way home – a broken woman – a struggler – a juggler – the attributes of summer – an Aryan shopkeeper – a snorer – two tricksters – and revenge in the shape of mixed lollies.

Scattered throughout the chapters are little notes from Death – ‘A Nice Thought – one was a book thief. The other stole the sky.’

The author’s language is almost poetic – ‘ As she crossed the river, a rumour of sunshine stood behind the clouds. ‘, ‘the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Leisel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out, like the rain. ‘ – in places, and in others it is clipped and brutal.

This is not an easy book to read at first, but increasingly as I read I could feel the author’s words embracing me, challenging me. It is a worthy read and has earned itsplace as my favorite book of the year to date.

J. T. Ellison is an author who consistently blows me away with her writing prowess.
Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

THE BLURB: They built a life on lies 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

‘The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken places.’ – Ernest Hemingway. ………. and some are just broken.

Lie to Me opens with the words ‘You aren’t going to like me very much’…………….’Truly, you are going to despise me. I am the rot that lives in the floorboards of your house. I am the spider that shuttles away when you shine a light in my corner, ever watching, ever waiting. I am the shard of glass that slits the skin of your bare foot. I am all the bad things that happen to you.’

I was hooked from the first page.

Sutton and Ethan Montclair both love and hate each other. Their jealousy and rivalry is both personal and professional. On the anniversary of the death of their baby, Sutton disappears. Was Sutton Montclair responsible for her baby’s death? Or was it Ethan? Did she kill the baby, lose her mind, fake her own death, set up her husband? Or has Ethan orchestrated the whole thing to make her look mentally unstable? People have done worse. …..

I love the writing style. The chapters are short, gritty and to the point. Chapter titles (not numbers) are enticing – eg DID SHE OR DIDN’T SHE?

The pace of Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison is frantic. It doesn’t allow you to draw a breath. It twists and turns and twists again. Every time I thought I was even close to sorting it all out, Ellison would turn everything on its head. It was like trying to read a kaleidoscope; the picture kept changing, but it was never pretty.

‘I told you at the beginning you weren’t going to like me very much. You really don’t like me right now, do you? Am I a horrible person? A loathsome creature? You bet. I ‘m evil to the core. And I warned you. I warned you, and you didn’t listen. …’

And now a warning from me – don’t miss reading this book. Lie to Me must be one of, if not THE best psychological thriller of 2017.

Thank you to Harlequin (Australia) via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

EXCERPT: ‘Is it really a coincidence she is here or has she purposely tracked me down? And if so, why?

‘Revenge’ whispers the voice inside my head.’

THE BLURB: ‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

MY THOUGHTS: Twisted, twisty and oh so nerve wracking! I almost tore my fingernails out of their beds reading The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, and I do not bite my nails!

Full marks to Louise Jensen. She has demonstrated that she is mistress of her art. I thought I knew where she was going with this. She reinforced my beliefs. But she took me for a ride – up the wrong road. More than that, I am not going to say. I don’t want to give anything away. I don’t want to spoil any surprises. And they come thick and fast.

I am going to liken reading this book to riding a roller coaster in one of those spinning teacups with no seat belts. Thrilling, scary. Yes, you may have to suspend belief occasionally, but believe me, by then, you won’t care.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Surrogate for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

And last, but definitely not least,
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

EXCERPT: ‘Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. The children’s mother had done just that.’

THE BLURB: Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

MY THOUGHTS: I was bereft when I finished The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. This is a fairy story for adults. It is bewitching, enchanting and compelling. I want to move in with the Owen’s family, to be embraced by them, to become one of them.

Just as Mrs Russell was instantly in thrall to Vincent when she spied him in the kitchen, I was instantly in thrall to Hoffman’s writing. Alice (may I call you Alice?) writes in a lazy, indolent fashion that slowly seduces the reader, leaving one feeling languidly intrigued.

I scribbled pages of notes as I read, highlighted sections to quote. But as I prepared to write this review, I realised that, taken out of context, they mean nothing.

If you think this book is about witchcraft, you are wrong. Yes, there are black cats and spells and potions, but that is not what this book is about. It is about acceptance, of ourselves and of others. It is about family, and it is about love. And if you do not read The Rules of Magic then you will miss out on a wonderful book which really is all about finding the magic in yourself.

I am going out to buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. It is a ‘forever’ book. I am also going to read everything by this author that I can lay my hands on.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

Thank you all for your support in the months since I started this blog. Postings may be a little erratic over the holiday period as we are planning on freedom camping in some remote beaches, weather permitting. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and safe  festive season with lots of wonderful books to read, and the time to create some wonderful memories.

Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

I don’t normally post reviews for books well before publication date, but I am going to make an exception for Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson, which is due to be published by Sourcebooks  February 2018. That gives you plenty of time to pre-order your copy because this is a book that is not going to sit around on the shelves,  and the way time flies, February will be here before we know where we are.

But don’t worry, I will refresh my review and repost it around the time of publication.

Mister Tender's Girl by Carter   Wilson
Mister Tender’s Girl 
by Carter Wilson (Goodreads Author)

30817744

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: …..I catch his stare, and his gaze is locked on me. There’s an endless longing to it, as if I’m the ghost of someone he once loved. . .

Sometimes I meet a person and my paranoia insists they already know me. Know everything. Where I live. How many scars I have. My real last name. It’s a game my mind likes to play when it thinks I’m getting complacent, or cured.

THE BLURB: How far are you willing to go for Mister Tender?

At fourteen, Alice Hill was viciously attacked by two of her classmates and left to die. The teens claim she was a sacrifice for a man called Mister Tender, but that could never be true: Mister Tender doesn’t exist. His sinister character is pop-culture fiction, created by Alice’s own father in a series of popular graphic novels.

Over a decade later, Alice has changed her name and is trying to heal. But someone is watching her. They know more about Alice than any stranger could: her scars, her fears, and the secrets she keeps locked away. She can try to escape her past, but Mister Tender is never far behind. He will come with a smile that seduces, and a dark whisper in her ear…

Inspired by a true story, this gripping thriller plunges you into a world of haunting memories and unseen threats, leaving you guessing until the harrowing end.

MY THOUGHTS: I savoured every word in Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson. It was a book I read slowly, afraid to miss even one word. I wanted to know what happened, but I wanted it never to end. It was with very mixed feelings that I turned the last page and closed the cover. I was sad because it was over, and excited because it was so damned good! Better than good.

The suspense is insidious. I was reading along, and slowly became aware that I was gripping the book tightly, holding my breath, eyes wide, not blinking. And that became my default pose.

When I was just 20% into the book, I made the following comment- “OMG! With just one click of her mouse, Alice has tumbled down the rabbit hole. But it’s not Wonderland she finds herself in. . .”

I will never forget the phrase ‘Alice, what did the penguin always tell you?’ And I ‘m not giving you the answer. For that you’ll have to read the book for yourself.

Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson will be published by Source books February 2018. Reserve your copy now. This is not a book that is going to hang around on the shelves.

Thank you to author Carter Wilson for providing an ARC of Mister Tender’s Girl 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 and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2192373734