Time is Marching on . . .

April’s here and March has gone, so it’s time to look back at what I managed to achieve and not complete during the month and what April is looking like (scary!)

I started March with eighteen books to read for review, but somehow ended up with twenty – again! I managed to read/listen to and review sixteen which is an 80% success rate, up on last month’s 75%.

In addition to these sixteen I read or listened to six books purely for pleasure and read two titles from my backlist, which has contributed to raising my Netgalley feedback ratio to 69%

The four books that are joining my backlist shelves are: The Baby Shower by S.E. Lynes

She

doesn’t know I’m there, watching her in the mirror. She slides her hand under her blouse. And then I see something impossible. She isn’t pregnant…

She bursts into my life like a storm, and nothing is the same again. She seems so perfect, with her lilting laugh and her beautiful face. One by one, I watch as my friends fall under her spell.

Only I seem to suspect something. Only I see that her smiles don’t reach her cold, furious eyes. And when I’m accused of things I didn’t do, when my home is vandalized, I know she’s behind it. But she only lets her mask slip when no one is looking, so if I say anything, I’ll look crazy.

So when the baby shower comes around I’m there, sitting on a velvet sofa in a posh hotel room, surrounded by balloons. We share gifts, we pour small glasses of champagne, and she beams, her bump just visible under her bright red shirt.

But that afternoon, I finally learn the unbelievable truth.

There is no baby…

One For Sorrow by Helen Sarah Fields, #7 in the DI Callanach series

One for sorrow, two for joy
Edinburgh is gripped by the greatest terror it has ever known. A lone bomber is targeting victims across the city and no one is safe.

Three for a girl, four for a boy
DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach face death every day – and not just the deaths of the people being taken hostage by the killer.

Five for silver, six for gold
When it becomes clear that with every tip-off they are walking into a trap designed to kill them too, Ava and Luc know that finding the truth could mean paying the ultimate price.

Seven for a secret never to be told…
But with the threat – and body count – rising daily, and no clue as to who’s behind it, neither Ava nor Luc know whether they will live long enough to tell the tale…

Moonlight and the plot Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

Western Australia, 1886. After months at sea, a slow boat makes its passage from London to the shores of Bannin Bay. From the deck, young Eliza Brightwell and her family eye their strange, new home. Here is an unforgiving land where fortune sits patiently at the bottom of the ocean, waiting to be claimed by those brave enough to venture into its depths. An ocean where pearl shells bloom to the size of soup plates, where men are coaxed into unthinkable places and unspeakable acts by the promise of unimaginable riches.

Ten years later, the pearl-diving boat captained by Eliza’s eccentric father returns after months at sea—without Eliza’s father on it. Whispers from townsfolk point to mutiny or murder. Headstrong Eliza knows it’s up to her to discover who, or what, is really responsible.

As she searches for the truth, Eliza discovers that beneath the glamorous veneer of the pearling industry, lies a dark underbelly of sweltering, stinking decay. The sun-scorched streets of Bannin Bay, a place she once thought she knew so well, are teeming with corruption, prejudice, and blackmail. Just how far is Eliza willing to push herself in order to solve the mystery of her missing father? And what family secrets will come to haunt her along the way?

And Sundial by Catriona Ward

You

can’t escape what’s in your blood…

All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.

She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future.

Have you read any of these four titles? If you did, what did you think of them?

New authors I discovered in March and the books I read were:

Sally Page – The Keeper of Stories

Stewart O’Nan – Ocean State

Steffanie Edward – My Mother’s Gift

Claire Askew – A Matter of Time

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – The Golden Couple

As I mentioned earlier, April’s looking incredibly scary with 24 read/listen for review scheduled. What was I thinking?

I hope you have a great month of reading ahead of you. As for me, I will try to keep calm and read on.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

After all wet, cold and windy weather during the week, it’s a relief to have nice warm sunny weather over the weekend, although I’m noticing it is taking longer in mornings for the heat to kick in and we’re lighting the fire in the evenings. Some of trees are starting colour up, so winter is definitely on the way.

I’m sitting watching supercars being streamed live out of Tasmania as I write this. The only good thing about winter? – the car racing: F1, Supercars, Indy and Nascar.

I’m 3/4 of the way through The Wych Elm by Tana French. I love her writing style. I know this book hasn’t received rave reviews, but I am enjoying it.

I am listening to Mirrorland by Carole Johnson and it has me intrigued.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting…

This week I have four read for review due, including Mirrorland. The other three are: Bride For a Day by Carolyn Brown, which I will start tonight.

Cassie O’Malley is a woman on the run when she when gets tangled up with a suspicious local sheriff and, on the spur of the moment, turns to a handsome stranger to get herself out of a tight spot.

Ted Wellman didn’t go to town to get hitched but that sweet girl with her big green eyes looked desperate. Suddenly he finds himself married to a stranger. No problem, his uncle’s a lawyer and everybody knows he’s in no emotional condition to settle down, not since the death of his brother put him on emotional lock down.

Much to his surprise, instead of helping get out of it, Ted’s crazy family seemed determined to keep him and Cassie together. What could they be thinking? That there is a chance of finally thawing Ted’s frozen heart? 

Sister Stardust by Jane Green

From afar Talitha’s life seemed perfect. In her twenties, and already a famous model and actress, she moved from London to a palace in Marrakesh, with her husband Paul Getty, the famous oil heir. There she presided over a swirling ex-pat scene filled with music, art, free love and a counterculture taking root across the world.
 
When Claire arrives in London from her small town, she never expects to cross paths with a woman as magnetic as Talitha Getty. Yearning for the adventure and independence, she’s swept off to Marrakesh, where the two become kindred spirits. But beneath Talitha’s glamourous facade lurks a darkness few can understand. As their friendship blossoms and the two grow closer, the realities of Talitha’s precarious existence set off a chain of dangerous events that could alter Claire’s life forever.
 

And The Library by Bella Osborne

Two different generations. Two unusual people. Thrown together to save their local library.
Tom is a teenager and blends into the background of life. After a row with his dad, and facing an unhappy future at the dog food factory, he escapes to the library. Tom unwittingly ends up with a bagful of romance novels and comes under the suspicion of Maggie.

Maggie is a pensioner and has been happily alone for ten years, at least that’s what she tells herself. When Tom comes to her rescue a friendship develops that could change her life. As Maggie helps Tom to stand up for himself, Tom helps Maggie realise the mistakes of her past don’t have to define her future.

They each set out to prove that the library isn’t just about books – it’s the heart of their community.

Together they discover some things are worth fighting for.

and, oh dear, eight new ARCs dropped into my inbox during the week. Absolutely not my fault! I’m blaming Carla and Susan 🤣🤣 They are:

The Secret World of Connie Starr by Robbi Neal, a new author to me.

A Body on the Beach (A Kate Palmer mystery #5) by Dee MacDonald. This is an excellent series that I am following.

The Gin Sisters’ Promise by Faith Hogan

Riverbend Reunion by Carolyn Brown

Death in a Blackout by Jessica Ellicott, another new author to me.

The Apartment Upstairs by Lesley Kara, an author I enjoy.

Blood Sugar by Sascha Rothschild, yet another new author.

And one audiobook, 214 Palmer Street by Karen McQuestion, yes, another new author to me.

while there’s a break in the racing I will go get the clothes off the line and close all the doors and windows. The heat has gone from the sun, and the cat is sitting expectantly in front of the fire.

Have a wonderful week.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

This will be a short post as I am unwell. I slept right through Friday, so no post – sorry! I returned a negative Covid test yesterday, but am still sleeping on and off all day, have scratchy throat, starting to cough. I have to retest Monday.

I am currently listening to The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley and am almost finished. Actually, I have gone to sleep listening and missed the end three times now – no reflection on the quality of the writing.

I am also reading The Summer we Buried by Jody Gehrman, which I started last night.

This coming week I only have two read for review titles: The Stepchild by Nicole Trope

Three-year-old Millie Everleigh disappears on a crisp winter’s day, and nothing is as it seems…

It’s the phone call every mother dreads.

I’m climbing into the car after a trip to the grocery store. As the engine starts, my phone rings. It’s my stepdaughter, Shelby, who is babysitting my three-year-old little girl Millie.

‘I only went upstairs for a second,’ she says through her sobs. ‘She’s gone.’

I race home to find my blue-eyed baby girl missing, and my heart ripped out of my chest.

When the police turn up, Shelby’s story starts to unravel. What is she hiding?

Then I get a message saying, ‘Your husband is not who you think he is.’ Could he be lying?

Suddenly, my family feel like strangers. Everyone has a secret – even me.

No one knows why I was late coming back from the store, and the guilt I’ve been feeling ever since…

Once the truth comes out, all of our lies exposed, will it be too late to save my precious child?

And A Spoonful of Murder by J.M. Hall which I have already read, but I still need to finish and post my review. It’s a delightful read!

Retirement can be murder…

Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café.

But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy.

By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead.

The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder.

But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it…

Hopefully I will be able to knock at least one backlist title from the pile this week.

Netgalley has blessed me with six new ARCs in the past week. They are: Who’s Lying Now? by Susan Lewis

The Ash Lake Murders by Helen H. Durrant, which is the first in a new series.

Blind Justice by David Mark (DS McAvoy #10)

The Other Son by J.M. Hewitt

One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke

and finally, In the Middle of Hickory Lane by Heather Webber

Am heading back to my bed now for some more sleep . . .

The Coast-to-Coast Murders by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

Another title off my backlist!

EXCERPT: A bolt slid into place.

A lock clicked tight.

Half in shock, Dobbs pushed back against the wall and sat up, staring at the door. He pulled his knees tight against his chest. His heart thudded against his rib cage. His left hand reached for his damaged arm, squeezed, held the wound. Blood flowed through his fingers. He sucked in a ragged gasp; pain radiated out from his torn shoulder, down his arm, to his fingertips.

The world tilted, his vision clouded, his body attempted to shut down. He forced himself to focus, he grasped at the present.

His eyes drifted over the walls of the small room.

Pictures.

Hundreds of pictures.

And he instantly knew that if he were to shout,nobody would hear him, not here.

And that’s when the lights went out.

ABOUT ‘THE COAST-TO-COAST MURDERS’: Michael and Megan Fitzgerald are siblings who share a terrifying past. Both adopted, and now grown—Michael is a long-haul truck driver, Megan a college student majoring in psychology—they trust each other before anyone else. They’ve had to. Their parents are public intellectuals, an Ivy League clinical psychologist and a renowned psychiatrist, and they brought up their adopted children in a rarefied, experimental environment. It sheltered them from the world’s harsh realities, but it also forced secrets upon them, secrets they keep at all costs.

In Los Angeles, Detective Garrett Dobbs and FBI Agent Jessica Gimble have joined forces to work a murder that seems like a dead cinch. Their chief suspect is quickly identified and apprehended—but then there’s another killing just like the one they’ve been investigating. And another. And not just in Los Angeles—the spree spreads across the country. The Fitzgerald family comes to the investigators’ attention, but Dobbs and Gimble are at a loss—if one of the four is involved, which Fitzgerald might it be?

MY THOUGHTS: The human mind is the most dangerous weapon in the world.

How can you not love a book that begins: Where will you be when your life ends?
I was in the grocery store, squeezing a mango.

Twisted. Unpredictable. Intricate. Fascinating. Scary. The Coast-to-Coast Murders is not a book to sit down and relax with. Remember that scene in the movie ‘The Exorcist’ where Linda Blair’s head is spinning on her neck? That’s how I felt reading this book. It will mess with your mind. It will tease and tantalise you.

What starts out seemingly as a simple murder soon escalates into so much more. A serial killer? Yes, but who? A set-up? A conspiracy? Every time I thought that I knew something, I was wrong.

But that’s not all that’s going on . . . there are mad doctors, abandoned facilities, delusional and hallucinating people, suicide and people trying to kill one another for a variety of reasons – or just because they like killing. There are more bodies in this book than you’re likely to find in a busy inner city morgue.

Not a book for the faint hearted, but if you want a great, crazy, scary (in the fact that people’s minds are meddled with) rollercoaster of a read, then this is it. Don’t be put off by the size of the book, the chapters are bite-sized and action packed, the pace relentless.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheCoasttoCoastMurders #NetGalley

I: @jamespattersonbooks @jdbarker_author @littlebrownbookgroup_uk

T: @JPBooks @jdbarker @LittleBrownUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #detectivefiction #fbi #mentalhealth #mystery #serialkillerthriller #suspense

THE AUTHORS: James Patterson, in full James Brendan Patterson, Jr., (born March 22, 1947, Newburgh, New York, U.S.), American author, principally known for his thriller and suspense novels.

J.D. Barker is an American author that writes suspense thrillers with elements of horror.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Little Brown and Company via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Coast-to-Coast Murders by James Patterson and J.D. Barker 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 . . .

We’ve just been out for a lovely lunch with friends and I really feel like curling up for a nap now. But we’re heading out again shortly to meet other friends to watch the Australian supercars racing in Sydney and have dinner. So I must get on with this post.

Currently I am reading The Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell. I have read over half overnight. Poignant and funny.

i am also reading Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6) by Val McDermid, my March backlist read. I love McDermid’s humour. I have laughed out loud in several places already.

I am halfway through a listen/read of The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. I have a nagging suspicion of where Ben is, but am I right?

Books I am scheduled to read for review in the coming week are: The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown

In Bonnet, Texas, Liddy Latham, the queen of funeral dinners, keeps a southern comfort-food tradition alive—until fancy-schmancy Matilda Monroe moves back to town. She wants room at the table for her own style of consolation and closure: healthy, modern, and vegan. But this is about more than fried chicken versus tofu turkey. Matilda’s return is also stirring up their volatile, unresolved history. And just when they thought it couldn’t get more personal…

Matilda’s son, Nick, and Liddy’s niece, Amelia, have met and the sparks are flying. For Matilda and Liddy, their precious kin’s romance is their worst nightmare. Now, it’s all Nick and Amelia can do to survive a family feud that has the whole town talking.

The battle for the funeral dinner crown is on. As two strong-willed women wrestle for control, making peace with the past may be the only way to serve the star-crossed lovers a happy ending. 

The Summer we Buried by Jody Gehrman, the first book I have read by this author.

Twenty years ago, Tansy was drawn to Selene’s hard edges, her grit, and her knack for survival. Since then, the confused tangle of guilt about covering up a murder shattered their friendship, and even now, at thirty-eight, Tansy has never come to terms with what happened that night.

But now, Selene is back, demanding her old friend repay her. Selene’s daughter, Jupiter, attends the college where Tansy works as a guidance counselor. Selene is convinced that Jupiter’s boyfriend, Colton, is abusive, and wants Tansy to intervene. As she is drawn back into the intensity of Selene’s world, Tansy discovers the ugly truth about Colton. But Tansy suspects there’s far more to the story, and now she’ll finally have to confront Selene once and for all. 

Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan, another new author to me.

In the first line of Ocean State, we learn that a high school student was murdered, and we find out who did it. The story that unfolds from there with incredible momentum is thus one of the build-up to and fall-out from the murder, told through the alternating perspectives of the four women at its heart. Angel, the murderer, Carol, her mother, and Birdy, the victim, all come alive on the page as they converge in a climax both tragic and inevitable. Watching over it all is the retrospective testimony of Angel’s younger sister Marie, who reflects on that doomed autumn of 2009 with all the wisdom of hindsight. Angel and Birdy love the same teenage boy, frantically and single mindedly, and are compelled by the intensity of their feelings to extremes neither could have anticipated. O’Nan’s expert hand paints a fully realized portrait of these women, but also weaves a compelling and heartbreaking story of working-class life in Ashaway, Rhode Island.

Sundial by Catriona Ward

You can’t escape what’s in your blood…

All Rob wanted was a normal life. She almost got it, too: a husband, two kids, a nice house in the suburbs. But Rob fears for her oldest daughter, Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. Rob sees a darkness in Callie, one that reminds her too much of the family she left behind.

She decides to take Callie back to her childhood home, to Sundial, deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is worried about her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely, and speaks of past secrets. And Callie fears that only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

The mother and daughter embark on a dark, desert journey to the past in the hopes of redeeming their future. 

This week I received five new ARCs for review. They are:

Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley

The Widow’s Husband by Lesley Sanderson

The Stepchild by Nicole Trope

First Victim by Debbie Babitt

And A Summer Love Affair by Holly Chamberlin

So that’s my lot for today. I hope that you too have received some wonderful new books this week. Have a great weeks reading. ❤📚

Out of Bounds (DCI Karen Pirie #4) by Val McDermid

EXCERPT: ‘DCI Pirie, Historic Cases Unit.’

The voice at the other end had the unmistakable vowels of Dundee. ‘Aye, this is Sergeant Torrance from Tayside. Traffic Division.’ He stopped abruptly, as if he’d given her enough information to be going on with.

‘Hello, Sergeant. How can I help you?’

‘Well, I think it might be me who can help you.’

More silence. Clearly she was going to have to work at extracting information from Sergeant Torrance. ‘An offer of help always gets my day off to a good start. What is it you think you’ve got?’

‘You maybe saw the news we had a bad crash at the weekend?’

‘Sorry, that one passed me by. What happened?’

‘Ach, a stupid boy showing off to his pals, more than likely. They lifted a Land Rover Defender and somersaulted it over a roundabout on the Perth road in the wee small hours. All three passengers smashed to bits, dead on arrival at Ninewells.’

Karen sucked her breath over her teeth in an expression of sympathy. She’d seen enough road accidents in her time to know the level of carnage they could produce. ‘That’d piss on your chips and no mistake.’

‘Aye. One of the officers attending, it was his first fatal RTA. I doubt he’ll get much sleep for a wee while. Anyway, the thing is, the driver’s still alive. He’s in a coma, like, but he’s still hanging in there.’

Karen made an encouraging noise. ‘And you took a sample to check his blood alcohol.’

‘Correct. Which was, by the way, five times over the limit.’

‘Ouch. And I’m presuming you got the lab to run DNA?’

‘Well, it’s routine now.’ Sergeant Torrance didn’t sound like a man who thought that was a good use of Police Scotland’s budget.

‘I’m guessing that’s why you’re calling me.’

‘Aye. We got a hit on the DNA database. I don’t pretend to understand these things, but it wasn’t a direct hit. Well, it couldn’t have been, because it ties in with a twenty-year-old murder and this laddies only seventeen.’ The rustle of paper. ‘Apparently it’s what they call a familial hit. Whoever left his semen all over a rape murder victim in Glasgow twenty years ago was a close male relative of a wee Dundee gobshite called Ross Garvie.’

ABOUT ‘OUT OF BOUNDS’: When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test reveals a connection to an unsolved murder from twenty-two years before. Finding the answer to the cold case should be straightforward. But it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another mystery that she has no business investigating, a mystery that has its roots in a terrorist bombing two decades ago. And again, she finds that nothing is as it seems.

MY THOUGHTS: There aren’t many crime writers who can write like Val McDermid, who grab me on the first page and keeps me enthralled until the last. I hear her characters speak, they are so real. I know I can rely on McDermid for the perfect read.

McDermid writes with a barely suppressed energy and an eye for detail that is unsurpassed. The plot is complex, but not hard to follow. She has thrown in buckets of red herrings, and surprising plot twists. There are things that happen in the beginning of the book that seem to be irrelevant and forgotten about as the story progresses, but which are nicely tied in at the end.

There are only two people who make up the Historic Crimes Unit, DCI Karen Pirie and DC Jason ‘the Mint’ Murray, not the sharpest knife in the block, but incredibly loyal. Karen infuriates her boss, ACC Simon Lees who thought he had got rid of her when he moved to Edinburgh. But then she was moved from Fife to run the HCU.

Karen is very good at what she does. She never shies away from a difficult question or a seemingly impossible case.
Her methods are largely unorthodox, but more often than not result in success. She has no more time for her ACC than he has for her, treating him with bland condescension, occasionally bordering on insolence, but never quite crossing that very fine line into insubordination. She is a character I plan to spend more time with. There are six books in this series and I have so far only read two. I have another on my nightstand ready to start.

Although this is book #4 of a series, it is able to be read as a stand-alone. References are made to past occurrences, but enough information is given for the reader to get the general gist of what had happened. However, to get a full understanding of the relationships and backstories, I do recommend you read this series in order.

A totally engaging crime thriller which addresses the ethical dilemmas of advances in forensic science.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#OutofBounds #NetGalley

I: #valmcdermid @groveatlantic

T: @valmcdermid @GroveAtlantic

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #policeprocedural #scottishnoir #psychologicalthriller

THE AUTHOR: Val McDermid is a popular Scottish author who was born on June 04, 1955 in Fife, Scotland, United Kingdom. She is particularly famous for writing all her novels in the Mystery, crime and Thriller genres.

McDermid has been writing as a full time author since the success of her initial novels and she spends equal amounts of time in her homes in Edinburgh and Cheshire. She hails from the Kirkcaldy town of Fife in Scotland and completed her college studies from the St. Hilda’s College in Oxford.

McDermid lives along with three cats in Northumberland and Stockport and supports the Raith Rovers team. She also has a border terrier dog and considers the Northumberland coast as one of the relaxing places in the world.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Out of Bounds by Val McDermid 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 Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

EXCERPT: Behind her, something approaches, not quickly, but deliberately. She swings the torch wildly in its direction but sees only foliage, teased by the wind. A shudder ripples through her. Lightning strikes, but it only confuses her, white light glancing off every tree trunk, picking out every leaf and thorn and bramble.

She feels spotlit by it, intensely vulnerable, and takes off down the hill, running as quickly as she can, not caring what she steps on, or whether she risks falling. She feels possessed by fear, driven by it. The torch beam bounces, illuminating things at random. A tree, the ground, a face.

Emily doesn’t see the log across the lane. Her toes hit it, hard, and she falls heavily. Her phone flies from her hand. For a moment, the large puddle it lands in glows, lit from within, before reverting to oily black. Emily lies still, wet, shocked, cold to her bones, and in the deepest darkness she’s ever been alone in. She begins to push herself up and her whole body starts to shake.

A few feet from her, a hand reaches towards the puddle where her phone has sunk, dips into the water, and removes it.

ABOUT ‘THE LONG WEEKEND’: Three couples. Two bodies. One secret.

Dark Fell Barn is a “perfectly isolated” retreat, or so says its website when Jayne books a reservation for her friends. A quiet place, far removed from the rest of the world, is exactly what they need.

The women arrive for a girls’ night ahead of their husbands. There’s ex-Army Jayne, hardened and serious, but also damaged. Ruth, the driven doctor and new mother who is battling demons of her own. Young Emily, just wed and insecure, the newest addition of this tight-knit band. Missing this year is Edie, who was the glue holding them together until her husband died suddenly.

But what they hoped would be a relaxing break soon turns to horror. Upon arrival at Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note claiming one of their husbands will be murdered. There are no phones, no cell service to check on their men. Friendships fracture as the situation spins wildly out of control. Betrayal can come in many forms.

This group has kept each other’s secrets for far too long.

MY THOUGHTS: I raced through the first two thirds of The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan, the story tautly paced, compelling and atmospheric. But then . . . (my hand is doing that wavering thing here) the author started to lose me. It started to get messy and disjointed and, frankly, more than a little unrealistic. Melodramatic is another word that comes to mind.

None of the main characters are particularly likeable. We initially meet only the women: Ruth, a doctor, alcoholic, increasingly paranoid new mother, married to Toby, and whose life is rapidly unraveling; Jayne, ex-army, suffering from PTSD, married to Mark, also ex-army; Emily, the newbie in the group, younger than the others, and married to Paul. The women are together because of their husbands longstanding friendship. These are not women who would ever have been friends otherwise. They are not particularly close and now find themselves in a remote and hostile environment without the buffer of their husbands, recipients of a strange and threatening letter, signed ‘E’.

Edie: the only woman in the men’s longterm friendship group; at school with them all and married to the fourth of the men, Rob, recently killed in an accident, and struggling to adjust to life without him. Toby, Mark and Paul have formed a protective circle around her, dropping anything and everything to be at her beck and call. Edie is the only one of the wives not going on the retreat. She is upset that the group is continuing with the annual tradition so soon after Rob’s death, not even skipping a year. Is that why she has written the vitriolic and threatening letter? Or is there a completely different reason for it?

I loved the first two thirds of this read, and tolerated the remainder of it. Overall it’s a good read, just not great like I have come to expect from this author.

⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheLongWeekend #NetGalley

I: @gillymacmillan @randomhouse

T: @GillyMacmillan @randomhouseuk

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Gilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and also lived in Northern California. She studied History of Art at Bristol University and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Gilly lives in Bristol, UK with her family and writes full time.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan 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

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

EXCERPT: For some reason I never thought of my father as a serial killer until I saw it plastered across the newspapers, labeling him as such. It seemed too harsh for my father, a gentle man with a gentle voice. He was the one who taught me to ride a bike, jogging alongside me with his hands clutching the handlebars. The first time he let go, I had crashed into the fence, smacking straight into the wooden beam and feeling a searing pain in my cheek. I remember him running up behind me, scooping me in his arms, followed by the warmth of a damp washcloth as he pressed it against the gash beneath my eye. Drying my tears with his shirtsleeve, kissing my tangled hair. Then he fastened my helmet tighter and made me try again. My dad tucked me under the covers at night, wrote his own bedtime stories, shaved his facial hair into cartoon moustaches just to watch me laugh as he emerged from the bathroom, pretending like he didn’t understand why I was wailing into the couch cushions, tears streaming from my cheeks. That man couldn’t be a serial killer. Serial killers didn’t do things like that . . . did they?

ABOUT ‘A FLICKER IN THE DARK’: When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren’t really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

MY THOUGHTS: All the hype about A Flicker in the Dark? It’s true. I started this yesterday morning and read the first half in one sitting.

Now, I am normally a very hospitable person, but when we got unexpected visitors yesterday afternoon, I just wanted them to go away. They didn’t. They stayed and stayed, even for dinner – we ordered in – and remarked more than once that I was very quiet (my mind was still on this book). I am grateful that they didn’t stay overnight, although the offer was made, and I was pleased to see them but, really, all I wanted to do was read this book. Which is precisely what I did the moment they left.

Honestly, had I been able, I would have read this in one sitting. A Flicker in the Dark is compelling and engrossing reading. While I didn’t like Chloe Davis, I could empathise with her and understand why she was the way she was even if, with being a clinical psychologist, she should know better. I was constantly trying to second guess her – were her thought processes logical, affected by her fears, or by her prescription drugs?

I loved the setting, the contrast between Chloe’s early life in Breaux Bridge (the Crawfish capital of the World) and her current life in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But as they say, wherever you go, you take yourself with you, and Chloe certainly has. She carries an enormous amount of guilt – guilt over Lena’s death, guilt over her father’s arrest, guilt over her neglect of her mother amongst other things. Only the love of fiance Daniel and her brother Cooper sustain her. But Daniel and Cooper don’t get on, circling each other like avaricious animals, each certain that only he can protect Chloe from herself and that the other is bad for Chloe’s mental health. The pressure on Chloe to choose one over the other is increasing.

So, tense relationships, missing girls, and suddenly the past is becoming the present for Chloe. Journalists are hounding her as the twentieth anniversary of her father’s arrest is looming and she is feeling an increasing need to turn to the numerous bottles of pills secreted in her bottom drawer in order to cope. Are her ideas about the identity of the copycat killer (which change regularly) based on fact or are they the result of the opiates with which she regularly self-medicates?

A Flicker in the Dark kept me more than interested right the way through. The plot is tightly woven with tension, intensity and suspense. Chloe’s anxiety oozes off the page as does an inherent undercurrent of evil. The characters are so well portrayed, you can hear them breathing.

An engaging and exciting read with never a dull moment.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#AFlickerintheDark #NetGalley

I: @stacyvwillingham @harpercollinsuk

T: @svwillingham @HarperCollinsUK

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #murdermystery #psychologicalthriller #suspense

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

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

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

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

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

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

This is my first ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ read for 2022

EXCERPT: I knew so little about Vicki.

What I did know was that it wasn’t the first violent death that had befallen someone near me, and that the detectives needed to know that. Once again, I had to try to convince police officers to take me seriously – to treat me as a potential victim rather than a witness, or even a suspect.

Once again I had the feeling that someone I liked had died, and that it should have been me. I told them about Belinda, stumbling through the story while their eyebrows edged upwards in polite bafflement.

When I had finished, I was absolutely exhausted.

‘Can I go now?’

‘We still have a few more questions.’ Jennifer Gold was writing a note to herself slowly, concentrating.

‘I’ve told you everything I know.’

‘We just need to go through it all again.’ She looked up with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. ‘After all, it’s not the first time someone’s died in your home, is it?’

ABOUT ‘THE KILLING KIND’: He tells you you’re special…
As a barrister, Ingrid Lewis is used to dealing with tricky clients, but no one has ever come close to John Webster. After Ingrid defended Webster against a stalking charge, he then turned on her – following her, ruining her relationship, even destroying her home.

He tells you he wants to protect you…
Now, Ingrid believes she has finally escaped his clutches. But when one of her colleagues is run down on a busy London road, Ingrid is sure she was the intended victim. And then Webster shows up at her door…

But can you believe him?
Webster claims Ingrid is in danger – and that only he can protect her. Stalker or saviour? Murderer or protector? The clock is ticking for Ingrid to decide. Because the killer is ready to strike again.

MY THOUGHTS: Don’t read The Killing Kind by Jane Casey if you’re of a nervous disposition or prone to paranoia. It will have you looking over your shoulder, wondering . . . waiting.

The Killing Kind is my first novel by Jane Casey. It won’t be my last. Just thinking about this breathtakingly brilliant novel has my heart beating faster, my breath catching, fingertips tingling.

It’s the sort of novel that keeps the reader totally off balance, never knowing who to believe, who to trust. Is Ingrid paranoid, or is she truly in danger? I wondered, as no doubt Jane Casey intended me to do.

I am going to say no more about the plot, because I don’t want to give anything away. But believe me, it is intense, action packed, twisty and entirely plausible.

My advice? Just prepare to feel the fear, and read this. A true psychological thriller.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

I: @janecaseyauthor @harpercollinsuk

T: @JaneCaseyAuthor @HarperCollinsUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Jane Casey, a former editor, is married to a criminal barrister who ensures her writing is realistic and as accurate as possible. Born in Dublin, Jane now lives in southwest London with her husband and two children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Killing Kind by Jane Casey 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 . . .

I haven’t read much this week – I have one staff member off work after she tripped over in the yard at her home and put a sharp rock through her hand causing nerve and tendon damage. She is off work for at least a month, and I would imagine for much longer. I have had one off sick all week and one on annual leave. Omicron has been popping up all over New Zealand like mushrooms over the past twenty four hours and we head into Red Light restrictions from midnight tonight, so the woman who is doing her first day of orientation into my job tomorrow is going to have an interesting day!

I am currently reading The Maid by Nita Prose. I am not too far into this yet, but so far I like but don’t love it. I am hoping that once Molly decides to find Mr Black’s killer, it will grow on me.

I am almost finished Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty, and I absolutely love this book! This is a purely for pleasure read from the library, and I will finish this tonight, prioritizing it over my read for review (above).

I am listening to The Captain’s Wife by Norma Curtis and really enjoying this. Where has Ellen gone?

This week I plan (yes, I know, the reader plans and God laughs) to read Dead End Street by Trevor Wood, the finale to the Jimmy Mullen trilogy.

A group of vigilantes are carrying out a campaign of harassment against the homeless, hounding them both verbally and physically to get them off the streets. Jimmy Mullen is approached by his friend Gadge, who wants to confront the people behind it but Jimmy has finally got his life back on track. He’s working at a hostel for 18 to 25-year-olds and he’s reluctant to get involved in anything dodgy.

Gadge decides to go it alone but is attacked by two of the vigilantes. The police find him unconscious in an alley, covered in blood. Problem is, there’s a dead body in the alley too and it’s his blood that Gadge is covered in. He’s also got the murder weapon in his hand.

Convinced that Gadge has been set up, and feeling guilty that he didn’t back him up in the first place, Jimmy returns to the streets to try and find out who’s behind his friend’s difficulties. Unfortunately, he’s about to discover that Gadge has a lot of enemies to choose from. 

and The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah

You’re on your honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort.

You receive a note, warning you to ‘Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours’. At dinner that night, five other couples are sitting close by, but none of their tables is any nearer or further away than any of the others. It’s almost as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless. Why would anyone do that?

You have no idea.

You also don’t know that you’re about to be murdered, or that once you’re dead, all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could possibly have committed the crime.

So who might be trying to warn you? And who might be about to kill you, and seems certain to get away with it?

I have three unread books which have been published in the past two weeks, for which I must apologise to the publishers. I will get to them as soon as I can. I am likely to add another two titles to this list this week. I had hoped to do better in 2022!

This week I have received one new audiobook and three new ebooks for review. They are:

Truly, Darkly, Deeply by Victoria Selman 8

Mother of all Secrets by Kathleen M. Willett

and an Australian fiction title, Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

The audiobook is Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

stay safe, my friends. I have been out and upgraded our masks to the respirator style which are, apparently, far more effective against the Omicron virus.

On a brighter note, it’s Pete’s birthday next weekend, but as we were meant to be going to a memorial service next Saturday for friend who died of cardiac arrest last year, we celebrated today. We went up to Dustin’s then went out for lunch. I was somewhat nervous as we hadn’t made reservations and it’s a very popular restaurant, but we needn’t have worried, it wasn’t even half full. We all had a lovely lunch and I had planned take photos but we were too busy talking, laughing and stealing food from one another’s plates.

Happy reading, and please forgive me if my posting is sporadic this week.