The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

The Masterpiece by Fiona  Davis

EXCERPT: New York City, April 1928

Clara Darden’s illustration class at the Grand Central School of Art, tucked under the copper eaves of the terminal, was unaffected by the trains that rumbled through ancient layers of Manhattan schist hundreds of feet below. But somehow, a surprise visit from Mr Lorette, the school’s director, had the disruptive power of a locomotive weighing in at thousands of tons.

Even before Mr Lorette was a factor, Clara had been anxious about the annual faculty exhibition set to open at six o’clock that evening. Her first show in New York City, and everyone important in the art and editorial worlds would be there. She’d been working on her illustrations for months now, knowing this might be her only chance.

She asked her class to begin work on an alternate cover design for Virginia Woolf’s latest book, and the four ladies dove in eagerly, while Wilbur, the only male and something of a rake to boot, sighed loudly and rolled his eyes. Gertrude, the most studious of the five members, was so offended by Wilbur’s lack of respect that she threatened to toss a jar of turpentine at him. They were still arguing vociferously when Mr Lorette waltzed in.

Never mind that these were all adults, not children. Whenever Wilbur made a ruckus, it had the unfortunate effect of lowering the entire class’s maturity level by a decade. More often than not, Clara was strong enough to restore order before things went too far. But Mr Lorette seemed possessed of a miraculous talent for sensing the rare occasions during which Clara lost control of the room, and he could usually be counted upon to choose such times to wander by and assess her skills as an educator.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In her latest captivating novel, nationally bestselling author Fiona Davis takes readers into the glamorous lost art school within Grand Central Terminal, where two very different women, fifty years apart, strive to make their mark on a world set against them.

For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.

For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public’s disdain for a “woman artist.” Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded–even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter–Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they’ll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. And even poverty and hunger will do little to prepare Clara for the greater tragedy yet to come.

Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay’s life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort. Recently divorced, she has just accepted a job in the information booth in order to support herself and her college-age daughter, Ruby. But when Virginia stumbles upon an abandoned art school within the terminal and discovers a striking watercolor hidden under the dust, her eyes are opened to the elegance beneath the decay. She embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece–an impassioned chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central but deep into the mystery of Clara Darden, the famed 1920s illustrator who disappeared from history in 1931.

MY THOUGHTS: I was excited to begin listening to The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis. I have listened to both The Dollhouse and The Address, and loved them both.

But immediately, I found the narrator’s voice and delivery to be annoying. Smug is the word that comes to mind. Why, oh why did they change narrators? I far preferred Saskia Maarleveld.

And then as I got into the story, I had the thought that this was just like the other two books – exactly the same format, just change names and locations. Kind of like writing by numbers.

I had trouble warming to either of the main characters, Clara in the late 1920’s, and Virginia in the 70’s. There seemed to be a lot of extraneous material in the plot that could have been done without and not harmed the storyline. I did enjoy the twist at the end.

In retrospect, I may have enjoyed The Masterpiece more had I read it rather than listened to it. I think my dislike of the narrator may have soured the whole experience for me. I am not ruling out reading the book at some point in the future, to see if I enjoy it more, and I will definitely read more by this author. But the operative word here is ‘read’, not listen.

😑😑.5

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Davis is the nationally bestselling author of THE MASTERPIECE, THE DOLLHOUSE and THE ADDRESS. She began her career in New York City as an actress, where she worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater. After getting a master’s degree at Columbia Journalism School, she fell in love with writing, leapfrogging from editor to freelance journalist before finally settling down as an author of historical fiction.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook version of The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, published by Penguin Audio via OverDrive. 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/2310913461

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The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

EXCERPT: ‘And we ask your abundant blessing, Lord, on these, the outcast dead. . . ‘

There is a murmured response from the group gathered on the bank below the castle walls. But Ruth Galloway, standing at the back, says nothing. She is wearing the expression of polite neutrality she assumes whenever God is mentioned. This mask has stood her in good stead over the years and she sees no reason to drop it now. But she approves of the Prayers for the Outcast Dead. This brief ecumenical service is held every year for the unknown dead of Norwich: the bodies thrown into unmarked graves, the paupers, the plague victims, forgotten, unmourned, except by this motley collection of archeologists, historians, and sundry hangers on.

‘Lord, you told us that not a sparrow falls without our Father in Heaven knowing. We know that these people were known to you, and loved by you. . .’

The Vicar has a reedy, hesitant voice that gets lost before it reaches Ruth. Now she can only hear Ted, one of the field archeologists, giving the responses in a booming baritone.

‘We will remember them.’

She doesn’t know if Ted has any religious beliefs. All she knows is that he was brought up in Bolton and may or may not be Irish. If he’s Irish, he’s probably a Catholic, like DCI Harry Nelson who, however hard he denies it, has a residual belief in heaven, hell, and all points in between. Thinking of Nelson makes Ruth uncomfortable. She moves away, further up the hill, and one of the people gathered around the vicar, a tall woman in a red jacket, turns and smiles at her. Janet Meadows, local historian and expert on the unnamed dead. Ruth first encountered Janet over a year ago when examining the bones of a medieval bishop believed to have miraculous powers. It was Cathbad who put Ruth in touch with Janet and, even now, Ruth can’t believe that her Druid friend won’t suddenly appear in the shadow of the castle, purple cloak fluttering, sixth sense on red alert. But Cathbad is miles away and magical powers have their limitations, as she knows only too well.

Words float towards Ruth, borne on the light summer breeze.

‘Remember. . . lost. . . gone before. . . Heavenly Father. . . grace. . . forgiveness.’

So many words, thinks Ruth – as she has thought many times before – to say so little. The dead are dead and no words, however resonant, can bring them back.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of what might be a notorious Victorian child murdress and a baby snatcher known as “The Childminder” threatens modern-day Norfolk in the latest irresistible mystery from Elly Griffiths.

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk in this exciting new entry in a beloved series.
Every year a ceremony is held in Norwich for the bodies in the paupers’ graves: the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series Women Who Kill, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.

DCI Harry Nelson is immersed in the case of three children found dead in their home. He is sure that the mother is responsible. Then another child is abducted and a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility. Are there two murderers afoot, or is the Childminder behind all the deaths? The team must race to find out-and the stakes couldn’t be any higher when another child goes missing.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved The Outcast Dead, sixth book in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Because I have been reading the series out of order and so have read many of the later books before this one, I already knew the outcome. But instead of diminishing my pleasure, I think it was actually enhanced. I was able to concentrate more on the characters, their relationships, their foibles. I loved the way their beliefs are challenged, and the different ways that they all dealt with this.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the mystery, because I did, immensely. For although I knew the outcome, I didn’t know the who, the how, or the why. And I really had no idea until all was revealed. There is not just one mystery, but several, several centuries apart. So while DCI Harry Nelson is busy working the cases of the dead children, and the abductions, Ruth is involved in solving a centuries old mystery.

Classic Elly Griffiths. And worth every one of the 💖💖💖💖💖 I have awarded it.

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa (born 17 August 1963, in London), a British crime novelist. She has written two series as Griffiths to date, one featuring Ruth Galloway, the other featuring Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens and Max Mephisto. She has also recently published her first standalone novel, The Stranger Diaries.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths, beautifully narrated by Clare Corbett, and published by Quercus, via OverDrive. 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/1260153601

Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence

Death Of A Doll by Hilda Lawrence


EXCERPT: She went back to the night before, to the afternoon that was just over. She retraced every step. I don’t think she knew me at first, she decided. Because of my glasses. I was wearing glasses before. But she knew me this afternoon. Maybe I have a special way of turning my head or using my hands. . . She looked at her hands and saw they were clenched. Maybe I did that this afternoon. Maybe I did that the other time.

She went back to the other time. She saw an office, richly furnished, saw two hatted men with hard eyes, saw another man, hatless, sitting in a leather chair behind an ornate desk. She saw the other girl, her face twisted with fury. She heard the voice again, low and quiet at first, then screaming: ‘I’ll kill you for this. Someday we’ll meet and I’ll kill you with my bare hands.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Hope House, a New York boarding home for women, has led a rather sleepy existence in terms of emergencies. One wastepaper basket fire surely doesn’t count as a five-alarm fire. That is until new tenant Ruth Miller’s limp and lifeless body is found in the courtyard after plummeting to her death.

In a clandestine and hot-chocolate infused meeting, the heads of the house decide Ruth’s death couldn’t possibly have been foul play: no, she must have fallen or jumped. Shy and mousy, it seems Ruth had no friends to question… or ask uncomfortable questions.

But this was no accident: upon Ruth’s arrival, the atmosphere of this happy house shifted, her paranoia was catching, and her last days were filled with dread. If the heads thought a scandal could be averted, they were wrong. It turns out Ruth did have a friend… and she’s out for justice.

This claustrophobic and tense mystery is heralded as Hilda Lawrence’s best. Equal parts cosy and suspenseful, it’s sure to captivate lovers of all genres of classic crime.

Death of a Doll was first published in 1947 and is the third in the Mark East Series:

Mark East
1. Blood Upon the Snow (1944)
2. A Time to Die (1945)
3. Death of A Doll (1947)

MY THOUGHTS: This book is a bit of a mixed bag of tricks. It brought to mind old movies where the private eye wears a fedora and always has a lit cigarette in his mouth, the women are all dames or dolls, and people have a ‘swell’ time. In that sense, it was very enjoyable. I could see and hear most of this playing out just like one of those old movies, and the dialogue is superb, if occasionally a little hard to follow, but only because our speech has changed greatly in the last seventy years. As has the writing style.

There are some delightfully odd characters to enjoy, Bessy and Beulah, for example. Mark East says of them, ‘With his own eyes he had seen them find needles in haystacks and thread them with camels’.
Two ladies of indeterminate age, independently wealthy (I should imagine that ten thousand a year was a great deal back then), and who don’t mind a tipple or two, they provide a great deal of color.

The plot is dated, but perhaps all the more appealing because of that. It would not work in a modern setting where young working women no longer live in heavily chaperoned boarding houses, required to sign in and out if going anywhere other than work. It brought to mind living in the nurses home when I started my training. We were all required to ‘live in’ for our first year. But back to the plot – I got a little lost once or twice and had to retrace my steps to see if I had missed something. But no, it is just the writing style, deliberately obscure at times.

All in all, an enjoyable read, and definitely recommended if you enjoy atmospheric period ‘whodunnits’. But I would also recommend that you read this series from the beginning to get a better knowledge of the main characters.

😊😊😊.5

THE AUTHOR: Hilda Lawrence was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1894. An avid reader of crime fiction, she wrote her first novel, Blood upon the Snow, in 1946. The novel introduced her three main series characters: Manhattan private investigator Mark East and sleuthing New England spinsters Miss Beulah and Miss Bessy. By combining these characters Hilda Lawrence’s novels are a clever mixture of the hardboiled and softboiled styles of detective fiction. Hilda Lawrence wrote only four novels, all in the 1940s. Death of a Doll, which was published in 1947, is considered her masterpiece. She died in Manhattan, New York, in 1976.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence 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/2736313799

Five Star Friday – The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?

Then take a look at my Five Star Friday pick. It may be old. It may be new. But it is a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth came to mind today for a couple of reasons. I was looking through the books I have coming up to read and review, and noticed that Sally has a new book out next month, The Mother-in-Law, which made me think of The Things We Keep and of how much I loved it. The second reason is that it is almost the anniversary of the passing of a good friend of mine who was afflicted by this terrible disease. We shared not only our name, but a love of laughter, wine and gardening, often all at the same time! Sandra, I miss you, and this post is for you.

The Things We Keep

EXCERPT: Fifteen months ago. . .

No one trusts anything I say. If I point out, for example, that the toast is burning or that it’s time for the six o’clock news, people marvel. How about that? It is time for the six o’clock news. Well done, Anna. Maybe if I were eighty-eight instead of thirty-eight I wouldn’t care. Then again, maybe I would. As a new resident of Rosalind House, an assisted living facility for senior citizens, I’m having a new appreciation for the hardships of the elderly.

‘Anna, this is Bert,’ someone says as a man slopes by on his walker. I’ve been introduced to half a dozen people who look more or less like Bert: old, ashen, hunched over. We’re on wicker lawn chairs in the streaming sunshine, and I know Jack brought me out here to make us both feel better. Yes, you’re checking into an old folks home, but look, it has a garden!’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: With honesty and true understanding, Sally Hepworth pens this poignant story of one of today’s nightmares: early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

MY THOUGHTS: I have to say – I Loved this book.

Sally Hepworth has done a wonderful job of humanising Alzheimer’s patients and the elderly in general. I have read and enjoyed other books about people with Alzheimer’s, most noticeably Still Alice by Lisa Genova, which was extremely informative about Alzheimer’s, but I learnt a more humanitarian lesson from The Things We Keep.

Anna Forster is only 38 years old and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She has elected to be placed in a care facility following an accident which could have claimed the life of her favourite nephew Ethan. There is one other resident of a similar age in Rosalind House, Luke, who suffers from a different variation of dementia. Anna has gone there to die, she doesn’t expect to fall in love with ‘young guy’ (Luke, Luke, Luke – if she says his name three times she night just remember it). As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

Sally Hepworth’s writing is beautiful, lyrical, never soppy, never sentimental. She shows great perception, great empathy, great understanding.

‘ If I don’t remember, will I have been here at all? ……Maybe it doesn’t matter what you remember. Maybe if someone else remembers and speaks your name, you were here.’

‘I might not remember this, but I’m glad I got to live it.’

Her characters are complex human beings. They have problems of their own; their own back stories, their own triumphs and tragedies. Hepworth reminds us that elderly people have lived and loved, that they deserve our time, our respect, our affection.

The Things We Keep is a keeper for me. It is on a very short list of ‘Never delete this book from my Kindle’.

💖💖💖💖💖

THE AUTHOR: Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) and The Mother’s Promise (2017), and The Family Next Door (Feb 2018). Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.

Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.

Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan MacMillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth 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/1455296642

The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green

EXCERPT: ‘She said something just before she died. Something I didn’t understand.’

‘What?’

She said there were babies at the bottom of the garden. She asked me to look after her babies. ‘

For the first time I saw Mum’s face crack. Her eyes widened, and her bottom lip trembled. ‘I wouldn’t take any notice of her. She were probably losing her mind by then.’

‘She wasn’t, though. I asked her if she meant her fairy statues, but she was adamant they were babies.’

‘She were probably thinking about angels. She used to believe in angels, you know. She told me once her angels would be waiting for her at the end.’

I stepped outside. Maybe Mum was right. It made more sense than anything I could come up with. It was only after I’d shut the door behind me and heard the anguished sob from the other side that I wondered if she might not be able to tell me the truth, even if she wanted to.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?

MY THOUGHTS: By the time I got to the end of this book, I was blubbering and had burned a tray of biscuits I was making for the bake sale. I am still feeling rather emotional, and have no idea how to put my feelings about The Last Thing She Told Me onto (virtual) paper.

Teenage pregnancy. Date rape. Illegitimacy. Blended families. Family rifts. Generational relationships. All these topics are part of the book, but definitely not the sum. We learn the story of Nicola’s family mainly from her point of view, interspersed with letters from William, a Canadian airman stationed in England during WWII, to Nicola’s grandma, Betty. There is also historical input from two other people involved in the story, whose identities are not revealed until almost the end.

I have long had a fascination with graveyards and love to wander the older sections, trying to decipher the inscriptions on the long neglected stones, and wondering about the lives of the people buried there. Now I will also be wondering about the secrets that have been buried with them.

WARNINGS: Tissues mandatory. Do not read and bake without fire extinguisher at hand.

💕💖💕💖

THE AUTHOR: I was born in North London in 1970 and brought up in Hertfordshire. I wrote my first novella, the Time Machine, aged eight, shortly after which I declared that my ambition was to have a novel published (I could have been easy on myself and just said ‘to write a novel’ but no, I had to consign myself to years of torture and rejections). I was frequently asked to copy out my stories for the classroom wall (probably because my handwriting was so awful no one could read my first draft), and received lots of encouragement from my teachers Mr Roberts, Mrs Chandler (who added yet more pressure by writing in my autograph book when I left primary school that she looked forward to reading my first published novel!) and Mr Bird.

My first publication came when I was thirteen and my Ode to Gary Mabbutt won second prize in the Tottenham Weekly Herald ‘My Favourite Player’ competition. At fifteen I won the Junior Spurs Football Reporter of the Year Competition and got to report on a first division football match from the press box at White Hart Lane (I got lots of funny looks and none of the journalists spoke to me.)

At sixteen I embarked on ‘A’ levels and a journalism course at De Havilland College, Hertfordshire, and my college magazine interview about football hooliganism with local MP and football club chairman David Evans made a double page spread in Shoot! magazine (they never paid me) and back page headlines in several national newspapers (only a nice man at the Daily Star bothered to check the story with me).

I joined my local newspaper, the Enfield Gazette, as a trainee reporter at eighteen. During a ten year career in regional journalism I worked as a reporter on the Birmingham Daily News, news editor on the Birmingham Metro News and Chief Feature Writer on the Coventry Evening Telegraph, winning Highly Commended in the Feature Writer of the Year category of the 1997 Press Gazette Regional Press Awards.

I loved working on regional newspapers but by 1998 my features were getting too long and the urge to write a novel had become too great so I left my staff job to write my first novel and work as a freelance journalist. I have written for The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The Times Educational Supplement, The Big Issue, Wanderlust and Community Care Magazine. I’ve also had a short story published in Best magazine

I found the writing and working from home a very solitary process so also worked as co-ordinator of the Birmingham Bureau of Children’s Express, a national charity which runs a learning through journalism programme for young people and taught journalism to schoolchildren for the National Academy of Writing. After I moved north in 2001 I qualified as an adult education tutor and taught creative writing classes to students aged between 18 and 82 for the Workers Educational Association across Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

After more than a hundred rejections from agents for my first novel (and more rewrites than I care to remember) I finally got an agent but still couldn’t get a publisher. I started work on my second novel I DID A BAD THING in 2003, finished the first draft and gave birth to my son Rohan in 2004, rewrote the novel and got a new agent in 2005, obtained a two-book deal with Headline Review in 2006.

I Did a Bad Thing was published in paperback in October 2007, made the top thirty official fiction bestsellers list (and number 3 in Tesco!) and has so far sold more than 77,000 copies. 10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love was published in paperback in March 2009, reached no 22 in the official fiction bestseller charts (and no 4 in Tesco) and has so far sold more than 80,000 copies. Both novels were also long-listed for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

Following the success of my first two novels I got another two-book deal from Headline Review, with Things I Wish I’d Known being the first of these. I am currently working on my fourth novel.

I enjoy travelling.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Last Thing She Told Me by Linda Green 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/2718399363

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

EXCERPT: Upstairs, Jakey stirred as the front door shut on his father’s anger. He was neither asleep nor awake, but somewhere in between. The halfway world of awareness and dreams.

A shadow man with sharp teeth and long skinny arms who looked just like the Bogeyman on the cover of Daddy’s book was leaning over him, but Jakey gave a muffled scream, kicking out with his legs, and he disappeared in the dusty black hole beneath the bed, or inside the toy cupboard. Jakey wasn’t sure.

All Jakey knew for certain was that the man meant to hurt him. Just like that little girl he’d heard them talking about on the television. And that dark things like dark places.

He pulled his Spider-Man duvet up to his nose, and tried to reach out with his sore arm. His fingertips brushed the hard plastic of his torch and knocked it on the floor. The door was open when his daddy said goodnight, but now it was shut. Jakey didn’t like it when the door was shut.

Ol’ Tommy Rawhead’s here. Ol’ Bloody Bones. 

As soon as the name came into his mind, Jakey fought against the rise of panicked tears.

He’s in my bedroom. He’s come to take me away. And there’s no Daddy to scare him off.

He tried to shout for his mother, but something was stopping him, something was crammed in his mouth. He clawed at it with his right hand, but it was only his old stuffed rabbit, Mr Bunnikins.

Jakey squeezed his eyes tight, and counted to three, the way his father taught him to when the pain was too much.

Underneath the silence of the room, he could hear the rattle of Ol’ Tommy’s breath. Could he make it to the door? No, nooo. Those bony fingers would wrap around his ankles as soon as he got out of bed. What about the window? Too high in the sky. If only he could turn on the light. That would scare the Bogeyman away.

His eyelids fluttered, heavier now, the twin ropes of imagination and sleepiness binding Jakey to his bed. Ol’ Bloody Bones has stolen that little girl, and next he’s coming for me. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A serial killer to chill your bones

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

MY THOUGHTS: Even though I knew how this book was going to end, the peril of having read the second book in the series first, my eyes sucked the words from the page, and I often found myself not breathing.

Fiona Cummins is a first rate storyteller. She conveys both childish pleasures and fears onto the page in such a way that you can feel them. The same with the pressures the parents face, the unravelling of their relationships, the sniping and back biting, the dark thoughts that creep unbidden into their minds. She conveys the frustration of the investigating officers so that it is palpable in the air around the reader. You can taste it. . . that, and the evil of the perpetrator.

This is an absolutely amazing debut novel, and Cummin’s second book, The Collector, is every bit as good. Highly recommended to lovers of the darker side of life.

💖💖💖💖💖

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

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed Rattle by Fiona Cummins, published by Macmillan, from Waitomo District Library. A huge thank you to Julie for fast tracking the purchase of Rattle. 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/1821450319

Between the Lies by Michelle Adams

Between the Lies by Michelle    Adams

EXCERPT: My father tells me that once we have finished the therapy sessions everything will be as it once was, nothing more than a faint, well-healed scar left behind to connect my past to my present. But no matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, I’m not going to be able to slip back into my old life. The person I used to be is dead, taken away from us in the crash. And even though I’m confused about most things, there is one thing I do know: you can’t bring the dead back to life. The old Chloe is gone, and I’m afraid I might never get her back.

I’m more afraid that my family don’t want me to.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: What would you do if you woke up and didn’t know who you were?

Chloe Daniels regains consciousness in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. She doesn’t recognise the strangers who call themselves family. She can’t even remember her own name.

What if your past remained a mystery?

As she slowly recovers, her parents and sister begin to share details of her life.
The successful career. The seaside home. The near-fatal car crash.
But Chloe senses they’re keeping dark secrets – and her determination to uncover the truth will have devastating consequences.

What if the people you should be able trust are lying to you?

MY THOUGHTS: I am at that age where I sometimes forget things. I swear I put something somewhere, and find it somewhere totally different. I leave the room to do something and, halfway to wherever I am going, forget what it was I was going to do. Frustrating and annoying as this may be, it palls in comparison to forgetting your whole life, at having to rely on what people, whom you don’t remember, tell you is the truth. But then, why would they lie?

I felt that I was being swept along by an avalanche as I read Between the Lies by Michelle Adams. I started it when I went to bed last night, and finished it before bed tonight. It has all the ingredients of a great read: secrets, lies, memory loss, manipulative people, death and deceit.

Told mainly from Chloe’s point of view, with occasional input from an unknown character, the pace is relentless, the plot full of surprises. Trying to unravel the identity of the unknown character had me accusing character after character of being ‘the one’. Yes, I did get it right, eventually. . .

This is a really good read, not a perfect read, but a really good one. Good enough to have me chasing up other books by this author. It is not always entirely plausible, there are a couple of smallish holes in the technicalities, but overall I really enjoyed Between the Lies.

💕💖💕💖

THE AUTHOR: I was born in 1981, the youngest of five and the only girl. For a short period of time after that I might have been my mum’s long awaited princess, but it became obvious that I was the kind of child who was more into mud pies and catching insects than I was pretty dresses. I loved my purple Doc Marten’s, hated my floral wallpaper, and was never allowed to paint my bedroom black. No, not even the ceiling.

I went to school in Warwick, UK, and throughout my school years I loved art, music, and English, yet somehow managed to end up studying clinical science at university. Despite my graduation and subsequent employment as a physiologist in cardiology, my creative tendencies were never far away. And the one aspiration I could never let go of was that of being a writer, so on a wet new year’s eve sometime around the turn of the millennium, I announced to a friend that I was going to write a book. It took another five years of note taking and day dreaming, but eventually I sat down to complete my first manuscript. It didn’t get picked up, but it drove me into writing the second, and third, and so on and so forth. By early 2015 I had finished writing MY SISTER, and I was offered representation by the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV, and Film Agency. MY SISTER became my debut, and it is hotly followed by BETWEEN THE LIES in July 2018.

Now I write almost every day, starting at nine, finishing at some point in the afternoon. Sometimes people ask me where I get my idea’s from, and it’s a hard question to answer. Lot’s of things inspire me, but if I had to sum it up in one word the answer would probably be people; the things we do, say, and the different ways in which we behave towards one another. When I’m not writing I love to read. The first book that I didn’t want to end was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the first book that broke my heart was Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Gerald’s Game by Stephen King was the spark that made me want to write in the first place. I think I was probably about nine when I read that.

I like people who don’t give up on their dreams, and those who show compassion for other people. I am crazy about my cat, and fortunate that the other people in my house tolerate him. I love travelling, and am lucky enough to live close to Greece which has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. I’m currently training for the London marathon, so if you’ve got training tips, or ideas on how to avoid shin splints, I want to hear them. Finally, if you love Game of Thrones you can count me as a friend, but if you shared my theory regarding the Tower of Joy before you watched THAT episode, or have access to a pre-release copy of The Winds of Winter, you can count yourself part of the family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Between the Lies by Michelle Adams 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/2628426009