A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett

EXCERPT: ‘ . . . There is one other thing. We’ve found another crashed car this morning. Further along the road from the collapsed wall. And well down the bank, hidden from the road. A dog walker found it.’
‘What?’ Nell’s mind reeled. ‘Was it a classic BMW?’
‘Er . . . yes -‘
‘Where? Exactly?’ Nell headed for the Land Rover.
‘Just before the junction.’
‘Have you called the police?’
‘Yes, apparently they’re on their way.’
‘Good. I am, too.’
‘But . . . it’s not just a car, Nell,’ Astrid said, her voice shaky. ‘Someone’s in it. You know. Dead.’

ABOUT ‘A MISCHIEF OF RATS’: When a driver dies during a glamourous classic car event at her family’s estate, Dr Nell Ward is in a race against time to uncover the truth and prevent the killer from making a speedy getaway…

Back in her natural habitat, Dr Nell Ward heads to a woodland pond to survey local newt populations. She’s shocked to discover a car submerged in the water – with the driver dead behind the wheel.

Nell recognises the dead man as professional racing driver, and tabloid love rat, Jack Rafferty, whose performance on (and off) Finchmere’s racetrack had earned him enemies.

Suspecting this isn’t the tragic accident it appears DI James Clark calls upon Nell and her ecological skills to help find the murderer. But she soon finds that more lurks under the surface than she could ever have imagined. Despite the danger, Nell is determined to dredge up the truth from the murky depths of this case, before it’s too late…

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed A Murder of Crows, but A Mischief of Rats, although I love the title, has failed to provide the same level of enjoyment.

I really thought I would enjoy this much more than I did, having a passion for motor racing and enjoying learning more ecological facts. I don’t feel that I learned anywhere near as much about newts as I did about bats. Even the motor racing aspect left me strangely unmoved. And there’s an awful lot of dialogue. Lots and lots of dialogue. Far too much.

Again there’s no shortage of suspects for the murders, but I felt the plot and motive were a bit thin on believability. Another thing that irritated me, and it’s mentioned more than once, is that it’s only two months since Nell last discovered bodies and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Another thing that annoyed me was the cliffhanger ending. It was unnecessary and over the top. This book should have ended with the penultimate chapter.

A Mischief of Rats just didn’t draw me in. It was an okay read for me, no more. And the only rats in evidence are human ones.


#AMischiefofRats #NetGalley

: #sarahyarwood-lovett @emblabooks

T: @Sarah_Y_L @emblabooks

#contemporaryfiction #cosymystery #murdermystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: After spending sixteen years as an ecologist, crawling through undergrowth and studying nocturnal habits of animals (and people), Dr Sarah Yarwood-Lovett naturally turned her mind to murder. She may have swapped badgers for bears when she emigrated from a quaint village in the South Downs to the wild mountains of the Pacific Northwest, but her books remain firmly rooted in the rolling downland she grew up in.

Forensically studying clues for animal activity has seen Sarah surveying sites all over the UK and around the world. She’s re-discovered a British species thought to be extinct during her PhD, with her record held in London’s Natural History Museum; debated that important question – do bats wee on their faces? – at school workshops; survived a hurricane on a coral atoll whilst scuba diving to conduct marine surveys; and given evidence as an expert witness.

Along the way, she’s discovered a noose in an abandoned warehouse and had a survey de-railed by the bomb squad. Her unusual career has provided the perfect inspiration for a series of murder mysteries with an ecological twist – so, these days, Sarah’s research includes consulting detectives, lawyers, judges and attending murder trials. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Embla Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett 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

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

EXCERPT: ‘Why don’t you start at the beginning?’
‘The beginning? Well, I reckon that was the funeral. The funeral turned into a damned circus when the blackbirds showed up.’ Blackberry sweet tea sloshed over the rims of two mason jars as Faylene Wiggins abruptly slapped her hand on the tabletop. ‘Wait! Wait! You can’t print that. My mama would wash out my mouth with her homemade lemon verbena soap if she knew I cursed for the good Lord and all the world to see in your article.’
The reporter flipped the pages of his yellow steno pad. ‘I thought you said that your mother was dead?’
‘You’re not from these parts, so you’re excused for not understanding. Wicklow, Alabama, isn’t any old ordinary town, young man. Goodness, I wouldn’t put it past my mama to rise straight out of the ground and hunt me down, bar of soap clutched in her bony hand.’ With a firm nod, she jammed a finger in the air and added, ‘Now, that you can print.’

ABOUT ‘MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFÉ’: Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

MY THOUGHTS: A beautiful story about family ties, secrets, grief, old grudges, love and forgiveness.

Heather Webber never fails to draw me in with her marvellous characters and whimsical storylines. She conjures up just the right mix of family drama, mystery, romance and magical realism.

I could hear her characters speaking and was hungry for both Anna-Kate’s pies and Gabriel’s fried chicken.

The only thing stopping this from being a five star read was my confusion about the roles of Jenna and Bow. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be grateful.



I: @booksbyheather

T: @BooksbyHeather

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #fantasy #friendship #mystery #romance

THE AUTHOR: Heather Webber, aka Heather Blake, is the author of more than twenty-five novels. She loves to read, drink too much coffee and tea, birdwatch, crochet, and bake. She currently lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and is hard at work on her next book.

I own my copy of Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Sorry I haven’t posted or interacted much much this week. Events rather overtook me, but more about that later.

I picked up a book this morning, one from my backlist that is the April selection for the Mystery, Crime and Thriller groupread. I intended to just read a chapter a day to eke it out over the month. BUT, I was immediately absorbed and intrigued and finished this stunning debut, published August 2017, just after lunch.🤣🤣🤣 Maybe there was a reason I have left it sitting unread for almost six years, because it was just the tonic I needed. The book is Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t appear to have published anything since.

I am currently listening to A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5) by Elly Griffiths, continuing – after a detour or two – my personal ‘read this series in 2023’ challenge.

I still have three titles for review that were published in March that I haven’t managed to read, but hopefully I can catch up in April – not this week as I have four reads for review due!

This week I am planning to read The Forgetting by Hannah Beckerman, a new author to me.

I just love this cover!

When Anna Bradshaw wakes up in a hospital bed in London, she remembers nothing, not even her loving husband, Stephen. The doctors say her amnesia is to be expected, but Anna feels cut adrift from her entire life.

In Bristol, Livvy Nicholson is newly married to Dominic and eager to get back to work after six months’ maternity leave. But when Dominic’s estranged mother appears, making a series of unnerving claims, Livvy is sucked into a version of herself she doesn’t recognise.

A hundred miles apart, both women feel trapped and disorientated, and their stories are about to collide. Can they uncover the secret that connects them and reconstruct their fractured lives?

You Should Have Known by Rebecca Keller, which I requested after reading Jayme’s enthusiastic review. This is another author who is new to me.

When retired nurse Frannie Greene moves into a senior living apartment, she finds a compelling friendship with her new neighbor Katherine, only to discover that Katherine is married to the judge who Frannie believes is implicated in the death of her beloved granddaughter.

Observing the medication cart sparks Frannie’s darkest imagination, and her desire for revenge combines with her medical expertise. In one dreadful, impulsive moment, she tampers with the medicine. However, the next day, someone is dead and Frannie realizes the gravity of what she’s done.

The police get involved, and suspicions gather around someone Frannie knows to be innocent. Wracked with remorse, Frannie’s anxiety becomes unbearable. As she works to make it right, Frannie discovers that things are more complicated than they seem.

She’s spent years aching for accountability from people in power. Is she the one who now needs to be held culpable? What really happened that night?

Summer Nights in the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I have been requesting her books for ages so was excited to finally get an ARC.

A new beginning…

As her summer wedding to Jake approaches, Hollie is excited for their new beginning as a family. But when some unexpected news threatens the future she and Jake had hoped for, Hollie will need to find the strength to overcome heartache once more.

A fragile heart…

Single mum, Kerry, loves her job at The Starfish Café, but behind the brave smiles and laughter with customers there is a sadness deep within. So when someone from her past re-appears in her life, Kerry can either hide away or face her demons and try to finally move on from her heartbreak.

A summer to remember…

For Hollie and Kerry it promises to be an emotional rollercoaster of a summer, but the community at The Starfish Café will always be there to help them through – after all, with courage nothing is impossible…

And The Lost Wife by Georgina Lees, a widget I received directly from the publisher.

You always underestimated me and I always overestimated you.
Maybe that was our problem.

A woman and a child arrive at a cottage in the Peak District in the dead of night.

Alone. Desperate. Hunted.

She knows they’re coming for her. It’s only a matter of time.

Because her husband kept a secret from her. Until he was ready to destroy her.

Now, it’s her turn.

These books are all due for publication this coming week.

During a sleepless night this week I caved in and went on a requesting spree, netting five new reads.

All Good Things by Amanda Prowse, an author I love.

The Wedding Gift by Carolyn Brown

The Bride To Be by Daniel Hurst

One Last Kill by Robert Dugoni

Cicadas Sing of Summer Graves by Quinn Connor, yet another author new to me.

Pete had a meeting with his care team Friday morning and begins his radiation treatment Wednesday. He is to stay in the cancer lodge for the first two weeks at least so that he can be monitored, but he is allowed home for the weekends.

I didn’t accomplish everything that I needed to at work this week, but I came close, so that will have to do. There was only one set of accounts that I didn’t manage to straighten out, but only because I didn’t have the supporting documentation.

I was exhausted by Friday night and came home, had a cup of tea, a sandwich and went to bed.

We went to a 100th birthday party Saturday afternoon – a first for us – of a family friend. It was a lovely afternoon, with a spectacular cake and lots of great company. Everything was just winding up when all the excitement of the afternoon caught up with the birthday boy who took a bit of a turn and was unconscious for several minutes. He departed his party in an ambulance and spent the night in hospital under observation. He is back home today and reportedly in fine form.

The rain cleared just after lunch today and I planted the spinach plants I had picked up during the week. My winter lettuce are starting to look good, but my red cabbage are not hearting up at all. I am still picking the occasional tomato and cucumber, and I ate six luscious sweet sun warmed strawberries this afternoon. I keep thinking that they must nearly be at an end, but there’s still green strawberries and flowers on the plants.

Leftovers for dinner tonight.

I hope you have all had a satisfying week, and happy reading for the coming week. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to have heavy rain all day, but other than a couple of light drizzly showers, there’s been nothing, so I have had to water the vege garden. I picked another seven cucumbers for Luke’s roadside stand, but I fear that’s the last of them. It doesn’t look as though there are many feijoas on the tree, and there’s no sign yet of mandarins, so he may have a bit of a dry spell for a while. Dustin and Luke have been down for the afternoon and have just left to go back home so that they’ve time to give Timmy a run before it’s dark. Daylight saving ends here next week, so it will get dark even earlier.

Helen and I went and investigated the two new antique shops in the area Friday morning. We had a lovely time and finished with coffee out.

Currently I am reading, and almost finished, The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish. I’m not over-enamoured, but reserving my final opinion as she often pulls something out of the hat right at the end.

I am still listening to the family saga, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

I am not quite caught up with my March reads yet, hopefully this week. I have two reads for review due this week: Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .

And A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall, which I can’t wait to get to. I loved the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up with Liz, Pat and Thelma again.

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

Only one publisher’s Widget this week, and one ARC. The widget is Summer at the Cornish Farmhouse by Linn B. Halton

And ARC is The Widow of Weeping Pines by Amanda McKinney

I am back at work fulltime from Monday. Hopefully not for too long. I will still be going to aquarobics, but other interests will be taking a back seat while I deal with the end of the financial year and training someone new for my job. *sigh* I have a meeting with the outgoing manager tomorrow. She walked off the job at lunchtime Friday after having, only days earlier, agreed to work through to the end of March. 🤷‍♀️

Enjoy however much remains of your weekend. I’m making toasted sandwiches for dinner tonight – ham, cheese, mustard. Then I will sort out the menu for the rest of the week and make a shopping list. We’re a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard here as I haven’t done a grocery shop for two weeks.

Happy reading!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’re currently having lovely warm days and very cold nights, something I can live with. But we have more rain forecast next week and apparently a cold spell as well that may see me hibernating.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand has been hit by a swarm of earthquakes over the past 36 hours. To all my bookish friends in that region, my thoughts are with you and I hope you are all safe.

I am currently reading A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, set in the 1950s. It took me a wee bit to settle into, but now I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s not quite a murder-mystery as we meet the murderer making confession early in the book, but it’s the police and the Priest to whom he confessed trying to ascertain just who he is, and then trying to find him, that provides the entertainment.

I am also reading #1 in a New Zealand crime/detective series by Vanda Symon, Overkill. I read the 5th in the series last week and loved it so much that I decided to begin at the beginning. Loving it. At this point it’s looking like another 5 star read.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

I am listening to The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Emilia Fox. This was originally published as The Shifting Fog.

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets – some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

I, again, have only one read for review due this week, just as well as I am still reading books that were published two weeks ago. Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni is due for publication 23rd March, and hopefully I will be caught up by then.

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master’s deadly match? A twisting novel of suspense by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family’s failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family’s reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career.

Keera’s chance to play in the big leagues comes when she’s retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There’s little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple’s impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera’s former lover, who’s eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense.

As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that’s more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family’s legacy, and her own future.

I have received two publishers widgets this week, and one ARC via Netgalley. The Netgalley ARC is Summer Nights at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I’m excited about this as I haven’t previously been approved for any of her books.

The two publishers widgets are: Black Thorn by Sarah Hilary

And The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood. This is a series that has consistently been 5 star reads.

I’ve done quite well with my posting this week. I’m not promising the same for this week.

I’ve a shoulder of lamb in the oven for tonight’s dinner and it smells delicious. The vegetables are just waiting to be tipped into the roasting dish. I’ll be sneaking a slice or two before I dish up and putting between two slices of the fresh bread I bought from the bakery today slathered in butter, salt and pepper. That’s one of life’s guilty pleasures for me.

Enjoy your weekend!❤📚

The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown

EXCERPT: ‘Where’s the nearest convent or bootcamp?’ Grace Dalton stormed into the kitchen of the Devine Doughnut Shop that Friday morning. ‘That daughter of mine needs to spend some time in whichever one that will take her.’
‘What has Audrey done now?’ Grace’s younger sister, Sarah, asked.
She sent me a text last night after I’d gone to bed and said that she had been suspended for today,’ Grace answered as she slipped a bibbed apron over her head and tied the strings in the back. She tucked her hair up into a net and moved over to the sink to wash her hands.
Their cousin Macy, who was a partner in the doughnut shop, set the bowls up on the counter to get the dough made and rising. ‘Good Lord! What did she do?’
Grace flipped the hot doughnuts into a bowl of powdered sugar glaze, turned them over, and set them out on a different rack to cool. ‘She got caught with a pack of cigarettes and one of those little sample bottles of whisky at school. When she goes back after spring break, she gets to spend two days in the in-school suspension building. I’m paying for your raising, Sarah June, not mine. I was the good child.’

ABOUT ‘THE DEVINE DOUGHNUT SHOP’: For Grace Dalton, her sister, Sarah, and her cousin Macy, the Devine Doughnut Shop is a sweet family legacy and a landmark in their Texas town. As the fourth generation to run the Double D, they keep their great-grandmother’s recipe secret and uphold the shop’s tradition as a coffee klatch for sharing local gossip, advice, and woes. But drama brews behind the counter, too.

Grace is a single mother struggling with an unruly teenage daughter. Heartbroken Sarah has sworn off love. Macy’s impending wedding has an unexpected hitch. And now charming developer Travis Butler has arrived in Devine with a checkbook and a handsome smile. He wants to buy the shop, expand it nationally, and boost the economy of a town divided by the prospect.

With the family’s relationships in flux, their beloved heritage up for grabs, and their future in the air, it’s amazing what determination, sass, a promise of romance, and a warm maple doughnut can do to change hearts and minds.

MY THOUGHTS: I want a maple doughnut – more than one in fact. I am glad we don’t have a decent doughnut shop in our town or I would have been down there every morning buying a dozen to get me through the day.

Anyone who has a teenage daughter, or who has ever been a teenage daughter, is going to relate to this read. Audrey is at that age where being popular is the most important thing in her life. Her mother neither likes nor approves of her friends and Audrey is certain her mother is out to ruin her street cred.

The relationship between Grace and her daughter had me chuckling, recalling similar battles between my mother and myself. I loved the relationship between Grace, her sister Sarah and their cousin Macy. The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child, but in this case it just takes a close knit family. I love the way these three support one another and indulge their love of ice-cream in times of crisis.

These characters are all smart, resilient and sassy. Carolyn Brown sure can write them.

This is a heartwarming story of family, friendship, faith and romance that kept me smiling throughout.


#TheDevineDoughnutShop #NetGalley

@carolynbrownbooks #montlake

T: @thecarolynbrown #Montlake

#christianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #friendship #romance #sliceoflife #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Hi! I’m twenty five years old and movie star gorgeous. The camera added thirty plus years and a few wrinkles. Can’t trust those cameras or mirrors either. Along with bathroom scales they are notorious liars! Honestly, I am the mother of three fantastic grown children who’ve made me laugh and given me more story ideas than I could ever write. My husband, Charles, is my strongest supporter and my best friend. He’s even willing to eat fast food and help with the laundry while I finish one more chapter! Life is good and I am blessed!

Reading has been a passion since I was five years old and figured out those were words on book pages. As soon as my chubby little fingers found they could put words on a Big Chief tablet with a fat pencil, I was on my way. Writing joined reading in my list of passions. I will read anything from the back of the Cheerio’s box to Faulkner and love every bit of it. In addition to reading I enjoy cooking, my family and the ocean. I love the Florida beaches. Listening to the ocean waves puts my writing brain into high gear.

I love writing romance because it’s about emotions and relationships. Human nature hasn’t changed a bit since Eve coveted the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Settings change. Plots change. Names change. Times change. But love is love and men and women have been falling in and out of it forever. Romance is about emotions: love, hate, anger, laughter… all of it. If I can make you laugh until your sides ache or grab a tissue then I’ve touched your emotions and accomplished what every writer sets out to do.


got serious about writing when my third child was born and had her days and nights mixed up. I had to stay up all night anyway and it was very quiet so I invested in a spiral back notebook and sharpened a few pencils. The story that emerged has never sold but it’s brought in enough rejection slips to put the Redwood Forest on the endangered list.

Folks ask me where I get my ideas. Three kids, fifteen grandchildren, two great grandchildren. Note: I was a very young grandmother! Life is a zoo around here when they all come home. In one Sunday afternoon there’s enough ideas to keep me writing for years and years. Seriously, ideas pop up at the craziest times. When one sinks its roots into my mind, I have no choice but to write the story. And while I’m writing the characters peek over my shoulder and make sure I’m telling it right and not exaggerating too much. Pesky little devils, they are!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Devine Doughnut Shop by Carolyn Brown 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

Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara

EXCERPT: Just because you imagine yourself doing something and enjoy the way it makes you feel, doesn’t mean you actually want to do it. It doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. Of course not. Because sometimes the very opposite is true and something you never in a million years could imagine yourself doing is done in the blink of an eye and changes your life forever.
So if, in my head, I’m grabbing a handful of her braids and slamming her head into a brick wall till her skull’s smashed in, it doesn’t mean that’s what I’ll do. It doesn’t make me a bad person just thinking about it. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s normal to have the odd violent fantasy about someone you hate so much every muscle in your body contracts when you think of them. I mean, everybody does it sometimes, don’t they? Don’t they?
Seven slams, if you’re interested. That’s how many it takes till her braids run red.

ABOUT ‘WHO DID YOU TELL ?’: It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around. Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged. But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected. Some mistakes, you have to pay for.

MY THOUGHTS: Wow! That was a crazy ride and a half!

Astrid is a resentful and angry character. She is an alcoholic, back living with her mum, who is insisting that she attends AA. Astrid can’t get her head around the whole ‘God’ thing and believes that only a few of the twelve steps apply to her.

Her fellow AA attendees are an odd bunch, but only three play a significant role in the storyline. Rosie is an older homeless woman who seems to be taking an unusual amount of interest in Astrid’s life. She repeatedly warns Astrid against continuing her friendship with Helen, another new attendee, the only person Astrid feels that she can relate to. She is surprised to find that a colourless seemingly ineffective man, Jeremy (Jez), is actually a well-respected lawyer and connected to a family Astrid is painting for. Which worries Astrid as she hasn’t revealed to them that she is an alcoholic.

It’s really engaging following Astrid’s faltering steps through her recovery which are complicated by a past she is unprepared to reveal and a series of threatening notes she receives which makes her sure that she is being targeted by someone who knows exactly what she is guilty of.

While initially I didn’t particularly care for Astrid, by the end of the book, I came to like and admire her.

Astrid’s mum is another great character. She loves her daughter and will do anything within her power to help her daughter through her battle with alcohol. But she’s no pushover. She doesn’t take any shit from her daughter.

There’s a little romance, but it fits nicely into the storyline and isn’t overpowering.

Lesley Kara has created a wonderful mix of psychological drama and personal struggles that was difficult to put down.


#WhoDidYouTell? #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @lesleykarawriter @penguinukbooks

T: @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: THE AUTHOR: Lesley Kara is an alumna of the Faber Writing Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She lives in the small town of Flinstead-on-Sea on the North Essex coast. The Rumour is her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for providing a paperback copy of Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon. We’ve had a lazy weekend and have accomplished very little. I don’t even have to think about dinner tonight as we’re off to a friend’s later this afternoon to watch the Supercar racing out of Australia and staying for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it.

I didn’t manage to accomplish much reading wise over the past week either. I have only managed to finish one of my six reads for review for the week, but will probably finish the second tonight.

Currently I am reading The Summer

And a book by a new to me New Zealand author, Vanda Symon. Loving it!

A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…

The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’ s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

I am listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I am hoping to catch up on the reads I didn’t get to last week as I have only one read for review due this week. It is Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams.

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

There’s something strange about the scene . . . Famous artist Elaine appears to have passed peacefully in her sleep as she rested against a tree in the garden of her home, the Willows. Her legs are outstretched, hands tenderly clutching a small blue flower.

But upon closer inspection, things don’t add up. Where is Elaine’s trusty walking stick? Why did she choose to slumber on the ground when there is a comfortable lounge chair nearby? Where did that blue flower come from? . . . not from her garden, that’s for sure.

The clues soon point to murder. Elaine was beloved by the community, who would do such a thing? Her grandson is determined to uncover the truth and hires Rina to investigate.

The trail leads Rina to a series of shocking secrets, stretching back over twenty years. And a murderer who has unfinished business . . . Can our favourite amateur sleuth catch this killer before it’s too late?

Suddenly, because I decided to stop requesting ARCs for review, several that were on my pending list were approved, and I received three widgets from publishers!🤣🤣🤣 Is someone in the great library in the sky trying to tell you something?

The three publishers widgets are:

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins

The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

And Don’t Look Back by Jo Spain

Other ARCs I received via Netgalley are:

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

A Cornish Seaside Murder by Fiona Leitch

A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun by David Putnam

and The Lucky Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

Oh, well, I was obviously meant to have these. 🤷‍♀️❤📚

Thanks to all of you who have been asking after Pete. We’re back to Oncology Monday when they will plot a detailed map of the cancer for the radiation treatment which will be starting in the next two to three weeks.

Have a great week of reading and I’ll be popping in whenever I can. 🤗❤📚

One Day With You by Shari Low

EXCERPT: Val was still fidgeting with her phone and Nancy got that. They were both convinced that being of a certain age gave them an affliction that caused severe delays at every stage of mobile phone use. Wrong password. Face I.D. not working. Thumbprint buggered. And then when they did get in, they needed to suss out whether they had received a Facebook message, a snapchat, WhatsApp, a text, or an alert from an energy company saying that their next electricity bill was going to require them to remortgage the house. After Val had worked her way through all of these options, she shook her head. ‘Nope, wasn’t me either.’
‘Och, bugger . . .’ Nancy mumbled, pulling her bag onto her lap and having a rummage, before finally liberating her phone. She hadn’t even thought to check because she didn’t expect anyone to be looking for her. Unless it was Angie wanting new batteries for her hand fans.
Thumbprint? Not working. Two attempts to enter the password? Finally in. Text? Nope. WhatsApp? Nope. Facebook message? There it was.
‘Right girls, hang on to your knickers.’ She cleared her throat and started reading. ‘New message from Eddie Mackie:
Nancy I couldn’t sleep last night for thinking about seeing you again tonight. We’ve got so many years to make up for. Counting the hours. Love, Eddie.’
The other two didn’t say a word, just eyed her expectantly, waiting for her reaction. Ten minutes ago, she’d decided she wasn’t going, and she stood by that decision. She wasn’t the kind of woman to be swayed by mushy words that romantic fairy tales. She was too old and too long in the tooth to go chasing after fantasies.
Wasn’t she?
Oh, bugger it!
‘Tress, love,’ she blurted. ‘I just need a word with the wee one.’ She leaned forward so that she was speaking to Tress’s bump. ‘Son, I know you’re probably comfy in there, floating about without a care in the world, but if I could ask a wee favour. Could you hurry up and get ready to slide down that shute the second yer daddy gets here, because Aunty Nancy has a party to go to.’

ABOUT ‘ONE DAY WITH YOU’: One day, five lives, but whose hearts will be broken by nightfall?
It started like any other day in the picturesque village of Weirbridge.

Tress Walker waved her perfect husband Max off to work, with no idea that she was about to go into labour with their first child. And completely unaware that when she tried to track Max down, he wouldn’t be where he was supposed to be.

At the same time, Max’s best friend Noah Clark said goodbye to his wife, Mya, blissfully oblivious that he would soon discover the woman he adored had been lying to him for years.

And living alongside the two couples, their recently widowed friend, Nancy Jenkins, is getting ready to meet Eddie, her first true love at a school reunion. Will Nancy have the chance to rekindle an old flame, or will she choose to stay by Tress’s side when she needs her most?

One Day with You – two fateful goodbyes, two unexpected hellos, and 24 hours that change everything.

MY THOUGHTS: I am really torn about this book. On one level, I loved it. I loved the drama, the tragedy, the love, the humour. On another level, I found it repetitive in many places, and occasionally flat. There were instances where I felt I was being ‘told’ instead of experiencing things.

I did have some difficulty initially getting into this read and dallied over the opening chapters for a few days. But once I did, I read the final 60% in one sitting, hardly daring to breathe. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I empathised, I shook my head in despair and crossed my fingers for luck.

Nancy and Val and their antics are very important to the book. They provide some light relief for the darker thread that runs through the plot involving the very pregnant Tress, her husband Max, his best friend Noah, and Noah’s wife Anya.

One Day With You is an intensely emotional read featuring, amongst other things, infidelity, death, dementia, and second-chance love. A bizarre mix, but it mostly works. It is told from the points of view of Tress, Max, Noah and Nancy, the bulk of the story taking place over a twenty four hour period.

I don’t believe either the cover art or the comments on the cover reflect the true nature of this book. To me they suggest a lighthearted read. One Day With You is anything but.


#OneDayWithYou #NetGalley

I: @sharilowbooks @bookandtonic

T: @sharilow @BoldwoodBooks

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #friendship #romance

THE AUTHOR: In real life, once upon a time she met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband and a labradoodle. Her two teenagers have now left home, so she spends an inordinate amount of time on video calls checking if they’re eating well and keeping up to date with their laundry.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Boldwood Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of One Day With You by Shari Low 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 Other Half by Charlotte Vassell

EXCERPT: The McDonald’s in Kentish Town had seen some sights, but this was something different. At 6 p.m. an elegant man strode through the automatic doors. Wing-collar shirt, cummerbund, and silk bow tie. Expensive shoes: Italian. They made a clipped noise when he walked, much like his vowels when he spoke. He strolled up to the counter and asked to speak to the manager. The server peered around him nervously, looking for a non-existent camera. The manager was dutifully found and propositioned like a comely whore. The gentleman, and there really couldn’t be another word for a man dressed in such a manner, was going to use the upstairs area – usually reserved for children’s parties on Saturday mornings – for a private gathering that evening. His guests were arriving at 7.30 p.m. and the staff were to bring food upstairs (the order had already been courteously written out in fastidious copper-plate) at 8 p.m. for them. They were not to be disturbed after that. The gentleman made it very clear that they were to be handsomely recompensed for their efforts, and their silence. No one who worked there was to mention it again and CCTV was to be turned off. The gentleman paid in cash – crisp £50 notes – and gave all the staff, including the poor, poor cleaner, who would have to deal with the true horrors tomorrow morning, a nice little tip for all the trouble he was about to cause.

ABOUT ‘THE OTHER HALF’: The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.

The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

MY THOUGHTS: Clever, complex, and witty, there’s nothing not to love about The Other Half, including the characters. Some I loved, some I vacillated about, and others I intensely disliked.

Rupert is at the centre of this story; titled and entitled, he is obscenely wealthy, misogynistic, and manipulative. His girlfriend (I use this word loosely, perhaps limpet might be a more apt description) Clemmie, has a token job at an art gallery, and is an ‘influencer’. She desperately wants to marry Rupert for the title and the country pile he will inherit when his grandfather dies. Rupert is enamoured with Nell, who is considered ‘unsuitable’. Alex also loves Nell, who has just parted ways with Caspar. There are various other double and triple-barreled surnamed characters, and women named Minty and . . . well, you get the picture. Everyone is connected to everyone through schools, blood and godparents. There’s no six degrees of separation here.

On other side, Detective Caius Beauchamp, who shares a surname, albeit pronounced differently, with Rupert, regrets his lack of classical education and has set about rectifying this deficit. He’s also cleansing his body and pining for Heloise, who recently unceremoniously dumped him. He is ably assisted in his investigations by Matt Cheung, intent on sabotaging Caius’s clean eating regime, and Amy Noakes, a computer whiz.

Throughout this read I was rooting for Nell, whom I quite liked except for her abysmal taste in men. Alex. And of course for Caius, who is extremely likeable.

But who killed Clemmie (dubbed Plegm by Nell)? I wanted it to be Rupert. I was scared it was Nell.

This was a fun read. I honestly hope that this is going to be developed into a series. I want more of Caius – his team and his personal life. He’s a refreshing gem. And I am sure Charlotte Vassell can dream up plenty more aristocratic prats to write about and entertain us with.


#TheOtherHalf #NetGalley

I: @vassellcharlotte @faberbooks

T: @CharlotteVas17 @FaberBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #romance

MEET THE AUTHOR: Charlotte Vassell studied History at the University of Liverpool and completed a Masters in Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, before training as an actor at Drama Studio London. Other than treading the boards Charlotte has also worked in advertising, as a head-hunter, and as a purveyor of silk top hats.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber and Faber via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell 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