The Agency by Ian Austin

The Agency by Ian Austin

The Agency (The Dan Calder Series Book 1) 
by Ian Austin

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EXCERPT: Such was her quiet character that Val completely amazed Edwina when she gave her the number for The Agency. They were in a dimly lit bistro one evening, enjoying an early supper soon after Edwina was given the news about the grievous nature of her illness.

‘A friend of mine used them. He wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, but he did tell me in case anything bad happened. In the end, it must have gone exactly how he wanted, and the papers reported it so well that his family will always believe he died fighting overseas,’ Val whispered.

THE BLURB: Dan Calder is an ex Brit and ex policeman looking for a fresh start in a new country but still carrying the baggage of failed relationships and a depressed, repressed past. He chose New Zealand because it was as far as he could get from his old life but did not take into account the universal six degrees of separation is no more than two or three in the land of the long white cloud.

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

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

Ian Austin was born in 1963 in Southampton, England. His very un-remarkable school life ended at 16. Drifting into and out of several jobs including hotel porter and photocopier salesman he eventually found his salvation in the Hampshire Police. A career as first a constable and then detective in the UK followed, where he also served as a tactical firearms officer, covert surveillance operative and National Crime Squad trainer.

He transferred to the New Zealand Police in 2003 having visited several times before and falling in love with the country and the Kiwi way of life.

He left the police in 2006 to set up a training and consultancy business. He now lives in Auckland with his artist partner Sallie.

MY THOUGHTS: The Agency by Ian Austin is a good introduction to Dan Calder, around whom this novel revolves and the series will be based.

Austin’s police background is evident in both the content and the style of his writing. He says in the author’s note at the end of the book ‘I have drawn on some personal experiences to try and make it believable, but rest assured, I am not Dan Calder.’ He has definitely succeeded in his aim; his character, Dan Calder, is very believeable, as is the intriguing plot.

At one point in the novel, Calder runs a marathon. I am not an exercise junkie, although I did once run daily for a period of time, and hated every step of it. But back to Calder’s marathon, I swear Austin had me run every damned step with that man; I was exhausted by the end.

The Agency is a good read. If I have any criticism, it is that the conversation between characters is, at times, a little stilted, and that, in places, the author is a little wordy. Minor details that, in the end, in no way impacted on my enjoyment and that will be rectified by experience.

The next book, The Second Grave, is due out around Easter 2018. I am eagerly awaiting its release. I can’t wait to see what new dangers await Dan Calder. Please note that a new edition  of The Agency has recently been published with beautiful new cover art by Ian’s partner, Sallie. However, due to my ineptitude with all things technical, I have been unable to reproduce the new cover here. *sigh* I will get better, I promise.

Thank you to author Ian Austin for providing a paperback copy of The Agency 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/2250973825

The Rose in Winter by Sarah Harrison

The Rose in Winter by Sarah Harrison
Reviewed by

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EXCERPT: 1953 – Barbara flitted across the hall and paused – face to the wall, breath held. Silence lay in the dim rooms all around, rain roared on the windows. She gasped and ran again, pattering along the passage to the kitchen on wings of fear, quick and light as a moth. If she didn’t breathe, if her feet scarcely touched the ground, perhaps she would be invisible. Everywhere in the house was unseasonably dark because of the rain, which had been falling all day long and showed no sign of abating. The downpour would obscure the view of anyone looking in, but would it hide them from her too? How would she know who was out there? And where?

THE BLURB: What if the one that got away comes back? Barbara Delahay’s past returns to haunt her in this compelling novel of romantic suspense.

1929. 17-year-old Barbara Delahay was a beauty, a young and untouched English rose, enjoying the social whirl of the debutante season. It was inevitable she would attract male attention. However, Barbara caught the eye of someone charismatic but wholly unsuitable. Someone damaged. Drawn under his spell, she almost succumbed, but escaped just in time to marry the decent but dull Brigadier Govan, a man 25 years her senior.

Now in 1953, the day of the new Queen’s coronation, in an empty house with the rain rushing down the windows, the widowed Barbara is cowering in fear. For she knows who’s out there, calling her name, seeking her out ? Her past has returned to claim her, and this time it won’t be so easy to deny.

MY THOUGHTS: I remember being totally enamored by The Flowers of the Field by Sarah Harrison back in the 1980s when it was first published, so I was excited to discover her latest offering, The Rose in Winter. Even more so when it was described as a historical romantic suspense. Just what I needed!

Now, other than the opening paragraphs, there is not a lot of suspense. Nor is there a great deal of romance, at least not in the traditional sense. What we do get however, is a solid story of the life of a woman over two timelines, the late 1920s/early 1930s, and 1953.

Life in this era was vastly different than today, particularly for a woman. They did not have the freedom of choice that we have and Sarah Harrison portrays this social clime very well. Barbara Delahay’s story would have been very different set in modern times.

While The Rose in Winter may not deliver great chunks of romantic suspense, it is a good read, and one that is not going to slot easily into any particular genre other than historical fiction, and perhaps social commentary. After finishing this, I am eager to reread some of her earlier works.

3.5☆ The Rose in Winter is due to be published January 01, 2018 by Severn House.

Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rose in Winter by Sarah Harrison 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/2227483932?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Friday Favorite- My top ten books of 2017

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

No matter, there were plenty more.

Lots and lots and lots more.

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

It was all about timing.

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

Cute. Cute. Cute. Nothing but cute.

‘Darlene! Darlene, honey!’

A woman bent to scoop up her daughter.

Mother and child reunion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY THOUGHTS: Owen Mullen knows how to write.

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

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

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

And he is a man with old scores to settle.

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

Crime fiction has a new master.

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

Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis

THE BLURB: A tragic suicide?

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

Or the perfect murder?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You by Caroline Kepnes

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

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

Yes.

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

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

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

F—K yes, I found her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I loved this book. I hated this book.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Publication date is October 15, 2017.

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

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

EXCERPT: Yes, an illustrious career.

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

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

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

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

A STRANGE WORD

Kommunist

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

“Communist.”

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

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

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Ruby Award.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BLURB: They built a life on lies 

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

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

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

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

I was hooked from the first page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

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

‘Revenge’ whispers the voice inside my head.’

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

Be careful what you wish for…

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

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BLURB: Find your magic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright
The House on Foster Hill 
by Jaime Jo Wright (Goodreads Author)

30817744

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: It was long rumored that the Foster Hill oak tree was not only the largest but also the oldest tree in Oakwood. While its top rose to a marvelous height, it was still dead and its branches never blossomed. The trunk was very wide at the base and split open to reveal a hollow inside. Many a child had hidden there during a rambunctious game of hide-and-seek. They wouldn’t hide there any more. Not after today.

The petite body was curled into the position of a babe, inside the tree’s womb. Blonde hair hung free over her cold, bare shoulders and floated out on the wind. Her torso was covered in a paper-thin dress of grey calico. It was nowhere enough to keep her warm, but it was more than the cold that tinted the young woman’s skin blue. It was death.

THE BLURB: Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

MY THOUGHTS: 3 stars for The House on Foster Hill from me.

I was excited by the first few chapters of this book. Their tone was insidiously creepy and hinted at great things to come, but for me, they never quite materialised.

I loved the character of Ivy, author of the book of deaths, where she recorded her thoughts and memories of the people of her town who passed away so that they would not be forgotten. She is a strong willed, unconventional young woman who has not recovered from the tragedy that robbed her of her beloved brother Andrew.

I found it harder to relate to Kaine, whose story is interspersed with Ivy’s, but occurring a century later. I could not warm to her and found her decisions and actions hard to understand.

Ultimately, I think that the author of The House on Foster Hill tried to make this book too many things, all being given equal billing, and as a result it all becomes slightly muddied. We have in Ivy’s story, a historical, Christian, romantic-suspense, people trafficking, murder mystery. With Kaine, we have a contemporary, Christian, romantic-suspense, stalker, murder-mystery. And then there is the family connection between the two women, voila! A genealogical mystery to boot!

I applaud Jaime Jo Wright’s intentions in her debut novel. If I have one piece of advice for her, it is this. Make one aspect of the novel the main thread, the star if you like, and the other aspects become side stories feeding into and supporting the main story, acting as the supporting cast, instead of all battling with one another to reign supreme.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright 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 v

The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White

The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White
The Lullaby Girl (Angie Pallorino, #2) 
by Loreth Anne White (Goodreads Author)

30817744
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: “It affected us all, you know, finding that bleeding and mute toddler inside. She was a beautiful child – that pale complexion, the long dark-red hair, and that tattered little pink dress with frayed lace.” A pause. “We all thought someone would come forward to claim her instantly – that she had to have some family who was missing her. But no one did – not a soul. No mother presented at Saint Peter’s with injuries later. The other hospitals in this health-care region reported nothing suspicious either. It was a mystery. An absolute mystery.”
“Tell…tell me more about the child,” Angie said, her voice husky.
“Her mouth had been slashed open by a sharp weapon – it had sliced through both the upper and lower lips on the left side of her face. She was bleeding copiously from the wound. Blood saturated her dress, the bassinet. She was clutching the Teddy we’d placed inside, like a lifeline. Blood soaked the Teddy as well. She was in shock, grey eyes like saucers. And she made no sound at all. As though she was beyond crying and had perhaps been that way for a long time before.”

THE BLURB: Detective Angie Pallorino took down a serial killer permanently and, according to her superiors, with excessive force. Benched on a desk assignment for twelve months, Angie struggles to maintain her sense of identity—if she’s not a detective, who is she? Then a decades-old cold case washes ashore, pulling her into an investigation she recognizes as deeply personal.

Angie’s lover and partner, James Maddocks, sees it, too. But spearheading an ongoing probe into a sex-trafficking ring and keeping Angie’s increasing obsession with her case in check is taking its toll. However, as startling connections between the parallel investigations emerge, Maddocks realizes he has more than Angie’s emotional state to worry about.

Driven and desperate to solve her case, Angie goes rogue, risking her relationship, career, and very life in pursuit of answers. She’ll learn that some truths are too painful to bear, and some sacrifices include collateral damage.

But Angie Pallorino won’t let it go. She can’t. It’s not in her blood.

MY THOUGHTS: The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White is a fast paced, action packed read. The storyline is complex, without being complicated, the writing punchy, the characters interesting. There is romantic content and reasonably explicit sexual content, both of which are handled well and integral to the plot.

This is the second book in a series, the first of which, The Drowned Girls, I have not yet read. I probably should have as there are references to the content of that book throughout The Lullaby Girl. But at no point when I was reading did I feel lost or out of the loop, there was enough explanation of past events given to make everything clear.

The Angie Pallorino series is one I am going to follow with interest, including going back to read the first book. And at the end of The Lullaby Girl, is a teaser for the third book in the series, which has whet my appetite for more.

A good solid ☆☆☆☆ read.

Thank you to Montlake Romance via Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of The Lullaby Girl by Loreth Anne White for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2144674593?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
In the Midst of Winter 
by Isabel Allende (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Richard Bowmaster was Lucia’s boss at New York University where she had a one year contract as a visiting professor. Once the semester was over, her life was a blank slate: she would need another job and somewhere else to live while she decided on her long term future. Sooner or later she would return to end her days in Chile, but that was still quite a way off. And since her daughter, Daniela, had moved to Miami to study marine biology, and was possibly in love and planning to stay, there was nothing to draw Lucia back to her home country. She intended to enjoy her remaining years of good health before she was defeated by decreptitude. She wanted to live abroad, where the daily challenges kept her mind occupied and her heart in relative calm, because in Chile she was crushed by the weight of the familiar, its routines and limitations. Back there she felt she was condemned to be a lonely old woman besieged by pointless memories; in another country, there could be surprises and opportunities.

THE BLURB: In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia.

MY THOUGHTS: What happened to Allende’s beautiful lyrical writing? It is MIA in In the Midst of Winter. I think I only stopped twice to roll a passage of the text around my mind and my mouth. The writing felt flat, unlike the previous books by this author which I really enjoyed.

I found this story quite depressing, both in its characters and the plot, both of which frequently left me feeling annoyed.

The story is mainly told about the three central characters, Lucia, Evelyn and Richard and over several different timelines, past and present. This doesn’t flow seamlessly and I found myself getting irritated by the constant tooing and froing. It was like a film that has been badly spliced. Disjointed.

I was disappointed. But perhaps she was just having a bad year. I may just reread The Japanese Lover to banish this from my mind. Definitely not what I have come to love and expect from this usually brilliant author.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2172368567

The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams

The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams
The Secret, Book and Scone Society 
by Ellery Adams (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by
EXCERPT: I read all the time. And I listen to people. I really listen…Stories don’t change much across continents and centuries. Hearts are broken. Pride is wounded. Souls wander too far from home and become lost. The wrong roads are taken. The incorrect choice is made. Stories echo with loneliness. Grief. Longing. Redemption. Forgiveness. Hope. And love.

THE BLURB: From New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams comes the first in an intriguing new series set within a quirky small-town club where the key to happiness, friendship—or solving a murder—can all be found within the pages of the right book . . .

Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is a place of healing. Strangers flock here hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.

When a visiting businessman reaches out to Nora for guidance, she knows exactly which novels will help. But before he can keep their appointment at Miracle Books, he’s found dead on the train tracks.

Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to gain trust and earn redemption by helping others. To join the society, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place.

Determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cramped and cozy bookstore to share stories and trade support. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I finished The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams last night and I am still undecided. I liked the book. I didn’t love it, but I wanted to. It was just a little bit too ‘twee’, too saccharine. And yet I love the work of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen, to which this has been compared.

I loved the concept of the book, that the right selection of books can soothe our souls, that we can take from books things that will improve our lives, that we can learn great lessons from what we read. I believe that no man is an island, that our friends are our greatest assets. I believe all this. So why didn’t The Secret, Book and Scone Society work for me? After pondering for almost 24 hours, I am none the wiser.

Perhaps Nora could recommend some books to sort me out.

3.5☆ I believe that this is the first installment of a planned series. I could be tempted to read the next book.

Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2167216850

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra
Little Secrets 
by Anna Snoekstra (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: It was a pleasant, quiet morning until the woman started screaming. The street had been silent except for the sound of birds chirping in the sky and the distant rumbles of a lawn mower. Mrs Lucie Hoffman had opened her front door to collect the morning edition of the Star. Instead, she found a porcelain doll sitting on top of the paper on her doorstep, staring up at her. It had thick dark hair and glassy green eyes. That was when the screaming started.

THE BLURB: What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

MY THOUGHTS: I really wanted to like Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra. I tried, very hard. But in the end the best rating I could give this book is 2.5 stars.

Around this time last year, I read Snoekstra’s debut novel, Only Daughter, which I also rated 2.5 stars, downgraded to 2☆. I remarked that while ‘The idea for the plot was brilliant, unfortunately I think the execution of it left something to be desired. Parts of the book are well written, others not so well written. There were times I was tempted to put this book down and walk away from it, but my desire to find out what had happened to Bec over-rode that, and in the end I am glad I did finish it. There are a couple of really great twists but also some glaring holes in the plot and I think the author could have done a bit more research – her knowledge of police procedure leaves a lot to be desired. 

And really, what I said then applies equally to Little Secrets. Except that I never really considered abandoning it, although I struggled with it in places, and the quality of the writing is more consistent. Hence the rounding upwards to 3☆

However, there are glaringly large holes in the plot that I wasn’t able to ignore. And Ms Snoekstra obviously hasn’t brushed up her knowledge of police procedure. Even in small desolate and dying towns, there are checks and balances. And Colmstock doesn’t actually seem that small. It has two pubs, a rarity these days when most towns struggle to support one, especially towns where employment is scarce and methamphetamine rife, and a reasonably large police presence.

In the end, I am left feeling vaguely confused and dissatisfied with Little Secrets. The author has left the door wide open for a sequel. If it does occur, I won’t be reading it.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on

Lay Me To Rest by E.A. Clark

Lay Me to Rest by E.A. Clark
Lay Me to Rest
by E.A. Clark (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: ‘After pulling the door to, we walked down the slope and across to the farm, the sun a huge blood orange sphere at our backs, sinking behind the distant mountains.
If I had turned then I might have seen. Might have seen that the shadow that I had mistaken for mere imagination was standing, looking down at us, from my bedroom window. And that the glowing dark eyes that bore into the back of our unwitting heads exuded what could only be described as resentment and malevolence. I might have had some premonitory sense of what was in store for me and how I ought to flee before becoming irrevocably changed forever by the terror and intensity of my experience.
But for the time being I would remain in ignorance of the depth of hostility cast in our direction. And that was how it would all begin.’

THE BLURB: Some secrets never stay buried for long…
Devastated by the death of her husband, Annie Philips is shocked to discover she is pregnant with his unborn child. Hoping for a fresh start, she travels to a remote stone cottage in Anglesey, amidst the white-capped mountains of North Wales.

She settles in quickly, helped by her mysterious new neighbour, Peter. But everything changes when Annie discovers a small wooden box, inlaid with brass and mother-of-pearl. A box she was never supposed to find…

Annie soon realises that she isn’t alone in the cottage. And now she’s trapped. Can she escape the nightmare that she has awoken, or will the dark forces surrounding the house claim her life – and that of her baby?

A gripping thriller from E. A. Clark, perfect for fans of Kerri Wilkinson, Sarah Wray and Stella Duffy. You won’t be able to put it down!

MY THOUGHTS: Lay Me To Rest is E. A. Clark’s first adult novel after having written short stories and poetry for many years. Although her prose is a little overblown in places, this is a credible effort. It is an easy and quick read, ideal for reading in front of the fire on a cold and stormy night, as I did.

I have to admit to not having picked up on the paranormal reference in the blurb. Had I done, I probably wouldn’t have requested it, and I would have missed out on a read that became more interesting the further I read on. It was a little predictable in places, and it seems obvious from the way the ending was crafted that there is going to be at least one more book featuring Annie Philips and her newly discovered psychic ability to come. But if you are a fan of paranormal romantic suspense, Lay Me To Rest is a book that you will, in all probability, enjoy, and E.A. Clark is an author you will need to watch.

Thank you to HQ Digital via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Lay Me To Rest by E.A. Clark for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com pages https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2138842672