A Winter in Ravensdale by Kate Fielding

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EXCERPT: Laura knew that a building alone couldn’t create an air of mystery. It was the eye of the beholder that found secrets in the shadows, menace in the bolted windows and doors. Yet Ravenscar had always invited such wild imaginings. It stood isolated, bearing the brunt of the moorland winds, unsoftened by surrounding gardens, lacking the shelter of trees. It was stark, bare and lonely.

So, though the spring evening cast a pinkish light over the heather and the still water of the tarn,though the whistles and wheezy cries of birds soaring overhead and the steady grazing of sheep softened the picture, nevertheless Laura approached the house with a sense that its stones and slate were in some way responsible for the recent disasters and that they had gathered secrets in their grainy millstone crevices along with the moss and damp accumulated over the years.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The 2nd in a series of novels about a young woman doctor in the wild Yorkshire setting of the Dales.

It is Laura Grant’s 2nd winter working as a GP in the remote Yorkshire practice at Hawkshead. Snowbound and isolated, the Dales community is gripped by the curious circumstances surrounding the discovery of a body in the frozen tarn. Laura’s role is to comfort and support the grieving widow; her senior partner, Dr Scott issues the death certificate. But further details emerge and lead Laura to question the competence of her colleague. Can the practice hold together under the increasing strain of a police investigation.

MY THOUGHTS: An undemanding read, moderately enjoyable but not particularly memorable.

The characters are well portrayed, the plot decent, but I never quite felt fully engaged. There is a little romance, a little mystery, a little tragedy. It was a nice read, but nothing more. I won’t be seeking the two other books in this series, but if I happen to stumble across them in one of my charity shop forays, I will probably pick them up.

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THE AUTHOR: Kate Fielding is the author of the Ravensdale trilogy set in the Yorkshire Dales.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of A Winter in Ravensdale by Kate Fielding, published by Orion. 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 and others are also published on Twitter and my webpage

This book has now been donated to a charity shop.

The Crossing by Matt Brolly

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EXCERPT: The smell of the place would never leave Louise. The farm was divided into a series of metallic barns and as they entered the outer shed she was hit by an unimaginable stench, the decay and waste of decades of animals. The ground appeared to move as she shone her torch over the various swarming mounds lining the barn floor, and she had to turn away and retch.

‘Louise,’ said Finch, his voice low and unnerved.

Louise battled her nausea and returned to the matter in hand. Finch was in one corner of the barn, his torch shining on the corpses of the missing mother and daughter.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When a body is discovered, bled dry on a beach, the sleepy seaside town of Weston-super-Mare wakes up to a nightmare. For Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell, recently transferred to the town she last saw as a child, it’s her first case on the job.

The victim—Veronica Lloyd, an elderly volunteer at a local church—has puncture wounds to her hands. When a priest is found killed in a nearby church in a similarly grisly condition, it becomes clear that Blackwell is dealing with a righteous and bloody murderer. But the victims aren’t random. The killer has a vendetta and is hell-bent on exacting twisted revenge for a dark secret dating back years—and there are more murders planned.

As the body count rises, Blackwell faces a race against time to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity and put an end to the carnage. She thought she knew Weston, but the town holds more secrets than she’d ever have imagined. Who can she trust and who knows more than they are letting on?

She must discover the crimes that unite the victims—before it’s too late.

MY THOUGHTS: I am a great fan of Matt Brolly’s Michael Lambert series and was excited about this new series. Having just closed the covers on The Crossing, I must admit to feeling a little disappointed. It doesn’t flow easily, as Brolly’s writing usually does. Instead it staggers along, disjointed and floundering in parts.

The story is told mainly from Louise’s point of view, the killer – whose identity is revealed from the start – and another case that is running concurrently in St Ives, the relevance of which is immediately apparent.

There is a definite lack of suspense, which is a pity. The story is, I think, trying to cross into too many genres, perhaps to appeal to a wider audience. But, for me, it doesn’t work. It just muddies the waters.

Unusually for Brolly, I didn’t find the characters well depicted. I felt no connection to any of them and Louise’s whining inner monologue on Finch and his past treatment of her quickly became wearing. In fact, she is pretty stereotypical of the current trend in female detectives…

I know Matt Brolly can write brilliantly. I am hoping to see evidence of that in the next book in this series.

😕😐😕

#TheCrossing #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky and Dead Embers. The fourth in the series, Dead Time, was released by Canelo in May 2018. In addition he is the author of the acclaimed near future crime novel, Zero.

2019 will see a new thriller, The Controller, released by Oblong Books and in 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas Mercer(Amazon Publishing)

Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, is released by Oblong Books in December 2018.

Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Crossing by Matt Brolly 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3095389407?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Sisters By Choice by Susan Mallery

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EXCERPT: Eight years after her divorce, Sophie Lane still wasn’t very good at dating. She supposed she only had herself to blame – if she really ‘put herself out there,’ as her cousin Kristine was always saying, she could find someone.

From Sophie’s point of view, there were multiple problems with that statement. First, Kristine had married her high school sweetheart after graduation and had been happily married for the past sixteen years. She wasn’t exactly someone who should be giving dating advice. Second, Sophie didn’t have a lot of time to ‘put herself out there.’ She was busy – she owned a company and she loved her company and all the hard work that went into keeping it successful. To be honest, her business was way more interesting than any man, which might be a big part of the dating problem. That and, well, the actual dating.

Getting dressed up, meeting for dinner, listening to a man talk about himself for three hours, wasn’t exactly how she wanted to spend a lone evening when she wasn’t dealing with some crisis at the office. Plus, she never quite understood all the rules.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: After her cat toy empire goes up in flames, Sophie Lane returns to Blackberry Island, determined to rebuild. Until small-town life reveals a big problem: she can’t grow unless she learns to let go. If Sophie relaxes her grip even a little, she might lose everything. Or she might finally be free to reach for the happiness and love that have eluded her for so long.

Kristine has become defined by her relationship to others. She’s a wife, a mom. As much as she adores her husband and sons, she wants something for herself—a sweet little bakery just off the waterfront. She knew changing the rules wouldn’t be easy, but she never imagined she might have to choose between her marriage and her dreams.

Like the mainland on the horizon, Heather’s goals seem beyond her grasp. Every time she manages to save for college, her mother has another crisis. Can she break free, or will she be trapped in this tiny life forever?

MY THOUGHTS: Susan Mallery always manages to make me tear up. When I read her books, I tend to get very emotional. And although I haven’t read any of the previous books in this particular series, Mallery still got me with Sisters By Choice.

She writes moving stories with a warm sense of wit that has me smiling even as I am weeping. Her characters are not only strong and sassy, but overwhelmingly realistic – even the unbearable Amber. I am sure we all know someone just like her. I always feel like I have ‘moved in’ with her characters, they become like friends and family, and I am sad to close the cover on them.

I like Mallery’s diversity – yes, there is romance, but there are always other issues, intricate family relationships complete with their inevitable dramas. And although the outcome may be predictable, the journey is an enjoyable one.

****

#SistersByChoice #NetGalley

A couple of quotes from Sisters By Choice by Susan Mallery:

‘Sex is great, but sometimes you need a sandwich as well.’

‘Parents can make things better and worse, and often do both at the same time.’

THE AUTHOR: #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming and humorous novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. She’s best known for putting nuanced characters into emotionally complex, real-life situations with twists that surprise readers to laughter. Because Susan is passionate about animal welfare, pets play a big role in her books. Beloved by millions of readers worldwide, her books have been translated into 28 languages.

Critics have dubbed Mallery “the new queen of romantic fiction.” (Walmart) Booklist says, “Romance novels don’t get much better than Mallery’s expert blend of emotional nuance, humor, and superb storytelling,” and RT Book Reviews puts her “in a class by herself!” It’s no wonder that her books have spent more than 200 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list.

Although Susan majored in Accounting, she never worked as an accountant because she was published straight out of college with two books the same month. Sixteen prolific years and seventy-four books later, she hit the New York Times bestsellers list for the first time with Accidentally Yours in 2008. She made many appearances in the Top 10 before (finally) hitting #1 in 2015 with Thrill Me, the twentieth book in her most popular series, the Fool’s Gold romances, and the fourth of five books released that year.

Susan lives in Washington state with her husband, two ragdoll cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Her heart for animals has led Susan to become an active supporter of the Seattle Humane Society.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin-MIRA (USA & Canada) for providing me with a digital ARC of Sisters By Choice by Susan Mallery for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own opinions.

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

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3076585431?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Still no rain and now we are on severe water restrictions. For the past two days , it has felt like rain, but we are not even getting any dew at night. We were forecast rain later this week, but that seems to have disappeared . Other than one tropical shower, we have had nothing since we returned home New Year’s Day.

I have had a patchy week of reading. I discovered I had missed a book off my reading schedule, so slotted it in thinking that it wouldn’t really cause any problems. But then I wound up spending a day in A&E and xray minus my Kindle after breaking two bones in foot. Do you know how a day can drag without a Kindle ????? So for the next six weeks I am clomping about in a moonboot 😕 Especially frustrating as we are hosting a Fireman’s ball next Saturday night as a fundraiser for our local volunteer Fire Brigade . I guess I won’t be cutting up the dancefloor!

As I said, I am now a little behind on my reading schedule … not helped by the fact that I have worked all weekend. Currently I am reading Sisters By Choice by Susan Mallery and, oh my goodness, I can see a lot of similarities between Sophie and myself .

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And almost finished listening to Chasing the Dead by Tim Weaver. This is the first book in the excellent David Raker series.

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This week I am planning on reading The Crossing by Matt Brolly which I had scheduled for last week.

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When a body is discovered, bled dry on a beach, the sleepy seaside town of Weston-super-Mare wakes up to a nightmare. For Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell, recently transferred to the town she last saw as a child, it’s her first case on the job.

The victim—Veronica Lloyd, an elderly volunteer at a local church—has puncture wounds to her hands. When a priest is found killed in a nearby church in a similarly grisly condition, it becomes clear that Blackwell is dealing with a righteous and bloody murderer. But the victims aren’t random. The killer has a vendetta and is hell-bent on exacting twisted revenge for a dark secret dating back years—and there are more murders planned.

As the body count rises, Blackwell faces a race against time to solve the mystery of the murderer’s identity and put an end to the carnage. She thought she knew Weston, but the town holds more secrets than she’d ever have imagined. Who can she trust and who knows more than they are letting on?

She must discover the crimes that unite the victims—before it’s too late.

The Stranger In Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howell

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I ended my marriage for a man who didn’t exist…

I have everything money can buy. I’m a good wife, but sometimes I feel trapped. And when I start an affair with a stranger called Ewan, my life changes in ways I can’t begin to understand.

Because Ewan breaks apart my marriage piece by piece and then he just disappears. He uses a fake name and leaves no trace behind; it’s like he doesn’t even exist.

Someone did this to me and now they’re waiting for me to unravel, watching my every move. I can’t trust anyone, not even myself – not even the people I love.

And hopefully I will at least be able to start Only Lies Remain by Val Collins.

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Everyone thought Danny Walsh deserted his family when his sons were young. But when Danny’s body turns up fifteen years later and his wife, Maura, is implicated in his murder, accusations and old rumours surface.

Aoife rushes in to clear her mother-in-law’s name. But why is it that Maura’s story surrounding Danny’s disappearance doesn’t quite add up?

Aoife’s investigation uncovers old secrets, long-held jealousies, and lies upon lies. With every new revelation, Aoife realises she doesn’t know her family at all. Now her new boss is acting strangely, her best friend is more and more distant and her husband is no help at all.

With her support network crumbling and her family threatened, Aoife must race to keep one step ahead of danger before more innocent lives are lost. But how will she uncover the truth when only lies remain?

I have received six new ARCs from Netgalley this week and have another six requests pending. The new ARCs I received are :

Last One to Lie by J.M. Winchester

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A Forgotten Murder by Jude Devereux

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Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

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The Girls Weekend by Jodi Gehrman

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The Stranger In Our Bed by Samantha Lee Howell

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And What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

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So now I am off to play catch-up and do some serious reading.

Cheers
Sandy

Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty

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EXCERPT: He led me through the gates, along a gravel drive, into a wood-paneled entrance hall and finally into a large open-plan living room that overlooked the North Channel. The place was full of coppers and other hangers-on, some of whom turned to look at me the moment I stepped into the room. I ignored them.

The sun was up now and Scotland was so close you could see the chimney smoke from the villages on the other side of the sea. The living room itself was hung with tasteful, presumably original, artwork. Furniture: big stylish sofas, comfy chairs, a nice mahogany dining room table on to which a whole bunch of police forensic equipment had been placed. Floor: hardwood with massive, expensive looking Persian rugs on top. The TV was on, but at this time of day the only thing showing was the BBC test card: the little girl and the creepy clown playing noughts and crosses forever in a nursery hell.

Of course the focal point of the mise-en-crime were the two bodies sitting facing one another on two armchairs wither side of the TV set.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Belfast, 1985, amidst the “Troubles”: Detective Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop in the Protestant RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), struggles with burn-out as he investigates a brutal double murder and suicide. Did Michael Kelly really shoot his parents at point blank and then jump off a nearby cliff? A suicide note points to this conclusion, but Duffy suspects even more sinister circumstances. He soon discovers that Kelly was present at a decadent Oxford party where a cabinet minister’s daughter died of a heroin overdose. This may or may not have something to do with Kelly’s subsequent death.

New evidence leads elsewhere: gun runners, arms dealers, the British government, and a rogue American agent with a fake identity. Duffy thinks he’s getting somewhere when agents from MI5 show up at his doorstep and try to recruit him, thus taking him off the investigation.

Duffy is in it up to his neck, doggedly pursuing a case that may finally prove his undoing.

MY THOUGHTS: This was my Valentines Day present to myself. And damn….it’s good. In fact the best of the series yet. I sat down with it when I got home and didn’t move until I closed the cover on the final page a little before midnight. No dinner, no nothing. Just one of the best reads ever.

November 1985 and a country on the verge of the biggest uprising since the Hunger Strikes. But that is not the only piece of history McKinty has borrowed: ‘there is the tragic death of Olivia Channon at Oxford; Lt. Colonel Oliver North’s bizarre attempt to obtain anti-aircraft missiles using an Irish passport and the psuedonym John Clancy (his favourite author) during the Iran Contra affair; the events surrounding the signing of the Anglo-Irish agreement; the chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre in which an entire cadre of MI5 agents based in Norther Ireland were killed; and the theft of Blowpipe and Javelin missiles from the Short Brothers factory in East Belfast.’ (Author’s afterword) I love the way he weaves these events into the life our fictional Sean Duffy.

But don’t worry…it’s not all work, Duffy does get time to play. A little.

The characters are an eclectic mix – all of them playing a vital part in the story.

As I said, the best in the series yet. And I can’t wait to see what McKinty has in store for Duffy next.

*****

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail . 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 and others are also published on Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3190575142?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields

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EXCERPT: He froze. Something had hold of his left ankle. He breathed hard, twice, three times, tried to get to grips with his fear, then he lost it.

‘Get off me!’ he yelled, wrenching his foot upwards, trying to scrabble away. He hit a wall with his head shortly before his foot locked solid and his hip popped from its socket. The scream he let out was loud enough to wake the entire terrace where he lived. He rolled right, instinct kicking in, and the displaced hip shifted again back into the socket, easing the dreadful pain and allowing him to lean forward to take hold of whatever had his foot.

He didn’t want to extend his hand. There was something about reaching his fingers out into the black void that seemed to be inviting a bite. Like slipping your hand into a murky river in the sort of place where, when animals attacked, the general reaction to the news was: ‘What the hell did the idiot tourist expect?’

What Bart found was both less and more terrifying. His ankle was bound by a leather strap. There was no bogeyman occupying the darkness with him. Not one that had hold of his leg anyway. The strap was thick and sturdy, with a chunky metal link sewn through it. At the end of that, he realised miserably, was a chain. What was at the end of the chain, Bart wasn’t sure he was ready to discover yet.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

MY THOUGHTS: This is the first book in this series, which I have long had marked down to read, that I have read, and I had absolutely no trouble with needing a backstory to fill things in. So if, like me, you haven’t previously read any of the series, don’t let it put you off picking up Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields. You won’t regret it.

This is a delightfully twisty plot that is, in places quite horrific and gruesome…. just what I love. The descriptions are graphic, vivid and leave little to the imagination. The squalor in which the captives are held, the cruel and inhumane treatment by those holding them are all described with a stark realism.

The characters are perfectly portrayed – there is no over the top exaggeration. They all fit and contribute to a breathtakingly horrific tale of human trafficking.

The two main characters, D.I. Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are well matched. Ava is prickly and extremely hard on herself. She is also decisive and thinks on her feet. Luc is kind and thoughtful, with a quick wit and a genuine liking for people. There has obviously been a relationship between these two in the past that has left them wary of one another, but still able to work as a team.

There is a good mix of personal and professional life, with neither one outweighing the other, and which blend seamlessly with each other.

I am impressed by Perfect Kill. I am, this year, making a concerted effort to read complete series of books I have enjoyed. The DI Callanach series is joining the list. I already have Perfect Remains.

😊😊😊😊

#PerfectKill #NetGalley

A few of short passages from Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields that I would like to share with you:

‘I’m so glad we’ve always been friends. Mainly because as an enemy you’re terrifying.’

‘Do the letters DC in front of your name stand for Doesn’t Concentrate?’

‘You cremated dinner. It was a cruel and unusual act performed on innocent protein and carbohydrates.’

‘Most human beings move forward only by realising what they don’t want, rather than by experiencing a sudden revelation about what they are actually looking for.’

THE AUTHOR: Helen Fields originally studied law. After that, she worked as a barrister for over a decade. She is currently a successful author and also runs her media company with her spouse.

Fields first became a writer in print with the release of her first novel, Perfect Remains. It came out in early 2017 and quickly climbed through the ranks to become a best seller on Amazon. It is a crime mystery novel and the first in a series featuring a Scottish detective.

Helen Fields resides with her husband David in Hampshire. They have children together and two dogs. She has a deep love of licorice in addition to writing books and reading them.

She has also self published some of her fantasy books as part of her journey. Helen decided that she wanted to go even further and now has a literary representative.

Helen Fields is the creator and the author of the D.I. Callanach series. This engaging murder mystery meets crime fiction kicked off with the release of the first book, titled Perfect Remains. The novel came out in 2017 and was nominated for a McIlvanney Prize.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Perfect Kill by Helen Sarah Fields 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3076578383?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Murder House by Michael Wood

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EXCERPT: How could I have been so blind?

‘I don’t believe this. I’ve known exactly who the killer is from day one. In fact, if we’d been doing our jobs properly in the first place, these murders could have been prevented.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s the most disturbing crime scene DCI Matilda Darke has ever seen…

The morning after a wedding reception at a beautiful suburban home in Sheffield, the bride’s entire family are stabbed to death – in a frenzied attack more violent than anything DCI Matilda Darke could have imagined.

Forensics point to a burglar on the run across the country. But cracks are starting to appear in Matilda’s team, someone is playing games with the evidence – and the killer might be closer to home than they thought…

MY THOUGHTS: I like DCI Mathilda Darke. I like the way she stands up to her superiors, putting her need to solve cases above their budgets. She is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, and for the people she believes in. She has her own demons, but seems to be bringing them under control as she adjusts to living without her late husband, James. She has good friends, and a mostly supportive team.

I particularly like Sian, who refuses to be a cliche detective, hiding things from her husband and turning to drink. Instead she and her husband support each other, confide in one another and turn to each other for comfort.

There is a new team member, a TDC brought in as a stopgap measure following the death of another team member. I hope Michael Wood decides to keep him on and develop his character.

The case of the murdered family is an intriguing one. Who would want to slay this perfect family? And why? Why? Why? The plot is clever and enjoyable. Suspects are thin on the ground. I would make a lousy detective as I suspected all the wrong people, no doubt just as Mr Wood intended.

Running alongside this frustrating investigation is the development of the team’s private lives. Michael Wood has struck a good balance between the characters professional and private lives, making me want to read more of this series.

This is the fifth book in a series of which I have read and enjoyed three. Strongly recommended.

😊😊😊😊

#TheMurderHouse #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Before he became an author, Michael Wood used to serve as a journalist and a proofreader. Wood resides in Sheffield, Yorkshire. For Unknown Reasons was Michael Wood’s debut novel, which was published in the year 2015.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to One More Chapter via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Murder House by Michael Wood 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3059952852

Watching What I’m Reading…

It is a hot, overcast and very windy afternoon here in Te Kuiti, New Zealand. It has been a busy weekend with work and visitors. My cousin and her husband came for dinner last night. We had roast lamb and a big platter of vegetables out on the deck as dusk fell, followed by homemade lemon and ginger cheesecake and coffee. And although we live in the same town, we both live busy lives and don’t get together as often as we would like. Today my son brought my almost three year old grandson for lunch. He was very tired, having been to two birthday parties yesterday, so we just lay on the bed with all the teddies and I read to him, then while I made lunch the boys all lay about watching one of the Cars movies. They have gone home now, and soon we are heading off to meet up with a Welsh friend who is passing through town this afternoon.

I am currently reading The Nowhere Girl by Nicole Trope

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Echo Park by Michael Connelly

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and listening to I am Missing by Tim Weaver

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This week I am planning on reading The Family Next Door by Fiona Cummins

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For Sale: Lovely family home, ready for your updates. Friendly neighborhood setting close to park; secluded.

If not for the bodies discovered in the woods behind their new home, Garrick and Olivia Lockwood couldn’t have afforded to buy number 25 The Avenue. It’s the fresh start they and their two children badly need. Soon, these terrible crimes will be solved, they tell themselves, and once Garrick has remodeled, he’s confident they’ll sell the house for a profit.

But the darkest secrets can reside on quiet, ordinary streets like this–behind the doors of
well-kept houses and neighbors’ friendly faces. Secrets that can destroy a family, or savagely end a life, and will surface just when they’re least expected . . .

and The Leaving Party by Lesley Sanderson

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Every year on the same day, on the anniversary, I receive a single black rose. Thirteen years of dark petals, jagged thorns, dredging up memories I’ve tried to forget…

I’ve packed up my life. All my belongings are carefully sealed in labelled boxes, my suitcases ready for my big move. I’m just days away from a new life abroad with my boyfriend, Ben.

No one knows the real reason I’m desperate to leave.

My best friend, Lena, is throwing me a leaving party. A celebration, to say goodbye. Champagne to toast my farewell. Speeches, full of fond memories.

No one knows what I’m running from.

Then another black rose appears, dragging up thirteen years of buried memories. My passport goes missing. The very people I am trying to escape from turn up at our house.

Someone knows what I did.

This party was meant to be the first night of the rest of my life – but now I don’t know if I’ll see tomorrow.

Someone knows my secret. They’re in my home, they’re at my party, and they’re making me pay for it.

I received five ARCs from Netgalley this week…

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan
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The Banty House by Carolyn Brown

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Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

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Exit by Belinda Bauer

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The Girl You Gave Away by Jess Ryder

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Have a happy week everyone. I am looking forward to hearing about what you’re reading and what new books you have .

cheers
Sandy
❤😍📚

Hero (Simon Serrailler 8.6) by Susan Hill

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EXCERPT: So quickly over, Everyone remembers the same thing, he thought. The warm smile, the flash of the diamond brooch, her small stature. Over in a second. The military and the police came last, so there was a long wait in the line that ran down the long corridor. Just ahead of Serrailler, a young soldier, aged 22 and looking 14. Wheelchair. No legs. One arm. Neck brace. Victoria Cross. Hearing what this boy had done, Simon felt fraudulent. Another soldier, receiving the MC, another act of astonishing bravery. Fraud, he thought again, fraud. What did you do? Your job. Nothing out of the way. Nothing to come near this.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Simon Serrailler was a rookie constable with the Met, he did something reckless in the course of a night’s work which caused a man’s death. But his act was praised by his colleagues and he was called a hero.

Years later, now a Detective Chief Superintendent who has been badly injured in the course of duty, he receives a medal for bravery at Buckingham Palace, while recollecting that fateful night of his early career, when chance disguised itself as bravery.

MY THOUGHTS: This was a wonderful little lunchtime read as I sat in the Japanese Gardens in town, glad to be out of my office and in the sunshine and fresh air for an hour. A nice ‘fill-in’ between novels eight and nine, both of which I have read, in the Simon Serrailler series.

There is nothing about Simon’s family in this short story, other than lunching with them following the award ceremony. Instead it is a reflection on his career, and an insight into how he sees himself. Written with Hill’s usual flair, it is a useful and interesting addition to the series.

In the publicity blurb for Hero, it says that #9 in the series, The Soul of Discretion, was to be the last in the Serrailler series. I am so glad that Susan Hill changed her mind and went on to write the tenth book, The Benefit of Hindsight. And she has left the way open for more to come.

****

THE AUTHOR: She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls’ grammar school, Barr’s Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill she took A levels in English, French, History and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King’s College London. By this time she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at university. The novel was criticised by The Daily Mail for its sexual content, with the suggestion that writing in this style was unsuitable for a “schoolgirl”.

Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. This was followed in quick succession by A Change for the Better, I’m the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of Year, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.

In 1975 she married Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells and they moved to Stratford upon Avon. Their first daughter, Jessica, was born in 1977 and their second daughter, Clemency, was born in 1985. Hill has recently founded her own publishing company, Long Barn Books, which has published one work of fiction per year.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Hero (Simon Serrailler series #8.6) by Susan Hill and published by Long Barn Books. 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2006864163?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Her Secret Past

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EXCERPT: ‘I’m Alice Connor,’ she began. ‘When I was fourteen, along with my boyfriend, we murdered my grandparents in our farmhouse on Skye. We hit them with hammers until they were dead.’ She said it rapidly as if ripping off a plaster quickly to get it over and done with, then sighed as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: On a dark winter night, the bodies of Malcolm and Jean Angus lie cold and still in a pool of blood in their kitchen. Detective Jessie Blake is called in to find out what happened to the reclusive pair.

Searching the couple’s property, Jessie learns about a vicious dispute with a nearby landowner, Rachel Ferguson, and when Jessie looks into Rachel further, she doesn’t expect what comes up. Rachel isn’t the person everyone thinks she is and a previous murder conviction just made her Jessie’s prime suspect.

The small Perthshire town begins to gossip about the double murder and Jessie’s own past comes back to haunt her when her abusive ex-husband begins to interfere in her new life. As the town starts a witch hunt against Rachel, Jessie is under pressure to find out what really happened in the farmhouse that night. Because if it isn’t Rachel, then who is the murderer living among them, waiting to kill again?

MY THOUGHTS: Her Secret Past by Kerry Watts was only an okay read for me….and reading through everyone else’s reviews, I have to wonder, were we reading the same book? I found this tediously slow paced, and was tempted several times to throw in the towel and not finish it.

One thought that kept occurring to me as I read was ‘I don’t think the author had much fun writing this.’ It felt forced, the conversations stilted, and it just didn’t flow. And don’t get me started on cliches….this book is riddled with them.

The story is told over two timelines from multiple points of view. I didn’t have any issues with that, it worked reasonably well and it was easy to keep track of who was who and where we were.

This is actually the third book in a series, which is not made clear on the cover or in the publicity. I don’t know if having read the previous two books in the series would make any difference to my enjoyment of Her Secret Past, probably not, although frequent references are made to things that have obviously happened in earlier books. I am not interested enough to go back and read the earlier books, and I definitely won’t be following this series.

#HerSecretPast #NetGalley

**

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. If you enjoyed the excerpt from Her Secret past by Kerry Watts, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. You may well enjoy it as have many other readers.

THE AUTHOR: Kerry Watts was born and grew up in a small town in the East of Scotland where she still lives today. She is always writing and carries a little notebook and pen with her wherever she goes because at her age ideas need to be captured before they disappear.
Kerry specialises in crime fiction because she enjoys pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human. The nature versus nurture debate fascinates her. She loves to put her characters in impossible situations just to see what happens. Her experience as a psychiatric nurse heavily influences her writing. She also wants to create characters that people can relate to who might be facing the same struggles as anyone else.
Authors who inspire her are anyone capable of creating a character who lives inside her head long after she has closed the book. Her favourite fictional character’s are Dexter Morgan, created by Jeff Lindsay as well as Hannibal Lechter created by Thomas Harris. She doesn’t have a favourite genre as a reader. Kerry will read anything. Written by anyone. If the blurb has a good feel about it she’s hooked.
When she’s not writing she loves to spend time following her other passions – dogs, particularly rescue mutts and horse racing. The sight of a thoroughbred race horse at full stretch has been known to move her to tears, not just lump in the throat stuff but full on blubbing. And for that she is unashamed. One day she’s going to buy a racehorse filly and call her Into Darkness.
She also had a small role in a film called The Rocket Post but decided acting wasn’t for her. She would rather create a character than play one.

DISCLOSURE:Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Secret Past by Kerry Watts 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 and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3085457842?type=review#rating_261988437