Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I tried to take Luke to the library to borrow some books a couple of weeks ago, but he told me he wanted to keep the books forever, so we didn’t go. I had a book to return yesterday, so I took him with me and he brought 4 books home, and suddenly it’s a really good idea to borrow books then take them back and swap them for new ones. These were his selections:

Currently I am reading and loving Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham. I can see myself reading late into the night tonight despite having an early start tomorrow so that I can get done what I need to before going for my Covid vaccination.

I am also reading A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, a new author for me. I have to admit it was the cover that first attracted me. I just wanted to plonk myself down on the sand and soak up the view. The Adirondack chair? Am I the only person earth who finds these uncomfortable? It probably has something to do with my short legs…. But however I came select this, I am enjoying this warm, gentle read.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, but I have All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss ready to go.

Deep in the tobacco land of North Carolina, nothing’s the same since the boys shipped off to war and worry took their place. Thirteen-year-old Lucy Brown is curious and clever, but she can’t make sense of it all. Then Allie Bert Tucker comes to town, an outcast with a complicated past, and Lucy believes that together they can solve crimes. Just like her hero, Nancy Drew.

That chance comes when a man goes missing, a woman stops speaking, and an eccentric gives the girls a mystery that takes them beyond the ordinary. Their quiet town, seasoned with honeybees and sweet tea, becomes home to a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp—and more men go missing. The pair set out to answer the big question: do we ever really know who the enemy is?

This week I am planning on reading Stolen by Tess Stimson

You thought she was safe. You were wrong…

Alex knows her daughter would never wander off in a strange place. So when her three-year-old vanishes from an idyllic beach wedding, Alex immediately believes the worast.

The hunt for Lottie quickly becomes a world-wide search, but it’s not long before suspicion falls on her mother. Why wasn’t she watching Lottie?

Alex knows she’s not perfect, but she loves her child. And with all eyes on her, Alex fears they’ll never uncover the truth unless she takes matters into her own hands.

Who took Lottie Martini? And will she ever come home?

And The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker

If you hear it, it’s too late. Can two sisters save us all?

In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse .

I received 8 new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️

Lil’s Bus Trip by Judy Leigh – I was excited by this as I have been requesting this author for some time, and this is my first approval.

The Sunshine Club by Carolyn Brown

Darkness Falls by David Mark

The Midnight Hour by Elly Griffiths

Plus Cause of Death by Jeffery Deaver. This is an excellent novella which I read last night. Watch for my review later this week.

The Noise by James Patterson and J.D. Barker which I am reading this week

A Vineyard Crossing by Jean Stone, which I am currently reading

And the audiobook All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss, which I will start tomorrow.

I have travelled mainly in USA this week, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Porto Rico; Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts; Martinsville County, also Massachusetts; with side trips to Porthteal,Cornwall; and Hendon, a suburb of London. Where have you travelled this week?

Have you read any of the books I have coming up, or are they on your TBR? Or have I tempted you to add them to your TBR?

Have a wonderful week. Stay safe and keep on reading!❤📚

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

EXCERPT: Sadie – ‘… I still have family up that way. My older sister, her husband, and their little boy live up there. And my mother owns a bed-and-breakfast cottage on the lake, and my great-uncle, who’s more like a granddaddy to me, lives and works at the cottage, too.’ I bit my lip to keep from saying any more, from spilling my heart onto the cutting board next to the pecans. Why was I revealing so much?

But I knew why.

The water.

I missed Sugarberry Cove.

I missed my old home.

ABOUT ‘THE LIGHTS OF SUGARBERRY COVE’: Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama since she survived a near-drowning in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost drowned. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

MY THOUGHTS: How I loved the characters in The Lights of Sugarberry Cove! I wanted to move into Sugarberry Cove and be with them. This is a story of second chances, fresh starts, and the art of recognizing what is really in our hearts.

The story is told from the perspectives of Leala Clare, and Sadie her younger sister, both characters easy to relate to and emphasize with, both strong personalities, as has their mother Susannah. So you just know that there are going to be fireworks! Each one of them thinks that they know what is best for the others, and no one wants to back off.

The other characters – Uncle Camp, Teddy, Bree, Buzzy, Iona, Connor, Will and Tucker – all have their own important roles to play, and all are well portrayed and full-bodied. Each character has their own story and these are all woven together to form an intricate and detailed tapestry designed to delight.

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is delightful, and entrancing, but I don’t think some of the magical aspects worked quite as well here as they have in this author’s previous books.

There is a lot to love about this read. I loved Sadie’s blog, A Southern Hankerin’, which explores family recipes, and the stories behind them. What a wonderful idea, and I do wish that recipes had been included.

There are lots of life lessons to be taken away from this read, but they work beautifully in with the story so that the reader is not being ‘lectured’. Some of them I have written down in my notebook, well, more than some. Sometimes I need to be reminded to count my blessings, to appreciate my family, my friends.

This story of grief, love, guilt, forgiveness and family will have you reaching for the tissues, but will leave you feeling warm and satisfied.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheLightsofSugarberryCove #NetGalley

I: @booksbyheather

T: @BooksbyHeather

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #fantasy #mystery #paranormal #romance

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

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing a digital ARC of The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

EXCERPT: January 2019
Wendy is as good as her word, and the Raven Hall invitation is delivered to Sadie’s flat the next day, along with an incredibly chic, old-fashioned suitcase with Sadie Langton printed on the luggage label. Sadie studies the front of the heavily embossed card: ‘You are cordially invited to play a game at Raven Hall.’ She flips it over to read the details: ‘Saturday 19th January. Chauffeur to collect you 5:00 p.m. Drinks in the drawing room from 7:00 p.m. Dinner and the game to commence 7:30 p.m. in the dining hall.’ Beneath this is a handwritten line in looping blue ink: ‘Thank you so much for agreeing to join us – it will be a weekend to remember!’

ABOUT ‘THE PERFECT GUESTS’: A very quick read that hooked me almost immediately. The Perfect Guests takes place over two timelines.

1988: Beth is an orphaned teenager who is fostered out to a couple with a daughter of a similar age, Nina. They live at Raven Hall.

2019: Sadie, a struggling actress, is offered the very well paid role of a guest at a murder-mystery weekend at….Raven Hall.

The story is told from the perspectives of Beth and Sadie, and occasionally from that of another character, whose identity is not revealed until over halfway through the book.

I really liked this book initially, it swept me along, my feelings of apprehension and anticipation skyrocketing. But then it all began to get a bit untidy, repetitive, and a little loose, for lack of a better word. It started to lack cohesion, became a bit random and awkward. And the ending? Yeah, okay, I might have rated it a little higher if it were not for ‘The Return to Raven Hall’ – the last two chapters were just a step too far.

BUT, I will be interested to see what this author comes up with next.

⭐⭐⭐.2

#ThePerfectGuests #NetGalley

I: @emmarousaithor @littlebrownbookgroup_uk

T: @EJRous @LittleBrownUK

#contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #mystery #suspense

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emma grew up in England, Indonesia, Kuwait, Portugal and Fiji, and from a young age she had two ambitions: to write stories, and to look after animals. She studied veterinary medicine and zoology at the University of Cambridge, then worked as a small animal veterinary surgeon for eighteen years before starting to write fiction. Emma lives near Cambridge in England with her husband and three sons, and her rescue dog and cat.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Little Brown Book Group UK for providing a digital ARC of The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

EXCERPT: ‘Message four, received today, 12.17 p.m.’

Crackles on the line. Clicks and whistles.

‘…Lucy…’

It’s him. It’s Daniel.

And yet something in his voice – dark, alien – isn’t Daniel at all. In an instant, Lucy knows she’s utterly unprepared for how bad this might get.

Around her, the playground darkens. The sound of children’s voices fades. Time slows, then stops completely. Parents and offspring become graveyard statues welded to a tarmac sea. Colour seeps from their skin, their clothes. Lucy feels no wind in her hair, no speckling of rain on her cheeks. Her heart doesn’t beat. The blood in her veins doesn’t flow.

The phone is clamped so tightly to her ear that the hiss and burr of static fill her head. She concentrates hard, as if by deciphering those electronic shrieks she can divine Daniel’s location, his intent. She hears wind, or what sounds like it. A chaotic symphony of whistles and chirrups, as if the broadcast is reaching her from deep space.

Lucy feels sure the connection is about to drop entirely. And then, with a buzzing that makes her wince, the clarity on the line is restored and she hears something else, something she didn’t expect, another voice, fainter than the first, one that she recognizes as clearly as her own: ‘Daddy, no-‘

ABOUT ‘THE RISING TIDE’: HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

MY THOUGHTS: In a market awash with pale imitations, The Rising Tide is a true psychological thriller. I was thrilled from the first page to the last; never quite on an even keel, always a little off balance, never entirely sure who to believe. That was one enjoyable, wild ride, and I want to do it all over again!

All the words that are bandied about, hold true for this, Sam Lloyd’s second novel. Intense. Thrilling. Suspenseful. Breathtaking. Twisty. Heart pounding. Jaw dropping. Chilling. Compelling. And even all banded together, they don’t do The Rising Tide justice. It is all those things and more. Sam Lloyd scares me. He had me on the edge of my seat, nails digging into my palms, crying out, ‘No, no, no, no!’ as I read. Twenty four hours after finishing The Rising Tide, I still get breathless thinking about it.

Who are these people, Sam Lloyd’s characters? Is Daniel a monster? Or a loving father and stepfather? Is Lucy cold, calculating, cheating and manipulative? Or is she a loving mother who has had her world ripped apart?

My favourite characters are the delightful Bibi Trixibelle Carter, a very sharp eighty something year old, and the doomed Detective Inspector Abraham Rose and, of course, Lucy’s daughter Billie.

The Rising Tide is at the very top of my favourite books list for 2021, and I seriously doubt that anything is going to displace it. Five stars are simply not enough. The Rising Tide deserves a whole galaxy.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheRisingTide #NetGalley

I: #samlloyd #randomhouseUK

T: @samlloydwrites @BantamPress

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #fivestarread #psychologicalthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, where he learned his love of storytelling. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl.

DISCLOSURE: A huge thank you to Random House, Transworld Publishing, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. 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 Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

I’m late!

It’s been a hectic few days. A stomach bug has been raging through town. My neighbour and friend Helen is down with it. My husband came home from work today with it. I have staff off work with it which resulted in my working 11 1/2 hours yesterday. Fingers crossed that I can avoid it.

So, although it’s Monday, here’s my Sunday post.

Currently I am reading The Heartwood Hotel by Kerry McGinnis

Set in north Queensland outback, I am enjoying this read. Thanks Elise from the Waitomo District Library book group for recommending this. I will be reading more from this author.

I am also reading The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd. It’s excellent!

And A Mother’s Lie by Leah Mercer which I have only just started. This was previously titled Safe From Harm.

I am listening to Safe Witness by Karin Slaughter

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game–and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined–even with damage from a fire decades before–but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

And The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

The only relationship she can’t save is her own . . .
Alison is a marriage counsellor. Her job is to help couples who fear they have reached the end of the line. But the trouble with spending your time sorting out other people’s problems is that you tend to take your eye off your own. Even when her husband’s ex Lydia arrives on the doorstep demanding to see her son, Alison thinks she can handle it. But what Alison doesn’t realise is that Lydia is the one person who has the ability to destroy their perfect family. And sometimes the cracks can run so deep that even a marriage mender can’t repair them . . . 

I received only three new ARCs this week, two Kindle format and 1 audiobook, False Witness by Karin Slaughter, which I started this morning.

Summer Island Sisters by Ciara Knight

And The Little Island Secret by Emma Davies

This week I have been to The Isle of Shura in Scotland, briefly to Riva in Italy, and Stockholm, Sweden. Where have your reading travels taken you this week?

Happy reading!

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

EXCERPT: She was just standing at the window looking out. I like watching her when she doesn’t know she’s being watched.

I watched her on the beach today as she walked along, pausing now and then to pick up stones, her blonde hair whipping about her slender neck as though it was trying to strangle her. I must admit, the thought made me tingle with something halfway between pleasure and pain.

I thought I caught her looking right at me,and I smile as I recall the fear that flashed across her face for an instant. I breathe in deep. I can still smell that fear, lingering in the air.

ABOUT ‘THE STALKER’: Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

MY THOUGHTS: I am torn by this book, and keep wavering over my rating. There were things I liked about The Stalker, and things I didn’t.

I liked the beginning. While it all seems pretty ordinary with nothing much going on, there’s a slightly creepy undertone. I really enjoyed the first 40% of this book, but then it hit a bit of a flat spot for me and I began skimming. Not a good sign…. But that ending? It is crazy good and revived my reading ardour. Then after I had finished, I began to feel a little cheated. I am going to try to explain why without giving any spoilers away.

The story is told mostly from Laura’s perspective, with occasional input from an unknown person. Now my problem is that the ending, as wonderfully just as it is, makes complete nonsense of a lot of what Laura experiences as we watch her in the earlier parts of the book. And no, it’s not a case of an unreliable narrator. We are seeing the events through her eyes, and experiencing her reactions. If we had been seeing this through Liam’s eyes, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So there you have it.

⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheStalker #NetGalley

I: @sarahaldersonauthor @avonbooksuk

T: @sarahalderson @AvonBooksUK

#contemporaryfiction #domesticdrama #mystery #psychologicalthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and princess-obsessed daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. After several months in India, Singapore, Australia and the US, they settled in Bali where they lived for five years.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Stalker by Sarah Alderson 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

EXCERPT: I can’t believe I didn’t realise it before, that what I really wanted all along was to write to you. So that’s what I’m going to do. A memoir, perhaps. No. A confession.

Kristina, I’m waiting for you. I pray that you’ll come. I’m alone and I’m afraid for the future and I want to use this time to put everything I want to say to you into some kind of coherent account. I want to tell you everything myself, I have it all planned out in my head – you’ll come here and you’ll sit across from me and we’ll light the fire and I will start from the beginning and I won’t stop talking until there is absolutely nothing unsaid between us. If you can’t or won’t come or if something outside of my control happens to me, you’ll find what you need here. Either way, I need you to know the truth.

ABOUT ‘CABIN FEVER’: You are her therapist.
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.

She is your client.
But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.

But out here in the woods.
When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.

Nothing is as it seems.
Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar…

MY THOUGHTS: I read Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl in one sitting, unable to put it down and now, four hours later, my heart is still pounding, my breathing ragged.

The main characters are all onions, multilayered, and eye-wateringly devious. I was shaking my head in delighted disbelief as the truth was slowly revealed, and I mean slowly, one nugget, one gem at a time until the final crescendo.

Alex Dahl has once again written an unsettling, unpredictable, extremely clever and very dark novel full of tension and suspense.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#CabinFever #NetGalley

I:@authoralex @headofzeus

T: @alexdahlauthor @HoZ_Books

#contemporaryfiction #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Half-American, half-Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She is a serious Francophile and currently lives in both London and Sandefjord.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I didn’t do very well with my reading target last week, mainly because the company who made my kitchen suddenly moved the installation date forward from the end of this month to the end of this coming week! So my house was full builders, taking out the old kitchen and removing another wall, and plumbers and electricians moving everything ready for the installation of the new kitchen. Because I had move the sink and the dishwasher and the fridge. I think the only new appliance being installed in the same place as the old one is the oven. But the result will be that I have a decent amount of bench space, which I didn’t previously have. Plumbers and electricians are back on Monday, then the builders Tuesday and Wednesday to reline the walls and put the ceiling in. Thursday the kitchen arrives and installation begins. This is so exciting!

Anyway, because of all this, I got very little reading done. Instead I was fetching and carrying, making decisions and morning and afternoon teas coffees, and cleaning up behind everyone while I was home. And, of course, I was also working. So the books on my planned reading list last week will reappear this week. 🤦‍♀️

Currently I am reading Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl. Halfway through and it has suddenly taken an extremely interesting turn.

I am almost finished listening to Know No Evil (DI Denning and DS Fisher #1) by Graeme Hampton. This has the makings of really good series. I will certainly be putting my hand up for #2.

This week I am planning on reading Silver Tears by Camilla Lackberg, #2 in her

She’s had to fight for it every step of the way, but Faye finally has the life she believes she deserves: she is rich, the business she built has become a global brand, and she has carefully hidden away her small family in Italy, where Jack, her ex-husband, can no longer harm them. She even has the wherewithal to occasionally turn a business trip to Rome into a steamy tryst. But when several major investors–women Faye had trusted implicitly–suddenly sell off their shares in the company, and the police officer who helped search for her daughter discovers the dark secret of Faye’s childhood, and she learns that Jack is no longer locked behind bars, Faye has no choice but to return to Stockholm. Not only does she have to fight again to keep her family safe, but now, at long last, she is forced to face the truth about her past. In this bold, mesmerizing story of seduction, deceit, and female power, a woman’s secret cannot stay buried forever.

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

And The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

HOW DID IT COME TO THIS?

The news doesn’t strike cleanly, like a guillotine’s blade. Nothing so merciful. This news is a slovenly traveller, dragging its feet, gradually revealing its horrors. And it announces itself first with violence – the urgent hammering of fists on the front door.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Lucy has everything she could wish for: a beautiful home high on the clifftops above the Devon coast, a devoted husband and two beloved children.

Then one morning, time stops. Their family yacht is recovered, abandoned far out at sea. Lucy’s husband is nowhere to be found and as the seconds tick by, she begins to wonder – what if he was the one who took the boat? And if so, where is he now?

As a once-in-a-generation storm frustrates the rescue operation, Lucy pieces together what happened onboard. And then she makes a fresh discovery. One that plunges her into a nightmare more shocking than any she could ever have imagined . . .

Let’s see how well I can do.

I received five new ARCs this week, and was declined for five (perhaps just as well!) I received The Library by Bella Osborne

The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees

The Perfect Ending by Rob Kaufman

About Us by Sinead Moriarty

And finally, The Lies We Tell by Jane Corry

I didn’t travel overly much in the past week. I left Baltimore for Stonesend, a lovely village near Oxford in England, and am currently dividing my time between East London, and Oslo in Norway.

What have you been reading this week? What are planning on reading? And where have you been on your reading travels?

Have a wonderful week of reading!

Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

EXCERPT: When the phone rings in the middle of the night, that very night, and Aileen, who tends to doze, does not answer it within three rings, Gerry fumbles for the landline next to his bed, a midcentury Swedish design with a button on the bottom. His head feels cloudy, yet he is alert enough to assume the call will be from Margot, full of recriminations for being booked in business class, which means she has to fetch her own cheese plate from the snack bar.

‘Hello?’

‘Gerry? I’m coming to see you soon.’

‘Who is this?’ Because one thing he is sure of is that it’s not Margot. The voice is too sweet, too high, with a hint of a Southern accent. Also too nice.

‘Oh, Gerry, you’re so funny. It’s Aubrey, Gerry. We need to talk. About my story, about what really happened between us, that mess with your wife. I think it’s time the world knows I’m a real person.’

ABOUT ‘DREAM GIRL’: After being injured in a freak accident, novelist Gerry Andersen lies in a hospital bed in his glamorous but sterile apartment, isolated from the busy world he can see through his windows, utterly dependent on two women he barely knows: his young assistant and a night nurse whose competency he questions.

But Gerry is also beginning to question his own competency. As he moves in and out of dreamlike memories and seemingly random appearances of a persistent ex-girlfriend at his bedside, he fears he may be losing his grip on reality, much like his mother who recently passed away from dementia.

Most distressing, he believes he’s being plagued by strange telephone calls, in which a woman claiming to be the titular character of his hit novel Dream Girl swears she will be coming to see him soon. The character is completely fictitious, but no one has ever believed Gerry when he makes that claim. Is he the victim of a cruel prank—or is he actually losing his mind★ There is no record of the calls according to the log on his phone. Could there be someone he has wronged★ Is someone coming to do him harm as he lies helplessly in bed★

Then comes the morning he wakes up next to a dead body—and realizes his nightmare is just beginning…

MY THOUGHTS: In her author’s notes, Laura Lippman writes, ‘This is a book about what goes on inside a writer’s mind and it is, by my lights, my first work of horror.’ And while I wouldn’t go quite so far as to call Dream Girl a work of horror, it definitely is an enjoyable romp on the darker side. Lippman pays homage to Stephen King’s ‘Misery’, Roth’s ‘Zuckerman Unbound’, and Dukore’s ‘A Novel Called Heritage’, saying that she ‘wanted to further the conversations they began in her head.’ I know exactly what she means.

Lippman’s writing is distinctive. She does a lot of the things I hate and slam other authors for doing. She waffles on in long sentences. She writes stream of consciousness. And I love it. It works – brilliantly. I read Dream Girl in twenty-four hours and Lippman has left me wanting to read Gerry Anderson’s ‘Dream Girl’. I want to read about Aubrey, this elusive figment of Anderson’s (and therefore Lippman’s) imagination – the character that nobody will believe wasn’t real.

Lippman’s characters are extraordinary, and the cast is quite small. Women feature hugely in Gerry’s life. He’s been married three times, and Margot lived with him in New York for several years. He has a female assistant, Victoria, who has the annoying tic of never being able to make a declarative statement, and whose duties expand following his accident to include being his daytime carer. Aileen is employed as his somewhat incompetent and constantly knitting night nurse. Gerry doesn’t appear to have friends, and there’s a dearth of males in his life with the exception of his literary agent. We learn Gerry’s backstory through a dual timeline that is interspersed with his ‘now’ story. We meet his wives and his lovers, but disappointingly learn almost nothing about the writing of his bestseller, ‘Dream Girl.’ Yes, I think I have an obsession with Audrey.

As you may have noticed, I had a hard time putting Dream Girl down, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I honestly had no idea where Lippman was heading with the plot, who was behind the mystery calls, if they were even real, or merely a product of Gerry’s opioid addled brain.

A few people appear to have been disappointed in the ending. I loved it. It seemed strangely fitting. A little comedic. I would love to see Dream Girl made into a movie. I would definitely go to see it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#DreamGirl #NetGalley

I: @lauramlippman @faberbooks

T: @LauraMLippman @FaberBooks

THE AUTHOR: Laura lives in Baltimore with her husband, David Simon, and their daughter.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber and Faber Ltd via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Dream Girl by Laura Lippman 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 Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We’ve had beautiful weekend. Temperatures below zero at night, heavy frosts, and glorious days. I have had a busy weekend. Luke came for sleepover Friday night. I have been trying different paint colours for the lounge and dining room and we have finally settled on a lovely soft sea green.

My reading travels have kept me mainly in the UK this week, in Nottingham and London, with a trip to Australia, the Loire Valley in France, and Baltimore in the USA. Have you been anywhere interesting in your reading travels this week?

Currently I am reading and loving Dream Girl by Laura Lippman. I have no idea where this is going to end up, but I am loving the journey.

I am also reading Death and Croissants by Ian Moore. I am loving the reticent character of Richard, and the ebullient exotic one of Valerie.

I am listening to Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton

This week I plan to read The Lies She Told by Linda Renham

Life in the village of Stonesend is pretty uneventful, that is until Detective Tom Miller is transferred there following a personal tragedy. He is not greeted well by local police officer Beth Harper, who feels he is not up to the job. The day of his arrival, Kate Marshall, a teacher at the local school, is beaten in her own home and left for dead. The villagers are left in a state of shock. Was it a random attack or something more personal? 

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl

You are her therapist.
Kristina is a successful therapist in central Oslo. She spends her days helping clients navigate their lives with a cool professionalism that has got her to the top.

She is your client.
But when her client Leah, a successful novelist, arrives at her office clearly distressed, begging Kristina to come to her remote cabin in the woods, she feels the balance begin to slip.

But out here in the woods.
When Leah fails to turn up to her next two sessions, Kristina reluctantly heads out into the wilderness to find her.

Nothing is as it seems.
Alone and isolated, Kristina finds Leah’s unfinished manuscript, and as she reads she realises the main character is terrifyingly familiar..

And The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland.
But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched…

When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island.

And this stranger wants them dead.

I received three new ARCs this week:

Lost Angels (Nikki Hunt #3) by Stacy Green

Home Sweet Home by Nicole Trope

And I Let Him In by Jill Childs

What lovely new reads have you received this week?

The wall between my kitchen and dining room has gone, and what a difference that has made. My kitchen feels much larger lighter. Unfortunately my kitchen is still being held up by a lack of drawer glides. For third month in row, none have arrived. But I have ordered all new replacement windows for along the front of the house, and my new laundry is in. So a little progress has been made.

Happy reading my friends!❤📚