Suspicious Minds by David Mark

EXCERPT: It didn’t matter that this was where his last real lover had died.

It was their place now.

Theirs

She saw a tartan blanket, a thermos of tea; triangular sandwiches packed in opaque Tupperware, all plucked from a wicker hamper. She’d visualized him, leaning against the old beech tree, both arms around her like lengths of tarred rope, telling her the names of the plants and plucking stray twigs and silvery catkins from her hair. She saw herself barefoot; dirty-kneed in a ragamuffin dress, a tartan shawl pinned with a sprig of holly. Fantasy, of course, but one of her best…

‘Sweet chestnut,’ he’d said, slapping a random tree trunk. ‘This one’s ash. The brambles have bound their branches. They’re holding hands, look. And up there; that bracket of mushrooms – they can cure sore throats. Taste OK too. Nice in a stir-fry. They tend to explode if you let the fat get too hot, but I like a meal that offers an element of danger . . . ‘

Come back, Liz. Liz! Oh for God’s sake . . . Betsy!’

The words come from within her: a chorus of voices, each gasping as if running out of air. She registers pain, suddenly. Pain and loss and fear.

ABOUT ‘SUSPICIOUS MINDS’: Liz Zahavi is desperate. Desperate for her controlling partner, Jay, to stay with her, to actually love her. Desperate to be well again, after a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Desperate to be understood.

Private therapy seems like the answer to her prayers, but Liz doesn’t even make it to her first appointment. Lost in a maze of country roads, she crashes her car, only to be rescued by a brooding local farmer . . . who just keeps on rescuing her. Attractive and intense, Jude is a dream, and Liz doesn’t want to wake up.

But four years ago, Jude’s perfect, pretty wife died alone in the woods near their house. And as Jude’s past boils into the present, threatening to destroy their new happiness, Liz begins to wonder what exactly her new man is capable of . . . and how far he’s willing to go.

MY THOUGHTS: David Mark’s writing style is both raw and brutal, and almost poetic. He certainly has a way with words and an innate ability to draw the reader into the scene he has created. His characters are larger than life – they seem to explode from the page and wedge themselves firmly into the reader’s mind.

Liz Zahavi, legally Elizabeth, but Betsy in her heart, has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. It is characterized by emotional instability, disturbed patterns of thinking, impulsive behaviour and the tendency to form intense but unstable relationships. Her partner, Jay, is controlling, domineering, almost OCD. Liz, not Betsy, thinks that if she ran past him in flames, his major concern would be that the curtains didn’t catch alight. He threatens her, often, telling her that no one else would put up with her,that she cannot survive without him. He erodes her confidence, stamps out any small spark of independence. But she has a good relationship with his young daughter Anya, who sees her as a free spirit, a welcome antidote to her rigid, work obsessed parents. Her family is a nightmare. Her mother was abusive. Her sister thinks she is lucky to have Jay to look after her.

Lost and alone she meets Jude, who rescues her from an encounter with Campion, local landowner, bully and worse. I thought of Hitler. And then he just keeps on rescuing her, dismissing her concerns about her BPD, saying that he loves the fire in her, that it should never be dampened or extinguished. And Betsy (not Liz, though Liz will come to visit from time to time) senses something timeless in Jude. He is nurturing and gentle, but there is a sense of darkness and violence lurking beneath.

Suspicious Minds is a book that crosses a lot of boundaries. There is a fair bit of darkness and violence in this story. But it is not gratuitous. It fits. It is a story of greed and dominance, of people who use violence and threats as a means to an end, interwoven with a beautiful story of two lost people finding themselves and each other. It is also tempered with a dry wit that had me snorting with laughter at times. I was impressed and will be seeking out other books this author has written.

Oh, and just for the record, the cover doesn’t do this book justice.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#SuspiciousMinds #NetGalley

‘She finds herself furious that she smell of freshly baked scones cannot be trapped in an aerosol and sold as a room deodoriser.’

‘Don’t overthink it. Don’t analyse it to death. Don’t deconstruct it, because it might not fit back together again.’

‘Long before social media, the world was full of wankers.’

THE AUTHOR: David Mark spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post—walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels. He lives in Yorkshire, England.

DISCLOSURE Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Suspicious Minds for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon

EXCERPT: As I put the pictures back in the bag, I picked up the shreds of what I’d dismissed as blank scraps of paper that morning. Most of them were plain white, but I now noticed some had bits of printed letters on them, light gray and faded, made by one of those ancient dot-matrix printers I’d once seen in my school’s aging computer lab. I laid the pieces out on the desk and set to work, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Despite missing a few parts, three words became clear enough to decipher.

TELL NO ONE.

ABOUT ‘HER SECRET SON’: When Josh’s longtime partner, Grace, dies in a tragic accident, he is left with a mess of grief—and full custody of her seven-year-old son, Logan. While not his biological father, Josh has been a dad to Logan in every way that counts, and with Grace gone, Logan needs him more than ever.

Wanting to do right by Logan, Josh begins the process of becoming his legal guardian—something that seems suddenly urgent, though Grace always brushed it off as an unnecessary formality. But now, as Josh struggles to find the paperwork associated with Logan’s birth, he begins to wonder whether there were more troubling reasons for Grace’s reluctance to make their family official.

As he digs deeper into the past of the woman he loved, Josh soon finds that there are many dark secrets to uncover, and that the truth about where Logan came from is much more sinister than he could have imagined…

MY THOUGHTS: ‘If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.’ – Ray Charles

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is certainly an emotional page turner! How much bad luck can one man have? Well, like they say, ‘when it rains, it pours.’

Josh has made some bad decisions in his life, but just as he thinks that he’s finally got life sorted, found happiness, it’s ripped right out of his grasp again. Struggling to cope, he is determined to do his best by Logan, who he loves like his own. And he had promised Grace that if anything ever happened to her, he would look after him. He is determined not to let either Grace or Logan down. But this promise gets harder and harder to keep as Grace and Logan’s past is revealed to be layer after layer of lies.

I felt so sorry for Josh, and for Logan. Josh’s love for Logan simply radiates from the page as he battles with his own grief to give Logan a stable home. Ultimately he finds himself torn between doing the right thing by Logan, and doing the right thing.

Her Secret Son is a compelling page turner. I was heavily invested in the characters and the outcome. But then it all became overly dramatic, a bit like an episode of a soap opera (Dallas sprung to mind), with blazing guns and all. Although the ending was great entertaining reading, I thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesse, and I felt let down by it. The quality of the rest of the story deserved better. A good candidate for a TV drama.

⭐⭐⭐.5

#HerSecretSon #NetGalley

‘Moving never sorted out your issues. They sneaked inside your suitcases when you weren’t looking and jumped out when you arrived.’

‘I’d rather be a hermit with a stack of good books and a box of chocolates.’

THE AUTHOR: I was born in the UK and grew up in Switzerland. Unsurprisingly I love chocolate, mountains and cheese, and books, of course.

When I moved to Canada with my husband and three sons in 2010 I went through an (early) mid-life crisis. Maybe it was the failed attempt at a start-up company, but one morning I decided to follow my oldest passion; writing – and never wanted to look back.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon 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

Her Secret Son by Hannah Mary McKinnon is due for publication 26.11.2020

Deadly Cry (DI Kim Stone #13) by Angela Marsons

EXCERPT: I did it. I killed her, and there was a satisfaction to the twist of the neck that was morbidly gratifying for me. A slight thing, she didn’t put up much of a fight, but it wouldn’t have mattered if she had. She was going to die regardless.

ABOUT ‘DEADLY CRY’: In a busy shopping centre, a little girl clutches a teddy bear, clinging to it in the absence of her mother, Katrina. Hours later, Katrina’s body is discovered in an abandoned building. For Detective Kim Stone, it looks like a quick, functional murder. But Kim’s instincts tell her there’s more to this senseless murder than meets the eye. What was the motive for killing a young mother out shopping with her child?

Days later, a second victim is found in a local park, her neck broken just like Katrina’s and her six-year-old son missing.

But with her colleague, Detective Stacey Wood, working on another unsolved crime and a member of the team grieving the loss of a close relative, Kim is struggling to make inroads on what is fast becoming a complex case. And when a handwritten letter from the killer lands on Kim’s desk addressed to her, and pleading for help, she knows time is running out to bring the little boy home alive.

With the support of a handwriting analyst and profiler, Kim and the team begin to get inside the mind of the killer and make a shocking discovery.

Some of the victims have scratch marks on their wrists.

But these are no random scratches. The killer is using them to communicate with someone. The question is… with whom?

And if Kim doesn’t find them soon, another innocent soul will die.

MY THOUGHTS: 13 books, and Marsons still gets me every time! You know how some books are promoted with the claim ‘massive twist you won’t see coming!’ . . . there’s no need for Marsons to claim this, but that is what you get. Unexpected, well executed twists, a gripping suspenseful plot, and our favourite characters complete with all their idiosyncrasies and shared histories. So, there’s a clue. This is book #13 in a series. You might read this as a stand-alone and enjoy it. But I guarantee that you will get a lot more from Deadly Cry if you start this series from the beginning. It is a series where the first book is really good, and each successive book is even better.

DI Kim Stone is the focus of this series. I didn’t much like her initially, but the writing and the plotting were superb, so I continued with the series. Since then I have become quite fond of Kim. She doesn’t have much of a filter. What she thinks she tends to say. Occasionally she will demonstrate great restraint, but only occasionally, and the stakes have to be high. She can be very rude, to everyone. Even her friends, her team. She doesn’t discriminate. She admits to not being good at playing nice, not even with her dog who is her best friend. She has a love/hate relationship with pathologist Keats, who gives as good as he gets. Their mutually disparaging banter provides some light relief in amongst the tension and suspense. Kim must drive her boss, DCI Woodward, totally insane with her total disregard for authority, although he has enough trust in her to give her free rein when she seems to need it most.

Regulars, Stacey, Bryant and Penn, Kim’s back up team and the closest thing she has to friends, continue to support her and are joined by ‘profiler’ Alison (read this book and you will understand why I have placed ‘profiler’ in quotation marks), who also appeared in the previous book. I hope that we see more of her in the future. The characters personal lives take the back seat compared to the cases the team is working on, but there’s enough going on with them to keep our interest in them as individuals and not just crutches for Kim.

I have finished Deadly Cry (previously titled ‘Death Score’) in less than 24 hours. I now have only one question – when can I have #14?

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#DeadlyCry #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.
Angela is now signed to write a total of 16 Kim Stone books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Deadly Cry (DI Kim Stone #13) by Angela Marsons 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 . . .

Apologies for disappearing on you so suddenly last week. I was rushed off to ED in the early hours of last Sunday morning with breathing difficulties, which resulted in a five day stay in hospital. I am not yet allowed back to work, and will be going for more tests and follow up during the week ahead.

Currently I am not reading anything. I have finished two books this morning, the delightful Three Women and a Boat by Anne Youngson

And Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Which as well as being a Netgalley ARC, was a group read for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group.

I started listening to Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout this morning.

This week I only have one ARC that I need to read for review which is Nothing Good Happens After Midnight: A suspense magazine anthology, with contributions by Jeffrey Deaver, Linwood Barclay and John Lescroart, amongst others.

I will use any other reading time I get to catch up on back titles.

I have received ten new ARCs over the past two weeks:

The Haunting of Beatrix Greene by Rachel Hawkins, Ash Parsons, and Vicky Alvear Shecter

Murder Most Festive by Ada Moncrieff

Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

The Perfect Life by Nuala Elwood

Her Sister’s Child by Alison James

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Limelight by Graham Hurley

Our Little Secret by Lesley Sanderson

And finally I’m So Effing Tired by Amy Shah

And on that note, I am off for a nap.

Happy reading ❤📚

A Galway Epiphany (Jack Taylor #16) by Ken Bruen

EXCERPT: ‘Your name came up in another case.’

I said, ‘I have the perfect alibi: a coma.’

He asked, ‘You ever meet . . . wait, I’ll check my notes. ‘Took out a battered Garda notebook. I felt the familiar pang of regret at having been thrown out of the force. He double checked, then continued, ‘Renee Garvey?’

It sort of rang a bell, but elusive. I said, ‘Why?’

He said, ‘She has a young daughter who is obviously a victim of abuse but is in some sort of shock and not talking. The mother, Renee, was apparently thrown through a third-floor window, worse, a closed window.’

I asked, ‘Did she survive?’

He gave me a withering look, said ‘No miracle for her, she’s dead as dirt.’

I felt terrible. Now I remembered her desperation and how flippant I had been. More points on the guilt sheet.

I said, ‘I failed her.’

ABOUT: ‘A GALWAY EPIPHANY (JACK TAYLOR #16) Jack Taylor has finally escaped the despair of his violent life in Galway in favor of a quiet retirement in the country with his friend Keefer, a former Rolling Stones roadie, and a falcon named Maeve. But on a day trip back into the city to sort out his affairs, Jack is hit by a truck in front of Galway’s Famine Memorial, left in a coma but mysteriously without a scratch on him.

When he awakens weeks later, he finds Ireland in a frenzy over the so-called “Miracle of Galway.” People have become convinced that the two children spotted tending to him are saintly, and the site of the accident sacred. The Catholic Church isn’t so sure, and Jack is commissioned to help find the children to verify the miracle or expose the stunt.

But Jack isn’t the only one looking for these children. A fraudulent order of nuns needs them to legitimatize its sanctity and becomes involved with a dangerous arsonist. Soon, the building in which the children are living burns down. Jack returns to his old tricks, and his old demons, as his quest becomes personal.

MY THOUGHTS: All the time I was reading A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen, I was writing the review in my head. It was a blinder, probably the best thing I have ever written. By the time I closed the cover on Jack Taylor in the early hours of this morning, it consisted of two words: I’m speechless.

I’m still kind of speechless; all the thoughts I’d had, vanished. I feel like I have been dropped down the laundry shute, put through the washer, the wringer, the dryer, then, instead of being neatly folded and put away, I have been tossed in a heap in the corner.

Jack Taylor can in no way be considered ‘ordinary.’ He is irreverent, yet strangely obsessed by religion. At one point he recites the Our Father daily, even adding the Protestant rider to it just in case God does, in fact, turn out to be Protestant. He is the child of generations of superstition, belief in seers, omens, signs, second sight and the seventh son of the seventh son deeply ingrained. He knows how pathetic it is, but as he says, ‘When you’re hardwired to this shite, it’s difficult to shake.’

He is a devotee of the ‘good stiff drink’, Jameson, no ice, a nice frothy pint of Guinness, and the occasional, or sometimes more frequent, Xanax. He is not a fan of being hugged, which everyone seems to be doing these days and which, he concedes, makes a change from being shot at and beaten, although he is somewhat more comfortable with the latter.

Jack is not good at personal relationships. Just like his behaviour has no bounds, his mouth has no filter, and what he is thinking more often than not is said. He is angry at the world, and not afraid to show it.

In A Galway Epiphany, Taylor has two ‘miracle’ children to find, an arsonist who needs extinguishing, an asshole husband who killed his wife, a cyber bully to locate, and Father Malachy to contend with.

Interspersed with the 2019 storyline are world events, literary, and musical references, and even a reference to box sets.

Bruen has never been a smooth writer. It’s just not his style. It works, usually. And usually I love it. But A Galway Epiphany seems even choppier than usual. More disjointed. Frenzied in places. A little harder to read. In the past I could hear the voices of Bruen’s characters in my head. It didn’t happen. And yet I enjoyed (if that’s the right word; I can’t at the moment think of another) A Galway Epiphany, despite the choppiness, despite the cliffhanger ending.

Is there going to be more Jack Taylor? I don’t know. I hope so.

Btw, Mr Bruen, I thought the killer eating his scrambled egg with the murder weapon was a brilliant touch.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.2

#AGalwayEpiphany #NetGalley

‘It is said that an epiphany is most likely to occur in a cemetery, though it helps if you’re the mourner rather than the deceased.’

‘The power of positive drinking.’

THE AUTHOR: KEN BRUEN was born in Galway, Ireland in 1951. The award-winning author of sixteen novels, he is the editor of Dublin Noir, and spent twenty-five years as an English teacher in Africa, Japan, Southeast Asia and South America. He now lives in Galway City. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen 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

One Way Street by Trevor Wood

EXCERPT: One of the things he knew anything about was cars – he’d nicked enough of them – and he recognized the bare bones of some classics, even a newish looking Range Rover. His mum used to say that everything was disposable ‘these days’ – turned out she was right. He just wished the list didn’t include him. Wanting to take a better look, he stood up too quickly and immediately felt sick again, ducking straight back down behind the shell of an old BMW, trying to get his breath under control, to stop his heart racing. It wasn’t easy, not with them still after him, their knives ready to carve him open. If he listened carefully, he could hear them . . .

ABOUT ‘ONE WAY STREET’ (JIMMY MULLEN #2): A series of bizarre drug-related deaths among runaway teenagers has set the North East’s homeless community on edge.

The word on the street is that a rogue batch of Spice – the zombie drug sweeping the inner cities – is to blame, but when one of Jimmy’s few close friends is caught up in the carnage loyalty compels him to find out what’s really going on.

One Way Street sees the welcome return of Jimmy Mullen, the homeless, PTSD-suffering, veteran as he attempts to rebuild his life following the events in The Man on the Street.

As his probation officer constantly reminds him: all he needs to do is keep out of trouble. Sadly for him, trouble seems to have a habit of tracking Jimmy down.

MY THOUGHTS: Trevor Wood has created some very interesting characters. Not only Jimmy who suffers from PTSD, but the older Gadge, bordering on genius, the young Deano, a child really, substance and drug abuser, and, of course, Dog. All people with good hearts. Their methods of getting to the truth may be somewhat unorthodox, but they make for a damned good read. Even the skeptical policeman, DS Burns, whose life Jimmy saved in ‘The Man on the Street’ is an interesting character and comes into his own in this second book. Jimmy isn’t slow to call in favours from him, but not so quick to share his information.

Even though this book is centred around drug dealing, something I usually prefer not to read about, I was excited to pick up ‘One Way Street’. Wood’s writing is easy to read, his dialogue natural. The plot swept me along and I became so caught up in the machinations of the characters, that the subject became almost irrelevant.

There is almost a little romance for Jimmy, and he reconnects with his ex-wife, mother of his daughter Kate. There is a lot of development in all the characters. We learn a lot more about the backgrounds of Gadge and Deano, and Jimmy once again demonstrates his unswerving commitment to his friends. Stubborn but loyal to a fault.

Wood also highlights the plight of the homeless, the reality of their situation, the difficulties they face; things that most of us give little thought to.

There is a great deal of violence in this book, but nothing that seemed gratuitous. It is the world as it exists for the people that this trio get involved with.

I am looking forward to meeting Jimmy (Sherlock Homeless) and his friends again. Nice work Mr Wood. P.s. – I enjoyed the pizza joke 🤣😂

⭐⭐⭐.8

#OneWayStreet #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for twenty-five years and considers himself an adopted Geordie. He’s a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. Prior to that he served in the Royal Navy for sixteen years. (Google Books)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of One Way Street by Trevor 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday! I have been at work this morning, came home and tussled with a few weeds in the back yard. The jury is still out on who won that round! I swear they grow faster than I can deal to them. I can almost feel them nipping at my heels on the ground I have just cleared. Such are the joys of a warm wet spring!

Currently I am reading Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman.

This is a series that has been written back to front – the first book published was Practical Magic, published in 1995 (Practical Magic #1). I have yet to read this. The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic #0.2) followed in 2017. I was captivated and enchanted. Magic Lessons (Practical Magic #0.1) was published October 2020, and tells of the beginning of the Owen’s family bloodline.

I have just started listening to Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr. I only discovered this author earlier this year.

This week I am planning to read A Galway Epiphany by Ken Bruen (Jack Taylor #16)

Jack Taylor has finally escaped the despair of his violent life in Galway in favor of a quiet retirement in the country with his friend Keefer, a former Rolling Stones roadie, and a falcon named Maeve. But on a day trip back into the city to sort out his affairs, Jack is hit by a truck in front of Galway’s Famine Memorial, left in a coma but mysteriously without a scratch on him.

When he awakens weeks later, he finds Ireland in a frenzy over the so-called “Miracle of Galway.” People have become convinced that the two children spotted tending to him are saintly, and the site of the accident sacred. The Catholic Church isn’t so sure, and Jack is commissioned to help find the children to verify the miracle or expose the stunt.

But Jack isn’t the only one looking for these children. A fraudulent order of nuns needs them to legitimatize its sanctity and becomes involved with a dangerous arsonist. Soon, the building in which the children are living burns down. Jack returns to his old tricks, and his old demons, as his quest becomes personal.

And, The Searcher by Tana French

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door

This week I received three new ARCs from Netgalley:

Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristen Harper (thank you to my major enablers, Carla and Susan, for this one!) Isn’t the cover gorgeous!

The Boy Between by Josiah Hartley and Amanda Prowse

and The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean

No doubt after I have read Susan’s, Carla’s, and Carol’s posts today, I will be rushing back to Netgalley, my requesting finger quivering in anticipation.

Happy reading my friends. Sitting here in the relative safety of New Zealand, I am worried for all my reading friends scattered around the world where Covid-19 is raging out of control. Take care my friends. Stay home in safety and read.

Sandy

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes

EXCERPT: Ava

When I think about that morning, it is beat by beat, like a heart – my own heart, my daughter’s, at the time so enmeshed it seemed she was part of me: my body, my tissue, my bones. She is part of me. She will always be part of me.

When I think about that morning, I watch myself, over and over, as if from above. I watch myself like you watch your children in a school play or a sports match, silently willing them to succeed, to shine, to not get hurt. I watch myself bleeding on the sidelines of slowly unfolding disaster, alive with the pain I know is coming but she, the me of that moment, does not.

I do this every minute of every hour of every day. And I have done this for almost a year.

I watch myself: there I am, making my way downstairs with an armful of laundry. I can’t see over the top. I take it slowly, both feet on one step before I lower myself to the next. Another step down, another. I am always so careful these days. I used to be carefree, but now I see danger everywhere: an electric socket is a hazard, a glass left too near the edge of a tabletop risky, a staircase perilous.

Another step. I call her name. Abi.

ABOUT THE HOUSEWARMING: Everyone is going to the housewarming party.
All the same people who lived on the street the day Abi vanished…
Will her mother finally learn the truth?

Ava only left her daughter in the pushchair for five minutes. The buckle was fastened, and she was sure it was safe. But when she came downstairs, the door was open and Abi was gone – she walked down the road, past the Lovegoods’ house, and was never seen again.

A year later, the Lovegoods throw a housewarming party, showing off the results of their renovation. Ava doesn’t want to go. She can’t bear to look down that end of the road, to see the place where Abi vanished, and she doesn’t want to spend time with people who don’t share her grief. Her husband Matt persuades her: he’s worried about her. A night out might do her good.

But as her friends and neighbours chat, and the drink and gossip flows, Ava learns something new about the day she has re-lived a thousand times. A throwaway comment which could change everything.

Ava thought she knew every last detail of that day.

She’s about to find out she was wrong…

MY THOUGHTS: The opening chapters left me stunned and breathless. And it didn’t stop there. The pace is relentless. The tension palpable. As is the grief, the despair, the guilt. Lynes has written a blockbuster of human emotion that left me exhausted, drained, wrung out, and absolutely certain that this is the best book she has ever written!

The characters are superbly depicted. They are complete. They are you. They are me. They are our husbands and wives, our friends and neighbours. They gossip and assume. They are horrified, and smug. They have their own pristine lives that they don’t want touched by tragedy. Ava becomes isolated, a prisoner of her anxiety and her feeling of being contagious in her unresolved guilt and grief.

Her neighbour Jen is the only person she feels any connection with. Jen, who never pressures her, who lets her just be. So when Jen throws a party to celebrate the end of the renovations on their house, Ava reluctantly agrees to attend, just for an hour. And there begins the unravelling of everything Ava thought she knew about Abi’s disappearance.

Gripping. Heartwrenching. Devastating. Dark. The Housewarming lives up to every promotional promise.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheHousewarming #NetGalley

‘My eyes are incontinent.’

THE AUTHOR: After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a Radio Producer at the BBC before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome, where she lived for five years. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She combines writing with teaching at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children in Teddington, Middlesex.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes 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

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Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s the middle day of our long weekend . . . I always think that I am going to accomplish so much over a three day weekend, but in reality it’s a different matter.

I did get a bit of gardening done at Dustin’s yesterday, and I have done a little bit at home today, but mainly I have been catching up on laundry and housework, both of which have been somewhat neglected over the past couple of weeks.

Now it has started to drizzle, so I have come back inside for a late lunch. Hopefully it won’t come to much and I can finish tidying up the front gardens.

This morning I started reading The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes. The first few chapters have left me stunned and breathless! This is going to be a great read.

Currently I am listening to The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet.

A little over a quarter of the way in, and suddenly it is becoming very interesting . . .

Now, as to what I am planning on reading this week, I veered completely off track last week and read neither of my planned books 🤦‍♀️ I will see if I can do better this week 🤣😂

You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas

It’s a dark, smog-choked new Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is in a long-standing affair with ambitious police commissioner Jatin Bhatt – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags, faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all. . .

The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her ‘room with a view’ of the carpark, she dreams of escape.

Fellow ‘inmate’, the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of his mobility scooter.

When Hattie and Walter officially meet at The Night Owls, a clandestine club run by Sister Bronwyn and her dog, Queenie, they seem at odds. But when Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over her unconventional approach to aged care, they must join forces — and very slowly an unlikely, unexpected friendship begins to grow.

I have three ARCs this week from Netgalley:

Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

One Way Street by Trevor Wood

No doubt after I have visited Susan’s, Carla’s and Carol’s posts today, I will be rushing back to Netgalley, my requesting finger itching! I still also have several requests pending.

Happy reading my friends and stay safe, particularly if you are living in those parts of the world which are having a Covid resurgence. Stay home and read. It’s safer. ❤📚

Cheers

Sandy

Time to read . . .

I need more of it! Time to read that is.

We went north today to our son and his son, and stopped on the way. While hubby was getting a new battery in his watch, I browsed the bookstore, and these three were languishing on the sale table. It would have been downright cruel to leave them there. I am sure that they will soon settle into their new bookshelves 😉🤣😂