Watching what I’m reading . . .

Oh my goodness, have seen what is happening in Tonga? My thoughts and prayers are with you all, and all those in low lying areas that may be impacted by tsunamis caused by the volcanic eruptions. The far north of the North Island has suffered some damage in marinas but thankfully no loss of life.

Currently I am reading The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley. If I hadn’t had to go to work today I would have finished this. All I can say is that if you don’t have this on your radar, add it!

I am also reading Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty, purely for pleasure, and loving it!

I am currently listening to Fallen (Kate Burkholder #13) by Linda Castillo.

This week I plan on reading The Girl She Was by Alafair Burke

HOPE CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING…

She calls herself Hope Miller, but she has no idea who she really is.

Fourteen years ago, she was found thrown from an overturned vehicle, with no clue to her identity. Hope started a new life, but never recovered her memory.

Now she’s missing. With nowhere else to turn, Hope’s best friend, Lindsay Kelly, calls NYPD detective Ellie Hatcher.

In pursuit of answers, three women search for the truth beneath long-buried secrets. And when their searches converge, what they find will upend everything they’ve ever known.

And Where There’s A Will by Sulari Gentill. I absolutely loved the last book I read by this author and am really looking forward to reading this.

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

American millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard–literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise–and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock–and his luck–run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna.

I have read and enjoyed few books lately about families and inheritances, and loved this author’s previous book so I am looking forward to this.

I have another three books scheduled for this week, but as I am starting to train my replacement at work it’s unlikely that I will get to them on time. So apologies to authors and publishers.

Six new ARCs were approved this week; so much for keeping my TBR mountain under control!

This week I have been approved for: Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton. I have absolutely loved everything I have read by this author so am looking forward to reading this.

The Baby Shower by S.E. Lynes, an author I follow avidly.

Dead End Street by Trevor Wood

A Village Secret by Julie Houston

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey

And the audiobook The Captain’s Wife by Norma Curtis and narrated by Josh Wichard.

I am honestly going to try and avoid Netgalley for the coming week. 🤣😂🤣😂 Well, you just know how successful that’s going to be!

Anyway, I’m off to bed. It’s been a long day at work and Pete has a 4am start tomorrow. I seldom go back to sleep after he goes to work so I need to cram as much sleep in before as I can.

Stay safe and keep reading. We’ve had our first community case of Omicron announced today so I guess we will soon be following in everyone else’s footsteps. We’ve had our boosters, and I interact with the public as little as possible, so I hope that will be enough to protect us.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

The first week of 2022 is done and dusted and now most of us are, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, facing going back to work. We’ve had a lovely break, mixing getting a few of those niggly little jobs around the house and yard done with catching up with friends whom we don’t get to see very often. We’ve eaten out a lot, which has been a real treat, been to the beach, and had lot of fun. The weather has been absolutely magnificent. Now, it’s back to reality and work tomorrow and there is, apparently, rain on the horizon for which my garden will be grateful. I have been watering the fruit trees and vegetable garden, but everything else is having to fend for itself.

While I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions this year, I have decided to try and take control of my reading life. Instead of reading 3 books at a time, I am just going to read one and listen to one at any one time. I have been doing this for the past week and, so far, it’s working well. I am enjoying my reading more and feeling less pressured. I also intend reading more titles for pleasure and made a good start over the Christmas break while also reducing the number of titles on my backlist. I hope I can keep this up. I tried last year with variable results, although I did get my Netgalley ratio up to 68% from 64%.

Currently I am reading To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse which is due for publication 11 January. One third through and I have already shredded innumerable tissues.

I am listening to The Lost Days of Agatha Christie by Carole Owens and, although I am halfway through, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

This week I am planning on reading A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Laguna Beach, California, 1968. The Age of Aquarius is in full swing. Timothy Leary is a rock star. LSD is God. Folks from all over are flocking to Laguna, seeking peace, love, and enlightenment.

Matt Antony is just trying get by.

Matt is sixteen, broke, and never sure where his next meal is coming from. Mom’s a stoner, his deadbeat dad is a no-show, his brother’s fighting in Nam . . . and his big sister Jazz has just gone missing. The cops figure she’s just another runaway hippie chick, enjoying a summer of love, but Matt doesn’t believe it. Not after another missing girl turns up dead on the beach.

All Matt really wants to do is get his driver’s license and ask out the girl he’s been crushing on since fourth grade, yet it’s up to him to find his sister. But in a town where the cops don’t trust the hippies and the hippies don’t trust the cops, uncovering what’s really happened to Jazz is going to force him to grow up fast.

If it’s not already too late.

And, The Night of the Party by Anna-Lou Weatherley

Two Couples. Three Secrets. One Murder.

In a beautiful house surrounded by woodland, the Drayton family and their dearest friends are enjoying dinner together. The wine is flowing, the meal has been lovingly prepared, and it’s going to be an evening none of them will ever forget…

A doting mother
with a manipulative daughter.

A loving husband
lying to his family.

A close friend
keeping a shocking secret.

A beautiful girl
who will be dead by the end of the night.

I have three new ARCs this week: Secrets to the Grave by Steve Frechs

One For Sorrow by Helen Fields

and One of Us is Dead by Jeneva Rose which I requested after reading Michael David’s review on https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/

In the past week my reading travels have taken me to the Yorke Peninsula and Adelaide in South Australia; Louisiana in the USA; Hastings in the UK; Sèvèrac Le Chateau, France; Langdale, North Yorkshire; and Marin County, San Francisco. Have we crossed paths this week?

To all my friends in the Fraser Coast area of Queensland, Australia please stay safe. Although Tropical Cyclone Seth has been downgraded to a tropical storm, it still has sting in its tail with heavy rain and severe flooding.

Everyone, no matter where you are, take care. Stay safe and read on.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Well here we are, the first Sunday of 2022. I am still very much in holiday mode and not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, although it is only for the one day and then I have the remainder of the week off. I’m not sure that I can drag myself out of bed in time!

Currently I am reading The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller. What characters!

And The Family Inheritance by Tricia Stringer, a library book. This is my first book by this Australian author and I am loving it.

I am also listening to an audiobook from the library, Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4) by Agatha Christie. I haven’t previously read any of this series, but am enjoying this immensely. I have a firm suspect in mind for the murderer, but am I right?

This week I am planning to read The House Fire by Rosie Walker

Play with fire and you’ll get burned . . .

Who can you trust in this brand new edge-of-your-seat thriller.

A tired old seaside town hiding a series of unsolved arson attacks.

A derelict mansion in the woods with a long-buried secret.

A bundle of old love letters that mask a dark story.

When Jamie’s documentary investigation gets too close to uncovering the truth behind a series of deadly arson attacks that tormented Abbeywick in the 1980s, her family might be the ones who pay the price.

But for her younger sister Cleo, the secrets Jamie uncovers have the potential to get exactly what Cleo wants: to remove her mum’s toxic new husband from their lives, forever.

All it takes is one spark to send everything up in smoke . . .

And The Betrayal by Terry Lynn Thomas

Attorney Olivia Sinclair is shocked when she receives an anonymous video showing her husband Richard sleeping with someone else. After years of handling other people’s divorces, she thought she could recognise a marriage in trouble.

She angrily throws Richard out of the home they share. But days later she’s arrested—for the murder of his mistress.

Olivia knows she’s innocent but, with all the evidence pointing at her and an obvious motive, she must find the real killer to clear her name.

She may be used to dealing with messy divorces, but this one will be her most difficult case yet. Olivia’s husband has already betrayed her—but would he set her up for murder?

I received three new ARCs in the past week: The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown

Shadow in the Glass by M.E. Hilliard

And, better late than never, The Bells of Christmas II: Eight stories of Christmas hope

What are you reading this New Year?

Happy reading my friends. It’s too hot to be out in the garden so I am going to stretch out on the daybed out on my deck where there is a little breeze and read some more. Enjoy your New Year reads my friends.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s a beautiful, fine,hot Boxing Day here in New Zealand. Dustin and Luke left for Lake Taupo late this afternoon, and I have been pottering around the house, pausing every now and then to read a story from A Place Like Home, a wonderful collection of short stories by Rosamunde Pilcher published posthumously.

I am almost finished Survive the Night by Riley Sager

An also almost finished listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

I haven’t got anything scheduled for read for review this week other than Twenty Years Later, so I am going to read books picked totally at random from my backlist.

I received three new ARCs this week: The Child I Never Had by Kate Hewitt

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins ( a widget from the publisher)

And Ocean State by Stewart O’Nan

A short post today as I am in holiday mode, and I am guessing that you all will be too. Happy holidays and enjoy your families and friends. And please, be kind.

Past Life by David Mark

EXCERPT: He picks up a crystal from the circle surrounding the stones. It’s heavy and sharp: sparkling and brittle.

‘Liar,’ he says again, and hits her in the side of the head with such force that the jagged edges of the twinkling rock embed themselves in bone. There is a grotesque slurping sound as he pulls the gory crystal from the wound. She slumps forward. He hits her again. Harder, right at the back of the neck. Takes a fistful of her rosaries, and pulls.

The chain snaps.

Beads fall like hail.

He lets go before she dies. Pushes her onto her back. She’s heavy, and there’s a thud as she topples back onto the floor. One of the cats, nosing near her feet, gives a hiss before it darts away.

He crouches over her. Opens her eyes and peers in.

There’s life in there, he tells himself. A consciousness. Something that can still feel.

‘Charlatan,’ he says, leaning down so his lips are by her ear. ‘Deceiver.’

He considers the pupils in her dulling eyes. Changes his angle until he sees his own barely-there reflection in the glassy surface of the eyeball. Peers in as if searching for something. For someone.

Smiles as he finds it.

‘My love,’ he whispers, and puts one hand to his heart.

He pulls the blade from his pocket.

Reaches into her mouth and seizes her wet, dead tongue.

Begins to carve.

ABOUT ‘PAST LIFE’: The clairvoyant is found with her tongue crudely carved out, a shard of blue crystal buried deep within her mangled ribcage.
The crime scene plunges DS Aector McAvoy back twelve years, to a case from when he was starting out. An investigation that proved a turning point in his life – but one he’s tried desperately to forget.
To catch the killer, he must face his past. Face the terrible thing he did. But doing so also means facing the truth about his beloved wife Roisin, and the dark secrets she’s keeping have the power to destroy them both completely.

MY THOUGHTS: It is easy to tell when an author is passionate about his craft. The passion shines through the writing, enthusiasm and love rippling and tumbling through the words and the plot. David Mark is extremely passionate about his writing and I am equally passionate about reading it. But never has this passion shone through so brightly as it does in Past Life.

Aector MacAvoy is not at ease with the world or his place within it. He feels permanently displaced, dislocated, endlessly cast as an outsider. He’s a lumbering, red-haired Scotsman with a strange name. He became a policeman to do some good; to help people, to try and stop bad people from getting worse. But he just seems to bumble through, ridiculed by most of his fellow officers who understand neither the man nor his strange relationship with his boss, Trish Pharaoh. While he has a passionate relationship with his wife Roisin, and that is a whole wonderful story on its own, his relationship with Trish is more symbiotic. Where once they were master and apprentice, the balance of power has shifted. He needs her protection, her approval. She feels rudderless, adrift without his comforting presence. But he is a good man, something even his father-in-law has to admit, and he is a man who never thought he would countenance a policeman in his traveller family.

I think, like Pharaoh, that I have fallen a little in love with Aector. And greatly in love with this series. Past Life is definitely one of my top ten reads of the year. Dark, gripping, gritty and twisting, it has everything I want in a crime thriller, and then manages to deliver more.

Although Past Life is #9 in the Aector McAvoy series, it is able to be read as a stand-alone. It is written over two timelines, now and in the past, which provides most, if not all, the background information on the characters and relationships needed.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#PastLife #NetGalley

I: @davidmarkwriter @severnhouseimprint

T: @DavidMarkWriter @severnhouse

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: David 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 internationally bestselling Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

His writing is heavily influenced by the court cases he covered: the defeatist and jaded police officers; the inertia of the justice system and the sheer raw grief of those touched by savagery and tragedy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Past Life by David Mark for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Only a week until Christmas. I hope everyone is better organised than I am! It’s our work Christmas party today, so this will be a brief post sandwiched between the committee meeting, which has just finished, and the party which begins in an hour.

I am currently reading The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin, a title off my backlist.

Winter Honeymoon by Jacob M. Appel, a collection of short stories from my backlist and the cover of which for some reason won’t download for me . . . 🤷‍♀️

and How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid,yet another backtitle.

And I am listening to Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

This week I am planning on reading The Road Leads Back by Marci Bolden

Kara Martinson and Harry Canton weren’t exactly high school sweethearts, but they did share one night neither will ever forget. Twenty-seven years later, Harry surprises Kara at an art gallery opening and discovers he left her with more than just memories when he went away to college. Desperate to connect with the family he never knew existed, Harry convinces his son to move to Stonehill—and pleads with Kara to come, too.

Kara hasn’t stepped foot in their hometown since the day she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers. Now Harry’s back in her life and as they put together the pieces of his parents’ betrayal, old heartaches start to feel anew. She wants to be near her family, but returning to Iowa means facing some things…and some people…she isn’t quite ready to.

Can Harry convince her to forgive those who betrayed her so they can embrace the future they were robbed of so long ago? Or will the pain of the past be too much for Kara to overcome? 

And Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.

As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.

Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

This week I have received a total of 4 new ARCs, 3 digital and 1 audio. They are: The Wedding Murders by Sarah Linley

The Patient by Jane Schemilt

And Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton

And the audiobook is The Lucky Ones by Kiersten Modglin

This week I have travelled to London, England; Glasgow, Scotland; Summers Lake in the Adirondacks; New York City; and Bradseden, a fictional village on the outskirts of Bradfield in South Yorkshire.

Have a wonderful Christmas and be kind.

Outback Creed by Jonathan MacPherson

EXCERPT: Inside the outback school hall, Tom, Ed and Konnigan sat at a fold-out table, watching as Anthony gave his digital slide presentation to the three Aboriginal Elders. Tracker Jackson, still in his forties, was considerably younger than Abe and William. They listened as Anthony did his very best to convince them that their community would be better off taking QPEC’s money and relocating to the proposed QPEC Community Centre, only a couple of hours away. They watched the computer generated images of the fully-equipped facility and Olympic-sized swimming pool, where they were promised they could live comfortably with financial security for generations to come.

As Anthony wrapped up, Tom noticed Ed looking at Konnigan, trying to reassure her. Tom didn’t feel so optimistic. He activated the video camera on his phone and set it on his desk, aimed at the Elders, who conversed in their own language.

Abe, the most senior of the group, nodded to his companions and turned to the lawyers. ‘It’s all very nice, but no thanks,’ Abe said.

‘But thank you for the picture show,’ William said.

‘Excuse me,’ Anthony interrupted, ‘but the benefits of relocating far outweigh -‘

‘Are you deaf, mate?’ William interrupted. ‘We’re not moving.’

ABOUT ‘OUTBACK CREED’: Tom McLaren is the go-to negotiator for a corporate law firm, and is accustomed to success and all its trappings. His skills are put to the test when he and his colleagues head to the outback, hoping to persuade Aboriginal Elders to give up their land to a powerful mining company. The land is worth billions, but the Elders won’t budge, and Tom faces the rare prospect of failure. Yet there are hidden forces at play that will stop at nothing to make sure a deal is done, even if that means taking the life of an Aboriginal boy. When Tom and his colleagues discover the shocking plot, they also become targets, and the result is murder. In his frantic hunt for answers, Tom realizes his most dangerous enemy may be closer than he feared. With relentless killers closing in fast, Tom must uncover the truth…before it’s too late!

MY THOUGHTS: The pace of Outback Creed is relentless. If you like action thrillers, where people tend to shoot first and ask questions later, you will love this. Personally I was expecting a little more mystery and suspense, and a lot less action. The body count is quite high.

Outback Creed is a story of power, greed and corruption and the lengths that powerful people and corporations are prepared to go to in order to achieve their goals. Not quite what I was expecting and I have the feeling that it would make a far better movie than book.

Outback Creed takes place in the rugged Kimberley region of Australia, where the harsh climate and crocodiles are not the only dangers.

I had the occasional issue with the writing, mainly because the author tends to repeat words, an example of which is contained in the extract above. ‘Abe said; William said; Anthony interrupted; William interrupted…..’

I listened to the audiobook and have enjoyed this narrator in the past, but with Outback Creed he just didn’t pause. There was no pause at the ends of chapters, or when the narrative changed to a different character’s point of view. It was relentless (the repeated word is intentional). No, he didn’t speak fast, but he just didn’t pause and it got quite confusing. I lost count of the number of times I had to rewind to catch where the narrative changed.

⭐⭐.9

#OutbackCreed #NetGalley

I: @jonathanmacphersonofficial

T: @JonnyMacpherson

#audiobook #australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Jonathan MacPherson Jonathan Macpherson is the author of several crime fiction novels. He also writes children’s fiction under the name of J.Macpherson.

Aside from writing novels, Jonathan has produced and directed short films that have played at major festivals. He lives by the beach in Perth, Australia with his family.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to City Beach Books (IBPA) via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Outback Creed written by Jonathan MacPherson and narrated by Steve Shanahan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Two weeks until Christmas. I have wrapped the presents this morning and made out my shopping list for tomorrow so that all I will have to do in the days leading up to Christmas is pick up fresh fruit and cream. We are spending Christmas Day with my cousins who would otherwise also be on their own as it’s the year that their children and grandchildren go to their partners families. We are having Boxing Day with Dustin and Luke. Lucky boy gets two Christmas Days!

With all the excitement of Bathurst last weekend, I forgot to mention where I’d been on my reading travels: Currently I am in London and Glasgow. I have been to Mapleton, a small village on the outskirts of Stoke-on-trent; Arthurville in the western plains of NSW, Australia; Cornwall; Gosford and the NSW central coast; Stillwater, Minnesota; Lily Dale, NY State; Derby in the Kimberly region of western Australia; Newton, Texas; the Sierra Nevada mountains in California; Brighton, Whitby and Roedean in England in the mid-1960s; and Hull in east Yorkshire. Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Currently I am reading The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay, and I must say it’s very good. This is the 13th book of the series, but the first that I have read, and I am having no trouble whatsoever with the characters or backstories.

I am listening to The Girl Upstairs by Georgina Lees. I am 80% through and still don’t know what is going on. It’s certainly keeping me on my toes!

This week I am planning to read/listen to Why She Left by Leah Mercer

Ruth has spent every day of the last fifteen years wondering why her daughter Isobel left. Walking around the school to which she has given her life, every child she sees reminds her of her family’s bright future which vanished in an instant.

So when Ruth opens the door to find Isobel and a teenage grandson she never knew existed, she feels a rush of relief. Despite the years of hurt she never stopped loving Isobel and wants to help rebuild her life. Enrolling her grandson at the school, Ruth wants to make sure they stay for good.

Isobel has spent her life running from a painful secret. A secret which could have destroyed her family. Now, as she flees a bad relationship, she knows that her childhood home is the only place where she can be safe.

But as Isobel looks at her son in his crisp new uniform, she is taken straight back to the reason she ran all those years ago. Soon it becomes clear that she is not the only one tormented by the past. Someone is prepared to destroy everything Ruth and Isobel hold dear. Can Isobel confront her darkest secret before it is too late?

And The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn

As

twinkling lights go up and snowflakes begin to fall, Laurel Hanover and her eight-year-old son are going home to the Cranberry Inn in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Laurel can’t wait to leave New York behind to help her father run the family business, and make snow angels with her son, even if it’s just for Christmas. But when she walks through the door, she’s shocked to find the inn in disrepair, and a letter saying her father will be gone until Christmas Eve…

No one in town knows where Laurel’s father is, and she doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry – but she won’t let the inn go under, and nothing will get in the way of the perfect Christmas for her son. Seeing the worn-out wooden bannisters, bare of festive lights, she immediately recruits her childhood friend, brooding local carpenter Joel Hutcherson. They might disagree on whether any walls actually need to come down, but each rip in the carpet makes Laurel more concerned for her father, and Joel is a welcome distraction. And when he admits that Laurel was his first crush, she realises she’s falling for him.

But then Laurel uncovers a card with beautiful, ornate writing amongst her father’s things and learns the real reason he disappeared. And it changes everything. Worse still, she thinks Joel knew the truth all along.

I will also be participating in a cover reveal for Remember the Butterfly by Rebecca Marsh on Wednesday 15th December, so please do watch for that.

This week I have received one audiobook ARC, and three digital ARCs. They are: the audiobook of Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller

The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal

And Bride For a Day by Carolyn Brown

Do you have any of these on your reading radar?

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. ❤📚🎄☃️🎅

Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie

EXCERPT: On the edge of oblivion, images drift through the fog of my mind and hold, refusing to let go. Last night. The very dreamy Jonathan Davies of the chiselled features, stunning baby blues and long, dark lashes. A tall, muscular powerhouse, precision toned and sculpted to be appreciated. So commanding, so sure of himself. The images form into a memory and I groan in resignation.

‘Shit’. I have to get up. His body is still in the boot.

ABOUT ‘UNFORGIVEN’: Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn’t particular about who she sleeps with … as long as they pay before leaving.

Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can’t touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she’s a witness to his death …

Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier – but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights … but they may be too late …

MY THOUGHTS: Absolutely brilliant! Unforgiven was an overnight read for me. I just didn’t want to put it down.

Unforgiven is a fast-paced thriller detailing the devious workings of a group of paedophiles (Please note: there are no graphic details) and how difficult the police find it to catch up with those involved when their hands are tied by legal restrictions.

Lexi is a wonderful character. She is a survivor in more ways than one. She is determined that no other child should be subjected to the abuse she suffered as a child. She uses her earnings as an escort to subsidise her under the radar infiltrations into paedophile rings, providing the information to have participants arrested and the rings closed down. But then a man who abused her as a child manages to have his conviction overturned and is freed and her fragile existence is about to be shattered. She also has a talent for sarcastic wit that I envy, and the ability to think on her feet.

There are some wonderful characters in this novel. As well as Lexi, there’s Bailee, Lexi’s sister; Rachel, DI now but also involved in the original Spider case; Finn, and his daughter Ava; ‘Neutron’, police computer whizz; and let’s not forget Lexi’s wonderful and hilarious neighbour Dawny. She was a ray of sunshine in the darkness and provided me with more than a few belly-laughs. There are also a number of absolutely despicable characters who will turn your stomach and have you calling for a mandatory death penalty for these crimes.

Unforgiven is not an easy read, dealing as it does with child abuse and murder. But there is a lot more to this book than just that. As well as the underbelly of human nature, we get to see the inherent goodness of the people who fight for these children, and learn of the extraordinary lengths they will go to in order to catch their prey.

I became very attached to a number of these characters, and I sincerely hope that Sarah Barrie is not yet finished with them.

A ‘must read’.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#Unforgiven #NetGalley

I: @authorsarahbarrie @harlequinaus

T: #AuthorSarahBarrie @HarlequinAUS

#australiancrimefiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Barrie is a bestselling Australian author writing suspense in rural settings, with a generous splash of romance. Her debut bestselling print novel, Secrets of Whitewater Creek, earned her a spot as one of the Top 10 breakthrough authors of 2014, and her next three books, the Hunters Ridge series, also reached best seller status. She has finaled in several major awards, twice in the RUBY, the Romance Writers of Australia’s premier award, and three times in The Australian Romance Readers Award for favourite Romantic Suspense.

In other incarnations, Sarah has worked as a teacher, a vet nurse, a horse trainer and a magazine editor. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her ferrying children to soccer or gymnastics, or trudging through paddocks chasing cattle, sheep, chickens or the Houdini pig that never stays put very long. Occasionally, she’ll attempt to ride her favourite horse who’s quite a bit smarter than she is, and not always cooperative.

Her favourite place in the world is the family property, where she writes her stories overlooking mountains crisscrossed with farmland, bordered by the beauty of the Australian bush, and where, at the end of the day, she can spend time with family, friends, a good Irish whiskey and a copy of her next favourite book. (Australianfictionauthors.com)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ, for providing a digital ARC of Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Girl in the Ground by Stacy Green

EXCERPT: She was beautiful: shiny blond hair, crystal blue eyes and the widest smile Nikki had ever seen. She thought back to what she had seen in the ground, the dirt that caked the white bones. All that remained of her now was the silver locket that was still around her neck…

ABOUT ‘THE GIRL IN THE GROUND’: When construction workers unearth a girl’s skeleton in Stillwater, Minnesota, Special Agent Nikki Hunt is called to the scene by her boyfriend Rory. Nikki knows instantly that the girl was murdered, but she is shocked when Rory immediately recognizes her. The victim was his childhood sweetheart, Becky, and he was the last person to see her before she went missing twenty-four years ago.

With the love of her life now a potential suspect, Nikki is forced to take a step back from the case. But then her colleague Liam finds lies in Rory’s statement – it appears that Becky may have been carrying Rory’s child when she was killed. Despite this, Nikki still thinks he could be innocent, and knows she must find the real killer herself if Rory stands any chance of walking free.

When Nikki finds a potential link to two pregnant girls who were found murdered years before it’s clear that this is the most twisted killer that she has ever faced. And then another girl goes missing from Stillwater. Can Nikki unearth the truth and protect the man she loves? And will she find the missing girl in time to save her life?

MY THOUGHTS: Another one-sitting page turner that kept me up and reading through the night . . .

The name Nikki Hunt is enough to start me hyperventilating. How much can one woman take? How much drama? How much death? How much danger to her loved ones? And so much for easing back into the job – not a chance Nikki. It’s straight in at the deep end.

There are three separate investigations that Nikki becomes involved in on her first day back at work, a day where she is meant to ease gently back into the work flow and take care of the paperwork that has accumulated in her absence.

#1. A surrogate mother close to giving birth has gone missing.

#2. An agent from Nikki’s past wants her input into a trafficking case.

#3. The body of a woman and foetus is unearthed at a construction site.

And all before breakfast . . .

The Girl in the Ground is an intense read that progresses at breakneck speed, not allowing Nikki any time for sleep and the reader scarcely the time to breathe.

A relationship from Nikki’s past puts in an appearance, her current partner becomes a prime suspect in a murder investigation, and loyalties are tested as the cases seem to become entwined.

My one criticism of this book is the amount of dialogue; the endless talking. But that is just a personal preference as I prefer more descriptive reads.

Any fan of action thrillers will love this series and, despite my dislike of dialogue driven reads, I will certainly be lining up for the next in the series.

Just a reminder that this is a series and, although this could be read as a stand-alone, I would recommend that you begin with the first book, The Girls in the Snow, in order to get all the background and development of the characters.

⭐⭐⭐.7

#TheGirlintheGround #Bookouture #NetGalley

I: @authorstacygreen @bookouture

T: @stacygreen26 @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #FBI #murdermystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl in the Ground by Stacy Green for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com