A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker

EXCERPT: ‘I asked if you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night and wondered if this is it. If today is the day you’ll die. And if it was, if you could be absolutely certain of that, how would you live out the rest of the day?’

‘Are you threatening me, Bernie? I thought we were friends.’

‘No, of course not. Like I said, I’m just making conversation’

Jordan sighed. ‘Well, I’m getting bored, and I don’t do bored.’ Her finger hovered over the disconnect button. She studied the list of callers on her second monitor.

‘All this talk, and we nearly forgot the game,’ Bernie said softly. ‘Don’t you want to play with me?’

ABOUT ‘A CALLER’S GAME’: “I’m going to offer you a choice.”

Controversial satellite radio talk show host, Jordan Briggs, has clawed her way to the top of the broadcast world. She doesn’t hold back, doesn’t spare feelings, and has no trouble sharing what’s on her mind. Her rigorous pursuit of success has come at a price, though. Her marriage is in ruins, she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years, and she’s distanced herself from all those close to her. If not for her young daughter, Charlotte, her personal life would be in complete shambles.

When a subdued man calls into the show and asks to play a game, she sees it as nothing more than a way to kick-start the morning, breathe life into the beginnings of drive-time for her listeners. Against her producer’s advice, she agrees, and unwittingly opens a door to the past.

Live on the air with an audience of millions, what starts out as a game quickly turns deadly—events long thought buried resurface and Jordan Briggs is forced to reconcile with one simple fact—All decisions have consequences.

MY THOUGHTS: J.D. Barker would have to be the best crime thriller writer out there.

Having said that I detest ‘shoot them/blow them up’ books and movies, usually because any vestige of a plot they may have is simply a vehicle for mindless violence. Barker has turned that belief on its head.

I was hooked from the beginning. A Caller’s Game is a breathless, heart-pounding, runaway train wreck of a read and I loved it. The plot is devious and clever, the pace warp speed 9.9. The characters are magnificently depicted. Some you will love, some you will hate, and some will shock you. I still have nail marks in the palms of my hands over Charlotte!

And the twists! Diabolical and totally unexpected.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes, the full five stars!

#ACallersGame #NetGalley @jdbarker_author @jdbarker
#hamptoncreekpress

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: A note from J.D.
As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hampton Creek Press (IBPA) via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker 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 . . .

Won’t take long this week! I apologise for missing posts this week. I had a busy 6 day week at work with three extra-long days in there and, unfortunately, this week looks like being more of the same.

I am currently reading A Caller’s Game by JD Barker, which I started last night. Diabolical and riveting!

I am also reading The Ex by Nicola Moriarty and, at this point, I am not entirely convinced that it is the ex who is the problem. Intriguing.

I am still listening to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron, which is not as gritty as I would have liked.

I am probably only going to read one other book after A Caller’s Game this week. But as I have 4 more books scheduled as read for review this week, and they are all appealing, I have no idea which one it will be. I think that I will have to select by lucky dip. The contenders, which are all due for publication this week are:

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

A converted stone farmhouse on the Irish coast is about to receive its first guests in this warmly captivating story for fans of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney

Whether it was the lure of the rugged coastline or the comforting image of the house, he wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d taken a holiday. . .

With its brightly painted front door, white-sash windows and garden path sweeping down toward the sea, Lizzie O’s guesthouse promises a welcome escape from the world. Aisling and Mick Fitzgerald are travelling all the way from Tasmania to celebrate their wedding anniversary, but Aisling is burdened with a secret that could ruin their marriage. Declan Byrne, exhausted from an unhealthy routine of long hours, takeaway and too much red wine, has spontaneously taken the week off to visit the village of his childhood summers. Katie Daly returns to West Cork after an absence of 35 years to care for her ageing mother only to find she must confront her painful past. Finally, Mia Montgomery is taking this holiday without telling her husband.

Each of this group of strangers is at a crossroads. And one week in the middle of winter may change all of their lives.

The Gorge by Matt Brolly

DI Louise Blackwell is still reeling from her brother Paul’s murder when she is brought back from enforced leave and tasked with solving a strange new case—the slaughter of wild sheep at Cheddar Gorge, a place shrouded in mystery and folklore.

When a man is brutally attacked with a machete on the clifftop and a young girl disappears, Louise realises that the horror is just beginning. Rumours of a mythical presence near the gorge are spreading fast, and why is a local environmental cult resisting all attempts to solve the case? With the investigation into Paul’s death about to be shelved and her bereaved niece to care for, Louise is under pressure—and running out of time. Can she find the girl and catch the kidnapper before her worst fears come true?

Drawn deeper into the dark and shocking truth behind the crimes, she soon finds she isn’t the only one with secrets to hide. 

One Perfect Grave (Nikki Hunt #2) by Stacy Green

She didn’t see the patch of black ice until it was too late. The car started to spin, and as it veered off into the deep ditch and the mounds of snow beside the road, she saw him. The little boy frozen in the ice.

When the remains of two bodies are found in an open grave along a desolate highway in Stillwater, Minnesota, Special Agent Nikki Hunt knows exactly who they are. The bright blue jacket lying on the frozen earth belongs to Kellan Rhodes, the missing boy she’s desperately been trying to find for the last two days. The other body is his mother Dana, who had been Nikki’s lead suspect.

Although the wounds on Dana’s body suggest she murdered her son and took her own life, Nikki finds evidence that suggests she was a victim too. Dana was desperately trying to regain custody of Kellan, and Nikki finds boot prints at the scene that belong to someone else.

When another child is reported missing, local journalist Caitlin Newport claims the cases are linked: Zach Reeves was taken away from his own mother in a custody battle, just like Kellan was.

Caitlin once helped Nikki find out the truth about her own parents’ murders, but her desire for a story nearly cost Nikki her life. Now, Nikki must decide if she can trust Caitlin again, before time runs out to find the killer and bring Zach home alive…

And The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…

So that’s the selection. Instead of a lucky dip, why don’t you pick my next read for me. Put your selection in the comments and whichever book has the most votes when I am ready to start my next read will be it.

I am going to have the same problem the following week….my New Year’s resolution this year was to schedule only 2 Netgalley reads each week so that I can catch up on my backlist and also read some books that I have been wanting to read for some time. The biggest problem is

Only 1 ARC this week (no time to go browsing!) Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay.

Have an awesome week my friends, and don’t forget to tell me what you want me to read next.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Happy publication day for The Sanatorium, written by Sarah Pearse, published by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press 18 February 2021

EXCERPT: She closes her eyes and hears echoed threats.

‘Only babies tell, and you’re a baby.’

‘Tell tell tit, your tongue will split.’

Her head is throbbing.

‘Do that again and I’ll kill you.’

ABOUT ‘THE SANITORIUM’:
EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

MY THOUGHTS: An exciting read that left me breathless. It is spine-tingling and raised those little hairs on the back of my neck in places.

The Sanitorium is a stunning debut novel by Sarah Pearse that cleverly leaves the way open for a sequel. I can’t wait!

It is an atmospheric, chilling, twisty read set during a blizzard in a hotel in the Swiss Alps. A modern locked room mystery that incorporates horrific historic murders with the present day ones. The setting is creepy in a modernistic minimalist way, incorporating old subterranean parts of the original Sanitorium that was converted into a luxury hotel.

The characters are magnificent and entirely plausible. I really didn’t like Elin at the beginning, but as she developed and came into her own, she grew on me. She is uncomfortable in her own skin, prone to panic attacks, and on extended leave from the police force following something that went terribly wrong on her last case. Her brother Isaac, I didn’t warm to at all, but I adored Will, Elin’s ‘boyfriend’, and often felt miffed with Elin for the way she treated him. Isaac’s girlfriend Laure, is a bit of a mystery. She and Elin were childhood friends whose relationship came to an abrupt end. She comes across as very self-confident, but there are secrets lurking there too. Elin and Isaac have grown apart over the years following their younger brother Sam’s death and, despite being at the hotel to celebrate Isaac and Laure’s engagement, there is a palpable tension between them.

There is also a tension between another brother and sister, Lucas and Cécile. Lucas owns the hotel, and his sister works for him. There is a history between Lucas and Laure.

So we have:

Complicated family relationships

Family secrets

Stunning scenery (obliterated by a blizzard, but)

A modern hotel built on a creepy past

No way in our out, so the murderer must still be there

A limited pool of suspects

Twists aplenty

I had no idea who was behind the murders, yet thinking back, the author has left a little trail of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow. I was too busy avidly flipping pages and devouring the words on them to pick up her occasional clues.

I loved this read. There was only one point, almost at the end, when my belief wavered a little, but only momentarily. I had a wonderful time reading The Sanitorium and, honestly, I could go back and read it all over again.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.8

#TheSanatorium #NetGalley @SarahVPearse @sarahpearseauthor

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

THE AUTHOR: Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains and the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel.

Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse 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

A storm on the way

Sorry, I don’t have a review ready for you…blame my work for getting in the way this week. So I decided to share Sunday night’s sunset. Storms were forecast for Monday and Tuesday but didn’t eventuate. It rained Monday, but not heavily, and it was windy, but that was it. Tuesday, after a brief morning shower, turned out hot and sunny with gusty winds. So much for the Met office!

Am reading Sanitorium by Sarah Pearse . . . very atmospheric, suspenseful and exciting! Planning on finishing this tonight when I get home from work.

Happy reading!❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Luke has been with us for the weekend. I picked him up Friday afternoon and we have had a fun and busy time. My cousin had kept some eggs for him that she was sure were double yokers, which I scrambled for his dinner Friday night. They weren’t, but he enjoyed them anyway. Yesterday we baked cookies. I took photos but they’re too dark to post. We also made garages for the cars out of shoeboxes. Today we made sleeping bags for his favourite cuddlies for when he and Dustin go camping. They have just left to go home. Luke is one tired bunny as he didn’t sleep well last night, so of course I didn’t either!

I am still reading Lost Souls by Chris Merritt. Although I have read a lot this weekend, not much of it was for me.

And I am listening to The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron.

This week I am planning on reading The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t.

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in…

And The Dare by Lesley Kara

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find traumatic memories and paranoia suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

I have only one new ARC this week –

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

I introduced Luke to Roald Dahl’s poems, and Mole and Toad of The Wind in the Willows this weekend. What have you been reading with your grandchildren or children?

Have a wonderful week. Mine is very busy workwise, and Pete is working long hours so it looks like the lawns will also be on my ‘to do’ list this week.

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

If you are looking for a fast paced, exciting chiller-thriller, this is it!

EXCERPT: A sleeping woman watched over by the stranger who had hidden for hours in the shadowed bay of her bedroom curtains. That’s all there was to the scene. He was a spider, patient and unmoving, poised to drop and stun his prey. There was no malice to it, only need.

ABOUT ‘THE SHADOW MAN’: He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

MY THOUGHTS: Chilling and creepy! I did a read/listen of The Shadow Man and even the voice of the Shadow Man gave me goosebumps!

I had never heard of Cotard’s Syndrome or Walking Corpse Syndrome which is a rare mental disorder in which the affected person holds the delusional belief that they are dead, do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. One of the consequences of Cotard’s syndrome is self-starvation because if you’re dead, you don’t need to eat. And this is what our ‘Shadow Man’ suffers from.

Fields has written a gripping story which is told from the perspective of The Shadow Man, his abductees, and American Forensic Psychologist Connie Woolwine who is working with Detective Baarda to find Elspeth. Even though we know from the outset who the Shadow Man is, Fields keeps the tension ramped up and the pace frantic as Baarda and Connie try to piece together what is happening, often clashing in their views.

There’s a lot of really crazy stuff going on in this book, but nothing that is going to require the reader to suspend belief.

If you are looking for a fast paced, exciting chiller-thriller, this is it!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheShadowMan #NetGalley #helenfields @Helen_Fields
#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #psychologicalthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. She currently commutes between West Sussex, Scotland and California. She lives with her husband and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK for providing me with both a digital ARC and an audiobook of The Shadow Man written by Helen Fields, narrated by Robin Laing and Cathleen McCarron, 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

Dry Bones (Enzo #1) by Peter May

EXCERPT: Moonlight glances off the shiny surface of the cobbles worn smooth by the feet of holy men. His own feet slip and clatter as he scrambles through an alley between buttresses, heart squeezed by the hand of desperation. A green bin spins away in the darkness, spilling its decaying contents across the yard. The door ahead of him lies ajar, the corridor beyond bathed in the ghostly light of the moon, angling between tower and apse to slant through frosted glass arches. He sees a sign and a red arrow – Vitraux du Cloitre – and turns the other way, past the sacristy.

The door to the church is open, and he is almost sucked through into the vast, glowing stillness. The stained glass rises all around, its colours turned to black by the dead light of the nearly full moon. His panic fills the vaulted vastness with every painful breath. To his right the statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the Baby Jesus watches impassively, impervious now to the prayers he has offered her so piously over so many years. The neighbouring chapel has been given over to noticeboards pasted with announcements that he will never read.

He hears the footsteps following in his wake, and breath rasping in lungs that are not his own. He flees along the north ambulatory; past the chapel of St Paul, the chapel of St Joseph and the Souls in Purgatory. At the end of the church, ninety silvered organ pipes rise in shining columns to the figure of Christ Resuscitated, flanked by two angels. He wants to scream ‘Help me!’ But he knows they cannot.

He turns beneath the nine metre span of the only remaining screen in all of Paris, a delicate tracery of stone carving and spiral staircase curling around slender columns soaring into blackness, and he stops beneath Christ on the cross, a calvary taken from the chapel of the Ècole Polytechnique to replace a predecessor destroyed during the Revolution. How often he has knelt here, before the altar, to receive His flesh and drink His blood.

He stops here now, and kneels again for one last time, the footsteps almost upon him. And as he rises and turns, the last thing he sees at the far end of the nave, before red turns to black, is a sign commanding him to SILENCE.

ABOUT ‘DRY BONES’ (Enzo #1): What has happened to Jacques Gaillard? The brilliant teacher who trained some of France’s best and brightest at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration as future Prime Ministers and Presidents vanished ten years ago, presumably from Paris. Talk about your cold case.

The mystery inspires a bet, one that Enzo Macleod, a biologist teaching in Toulouse instead of pursuing a brilliant career in forensics back home in Scotland can ill afford to lose. The wager is that Enzo can find out what happened to Jacques Gaillard by applying new science to an old case.
Enzo comes to Paris to meet journalist Roger Raffin, the author of a book on seven celebrated unsolved murders, the assumption being that Gaillard is dead. He needs Raffin’s notes. And armed with these, he begins his quest. It quickly has him touring landmarks such as the Paris catacombs and a chateau in Champagne, digging up relics and bones. Yes, Enzo finds Jacques Gaillard’s head. The artifacts buried with the skull set him to interpreting the clues they provide and to following in someone’s footsteps–maybe more than one someone–after the rest of Gaillard. And to reviewing some ancient and recent history. As with a quest, it’s as much discovery as detection. Enzo proves to be an ace investigator, scientific and intuitive, and, for all his missteps, one who hits his goals including a painful journey toward greater self-awareness.

This book was previously published as Extraordinary People.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Peter May’s writing. He paints vivid pictures with his words. He evokes emotions. He is a master of his craft.

The French setting is attractive to me, and we certainly visit many attractions during the unravelling of the clues. These clues are in the form of physical riddles left by the killer for reasons which do not become clear until the crime is solved. As the reader, I had zero chance of interpreting these clues. They were far too obscure, so I simply settled in and enjoyed the ride. But between Enzo and his student assistant, aided by the Internet and forensics, logic and plain good luck, they triumph.

There is action and suspense along with engaging, if not always likeable characters. The crime itself is both gruesome and bizarre. This is a fast paced thriller with twists and turns that kept me on my toes. I didn’t come anywhere near guessing the identity of the killer.

An enjoyable, challenging read. I already have book 2, The Critic, lined up to read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#DryBones @authorpetermay #authorpetermay
#audiobook #crime #contemporaryfiction #murdermystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born on December 20, 1951 in Glasgow, Scotland. Even from a young age, Peter wanted to be a novelist. He started out his writing career in journalism and won his first award, the Fraser Award, in 1973 when he was only 21 years old. For this he was labeled Scotland’s Young Journalist of the Year. Peter completed his first novel at the age of 26 titled The Reporter, which was later adapted to a British television series in 1978 called The Standard. He met his wife, Janice Hally, when he was working on the television series, Take the High Road. They were married in 1990 and are currently residing in France.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Dry Bones (Enzo #1) by Peter May, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Blackstone Audio, via Overdrive. 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, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s been a sad day for us today. We farewelled a friend who was far too young to die. I am glad that his death was sudden, and instantaneous, but his timing was off. His youngest son was due to get married next Saturday. That has now been postponed. Michael, thanks for all the fun times over the years. We will miss you, mate.

Currently I am reading The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths, #13 in the Ruth Galloway series.

And listening to The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

This week I am planning on reading An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

Christmas Eve, 2019. Ninety-four-year-old Molly lies in her hospital bed. A stroke and a fall may have broken her body—but her mind is alive with memories.

London, 1940s. Molly is a bright young woman, determined to help the war effort and keep her head up despite it all. Life becomes brighter when she meets and falls in love with a man who makes her forget everything with one dance. But then war forces her to make an unforgettable sacrifice, and when she’s brought to her knees by a daring undercover mission with the French Resistance, only her sister knows the secret weighing heavily on Molly’s heart.

Now, lying in her hospital bed, Molly can’t escape the memories of what she lost all those years ago. But she is not as alone as she thinks.

Will she be able to find peace—and finally understand that what seemed to be an ordinary life was anything but?

Lost Souls by Chris Merritt

Standing at the school gates, he waits until the last child leaves the safety of the playground. And then he follows at a distance, keeping to the shadows. Only he knows what’s going to happen next.

In a quiet church, on a busy London street, 12-year-old Donovan Blair is found dead. His hands are clasped together as if in prayer. Just hours ago, he was happily playing with his friends at school, but now his body is lifeless, and his killer is long gone.

Detective Dan Lockhart is working alone on his wife’s missing person’s case when he receives a call telling him to get to the crime scene at St Mary’s Church immediately.

Bringing in psychologist Dr Lexi Green to help profile the murderer, Dan is convinced that the killer has provided a clue by leaving the body in a prayer position, and Lexi agrees. As they try to get into the mind of the person responsible, another victim is found. A 13-year-old girl, left in a different church, posed in exactly the same way.

Fearing the murderer may already have another child in his sights, Dan and Lexi work together to establish links between the two deaths, and soon discover that not only were both children in care – they had attended the same school. And when it emerges that Lexi’s new boyfriend works there, things become difficult between her and Dan. How much can he tell Lexi about the case? And could she be at risk?

As Dan makes a breakthrough in the investigation, he receives devastating news about his wife, Jess. But with children’s lives at stake and Lexi in danger, Dan must put his personal emotions aside and chase the killer. Can he and Lexi work out who is behind the murders before another vulnerable child is taken?

I have received 3 e-book and 1 audiobook ARC from Netgalley this week:

The audiobook is Olive by Emma Gannon

The e-books are: The Dare by Lesley Kara

The Perfect Father by Charlotte Duckworth

The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison

So that’s me for the day….. live life to the max. You never know when it may be your last day.

❤📚

Hadley and Grace by Susanne Redfearn

EXCERPT: Five minutes later, they are on their way. (Hadley) glances at Mattie beside her and Skipper behind her, unable to believe it, stunned that it is happening. For fifteen years, she’s been searching for a way out, and now, just like that, she is doing it, driving away with the kids. Her heart pounds with adrenaline and a small sense of pride.

‘We’re not going back?’ Mattie says, startling Hadley from her thoughts.

‘You packed your mom’s apron,’ she says to Hadley’s surprised expression.

Hadley swallows hard, wondering if her last minute decision to shove the keepsake in her bag will tip Frank off as well. The apron is hand embroidered with daisies and stained in a dozen places; her mother wore it almost every day of Hadley’s childhood, and it is one of the few things of her mom’s she has left.

‘Don’t worry,’ Mattie says, reading Hadley’s fear. ‘Dad never goes in the kitchen drawers.’ And all the pride Hadley felt the moment before deflates, knowing how much she has failed her daughter all these years.

ABOUT ‘HADLEY AND GRACE’: Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

MY THOUGHTS: I started off by not liking this story or its characters very much: A shallow, beautiful, abused wife and her husband’s secretary, a single mum with a criminal record who has left her compulsive gambler husband. What’s to like? As it turns out, there’s a lot to like about this book. Once Hadley and Grace have robbed Frank and are on the run, we get the real measure of these two women and the children they have in tow.

From a fairly average start, Hadley and Grace explodes into an implausible but thoroughly entertaining romp involving the FBI, a kidnapping or two, occasional gunfire and several car chases. This is a read that will have you holding your breath one minute, then bursting into laughter the next, and reinforces my theory that the best friends are found in the oddest of places.

Hadley and Grace has been compared to Thelma and Louise, but I enjoyed this a whole lot more. A fun read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#HadleyandGrace #NetGalley
#crime #thriller #humour #contemporaryfiction #familydrama

‘Today is not forever. It’s just today.’

‘You brought your baby to a robbery?’
‘You wore stilettos to a robbery?’ (Abridged)

‘The first three letters in diet are a warning.’

THE AUTHOR: Suzanne Redfearn is the award-winning author of four novels: Hush Little Baby, No Ordinary Life, In an Instant, and Hadley & Grace. In addition to being an author, she’s also an architect specializing in residential and commercial design. She lives in Laguna Beach, California, where she and her husband own two restaurants.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Hadley and Grace 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 . . .

It was Pete’s 65th birthday yesterday so we decided to have a day out. We had originally planned to go down to Awakino and Mokau, stopping at the Awakino pub for lunch. We have stopped there a few times recently and the food is great. But when we checked the road report there were a lot of roadworks and long delays. Pete has been carting concrete out to Raglan quite a bit recently so we decided to go there for the day. I haven’t been there for two years and it’s grown like crazy in that time. We drove around all the lovely little bays, then went for lunch at the Wharf Kitchen and Bar. The fish and chips were lovely, the Heineken cold and we had views out over the water.

It was a lovely day out culminating in calling in on Dustin and Luke on the way home.

We also bumped into Harley who used to chef for us. He has just started working back in the area so tomorrow we are going to lunch at his restaurant at Waitomo, as it’s a long weekend here. We have two in a row!

Currently I am readin House of Correction by Nikki French.

Over half way through. Compelling. Character driven. Totally hooked.

I am listening to The Silence by Susan Allott, an Australian mystery. Almost half way through and enjoying it, but have no idea what happened to Mandy. The husband? (Where is he, anyway?) The neighbour? The neighbours wife? Or is she simply somewhere else, living as someone else?

This week I am planning on reading Hadley and Grace by Susan Redfearn

Needing to escape her abusive marriage, Hadley flees with her two kids, knowing it might be her only chance. A woman who can’t even kill a spider, Hadley soon finds herself pushed to the limits as she fights to protect her family.

Grace, new mother of baby Miles, desperately wants to put her rough past behind her for good, but she finds it impossible when her path crosses with Hadley’s, and her quest for a new start quickly spirals out of control and turns into a terrifying flight for survival.

Stronger together than apart, the two find their fates inextricably entwined, and as the danger closes in, each must decide how much she is willing to risk for the other.

And The Lady in Residence by Alison Pittman.

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Visit historic American landmarks through the Doors to the Past series. History and today collide in stories full of mystery, intrigue, faith, and romance.

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

I am also planning a Read/Listen of The Shadow Man by Helen Fields.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
 
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
 
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
 
And he’s watching.

And oh, Susan, you are going to laugh at this. You know how I have been saying that I have been requesting books and a lot of them I have either heard nothing about, or they have gone to ‘wishlist’? Well I have had an absolute avalanche of approvals this week….seventeen!!!! So here they are:

The Reach by B. Michael Radburn (Taylor Bridges #3), Australian fiction

A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe

Lost Souls by Chris Merritt

In Her Tracks (Tracy Crosswhite #8) by Robert Dugoni

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

The Receptionist by Kate Myles

The Best of Friends by Alex Day

The Ocean in Winter by Elizabeth de Veer

The Girls from Alexandria by Carol Cooper

The Broken Ones (Detective Gina Harte #8) by Carla Kovach

One Perfect Grave (Nikki Hunt #2) by Stacy Green

The The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams

The Night Gate by Peter May

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

And the audiobook of The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

Stay safe, keep calm and read on! I will leave you with photos of Whale Bay and Manu Bay in Raglan, New Zealand.