Pray for the Girl by Joseph Souza

Pray for the Girl

EXCERPT: When I left New York City, I left with my suitcase filled with my best clothes (admittedly, not many), some personal stuff, a canvas roll of professional knives, and my ego in splinters. Heather was not exactly a happy camper when I gave my notice, which took effect immediately after saying ‘I quit.’ She was eight months pregnant at the time but looked ten, and most of her line cooks were junkies, or whack jobs. I felt bad about leaving like that. But shit happens in this business. I tried not to stare down at her pumpkin belly as I said the dreaded phrase. I tried not to dwell on the fact that her body would soon burst with life, something mine would never do. She was already short-staffed on the line, and the restaurant was packed to the gills night after night.

Heather was a victim of her own success. If I could have stayed and helped her until she found a replacement, I would have. But in the fragile state I’d descended into, I knew I wouldn’t last another minute in that place. Dropping the ball in that fashion was a terrible thing to do, and considered one of the worst offenses in our profession. But what choice did I have? When the inner demons awaken from their deep slumber, there’s not much one can do but let fate run its course.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity–much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy–who knows something about hiding secrets–must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .

MY THOUGHTS: Wow! And I don’t often say this, but Wow! After d-n-fing a previous book by this author, he has taken me by surprise with Pray for the Girl. It is topical on more than one front, fast paced, and contains many surprises.

The author doesn’t give much away. Particularly during the first part of the book, he makes the reader work for every nugget of information, but it is worth it. There are few likeable characters in this book, and few, if any, are what they seem.

There are so many current issues woven into the storyline: the struggle and disintegration of small town life; the refugee crisis; racial intolerance; drug abuse; veteran health, and others that I won’t go into because to do so would give away valuable aspects of the plot. It is, amongst other things, a valuable social commentary.

This is a dark read but, despite the grim picture I may have painted, not a depressing one. It is a read that kept me turning pages long into the night, and continuing to read when I ought to have been packing for our upcoming move.

😊😊😊😊

THE AUTHOR: Joseph Souza’s award-winning short stories have been published in various literary journals throughout the country. Winner of the Andre Dubus Award for short fiction, he also won Honorable Mention for the Al Blanchard Award and the 2013 Maine Literary Award. His mystery, UNPAVED SURFACES, was published by Kindle Press in 2015 and was an Amazon bestseller. NEED TO FIND YOU, his crime thriller set in Portland, was the first novel to go direct-to-publish by Kindle Press. Visit josephsouza.net for more information about his work.

He lives near Portland, Maine with his wife and two children and enjoys running, cooking and playing golf when not writing.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Joseph Souza for providing me with a digital ARC of Pray for the Girl via Kensington Books and Netgalley. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2761812627

Advertisements

Run Away by Harlan Coben

Run Away

EXCERPT: … there was no beauty in the music. None.

Simon’s eyes stayed locked on the panhandling girl mangling John Lennon’s legacy. Her hair was matted clumps. Her cheekbones were sunken. The girl was rail thin, raggedy, dirty, damaged, homeless, lost.

She was also Simon’s daughter Paige.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, quite by chance, you see her busking in New York’s Central Park.

But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is wasted, frightened and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Where criminal gangs rule, where drugs are the main currency, and murder is commonplace.

Now it’s your life on the line. And nowhere and no one is safe.

MY THOUGHTS: I have a hit and miss relationship with Coben’s writing. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, but I thought Run Away was only a little better than average.

It started out well – a Dad on the lookout for his missing, drug addicted daughter who, it seems, is quite content with her life and has no desire to change. An exercise in futility and self punishment. But then it disintegrated into this unbelievable ‘action-thriller’ with guns and abductions that never quite rang true, and left me feeling disappointed. There was plenty of scope for mystery and suspense. It went unrealised, underdeveloped. I felt that he had sold out and taken the easy option.

Coben has written some great suspenseful novels. This is not one of them. But it will appeal to those who like a lot of action for the sake of action. It would probably make a better movie.

But there are glimpses of the perceptive Coben I love in this book, and I would like to share my two favorite quotes from Run Away with you: ‘Once one lie is let into the room, even for the best of reasons, a whole bunch more will ride in on its back. Then those lies will gang up and slaughter the truth. ‘; and ‘There are few moments of pure bliss in this life. Most of the time you don’t realize that you are having one of those moments until they are over. But that wasn’tthe case right now. Right now, as Simon sat with the woman he loved, he knew. And she knew. This was bliss. And it wouldn’t last.’

THE AUTHOR: With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last seven consecutive novels, MISSING YOU, SIX YEARS, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 43 languages around the globe.

Coben is the winner of the Edgar Award, Shamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – and he has received an eclectic variety of honors from all over the world. His novel TELL NO ONE has been turned into a hit French film of the same name. His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications.

Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. He still lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK Cornerstone via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Run Away by Harlan Coben for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2736315480

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Firstly I must apologize for my absence over the past few days. We had wedding #2 of the three family weddings in 9 weeks. The weather gods were kind to us, the bride was radiant, and everyone had fun. Now a little less than three weeks to wedding #3, for which we will be heading to Australia.

Now onto the real reason we are here. . . Books! Currently I am reading

My Daughter's Secret

for which I gave you a sneak preview last Tuesday. I can’t wait to see where this is going. Only started this last night, and very intrigued.

I am listening to

The Dead Tracks (David Raker, #2)

I have been wanting to get into this series for some time now.

This week I am planning on reading

Two Silver Crosses: A heartwarming family saga of love and war

In 1926 the Holborn twins, Ginny and her blind sister Emily, disappear from their comfortable home in Wolverhampton. Why? No one knew. Ten years later, aspiring solicitor Charlie Commoner is dispatched to France to track them down. What he finds instead is a mystery, a tragedy and a love affair.

But as the Second World War darkens over Europe, so, too, does the legacy from a terrifying disease that holds the family in its grip . . .

Run Away

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs. 

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.

I have to admit to not particularly liking the cover of this one.

This week I have received four ARC approvals from NetGalley.

The Bones She Buried (Detective Josie Quinn #5)

The Last Thing She Remembers

Tomorrow's Bread

Pray for the Girl

I hope you have had a wonderful week’s reading, and that you have another lined up ahead of you. 💕📚

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

Rattle by Fiona Cummins

EXCERPT: Upstairs, Jakey stirred as the front door shut on his father’s anger. He was neither asleep nor awake, but somewhere in between. The halfway world of awareness and dreams.

A shadow man with sharp teeth and long skinny arms who looked just like the Bogeyman on the cover of Daddy’s book was leaning over him, but Jakey gave a muffled scream, kicking out with his legs, and he disappeared in the dusty black hole beneath the bed, or inside the toy cupboard. Jakey wasn’t sure.

All Jakey knew for certain was that the man meant to hurt him. Just like that little girl he’d heard them talking about on the television. And that dark things like dark places.

He pulled his Spider-Man duvet up to his nose, and tried to reach out with his sore arm. His fingertips brushed the hard plastic of his torch and knocked it on the floor. The door was open when his daddy said goodnight, but now it was shut. Jakey didn’t like it when the door was shut.

Ol’ Tommy Rawhead’s here. Ol’ Bloody Bones. 

As soon as the name came into his mind, Jakey fought against the rise of panicked tears.

He’s in my bedroom. He’s come to take me away. And there’s no Daddy to scare him off.

He tried to shout for his mother, but something was stopping him, something was crammed in his mouth. He clawed at it with his right hand, but it was only his old stuffed rabbit, Mr Bunnikins.

Jakey squeezed his eyes tight, and counted to three, the way his father taught him to when the pain was too much.

Underneath the silence of the room, he could hear the rattle of Ol’ Tommy’s breath. Could he make it to the door? No, nooo. Those bony fingers would wrap around his ankles as soon as he got out of bed. What about the window? Too high in the sky. If only he could turn on the light. That would scare the Bogeyman away.

His eyelids fluttered, heavier now, the twin ropes of imagination and sleepiness binding Jakey to his bed. Ol’ Bloody Bones has stolen that little girl, and next he’s coming for me. 

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A serial killer to chill your bones

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

MY THOUGHTS: Even though I knew how this book was going to end, the peril of having read the second book in the series first, my eyes sucked the words from the page, and I often found myself not breathing.

Fiona Cummins is a first rate storyteller. She conveys both childish pleasures and fears onto the page in such a way that you can feel them. The same with the pressures the parents face, the unravelling of their relationships, the sniping and back biting, the dark thoughts that creep unbidden into their minds. She conveys the frustration of the investigating officers so that it is palpable in the air around the reader. You can taste it. . . that, and the evil of the perpetrator.

This is an absolutely amazing debut novel, and Cummin’s second book, The Collector, is every bit as good. Highly recommended to lovers of the darker side of life.

💖💖💖💖💖

THE AUTHOR: Fiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy Writing A Novel course. She lives in Essex with her family. Rattle is her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed Rattle by Fiona Cummins, published by Macmillan, from Waitomo District Library. A huge thank you to Julie for fast tracking the purchase of Rattle. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1821450319

Watching What I’m Reading

Good morning everyone! It looks like I am going to be reading for a good part of the day today. The weather forecast for a hot sunny day was wrong and, while it’s not raining, it is cool and cloudy with a stiff little breeze  –  not pleasant out on the hillside where I had planned on gardening. A day on the sofa with a pot of tea and my book is far more appealing.

Currently I am reading

Between the Lies

What would you do if you woke up and didn’t know who you were?

Chloe Daniels regains consciousness in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She doesn’t recognise the strangers who call themselves family. She can’t even remember her own name.

What if your past remained a mystery?

As she slowly recovers, her parents and sister begin to share details of her life.
The successful career. The seaside home. The near-fatal car crash.
But Chloe senses they’re keeping dark secrets – and her determination to uncover the truth will have devastating consequences.

What if the people you should be able trust are lying to you?

And listening to

The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway, #6)

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk in this exciting new entry in a beloved series.
Every year a ceremony is held in Norwich for the bodies in the paupers’ graves: the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series Women Who Kill, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.

DCI Harry Nelson is immersed in the case of three children found dead in their home. He is sure that the mother is responsible. Then another child is abducted and a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility. Are there two murderers afoot, or is the Childminder behind all the deaths? The team must race to find out-and the stakes couldn’t be any higher when another child goes missing.

This week I am planning on reading

The Last Thing She Told Me

Even the deepest buried secrets can find their way to the surface…

Moments before she dies, Nicola’s grandmother Betty whispers to her that there are babies at the bottom of the garden.

Nicola’s mother claims she was talking nonsense. However, when Nicola’s daughter finds a bone while playing in Betty’s garden, it’s clear that something sinister has taken place.

But will unearthing painful family secrets end up tearing Nicola’s family apart?

And hopefully I will start

Death Of A Doll

Hope House, a New York boarding home for women, has led a rather sleepy existence in terms of emergencies. One wastepaper basket fire surely doesn’t count as a five-alarm fire. That is until new tenant Ruth Miller’s limp and lifeless body is found in the courtyard after plummeting to her death.

In a clandestine and hot-chocolate infused meeting, the heads of the house decide Ruth’s death couldn’t possibly have been foul play: no, she must have fallen or jumped. Shy and mousy, it seems Ruth had no friends to question… or ask uncomfortable questions.

But this was no accident: upon Ruth’s arrival, the atmosphere of this happy house shifted, her paranoia was catching, and her last days were filled with dread. If the heads thought a scandal could be averted, they were wrong. It turns out Ruth did have a friend… and she’s out for justice.

This claustrophobic and tense mystery is heralded as Hilda Lawrence’s best. Equal parts cosy and suspenseful, it’s sure to captivate lovers of all genres of classic crime.

Death of a Doll was first published in 1947 and is the third in the Mark East Series:

Mark East
1. Blood Upon the Snow (1944)
2. A Time to Die (1945)
3. Death of A Doll (1947)

I know that I am not going to get much reading done during the week as we have a fundraiser Saturday for Te Reina Worsley, a young mum of 5 who needs life saving surgery not available in New Zealand. You can read her story here https://givealittle.co.nz/search?q=Te+Reina+Worsley+

I have had 3 approvals from NetGalley this week

Buried Deep (Jessie Cole, #4)

Their Little Secret (Tom Thorne, #16)

Things Unsaid

I hope you have read some wonderful books this week, and you have many more worthwhile reads ahead of you. Happy reading my friends. 💕📚

A Taste of . . .Tuesday – The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

The Stranger Diaries

Happy Publication Day for The Stranger Diaries to Elly Griffiths and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!

I can’t wait to read this latest stand alone by one of my very favorite authors, Elly Griffiths. Here is an extract to whet your reading appetite. . .

Clare’s Diary

Monday 23rd October, 2017

Ella is dead. I didn’t believe it when Rick told me. And, as the words began to sink in, I thought: a car crash, an accident, even an overdose of some kind. But when Rick said ‘murdered’, it was as if he was talking a different language.

‘Murdered?’ I repeated the word stupidly.

‘The police said someone broke into her house last night,’ said Rick. ‘They turned up on my doorstep this morning. Daisy thought I was about to be arrested.’

I still couldn’t put the pieces together. Ella. My friend. My colleague. My ally in the English department. Murdered. Rick said that Tony already knew. He was going to write to all the parents tonight.

‘It’ll be in the papers,’ said Rick. ‘Thank God it’s half-term.’

I’d thought the same thing. Thank God it’s half-term, thank God Georgie’s with Simon. But then I felt guilty. Rick must have realized he’d got the tone wrong because he said ‘I’m sorry Clare,’ as if he meant it.

He’s sorry. Jesus.

And then I had to go back to my class and teach them about ghost stories. It wasn’t one of my best teaching sessions. But ‘<i>The Stranger</i> always does its bit, especially as it was dark by the time I finished. Una actually screamed at the end. I set them a writing task for the last hour: ‘write about receiving bad news’. I looked at their bent heads as they scribbled their masterpieces (‘The telegram arrived at half past two. . .’) and thought: If only they knew.

As soon as I got home, I rang Debra. She’d been out with the family and hadn’t heard. She cried, said she didn’t believe it, etc, etc. To think that the three of us had only been together on Friday night. Rick said that Ella was killed some time on Sunday. I remember I’d texted her about the  <i>Strictly</i> results and hadn’t had an answer. Was she already dead by then?

It wasn’t so bad when I was teaching or talking with Debra, but now I’m alone, I feel such a sense of. . . well, dread. . . that I’m almost rigid with fear. I’m sitting here with my diary on the bed and I don’t want to turn the light off. Where is Ella? Have they taken her body away? Have her parents had to identify her? Rick didn’t give me any of these details and, right now, they seem incredibly important.

I just can’t believe that I’ll never see her again.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”
Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

I hope that I have tempted your reading tastebuds with this morsel from the Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths.

Happy reading, my friends! 💕📚

Watching What I’m Reading

I am currently reading

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom

which I have to admit has enchanted me from the outset.

Meet Eliza Bloom: She likes to live life by the rules: long, blue skirt on Thursdays, dinner with mother on Fridays and if someone tells you a Valentine should be anonymous, give your new husband a blank card. Nothing is out of place in her ordered life…

But last night her teenage daughter found something in a hidden shoebox that no-one was supposed to see and started asking questions. Questions that might just change everything in Eliza’s carefully constructed world.

Join Eliza as she shows you how to run away with the love of your life (quite fast actually, as your family are coming after you), how to make your grandfather happy (this might involve a little bit of lying), how to let someone you love go (actually, this never gets easier) and how (now, this is a bad idea) to keep secrets from your new husband.

The only way to truly live is to learn how to open your heart.

And listening to

The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway, #6)

This is a series that I love, and this is one of the earliest books in the series that I have read .

Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of what might be a notorious Victorian child murdress and a baby snatcher known as “The Childminder” threatens modern-day Norfolk in the latest irresistible mystery from Elly Griffiths.

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk in this exciting new entry in a beloved series.
Every year a ceremony is held in Norwich for the bodies in the paupers’ graves: the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series Women Who Kill, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.

DCI Harry Nelson is immersed in the case of three children found dead in their home. He is sure that the mother is responsible. Then another child is abducted and a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility. Are there two murderers afoot, or is the Childminder behind all the deaths? The team must race to find out-and the stakes couldn’t be any higher when another child goes missing.

This week I am planning on reading

Between the Lies

The truth is hiding between the lies.

A page-turning psychological thriller with twists that keep the reader guessing until last page, this addictive read will be loved by fans of Shari Lapena’s A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE and Liz Lawler’s DON’T WAKE UP.

What would you do if you woke up and didn’t know who you were?

Chloe Daniels regains consciousness in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
She doesn’t recognise the strangers who call themselves family. She can’t even remember her own name.

What if your past remained a mystery?

As she slowly recovers, her parents and sister begin to share details of her life.
The successful career. The seaside home. The near-fatal car crash.
But Chloe senses they’re keeping dark secrets – and her determination to uncover the truth will have devastating consequences.

What if the people you should be able trust are lying to you?

The Stranger Diaries

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to murder. A high school English teacher specializing in the Gothic writer R. M. Holland, she teaches a course on it every year. But when one of Clare’s colleagues and closest friends is found dead, with a line from R. M. Holland’s most famous story, “The Stranger,” left by her body, Clare is horrified to see her life collide with the storylines of her favourite literature.
To make matters worse, the police suspect the killer is someone Clare knows. Unsure whom to trust, she turns to her closest confidant, her diary, the only outlet she has for her darkest suspicions and fears about the case. Then one day she notices something odd. Writing that isn’t hers, left on the page of an old diary: “Hallo, Clare. You don’t know me.”
Clare becomes more certain than ever: “The Stranger” has come to terrifying life. But can the ending be rewritten in time?

I have had 5 ARCs approved from NetGalley this week. . . I know, I know. I wasn’t going to request more than I can read in a week, but I had a bad case of book envy. . . The books I received this week were

The Woman at 46 Heath Street

Death Of A Doll

The Third Mrs. Durst

Run Away

 

Don't Let Go

Have a happy week of reading. 💕📚