Tuesday Travels

I had to go through to Hamilton today so thought I would share some of the lovely lush Waikato countryside with you.

The Waikato is a strong dairy farming area. A lot of farms that were sheep farms have, in recent years, been converted to dairy. It’s very unusual to see sheep outside steep hill country now.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there. May you all have a wonderful day. Mine is being a very lazy one. It’s cool and raining steadily so I haven’t moved far from the fire. The cat and I are very happy at our respective ends of the sofa.

I have spent a great deal of the week in Ireland, mainly Counties Kerry and Mayo, with the occasional foray back to Entry Island, and now I am in Decatur, Georgia. Where have you been this week, and where are you now?

Currently I am reading Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson. I started it this morning and am already a little over halfway through. She sure knows how to ramp up the tension! I have to admit that when I was approved for this I let out a whoop of joy and did a victory dance around the coffee table.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, having had two dnfs in a row, but I will log into my library site this afternoon and pick something up.

I am still reading Entry Island by Peter May – yes, I know this is week 3, but I am reading a physical copy and only pick it up when my Kindle is on the charger. It is a good read, and I am enjoying it greatly.

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain.

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie. 

And Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

Her stomach lurches as she sits in the windowless room. He throws her phone to the ground, grinds it against the floor with the heel of his shoe and brings his face closer to hers. There was no turning back now, her life as she knew it was gone.

When the lifeless body of a man is found on an industrial estate, Detective Kim Stone arrives on the scene and discovers he’s been tortured in the worst way imaginable.

But as she breaks the devastating news to the victim’s wife, Diane Phipps, Kim can’t help feeling that something isn’t quite right about the woman’s reaction.

Twenty-four hours later, the victim’s family disappears into thin air.

Then a second body is found staked to the ground in a local nature reserve.

Desperate to crack the case open quickly, Kim and her team unravel a vital clue – a fiercely guarded secret that links both victims and could cost even more lives.

A secret that some police officers are also protecting.

Faced with deceit from those she should be able to trust, family members who won’t talk, and local reporter, Tracy Frost, opening a can of worms on the case of a woman murdered by her husband a year ago – Kim is in deep water like never before.

Kim must find the motive if she is to find the killer who is systematically targeting and torturing his victims. But can she unlock the shocking truth and stop him before he strikes again?

My requesting finger has been working overtime again with seven new ARCs on my shelf this week 😬😂❤📚

The Beach House by Jenny Hale – don’t you just love that cover!

Still by Matt Nable – a new Australian author for me.

A Gingerbread House by Catriona McPherson

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl – an invitation!

A Body at the Tearooms by Dee MacDonald

Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

And Legacy by Nora Roberts (audiobook)

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and have a wonderful week.

The Day She Died by S.M. Freedman

EXCERPT: Eve Gold wasn’t surprised to die on her twenty-seventh birthday. The Angel of Death’s greasy fingers had been pressing against her spine for ten years – maybe longer – and in the underground of her mind where truth squirmed away from the light, she knew it was just a matter of time before press turned to shove. No, death wasn’t much of a shock. The real surprise was everything that followed.

ABOUT ‘THE DAY SHE DIED’: Eve Gold’s birthdays are killers, and her twenty-seventh birthday proves to be no different. But for the up-and-coming Vancouver artist, facing death isn’t the real shock — it’s what comes after.

Recovering from a near-fatal accident, Eve is determined to return to the life she’s always wanted: a successful artistic career, marriage to the man who once broke her heart, and another chance at motherhood. But brain damage leaves her forgetful, confused, and tortured by repressed memories of a deeply troubled childhood, where her innocence was stolen one lie — and one suspicious death — at a time.

As the dark, twisted pages unfold, Eve must choose between clinging to the lies that helped her survive her childhood and unearthing the secrets she buried long ago.

MY THOUGHTS: I have abandoned this audiobook at 30%.

Part of the reason is the narrator whose voice, I feel, is totally unsuited to the narrative. Her men’s voices are atrocious. She has a very narrow range of tonal expression and inflection, and really, I would rather that she had just read the book in her own voice.

But the main reason for abandoning this is that at 30% I just couldn’t get involved in the story or feel anything for the characters. The narration jumps between the past and the present, bouncing between Eve’s childhood birthdays and a very confused present day in no particular sequence. It is absolutely confusing when listening. Whether it would be any better when reading is debatable.

At 30% I found that I just didn’t want to pick this up again. I was bored and had no interest in wherever it was heading.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed this excerpt from The Day She Died, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. Just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy this as others have.

#TheDaySheDied #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: S.M. Freedman studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and spent years as a private investigator on the not-so-mean streets of Vancouver, before returning to her first love: writing.

She lives in Vancouver with her husband and two children. She’s a proud member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Tantor Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Day She Died, written by S.M. Freedman and narrated by Lauren Ezzo 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

Fall Friday

Down here, in the Southern hemisphere, it’s fall or, as we call it, autumn. So I would like to share the changing colours that I can see from my deck today.

I hope all of you in the Northern Hemisphere are enjoying your spring. My garden seems to have lost track of the seasons – I have a jonquil blooming! (In amongst the weeds – I plan to tackle them today.)

And a few of the back garden:

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

Due for publication 6th May 2021

EXCERPT: They had gone to see the old building, a sprawling grey, derelict structure that had angels at the doors and serpents in the remaining stained glass windows.

Although it was emptied over a quarter of a century ago, there was no denying its looming presence; there was an eerie feeling of ghosts who would never fully rest.

‘For some, perhaps it was better than the alternative – many of the girls came from simple farming backgrounds. Back then, a respectable man would prefer to have a dead daughter than an illegitimate grandchild.’ She shivered then, perhaps remembering things she would prefer to forget. ‘Come on, let’s walk around the old gardens, this place isn’t going to do either of us any good.’

Dan looked once more at the building, mostly boarded up, apart from the occasional window where storms had blown away their covers, revealing stained glass that would have been striking once. He wondered for a moment if he came back again and broke in – would there be files?

ABOUT ‘THE LADIES MIDNIGHT SWIMMING CLUB’: Three women, three different stages of life, united by one thing: the chance to start again.

When Elizabeth’s husband dies, leaving her with crippling debt, she must turn to her friend, Jo for help, who calls in her daughter, Lucy to run the village surgery. Leaving her city life, and past demons, behind, Lucy is determined to make the most of her fresh start.

As life slowly begins to resemble something normal for the three women, Jo’s world is turned upside down when she receives some shocking news.

In search of some solace, Jo and Elizabeth find themselves enjoying midnight dips in the freezing Irish sea. Here they can laugh, cry and wash away all their fears. As well as conjure a fundraising plan for the local hospice; to take a dip in the nip.

MY THOUGHTS: Why have I never read anything by this author before? Her characters are stunning. They made themselves at home in my heart and I don’t want to say goodbye to them.

Other than Elizabeth, Jo and Lucy, there’s Lucy’s teenage son Niall, acting out in reaction to his parents divorce and determined to make his mother suffer for bringing him to this backwater. And Dan, who has lost his high profile job in London and rented a cottage in Ballycove to realise his dream of writing a book, is searching for his birth mother, and is mortified to find himself, one evening, standing on a beach with two near naked pensioners and a dog yapping at his feet. He finds far more material for his book in this little village than he ever dreamed!

The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club is a beautifully paced and plotted story about the indomitable spirit of friendship told from the points of view of all the major characters. Despite, or maybe because of this, it flows seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly through the various crises the characters face.

I loved this read. It warmed my heart, and made my eyes well with tears. Yes, tissues are mandatory. I loved the way Elizabeth’s character grew and strengthened, and Jo, what can I say about Jo? If I am ever in her position I only hope that I have her strength of character.

I am going to be reading a lot more from this author.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#MidnightSwimmingClub #NetGalley

I: @faithhoganauthor #ariaandaries

T: @GerHogan @aria_fiction

#contemporaryfiction #mystery #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Faith Hogan is an Irish award-winning and bestselling author. She was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate Degree from University College, Galway.

She lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very busy Labrador named Penny. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria and Aries for providing a digital ARC of The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson

Due to be published Tuesday 4th May 2021

EXCERPT: I place the laptop on the side table, stand, and walk into the kitchen.

Slowly. Up the hardwood stairs, sixteen steps I’ve climbed thousands of times.

Second floor. The hallway stretches before me, shorter than I remember as a child, but long enough to still swallow all my courage in the middle of the night.

It was here.

This hallway.

The hallway, and then the stairs. It ended on the stairs.

I close my eyes, as if inviting the memories back, and they come.

That night.

His face.

His fear.

ABOUT ‘THE DEAD HUSBAND’: Twenty years ago an unspeakable tragedy rocked Rose Yates’s small, affluent hometown… and only Rose and her family know the truth about what happened.

Haunted by guilt, Rose escaped into a new life. Now she seems to have it all: a marriage, a son, a career. And then her husband is found dead.

As far as Detective Colin Pearson is concerned, Rose is guilty. Her marriage wasn’t as happy as she’d led everyone to believe, and worse, she’s connected to a twenty-year-old cold case. She can play the part of the victim, but he won’t let her or her family escape justice this time around.

Grieving her husband and struggling to make ends meet, Rose returns home, hoping to finally confront her domineering father and unstable sister. But memories of a horrific crime echo through the house, and Rose soon learns that she can’t trust anyone, especially not the people closest to her.

MY THOUGHTS: I swear, it took a full twenty-four hours for my breathing to return to normal and my head to stop spinning after I finished The Dead Husband.

Tense, intense, suspenseful, gripping, addictive. Right up there with Mr Tender’s Girl.

And that’s all you’re going to get from me. Just get a copy, clear the day (because, trust me, once you pick it up…), and read it.

⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤

#TheDeadHusband #NetGalley

I: @carterwilsonauthor @poisonedpenpress

T: @PPPress

#fivestarread #crime #familydrama #mystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: USA Today best-selling and award-winning author Carter Wilson was born in New Mexico and grew up in Los Angeles before attending Cornell University. As a consultant and frequent lecturer, has journeyed the globe both for work and pleasure, and as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
Carter lives in Erie, Colorado in a Victorian house that is spooky but isn’t haunted…yet.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I have had a busy week dashing from dashing back and forth from the remote Entry Island in the Gulf of St Lawrence 850 miles from the Canadian mainland with Peter May, to Scotland with Stuart MacBride, to Gozo, a Maltese Island, and Snowdonia with C.L. Taylor, to Alexandria, Cairo and London with Carol Cooper! I feel quite exhausted 😂🤣

Where have you been this week? Leave me a message and tell me about your travels.

Currently I am reading the amazing and addictive The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson. I started it this morning and haven’t been able to put it down! I adored Mr Tender’s Girl back in 2017, and The Dead Husband is on track to be another five star read.

I am also reading Entry Island by Peter May.

And am almost finished listening to The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride. This has taken somewhat longer than usual as I am training new staff, so can’t listen to my audiobooks as I am working. Definitely no reflection on the plot, author or narrator. All are excellent.

This week I am planning on reading The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

When Elizabeth’s husband dies, leaving her with crippling debt, she must turn to her friend, Jo for help, who calls in her daughter, Lucy to run the village surgery. Leaving her city life, and past demons, behind, Lucy is determined to make the most of her fresh start.

As life slowly begins to resemble something normal for the three women, Jo’s world is turned upside down when she receives some shocking news.

In search of some solace, Jo and Elizabeth find themselves enjoying midnight dips in the freezing Irish sea. Here they can laugh, cry and wash away all their fears. As well as conjure a fundraising plan for the local hospice; to take a dip in the nip. 

And The Lost Girls of Ireland by Susanne O’Leary

The picturesque beach of Wild Rose Bay is the last place Lydia Butler thought she’d be. But having just lost everything, the run-down cottage she inherited from her Great Aunt Nellie is the only place she can take her daughter, Sunny. Hidden away in a tiny Irish village, she can protect Sunny from the gossip in Dublin, and the real reason they have nowhere else to live…

The cottage is part of the old coastguard station and other eccentric residents are quick to introduce themselves when Lydia arrives. Lydia instantly feels less alone, fascinated by the stories they have about Nellie, and she’s charmed by American artist, Jason O’Callaghan, the mysterious man who lives next door.

But the longer Lydia relaxes under the moonlit sky, the more the secret she’s keeping from Sunny threatens to come out. And as she finds herself running into Jason’s arms, she knows she must be honest and face up to the past she has tried to forget. Has she finally found people who will truly accept her, or will the truth force her to leave the cottage for good?

I also plan on listening to The Silent Suspect by Nell Pattison

A FIRE. A MURDER. A SILENT SUSPECT…

On a quiet street, one house is burning to the ground…

By the time sign language interpreter Paige Northwood arrives, flames have engulfed her client’s home. Though Lukas is safe, his wife is still inside. But she was dead before the fire started…

Lukas signs to Paige that he knows who killed his wife. But then he goes silent – even when the police charge him with murder.

Is he guilty, or afraid? Only Paige can help him now…

I have seven new ARCs this week . . .

An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott, an author I used to read regularly but whom has somehow dropped off my reading radar for no particular reason that I can recall. Though I have just noticed that this is an excerpt only, which is a bit disappointing.

The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

Dream Girl in Laura Lippman

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Invite Me In by Emma Curtis

And 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

So that’s it from me for today. I need to get back to The Dead Husband . . . I am going to have to finish this before I go to sleep tonight.

Please do tell me where your reading travels have taken you this week. Happy reading!❤📚 Sandy

Her Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor

EXCERPT: As Caroline continues to rant, Fran stares at her in awe. It’s been a while since she met someone with such fervour and passion, such a powerful drive to vanquish injustice and reveal the truth. It’s really quite inspiring, despite Caroline’s dubious taste in knitwear.

‘And that,’ Caroline says, ‘is why I’m not going to let them drive me away. They might have found a way to cover up your sister’s murder but they’re not going to intimidate me into letting this drop.’

‘No, but they could kill you.’

ABOUT ‘HER LAST HOLIDAY’: Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

MY THOUGHTS: I simply flew through Her Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor. Yes, I had to suspend belief, and no, this isn’t what I would call a psychological thriller, but it was fun and I enjoyed it, mainly I think, because of the characters, because I certainly didn’t find this suspenseful.

Fran, who is the central character, has been a disappointment to her parents, i.e. her mother. She’s a ‘no-frills’ type of person, an I.T. teacher who has never married nor produced a grandchild. She is twelve years older than her sister Jenna, a clone of, though much nicer than, their mother, a force to be reckoned with.

Jenna was bored by her job, her boyfriend had cheated on her, and Fran had inadvertantly pulled the rug out from under her feet, when she decided to go on a retreat to try and get her equilibrium back. It was a retreat from which she didn’t return, her death ruled suicide, her body never recovered.

Tom, the leader of the SoulShrink retreat, has had trauma in his own life, which led him to where he is. He is good looking and charismatic, but seems to be controlled by Kate, his facilitator.

Kate is more than just Tom’s assistant. Much more. SoulShrink was her idea, her baby, Tom the person she chose to front it. She is focused on success, complete with all the trappings, and God help anyone who gets in her way.

Now the blurb for Her Last Holiday is somewhat misleading. ‘Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat…’ Fran did not book herself onto this retreat. Geraldine, her mother, was booked to go but had an accident and couldn’t. She bullied Fran into going in her place.

I loved the machinations between the characters. A lot of people aren’t who or what they appear to be (highly improbable, I know, but fun) and there are many hidden agendas.

The downfall, for me, was the denouement. It all went a bit pear-shaped and OTT. I was disappointed. I can’t say more than that for fear of giving something away.

⭐⭐⭐.6

#HerLastHoliday #NetGalley

I: @cltaylorauthor @avonbooksuk

T: @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK

One of my favourite lines: ” ‘There’s no need to cause a fuss.’ A fuss? I found out my dad’s not my dad and she acts like I found a hair in my soup?”

THE AUTHOR: Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014. She lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Her Last Holiday by C.L. Taylor 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

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

EXCERPT: On her bedside table, the clock clicks forward another minute. Each tiny hair on her arm rises until her skin is stippled with goosebumps.

4.07 am

Even now, that combination of digits has the power to root her in place.

Twenty-one years ago, in another bedroom and another life, a different clock stopped forever at precisely the same time, a web of hairline cracks across its face.

(She) never speaks about that night. The past is put away now. It will not define her. She tries her best not to think about it, but every now and then it shoves its way in, ugly and unwelcome. The devil’s clock, her mother called it, those hollow hours before dawn when the darkness is full of horrors and sleep will not come.

ABOUT ‘WHEN I WAS TEN’: Everyone remembered Sara and Shannon Carter, the little blonde haired sisters. Their Dad was the local GP and they lived in the beautiful house on the hill. Their best friend, Brinley Booth, lived next door. They would do anything for each other but everything shifted on that fateful day when Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were stabbed fourteen times with a pair of scissors in what has become the most talked about double murder of the modern age.

The girls were aged ten and twelve at the time. One, nicknamed the Angel of Death, spent eight years in a children’s secure unit accused of the brutal killings. The other lived in foster care out of the limelight and prying questions. Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down one of the sisters, persuading her to speak about the events of that night for the first time.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and Brinley Booth, now a journalist, is tasked with covering the news story which brings to light fresh evidence and triggers a chain of events which will have devastating consequences.

MY THOUGHTS: Fiona Cummins does this to me every time. No matter how prepared I think I am, I end up breath held, heart in my mouth, my whole body tensed and poised to take flight.

When I Was Ten is not a comfortable, nor a comforting read. But it was one that I couldn’t put down, or stop thinking about. Nature vs Nurture, and what goes on behind closed doors …. this book is like Pandora’s box. You open the cover and there are things contained within that will forever be on your mind. The subject matter is very dark – parricide, and child abuse to start with. As well as the more mundane and ordinary topics of loss, grief, infidelity, grooming, secrets, lies, betrayals, manipulation and . . . . well, you name it, and Cummins has it covered. But it works – brilliantly.

The characters are well crafted and believable, not to mention interesting. Very interesting.

When I Was Ten also examines the powerful influence of social media and the press, and the ways in which the users of social media can and do flout the law.

There is a lot of food for thought in this novel. But it’s not going to demand that you acknowledge it. If you are simply looking for a read that will leave your heart pounding – this is it. The rest is window dressing. Chilling and thrilling.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#WhenIWasTen #NetGalley

I: @fionacumminsauthor @panmacmillan

T:

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.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pan Macmillan via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins 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 my Goodreads.com