The Man She Married by Alison James

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EXCERPT: I approach the open coffin, balanced on trestles at the centre of the silent room. Heavy velvet drapes are drawn discreetly over the window, and in the corner a lamp is lit, next to an arrangement of silk flowers on a tall stand.

As I draw closer, I glimpse the tip of his nose against the pleated white satin of the coffin lining. The sight is so odd and other-worldly, it makes my head swim and the carpeted floor feel unsteady under my feet. My heart is pounding as I get close enough to see him; all of him.

I have no idea who gave the undertaker the suit and tie he’s wearing; I only know it wasn’t me. I take in the curve of his mouth, the sweep of his hair from his forehead, the angles of his profile. On his left hand is a wedding ring. I remove my own wedding ring and drop it into the coffin.

The only thought in my mind is that this is like one of those riddles you find inside a Christmas cracker. Because the man lying inside my husband’s coffin is not my husband. He’s a total stranger.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Since Alice’s fiancé walked out on her, she never thought she’d meet ‘The One’. But all that changes when she meets Dominic. Handsome, charming and kind, Alice can’t believe her luck when he proposes a few months later and moves into her West London home.

Three years on, Alice’s catering business is thriving and she is married to a man she adores. So when she sees that little blue line, it should be the happiest moment of her life: they’re going to have a baby. But then the police knock on her door and Alice’s whole world is turned upside down… Dominic is dead.

Distraught, Alice goes to identify the body. There’s no doubt that it’s her husband. Yet when his estranged brother comes to view the coffin, he insists the man lying there is not Dominic. Alice refuses to believe it at first, but when confronted with irrefutable proof, she finally has to face the truth:

The man she married is not the person he said he was. And if he lied about that, what else was he hiding from her?

MY THOUGHTS: The Man She Married by Alison James is the second book I have read and enjoyed by this author. It is told from two perspectives – that of Alice, and that of Dominic – over two timelines, now and then. This works well and is not at all confusing. It is interesting to see how the perspectives of the same events differ.

James has portrayed her characters well. Alice is a successful businesswoman whose personal life is a disaster. She is an orphan, has been jilted almost at the altar, and just wants to be loved. Dominic is charming – good looking and charming. He is polished and plausible. He is dangerous. Very dangerous. And Alice is his perfect cover.

This is one of those books that just sneaks up on you….I was reading along, thinking ‘Yeah, this is okay.’ when suddenly I realized that I was totally immersed in the story, and I read the second half in one sitting.

😊😊😊😊

#TheManSheMarried #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Alison James. I was born in the Cotswolds but spent most of my formative years abroad. I studied languages at Oxford, then became a journalist and author, returning to university after my two children to take a law degree.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Man She Married by Alison James 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3085459102

The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore

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EXCERPT: Mary was a little lamb,
Her soul as white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went
Death was sure to go.

He tracked her to the brook one day,
Which was against the rule.
He tempted her quite far astray
And made the lamb a fool.

She tried, she tried to turn him out
But still he lingered near
And waited patiently about
Till Mary did not fear.

What made the lamb trust him so
Most any would descry?
Oh! He loved Mary too, you know.
Tis pity she must die.

ABOUT THIS BOOK:
1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.

In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.

In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.

Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

MY THOUGHTS: I really enjoyed the first third of this book, but then my interest began to wane as it was just more of the same. My interest flared briefly in a couple of spots, but it was not sustained. I found myself, by the 60% mark, skimming the text, desperate to find something that I could get my teeth into. It seemed an awful lot longer than its 268 pages.

The story swings back and forth between Lucy’s prison as she awaits her execution, and her life in the Burton household. This can get a little confusing as it does so without warning many times in each chapter, sometimes for only a paragraph or two, and serves absolutely no purpose.

None of the characters are in any way likeable…and although this isn’t necessary for me to enjoy a good read, I found myself not caring at all what happened to any of them. Which is just as well, really, as I found the ending quite odd and inconclusive.

There is little to no atmosphere, and if the love scenes were meant to be sensuous then they have completely missed the mark.

Not a read that I will be recommending.

😒😒

#TheCompanion #NetGalley

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. If you enjoyed the excerpt from The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it. You may well enjoy it as have many other readers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Lake Union via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2913850004?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood

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EXCERPT: She turned and went back into the room. Jonathon had drawn two adults, a child, and was currently on a second child: his family. Dr McCartney bent down next to him and watched him draw in all the details: the hair, the clothes, the eyes, the smiles. He then picked up a red felt-tip and with a forceful action that caused the doctor and the PC to jump, he scribbled all over the picture. He didn’t stop until his mother, father and brother were completely covered in blood.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two murders. Twenty years. Now the killer is back for more…

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a nine month absence. A shadow of her former self, she is tasked with re-opening a cold case: the terrifyingly brutal murders of Miranda and Stefan Harkness. The only witness was their eleven-year-old son, Jonathan, who was too deeply traumatized to speak a word.

Then a dead body is discovered, and the investigation leads back to Matilda’s case. Suddenly the past and present converge, and it seems a killer may have come back for more…

MY THOUGHTS: This is another series that I started mid-way through and liked so much that I have gone back to reading from the beginning. I started with #4, The Hangman’s Hold, and currently also have the fifth, The Murder House, on my shelf waiting to be read.

We have a police officer in crisis, a cold case, and a whole cast of very interesting characters. I was wavering right up to the end about who had actually killed Jonathon’s parents, and I was wrong, despite being right about a number of other things that occur during the book.

The plot is great….reminiscent of a locked room murder.

This is going to be an enjoyable series, and I will be devouring the lot.

***.5

THE AUTHOR: Before he became an author, Michael Wood used to serve as a journalist and a proofreader. Wood resides in Sheffield, Yorkshire. For Unknown Reasons was Michael Wood’s debut novel, which was published in the year 2015. HarperCollins published the second installment, Outside Looking In in 2016.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood, narrated by Stephanie Beattie, published by Killer Reads, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

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

This review and others are also published on Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1561730340?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Other You by J.S. Monroe

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EXCERPT: ‘We’ve all got a double out there somewhere, watching, waiting. Shadowless.’ He looks around the cove, up at the clifftop behind them. The man with the binoculars has gone. ‘And I’ve already met mine, a long time ago.’

‘When?’ she asks. He doesn’t answer.

‘They say it’s bad enough to see your double once, but it’s meant to be much worse if you meet them a second time.’ He pauses. ‘The day I see him again will be my last. He’ll take over my life, me, you, the house, my company, all that I’ve achieved, everything that’s precious to me.’

He pauses, eyes welling as the Cornish sun disappears behind a solitary cloud, casting the beach into sudden shade. ‘He’ll steal my soul.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: You are waiting for your husband to join you on holiday. But when he arrives, you know it’s not him…

This clever, twisty psychological thriller explores identity and pretence, paranoia and the disturbing notion that we are all, at some level, impostors.

MY THOUGHTS: Clever. Twisty. Chilling. I won’t be sleeping any more tonight.

This is the second book I have read by this author, and he continues to stun me with his unusual plots and his ability to totally creep me out. I love to be creeped out. I can’t remember the last time I had a sleepless night because of it.

This book is edgy and tense, The. Whole. Way. Through. If you are looking for a relaxing read, this isn’t it. This is heart-pounding paranoia. This will have you looking twice at anyone acting a little out of character. This will have you doubting and questioning everything you know about everyone. This will give you sleepless nights…

A ‘couldn’t bear to put it down’ read.

😱😱😱😱😱

#TheOtherYou #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock. Jon is the author of five spy novels and a new standalone psychological thriller, Find Me, to be published in 2017 under the name of JS Monroe. He lives in Wiltshire with his wife and three children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other You by J.S. Monroe 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3137489876?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Other Woman by Jane Isaac

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EXCERPT: The moments before death were not at all how she imagined them to be. No images, carved from the recesses of her memory, flashed before her. No celebrated successes or missed opportunities. Instead, an overwhelming fear beat a tune beneath her skin, faster and faster, picking up momentum, immobilising her organs, one by one.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.

Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.

Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.

Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years.

Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed.

As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…

Previously published as After He’s Gone.

MY THOUGHTS: While I didn’t struggle with The Other Woman, nor was I engaged by it. I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, and failed to feel excited at any point during the read. Having said that, there is nothing that I can really criticise, either. This is the first book in the DC Beth Chamberlain series.

The plot is good, with plenty of red herrings, and a twist at the end that lifted it from a 2.5 star read to 3. This is a good quick read, ideal if you don’t want to exercise the grey cells too vigorously.

🙂🙂🙂

#TheOtherWoman #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane Isaac is married to a serving detective and they live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with their daughter and dogs. Jane’s debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014′.

Jane’ s seventh novel, Presumed Guilty, is the second in the highly acclaimed DC Beth Chamberlain (Family Liaison Officer) series. The third DC Beth Chamberlain novel is scheduled for release in 2020.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other Woman by Jane Isaac 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3051776578?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller

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EXCERPT: The photo was a little crumpled around the edges, but – please excuse my lack of modesty – there was no denying the quality. It was a tight headshot in black and white of three pretty young women: Rose on the left, smiling and looking sideways at Bear next to her; me on Bear’s right, looking simultaneously pleased and harassed. Setting up the camera timer and making sure everyone stayed in the right place was a bit stressful. With film, you couldn’t keep trying again and again until you got it right. You had to get everything in place, then hold your breath and hope.

The photo was from the one visit to Australia that Rose and I took together, during our gap year, when we were still in our teens. When everything in life was there to be looked forward to, and it was too early for us to have made any mistakes. Before I met Richard, or David; before I got pregnant and crashed out of my degree. I looked again at our unlined, hopeful faces. So beautiful, so young.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: You’ve met Mrs Bright. She’s that nice woman who lives three doors down and always smiles at you in the mornings. She’s planning her thirtieth wedding anniversary with her husband. She wants to travel, read endless books and take beautiful pictures. She’s been waiting for this forever.

For the past twenty-nine years, Kay Bright’s days have had a familiar rhythm: she works in her husband’s stationery shop, cooks for her family, tries to remember to practice yoga, and every other month she writes to her best friend, Ursula, and Ursula replies. Kay could set her calendar by their letters: her heart lifts when the blue airmail envelope, addressed in Ursula’s slanting handwriting, falls gently onto the mat.

Ursula is the only one who knows Kay’s deepest secret, something that happened decades ago that could tear Kay’s life apart today. Ursula has always been the person Kay relies on. Knowing she will hear from Ursula is like being sure the sun will rise tomorrow.

And now Ursula has stopped writing. Three missing letters doesn’t sound like a lot, but Kay gets out her shoebox of notes from her best friend, in case there’s something she overlooked. Ursula seems fine, but the further back she goes, the more Kay begins to question every choice she has made in her life. Which might be why, at ten o’clock one morning, Kay walks out of her yellow front door with a just a rucksack, leaving her wedding ring on the table…

MY THOUGHTS: This was an enjoyable read. I laughed, and I shed a few tears. And I remembered a similar exit from my first marriage to my ‘practice husband’ as I now affectionately call him. So yes, this read brought back memories, some good, some bad, but the thing that struck me most was how well Beth Miller has captured the emotions, how she has transferred them onto paper without, at any point, making them seem trite or hackneyed. She has written with flair and humour, unafraid to dissect a marriage, to examine the relationships between a mother and daughter, between lifelong friends.

She had me wondering, at times, if Kay really knew what she was doing, what she ultimately wanted, if she had really thought this through.

Ultimately this is a story about love, about friendship, about loss, and about not losing sight of the things that matter to you. It is beautifully written; sad, funny and inspiring.

This is the second book I have read by this author, and I am developing a real liking for her work.

😢❤😂.5

#TheMissingLettersOfMrsBright #NetGalley

Some of my favourite lines from The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright:

‘You go through life, you make choices they lead to other choices, and before you know it, you’re in a place you wouldn’t have started from.’

‘I enjoy speaking English very much, but sometimes it is too English. Italian is the language of romance.’

THE AUTHOR: have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that’s how I’d like you to picture me.

I’ve published three novels, with one more about to be born, in January 2020. I’ve also published two non-fiction books. I work as a book coach and creative writing tutor.

Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs. I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students’ unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I’ve been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won’t really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.

Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I’m now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright by Beth Miller 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 and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3085457231?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading…

Summer has returned to New Zealand after a week of very strong winds and cooler temperatures. The wind has browned off all the grass and everything is very dry . Even the lawn in our backyard has big cracks running through it. The farmers will be hoping for rain , and my garden could certainly use it, but please can we have it at night…😂🤣😂🤣

I am currently reading

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And listening to

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This week, despite the fact that I can only read my Kindle when it is connected to the power as it won’t hold a charge, I am planning on reading

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You are waiting for your husband to join you on holiday. But when he arrives, you know it’s not him…

This clever, twisty psychological thriller explores identity and pretence, paranoia and the disturbing notion that we are all, at some level, impostors.

They say she’s a murderess. She claims she’s innocent. But Lucy has been known to tell lies…

1855, New Hampshire. Lucy Blunt is set to hang for a double murder. Murderess or victim? Only Lucy knows the truth.

In the shadow of the gallows, Lucy reflects on the events that led to her bitter downfall—from the moment she arrived at the rambling Burton mansion looking for work and a better life to the grisly murders themselves.

In a mysterious household of locked doors and forbidden affections, Lucy slips comfortably into the shadows, where she believes the indiscretions of her past will remain hidden. But when Lucy’s rising status becomes a threat to the mistress’s current companion, the delicate balance of power and loyalty begins to shift, setting into motion a brewing storm of betrayal, suspicion, and rage.

Now, with her execution looming closer, Lucy’s allies fight to have her sentence overturned as the tale she’s spinning nears its conclusion. But how much of her story can we trust? After all, Lucy’s been known to bend the truth…

I have received 4 new ARCs this week

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That’s my lot for the week.
Wishing you a happy and safe week.

Cheers and happy reading
Sandy
❤😍📚