The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher

The Woman I Was Before

EXCERPT: The shouting, the people crowding around my door, the cameras in my face, pushed into Daisy’s pram, grabbing at me as I walked out to the car, calling my name, Oskar’s name, the headlines – always Polish immigrant/Eastern European/immigrant family – even though I was born here and had never been to Poland, our family’s history, her family’s history, comments from ‘friends’ and ‘neighbors’, photographs of me buying a bottle of wine in Tesco (as if that was at all relevant) and, of course, the worst thing of all: her side of the story, vicious and raw as though our friendship had been nothing. When to me it had been everything, a mainstay of my whole life, since we met in primary school. I still missed her. Still felt that Becky-shaped gap in my life, where I took for granted that ability to bounce from one topic to the next without the need to fill in what went before. Still occasionally caught myself smiling at a memory much further back than 2000.

And now I’d had sex with someone who could, with a few keystrokes, a quick Google, and the tiniest amount of luck, find out stuff about me that he’d never want to know.

That I’d never want him to know.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A new home can be a happy ending. Or a fresh start. Or a hiding place…

Kate Jones is running away. She has left her old life behind, changing both her own name and her daughter’s. No-one must ever connect Kate with the mistake that destroyed her life.

Starting afresh on Parkview Road – a brand new street full of newly built houses – Kate looks at the other women on the street with envy. They seem to have it all: Gisela with her busy life, full house and successful children, Sally with her exciting spontaneous marriage, her glamorous holidays, her high-flying career. The pictures that Kate’s new friends post online confirm their seemingly perfect existence, whilst Kate hides from the world at all costs.

Until one day, everything changes. Kate is called to the scene of a devastating accident, which is about to test everything the women thought they knew about each other, and themselves.

MY THOUGHTS: What is it with us humans that feel the need to lie to ourselves and to others in an effort to convince ourselves that we have the perfect life, a life to be aspired to and envied, while all the time we are papering over the cracks and bunging up the holes. We devour other people’s lives on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, never for one moment doubting that what we see is the truth, while frantically posing pictures of our wonderful family lives, fabulous food, perfect homes, and exotic holidays to perpetuate the myth, to keep up.

Kerry Fisher uses this need to portray the perfect life, along with our capacity for guilt and the desire for secrecy (no one must ever know. . .) to great advantage in this engaging novel of secrets and unravelling lives. Duplicity, betrayal, secrets and lies abound. As does perseverance, loyalty and forgiveness.

Fisher’s characters are your neighbors, people you know; complex and reserved, outgoing and friendly, and every mix in between. But can Kate trust any of them?

If this book doesn’t make you reassess your priorities, I don’t know what will! An excellent read.

😍😍😍😍

THE AUTHOR: Kerry Fisher is an internationally bestselling author of six novels, including The Woman I Was Before, The Silent Wife and The Secret Child. She was born in Peterborough, studied French and Italian at the University of Bath and spent several years living in Spain, Italy and Corsica.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher 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/2710274530

For a preview of The Woman I Was Before go to https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/…

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Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston

Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston

EXCERPT: ‘Don’t worry,’ Ginny whispered as she kissed her sister goodbye outside the Advocate’s house. ‘I shan’t come to any harm. She’s exaggerating.’

Emily didn’t argue because there wasn’t time, and because Maman might hear it and, in any case, she was too drained by the emotion of the last few minutes to want to provoke any more outbursts. She simply kissed Ginny’s cheek and said a private prayer for her safety. But she was still cold with dread and she went on feeling afraid for the rest of the day; when she finally got into bed, she carried her unspoken fears into nightmares.

Lacerated with rage, Ginny ran to the station. To say such things just at the very moment when she was packed and ready to go! It was hateful. And unnecessary. She felt upset all the way to Paris, justifying her anger with her mother and pushing pity to one side, concentrating on feeling aggrieved and hurt so that she didn’t have to face the possible truth of what had been said. Because it couldn’t be true. She wouldn’t let it be true. It was too horrible.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: ‘Nobody is to know where we are. You must forget England. That part of your lives is over.’

Twins Ginny and Emily Holborn have everything they could ever need in their Wolverhampton home: a loving family, a garden to play in and a staff waiting to attend to their every need. Until, one summer day in 1926, they disappear without a trace.

Ten years later, bright-eyed solicitor Charlie Commoner is given his first job: track down the still-missing Holborn twins. Despatched to France, he’s left to unravel a web of infidelity, mystery, and terrifying family secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: I almost abandoned this book at one early point, but I am so very glad that I didn’t. I ended up heavily invested in the lives, struggles and very different romances of the Holborn twins.

This is not a short read, but the appeal for me was two-fold: Beryl Kingston is an author I remember my mother enjoying immensely; and I have recently found myself enjoying historical fiction set around the two world wars.

The story travels from a wealthy beginning in England, to poverty and almost destitution in France. The contrast in life-styles is immense. It is told mostly from four points of view: that of Hortense, the young French wife of the only son of a wealthy industrialist and mother to the twins; Agnes her sister-in-law, married to the social climbing Claude; and the twins themselves, Virginia and the blind Emily.

The mystery is really not that mysterious; in fact, I thought it rather obvious. I also thought that Charlie should have made the connection between the missing heiresses and Jeannie a lot sooner. That, I felt, was a little too drawn out. The constant string of near misses became somewhat irritating. Perhaps the story would have had more appeal had we begun with the death of the twins grandfather, and the resulting search for them, and learned their earlier history in flashbacks. But we must also remember that this book was written and first published almost thirty years ago.

It was an interesting read, and I might be tempted to read another by this author at some point in the future.

☺☺☺.5

THE AUTHOR: BERYL KINGSTON has been a writer since she was seven when she started producing ‘poetry’ which, according to her, was very, very bad. She was evacuated to Felpham at the start of WWII, igniting an interest in one time resident poet William Blake (which later inspired her novel The Gates of Paradise). She was a school teacher until 1985, but became a full-time writer when her debut novel became a bestseller. Kingston lives in west Sussex, and has three children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Two Silver Crosses by Beryl Kingston 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/2701023084

A Taste of . . . Tuesday – The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher

Looking at what I have coming up to read over the next week or two, I am very excited to be reading The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher. Here’s a little tidbit to tempt your reading tastebuds . . .

The Woman I Was Before

EXCERPT:<i> Daisy raced through into the living room and hovered behind the curtain, peering at the driveway over the road. I stood back, not wanting to get a reputation as the community curtain twitcher. Naturally, the biggest house on the estate would have to have a conventional family set-up, like the Topsy and Tim books my mum used to read to Daisy when she was little. There they all were, Mum, Dad, son and daughter twisting into a back-breaking pose, all four of them laughing with their hands on the door handle while the daughter tried to capture them all in a selfie. The big sign that said ’21 Parkview’ would probably be in the corner of that picture, for any casual Facebook observer to see. I couldn’t imagine living a life where it didn’t matter.

Daisy stopped me disappearing down those familiar, well trodden routes that never led to a solution, by saying ‘Shall we go over and say hello?’

I hoped she didn’t see me shudder. It was years since strangers had recognised me, horrified fascination passing over their faces before the most brazen dared to ask, ‘Aren’t you that woman who was in the newspaper?’ I still dreaded that flicker of puzzlement, followed by wary curiosity . ‘They won’t want us going over now. They’ll be getting on with their unpacking. We’d better make a start with  ours if we’re not going to end up sleeping on a mattress on the floor. There’ll be time to introduce ourselves later.’

And with that we went outside where Jim and Darren, the blokes I had found to bring us from Peterborough to our new home in a little market town in Surrey, were tag teaming alternate scratches of man boobs and balls. Jim was muttering about his back already aching. ‘Hope you’re going to give us a hand up them stairs with that wardrobe. Mind you , looks a bit narrow at the top there. Going to be tight to turn.’

Darren nodded. ‘These new houses aren’t meant for big pieces of furniture like that,’ he said , his face arranging into some kind of satisfaction that I might end up with a pine wardrobe wedged between the bannisters and the landing.

Over the road, my new neighbor let out a shriek of delight. ‘The kettle! Who wants a cuppa?’

I resisted shouting ‘Me!’ as a team of professional movers made manoeuvring a solid oak table through her front door look like they were flipping a piece of balsa wood on its side.

I dragged my eyes back to the battered van and smiled. ‘Come on then. Let’s put our backs into it! You too , Daisy.’ I resisted the temptation to snap, ‘Put my phone down, and grab the toaster!’

There was a waft of BO as Jim reached for the bin bag full of coats I’d grabbed off the pegs as we’d left the old house. A wave of loneliness washed over me at the thought of doing all of this on my own again. But nowhere near as acute as the day when my husband, Oskar, told me he was leaving to go and work with his cousin in Argentina ‘where I can start again and forget about all of this’.

Even if I moved to the furtherest corner of Australia, I would never forget. </i>

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The perfect picture hides the darkest lies.

A new home can be a happy ending. Or a fresh start. Or a hiding place…

Kate Jones is running away. She has left her old life behind, changing both her own name and her daughter’s. No-one must ever connect Kate with the mistake that destroyed her life.

Starting afresh on Parkview Road – a brand new street full of newly built houses – Kate looks at the other women on the street with envy. They seem to have it all: Gisela with her busy life, full house and successful children, Sally with her exciting spontaneous marriage, her glamorous holidays, her high-flying career. The pictures that Kate’s new friends post online confirm their seemingly perfect existence, whilst Kate hides from the world at all costs.

Until one day, everything changes. Kate is called to the scene of a devastating accident, which is about to test everything the women thought they knew about each other, and themselves.

I hope I have tempted you to take the chance to read The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher, along with me. I look forward to hearing your views and thoughts on this book.

Happy reading! 💕

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. 💕📚

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. 💕📚

Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain

Breaking The Silence by Diane Chamberlain

EXCERPT: She knew the instant she entered her father’s room that he was not at peace. He was clearly worse than when she’d seen him that afternoon. His breathing was raspier, his skin greyer, and he was agitated. As he reached for her, his long arms trembling in the air, he wore a look of desperation on his once handsome face.

She took his hand and sat on the edge of the bed.

“I’m here, Dad.” She guessed he had not wanted to die without her at his side and wished she’d ignored those red lights to get to the hospital sooner.

He held both her hands in his weak grasp, but even with her there the desperate look did not leave his eyes. He tried to speak, the words coming out between his gasps for air. “Should…have…told…”he said.

She leaned close to hear him. From that angle she could see the stars of Aries through the hospital window. “Don’t try to speak, Dad.” She smoothed a tuft of white hair away from his temple.

“A woman,” he said. “You need…” Her father’s face, gaunt and grey, tightened with frustration as he struggled to get the words out.

“I need to what Dad?” she asked gently.

“Look…” His lips trembled from the strain of speaking. “Look after her,” he said.

Laura drew away to study his face. Could he be delusional? “Okay,” she said. “I will. Please don’t try to talk any more.”

He let go of her hand to reach toward the night table, his arm jerking with the motion. Laura saw the scrap of paper he was aiming for and picked it up herself. Her father had written a name on the paper in a nearly illegible scrawl that threatened to break her heart.

“Sarah Tolley,” Laura read. “Who is that?”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Laura Brandon’s promise to her dying father was simple: to visit an elderly woman she’d never heard of before. A woman who remembers nothing—except the distant past. Visiting Sarah Tolley seemed a small enough sacrifice to make.

But Laura’s promise results in another death. Her husband’s. And after their five-year-old daughter, Emma, witnesses her father’s suicide, Emma refuses to talk about it…to talk at all.

Frantic and guilt ridden, Laura contacts the only person who may be able to help. A man she’s met only once—six years before. A man who doesn’t know he’s Emma’s real father.

Guided only by a child’s silence and an old woman’s fading memories, the two unravel a tale of love and despair, of bravery and unspeakable evil. A tale that’s shrouded in silence…and that unbelievably links them all.

MY THOUGHTS: I have very mixed feelings about this book. I am immediately drawn to anything relating to mental disease, or that is set in a psychiatric facility, which this is, partly. Not that I was aware of this when I chose to read Breaking the Silence.

On one hand we have a moving tale of a daughter carrying out her father’s dying wish that she look after and visit an elderly lady with dementia. On the other hand we have a story set in St Margaret’s psychiatric hospital; a story of medical experimentation, bullying and government cover ups.

The story is told from two timelines, in the present with Laura, and in Sarah’s past. This works well. As always with Diane Chamberlain’s writing, I ran the full gamut of emotions. I was so angry at Ray for committing suicide when he was home alone with his small daughter. I cried at Emma’s pain and confusion, and Sarah’s. But for some reason, I found it really hard to connect with Laura – at times she was like a bull in a china shop! And Dylan, Emma’s biological father? Well, he was just too good to be true.

I had issues with the ‘bad guys’ in the story. I have no trouble in believing that the experimentation happened, or that the doctors are sometimes madder than the patients. That I know for a fact. But I don’t believe that they would have been as lenient on Sarah’s family as they were, and that slightly spoiled the read for me. I guess I expected something a little harder hitting from this author.

😑😑😑

THE AUTHOR: Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Her most recent novel is The Dream Daughter. Some of her most popular books include Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.

Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.

Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook version of Breaking the Silence by Diane Chamberlain, narrated by Justine Eyre, published by Tantor Audio via OverDrive. 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/988354659

Watching What I’m Reading

It is a somewhat cool and wet Sunday here in my little part of New Zealand, something my garden will be extremely grateful for.

I am currently reading

Finding Grace

And

A Fence Around The Cuckoo

And listening to

The Masterpiece

Which, I have to admit, I am not enjoying as much as I have her other books.

I managed to sneak in an extra book this week, due to spending two days in bed felled by a virus. I did nothing but sleep and read. I posted my review yesterday for

The Silent Patient

This week I am planning on reading

Dead Memories (D.I. Kim Stone, #10)

She ruined their lives. Now they’re going to destroy hers.

‘Someone is recreating every traumatic point in your life. They are doing this to make you suffer, to make you hurt and the only possible end game can be death. Your death.’

On the fourth floor of Chaucer House, two teenagers are found chained to a radiator. The boy is dead but the girl is alive. For Detective Kim Stone every detail of the scene mirrors her own terrifying experience with her brother Mikey, when they lived in the same tower block thirty years ago.

When the bodies of a middle-aged couple are discovered in a burnt-out car, Kim can’t ignore the chilling similarity to the deaths of Erica and Keith – the only loving parents Kim had ever known.

Faced with a killer who is recreating traumatic events from her past, Kim must face the brutal truth that someone wants to hurt her in the worst way possible. Desperate to stay on the case, she is forced to work with profiler Alison Lowe who has been called in to observe and monitor Kim’s behaviour.

Kim has spent years catching dangerous criminals and protecting the innocent. But with a killer firmly fixed on destroying Kim, can she solve this complex case and save her own life or will she become the final victim?

The Housewife

“There’s no place like home” – that’s what I tell myself as I pull another flawless meal from the oven. This perfect house on a quiet street was supposed to be my sanctuary, a place to recover. But everything changed the moment I saw that woman in the charity shop. She triggered something dark, buried deep within my memory…

Now I’ve started forgetting small things, like locking the front door.

And bigger things, like remembering to pick my little girl up from nursery.

I feel terrified every time I pass through a particular spot in our living room.

And sometimes, when I’m alone, I’m sure I can hear a baby crying…

I think the woman in the shop knows what happened to me. But if I can’t trust myself to believe she’s real, who will?

I have received two approvals from NetGalley this week

The Two Hearts of Eliza Bloom

My Daughter's Secret

I hope you have had a wonderful week of reading, and that you have another ahead of you.

Happy reading, friends 💕📚