A Taste of Tuesday. . . Need You Dead by Peter James

This is one of the books I got for Christmas from my lovely husband who knows how much I love this series. I hope this small tidbit will tempt you to try it. Although this is a series and, as always, you will get the most out of it as a series, each book is able to be read as a stand-alone.

Need You Dead (Roy Grace, #13)

His sodden shirt, under his coat, felt cold on his skin and he shivered as he looked around. Closed curtains. Flickers of televisions behind some. He strode quickly back behind Lorna’s house and stopped when he reached the bin. Again he looked all around him, furtively, then he switched on the torch on his phone, opened up the lid of the stuffed bin and shone the light in. Thinking. Thinking. What would fool the police?

Sitting on top was a copy of yesterday’s Sun newspaper. Beneath was what appeared to be a tiny printed circuit board from the inside of an electronic device. Perfect. From out of his pocket he tugged an empty plastic bin bag he’d taken from the flat, shook it open and dropped in the newspaper and the circuit board.

Underneath that the bin was rammed with empty tins of dog food,  cartons of fish food and oxygenating tablets. Chinese takeaway cartons. He rummaged through them and came across a set of hair curling tongs.

He glanced around again, checking the coast was still clear, then delved further. The stench was vile. Fish bones. Prawn shells. The rotting remains of a chicken. An empty tin of Brasso. What else?

He found a scooped out tin of tuna but ignored it. Then, nestling in what looked like vacuum cleaner fluff, near the bottom, he saw an empty cigarette pack, and dropped that in the bag. Rummaging further, he found an assortment of cigarette butts and two Carlsberg beer cans. They went in as well.

Continuing to look around vigilantly, he reached right down checking all the items in the bin. But he decided he had enough now.

He walked swiftly back to his car, climbed in and drove away.

It was going to be fine, he thought.  Fine. Everything was going to be fine.

It had to be. Nothing else was an option. It was all going to fall into his lap. He’d get through this. Think. Plan. One step at a time. Just keep calm. And right now, that’s how he felt. Calm.

It would be fine.

Really.

************************

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

Watching You by Lisa Jewell


EXCERPT: My Diary, September 20, 1996
I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to feel. Is this normal? He’s an adult. He’s twice my age. There’s no way … No. There’s no way. But, OH GOD. I wish there was.

Dear diary, I think I’m in love with my English teacher. . .

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

MY THOUGHTS: This was such a good read, a great read. Lisa Jewell always manages to suck me in, plays with my mind, has me suspecting everyone but the right one, and she has done it again with Watching You, which turned into something very different from what I was expecting.

There is a wonderful cast of characters – Tom Fitzwilliam, the man everyone loves, except for one or two crazy ladies. . . His wife Nicola who never quite fits in, anywhere. . . their son Freddie, in training to be a spy and who chronicles the movements of all the neighbours; Josephine who feels that perhaps she wasn’t quite ready for the marriage she made to Alfie and who develops a crush on Tom; her brother Jack, eminently successful surgeon and expecting his first child with wife Rebecca, and with whom Joey and Alfie live. Then there’s Tom’s pupils, Beth who also has a huge crush on Tom, and her best friend Jenna who may just be showing signs of the paranoia that afflicts her mum. What a wonderful melting pot!

If there was ever a case to be built for the adage ‘until you have seen it with your own eyes, don’t believe it’, it is here. Jewell has, as always, written a superb page turner that kept me hooked from beginning to end.

💖💕💖💕💖

THE AUTHOR: Lisa was born in London in 1968. Her mother was a secretary and her father was a textile agent and she was brought up in the northernmost reaches of London with her two younger sisters. She was educated at a Catholic girls’ Grammar school in Finchley. After leaving school at sixteen she spent two years at Barnet College doing an arts foundation course and then two years at Epsom School of Art & Design studying Fashion Illustration and Communication.

She worked for the fashion chain Warehouse for three years as a PR assistant and then for Thomas Pink, the Jermyn Street shirt company for four years as a receptionist and PA. She started her first novel, Ralph’s Party, for a bet in 1996. She finished it in 1997 and it was published by Penguin books in May 1998. It went on to become the best-selling debut novel of that year.

She has since written a further nine novels, as is currently at work on her eleventh.

She now lives in an innermost part of north London with her husband Jascha, an IT consultant, her daughters, Amelie and Evie and her silver tabbies, Jack and Milly.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Atria Books via Netgalley for providing me with a digital extract ARC of Watching You by Lisa Jewell. I was so engaged in the story I acquired the audiobook version narrated by Gabrielle Glaister, published by Random House Audiobooks, which I listened to 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/2604601353

Watching What I Read. . .

It is the last Sunday of the year . . . I hope you have all had a wonderful year’s reading and are looking forward to an even better one in 2019.

2019… good grief, it only seems like 5 minutes since the new Millennium was staring us in the face and we were all worrying about computer systems crashing and major disasters.

I am currently reading

Watching You

Melville Heights is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Bristol, England; home to doctors and lawyers and old-money academics. It’s not the sort of place where people are brutally murdered in their own kitchens. But it is the sort of place where everyone has a secret. And everyone is watching you.

As the headmaster credited with turning around the local school, Tom Fitzwilliam is beloved by one and all—including Joey Mullen, his new neighbor, who quickly develops an intense infatuation with this thoroughly charming yet unavailable man. Joey thinks her crush is a secret, but Tom’s teenaged son Freddie—a prodigy with aspirations of becoming a spy for MI5—excels in observing people and has witnessed Joey behaving strangely around his father.

One of Tom’s students, Jenna Tripp, also lives on the same street, and she’s not convinced her teacher is as squeaky clean as he seems. For one thing, he has taken a particular liking to her best friend and fellow classmate, and Jenna’s mother—whose mental health has admittedly been deteriorating in recent years—is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam is stalking her.

Meanwhile, twenty years earlier, a schoolgirl writes in her diary, charting her doomed obsession with a handsome young English teacher named Mr. Fitzwilliam…

And, oh my! This is good. .. a slow burner, but sooooo good!

I am also reading

Rattle (The Bone Collector, #1)

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.

I am reading this after the second book in the series, The Collector, which I loved. I am only 4 chapters into this, and absolutely enthralled.

This week I am planning on reading

The Rumour

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

SHADOWS OF REGRET: If your life was ruined, would you seek redemption or take revenge?

for which I am participating in a blog tour later in the month.

From the #1 bestselling author of Fifty Years of Fear, SHADOWS OF REGRET is the unforgettable story of a woman’s struggle to rejoin society.
Katie committed a terrible crime. Sixteen years was the price she had to pay.

Once released from prison, she finds the world has changed.

Isolated and alone, she struggles to make sense of her new life. Starting again isn’t easy, especially after what she’s done.

Despite not feeling free or safe, Katie overcomes her fears and confronts the future. But history won’t remain forgotten.

Gradually, memories of the past are revealed. When Katie finally exposes the awful truth and sees there are others who share the blame, she must choose her path.

Will she seek redemption, or will she take revenge?

I have received no ARC approvals this week. No surprise there as I guess everyone is on holidays, except me. There is a song I love sung by Willy Nelson and Waylon Jennings called ‘Mothers,  Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys’. I would like to amend that to “Mothers Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Work in Hospitality’!

Cheers

Sandy

 

The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

EXCERPT: This evening she looked at the lit windows of the tall houses, standing like sentinels in a proud curve, and wondered, as she often did, about the lives that went on behind them, picturing the people she nodded to or greeted during the course of the day.

‘Morning Mrs Williams! … Yes, it is a bit chilly; stay warm. ‘

‘Hello Mr Jeffries. How are you today? … Oh, I’m so glad to hear it. If you need anything, you know where we are. ‘

‘Well, hello Fifi – aren’t you full of energy today!’ Rae loved to pet the cute little Shih-tzu and would smile at Fifi’sowner, the quiet young woman who never responded with anything other than a brief nod and a stony silence, her eye contact non-existant.

Yes, she wondered about the lives of these people, her neighbours with whom she lived cheek by jowl, bumping into them in their pyjamas as they put the bins out, listening to them row, cry, sing. . . She knew so many intimate details of their lives, but not their first names or their favorite colors or even why Fifi’s mum was so painfully shy. It was a strange and wonderful situation and one that she felt was peculiarly British; she considered the possibility that if the residents of Lawns Crescent had slightly less stiff upper lips and more open arms, she might have answers to all the above.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Girl In the Corner is the poignant tale of a woman who has always been there for her family. But will they be there for her?

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

MY THOUGHTS: I usually love Amanda Prowse’s writing, the way she makes the reader run the gamut of their emotions, but The Girl in the Corner felt a little flat to me. Even though I think that most of us have, at some time, suffered a lack of self esteem, I still found Rae hard to relate to. It took me 90% of the book before I felt anything for her and I am still not sure why. . .

It is a perfectly good story. A story many of us are familiar with, either through our own experiences, or of those of friends. It is a story of love and betrayal, of friendship being tested by circumstances, of grief in many forms, of choices made and not made.

The characters didn’t seem as well formed as in books I have previously read by this author. And I detested their names! I did shed a tear in one place, but overall this was not a memorable read.

😐😐😐

THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing  via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse 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/2597736338

Friday Favorite – Where I Lost Her by T Greenwood

Looking for something to read over the weekend ?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming ‘read me’?

Take a look at my Friday Favorite. It may be new. It may be old. It may be written by a famous author, or by someone you have never heard of. But wherever in the spectrum it falls, it will be a book that is special to me, one that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

Where I Lost Her

EXCERPT: I stand in the shadowed doorway, staring at the heavy wooden door. I feel the sweat trickling down my neck. The air is hot and fragrant, the smells unfamiliar. Strong. I think the sweetness comes from the Jacaranda, those trees that stand sentry along this street, an explosion of violet petals. The pavement is littered with their castoffs, like purple confetti after a parade. The impossible beauty of all that color, the cloying sweetness, brings tears to my eyes. But there is another scent, lingering beneath. Tainting it. It smells like something burned. Like something spoiled.

The phonecall came this morning, to the hotel, where we have been staying. Waiting. I have learned such tremendous patience in the last five years, though I worry sometimes that the line between patience and foolishness is a thin one. I have been made a fool of before. Believed promises. Paid dearly for my optimism and blind faith. And yet, trust is like an affliction. Hope overriding all sensibility. This has become my religion: my faith, like all other faiths, driven by the most simple and primitive, selfish want. Accompanied by a wilful and necessary blindness.

Our lawyer said to come right away.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Where I Lost Her follows one woman’s journey through heartbreak and loss to courage and resolve, as she searches for the truth about a missing child.

Eight years ago, Tess and Jake were considered a power couple of the New York publishing world–happy, in love, planning a family. Failed fertility treatments and a heartbreaking attempt at adoption have fractured their marriage and left Tess edgy and adrift. A visit to friends in rural Vermont throws Tess’s world into further chaos when she sees a young, half-dressed child in the middle of the road, who then runs into the woods like a frightened deer.

The entire town begins searching for the little girl. But there are no sightings, no other witnesses, no reports of missing children. As local police and Jake point out, Tess’s imagination has played her false before. And yet Tess is compelled to keep looking, not only to save the little girl she can’t forget but to salvage her broken heart as well.

MY THOUGHTS: 5 very sparkly stars for Where I Lost her by T Greenwood.

Tess and Jake are spending the weekend with their friends in rural Vermont. Although Tess has had too much to drink, she drives to the liquor store to buy another bottle of wine. On her way back to the camp, she sees a small girl dressed in a tutu and ladybug boots on the road. The child takes fright and disappears into the woods. Tess reports the incident and a search is reluctantly started. But no-one has reported a child missing, and there is no trace of her.

And Tess has a past……

This book was compelling and breath-taking reading. I did not want to put it down. I could not put it down. I was consumed by it.

Greenwoods writing is lyrical, beautiful and at the same time thrilling and suspenseful. I will be looking for more from this wonderful author.

💖💕💖💕💖

THE AUTHOR: T. Greenwood is the author of twelve novels. She has received grants from the Sherwood Anderson Foundation, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and, most recently, the Maryland State Arts Council. She has won three San Diego Book Awards. Five of her novels have been BookSense76/IndieBound picks. BODIES OF WATER was finalist for a Lambda Foundation award. Her twelfth novel, RUST & STARDUST, will be published in August 2018.

She teaches creative writing for San Diego Writer’s Ink and online for The Writer’s Center. She and her husband, Patrick, live in San Diego, CA with their two daughters. She is also a photographer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing a digital ARC of Where I Lost Her by T Greenwood 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/1764741371

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

EXCERPT: The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.

We were strolling through Belvedere Square, for instance, on an early spring afternoon when we met our old neighbour, Jim Rust. “Well, what do you know,” he said to me. “Aaron!” Then he noticed Dorothy beside me. She stood peering up at him with one hand shielding her forehead from the sun. His eyes widened and he turned to me again.

I said, “How’s it going, Jim?”

Visibly, he pulled himself together. “Oh . . . great,” he said. “I mean. . . or, rather . . . but of course we miss you. Neighbourhood is not the same without you!”

He was focusing on me alone – specifically on my mouth, as if I were the one who was talking. He wouldn’t look at Dorothy. He had pivoted a few inches so as to exclude her from his line of vision.

I took pity on him. I said, “Well, tell everybody hello,” and we walked on. Beside me, Dorothy gave one of her dry chuckles.

Other people pretended not to recognize either one of us. They would catch sight of us from a distance, and this sort of jolt would alter their expressions and they would all at once dart down a side street, busy, busy, much to accomplish, very important concerns on their minds. I didn’t hold it against them. I knew this was a lot to adjust to. In their position, I might have behaved the same way. I like to think I wouldn’t, but I might have.

The ones who made me laugh aloud, were the ones who’d forgotten she’d died. Granted, there were only two or three of those – people who barely knew us. In line at the bank once we were spotted by Mr Von Sant, who had handled our mortgage application several years before. He was crossing the lobby and he paused to ask, “You two still enjoying the house?”

“Oh, yes,” I told him.

Just to keep things simple.

I pictured how the realization would hit him a few minutes later. ‘Wait,’ he would say to himself, ‘Didn’t I hear something about. . .’

Unless he never gave us another thought. Or hadn’t heard the news in the first place. He’d go on forever assuming that the house was still intact, and Dorothy still alive, and the two of us still happily, unremarkably married.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Anne Tyler explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances—in their house, on the roadway, in the market.

Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace.

Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family’s vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye.

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this, my second novel by Anne Tyler, more than the first. Living through grief and finding your way out the other side is the central theme.

Tyler’s novels are very much character based, so don’t go expecting a lot of action. What you have is Aaron, a very mild mannered man, wracked with guilt at surviving the freak accident that kills his wife, Dorothy. Forced to go live with his controlling sister, with whom he also works, this is the story of Aaron’s working through his grief and his discovery that, although he may have been happy with what he had, he does not necessarily want more of the same.

I found this quite a pleasant read, and it may have even earned a half star more than I eventually rated it had the ending not contradicted the beginning.

I also believe that a different narrator would have greatly enhanced my enjoyment. Kirby Heyborne read with very little emotion. S/he could have been reading a shopping list.

THE AUTHOR: Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Beginners Goodbye by Anne Tyler, narrated by Kirby Heyborne and published by Random House Audiobooks, 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/2095785128

The Collector by Fiona Cummins

Merry Christmas to all! It is Boxing Day here in New Zealand, overcast, mild, a little drizzly. We had a superb Christmas Day with family, and the weather was much nicer than was forecast. At 20 months, our little grandson thoroughly enjoyed himself and provided much entertainment. He loved his new books, and went off to bed, somewhat later than usual, singing.

I debated posting about The Collector today, as I have started this series on the second book, but it is so good I simply cannot resist telling you about it.

The Collector by Fiona Cummins

EXCERPT: Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy. Her name rolls across his tongue. He conjures up her face, the opposing colors of her eyes. An eye for an eye. His fingers twitch.

Seven bones surround the orbital cavity. He wonders if they will splinter and break when he presses her eye from its socket.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Collector by Fiona Cummins is the gripping sequel to Rattle.

Jakey escaped with his life and moved to a new town. His rescue was a miracle but his parents know that the Collector is still out there, watching, waiting…

Clara, the girl he left behind, is clinging to the hope that someone will come and save her.

Life has fallen apart for Clara’s mother as she starts to lose hope.

The Bone Collector has a new apprentice to take over his family’s legacy. But he can’t forget the boy who got away and the detective who had destroyed his dreams.

Detective Etta Fitzroy’s life collapsed when the Collector escaped. With Clara still missing, and a new wave of uncannily similar murders beginning, will she be able to find him again?

The Collector is back and this time he has nothing to lose . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I was left breathless. I basically read The Collector in one sitting, interrupted only by the hours I was at work, and even then I read in my breaks.

I went cold into The Collector. I had not read Rattle. I had it on order, hoping to read it before I started The Collector. But I was almost finished before Rattle arrived. Not to worry. There was enough background information to give the reader some idea of what had happened, but not so much as to spoil it for those of us reading the first book after the second. Rattle is sitting on my bedside table ready to go.

The Collector is extremely well written. It is dark and deliciously creepy. I recommend you read it with all the lights on, and doors and windows locked. The author generates, then maintains, a high level of suspense. There is not one extraneous word in the book. The chapters are short and to the point. The characters are well crafted, their back stories cleverly woven into the fabric of the plot.

I am looking forward to more from this author. In the meantime, I have thrown my reading schedule out the window and am off to be Rattled!

😨😨😨😨😨 Definitely in my top ten books of 2018.

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: A huge and heartfelt ‘thank you’ to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Collector by Fiona Cummins 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/2603749078