A Dream to Die For by Susan Z. Ritz

EXCERPT: Larry talked right over her. ‘I’m serious here, Cel. If ya wanna keep working with me, then ya gotta keep up. How many times do I gotta say it? You go right back to the same old defensive patterns. Look at how you’re sitting, all locked up around yourself, keeping that heart all suited up for battle, but afraid to make a move. Am I right?’

Celeste shook her head, staring down. She watched as a fat tear from each eye fell into her lap, and then she hugged herself tighter. How could he still have this much power over her? Do it, goddamn it, she yelled inside her head. Tell him!

‘I’m not -‘

‘Feel the pain,’ Pete squawked, drowning out her whispered words.

Larry wasn’t listening to her, anyway. ‘Like how you still got that ring on.’

Celeste protectively covered the engagement ring with her right hand. Jake had designed it for her before he’d even asked her to marry him – a sapphire, her birthstone, a sky blue Ceylon surrounded by diamond chips in an antique white gold setting – the most beautiful thing she’d ever owned, better than anything she’d ever imagined – though engagement rings had never been something she’d thought much about.

‘Jesus, Cel, when are you ever going to let go and move on in your life? Don’t you know it’s over with Jake? We’ve gone around and around on this. Your dreams are crystal clear, even if you refuse to believe them. Jake’s no good for you; he’s holding you back, keeping you from surrendering to the Dreamscape, to Dreamland. Let go of him. The choice is clear. You can’t keep living this double life.’ Larry shook his head, puckering his lips as if he wanted to spit. ‘Jeez, just make your mind up once and for all.’

Celeste felt her face flush red. ‘Jake’s none of your business, Larry. In fact, I’m . . . this is . . .’ She drew in her breath, trying to summon her earlier resolve, but just as she was about to get the practiced words out, Larry exploded from his chair, arms outstretched, hands waving like signals in the air. He suddenly looked like a furious dwarf out of some Grimm’s fairytale, bellowing and snorting at her as he shot out from behind his desk on his stumpy little legs.

‘No, I’m just your therapist! Are you fucking kidding me? Everything’s my business! When are you going to finally get that?’

ABOUT ‘A DREAM TO DIE FOR’: In Riverton Falls, a small New England town, globe-trotting bartender Celeste Fortune stands in her kitchen puzzling over last night’s frightening dream—a woman at a window, lilacs blowing in the breeze, someone’s hands tight around her neck. Celeste is sure the dream belongs to someone else. Perhaps she has finally broken through to the collective dreams of Dreamland cult. Hoping her therapist and cult leader will help her untangle it, she heads off into the cold November morning to her final appointment with him—or so she hopes. Her estranged fiancé has delivered an ultimatum: Leave the cult of Dreamers, or end their relationship for good.

Instead of help, however, Celeste discovers her therapist dying in a pool of blood, skull stove in by his own healing crystal. His computer, containing the intimate dreams and secrets of half the town, is gone. Suspicion immediately falls on Celeste, known to be a rebellious member of his cult. To clear her name, Celeste enlists the help of her old friend, Gloria. But when the two women discover the power of the stolen dreams, they unwittingly become the killer’s next target.

MY THOUGHTS: A Dream to Die For is much more a story about the ‘Dreamers’ cult, than it is a murder mystery, which is one of the reasons I didn’t like this. I felt very much like tossing this in at the ten percent mark, but figured that it must get better. And it did, briefly. But just before the fifty percent point, I could stand it no longer, and pushed the delete option.

Where do I start explaining why I didn’t like this? The characters? They were all weird. Now I don’t mind a bit of weird. I find weird quite entertaining. But not here. Celeste had no backbone. Why would a person who is probably on minimum wage and living off her tips pay $150 an hour to talk to this therapist, Larry, simply because ‘everyone in town goes to him’? Especially when her friend Gloria, the reason she moved to Riverton Falls, has already warned her against him, as has her fiance Jake. Celeste is the sort of person who would consult her therapist, or a tarot card reader, before she blew her nose, or changed her underwear.

Larry, the therapist, is a totally unbelievable twit. The only thing about him that astounds me is how he lived so long. I don’t know why someone didn’t murder him earlier.

Jake, the fiance, has been married before to the woman who is Larry’s right hand woman in the cult. I completely understand why he broke up with Celeste. But he does behave very strangely . . .

Gloria, Celeste’s estranged friend, is an environmental lawyer, but is the only person she can think to call when she is taken into custody at the murder scene.

The supporting cast is made up of ‘Adam’, the tarot card reader in the park, and the ‘Dreamers’, Celeste’s so called friends who turn on her when they believe she murdered Larry.

And if you’re wondering who the Pete in the extract is, he’s a parrot.

How can anyone believe that if they are able to dream each other’s dreams, or all dream the same dream, it is going to elevate them to a higher plane of being? Puhlease!

I started listening with interest, which rapidly faded, peaked with Larry’s murder, then plummeted again. This read is seriously Weird.

And the murder mystery isn’t even much of a mystery. It’s pretty obvious from very early on who killed Larry, but I did check with someone else who read and enjoyed A Dream to Die For, after I had abandoned it, just to make sure.

I would like to point out that the narrator, Rachel Perry, was excellent, and certainly had nothing to do with my abandoning this book.

I am well aware that I am very much on my own with my feelings on A Dream to Die For, and that it may well be a book that you enjoy, so please check out a selection of the many positive reviews.

#ADreamtoDieFor #NetGalley

I: @susanzritz @ orangeskyaudio

T: #SusanZRitz #OrangeSkyAudio

#audiobook #crime #cultfiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Susan Ritz grew up in Minnesota, but she left home to become a wandering scholar; she lived, studied, and worked as a social worker in Kenya, Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia in the 1970s. She worked as a human rights lobbyist in Washington, DC, during the Carter Administration before moving to Dachau, Germany, the setting for her memoir in progress, On the Edge of Dachau. For the past thirty years she has lived with her husband and three children in Montpelier, Vermont, where she has worked as a fund raiser, events coordinator, and philanthropic advisor for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, especially those promoting economic equality for women. Writing, however, has always been her passion, and after receiving an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, she began writing for local publications, teaching creative writing to adults and high school students, and writing her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Orange Sky Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of A Dream to Die For, written by Susan Z. Ritz and narrated by Rachel Perry, 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Wednesday’s Weather and a bookish conundrum . . .

It’s more autumn than spring this morning in Te Kuiti, New Zealand with morning mist, drizzle, and it’s cold out there!

We are in the first day of Level 2 – Delta style today. 🤞

I was clearing my emails over my morning coffee, and there was one from a certain publisher who shall remain nameless, declining my request for an ARC because my feedback ratio is too low – 67%. Okay, I thought, fair enough. BUT it was for a book in a series of which I have read and reviewed all the earlier books.

The following email was from the same publisher, offering me a widget – for the same book 😂🤣😂🤣 Yes, I downloaded it very quickly before they changed their minds again.

Has anyone else had this happen?

Have a wonderful Wednesday!🥂

All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard

EXCERPT: I couldn’t blame him for taking off. He was fourteen, and avoiding showdowns with his volatile mother would be high on his list of priorities. For a second I was tempted to follow. But I was seventy, not fourteen, and I’d be blowed if I’d let my only daughter-in-law get the better of me.

I ran a comb through my hair. Who was that old woman in the mirror, scowling back at me? Whoever she was, she was in dire need of a hairdresser. And look at all those wrinkles. There hadn’t been nearly as many a year ago.

I smoothed on my favourite lipstick, rolling my lips together with a smacking sound. Better to face the enemy with war paint on. Nevertheless, butterflies flitted about in my stomach. I perched on the side of the bed to wait. And wait. The waiting was always the worst.

ABOUT ‘ALL ABOUT ELLA’: At 70, and widowed, Ella is about to find out that blood is not always thicker than water. A wise and warm-hearted story about aging, family and community for readers of Tricia Stringer and Liz Byrski.

At 70, Ella’s world is upended, leaving her at odds with her three adult children, whose attention is fixed more firmly on her money than her ongoing welfare. After an argument with her son Anthony, she flees his Adelaide home for Cutlers Bay, a seaside town on the Yorke Peninsula. There she befriends Angie, a 40-year-old drifter, and becomes an irritant to local cop Zach. He’s keen to shift Ella off his turf, because Anthony phones daily, demanding his mother be sent home. And besides, Zach just doesn’t trust Angie.

Ella warms to Cutlers Bay, and it warms to her. In a defiant act of self-determination, she buys an entirely unsuitable house on the outskirts of town, and Angie agrees to help make it habitable. Zach is drawn to the house on the clifftop, and finds himself revising his earlier opinions of Ella, and Angie.

MY THOUGHTS: All About Ella is a warm and engaging book about the vulnerability of aging and the greed of families. It is also a book about friendship, loyalty and learning to stand your ground.

I am always excited when I see that Meredith Appleyard has a new book out. She writes about very real situations using realistic and relatable characters, ones that you could move right in with, or live next door to.

Ella’s husband of fifty years has died. Quickly the children organize the sale of the family home and move Ella in with her eldest son, Anthony, and his wife and family saying that they will use her money to build a ‘granny flat’ onto their house for her. But as the weeks roll on, there’s no building, not even a plan to be seen. You can see where this is going, can’t you . . .

Ella has the daughter-in-law from hell. Volatile doesn’t even begin to describe Kirsten, who throws tantrums and issues ultimatums. Husband Anthony is well under her thumb, his mantra being ‘anything for a quiet life.’ Ella’s other two children are no help either, not living close, and being fed misinformation from Anthony and Kirsten. Is it any wonder Ella leaves home? And so her adventures begin . . .

I was rooting for Ella all the way through. She is a delightful character, one who has devoted her life to husband and family, and is now bewildered that they have turned on her. Though they term it ‘as knowing what’s best’ for her. I did wonder about a few of her rather rash decisions early on, but eventually she has the chance to review and fine tune them.

Along the way she picks up some staunch supporters and new friends. Angie is forty, footloose and fancy free, or rootless, depending on your point of view. Not everyone is convinced that she is trying to help Ella. Some are worried that she is only there to see what she can get from the old lady. One of the doubters is Zach, local copper in Cutlers Bay where Ella finds herself and decides to put down roots for a while. Zach has had his heart broken and doesn’t trust women generally, never mind these blow ins. And Ella is just trouble from the moment she arrives . . .

There are plenty of other interesting characters too: Leon, the local publican; Claire, the 80 year old ex-community nurse; Henry, Zach’s father; and Ruth, who owns the cafe to name a few.

The story is told from the points of view of Ella, Angie, and Zach, giving a balanced and diverse overview. I loved this story set in a small rural South Australian coastal town. I loved the characters Meredith has peopled her story with. I love her attention to detail, and that she addresses the topic of aging independently in a forthright and honest manner.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#AllAboutElla #NetGalley

I: #meredithappleyard @harlequinaus

T: #MeredithAppleyard @HarlequinAUS

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romance #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia, two hours north of Adelaide. As a registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has done agency nursing in London and volunteer work in Vietnam. After her first manuscript was rejected, she joined a writers’ group, attended workshops and successfully completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing with the Adelaide College of the Arts. And she kept working. When she isn’t writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers’ Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Daisy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Australia, HQ and MIRA via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Lost Angels (Nikki Hunt #3) by Stacy Green

EXCERPT: ‘There’s something here.’ Still crouched next to the truck, Miller snapped on a latex glove and reached behind the front driver’s side tire. He held up a business card. ‘Annmarie Mason, Network Engineer at VP-Cloud. Her cell and a PO Box are listed.’ He turned the card over, and Nikki could tell by his shocked eyes that something important was on the back.

‘What is it?’ she asked.

‘If found, call FBI Special Agent Nikki Hunt’ – your office number is on here.’

Wordlessly, Nikki put on a glove, and Miller placed the card in her hand. She immediately recognized the neat cursive she’d always envied. ‘Oh Annmarie,’ Nikki whispered. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. ‘What did you get yourself into?’

ABOUT ‘LOST ANGELS’: When Special Agent Nikki Hunt is called to the Boundary Waters near Stillwater, Minnesota, it’s not just the cold that shocks her to her core: the body of a young woman has been found frozen beside a remote lake. Nikki is devastated to see the victim is her childhood friend Annmarie, and she recognizes the velvet ribbon tied in her hair as the hallmark of a serial killer who she has been hunting for years.

Desperate for justice, Nikki throws herself into the case. But she is shaken by what she finds at Annmarie’s home: a dead-bolt on her front door and a map in the spare room, with the locations of murdered women circled in thick, red marker. Did Annmarie know she was next? Then Nikki finds out that the killer has left a clue in Annmarie’s bedroom: a photo of Nikki’s mother that no one has ever seen. Has the murderer at large been in Nikki’s life since she was a child?

Nikki soon realizes that the key to unlocking this case is in her own family, but digging up the past could put her own daughter in danger. She has spent her whole life protecting the ones she loves, but to find this killer Nikki might have to risk everything…

MY THOUGHTS: I loved Stacy Green’s Lucy Kendall series, and although it has taken me a little longer to warm to Nikki Hunt, I really found my footing with this series in Lost Angels.

I had far more trouble liking Nikki than I did Lucy. I am still not sure that I actually like Nikki much. Not that that’s necessary for me to like the book, obviously, but . . . just saying. She comes across as kind of ‘cold’, despite her obvious love for her daughter, Lacey, who is one cool kid, and absolutely my favourite character. This could be because Nikki is very good at compartmentalising her life. But she makes decisions that I simply do not understand, often just handing Lacey over to whomever is available. It’s job first, everything else second for Nikki.

Now that I have had my rant . . . Nikki has been trying to catch this killer for 5 years, but now it’s become personal. The killer is taunting her, killing first her high school best friend, then abducting the sister of one of his first victims.

This is high octane stuff. It’s gripping, and tense. I had absolutely no idea where the story was headed, and was giving my ‘little grey cells’ plenty of exercise trying to figure out who the killer was.

My only criticism of the story was that, despite the strong personal connections, Nikki was allowed to remain on the case when, really, she should have been stood down, especially once it became obvious that her family was in danger.

A good, solid read. I do recommend that this series be read in order, otherwise a lot of character development, family relationships, and references to past incidents won’t be completely understood.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#LostAngels #NetGalley

I: @authorstacygreen @bookouture

T: @stacygreen26 @Bookouture

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama #FBI #murdermystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Lost Angels by Stacy Green 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Here in the southern hemisphere, spring has arrived, and we are having the most magnificent weather.

Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

Currently I am reading Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

and The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves. It’s so good to be back with Matthew and his team. I am totally perplexed as to who is behind these murders.

I am listening to Over My Dead Body by Jeffrey Archer. It’s excellent and I am listening to it every moment I can.

This week I am planning on reading The New Home by Chris Merritt

Freya loves her new home on a quiet suburban street. And her beautiful neighbour Emily is everything she’s ever wanted in a best friend. Finally, she has somebody to share her secrets with over a glass of wine. But as Freya watches her new friend setting the table for dinner one evening, she sees something shocking that makes her think that Emily’s life might not be as perfect as it seems. Days later, Emily and her daughter vanish…

When you meet Emily’s husband, you will think you know what he’s hiding.

You will ask yourself whether Emily and Freya really did meet by chance.

You will think you know what happened to Emily and her little girl the night they went missing.

But when you discover the truth, it will shake you to your core and you will lie awake at night wondering if you can ever really trust the people in the house next door…

And Now I Found You by Mila Oliver

Seven years ago, Kate Hartfield’s little sister disappeared.

An ordinary summer day of fun at the lake turned into a nightmare when young Emily Hartfield suddenly could not be found. When badly battered body parts were discovered three days later, the investigation concluded that they were Emily’s and the case was closed as an accidental drowning.

Now Kate has returned to her hometown in the Catskills for the first time since her sister’s death, for a work retreat. While at her boss’s lake house, she briefly spies a familiar face.

It’s Emily.

She’s all grown up, but Kate knows her sister’s face better than anyone. The sighting reignites the doubts Kate has always had, and forces her to revisit all the mysterious circumstances that surrounded that day. As she desperately tries to track down the girl she saw at the lake house with the help of her hometown ex-boyfriend, Kate discovers shocking secrets from the past, confronts her own guilt from that day, and becomes obsessed with uncovering the answer to one question.

What really happened to Emily? 

I haven’t got another audiobook lined up to listen to yet, as I don’t have any more Netgalley audios waiting to be reviewed. So I may be able to pick something from my discretionary list from the library.

This week I received only two new ARCs. They are: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

and The Christmas Wish by Sharon Sala

I still have 24 pending requests.

I have been very busy in the garden over the past few days while the weather has been so great, and my yard is looking quite nice at the moment. I am making the most of it, as if rumours are to be believed, I will probably be back to work Wednesday. We find out tomorrow afternoon. If we do drop another level, we still can’t operate at full capacity and there are a lot of restrictions that need to be complied with. If rumours are true, we will stay at that level until after Christmas, and Auckland will remain under lockdown for a few more weeks yet.

It is Father’s Day today in New Zealand. I had a long video call with Luke this morning as he was busy making Dustin a card. He drew a picture of himself and Dustin on the inside, and wrote his own name. The outside of the card is covered with dinosaur stickers!😂🤣🦕🦖 It was made with lots of love, as were the chocolate brownies. He also wished his Poppa a happy Poppa’s Day which pleased Pete no end.

That’s it from me for today. I am going to make a drink and sit in the sun and . . . READ!

Have a happy day all and stay safe. ❤📚

P.S. I completely forgot to write about my virtual travels via my books 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ In the past week I have been to Stillwater, Minnesota; spent more time at Chammont Point, East Virginia with Jade, Darcy and Taylor; Cutlers Bay on the York Peninsula, South Australia; Barnstaple in North Devon, England; Vienna, Austria; and Riverton Falls, New England.

Did we pass by one another during the week? I hope you have had some wonderful travels too. Stop by and let me know where you have been. ❤📚

Whisper Cottage by Anne Wyn Clark

EXCERPT: There were several villages within spitting distance of the practice, which was just outside Stratford-Upon-Avon. Jack was enthusiastic about living close to the surgery, declaring that he could even cycle to work in the warmer weather. Eventually we had plumped for picturesque Avoncote, largely because of the house we had discovered there. We fell in love with Whisper Cottage at first sight. It was one of two semi-detached houses, set apart on a short stretch of road towards the centre of the hamlet. Uneven cobbles winding to a frontage festooned with lilac blooms beneath a thatched roof; endearingly small and perfect newlyweds expecting their first child. Yes, there was a good deal of work to be done, and we were going to have to throw some serious money at the place – something we could ill afford, the mortgage stretching us to the limit – but the location was ideal, and the house had such potential. We moved in at the end of April, the whole summer stretching out before us, leaving several months to prepare for our upcoming arrival.

The chocolate-box village itself, quintessentially English and slightly twee, with its small, close-knit community, seemed like the answer to our prayers. It was like something out of a Miss Marple novel. There was a village green, complete with stocks – thankfully no longer in use. It even boasted a maypole. Next to the green, a large circular duck pond was enclosed by a low wooden barrier. The spire of a beautiful old church pierced the skyline, its immaculately maintained graveyard filled with generations of village’s former occupants. Beyond the church, a canal passed through the village, the towpath providing a scenic walk towards the centre of Stratford.

ABOUT ‘WHISPER COTTAGE’: When Stina and Jack move to an old rural cottage, they’re hoping for a fresh start. Their new home is run-down compared to their neighbour’s, but generous Mrs Barley quickly becomes a friend.

Until Stina sees a mysterious figure in the widow’s garden, and her happy new life begins to unravel. And when she hears strange noises in the night, she is forced to question if Mrs Barley is what she seems.

Why do the other villagers whisper about her? Why is she so eager to help the couple? And what is she hiding in her picture-perfect home?

MY THOUGHTS: First off, I am going to state that I don’t consider Whisper Cottage to be a psychological thriller. In my eyes, it is more of a mystery, and a very good one, a very enjoyable one.

Whisper Cottage is a slow burner. Clark takes her time in setting the scene, but I liked the way she did this, sewing little and seemingly inconsequential seeds of doubt that niggle like a burr caught in your clothing that you just can’t find to remove.

The opening chapter is set in 1964, and gives no clue as to who is involved. This doesn’t become apparent until later in the book.

In real time, we learn about Stina’s background, her mother’s mental instability, and her own fears that she may follow in her mother’s footsteps. Husband Jack is the sensible one, soothing Stina and quietening her fears.

Mrs Barley, their elderly next door neighbour, is lovely and kind to Stina and Jack, making them welcome and plying them with her home cooking. But why do the rest of the villagers have nothing to do with the old lady? What is behind their warnings to Stina to keep her at a distance? And why do bad things happen to those who cross her?

Who is the mystery man? The one that sneaks in and out of Mrs Barley’s summerhouse, the one that no one but Stina has seen, the man Mrs Barley claims she has no knowledge of.

And there’s also the unexplained noises from the attic in the middle of the night. Yes, there are things that go ‘bump’ in the night . . .

I loved the gradual ramping up of tension, the way the author left me hanging as normal life resumed, the oddities seemingly swept under the carpet by Jack’s logic, but lingering like ghostly presences.

If you like a slightly creepy mystery, with a few clever twists, then I am recommending Whisper Cottage. I loved it, and will be looking for more to read from this author. NOTE: At the time of writing this review I was unaware that this is Anne Wyn Clark’s debut novel. An excellent debut, and an author worth watching.

Lauren Moakes was the narrator, and her smooth, honeyed speech was well suited to this story and added to my enjoyment.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#WhisperCottage #NetGalley

I: #annewynclark #harpercollinsukaudio @avonbooksuk

T: @EAClarkAuthor @HarperCollinsUK @AvonBooksUK

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #mystery #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Anne Wyn Clark lives in the Midlands with her husband and son, plus a rather temperamental cat, a rabbit and a chinchilla. She has three (now grown-up) children and five grandchildren. She is particularly partial to Italian food, decent red wine (or any coloured wine come to that…) and cake – and has been known to over-indulge in each on occasions. She has a penchant for visiting old graveyards and speculating on the demise of those entombed beneath. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK audio, Avon via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Whisper Cottage written by Anne Wyn Clark and narrated by Lauren Moakes 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Selling Point (Chammont Point #2) by Marci Bolden

Doesn’t that cover just make you want to pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine, and just sit back and soak up the view!

EXCERPT: Darby was more than halfway through her thirties. Shouldn’t she have a better grasp on life by now? Shouldn’t she have a clearer idea of who she wanted to be and how to actually become that person?

Other people her age had careers, families, schedules that held them accountable. Darby had two slightly dysfunctional best friends and a disaster of an online business.

Damn it. Her life was a joke.

ABOUT ‘THE SELLING POINT’: Darby Zamora has always gotten by with work that suits her unique way of life, but success hasn’t exactly come easy. A former bridal seamstress, Darby gave up making custom gowns years ago. Her heart was always too big for her business’s pocketbook, until she comes up with a way to make an old business new again: The Un-Do Wedding Boutique.

Selling dresses online in her bridal consignment shop has merchandise flying off the virtual shelves. People are lining up not only to buy the dress overstock that Darby’s been holding onto, but she has new clients desperate for her to help them re-sell their unused wedding items.

But success comes at a steep price when ghosts from her past resurface and make Darby and her new company confront harsh realities of life and business. With the help of her friends Jade and Taylor, Darby is forced to reassess her business, rediscover herself, and ultimately find her selling point.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved The Restarting Point, the first book in this trilogy, and The Selling Point is every bit as good. I loved that this is centred on Darby, the flamboyant, fun, throwback to the 1950s.

As with the first book, I laughed, I cried, and shook my head at the antics of these three friends. Darby is one of those delightfully enthusiastic people who never stop to think things through. She jumps into her projects feet first, only to find herself neck deep in quicksand. She did it with her rental cottage, and now she’s done the same with her online bridal boutique selling wedding dresses that were never worn. Thank goodness she has the sensible Jade and practical Taylor to keep her on the straight and narrow.

I love the way these three have each other’s backs. As well as Darby’s downfall, Jade and Taylor also face their own problems and, without fail, they are always there to provide support for one another. I love the way they spend time together, strengthening their bonds, and making memories. Whether they’re eating icecream, or drinking margaritas, laughing, or mopping up tears, they are doing it together.

I would have liked to have seen a little more of Parker, who makes an appearance early on in The Selling Point, after having her baby, but then just disappears.🤷‍♀️

Although this is the second book in a series, it could be read as a stand-alone, although then you would miss out on Jade’s story . . . Just saying.

I hope that you are busily writing #3 in the Chammont Point series, Marci. I am eagerly awaiting it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheSellingPoint #NetGalley

I: @marciboldenauthor #pinksandpress

T: @BoldenMarci #PinkSandPress

#contemporaryfiction #romance #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading women’s fiction and romance novels.

Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pink Sand Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Selling Point by Marci Bolden 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Restarting Point (Chammont Point #1) by Marci Bolden

EXCERPT: When Nick had suggested they take a vacation to celebrate Jade’s recovery from colorectal cancer, he said they could go anywhere she wanted. He was probably expecting her to plan a trip to London or New York City, since Jade had always preferred fast-paced destinations over places like this. But she’d chosen to return to Chammont Point and the lake that had been so prominent in the photos of that first vacation many years ago.

He’d been confused over her choice until she explained how much she’d come to cherish the memories they’d made there. Xander and Owen had learned to water ski on Chammont Lake. They’d all sat by a fire and roasted marshmallows while they shared stories and jokes. Jade couldn’t remember a time when they’d felt more like a family than their time exploring the small town and playing in the water. She wanted more of that.

After her recent health scare, the bright lights of Broadway and a city filled with endless dining options no longer had the same appeal to her. She’d fought hard for this second chance. Spending it in crowded theaters and noisy restaurants seemed like a waste of time when she could enjoy the quiet lake with her husband. Of course, now she just had the quiet lake, but maybe that was better.

ABOUT ‘THE RESTARTING POINT’: Marketing executive and mother of two, Jade Kelly can now add cancer survivor to her list of successes. But while her life looks good on paper, four months out of treatment, Jade realizes she hardly knows her college-age children and she and her husband Nick are little more than housemates.

Determined to start over, Jade schedules a family vacation to a lakefront cabin. When her kids bail and Nick stays home to handle a last minute work crisis, Jade heads to Chammont Point alone, determined to dust herself off and figure out what to do with the rest of her life.

While she’s away, the life she thought she had unravels. Secrets, lies, and old wounds drive Jade into new adventures and new relationships. With the help of family and new found friends, Jade learns starting over sometimes means finding a brand new restarting point.

MY THOUGHTS: I had been looking for an uplifting, feel-good read for a couple of weeks with little success. And then I started The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden. I struck gold. This ticked all my boxes. Three wonderful, quirky, female characters, and I mean characters, not exactly in the first flush of youth, who had me laughing, crying, and shaking my head at them.

It is the characters that make this read, not that there is anything wrong with the plot. Darby is a flamboyant 1950s throwback; Taylor is more comfortable with a hammer in her hand than a lipstick; Jade is the reason they came together, and is the glue that binds them.

Each of these women has had her self-confidence shattered; each is trying to find her place in life; and each is supportive and protective of the others, that is when they aren’t squabbling or taking umbrage at something said. This trio seems to spend a lot of time at two on one; either two supporting one, or one refereeing a spat between two. These characters are absolutely delightful, relatable and realistic.

This is a story of pain and loss, of friendship, support, and beginning again.

The Restarting Point is written in an easy, heartfelt style. The story is every bit as wonderful as the beautiful cover. The plot flows easily, and I simply raced through the story, wanting to find out what happens to these three women, but not wanting the story to end.

I immediately picked up and began the sequel to The Restarting Point, and I am loving it just as much. Thank you Marci Bolden for this delightful book. You have just won over a new fan.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheRestartingPoint #NetGalley

I: @marciboldenauthor #pinksandpress

T: @BoldenMarci #PinkSandPress

#contemporaryfiction #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: As a teen, Marci Bolden skipped over young adult books and jumped right into reading women’s fiction and romance novels.

Marci lives in the Midwest with her husband, two teenaged kiddos, and numerous rescue pets. If she had an ounce of will power, Marci would embrace healthy living but until cupcakes and wine are no longer available at the local grocery store, she’ll put that ambition on hold and appease her guilt by reading self-help books and promising to join a gym “soon.”

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Pink Sand Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Restarting Point by Marci Bolden 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Darkness Falls by David Mark

EXCERPT: McAvoy freezes, his mind filling with pictures as his fading dream surges back to fill his vision. Suddenly the whole world is her, his nostrils clogged with the smell of spoiled meat, his vision nothing but torn silk and sticky blood. He wraps his arms around Fin. Holds his son until the moment passes.

They have been getting worse, these visions. As the court case has inched closer he has found himself thinking more and more of the dead girl he had so hoped to find alive. He found himself thinking of Shane Cadbury – the plump, slow-witted sex pest who had plunged a knife into her again and again and laid her out in his bed like a trophy. He has never truly felt clean since that day. He knows that scents are particularl, that each aroma is made of tiny fragments of a source. Each time he smells Ella Butterworth, he remembers that she drifted inside him. She has done more than climb under his skin. Her body, corrupted, defiled, is within him. She is his responsibility.

ABOUT ‘DARKNESS FALLS’: A city united in grief
A journalist ready to kill to keep his secrets
A copper capable of darker deeds than any of the murderers he puts away
An unworldly detective ready to do whatever it takes to save an innocent man.

Welcome to Hull.

In this masterful prequel to the Sunday Times bestseller Dark Winter, Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy is the outsider who must confront his darkest fears while hunting a killer that nobody else believes in.
In a landscape at once tender and brutal, McAvoy must tread the path between the darkness and the light, before facing an enemy who will brand him for life.

MY THOUGHTS: My trio of ‘go to’ crime writers when I am looking for a dark gritty read complete with black humor, has just expanded to a quartet.

A prequel to the Aector McAvoy series, Darkness Falls is dark, disturbing, thrilling and addictive. David Mark has created a compelling central character in McAvoy, a man haunted by his own demons, just not ones that you would necessarily expect. He is a man who cannot lie to save himself, a good man, a kind man, a man with a conscience, a man for whom justice means getting it right, not just getting a result.

And yet it is not McAvoy, a misfit amongst his peers, who takes centre stage in Darkness Falls. That distinction is shared between Owen Lee, a Press Association correspondent who has reached the end of his tether; and Head of the Major Crimes Unit, media darling Detective Superintendent Doug Roper, a man adept at manipulating not only the media, but anyone else he is able to dig up dirt on.

Mark’s vast experience as a crime reporter shines through in his graphically realistic and chilling descriptions and obvious understanding of the criminal mind.

This is my first encounter with McAvoy, and author David Mark. I am pleased to see that I have many more books in this series to look forward to.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#DarknessFalls #NetGalley

I: @davidmarkwriter @ariafiction

T: @DavidMarkWriter @Aria_Fiction

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #serialkillerthriller #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: David spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the internationally bestselling Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.

His writing is heavily influenced by the court cases he covered: the defeatist and jaded police officers; the inertia of the justice system and the sheer raw grief of those touched by savagery and tragedy.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Aria and Aries, Head of Zeus, for providing a digital ARC of Darkness Falls by David Mark 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com