Thursday Thoughts

I have been working long hours this week and am a bit behind on my reading. ….. so I thought we’d take a look at what I am currently reading, what is coming up next, and what approvals I have had from NetGalley this week.

On the currently reading front, I am 2/3 of the way through

Silent Lies

Silent Lies by Kathryn Croft

an insidiously creepy book which was published by Bookouture this week. It’s one of those books that, as you are reading, you are thinking ‘I can’t believe she’s doing this!’, or ‘What on earth is she thinking?’.

My review will appear Saturday.

I have also started

Sleeping Beauties
 

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

This was published at the end of last month by Hodder and Stoughton. In excess of 700 pages, it is not ideal for reading in bed! I am just over 100 pages into this and loving it. Being one of Mr King’s ‘constant readers’ I had to buy the actual book instead of an e-book to add to my collection.

 

My next read is

Seven Days of Us
 Seven Days of Us byFrancesca Hornak
To be published 31 October by Berkley.
It is the tale of a dysfunctional family forced to spend a week together in isolation.
This week I have been approved by NetGalley to read and review the following books
The Hanged Man (The Bone Field #2)

The Hanged Man (The Bone Field #2) by Simon Kernick

A Kiss Before Killing: Nothing can keep the doctor away...

A Kiss Before Killing: Nothing can keep the doctor away…by Keith McCarthy

The Devil's Claw
 

The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman

And……

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

Happy reading everyone, and I’ll see you all tomorrow with my Friday Favorite

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P is for Peril by Sue Grafton

P is for Peril by Sue Grafton
P is for Peril (Kinsey Millhone, #16) 
by Sue Grafton

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: By the time I rang the bell, my breathing had slowed and I’d done a quick mental review of the subject I was here to discuss. Fiona Purcell’s ex-husband, Dr. Dowan Purcell, had been missing for nine weeks. She’d had a messenger deliver a manila envelope filled with newspaper clippings that recapped events surrounding his disappearance. I’d sat in my office, tilted back in my swivel chair, my Sauconys propped on the edge of my desk while I studied the articles she’d sent. She’d arranged them chronologically but had otherwise presented them without editorial comment. I’d been following the story in the local papers, but I’d never anticipated my involvement in the case. I found it helpful to have the sequence laid out again in this truncated form.

I noticed that over the course of nine weeks, the character of the coverage had shifted from the first seventy-two hours of puzzlement, through days of feverish speculation, and into the holding pattern that represented the current state of the investigation. Nothing new had come to light–not that there was ever much to report. In the absence of fresh revelations, the public’s fascination had begun to dwindle and the media’s attention to the matter had become as chilly and abbreviated as the brief November days. It is a truth of human nature that we can ponder life’s mysteries for only so long before we lose interest and move on to something else. Dr. Purcell had been gone since Friday, September 12, and the lengthy column inches initially devoted to his disappearance were now reduced to an occasional mention nearly ritual in its tone. The details were recounted, but the curiosity had shifted to more compelling events.

Dr. Purcell, sixty-nine years old, had practiced family medicine in Santa Teresa since 1944, specializing in geriatrics for the last fifteen years. He’d retired in 1981. Six months later, he’d been licensed as the administrator of a nursing care facility called Pacific Meadows, which was owned by two businessmen. On the Friday night in question, he’d worked late, remaining in his office to review paperwork related to the operation of the nursing home. According to witnesses, it was close to nine o’clock when he stopped at the front desk and said good-night to the nurses on duty. At that hour, the occupants had settled down for the night. The corridors were empty and the residents’ doors were closed against the already dimmed hall lights. Dr. Purcell had paused to chat with an elderly woman sitting in the lobby in her wheelchair. After a cursory conversation, less than a minute by her report, the doctor passed through the front door and into the night. He retrieved his car from his reserved space at the north side of the complex, pulled out of the lot, and drove off into the Inky Void from which he’d never emerged. The Santa Teresa Police and the Santa Teresa County Sheriff’s Departments had devoted endless hours to the case, and I couldn’t think what avenues remained that hadn’t already been explored by local law enforcement.

THE BLURB: It is now nine weeks since Dr Dowan Purcell vanished without trace. The sixty-nine-year-old doctor had said goodnight to his colleagues at the Pacific Meadows nursing home, had climbed into his car and driven away – never to be seen again.

His embittered first wife Fiona is convinced he is still alive. His second wife, Crystal – a former stripper forty years his junior – is just as sure he is dead. Enter private investigator Kinsey Malone, hired by Fiona to find out just what has happened to the man they loved.

Enter also Tommy Hevener, an attractive flame-haired twenty-something who has set his romantic sights on Kinsey. And Tommy is a man with a very interesting past . . .

MY THOUGHTS: The Kinsey Millhone series is my literary equivalent to junk food. It’s a fast easy read that is always fun, never complicated, and leaves me feeling happy. And I just keep coming back for more.

I listened to P is for Peril by Sue Grafton on audiobook via OverDrive. It was beautifully narrated by Judy Kaye. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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/2155479044

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra
Little Secrets 
by Anna Snoekstra (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by

 

EXCERPT: It was a pleasant, quiet morning until the woman started screaming. The street had been silent except for the sound of birds chirping in the sky and the distant rumbles of a lawn mower. Mrs Lucie Hoffman had opened her front door to collect the morning edition of the Star. Instead, she found a porcelain doll sitting on top of the paper on her doorstep, staring up at her. It had thick dark hair and glassy green eyes. That was when the screaming started.

THE BLURB: What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

MY THOUGHTS: I really wanted to like Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra. I tried, very hard. But in the end the best rating I could give this book is 2.5 stars.

Around this time last year, I read Snoekstra’s debut novel, Only Daughter, which I also rated 2.5 stars, downgraded to 2☆. I remarked that while ‘The idea for the plot was brilliant, unfortunately I think the execution of it left something to be desired. Parts of the book are well written, others not so well written. There were times I was tempted to put this book down and walk away from it, but my desire to find out what had happened to Bec over-rode that, and in the end I am glad I did finish it. There are a couple of really great twists but also some glaring holes in the plot and I think the author could have done a bit more research – her knowledge of police procedure leaves a lot to be desired. 

And really, what I said then applies equally to Little Secrets. Except that I never really considered abandoning it, although I struggled with it in places, and the quality of the writing is more consistent. Hence the rounding upwards to 3☆

However, there are glaringly large holes in the plot that I wasn’t able to ignore. And Ms Snoekstra obviously hasn’t brushed up her knowledge of police procedure. Even in small desolate and dying towns, there are checks and balances. And Colmstock doesn’t actually seem that small. It has two pubs, a rarity these days when most towns struggle to support one, especially towns where employment is scarce and methamphetamine rife, and a reasonably large police presence.

In the end, I am left feeling vaguely confused and dissatisfied with Little Secrets. The author has left the door wide open for a sequel. If it does occur, I won’t be reading it.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor

The Treatment by C.L. Taylor
The Treatment 
by C.L. Taylor (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: I slip into the single stall toilet at the back of the cafe. I hold it together long enough to close the door and lock it and then I rest my arms on the wall and burst into tears. I’m still crying when I sit down on the closed toilet lid and reach into my pocket. Tears roll down my cheeks as I pull out the note that Dr Cobey thrust into my hands. They plop onto the paper as I carefully unfold it. I read the words Mason has scribbled in blue biro. I read them once, twice, three times and the tears dry in my eyes.

I’m not sad and confused any more. I’m terrified.

THE BLURB: “You have to help me. We’re not being reformed. We’re being brainwashed.”
All sixteen year old Drew Finch wants is to be left alone. She’s not interested in spending time with her mum and stepdad and when her disruptive fifteen year old brother Mason is expelled from school for the third time and sent to a residential reform academy she’s almost relieved.

Everything changes when she’s followed home from school by the mysterious Dr Cobey, who claims to have a message from Mason. There is something sinister about the ‘treatment’ he is undergoing. The school is changing people.

Determined to help her brother, Drew must infiltrate the Academy and unearth its deepest, darkest secrets.

MY THOUGHTS: There were a lot of things I liked about The Treatment, C. L. Taylor’s debut Young Adult novel, and a few things I disliked, which resulted in a 3.5 star rating.

This was, for most part, a fast paced read. The plot flowed well, mostly. I had trouble with the ease with which Drew was bundled off to the reform school. I know her step-father is involved in the process, but there is a reason he should, to my mind, be keeping Drew and Mason well away from there, not facilitating their admission. This is only one instance for which I had to suspend rationality and go with the storyline.

The ending, I felt, was over simplified. And rushed. Our young adults are a great deal more savy than I was at that age, and I was an advanced reader. I was tempted to get my ten year old grandson to read this to see what he thought because I am certain he would have picked up on most of the same things I did.

Having said that, I found most of the book to be riveting, an exciting adventure, one I didn’t want to put down in favor of sleep last night.

I think this book is probably suited to the younger end of the young adult spectrum.

The Treatment by C. L. Taylor is due to be published October 23, 2017.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Treatment for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2142848716

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
A God in Ruins (Todd Family, #2) 
by Kate Atkinson

Reviewed by
EXCERPT: What had gone into the making of Teddy? Not slugs and snails, it was true, but generation upon generation of Beresfords and Todds, all coming to one singular point in a cold bed in the chill of an autumn night when his father had caught hold of the golden rope of his mother’s hair and hadn’t let go until he had hauled them both to the far shore (they had many euphemisms for the act). As they lay amongst the shipwreck of the marital bed they each felt slightly befuddled by the unexpected ardor of the other. Hugh cleared his throat and murmured, ‘A voyage into the deep, eh?’ Sylvie said nothing as she felt the seafaring metaphor had been stretched far enough.

But the grain had entered the shell (Sylvie’s own metaphoric stance) and the pearl that would be Edward Beresford Todd began to grow until he was revealed into the sunshine that came before the Great War and lay happily for hours on end in his pram with nothing but a silver hare dangling from the pram hood for company.

THE BLURB: In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a complex book. There seems to be no order to it. It randomly jumps from Teddy’s childhood, to his old age, to his war years and back, interspersed with the lives of his one daughter, Viola, and her two children, Sunny and Bertie, and back again.

And yet, with her own inimitable style, Kate Atkinson pulls it off and rather splendidly at that. It is like sitting with a loved elderly relative, listening to them reminisce, where one memory leads to another, the tenuous thread that connects them known only to the narrator. And yet Atkinson draws you into this family. I laughed, I cried. I seethed at Viola’s indifference to her children, her father. I flew with Teddy on his sorties over Germany, crossing my fingers to keep him safe. I applauded his rescue of Sunny (aka Philip Villiers) from the Villiers enclave, and his careful nurturing of Bertie. And I wept at his gentle decline in residential care.

This is both a heart-wrenching and heartwarming read.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2133985806?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

White Bodies by Jane Robins

White Bodies by Jane Robins
White Bodies 
by Jane Robins

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: The two men were struck by the unnatural stillness of the room, its air of unreality; Julio said it seemed considered, or planned, like a tableau vivant with Felix as the centrepiece, lying on his back on the bed in a strange balletic pose, right arm cast out across the duvet, left leg bent, bath robe open like a cape,grey eyes gazing at the ceiling. His left arm was dangling down the side of the bed, fingers suspended above the floor, and the hotel manager, who had a degree in the History of Art, was reminded of the pre-Raphaelite painting of the suicide of Thomas Chatterton. Except this didn’t look like suicide, there were no pill bottles or razor blades or other signs.

THE BLURB: Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless façade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda’s unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix’s domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix’s uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister’s arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies—or was he murdered?

MY THOUGHTS: This is an extremely clever book. A book that is quite different from anything else I have read. But I can’t say I actually ‘liked’ it. It fascinated me. It intrigued me. But I didn’t like it and I couldn’t get ‘involved’ in it.

I think part of the problem, for me, is the author’s narrative style. Her sentences are inordinately long. And for suspense, nothing but short snappy sentences does it for me. Also large tracts of the book are narrated through emails/reading off a memory stick/searching the Internet/taking place in chat rooms.

However, Jane Robins has done a great job of keeping the reader off balance. Her characters are nearly all manipulative, some more overtly than others, and the reader never quite knows who is telling the truth. Is Callie protective of her sister Tilda, or is she jealous of Tilda’s success, professional and personal? Is Felix the adoring lover who likes to shower Tilda with surprises and protect her from the world, or is he a violent control freak? Is Wilf really in love with Callie, or is he just using her to find out information about Tilda to feed to the press? And who is Scarlet really?

The plot is great. After a great deal of thought, I decided that I just didn’t like how it was handled and rated it 3.5 stars. White Bodies by Jane Robins is due to be published October 23, 2017

Thank you to Harlequin Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of White Bodies by Jane Robins for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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 https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2155011405

Friday Favorite – NOS-4A2 by Joe Hill

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

As most of my regular followers will know, Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors. I have Sleeping Beauties, written in collaboration with his son Owen King,  sitting on my desk to read. That brought to mind NOS-4A2, written by King’s other son, with whom he also collaborates from time to time. For me, NOS-4A2 is right up there with King’s The Shining. If you haven’t yet read this, I urge you to. It is a masterpiece.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
NOS4A2 
by Joe Hill (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Because she was preoccupied, she didn’t notice what was different about Charlie Manx until she was easing around his cot to reach the IV rack. He happened to sigh heavily just then, as if bored, and she looked down and saw him staring up at her, and she was so startled to see him with his eyes open that she bobbled the sack of blood and almost dumped it on her feet.

He was hideous-old, not to mention hideous. His great bald skull was a globe mapping an alien moon, continents marked by liver spots and bruise colored sarcomas. Of all the men in the long term care ward – aka the Vegetable Patch – there was something particularly awful about Charlie Manx with his eyes open at this time of the year. Manx liked children. He’d made dozens of them disappear back in the nineties. He had a house below the Flatirons where he did what he liked with them and killed them and hung Christmas ornaments in their memory. The papers called the place the Sleigh House. Ho, ho, ho.

THE BLURB: NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

MY THOUGHTS: If I could give this book 10 stars I would!

This has to be the best book I have read in 2014 (sorry to Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane – you’ve just been bumped into 2nd place!). I want to never let this book go.

I found myself cheering on Vic in her fight against Charles Manx, feeling her pain when her son Wayne was in danger….. This book sucked me right in and I felt for it’s characters.

Joe Hill is definitely his father’s son. He writes with the same easy narrative flow and sardonic wit, but I think that with NOS-4A2 he may even have out written Stephen King. If you are a Stephen King/Neil Gaiman fan, this is a book you have to read.

Please note: in  Australasia this book is published as NOS-4R2

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. 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