Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (February 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them! Here is January’s top five in case you missed it: January 2011 to 2015 but now to February!


Read while holidaying in the Bahamas was another great read from one of my favourite authors, Kate Morton with The Distant Hours.  This wasn’t as popular as her previous two novels The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden but I liked the change in style and time period.

The Distant Hours


Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret. Evacuated from London as a thirteen year old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe, and taken to live at Millderhurst Castle with the Blythe family. Fifty years later, Edie too is drawn to Milderhurst and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness. Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it . . . Amazon

2012 yr

In February 2012 I read Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton, the second in the Lacey Flint series.  This series quickly became a fixture on my ‘must-read’  list and I eagerly await the latest addition as soon as I’ve read the last.

Dead Scared

When a rash of suicides tears through Cambridge University, DI Mark Joesbury recruits DC Lacey Flint to go undercover as a student to investigate. Although each student’s death appears to be a suicide, the psychological histories, social networks, and online activities of the students involved share remarkable similarities, and the London police are not convinced that the victims acted alone. They believe that someone might be preying on lonely and insecure students and either encouraging them to take their own lives or actually luring them to their deaths. As long as Lacey can play the role of a vulnerable young woman, she may be able to stop these deaths, but is it just a role for her? With her fragile past, is she drawing out the killers, or is she herself being drawn into a deadly game where she’s a perfect victim? Amazon


In February 2013 I read Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes which features Police data analyst, Annabel, in a disturbing dark thriller.

Human Remains


When Annabel, a police analyst, discovers her neighbour’s decomposing body in the house next door, she’s appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong.
Back at work, she feels compelled to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and finds data showing that such cases are common – too common – in her home town. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons and her own mortality. Would anyone notice if she just disappeared? Goodreads

February 2014 was full of some of my favourite books of the year with many strong contenders so I have decided pick one of the two five star reads by a debut author; A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan.  For some reason this book has been given a new wacky cover which I don’t like so I’m featuring the old one!
A Pleasure and a Calling

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
William Heming’s every pleasure is in his leafy community. He loves and knows every inch of it, feels nurtured by it, and would defend it – perhaps not with his life but if it came to it, with yours… Amazon

The end of February 2015 reading has seen a clutch of five star reads with a number of contenders for the top spot but I have decided to plump for an author whose fourth book was as ingenious and as satisfying as her previous three; Rachel Abbott with Stranger Child.

Stranger Child


One Dark Secret. One act of revenge.
When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.
Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie.
Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis.
Emma’s life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and for her baby?
When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.
They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they’re right.

5 Star Reads


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

37 thoughts on “Five of the Best (February 2011 to 2015)

  1. Ridiculously, I’ve got 3 of these still to read. I don’t have the SJ Bolton one (but will get to it) and don’t have the Rachel Abbott one (yet – but you’re seriously tempting me!) At least, I think that’s the Kate Morton one I have in hardback; they all look dead similar tbh! Another great list Cleo!


    1. Haha you’ll have to have a rummage for the Kate Morton 😉 and of course you must get the other two. I realised when compiling this post that February has been a consistently good reading month for me over the last three years, really hard to pick my favourites!


      1. I meant the others from your list. I’ve read all Kate Morton’s novels and I agree with you “The Secret Keeper” was her best: I’m not likely to forget the ending anytime soon …
        I might try “Human Remains” from Elizabeth Haynes, since you rate it so high, but since I was disappointed by her debut novel (“Into the darkest corner”), I haven’t read anything else by her (yet…)


  2. Ha, finally a few I have read – the Bolton one, the Phil Hogan (oh, no, why change the cover, this one was perfect!) and Elizabeth Haynes. I love this feature – it’s so interesting to see our past books and thoughts, isn’t it?


    1. I think that Phil Hogan cover is absolutely wonderful, too – really captures the whole idea of the book! With many people you would see a change ion reading habits, Cleo, but you’ve stuck with what you know and love!


        1. It is that Kate Morton I have – in hardback! Must’ve had it for ages! I get her books confused; the titles and covers are all dead similar. And they package Rachel Hore’s in a similar way (is that the right author??) too, to add to my confusion…I could easily buy one of these books twice (I’ve done that more times than I care to tell – no wonder the charity shop loves me!)


  3. Distant Hours is one I have had my eye on, but haven’t yet read…perhaps this will be the year? I also discovered Elizabeth Haynes this past year, with Into the Darkest Corner…and have Under a Silent Moon on Sparky.

    But I haven’t yet heard of Human Remains…until now, of course.

    Thanks for sharing!


  4. Ah, I think we might be reading twins, in a way. So, I’ve read the first two you listed and enjoyed both very much. The other three – well, all of them reside at this moment on my Kindle. Already. Not read yet, but there you go. This is a fun event each month (realize you’ve just started it – ha!) that I will look forward to. Yes, great minds…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cleo – I really am enjoying this feature of yours. It’s so interesting to look back and see which reads have been among your top. And you’ve got some excellent choices here! I keep hearing good things about the Abbott; I ought to put that one on my list.


    1. I have great fun preparing these posts because I get to remember some of the great books I’ve read over the last few years but it’s good to see others like looking at them too. Rachel Abbott really is worth reading especially if like me you enjoy the psychological aspect.


  6. Ha! i was looking at my ‘Februarys’ last night and can see we have some crossovers in our lists. Dead Scared and A Pleasure… were both great Feb reads for me too – but I’ll try where poss to pick something different. February does seem to be a good month looking back.


  7. I’m reading a Kate Morton book now. The one you mentioned has a similar plot as THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN. I am enjoying my book by the way.


      1. I hope to read more of her work, hopefully they won’t all be variations of the same plot, since I enjoy her writing style.


  8. I like the sound of the first one although I’ve only read one of Kate’s books. It’s funny how older generations don’t talk about certain things. Imagine how interesting a family history could be. And the college one…Adolescence is always seen as a precarious time for a cloud. But I also feel one’s young adulthood to her twenties is as well.


    1. I think lots of people a generation or so ago have stories that are kept hidden or glossed over, I know my Grandmother highlighted those stories she felt showed her family in a good light and left an awful lot unsaid! Dead Scared was an amazing read for that very reason, it is hard trying to find your place in the world after adolescence.


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