Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (September 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!

2011

My favourite read of September 2011 was one that I still recommend widely today, for those who missed it the first time around! Into The Darkest Corner was the debut novel by  Elizabeth Haynes and it is a book that has haunted me ever since with its realistic portrayal of domestic violence and OCD.

Into the Darkest Corner

Blurb

When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Brightman, she can’t believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true.
But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee’s dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she’s stunned to find they don’t believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.
Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor, moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life.
Until the day the phone rings . . . Goodreads

2012 yr

In September 2012 my favourite book was by an author whose work I’ve enjoyed over many years, don’t let the pretty cover fool you, this book covers some serious issues; The Rose Petal Beach by Dorothy Koomson

The Rose Petal Beach

Blurb

Every love story has a dangerous twist.
Tamia Challey is horrified when her husband, Scott, is accused of something terrible – but when she discovers who his accuser is, everything goes into freefall. Backed into a corner and unsure what to think, Tamia is forced to choose who she instinctively believes. But this choice has dire consequences for all concerned, especially when matters take a tragic turn.
Then a stranger arrives in town to sprinkle rose petals in the sea in memory of her lost loved one. This stranger carries with her shocking truths that will change the lives of everyone she meets, and will once again force Tamia to make some devastating choices… Goodreads

2013yr

My choice for September 2013 is a really emotional book, I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington, a story told exceptionally well and mainly by letter, in reverse.

I Came To Say Goodbye

Click on the book cover to read my review
Blurb

It was a crime that shocked the world.
The CCTV footage shows a young woman pushing through the hospital doors.
She walks into the nursery, picks up a baby and places her carefully in a shopping bag.
She walks out to the car park, towards an old Ford Corolla. For a moment, she holds the child gently against her breast and, with her eyes closed, she smells her.
Then she clips the baby into the car, gets in and drives off. This is where the footage ends.
What happens next will leave a mother devastated, and a little boy adrift in a world he will never understand. Amazon

2014yr

In 2014 I revisited an old favourite, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, sadly no other books stand the test of time quite so well as this one.

Murder on the Orient Express

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train was surprisingly full for the time of the year. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. A passenger lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Goodreads

2015yr

For a change choosing my favourite read of the most recent month has proved simple, without a doubt it has to be The Night Watch by Sarah Waters!

The Night Watch

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Moving back through the 1940s, through air raids, blacked-out streets, illicit partying, and sexual adventure, to end with its beginning in 1941, The Night Watch tells the story of four Londoners—three women and a young man with a past—whose lives, and those of their friends and lovers, connect in tragedy, stunning surprise and exquisite turns, only to change irreversibly in the shadow of a grand historical event. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my June reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here although sadly I didn’t manage to do the list for July and August so it looks like this series may continue into 2016 after all!

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best
June Five of the Best

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (June 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!

2011

My favourite read in June 2011 was a find courtesy of Amazon Vine; The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies which tells the story of Annie Sweet who on moving to a new home feels compelled to delve into the house’s past… what she finds is the story of two baby farmer’s who when entrusted with babies that their mother’s were unable to keep with them, killed them. Well-told and backed up by solid research this book left a lasting impression on me.

The Ghost of Lily Painter

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The first time Annie Sweet sees 43 Stanley Road, the house is so perfect she almost feels as though it has chosen her. She longs to move in, but with her husband seeming more distant, and her daughter wrapped up in her friends and new school, Annie is left alone to mull over the past.
Soon she becomes consumed by the house and everyone who has lived there before her, especially a young chorus girl called Lily Painter, a rising star of the music hall whose sparkling performances were the talk of the town.
As Annie delves further into Lily’s past she begins to unravel a dark episode from Edwardian London, that of two notorious baby farmers, who lured young unmarried mothers with the promise of a better life for their babies. Until Annie solves the mystery at the heart of the scandal, the ghost of Lily Painter will never be able to rest.
Based on a real period from London’s rich history, Caitlin Davies skilfully blends fact and fiction to bring to life part of our sinister past. Spanning an entire century, from the journals of an Edwardian police inspector to a doomed wartime love affair, The Ghost of Lily Painter is an engrossing and poignant novel from a hugely talented writer. Goodreads

2012 yr

My choice for June 2012 is the second from a series that I have continued to enjoy. Written by the writing duo Nicci French. Tuesday’s Gone features the Psychotherapist Freida Klein who is drawn into another collaboration with the police
Tuesday's Gone

Blurb

In Tuesday’s Gone, a London social worker makes a routine home visit only to discover her client serving afternoon tea to a naked, decomposing corpse. With no clues as to the dead man’s identity, Chief Inspector Karlsson again calls upon Frieda for help. She discovers that the body belongs to Robert Poole, con man extraordinaire. But Frieda can’t shake the feeling that the past isn’t done with her yet. Did someone kill Poole to embroil her in the investigation? And if so, is Frieda herself the next victim?
A masterpiece of paranoia, Tuesday’s Gone draws readers inexorably into a fractured and faithless world as it brilliantly confirms Frieda Klein as a quintessential heroine for our times. Goodreads

2013yr

My June 2013 I read The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell, a writer who has moved from the chick-lit arena to one that deals with serious issues without losing the ability to draw her reader into the scenario posed, in this case sperm donors.

The Making of Us

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Lydia, Robyn and Dean don’t know each other – yet.
They live very different lives but each of them, independently, has always felt that something is missing.
What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down.
It is a letter containing a secret – one that will bind them together, and show them what love and familyand friendship really mean… Amazon

2014yr

Last year I was on holiday during June so I have a large selection to choose from, but in the end, the choice was easy Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly is a terrific example of domestic noir. When one mother forgets to notify another that her daughter won’t be able to stay over and then she goes missing, you can imagine who the finger is pointed at.

What Kind of Mother Are You

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Your friend’s child is missing. It’s your fault.
No family is perfect.
A husband, three children and a full-time job, so many plates to keep spinning.
No wonder you forgot you were supposed to be looking after your friend’s daughter.
But no one has seen her since yesterday.
And she’s not the first to go missing from your small town.
So who’s hiding something? Amazon

2015yr

Once again picking my favourite book over the last month is proving difficult but I do have to pick between two excellent but very different reads and have gone for A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah which is due to be published in August. Never before have I got quite so far through a book where I’m enormously enjoying what I’m reading but have no clue what actually is going on… the oddest experience but I’m relieved to say all did become clear in the end.
A Game for all the Family

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

After escaping London and a career that nearly destroyed her, Justine plans to spend her days doing as little as possible in her beautiful home in Devon.
But soon after the move, her daughter Ellen starts to withdraw when her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school. Justine begs the head teacher to reconsider, only to be told that nobody’s been expelled – there is, and was, no George.
Then the anonymous calls start: a stranger, making threats that suggest she and Justine share a traumatic past and a guilty secret – yet Justine doesn’t recognise her voice. When the caller starts to talk about three graves – two big and one small, to fit a child – Justine fears for her family’s safety.
If the police can’t help, she’ll have to eliminate the danger herself, but first she must work out who she’s supposed to be… Amazon

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my June reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (May 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!

2011

My favourite read in May 2011 was the one that first graced my bedside table when I moved into my current home, and what a read it was! This book still sits on my bookshelf and even better, this author’s subsequent books have meant that she is now on the ‘must-read’ list.
The Mistress’s Revenge by Tamar Cohen

The Mistresses Revenge

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

You think you are rid of me.
You think you have drawn a line under the whole affair.
You are so, so wrong.

For five years, Sally and Clive have been lost in a passionate affair. Now he has dumped her, to devote himself to his wife and family, and Sally is left in freefall.
It starts with a casual stroll past his house, and popping into the brasserie where his son works. Then Sally befriends Clive’s wife and daughter on Facebook. But that’s alright isn’t it? I mean they are perfectly normal things to do. Aren’t they?
Not since Fatal Attraction has the fallout from an illicit affair been exposed in such a sharp, darkly funny and disturbing way.. After all, who doesn’t know a normal, perfectly sane woman who has gone a little crazy when her heart was broken? Amazon

2012 yr

Sadly I didn’t award any books the full five stars in May 2012 so my choice goes to the strongest of the four star reads; Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes which is the first in the series featuring Alice Quentin, a psychologist

Crossbones Yard

Blurb

Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London—it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing—until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard.
The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer—and the danger to her and the people she cares about—may already be closer than she ever imagined. Goodreads

2013yr

My May 2013 choice was inspired my daughter’s history dissertation from the previous year which was on the cheery subject of infanticide, Caversham Lock by Michael Stewart Conway features the infamous baby farmer in Victorian England, Amelia Dyer.

Caversham Lock

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

When a parcel containing a dead baby is pulled from the Thames, detectives Furnivall and Stubbs are sent to deal with the matter. They investigate at breakneck speed- it is 1896, after all, and they have all the advantages of the modern world to help them. Using microscopes, the rail network and the telegraph, they identify the culprits- a Mrs Dyer and her daughter, Polly. Even as they close in, Mrs Dyer has been back to Caversham Lock with another victim. By the time the two women are arrested there are seven little bodies in the mortuary at Reading. Each has Mrs Dyer’s trademark white dressmaker’s tape around its neck.
The case doesn’t work out as planned, however, and they’re forced to travel to the west country. Despite being under strict orders to return to Reading, they set an ambush on the Clifton Suspension Bridge. But a storm is rolling in, and there is another man in Bristol – a man from the Home Office sent to clean up his superiors’ mistakes. Goodreads

2014yr

The Ties That Bind
by Erin Kelly is my top choice from May 2014. Erin Kelly is one of my favourite authors and this tale that features a writer attempting to emulate his hero Truman Capote. This book about atonement has far more depth than we are normally treated to.

The Ties That Bind

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Could a soul, once sold, truly be redeemed?
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger. Goodreads

2015yr

Somehow it is always hardest to pick the favourite of the last month’s reading without the benefit of the test of time but this month’s book is an intelligent and insightful read that really ‘spoke’ to me, as well as being a cracking good read…. drum roll please… My choice is Evil Games by Angela Marsons which was only published on Friday.

Evil Games

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.
With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.
Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my May reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (April 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!

2011

Black Flowers by Steve Mosby was one of those books I picked up because it was recommended by Amazon. This is a book within a book and boy what a story it tells! It was far more terrifying than I expected but it is up there in the mental list of books I simply will never forget reading.

Black Flowers

Blurb

This is not a story about a girl who disappears. This is the story of a little girl who comes back. As if from nowhere, she appears one day on a seaside promenade, with a black flower and a horrifying story about where she’s been. But telling that story will start a chain reaction of dangerous lies and deadly illusions that will claim many more victims in the years to come.
Neil Dawson has grown up wanting to be like his father—a writer. When his father commits suicide, he is devastated. But through his grief, Neil knows something isn’t right. Looking through his father’s papers, he finds a copy of an old novel, The Black Flower. Opening it will take Neil into an investigation full of danger, pain and subterfuge. Hannah Price is also mourning her father. She followed his footsteps into the police force, and knows she has a big reputation to live up to. When she gets assigned to Neil’s father’s case, it will lead her on a journey into her own past and to the heart of a shattering secret. Goodreads

2012 yr

In April 2012 I read The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood in one straight sitting as was fascinated of this tale which flips backwards and forwards between the day of murder twenty-five years ago and the present day. With themes of how the media presents a version of the truth and at its heart this was a story about whether there can ever be redemption for those who cause revulsion.

The Wicked Girls

Blurb

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.
Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden? Goodreads

2013yr

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler came to me courtesy of Amazon Vine and I was impressed with the fresh feel that this book bought to the genre with as a prisoner escaping from a nearby jail sparks a series of unforeseen events.

What lies Within

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Living in a remote Devon farmhouse, Anna and her family have always been close to nature, surrounded by the haunting beauty of the moor. But when a convict escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison, their isolation suddenly begins to feel more claustrophobic than free. Fearing for her children’s safety, Anna’s behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. But why is she so distant from her kind husband Robert, and why does she suspect something sinister of her son Paul? All teenagers have their difficult phases… Meanwhile, a young idealistic teacher has just started her first job, determined to ‘make a difference’. But when she is brutally attacked by one of her students, her version of events is doubted by even those closest to her. Struggling to deal with the terrible consequences, she does what she can to move on and start afresh. As the two narratives converge, the tension builds to a devastating denouement, shattering everything you thought you believed about nature, nurture and the true meaning of family. Amazon

2014yr

In April 2014 I read The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, a book I fell in love with from the very first page. A story that painfully but beautifully takes the reader through the aftermath of a doomed affair.The End of the Affair

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession. Amazon

2015yr

April 2015 has been full of great reads but the best of them all is the debut, Disclaimer by Renée Knight which with its unusual premise and brilliant execution has had me recommending this one far and wide since I read it.

Disclaimer

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.
Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my April reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (March 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 and February’s top five, but onto March!

2011

The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock was one of my first reads through the Amazon Vine program, a book that I couldn’t resist as it is set in Guernsey – I do wonder why there are no similar books set in Jersey, it seems unfair that being smaller they get all the good books written about them including a recent favourite The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Schaffer & Annie Burrows

The Book of Lies

Blurb

Life on the tiny island of Guernsey has just become a whole lot harder for fifteen-year-old Cat Rozier. She’s gone from model pupil to murderer, but she swears it’s not her fault. Apparently it’s all the fault of history.
A new arrival at Cat’s high school in 1984, the beautiful and instantly popular Nicolette inexplicably takes Cat under her wing. The two become inseparable–going to parties together, checking out boys, and drinking whatever liquor they can shoplift. But a perceived betrayal sends them spinning apart, and Nic responds with cruel, over-the-top retribution.
Cat’s recently deceased father, Emile, dedicated his adult life to uncovering the truth about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey–from Churchill’s abandonment of the island to the stories of those who resisted–in hopes of repairing the reputation of his older brother, Charlie. Through Emile’s letters and Charlie’s words–recorded on tapes before his own death– a “confession” takes shape, revealing the secrets deeply woven into the fabric of the island . . . and into the Rozier family story. Goodreads

2012 yr

Another Vine offering in March 2012 introduced me to Camilla Läckberg, an author who is now one of my favourites with the sixth in the Patrick Hedstrom and Erika Falck series; The Drowning

The Drowning

Christian Thydell’s dream has come true: his debut novel, The Mermaid, is published to rave reviews. So why is he as distant and unhappy as ever?
When crime writer Erica Falck, who discovered Christian’s talents, learns he has been receiving anonymous threats, she investigates not just the messages but also the author’s mysterious past…
Meanwhile, one of Christian’s closest friends is missing. Erica’s husband, Detective Patrik Hedström, has his worst suspicions confirmed as the mind-games aimed at Christian and those around him become a disturbing reality.
But, with the victims themselves concealing evidence, the investigation is going nowhere. Is their silence driven by fear or guilt? And what is the secret they would rather die to protect than live to see revealed? Amazon

2013yr

In March 2013 I found an another now must-read author, Louise Phillips who wowed me with Red Ribbons

Click on the book cover to read my review
Red Ribbons

Blurb

A SERIAL KILLER
When the body of a missing schoolgirl is found buried in the Dublin Mountains, her hands clasped together in prayer, two red ribbons in her hair, the hunt for her killer reaches epic proportion with the discovery of a second girl’s body 24 hours later.
THE CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGIST
Desperate to find the murderer, police call in criminal psychologist Kate Pearson, to get inside the mind of the serial killer before he strikes again. But the more Kate discovers about the killings, the more it all begins to feel terrifyingly familiar as her own past threatens to cloud her investigations.
AN ACCUSED WOMAN
Ellie Brady has been institutionalised for 15 years, for the killing of her twelve-year-old daughter, Amy. After all this time, does Ellie hold the key to finding the killer of the Dublin schoolgirls?
What would you do if you were accused of killing your own daughter? What if those closest to you turned their back on you? And when everyone stopped listening, what next, when even you believe you’re guilty?
THE BAD MAN IS EVERYWHERE Goodreads

2014yr

March 2014 was a bumper month for 5 star reads but I chose Precious Thing by Colette McBeth for the sheer addictiveness that caused me to try and cook and read which was an epic fail!

Click on the book cover to read my review

Precious Thing
Blurb

Remember the person you sat next to on your first day at school? Still your best friend? Or disappeared from your life for good?
Some friendships fizzle out. Rachel and Clara promised theirs would last for ever.
They met when Rachel was the new girl in class and Clara was the friend everyone wanted. Now in their late twenties Rachel has everything while Clara’s life is spiralling further out of control. Then Clara vanishes.
Imagine discovering something about your oldest friend that forces you to question everything you’ve shared together. The truth is always there. But only if you choose to see it. Goodreads

2015yr

The best book for March this year has to go to a book I’ve been waiting an age for; Humber Boy B by Ruth Dugdall which deals with a difficult subject in an intelligent and sensitive way, definitely a book to make you think!

Click on the book cover to read my review

Humber Boy B
Blurb

A blur in the sky, a brick no, a trainer, red falls to the water… There seems to be a scuffle… a hand grabbing at the dangling child. Then, with the awfulness of inevitability, the hanging child drops, gravity takes him. A child is killed after falling from the Humber Bridge. Despite fleeing the scene, two young brothers are found guilty and sent to prison. Upon their release they are granted one privilege only, their anonymity. Probation officer Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B s reintegration into society. But the general public s anger is steadily growing, and those around her are wondering if the secret of his identity is one he actually deserves to keep. Cate s loyalty is challenged when she begins to discover the truth of the crime. She must ask herself if a child is capable of premeditated murder. Or is there a greater evil at play? Amazon

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!

2011

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

Blurb

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
Blurb

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

2013yr

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

Human Remains

Blurb

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

2014yr
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

2015yr
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

Blurb

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

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (January 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!

2011

This Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler a book which is all about consequences and one that horrified me as I read it on a freezing cold January evening wrapped up in my duvet!

This Perfect World

Blurb

Heddy Partridge was never my friend. I have to start with that. Heddy Partridge was never my friend because I was pretty, popular, clever and blonde and my friends were pretty, popular, clever and generally blonde, too. Heddy Partridge was none of these things.
Laura Hamley is the woman who has everything: a loving and successful husband, two beautiful children, an expensive home and a set of equally fortunate friends. But Laura’s perfect world is suddenly threatened when she receives an unwelcome phone call from Mrs Partridge, mother of Heddy – the girl Laura and her friends bullied mercilessly at school. Heddy has been hospitalized following a mental breakdown, and Mrs Partridge wants Laura’s help to get her released.
As Laura reluctantly gets drawn back into the past, she is forced to face the terrible consequences of her cruelty. But, as her secrets are revealed, so too is another even more devastating truth, and the perfect world Laura has so carefully constructed for herself begins to fall apart. This Perfect World is the debut novel from a brilliant dark new voice. Goodreads

2012 yr

In January 2012 I read The Missing by Jane Casey a standalone read by the author of the fantastic Maeve Kerrigan series.

The Missing

Blurb

Jenny Shepherd is twelve years old and missing…Her teacher, Sarah Finch, knows better than most that the chances of finding her alive are diminishing with every day she is gone. As a little girl her older brother had gone out to play one day and never returned. The strain of never knowing what has happened to Charlie had ripped Sarah’s family apart. Now in her early twenties, she is back living at home, trapped with a mother who drinks too much and keeps her brother’s bedroom as a shrine to his memory. Then, horrifically, it is Sarah who finds Jenny’s body, beaten and abandoned in the woods near her home. As she’s drawn into the police investigation and the heart of a media storm, Sarah’s presence arouses suspicion too. But it not just the police who are watching her.

2013yr

Worthless Men by Andrew Cowan is a mesmerising and thoughtful book about World War I, one that deserved far more prominence than it received in my opinion.

Click on the book cover to read my review

Worthless Men

Blurb

It’s market day in an English city two years into the Great War. The farmers are coming in from the country, the cattle are being driven through the streets and that evening a trainload of wounded soldiers is due to arrive.
At the local mansion, its new hospital tents to the ready, waits Montague Beckwith, himself a psychological casualty of the war. In the town’s poorest quarter, Winnie Barley prays that Walter, her missing son, will be on the train (but that her violent husband is not). In the pharmacy, Gertie Dobson dreams of romance while her father keeps unsuitable men at bay. And everywhere is Walter, a ghostly presence who watches as the girl he loved from a distance is drawn into Montague’s orbit.
Weaving together multiple viewpoints, Andrew Cowan creates a panoramic, extraordinarily vivid portrait of a place as individual as it is archetypal. Here is a community where the war permeates high and low; where the factory now produces barbed wire, the women are doing the men’s jobs, and the young men are no longer so eager to answer the King’s call. And here is the tragic story of a casual betrayal, and a boy who proved that those at the bottom of the heap – the worthless ones – could be the most valiant of them all. Goodreads

2014yr
A psychological mystery about a stalker is 2014’s favourite/most memorable read and my choice has now been endorsed making it a Spring 2015 choice for the Richard and Judy Book Club! The Book of You by Claire Kendal

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Book of You

Blurb

Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.
Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined. Amazon

2015yr

My top read for 2015 is The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins picked for the compulsive reading experience. The story is told from the viewpoints of three women. The main plot unfurls over a gripping month and a half where the reader is treated to a twisty turny read full of suspense.

Click on the book cover to read my review

The Girl On The Train

Blurb

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train. Amazon