Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (December 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 choice for 2011 was a book that when I initially reviewed it, I wasn’t overly sure how to interpret the narrative of this very dark book which centres on the obsession one (female) teacher has for one of her pupils – not as good as Notes on a Scandal , but The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman has more to offer than is immediately apparent.

The Kingdom of Childhood

Blurb

The Kingdom of Childhood is the story of a boy and a woman: sixteen-year-old Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother’s extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes. Thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school and bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts each of them. Judy sees in Zach the elements of a young man she loved as a child, but what Zach does not realize is that their relationship is—for Judy—only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets.
Rebecca Coleman’s manuscript for The Kingdom of Childhood was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. An emotionally tense, increasingly chilling work of fiction set in the controversial Waldorf school community, it is equal parts enchanting and unsettling and is sure to be a much-discussed and much-debated novel. Goodreads

2012 yr

In December 2012 it was a historical murder that kept me entertained. Ruth Dugdall who is more known for written a crime series featuring Cate Austin, explores The Story in the Red Barn, a true crime from nineteenth century Britain in The James Version.

The James Version

Blurb

A fictionalised account of true events which shocked nineteenth century Britain. The story of ‘The Murder in the Red Barn’, this book describes the events through the eyes of Ann Marten, a woman suffering guilt and despair following the terrible history of her family, as she tells her tale to a reluctant young rector. James Coyte has taken up his called in Suffolk, but sinks into his own despair as Ann’s story unfolds. Goodreads

2013yr

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a must-read (or now watch) for all lovers of psychological thrillers and I picked this one up in December 2013 and joined the legions of fans who loved this dark tale… ok it may be a tad unrealistic in parts and have a cast of wholly despicable characters but it certainly had me turning the pages at a rate of knots.

Gone Girl

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? Goodreads

2014yr

There is no contest at all for my favourite read of December 2014 which was without a doubt The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, this sumptuous story follows what happens when Mrs Wray and her daughter Florence accept that their straightened circumsatances mean that they have to rent out some rooms to lodgers. Set in 1920s London, this book is one of the best examples of historical and mystery fiction.

The Paying Guests

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. Goodreads

2015yr

I have just finished my favourite read of the whole of December 2015, The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood a superb psychological thriller for those readers who love wry humour and a whole bucketful of secrets.

The Darkest Secret

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed… Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my December 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.

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
September Five of the Best
October Five of the Best
November Five of the Best

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Psychological Thriller  5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

The first thing to say about this book is it didn’t deserve to be endlessly moved down the TBR pile and for once I concede that the hype was well-deserved.

Told in the first part by Nick in the aftermath of his wife Amy’s disappearance on their fifth wedding anniversary and excerpts from her diary kept throughout the entire time of their relationship. I love novels narrated in this way and Gillian Flynn handles the device with extra special depth; if you are anything like me your heart will drop as revelations are made. As the reader I found myself constantly revising what I’d believed from earlier sections in the book as the layers of truth were expertly peeled away, no single bomb-shell for this book rather a series of explosions.

The second part tells a totally different story, again in two parts which speeds up the pace whilst moving the story to a whole new level and a faster pace… But unfortunately I can’t say anymore without ruining this book for anyone who hasn’t read this yet.

I love a book with twists and turns but I think it is Gillian Flynn’s ability to absolutely capture the truth about the way men and women see relationships when Amy lays on her yearly treasure hunt for his anniversary present Nick just knows that he isn’t going to have remembered the key moments which meant so much to her let alone unravel her cryptic clues; after all Nick thought he had married a cool girl, one who likes all the same thing as men and is great in bed too!

For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men — friends, coworkers, strangers — giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them.”

Amy describes what she calls the dancing monkeys who dance to the wife and girlfriends every whim

“Wear this, don’t wear that. Do this chore now and do this chore when you get a chance and by that I mean now. And definitely, definitely give up the things you love for me, so I will have proof that you love me best. It’s the female pissing contest — as we swan around our book clubs and our cocktail hours, there are few things women love more than being able to detail the sacrifices our men make for us.

A call-and-response, the response being: “Ohh, that’s so sweet.”

Whilst Nick forced to reflect on what their relationship really meant concluded

“Worse, I convinced myself our tragedy was entirely her making. I spent years working myself into the very thing I swore she was: a righteous ball of hate.”

I still haven’t made up my mind what I feel about how this book finishes, the end crept up and surprised me which I always find disconcerting. On reflection I think the ending was fitting even though it didn’t end the way I prefer.

So I recommend this book that is not only a great read but one that can make you reflect on the nature of relationships both familial and romantic whilst trying to figure out who did what to whom and what it would like to be face to face with a sociopath!

I didn’t start reading this book at the right time, it didn’t deserve short reads, sandwiched between work, parties and Christmas shopping. As the book progressed I became resentful of all the sociable activities and went to sleep at nights longing to know what was going to happen next while reflecting on the few pages I’d managed to squeeze into a busy day but I managed to steal enough time (when everyone was sleeping) to finish the book off. This to me is a measure of a brilliant book, yes I love reading but I can usually put a book to one side for ‘real’ activities…… and even better this book is currently only 99p which is an absolute bargain.

Gone Girl – Amazon UK

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (December 18)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl
Blurb

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favours with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behaviour. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? Goodreads

I have just finished the enjoyable novel by Lisa Jewell, The Truth About Melody Browne

Click on the book cover to read my review
The Truth About Melody Browne

Next I am going to read something totally different Martyr by Rory Clements

Martyr

Blurb

England is close to war. Within days the axe could fall on the neck of Mary Queen of Scots, and Spain is already gathering a battle fleet to avenge her.
Tensions in Elizabeth I’s government are at breaking point. At the eye of the storm is John Shakespeare, chief intelligencer in the secret service of Sir Francis Walsingham. When an intercept reveals a plot to assassinate England’s ‘sea dragon’, Francis Drake, Shakespeare is ordered to protect him. With Drake on land fitting out his ships, he is frighteningly vulnerable. If he dies, England will be open to invasion.
In a London rife with rumour, Shakespeare must decide which leads to follow, which to ignore. When a high-born young woman is found mutilated and murdered at an illicit printing house, it is political gunpowder – and he has no option but to investigate.
But why is Shakespeare shadowed at every turn by the brutal Richard Topcliffe, the blood-drenched priest-hunter who claims intimacy with Queen Elizabeth herself? What is Topcliffe’s interest in a housemaid, whose baby has been stolen? And where do two fugitive Jesuit priests fit into the puzzle, one happy to die for God, the other to kill for Him?
From the splendour and intrigue of the royal court, to the sleek warships of Her Majesty’s Navy and the teeming brothels of Southwark, Shakespeare soon learns that nothing is as it seems . . .Goodreads

Posted in Weekly Posts

Tuesday Teaser (December 17)

Teasing Tuesday CB

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week is from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which has finally made it to the top of the TBR!

Gone Girl

She was not the thing she became, the thing I feared most: an angry woman. I was not good with angry women. They bought something out in me that was unsavoury.

Blurb

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favours with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behaviour. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? Goodreads