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

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Safest Place – Suzanne Bugler

Contemporary Fiction 4*'s
Contemporary Fiction
4*’s

Suzanne Bugler’s books all concentrate on family relationships, her descriptions so good that each time I read one of her books it feels like I am peeking through the windows on someone else’s life.

In the safest Place starts with Jane persuading her husband to live their dream, this couple’s dream is to live in the country. Once Jane decides that she wants to move and once broached she quickly escalates her wishes to a full blown campaign to make the move happen. The couples two children, a quiet son Sam and a younger daughter Ella are promised an idyllic life but the dream soon becomes a little troubled as reality encroaches.

I don’t read Suzanne Bugler’s books for an action packed read, her books are far more about observing people and their relationships, however I was surprised that it took quite so long for the event to happen that is to change everything for all of them. The relationships are well observed, mother to teenage son, the envy Jane hopes to inspire to her London friends to that she feels towards her new friend in the country .the sadness of a marriage under strain and the way Jane feels like a teenage daughter when conversing with her own parents are all perfectly drawn.

Suzanne Bugler is an expert on mothers of all types as illustrated in her previous two books This Perfect World and The Child Inside

The Child InsideThe Child Inside by Suzanne Bugler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another great book from Suzanne Bugler. Unlike Laura in This Perfect World Rachel, the protagonist of The Child Inside, isn’t one of the yummy mummy’s. Rachel has spent her life on the periphery of everyone else’s life wanting to be part of the group but instead had the role of the observer in life.

Giving birth to a still-born daughter ten years previously caused Rachel to draw her husband Andrew and son Jono close to her. Poor Jono has been Rachel and Andrew’s shield against the world and the centre of theirs. Suzanne Bugler’s descriptions of the cloying and suffocating result are so realistic it is almost painful and as a reader we observe Jono struggling with growing up and fighting against his parents. Rachel is then drawn back to the past and the death of a friend of a friend who died aged sixteen, following her mother and trying to involve herself in her life. As Rachel’s interest in the past increases her marriage disintegrates further. Rachel can’t let go of the past but thinks she has found a way to live her life….

As in This Perfect World the author’s words bring the scene’s to life. Her observations on how cruel, selfish and unkind the human race can be are captured perfectly creating dark and compelling stories. I can’t wait for the next one!

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or for Suzanne Bugler’s debut A Perfect World

This Perfect WorldThis Perfect World by Suzanne Bugler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a thought-provoking read!

This book is well written and very engaging.

Despite not liking the protaganist Laura at the start of the book it was a compelling read. The stories of life in the playground were uncomfortably realistic as were those of the “school mums.” I am sure we all know or have known people like these.

The book is really about the consequences of our actions, Laura has to atone for her actions as a child and in the process quesitons her current life.

This is not an easy book to read but I was engrossed and wanted to find out why Laura’s parents were so keen for the girls to be friends.

Looking forward to the next book by Suzanne Bugler

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If you enjoy Suzanne Bugler’s books you may also enjoy books by Heather Gudenkauf