17 Jan 2021

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Book Review / The Secret History by Donna Tartt

 

 Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt's cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement - both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published:     1st July 1993
Publisher:  Penguin Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Owned

 


MY REVIEW

I have certainly heard a lot about this book for a very long time.   This is one of those books that I have always meant to pick up but for some reason or another I never do.  This year, for me, is a year of catching up with readling backlist books and books that I have been meaning to get to for a long time.  There's no better place to start than right here with this book. 

We follow a group of 'eccentric misfits' who are all students of a every exclusive history style class. We mainly follow Richard (or at least the story is told mostly in his view) who starts off as an outsider and slowly, over time, gets pulled more and more into this group of characters.  Unfortunately, something bad happens and we see how each of these characters deal with this.  

I am conflicted with this book.  On the one hand, I really enjoyed this book and I couldn't resist reading large batches of this book at the time, enjoying the slow pace and following each of the characters.  On the other hand, this book seemed to be like a very padded version of an everyday thriller that I have read so many of in recent days.  There was no surprises for me in this story and I really wished there would be.

I would still recommend this book as despite the fact that there were no surprises, the story was really good and I really enjoyed the writing.  I will certainly be picking up The Goldfinch at some point in the future. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / The Secret History by Donna Tartt

16 Jan 2021

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Book Review / 11 22 63 by Stephen King

Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.

Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.

 

 

 

Published:    5th July 2012
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone (but does have references to characters and places from IT)
Source:  Owned

 



MY REVIEW

 

Despite the fact that I live in the UK, I have always been fascinated by the assassination of John F Kennedy.  What happened before, what happened after and who really shot him.  There are so many stories and so many conspiracy theories it is sometimes hard to have a feel as to what really happened.  When I heard that Stephen King had written a novel with this as the main plot, I knew I had to pick it up.  Yes, I bought this book when it first came out back in 2012 and no I haven't read it until now and the only reason for that is that this book is so big.  The copy that I have is around 740 pages and the text inside is closely spaced and not large. 

We follow Jake as he is introduced to this portal that takes him back to the 1950s and is given a mission.  To prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy.  Now, this is not all what this story is about and at 740 plus pages I would expect more than just that in this story.  The main story, for me, is following Jake as he discovers life in the 1950s/1960s, where he makes friends and works to have money to live, where he fits in locating and watching Lee Harvey Oswald to get more of a feel as to what he should do and what Lee Harvey Oswald is doing at the time.  Jake needs to be sure that he is getting the right person.  Jake even falls in love and we follow that relationship also.  

I enjoyed every moment of this story.  It is very slow paced and for a very long book I would normallly get frustrated by going slower in a book that is going to take longer to read but there's just something about this author's writing that does make me slow down, sit back and kind of relax (as much as you can reading a Stephen King novel!).  

I would certainly not classify this as a horror.  More like science fiction with a touch of romance and a thriller all mixed in together.  I wouldn't pick this up if you are are wanting a classic horror.  This is not that story. 

Right after IT, this is my second favourite novel I have ready so far from Stephen King.  I can't wait to delve into more.  Certainly, there are loads to choose from!

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / 11 22 63 by Stephen King

9 Jan 2021

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Book Review / One by One by Ruth Ware

 

 The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain.

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?

 

 

 

Published:     12th November 2020
Publisher:  Harvill Secker
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


BOOK REVIEW

 

I can't tell you how excited I was for this book to be released.  I have read each and every book by this author and although not all of them have been my favourite I do enjoy her writing and the suspense that she builds in her stories.

We follow quite a lot of characters in this story and usually that can be hard to follow but the way this story is written I honestly didn't forget a single character.  This story was very suspenseful especially when you have a bunch of people stuck in a cabin - some of them know each other and some of them don't.  

What I loved the most was the journey the story took me on from when the different characters meet up at the cabin, to discovering each and every character and seeing what makes them tick and then following them as they try and both figure out a way to get out of their situation and who is after them.   

The ending, for me, was predictable.  In an ideal world, I would have loved to have been surprised but honestly speaking knowing what was going to happen didn't ruin my enjoyment of the story as a whole.  

I would highly recommend this story.  If you do decide to pick this up, do go into it thinking that it is a mystery story rather than a thriller, so it does have a slower pace.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / One by One by Ruth Ware

3 Jan 2021

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Book Review / The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

 

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Small Great Things and A Spark of Light comes a riveting novel about the choices that change the course of our lives.

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She's on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways--the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn's two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she's never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices...or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn't turned out to be the person you are right now?

Published:    22nd September 2020
Publisher:  Ballantine
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


 

MY REVIEW

What a beautiful story.   I have been reading Jodi Picoult's novels for a long time now and, for me, they just keep getting better and better.  In this story, we follow the main character Dawn.  At the beginning she is in a plane crash which she miraculously survives from.  Before the plane crash she was a wife and a mother living a 'normal live'.  Before her normal live existed, she was a egyptologist.  The two lives could not have been more different.  The plane crash gives Dawn a moment of reflection and plants the seed of wonder in her mind as to what would have been if she had stayed in Egypt.  We follow Dawn.

This was a slow read for me, but that's not a bad thing.  I loved it.  The pace of story made me slow down and really enjoy the atmosphere and follow Dawn as she rediscovers what she left behind.  I have always been interested in Egypt and Egyptology and have not come across many books based on that, so that was a particular aspect of this that I enjoyed a lot. 

It is a very interesting question to follow in this story.  Where would I be now if I had made a different choice?  Here Dawn is actually attempting to find out what would have happened.   Sometimes the path less travelled was less travelled for a reason but maybe it is worth it.

I would highly recommend this story, particularly if you do have an interest in Egypt and Egyptology as that is a large part of this novel. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

1 Jan 2021

End of Year Wrap Up 2020 / The Best Books of The Year for Me

Well, it certainly has been an interesting year for all of us.  I hope you are all keeping safe and well and hopefully we can now see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel...

With all the extra time I have had on my hands this year with not being able to see family and friends, the one thing that I am grateful that I have a hobby that I can sit and enjoy in times like these.  I have read so many really great books (and some not so great, which are all listed on my Goodreads profile), so I thought I would list below the books that I truly loved this year.  All 5 star reads and all were stories that blew me away and I would not hesitate reading again.  There are links below to my reviews if you want to know more about my thoughts on each book but I would highly recommend each and every one of these.

So, here's to 2021 and all that it has offers, which will include a lot more reading!

Best,

Debs :-)





The darker the lie, the deeper the secret . . .

In this house there are many secrets…

It is 1965 and young Alexandra Crewe obediently marries the man her father has selected for her. But very soon both she and her husband Laurence realize that their marriage is a disaster. When real love finds Alexandra, plucking her out of her unhappy existence, she is powerless to resist. Her home becomes Fort Stirling, a beautiful Dorset castle, but Alexandra fears that there will be a price to pay for this wonderful new life. When tragedy strikes, it seems that her punishment has come, and there is only one way she can atone for her sins . . .

In the present day, Delilah Young is the second wife of John Stirling and the new chatelaine of Fort Stirling. The house seems to be a sad one and Delilah hopes to fill it with life and happiness. But when she attempts to heal the heartbreak in John’s life, it seems that the forces of the past might be too strong for her. Why does John have such a hatred for the old folly on the hill, and what happened to his mother when she vanished from his life? As Delilah searches for the truth, she realizes that perhaps some secrets are better left buried . . .


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 




A forbidden passion. A lifetime of consequences.


Cressida Felbridge is living the high life as a debutante in 1960s London society when she is courted by a friend of her brother's and set to marry. Wishing only the best for his daughter, her father decrees that she must have her portrait painted to mark the occasion. But as soon as she meets the painter Ralph Few, Cressie knows her life will never be the same again. Soon, she is deeply in love with Ralph, but there is one problem: Ralph is still married to Catherine. As Cressie is drawn into a strange, triangular relationship, Catherine's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and Ralph and Cressie escape to Cressie's family home in Cumbria. But Catherine will not give up Ralph that easily . . .

In the present day, Emily Conway has everything she could wish for: a huge house in West London, two beautiful children and a successful husband, Will. But as Emily and Will drive to a party, Will reveals that he has been betrayed by his business partner. Steering the car off the road at high speed, their perfect life is abruptly ended. When she wakes from her injuries, Emily is told of a mysterious legacy: a house in Cumbria on the edge of an estate, left to her by a woman she has never met. Could this house provide the chance to start anew, or does it hold secrets that she must uncover before it can be at peace?

The Snow Angel is a deliciously dark family saga from Lulu Taylor, the bestselling author of The Winter Folly.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 



Behind a selfless act of kindness lies dark intentions . . . 
 
Olivia and Dan Felbeck are blissfully happy when their longed-for twins arrive after years of IVF. At the same time, they make the move to Renniston Hall, a huge, Elizabethan house that belongs to absent friends. Living rent-free in a small part of the unmodernised house, once a boarding school, they can begin to enjoy the family life they've always wanted. But there is a secret at the heart of their family, one that Olivia does not yet know. And the house, too, holds its darkness deep within it . . .


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Caitlyn, there’s something I have to tell you. About Sara.
 
Caitlyn thinks her marriage to Patrick is a success. For one thing, he is one of the few people not to fall head over heels for her beautiful friend, Sara. Life is lived on his terms, but they are happy.
Aren’t they?

When a devastating accident turns her existence upside down, Caitlyn is forced to reassess everything she thought about her marriage, what she truly knows about Patrick, and his real feelings for her best friend. In the refuge of an old manor house, she begins to discover the truth.

In 1947, the worst winter in decades hits England, cutting off entirely the inhabitants of Kings Harcourt Manor. For Tommy Carter, widowed at the start of war, it is particularly hard: the burden of the family falls on her. She has the solace of her children, and the interesting presence of her brother’s friend, Fred. But there is also Barbara, a mysterious figure from her past who appears to want a piece of Tommy’s future as well.

Her Frozen Heart is a thrilling mystery from Lulu Taylor, top ten bestselling author of The Snow Rose.



CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 



Charlie Bloom never wanted to be 'with the band'. She's happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she's asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can't pass up the chance.

Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys' rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs...



CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 




When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.


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Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him...


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 



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Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings—massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it's immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.




CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.




CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 


From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice…

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady… or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters.

In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.





CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 


Ray Atlee is a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He's forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family's black sheep.

And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.
With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate. It is typed by the Judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study.


Ray reluctantly heads south, to his hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray.




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"The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a "good crop."

Thus begins the new novel from John Grisham, a story inspired by his own childhood in rural Arkansas. The narrator is a farm boy named Luke Chandler, age seven, who lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. The Chandlers farm eighty acres that they rent, not own, and when the cotton is ready they hire a truckload of Mexicans and a family from the Ozarks to help harvest it.

For six weeks they pick cotton, battling the heat, the rain, the fatigue, and sometimes each other. As the weeks pass Luke sees and hears things no seven-year-old could possibly be prepared for, and he finds himself keeping secrets that not only threaten the crop but will change the lives of the Chandlers forever.




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The office of the public defender is not known as a training ground for bright young litigators. Clay Carter has been there too long and, like most of his colleagues, dreams of a better job in a real firm. When he reluctantly takes the case of a young man charged with a random street killing, he assumes it is just another of the many senseless murders that hit D.C. every week.

As he digs into the background of his client, Clay stumbles on a conspiracy too horrible to believe. He suddenly finds himself in the middle of a complex case against one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, looking at the kind of enormous settlement that would totally change his life--that would make him, almost overnight, the legal profession's newest king of torts...





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The Snow Rose is the gripping story of a woman on the run from her past by Lulu Taylor, author of The Winter Folly.

I suppose Rory and I will divorce at some point, when I've got the time to think about it and the strength to tackle the dreary admin it will involve. The house. The division of money and belongings. What will happen to Heather.

He's not taking her away from me. It's what he wants. It's what they all want.

I know they think I'm not fit to look after her. My mother thinks it. That's why I won't see her either, or my sister. They're in cahoots with Rory, all of them scheming how to get her away from me. That's why I have to escape them while I can, while I still have the opportunity . . .


Kate is on the run with her daughter, her identity hidden and her destination unknown to her husband and family. She's found a place where she and Heather can be alone and safe, a huge old house full of empty rooms. But it turns out she's not alone. There are the strange old ladies in the cottage next door, Matty and her blind sister Sissy. How long can Kate hide Heather's presence from them? And then the newcomers arrive, the band of eccentrics led by the charming and charismatic Archer. Kate begins to realize that she is involved in something strange and dangerous, and the past she's so desperate to escape is about to find her . . .




CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 


The Winter Secret is a thrilling mystery from Lulu Taylor, top ten bestselling author of The Snow Rose.

‘My dear boy, the place is cursed. It always has been and it always will be . . .’
 
Buttercup Redmain has a life of pampered luxury, living in beautiful Charcombe Park. Her older husband, Charles Redmain, is wealthy and successful, and proud of the house he has painstakingly restored, once owned by a famous ancestor. Buttercup is surrounded by people who make her life delightfully easy. But the one thing she really wants seems impossible.

There are other discomforting realities: her husband’s ex-wife Ingrid still lives nearby although Buttercup has never met her. And it soon becomes clear that all the people who make Buttercup’s life so carefree are also watching her every move. Does she actually live in a comfortable but inescapable cage? And what is the real story of her husband’s previous marriage?

In the late 1940s, Xenia Arkadyoff lived in Charcombe Park with her father, a Russian prince, and her mother, a famous film star. Life seemed charmed, full of glamour and beauty. But behind the glittering facade lay pain, betrayal, and the truth about the woman Xenia spent her life protecting.
Now Charcombe Park is calling back people who were once part of its story, and the secrets that have stayed long hidden are bubbling inexorably to the surface . . .




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A chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookshop in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects—and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape



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Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either...



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From the acclaimed author of Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing comes a diabolically clever tale of obsession, revenge, and cold-blooded murder—a sly and brilliant guessing game of a novel in the vein of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Patricia Highsmith.

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an "otherworldly" way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

 

 
 
CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE
Debs' Review of The Binding
 
Books are dangerous things in Collins's alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It's a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them. After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything. 
 
 


 
CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE
 
 Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
 
 

CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE
 
 
 

The stakes in the novel's plot are high: corporate crime on the largest scale. The duo of lawyers at the centre of the narrative are Mary and Wes Grace, who succeed in a multimillion dollar case against a chemical company, who have polluted a town with dumped toxic waste. A slew of agonising deaths have followed this, but lawyers for the chemical company appeal, and a variety of legal shenanigans are employed -- and it is certainly not clear which way the scales of justice will be finally balanced.

As ever with Grisham, the mechanics of plotting are key, and the characterisation is functional rather than detailed. But it is (as always) more than capable of keeping the reader totally engaged. Given John Grisham's much-publicised conversion to born-again Christianity, it's intriguing to note here the implicit criticism of the moral majority's religious values, but that is hardly central to the enterprise. What counts is the storytelling, and while the writing is as straightforward and uncomplicated as ever, few readers will put down The Appeal once they have allowed it to exert its grip on upon them. --Barry Forshaw


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continue reading End of Year Wrap Up 2020 / The Best Books of The Year for Me

19 Dec 2020

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Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie) by Cecelia Ahern

 From naughty children to rebellious teenagers, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But just as as they're discovering the joys of teenage nights on the town and dating disasters, they're separated. Alex's family move from Dublin to America - and Alex goes with them. For good.

Rosie's lost without him. But on the eve of her departure to join Alex in Boston, Rosie gets news that will change her life forever - and keep her at home in Ireland.

Their magical connection sees them through the ups and downs of each others lives, but neither of them knows whether their friendship can survive the years and miles - or new relationships. And at the back of Rosie's mind is whether they were meant to be more than just good friends all along. Misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck have kept them apart, but when presented with the ultimate opportunity, will they gamble everything for true love?

 

 

 

Published:     8th November 2004
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source: Owned

 


MY REVIEW


On a whim, I decided to start reading and re-reading Cecelia Ahern's novels.  I have read some a very long time ago but there are some that I can't remember whether I have read or not and what better way to solve that than to work through all her novels starting from the earliest to the latest.  Now, I know this is not the first novel by this author (the first being PS I Love You) but I have deliberately not picked up that one first as I want to read that just before I read Postscript later on.  I had come to realise that I had definitely not read this one!

In this story, we mainly follow Rosie with Alex as a 'nearly' main character.  They are best friends at school, grow up and lead very separate lives which could have been very different if they had just chosen to be together rather than live their lives in separate directions.  

I loved this story.  Not only was the story addicting but the format of this novel was interesting to follow.  It is not set out as a straight forward novel but set out in a series of emails, notes and instant messaging.  Its been a long while since I had read a novel in this format and I loved it.  

For me, the relationship between Rosie and Alex was very real, rather than an exaggerated and unrealistic one that is sometimes found in novels like this one.  Not everything always goes according to plan and sometimes a character will make the wrong decision and have to deal with the circumstances of that, which also means upsetting the other friend.  No, I didn't always like Rosie because some of the decisions she made were just frustrating but then again me, as a reader, could see the whole picture but maybe she couldn't and made the best choice she could with what she knew at the time.  

I am so glad that I started with this one.  A truly beautiful realistic story.


 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Where Rainbows End (Love, Rosie) by Cecelia Ahern

13 Dec 2020

Book Review / First Date by Sue Watson

She’s been waiting her whole life to meet a man like Alex. But he’s been waiting too. And once he has her, he’ll never let her go…

Hannah has done everything to make sure her life is safe and secure. A long way from her unstable childhood growing up in foster care, she’s content with her sweet, little, messy apartment and her satisfying job as a social worker. She quietly worries that, aged 36, she might never fall in love. But otherwise her life is where she wants it to be.

Until, encouraged by her best friend to join a dating app, she meets Alex. He’s irresistibly handsome. He loves the same music as her. The same food as well. They both dream of travelling the world but agree they’d be equally happy escaping to a cottage by the beach in Devon. Both of them would love to own a Labrador one day. It’s like he’s made for her. It’s like he’s too good to be true.

Hannah’s friends aren’t so sure about him. But Hannah thinks he’s perfect.

Which is good. Because Alex knows she’s perfect for him too. In fact, she’s exactly the girl he’s been looking for…

And nothing Hannah’s done to make her life safe will ever be enough.

 

Published:    16th October 2020
Publisher:  Bookouture
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


MY REVIEW 

 

So, I was in the mood to read a thriller and decided to pick up a random one that I hadn't heard before that had just come out this year.  Maybe I might have found a new favourite author or a new book that I enjoy.  I have to be honest and say that it was completely the cover that drew me in.  I never even read the blurb, leaving the story to be a surprise.  

We follow Hannah in this story who joins a dating app and meets Alex.  All seems to be going well  but maybe he is could be too good to be true.  Also, it appears that Hannah is being stalked and things may be turning scary very quickly. 

This was such a fun read and although the plot was very predictable and I guessed pretty much the whole story from near the beginning, that didn't stop me enjoying going along for the ride.  I really enjoyed this author's writing and will certainly pick up more from this author. 



 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / First Date by Sue Watson

12 Dec 2020

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Book Review / Ford County Stories by John Grisham


 In his first collection of short stories John Grisham takes us back to Ford County, Mississippi, the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill.

Wheelchair-bound Inez Graney and her two older sons, Leon and Butch, take a bizarre road trip through the Mississippi Delta to visit the youngest Graney brother, Raymond, who's been locked away on death row for eleven years. It could well be their last visit.

Mack Stafford, a hard-drinking and low-grossing run-of-the-mill divorce lawyer, gets a miracle phone call with a completely unexpected offer to settle some old, forgotten cases for more money than he has ever seen. Mack is suddenly bored with the law, fed up with his wife and his life, and makes drastic plans to finally escape.

Quiet, dull Sidney, a data collector for an insurance company, perfects his blackjack skills in hopes of bringing down the casino empire of Clanton's most ambitious hustler, Bobby Carl Leach, who, among other crimes, has stolen Sidney's wife.

Three good ol' boys from rural Ford County begin a journey to the big city of Memphis to give blood to a grievously injured friend. However, they are unable to drive past a beer store as the trip takes longer and longer. The journey comes to an abrupt end when they make a fateful stop at a Memphis strip club.

The Quiet Haven Retirement Home is the final stop for the elderly of Clanton. It's a sad, languid place with little controversy, until Gilbert arrives. Posing as a low-paid bedpan boy, he is in reality a brilliant stalker with an uncanny ability to sniff out the assets of those "seniors" he professes to love.

One of the hazards of litigating against people in a small town is that one day, long after the trial, you will probably come face-to-face with someone you've beaten in a lawsuit. Lawyer Stanley Wade bumps into an old adversary, a man with a long memory, and the encounter becomes a violent ordeal.

Clanton is rocked with the rumor that the gay son of a prominent family has finally come home, to die. Of AIDS. Fear permeates the town as gossip runs unabated. But in Lowtown, the colored section of Clanton, the young man finds a soul mate in his final days.

Featuring a cast of characters you'll never forget, these stories bring Ford County to vivid and colorful life. Often hilarious, frequently moving, and always entertaining, this collection makes it abundantly clear why John Grisham is our most popular storyteller.

Published:     3rd November 2008
Publisher:  Bantam
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source: Owned




MY REVIEW

I was very intrigued to read this book, as it was the first set of short stories that I had come across from John Grisham (I am not sure if he has done any more).  I do have to admit that I don't usually pick up short stories as they are not normal a format that I get stuck into or have had any luck enjoying but I did with this one.  

If I had to pick a favourite, I would have to say that would have to be the story of Clanton who is the gay son of a prominent family in town.  He has come home as he has contracted AIDs and as it seems this story is based earlier than the modern medicine that we know today there is nothing else that can be done for him to help him get better.  Most of the town are scared of him and stay away including his family, but Clanton stays with a lady who takes him in and looks after him until the very end.   This story was just heartbreaking.  





 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Ford County Stories by John Grisham

6 Dec 2020

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Book Review / A Funny Thing... by Michael J Fox

Michael J. Fox abandoned high school to pursue an acting career, but went on to receive honorary degrees from several universities and garner the highest accolades for his acting, as well as for his writing. In his new book, he inspires and motivates graduates to recognize opportunities, maximize their abilities, and roll with the punches--all with his trademark optimism, warmth, and humor. In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, Michael draws on his own life experiences to make a case that real learning happens when "life goes skidding sideways." He writes of coming to Los Angeles from Canada at age eighteen and attempting to make his way as an actor. Fox offers up a comically skewed take on how, in his own way, he fulfilled the requirements of a college syllabus. He learned Economics as a starving artist; an unexpected turn as a neophyte activist schooled him in Political Science; and his approach to Comparative Literature involved stacking books up against their movie versions. Replete with personal stories and hilarious anecdotes, Michael J. Fox's new book is the perfect gift for graduates.
 

 

Published:     13th April 2010
Publisher:  Hatchette Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone Non-Fiction
Source: Owned

 


MY REVIEW

 

Honestly, I don't normally pick up non-fiction books.  Not that I dislike them in anyway but I often find that I just can't get into them as much as I would if it was a novel.  However, I make the exception when there is an autobiography about someone that I like or admire.  Although this book came out back in 2010, I hadn't realised it had and it was only when I was browsing books online that it came up.  

In this biography, Michael J Fox talks about his life and his career as an actor.  It also mentions his health issue as well.  I always find it fascinating to find out more about his someone became who they are today, especially if he is an actor like Michael J Fox who I have followed in movies for so long now.  

This book read more like a short story / speech given by Michael J Fox rather than a full blown biography, which I was hoping for, but nonetheless it was very fun to read. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / A Funny Thing... by Michael J Fox

2 Dec 2020

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Book Review / Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks

Shimmering with suspense and emotional intensity - takes readers on a hunt for the truth about a man and his memories, and about both the heartbreaking fragility and enormous strength of love.

Nicholas Sparks is our very best chronicler of the human heart. His stunning first novel, The Notebook, has been given by friend to friend and lover to lover all over the world as a testament to the timeless power of love. But if we thought he could never again move us so deeply, he now shows us he can-in a story that renews our faith in destiny...in the ability of true lovers to find each other no matter where, no matter when... Message In A Bottle

Thrown to the waves, and to fate, the bottle could have ended up anywhere. Instead, it is found just three weeks after it begins its journey. Theresa Osborne, divorced and the mother of a twelve-year-old son, picks it up during a seaside vacation from her job as a Boston newspaper columnist. Inside is a letter that opens with:

My Dearest Catherine, I miss you my darling, as I always do, but today is particularly hard because the ocean has been singing to me, and the song is that of our life together...

For "Garrett," the man who signs the letter, the message is the only way he knows to express his undying love for a woman he has lost. For Theresa, wary of romance since her husband shattered her trust, the message raises questions that intrigue her. Who are Garrett and Catherine? Where is he now? What is his story? 

Challenged by the mystery, and pulled to find Garrett by emotions she does not fully understand, Theresa begins a search that takes her to a sunlit coastal town and an unexpected confrontation. Brought together by chance-or something more powerful-Theresa and Garrett are people whose lives are about to touch for a purpose, in a tale that resonates with our deepest hopes for finding that special someone and everlasting love. 
 

Published:     1st April 1988
Publisher:  Warner Books
Goodreads :  Click Here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


MY REVIEW

I can't tell you the number of times I have read this book over the years, but if you were counting fingers you would run out of them!  Message in a Bottle is one of those books that I just keep coming back to time and time again.  There's just something bittersweet about it but also romantic.  Romantic fiction, more particularly of the dramatic kind, was my first book genre love and they say you never forget your first book love!  

What I love the most in this story is the story of Garrett.  He has loved and lost in the most tragic of ways and we now see him meeting Theresa and it just might be possible that he could find love again - twice in a lifetime.  Beautiful story. 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks

30 Nov 2020

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Book Review / Washington Black by Esi Edugyan


 

Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born.

When his master's eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or "Titch," is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist.

He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash's head, Titch abandons everything to save him.

What follows is their flight along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic, where Wash, left on his own, must invent another new life, one which will propel him further across the globe.

From the sultry cane fields of the Caribbean to the frozen Far North, Washington Black tells a story of friendship and betrayal, love and redemption, of a world destroyed and made whole again--and asks the question, what is true freedom?

 

Published:     5th September 2017
Publisher:  Piatkus Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 45, In Death
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher 




MY REVIEW


I have seen this book around everywhere and whilst I don't usually tend to pick up hyped books that often, I just had to pick up this one for two reasons - the story sounded intriguing and the cover was beautiful!

This story is split into parts.  In the first part we see Washington Black who works as a field slave for a plantation in Barbados.  The 'owner' dies and two brothers are brought in to run it.  One of the brothers runs the plantation is evil and the other brother, Titch, takes a shine to Washington and asks him to be his apprentice.  In the second part, we follow Washington Black and Titchset off in Christopher's new invention, for pastures new.  After that we follow, Washington as he makes his way out in this new world to him.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this story from start to finish and despite the fact that the character of Washington is portrayed in the story to be a lot older than what he is said to be (11 years old), he was my favourite character.   I liked how we see him escape from a future that really wasn't very bright.  What I did find surprising, and I may have missed something here as the story did drag on in places, was how does a 11 year old former slave from a planation in Barbados, have such a large knowledge as if he had years more experience then what you would expect?  

Despite the fact that this story did drag on in places and was very predictable, it was enjoyable and I would recommend it but don't expect any surprises or twists in the story. 



 

 


Continue reading Book Review / Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

29 Nov 2020

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Book Review / The Associate by John Grisham

 


If you thought Mitch McDeere was in trouble in The Firm, wait
until you meet Kyle McAvoy, The Associate


Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father's small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal, and his future has limitless potential.

But Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget. The secret, though, falls into the hands of the wrong people, and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn't want--even though it's a job most law students can only dream about.

Three months after leaving Yale, Kyle becomes an associate at the largest law firm in the world, where, in addition to practicing law, he is expected to lie, steal, and take part in a scheme that could send him to prison, if not get him killed.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and villains--from Baxter Tate, a drug-addled trust fund kid and possible rapist, to Dale, a pretty but seemingly quiet former math teacher who shares Kyle's "cubicle" at the law firm, to two of the most powerful and fiercely competitive defense contractors in the country--and featuring all the twists and turns that have made John Grisham the most popular storyteller in the world, The Associate is vintage Grisham.

Published:     27th January 2009
Publisher:  Century
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source: Owned

 


MY REVIEW

 

Despite this being a thriller, this was such a fun story to read.  You have Kyle who is a budding legal student ready to get out in the world and has had several offers from several different law firms.  However, he starts to get what looks to be blackmailed into making a decision over which law firm he should sign up to because of something that may have happened in his younger years that would certainly ruin his career before it even started.  It appears that he has no choice but to go along with the blackmail and follow the path they want him to go on.

This was certainly a rollercoaster ride and had me hooked from the beginning.  On the one side you have the people who are trying to blackmail Kyle and on the other hand you have Kyle who despite apparently being backed into a corner but maybe he has a plan that no one is expecting.  With the fast paced plot, I just couldn't put this down!





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / The Associate by John Grisham