18 Apr 2021

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Book Review / The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
 

 

Published:     24th January 2019
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 

 


MY REVIEW

I am always cautious when I read comments that say something like For Fans of .....  you'll like this one as most of the time they are just not the same, but I have to admit that this one was kind of true.  This one was marketed for fans of Ruth Ware.  I am certainly a fan of Ruth Ware, so I thought I would give this a go and I loved it. 

This book kept me at the edge of my seat and not wanting to put it down.  There are a lot of characters to remember in this book but, for me, they were all introduced very well so I didn't really struggle with remembering who was who.  The only problem I had was trying to figure out who had died (as you are not told this at the beginning) and who was the murderer.  I honestly didn't guess either of these until the very end because the possibilities for mostly all the characters was too great!

 Loved this book and can't wait to read more from this author!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

15 Apr 2021

Book Review / Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A darkly comic short story of class divide, the lives we invent, and the very real risks of preserving an Insta-fame facade by the award-winning author of My Sister, the Serial Killer.

Treasure is a wannabe Instagram influencer in Lagos, Nigeria. She shows off a luxurious life in a gated community that her almost five thousand followers can only dream of. @Sho4Sure is determined to be part of it. The macho mechanic is Treasure’s number one fan, and double taps and blushing emojis are no longer enough. He needs to meet her in the flesh. If only Treasure were more prepared for destiny.

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s Treasure is part of Hush, a collection of six stories, ranging from political mysteries to psychological thrillers, in which deception can be a matter of life and death. Each piece can be read or listened to in one truly chilling sitting

 

 

Published:     30th July 2020
Publisher:  Amazon Original Stories
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 

 



MY REVIEW

For a dark story, I really did enjoy this and it was fun to read.  I know that this story was only meant to be a short 31 page story but I would have loved to have had this as a full length novel with lots of added twists and turns.  

I would say that this is a short and sharp eye opener for those who regularly use social media...

I will certainly be picking up more from this author.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Book Review / My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

 

Published:     10th March 2020
Publisher:  Fourth Estate
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


MY REVIEW

 

This was a very disturbing read!  We follow Vanessa as she both reminises about her 'relationship' with her former English teacher and in present day where she still has contact with the English teacher who seems to still have a hold on her. 

I honestly wasn't prepared for how graphic this story was and how it went into details of a lot of the 'relationship' Vanessa had when she was younger.  

This book was certainly an eye opener into how awful some people can be and how some people can unknowingly get themselves into situations they may not know or be able to get out of. 

A twisted and uncomfortable ready but certainly interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

4 Apr 2021

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Book Review / When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

The gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

 

Published:     1st September 2020
Publisher:  William Morrow
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


MY REVIEW

 

I have to be honest and say that this book was not at all on my radar but heard about it through the Literally Dead Book Club which is on Goodreads and hosted by Booksandlala on You Tube.  I am a massive fan of thrillers, so I thought I would give this a go.  Why not!

We follow Sydney who has lived in her Brooklyn neighbood all her life.  With her mother ill and not living at home at the moment, Sydney is on her own.  She can't shake the feeling that she is being watched or followed.  She also notices a lot of changes in the neighbourhood with for sale signs popping up, people she has known her entire life moving away or just play outright disappearing.  Something isn't right.  With the help of a neighbour, Theo, they delve into the history of the neighbourhood.

Yes, I did enjoy reading this book and was certainly very intrigued as to what on earth was going in the neighbourhood and who was 'watching' Sydney.  For me, this story dragged a lot with plenty of places throughout where I could have easily put this down and not picked it up again.  Maybe it was my mistaken expectations but I was hoping for a twist or spectacular ending that just didn't land for me.  Very predictable.  That said, I really did enjoy the writing and would certainly look at some point in the  future to pick up another book from this author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

3 Apr 2021

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Book Review / Horrid by Katrina Leno

From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.

Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all--it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?

 

Published:     15th September 2020
Publisher:  Little Brown Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


MY REVIEW

 

A haunting contemporary horror novel.  That was the first words I read for this novel and I knew that I had to pick it up.  Well, that and the interesting cover.  Why would someone have roses in their eyes?  That was the one part that intrigued me the most. 

We follow Jane when she, and her mom, move to her grandmother's home in her mom's home town.  There's a lot of history to the house and the family that had lived there for so long  So many secrets that want to be told.  

Just a heads up, but this story does deal with a lot of hard hitting issues such as grief, death, murder and certainly mental illness.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what on earth was going on.   This story was very weird and I loved it!  The best part for me was the secrets both within the house and within other aspects that I won't tell you because I don't want to spoil it for you.  This is definately a very spooky book as you never know what is 'around the corner' and a book that I certainly did not read at night!


 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Horrid by Katrina Leno
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Book Review / The Racketeer by John Grisham

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Published:     23rd October 2012
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 



MY REVIEW


I have absolutely adored each and every John Grisham novel I have read so far but there are some that I have enjoyed more than that and this is one of them.  There were so many twists and turns, this just kept me on the edge of my seat right the way very way through this entire novel.

We follow Malcolm who at the start of the novel is situated in a prison for a crime that I won't go into here but best delved into when you pick up this book.  He knows something and can use this to bargain for his hopeful freedom.  At first, he is not taken seriously but as time goes on maybe he knows more than what the authorities think he does.  

A wonderfully twisty and turny novel that, as I mentioned above, kept me at the edge of my seat.  What I believed at the start of the novel was not necessarily what I believed at the end of the novel and I loved that feeling of being on the edge and not really knowing what is true and what is false.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / The Racketeer by John Grisham

27 Mar 2021

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Series Review / Revenants Trilogy by Amy Plum


In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.

Published:     2011
Publisher:  HarperTeen

Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Trilogy
Source:  Owned
 

 



MY REVIEW

 

I had first read this trilogy back in 2016 and loved it.  I was reminded of this trilogy again recently via audiobooks and decided to read it again to see what my take on it was the second time around.

We follow Kate when she (and her sister) move to Paris to live with her grandparents after her parents die on a tragic car accident.  She then meets Vincent and the story goes from there as she discovers that there is more to Vincent than meets the eye.

I did enjoy this story the second time around but I think because since first reading this trilogy I have read so many more books with a similar plot line some of the uniqueness that I had got from this story back in 2016 was not there the second time around.  That's not to say that I didn't enjoy this trilogy to a point but it was very predictable and, to be honest, I stopped reading after completing the second book as I just wasn't feeling that motivated to pick up the last book.  What does set this story aside is the fact that it is based in Paris and I honestly can't think of another book I have read recently that is based in Paris, so that does give it a certain atmosphere that I did enjoy a lot, especially the second time around. 

I think this trilogy would be an ideal read for those who have not yet read a lot of this type of stories

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 Mar 2021

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Book Review / A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern

Sometimes it takes losing everything to truly find yourself... Since Sandy Shortt's childhood classmate disappeared twenty years ago, Sandy has been obsessed with missing things. Finding what is lost becomes her single-minded goal--from the lone sock that vanishes in the washing machine to the car keys she misplaced. It's no surprise, then, that Sandy's life's work becomes finding people who have vanished from their loved ones. 

Sandy's family is baffled and concerned by her increasing preoccupation. Her parents can't understand her compulsion, and she pushes them away further by losing herself in the work of tracking down these missing people. She gives up her life in order to offer a flicker of hope to devastated families...and escape the disappointments of her own. Jack Ruttle is one of those devastated people. It's been a year since his brother Donal vanished into thin air, and he has enlisted Sandy Shortt to find him. But before she is able to offer Jack the information he so desperately needs, Sandy goes missing too...and Jack now finds himself searching for his brother and the one woman who understood his pain. 

One minute Sandy is jogging through the park, the next, she can't figure out where she is. The path is obscured. Nothing is familiar. A clearing up ahead reveals a camp site, and it's there that Sandy discovers the impossible: she has inadvertently stumbled upon the place-- and people--she's been looking for all her life, a land where all the missing people go. A world away from her loved ones and the home she ran from for so long, Sandy soon resorts to her old habit again, searching. Though this time, she is desperately trying to find her way home...
 

Published:     1st March 2012
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


 

BOOK REVIEW

 

This was a book was both fun and stressful in equal levels, but a very good novel overall!

We follow Sandy who has always had a need to find the missing, whether that will be an odd sock, a missing coat or a missing person.  That need is more of a compulsion rather than a choice.  She takes on a job to find someone's brother and visits their town but then she goes missing.  

We follow two people's perspectives here.  Both the perspective of the brother of that who is missing and that of Sandy, wherever she may be.  This has to be my favourite part, the split perspectives as you are seeing through the eyes of the brother who on the one hand is desperate to find out what happened to his brother and also curious to find out why Sandy did not turn up to their initial meeting.  His curiousity peaked even more when he finds Sandy's abandoned car.  On the other hand we follow Sandy's perspective.  I won't go into too much about this as I don't want to spoil it for those who have not read this book yet but this side of the story definately had me puzzled for a long while!

I really gripping mystery that I would highly recommend.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern

13 Mar 2021

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Book Review / Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

From the Academy Award®–winning actor, an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.

It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights - and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

Good luck.

 

Published:     20th October 2020
Publisher:  Crown Publishing Group
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


BOOK REVIEW

 

I do read quite a lot of biographical and memoir novels and, generally, I enjoy learning more about that particular person and hearing what they have to say, but that's usually as far as it goes.  I like it, understand it and then move onto learn about someone new.  Yes, I got all of that from this novel but I took so much more from this book than I had ever expected.  

I would highly recommend listening to this on audio book for not just the fact that Matthew himself narrates but he narrates in his own unique style that you really feel like you are having a one to one discussion with him.  Not only does he talk about his life but also gives inspirational messages throughout the book.  I absolutely adore the word 'Greenlights'.  So often in life, we ignore the Greenlights and just do what we have to do and not see the possibilities of what we could do if we paid attention to the Greenlights.

This book has stayed with me long after finishing and I know this is a book that I am going to go back to time and time again when I need a bit of life inspiration. 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

7 Mar 2021

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Book Review / Calico Joe by John Grisham

When he arrived in Philadelphia, a cab delivered him to Veterans Stadium, where he was quickly fixed for a uniform, given Number 42, and hustled onto the field. The Cubs were already taking batting practice. Understandably, he was nervous, thrilled, almost bewildered, and when the manager, Whitey Lockman, said, "Get loose. You're starting at first and hitting seventh," Joe Castle had trouble gripping his brand-new bat. In his first round of major-league batting practice, he swung at the first two pitches and missed.

He would not miss again for a long time.


In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen. The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas, dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.

Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever.

 

Published:     10th April 2012
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 


BOOK REVIEW

 

I will be the first to admit that I don't follow baseball nor do I know anything about it or how it is played.  But this is a novel written by John Grisham, so I am going to read it anyway because I know I will enjoy it for the writing alone, even if I don't really understand the rules of the game. 

In this story we follow Joe Castle (Calico Joe) who back in 1973 is the superstar of baseball but also we follow the story of Warren in the present day who is the son of a baseball player who played at the same time as Calico Joe.  We mainly follow Warren as he tries to fix a situation that happened so many years ago.

I really enjoyed this story.  Yes, I didn't understand the baseball side of it and yes there is a lot of that in this book (as it is meant to) but the characters and the story made this truly enjoyable to me.  A son who is trying to help his dad fix a problem that happened so many years ago.  

A truly enjoyable story and you really don't have to be a fan of baseball to read this.



 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Calico Joe by John Grisham
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Book Review / Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell

 

From behind the counter, Shaun Bythell catalogs the customers who roam his shop in Wigtown, Scotland. There's the Expert (divided into subspecies from the Bore to the Helpful Person), the Young Family (ranging from the Exhausted to the Aspirational), Occultists (from Conspiracy Theorist to Craft Woman).

Then there's the Loiterer (including the Erotica Browser and the Self-Published Author), the Bearded Pensioner (including the Lyrca Clad), and the The Not-So-Silent Traveller (the Whistler, Sniffer, Hummer, Farter, and Tutter). Two bonus sections include Staff and, finally, Perfect Customer--all add up to one of the funniest book about books you'll ever find.

Shaun Bythell (author of Confessions of a Bookseller) and his mordantly unique observational eye make this perfect for anyone who loves books and bookshops.

 

 

 

 

Published:     24th November 2020
Publisher:  David R Godine
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Book 45, In Death
Source:  Review Copy from Publisher

 


 

BOOK REVIEW

 

I am going to start this review off by saying that I wanted to enjoy this book so much.  What more could you want, it was a book about books.  Unfortunately that was not the case for me.

What I was expecting from the title is a narration by someone who used to own or work in a bookshop going through the seven kinds of people you find in a bookshop with a funny narration and something I might relate to by either being one of those people being described or knowing someone or seeing someone like what is being described.  That was not the case.  

Now, this is just my interpretation of what I read so it may be that I had misunderstood in some way or took some of the jokes the wrong way but I didn't find a lot of this funny or relateable and not only that but I found some descriptions to be a bit too much judgemental.  I get the feeling that a lot of assumptions were taken by the author in describing people in this book and those assumptions (or opinions) I felt were very judgemental and not given in the spirit of being nice.  Some comments I felt were not very nice. 

This story just wasn't for me.  I found the humour to be too mean and judgemental for my tastes.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell

27 Feb 2021

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Book Review / Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy

 

 

 

 

Published:     22nd September 2015
Publisher:  Riverhead Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source:  Owned

 


BOOK REVIEW

 

Having read Eat Pray Love and Committed quote a while ago now, I have always wanted to pick up more by this author and have been meaning to pick this up for quite some time now.  I am always looking for books that give inspiration, whether that be creatively or organisation-wise.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Not only did it give me inspiration to stop living inside the box all the time but it made me reevaluate most of what I do presently - some of which is fine but some I have certainly tweaked and I am so much happier now.  I hadn't realised that this would make a big difference, but it has. 

I would highly recommend this book for both those who want to live more creatively but also for those who maybe like to stay inside the box for most of time but want to inject a little bit of creatively here and there.  It certainly makes a difference.

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

26 Feb 2021

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Book Review / If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

Readers and critics alike adore Cecelia Ahern for her lighthearted yet insightful stories about modern women and their often unusual situations. In If You Could See Me Now, she takes that theme a step further, offering us a heroine who is entirely believable, and the new man in her life who is, well, slightly less so.

Elizabeth Egan's life runs on order: Both her home and her emotions are arranged just so, with little room for spontaneity. It's how she counteracts the chaos of her family—an alcoholic mother who left when she was young, an emotionally distant father, and a free-spirited sister, who seems to be following in their mother's footsteps, leaving her own six-year-old son, Luke, in Elizabeth's care.

When Ivan, Luke's mysterious new grown-up friend, enters the picture, Elizabeth doesnt know quite what to make of him. With his penchant for adventure and colorful take on things large and small, Ivan opens Elizabeth's eyes to a whole new way of living. But is it for real? Is Ivan for real?

 

Published:     21st November 2005
Publisher:  Hachette Books
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned

 

 


BOOK REVIEW

 

This was my second time reading this book having read it quite a number of years ago now.  I could still remember some of the plot but not all of it.  I was so excited to get to this one, in reading all of Cecelia Ahern's novels, as I remembered this one to be one of my favourites.  

In this story, the main character is Elizabeth who is a very responsible person who does not do anything random.  One day, her son Luke has an imaginary friend.  At first, Elizabeth is worried but soon she starts to hear a voice.  

This was such a fun book to read.  I had forgotten quite a bit in this novel so it was nearly like reading it all over again for the first time!  I have to say that my favourite part would have to be when we see Elizabeth start to loosen up and make a new friend.  

Such a fun and magical read that I would highly recommend. 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

22 Feb 2021

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Book Review / The Litigators by John Grisham

The partners at Finley & Figg—all two of them—often refer to themselves as “a boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. They are, of course, none of these things. What they are is a two-bit operation always in search of their big break, ambulance chasers who’ve been in the trenches much too long making way too little. Their specialties, so to speak, are quickie divorces and DUIs, with the occasional jackpot of an actual car wreck thrown in. After twenty plus years together, Oscar Finley and Wally Figg bicker like an old married couple but somehow continue to scratch out a half-decent living from their seedy bungalow offices in southwest Chicago.

And then change comes their way. More accurately, it stumbles in. David Zinc, a young but already burned-out attorney, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm, goes on a serious bender, and finds himself literally at the doorstep of our boutique firm. Once David sobers up and comes to grips with the fact that he’s suddenly unemployed, any job—even one with Finley & Figg—looks okay to him.

With their new associate on board, F&F is ready to tackle a really big case, a case that could make the partners rich without requiring them to actually practice much law. An extremely popular drug, Krayoxx, the number one cholesterol reducer for the dangerously overweight, produced by Varrick Labs, a giant pharmaceutical company with annual sales of $25 billion, has recently come under fire after several patients taking it have suffered heart attacks. Wally smells money.

A little online research confirms Wally’s suspicions—a huge plaintiffs’ firm in Florida is putting together a class action suit against Varrick. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of people who have had heart attacks while taking Krayoxx, convince them to become clients, join the class action, and ride along to fame and fortune. With any luck, they won’t even have to enter a courtroom!

It almost seems too good to be true.

And it is.
 


Published:     25th October 2011
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click Here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone

Source: Owned

 


BOOK REVIEW

 

I can't tell you how much fun I had reading this book.  Although I do and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every book written by John Grisham, there are always a select few that stand out that little big higher than excellent.  This is one of those. 

We follow David Zinc in this story who is tired and stressed at his high powered city law firm job, so he quits and decides to join the small law firm of Finley & Figg.  We then follow David and his colleagues as they investigate and pull together a case relating to a popular drug that could be affecting people adversely and even possibly killing them. 

What made this book great to me was the characters, without a doubt.  You have David who struggled at the start but soon learns to stand on his own feet.  He is the responsible one.  You then have Finley & Figg, lawyers who one is certainly more carefree than the other and one is unhappy in his life and should make a change.  You also have the office manager who is definately a larger than life character and cerrtainly one that was needed in a law firm like that!

Amazing read.  Please do pick it up and read it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / The Litigators by John Grisham

21 Feb 2021

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Book Review / Carrie by Stephen King


 

Carrie knew she should not use the terrifying power she possessed... But one night at her senior prom, Carrie was scorned and humiliated just one time too many, and in a fit of uncontrollable fury she turned her clandestine game into a weapon of horror and destruction...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published:     13th October 2011
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand Alone
Source: Owned

 


BOOK REVIEW


Stephen King has written so many books and as I have started to get more into his writing I wanted to go back and start at the beginning.  I think this was his first published book (but do correct me if I am wrong!) and one that I was very keen to read and discover more.  I have always been meaning to watch the movie also but haven't because I wanted to read the book first - as books are nearly always better than the movie!

We follow Carrie as she is bullied both at school and at home and she was at the brink of falling apart, having had enough.  However, there is more to Carrie than meets the eye.  Carrie has powers that she hasn't really used... until now...

I really enjoyed this but do have to admit that I couldn't get hooked into this story and found parts of it not interesting to follow.  For me, the story picked up when Carrie was about to break and we start to see exactly what power she has and what she could do with it.  Honestly, the best part of the story was the characters.  This is something that I have come across with the Stephen King novels that I have read so far, that I tend to enjoy the most.  You have a mix of good and bad characters, interacting independently, together and against each other.  

A slow read but worth a pick up for the enjoyable characterisation.

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Carrie by Stephen King

13 Feb 2021

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Book Review / The Confession by John Grisham

An innocent man is about to be executed.
Only a guilty man can save him.

 
In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, Travis Boyette abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.


Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess. But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

 

 

 

Published:     26th October 2020
Publisher:  Doubleday
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source: Owned

 


MY REVIEW

I know I probably keep saying that I am thoroughly enjoying each and every book I have been reading written by John Grisham, but I genuinely am.  There's just something about his way of writing that always draws me in and I really don't want to put his books down again until I get to the very last page.  

In this story, we follow the story of Travis who assaulted and murdered a high school cheerleader, but that's not the best part of the story.  He did not get put in jail for that crime, someone else did.  Travis was put in jail for something else and is now out on parole.  He decides to confess but will anyone take him seriously?

This book makes me angry, but in a good way.  It makes me angry how an innocent person was in jail for a crime that they didn't commit.  It also makes me angry with the possibility that the person who committed the crime, Travis, might just get away with it even if he does confess!  What a great suspenseful story that just kept me hooked to find out whether justice would prevail!!

Would highly recommend, especially if you like stories that focus on moral issues of justice and humanity.

 

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Continue reading Book Review / The Confession by John Grisham

6 Feb 2021

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Book Review / Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

 

 

When the pretending ends, the lying begins . . . Molly Arnette is good at keeping secrets. As she and her husband try to adopt a baby, she worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. Molly ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved. Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a healthy future, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.
 

 

 

 

 

Published:     1st October 2015
Publisher:  Pan
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned
 


 

MY REVIEW

 

Diana Chamberlain's novels have always intrigued me.  Having read The Good Father quite a long time ago, I have been meaning to get back to reading another of her novels.  I just happened to see this copy on sale so I thought it might have been a sign that I was meant to read this now!

We follow Molly in this story, which splits into two separate timelines.  In the past, we see Molly when she was young and watch the events unfold on what happened that led to her leaving her family behind all those many years ago.  In the present, we see Molly and her husband as they go through the adoption process, having not been able to conceive themselves.  

I am so conflicted with this story.  On the one hand, I really enjoyed the writing and the suspense.  What really happened long ago and how was it going to impact what was happening in the present.  On the other hand, I wasn't surprised by any of the events that happened and I so wished that I could have been.  This story was very predictable and I wished there were more twists and turns. 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

5 Feb 2021

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Book Review / Broken Things by George Mann

 

The goddess Amaranth, Queen of the Broken, has been reborn for the first time in generations and now resides once more in her distant tower, observing the world through her strange, fractured eyes. Three pilgrims set out on the trail to find her, each for their own reasons: Pallor, the Knight of Perish, who wishes to die by a worthy hand and will challenge the goddess to a fight to the death; Nok, the tribal Wolkin, who carries her brother’s bones to beg Amaranth to restore him to the afterlife; and Ambrose, the monk, charged by his Order to seek the answer to the unanswerable question at the heart of his faith. Each of these pilgrims will be tested on the road to their inevitable convergence—and each will be granted answers, of a sort, from the Broken Queen…

 

 

 

 

 

Published:     December 2020
Publisher:  PS Publishing
Source:  Review Copy Received

MY REVIEW

It was so good to be back reading George Mann's writing again.  Having previously read and loved Wychwood and Hallowdene, I couldn't wait to get stuck into this and I am truly thankful to be asked to take part in this blog tour.

As this is a novella, I am not going to go into too much depth on the story as I have a firm believe that with most novels, especially novellas, it is best to go into these mostly 'blind'.  That way you can truly enjoy the story.  That said, this world fascinates me.  I am unsure as to whether this is the first novel in this world or that there are many more but having read this with no prior knowledge of what this world is all about, there is plenty of clear descriptions of the characters and the world  that brought me 'up to speed' quickly, which is necessary in a novella!

By far my favourite characters are Ambrose and Amaranth.  Ambrose for his charme and Amaranth for her resilience and the way that she carries herself throughout this story.

 I do, however, have one negative comment to make.  The story was not long enough!  I would have loved to have delved a lot more into this world and the characters and would have happily sat there and read this story in a 400 plus novel! There is so much more I want to know and learn...

Would highly recommend, as well as Wychwood and Hallowdene!

 

  

Continue reading Book Review / Broken Things by George Mann

23 Jan 2021

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Book Review / Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Andrea Oliver's mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She's a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody's friend. And she's never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It's like Laura is a completely different person - and that's because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who's spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea's mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura's former identity and discover the truth - for better or worse - about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

 

Published:     21st August 2018
Publisher:  William Morrow
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned
 

 

MY REVIEW

 

I have been meaning to pick up a novel written by this author for so long now and has been highly recommended to me.  I don't know what it is but maybe it is the time of year (Winter) or just a particular reading phase I am in at the moment but I am loving thrillers.  

We follow mainly Laura as she discovers there is more to her mother than meets the eye.  A random violent event in a shopping mall shows a different side to her mother and makes her question what she is hiding.  As the story unfolds we see Laura discover those secrets and how she deals with the new knowledge she has learned.

I loved this story.  It was fast paced and certainly kept me on my toes!   There were so many twists and turns that I just could not put this down. 

Would highly recommend and I will certainly be picking up more by this author.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading Book Review / Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

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 . . .


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 





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.


CHECK OUT MY REVIEW HERE 



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...


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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.




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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.




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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.





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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 . . .




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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.

 

 
 
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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. 
 
 


 
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 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.
 
 

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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