What I Read: October 2021

Claire Douglas: Couple at No. 9

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact. Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose. Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something. As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched. What happened thirty years ago?Why did no one miss the victims? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger?

I loved this storyline – and all the characters within it. The author was able to keep the tension high, pulling some amazing and unexpected twists that I did not see coming. The story was told from multiple points of view, in different timelines and you might think that this would make it hard to follow but actually it wasn’t at all. It’s very well plotted, with the author managing to make all the characters stories fit so well. I loved the claustrophobic small village atmosphere and creepy woods behind the cottage. And even though the book starts off slowly as you read on the tension gradually builds towards the really unexpected but satisfying ending. I won’t say much more so that I don’t spoil it but it was a great read. You really can’t go wrong with Claire Douglas!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Richard osman: The Man who died twice

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Even though this book could work as a standalone, I highly recommend reading The Thursday Murder Club before reading this, just to get acquainted with the characters. It’s a good cosy thriller with fun characters and a good plot. I must say, this book is way better than the first one, Osman has done a brilliant job filling in the gaps that he missed out in the first book as a murder mystery. Having been introduced to the club members in the first book it was easier to get into this one. Clever plot, fast paced with a touch of humour. I feel that I am really getting invested into these characters now so the third book promises to be even better. One thing I didn’t like is that it becomes a bit too repetitive in the middle and ending was a bit over the top. But overall this was a good cosy thriller!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

sarah alderson: The stalker

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched… When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island. And this stranger wants them dead.

This book hooked me from the start and I couldn’t put it down. It was so creepy and twisty that I stopped reading it at night because it freaked me out.  Laura and Liam clearly haven’t read many books because they decide to go to a remote Scottish island for their honeymoon. They will be the only people there for a whole week with no way to contact the mainland. Did I mention that it is said the island is cursed? Such a great holiday destination, right? You could think that having only two characters at play during most part of the novel could turn a bit boring, but not at all! The island is incredibly atmospheric and it contributes to create a climate of unease that keeps building throughout the story until the big reveal. And the twist…So unexpected, so clever, a must read!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alex north: Shadow friend

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat. Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home. It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago. It wasn’t just the murder. It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

I was actually very reluctant to write this review mainly because I loved Alex North’s previous book The Whisper Man and I expected the same level of thrills but this book just fell short. The first problem for me was that there were two timelines, the present and 25 years previous. Now this isn’t usually a problem but in this book there were just too many characters. I had to write all of them down so I could follow what was going on. Also the term “lucid dreams” was mentioned a lot, describing dreams and it became hard to tell whether I was reading fact, or a lucid dream that Paul was having now or in the past. It was very, very confusing and the story didn’t flow well for me. I’ve given it 3 stars for the idea because I think it’s very interesting but North’s writing just didn’t work for me.

⭐⭐⭐

sarah goodwin: stranded

Eight strangers.
One island.
A secret you’d kill to keep.When eight people arrive on the beautiful but remote Buidseach Island, they are ready for the challenge of a lifetime: to live alone for one year. Eighteen months later, a woman is found in an isolated fishing village. She’s desperate to explain what happened to her: how the group fractured and friends became enemies; how they did what they must to survive until the boat came to collect them; how things turned deadly when the boat didn’t come… But first Maddy must come to terms with the devastating secret that left them stranded, and her own role in the events that saw eight arrive and only three leave.

I think if you are a fan of reality TV shows like Survivor you’ll like this book. I was quite disappointed because I expected something else, maybe more mystery and crime, especially after seeing so many five star reviews, but I didn’t get that. Nothing happens in the first 50% of the book and I really wished there was more than one POV. While I never quite lost interest, Stranded seemed unnecessary long. It felt like we lived through every day of those eighteen months, repetitive task after repetitive task. The long descriptions of all of the survival activities were a bit much for me, as were the extremely unlikable other characters on the island. I was also hoping for a more exciting ending but it was just unbelievable. Overall, just ok.

⭐⭐⭐

jodie Chapman: another life

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick. She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits. So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become. But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her. Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life

This book is just a rollercoaster of emotion, about life, loss and love. From the first few pages, I knew that this book was special. I am in fact struggling to find the right words to explain how this book made me feel. From the character development, relationships, twists, the plot, this story just completely captivated me and I could not stop thinking about it. The characters are so well written, believable and likeable. I found it refreshing that this love story did not spark between two perfect teens who lead unrealistic lives and never seem to slip up. Instead, Nick and Anna’s story is something a lot of us can relate to.

The book is written primarily through Nick’s perspective, which I found a refreshing change. Personally I’ve found similar books are usually written through a female’s point of view, so I enjoyed the male perspective. The life events that span the twenty plus years of the book make it feel like you’re really going through life with Nick; his memories, his ups and his downs and his life. I loved the inclusion of the never-sent emails from Anna and her poetry, it broke up the chapters nicely and allowed us to also see her perspective, even if only for a short time. This isn’t your typical love story. It is gut wrenching, sad, painful and honest. I cannot recommend this book enough!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

What I Read: September 2021

Alice Feeney: Rock Paper Scissors

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognise friends or family, or even his own wife.
Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Told from a few POVs – Adam, Amelia, someone called Robin and from the letters that Adam’s wife writes to him every year for their anniversary – but doesn’t let him read, you will be immersed in this story as lies and secrets come to light. I love the atmosphere in this book, it was so creepy. Feeney portraits gloomy ambience which keeps the readers on the edge of their seat throughout the book. There’s a sense of unease and dread that doesn’t let up as the story progresses.. and what a story it is! I was hooked from the first page! I feel this book is best to read in one or two seatings because things can get very complicated otherwise. I had to go back few times to reread some parts. As an extra point, I haven’t seen those twists coming at all! Hands down, this is one of the best thrillers I have read this year.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bella Mackie: How to kill your family

When Grace Bernard discovers her absentee millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge, and sets about to kill every member of his family. Readers have a front row seat as Grace picks off the family one by one – and the result is as and gruesome as it is entertaining in this wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder. But then Grace is imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit.

I think this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before – a breath of fresh air, really. A book about a woman killing her family shouldn’t be fun, but it was! There were some brilliant and witty and funny parts but that being said, It’s also a little bit repetitive, following the same structure with different victims: observe, find weakness, concoct plan, carry it out. In a few situations it felt a bit too convenient, and some a bit far fetched. I think the ending saved it for me, the first twist is confusing and you think that’s the strangest end to how you thought it would plan out then hello second plot twist! Very well done.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Louise Candlish: The heights

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognise anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact. Because you’re the one who killed him.

The premise for this sounded so good to me, and the opening was exciting, reeling me in! But that was where my excitement faded.. This was a bit long and a slow moving book. I liked the setting, I could really visualise ‘The Heights’ building. I also liked the way the phobia Ellen had was described. High Place Phenomenon, a sudden urge to jump when in a high place, was written in a scary and dizzying way. But… the main character, Ellen, was so unlikeable. Usually I don’t mind it as much but she was just so irritating and even though you would expect to empathise with her because she’s grieving, she was so full of hate and prejudice that I really didn’t like reading her chapters. What saved it for me was the ending and the twists! But I still prefer her previous book The Other Passenger.

⭐⭐⭐💫

Paige toon: Someone I used to know

Then : At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan…

Now : Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

This is the first book I’ve read by Paige Toon but is certainly it won’t be my last one. This book is much more than meets the eye. A pretty cover with so much depth. The story is told from the perspective of the kind and extremely likeable Leah. I was immediately drawn into her family, with their alpacas, bunnies and overflowing household of foster children. The ‘then’ story focuses around the care system which I found really interesting. Leah’s parents are probably the most selfless most heartwarming characters I have ever read about. I’m not going to say much about ‘now’ parts because I don’t want to spoil anything but honestly this is worth picking up as soon as possible. What I love most about this book is that behind the very pretty cover is a well researched, thought out story tackling tough topics balanced with light humour and heartwarming moments. Believe me, it’s like a warm hug.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

holly jackson: as good as dead

Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it’s all about Pip. Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? And it’s not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . ..

Oh wow! When I got this book and saw it’s over 500 pages I thought it will take ages for me to read it but I finished it in 2 days! As Good as Dead is the final book in Holly Jackson’s a Good girls guide to murder trilogy and it was one stressful journey. I was NOT expecting the story to go in the direction it did.. but I loved it! I was hooked from the beginning and I literally loved every second of this book. I think this book was the darkest in the series and at times unsettling and creepy. But I loved how this really took everything that happened in the first two books together and wrapped everything up. A must read YA thriller series in my opinion. I would highly recommend it. All of the three books are unique and good. Talking about this particular one, the pacing was a bit messy at times. Way too many descriptions in some parts. The story dragged a little from time to time. But overall, it was mind blowing. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

colleen hoover: it ends with us

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

Finally I’ve read the most hyped book ever and I’m telling you it’s definitely worth the hype. It Ends With Us is a such a strong, powerful, and emotional novel. I was thinking for a long time about what to write and how not to spoil it for everyone so I’m not going to examine the story because it’s best to go into it blind. I’m just going to say that this is not your classic romance book. I was totally engrossed in Lily’s story. I loved how there was a dual timeline through her diary, bringing past and present together. This book was everything! Thought provoking, sad, beautiful and hopeful – you won’t be able to put it down. After you finish reading this novel, please don’t forget to read the author’s notes in the last part of this book. Colleen Hoover is telling her personal experiences and opening up her heart there. I was thoroughly impressed with what she wrote.  For me this is one of the best romance books I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it enough.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: August 2021

Lesley Kara: The Dare

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find traumatic memories and paranoia suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

The chapters flip between past and present, before the accident and after, so we learn a lot about Lizzie and Alice’s friendship and childhood. In my opinion, some of the scenarios throughout were a little bit far fetched but nonetheless it was an okay read but it didn’t wow me. It was slow to start with but the pace picked up later. Everything intertwined together nicely, the plot was intriguing but I wasn’t totally shocked or surprised by any of the twists. If you’re looking for a quick, nice and easy psychological thriller then this would be it.

3/5

adele Parks: both of you

Leigh Fletcher: happily married stepmum to two gorgeous boys goes missing on Monday. Her husband Mark says he knows nothing of her whereabouts. She simply went to work and just never came home. Their family is shattered. Kai Janssen: married to wealthy Dutch businessman, Daan, vanishes the same week. Kai left their luxurious penthouse and glamorous world without a backward glance. She seemingly evaporated into thin air. Daan is distraught. DC Clements knows that people disappear all the time – far too frequently. Most run away from things, some run towards, others are taken but find their way back. A sad few never return. These two women are from very different worlds, their disappearances are unlikely to be connected. And yet, at a gut level, the DC believes they are.How could these women walk away from their families, husbands and homes willingly? Clements is determined to unearth the truth, no matter how shocking and devastating it may be.

An intriguing concept that ultimately left me disappointed.  The storyline was unique and mentioning Covid and an imminent lockdown in March 2020 added to the tension but I found the first part of the story rather slow with a monologue that wasn’t needed in my opinion. However, it picked up from the halfway point which kept my interest until the book finished. I thought that with two women going missing under suspicious circumstances in the same week the police involvement was minimal which didn’t sit right with me at all. There weren’t many characters, the antagonist was quite obvious and there was no real surprise. And the ending…I really didn’t like the ending, it felt rushed and unfinished. What could have been a fast-paced thriller with plenty of excitement and anticipation just didn’t quite reach its full potential.

3/5

Shari Lapena: Not a happy family

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Mercer. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mercers are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated. Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

This book reminded me a little bit of the movie Knives Out. Classic Whodunit! I literally sped read through this book. It’s phenomenal. Such a page turner! Every single one of the characters is awful and unlikable….but it works so well in this book. Lapena’s characters are fascinating and very flawed and by using multiple POVs, she gives her readers a view into the lives of the Mercer clan, exposing their emotional damage, secrets, greed, and plausible motives for being the murderer. I changed my mind about the killer so many times through the book because every single one of them had the reason and capability to kill to kill Fred and Sheila.

While this is a tense suspenseful read, it is also a character study in dysfunction, sibling rivalry, deceit, and conflict within families. The suspense continues right up until the very end when the murderer is revealed with a quiet but still impactful resolution. This is one of my favourite Lapena books to date. Well-crafted, highly suspenseful, and unputdownable, this is a must-read this summer for fans of the whodunnit!

5/5

Laura jane Williams: The Lucky escape

When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong. After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on. Would a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband… 

After reading the blurb thought I would have a sweet, entertaining romcom experience! But… I got a little disappointed! It wasn’t a bad read, it had so many positives including side characters, honeymoon premise, the chemistry between heroine and her old friend/ new potential love interest…but there were so many things that I didn’t like as well. Like Annie’s character. I found her a little disturbing and indecisive. The book started really slowly and it was hard to get into it. I was hoping to read the honeymoon part of the story a little sooner. But it took so many chapters to reach that juicy part and it ended shortly. I wanted it to last so much longer. Also I think the story would have become more interesting by switching to Patrick’s perspective as he was such a sweet character. I may be judging this too harshly, but I’ve just read so many fantastic reads lately that my expectations are high. A good romance, but ultimately it didn’t stand out. 

3/5

colleen Hoover: verity

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognises all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

This book was disturbing in a way that is hard to put in words. Verity is pitched as a thriller and a romantic suspense book but I would say: Verity is a mind-fuck! It’s disturbing, twisted, creepy, brutal. Verity is not an easy read but it was brilliant. Amazingly well written and unputdownable, Colleen will leave you questioning everything. I don’t want to say much more, it is best to go in blind and reading this book, it has so many twists and turns it will have you thinking about this book for days after with lots of questions. This is the first book I have read from Colleen Hoover, I understand she is normally a romance writer, and this book is a psychological thriller, there is some romance but its sick and twisted… Just thought I would mention it if you don’t like romance books….. its ok, this book is not warm and fluffy.

5/5

What I Read: July 2021

Clare Mackintosh: Hostage

Mina is trying to focus on her job as a flight attendant, not the problems of her five-year-old daughter back home, or the fissures in her marriage. But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina’s assistance and who knows exactly how to make her comply. It’s twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.

As soon as I read the premise of Hostage, I was excited! I thought the story of a flight attendant working a hijacked flight and having to choose whether to save the flight or her daughter was super interesting! The book is told through a few different perspectives. Primarily, we hear from Mina, the flight attendant on the plane, and her husband Adam, who is at home with their daughter. In addition to those POVs, we also have sporadic POVs from some of the passengers on the plane. We get to learn a little bit about why they are traveling and about their lives, which are about to be changed forever! It was so addictive, fast paced and tense, I couldn’t stop reading it! Maybe not for someone who is afraid of flying though.

And that ending…I loved the epilogue, I had to read it twice! Very clever! Hostage is everything you could possibly want from a psychological thriller and more! Highly recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Taylor Jenkins Reid: Malibu Rising

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface

Ok, I can’t explain why I love this book because it’s not something I would choose to read usually but…I was hooked on this one. I think it’s the way the author writes because I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for the same reason. On its surface, there’s nothing immediately special about this story. It’s a tale of functional and dysfunctional relationships and families all wrapped up in the setting of a party, and it’s been done many times before. But Taylor Jenkins Reid infuses so much more into it. There’s something about her characters, her writing, and plot – it draws me in and keeps me hooked from beginning to end. The story bounces between the past – the beginnings of Mick and June’s relationship and their history, together and apart, and the present (1980’s), showing the current lives of their children and I loved both of them. I loved the setting, the surfing culture and the decades described.

The only thing I didn’t like was when we get to the actual party, there were too many side characters and it took a little bit away from the focus of the story. I’m not sure if we needed to know all of them. But overall, I really enjoyed this book, perfect summer , beach read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Mark edwards: The hollows

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place—strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest—but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

Another great book by Mark Edwards. This one had that 80’s horror movie vibe and some parts really gave me chills. The Hollows has it all, odd characters, strange happenings, paganism, mystery, local urban legends, creepy dark woods, layered with lashings of suspense. The book was slow to begin with but Edwards took his time to build on the atmosphere and introduce all the characters but I have to admit some parts didn’t really contribute to the story. That was my only complaint. I enjoyed the second half of the book, the tension ramps up, the plot becomes far more sinister, and the mood of the book darkens. This was an entertaining, creepy read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Emma kennedy: the never-ending summer

Best friends Agnes and Bea decide to embark on one last adventure before their adult lives begin.For Agnes’s mother Florence, a fresh chapter is starting as her youngest flies the nest and her marriage settles into a new routine. But she can’t help feeling that something is missing. As Agnes travels to London and Florence follows her heart to Europe, both will discover a world of possibilities they never could have dreamed of. Because wherever you are in life, there is always time to finally become the person you were always meant to be.

What follows is the next five weeks as they unfold, moving between the perspectives of all the main players in the story, including Florence’s husband, William, at home in Oxford. Sadly none of it proved particularly interesting and I almost gave up half way through. I persisted because I read it gets better and to be fair it did a bit but not enough to like it. Although the book stretches to nearly 500 pages the story is underdeveloped and all three of the main characters lack depth. I found Bea and Agnes, who spoke and acted like fourteen-year-olds instead of the twenty-year-olds they actually are, the most difficult to invest in. I liked the idea of the novel, women empowerment, standing up for themselves and everything is set in the 70’s, which was a nice change but I’m afraid this was not my cup of tea.

⭐⭐💫

gillian mcallister: that night

One hot summers night in Italy, Joe and Cathy Plant receive a phone call that will change their lives forever. Their sister Frannie has killed a man, and she needs their help. They were always close, some might say too close, siblings who worked together, lived next door to each other And now they’ve buried a body together… But when they return to England, Frannie, Joe and Cathy become tangled in lies in they’ve been telling, to the police, to their friends, to each other…

This was one tense read. It was so well written that the tension was palpable. The book is heavily character driven and It is a slow starter but things start to pick up in the second part of the book. There are twists and turns, some of which I guessed. As the reader, you know that the siblings are not going to get away with the murder very early in the book but the author has done a great job of keeping you turning those pages to find out what goes wrong. That being said, something was missing for me. I can’t really say what because that would be a spoiler so I would leave it here. I am not sure whether I liked any of the characters particularly, all had their problems and were to some degree too self-absorbed .The explanations from childhood could have been better explained. This was the weak point of the book for me.  It was a easy read but only average for me

⭐⭐⭐💫

lisa jewell: the night she disappeared

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah’s friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place. She never returns. 2018: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

‘DIG HERE’ . . .

I’m a big fan of Lisa Jewell and I’ve read most of her books so no surpise I loved this one as well! The story is told in three parts: Tallulah’s life prior to the disappearance and how she met Scarlett and other friends, the week of Tallulah’s disappearance, and 16 months later when the real clues begin to surface. Immediately, I was hooked. The story is well-written, evenly paced, has a wonderful setting and it’s atmospheric and creepy. And even though this is 500 pages long I finished it so quickly! I would call this a slow burn mystery, but never too slow so that I lost interest. It kept me guessing right until the end.

Overall, great writing, great plot, great characters…..another awesome thriller by this author and definitely one of the top 10 thrillers I’ve read this year!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: June 2021

C.L. Taylor: Her Last Holiday

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

So I really enjoyed the set up and how this book jumped back and forth to the past and present. The first part of the book was very good, I really liked it. But then I started having multiple issues with the story. There were too many characters, some of who were the same in the past and present but had different names which I found very confusing. Not to mention they were all pretty unlikeable. Also, not a big issue but I had a problem with the timing and the ages. I don’t know if it’s just me or if the characters were written that way, but I couldn’t see Jenna as 37 and Fran as 51. I did find the length a bit much and there were also some subplots going on that I could have done without. The ending really wasn’t for me. It felt a bit too convenient, far fetched and rushed. An ok read but nothing to be excited about.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

ashley Audrain: The Push

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

What a twisty story. A story about mothering, scars from the past and how the past can affect out present. Readers learn that Blythe comes from a dysfunctional family with a mother and grandmother who also had difficulties embracing motherhood. Flashbacks of these experiences appear throughout the entire book and raise the question: Is it possible to be a “good mother” if your own mother (and grandmother) were not positive role models? This psychological drama is written as a sort of letter from a woman to her ex-husband, in which she promises to tell her side of what turns out to be a very dark story. Each chapter is quick and shoots straight to the point, even when things get ugly.  This was a very unusual read for me, I’m not a mother and I don’t usually tend to choose books like this but this one was very interesting for me as it’s psychological. It really kept me on the edge of my seat. Also because I’m not a mother I wasn’t as upset with certain things in the book but I have to warn you, this book is not for everyone. At times it’s really uncomfortable, brutally honest, raw, emotional, chilling and dark. This book will stay with me for a very long time.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 💫

Laura dave: The Last thing he told me

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realises her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

I discovered this book through Reese Witherspoon’s book club and I thought it was a thriller…But, this is definitely a domestic suspense, not a thriller, so expect this to focus on the relationships between the characters as they reveal their true selves, with a dash of mystery. Told in two timelines – one with brief flashbacks to the past, which gives us context and a fuller picture of Hannah and Owen’s life together, and the second is in the present when Hannah and Bailey are forced to work together to find out the truth about Owen. Hannah is smart and intuitive in how she deals with Bailey and their relationship was one of my favourite things about the story. Even though usually I’m not a big fan of domestic thrillers, this one kept me hooked. Can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the ending though but I guess it’s the only logical option. Recommended for those who love character-driven domestic mysteries that are still strong on plot. If you enjoy smartly written, strong, intelligent women protagonists, you will love Hannah.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐💫

alex michaelides: The maidens

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens. Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.  Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships.

It did take me a while to warm to this story at first. I think it’s because I found its initial buildup to be a little slow. There was a fair amount of background information to introduce, and also a lot of references to Greek mythology and psychotherapy, which I’m not super familiar with. Also, you will have to suspend your need for a believable, realistic investigation, as Mariana does things in ways that would never fly in real life. But once it got going, the pacing tightened up and I was hooked, all the way until the very end. Now, to everyone who loved The Silent Patient, the author’s previous book, be warned this is not The Silent Patient 2.0 and it’s much more a slow burn. But the book is filled with red herrings and it’s written very well. I loved the short chapters and atmospheric Cambridge. As for the ending, I suspected part of it at one point or another, but was genuinely surprised by another aspect of it. That was a treat! There is also a brief tie-in to The Silent Patient that I thought was really clever.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

megan goldin: the escape room

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style―but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost. Invited to participate in an escape room challenge as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high-rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival. Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realise there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

I picked up this book just because I read Goldin’s The Night Swim and I loved it so much. This book was completely different. The book alternates chapters with these four, stuck in an elevator, and with the narration of Sara Hall, one of their co-workers from years ago, who died sometime in the past. During the chapters concerning the people in the elevator, we get to know a lot about each of the people who are trapped. I did not care about though because it was basically massive amounts of information on each person’s past that did nothing to make us care for them or understand what made them such horrible people. I have to admit I skipped through some pages. I loved Sara chapters though and if it wasn’t for that my rating would have been lower. The writing at many times seemed repetitive with lots of side stories that were introduced but never really completed. The ending was very good but you really have to suspend all believability here.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

sarah alderson: in her eyes

Ava’s life is the kind other people envy: loving husband; great kids; beautiful house. Until the night that a violent home invasion plunges her world into chaos. In the aftermath of the attack, Ava needs answers to two questions. Who has targeted her family? And why? But things aren’t adding up. She is starting to suspect that someone knows more than they are letting on. That everything she thought she knew about the people closest to her was a lie. Ava needs to know what happened that night. And to do that she must decide who she can really trust. Because she’s about to discover that her family is in more danger than she ever imagined…

This is a fast paced book full of twists and turns. The story is good but…The start had so much promise – I was hooked by the burglary and the secrets that start pouring out from Ava’s life. But toward the end of the book, things took too many unrealistic turns. I wanted a better explanation and for the events to make some sort of sense. But unfortunately, I didn’t get that. Also, I really don’t like overly naive female characters. Ava started to annoy me so much as the book progressed. Overall, an easy read and even though it was a little bit far fetched I still found it enjoyable.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

What I Read: April 2021

Jeanine Cummings: American Dirt

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

I had wanted to read this book for so long but before I started I discovered that it had received a lot of criticism. I’m not going to go into the full details, and you can find out more online if you are interested but one of the issues raised was the fact the author is white and has never lived in Mexico. As this is a fiction book that raised a serious issue, I decided to ignore that, finish the book and review it for what it was – a fiction book. In spite of everything said about the novel, I found it to be captivating, informative, suspenseful, heartbreaking and hard to put down . It’s 400 pages long and I read it in two days. All the criticism didn’t lower the importance or relevance of the story, at least not for me. If nothing else, hopefully it will start conversations and awareness about the issue of immigration. The only criticism I have is that it was a bit slow after the initial shocking start. Otherwise, I would recommend everyone to read this book.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

t.m. logan: Trust me

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen’s heart ache for what she can never have.
Five minutes pass. Ten. The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby’s bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:”Please protect Mia.Don’t trust the police.Don’t trust anyone.” Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything . . . 

After reading ‘The Holiday’ and ‘The Catch’ I was very excited to read this book and I wasn’t disappointed! There are many red herrings that change your opinion about who is behind all of this, as you really do not know who to trust. I couldn’t figure it out until very late! The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars is because at times it was a bit slow and I got frustrated because no one wanted to give ANY answers to Ellen but they kept showing up at her doors! But the short chapters made it easy to fly through and the style of writing made it easy to get hooked from the beginning without needing several chapters to get into the story. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a thriller with a unique storyline and some interesting characters to follow!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

tim weaver: missing pieces

Rebekah is trapped on Crow Island and is 101 miles from the US mainland. Much of the island was destroyed by Hurricane Gloria in 1987 and has few facilities. How and why is she trapped? Meanwhile, soon to be retired Detective Frank Travis is searching for missing artist Louise Mason. How do these seemingly disparate stories connect?

Tim Weaver is one of my favourite authors. I have read most of his books from the David Raker series but this is his first standalone book and the first one set in America. Despite being 500 pages long it felt much shorter because I was hooked and I ended up finishing it in less than 48 hours! The story unfolds through dual timelines of ‘before’ and ‘now’ which fit seamlessly together. As with the author’s previous books, Missing Pieces is a perfectly paced read with an addictive mystery that keeps you fully engaged throughout. The tension-filled claustrophobic atmosphere is palpable as Rebekah searches for answers and struggles to survive on the island alone. At times you really have to suspend the disbelief but twists and turns compensate for that. I never came even close to guessing what was going on and who the villain was.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lorraine Brown: Uncoupling

Hannah and Si are in love and on the same track – that is, until their train divides on the way to a wedding. The next morning, Hannah wakes up in Paris and realises that her boyfriend (and her ticket) are 300 miles away in Amsterdam!
But then Hannah meets Léo on the station platform, and he’s everything Si isn’t. Spending the day with him in Paris forces Hannah to question how well she really knows herself – and whether, sometimes, you need to go in the wrong direction to find everything you’ve been looking for… 

This book is a bit corny and predictable but honestly that’s why I read these type of books and this book is exactly what I needed -a little bit of escapism. I loved the detailed description of the beautiful Paris, it really transported me there. The characters are likeable and the story flows. Although this is billed as a romance I think it’s more of a love story to finding yourself and being who you want to be instead of fitting into some pre planned mould that society has laid out. I really enjoyed it, not just because I got to escape to Paris but because it is a charming, joyful, and uplifting story that has been well written and plotted.Recommended for anyone who loves Paris and a bit of romance!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

megan goldin: the Night swim

On her way to Neapolis, North Carolina; podcast host Rachel Krall, finds a note on the dashboard of her car pleading for help. The writer of the note, Hannah, believes her sister was murdered 25 years ago and needs Rachel’s help to identify the murderer(s). Rachel is wary of helping Hannah, but soon gets pulled in to her story as she leaves more and more letters for Rachel to read about what happened to her sister, Jenny. At the same time, Rachel begins attending the trial of a famous swimmer accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. The two cases converge, leading to a sickening and sad revelation. 

This book is not easy to read. The author spends a lot of time examining how a rape trial plays out in the courtroom. The rapes of two female characters are also shared. It is heavy, dark, and emotional to read but it’s also important to the story, one that gets into the heavy topic of rape culture and what that means for our generation versus previous ones. The chapters alternate between Hannah and Rachel’s point of view as well as episodes from the podcast. There are two mysteries in this book and the author blended their stories perfectly. The transitions between the past and present were flawless. Both stories were interesting, gut wrenching and intriguing. It was well-paced and I was hooked from the first page. I’m really hoping this will become a series.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

mike Gayle: all the lonely people

In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment. But Hubert Bird is lying.The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul. Until, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .

A story of community, loneliness and unlikely friendships. The book successfully swaps between present day and London in the 50’s to tell the story about Hubert Bird. It successfully tackled themes like racism and loss but focuses on loneliness . It was very emotional at times but also very uplifting and inspirational. The only thing I didn’t like is that it wasn’t really ‘unputdownable’, and not as gripping as I hoped. There were some twists through the book but essentially this was a story about the power of community. Lots of different emotions are experienced but overall there is a sense of joy in this thought-provoking, delightful and very captivating read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

What I Read: March 2021

Sarah Pearse: The Sanatorium

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors , the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel. An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept. Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in. . .

This book had such great potential! Creepy atmosphere, a remote hotel, former sanatorium, snow blizzard… If this book was rated on atmosphere and setting it would get 5 stars from me! It started so good but then about half way through it just went wrong. Erin has some questionable detective skills, talking openly to everyone about everything and then being surprised at how events turned. There was also a fair bit of repetition. I wouldn’t have minded the slow build-up so much if we didn’t always have to go through this cycle of Elin doubting herself, slowly gaining more confidence, then having something bad happen which would send her straight back to square one. I found the whole premise extremely unbelievable. From the way people died, how everything was investigated to the final reveal. Oh the final reveal…Given that the body count rises throughout the book, I expected an evil villain with a strong motive. Instead I got weak motive and very farfetched story. This book had everything that I’m looking for in a thriller but somehow it didn’t work together.

⭐⭐⭐

Rachel Abbott: Close your eyes(#10 DCI Tom Douglas)

I thought I was safe here, but I’m not. I’ve stayed too long. Now Genevieve is dead, and the police are on their way. It’s time for me to go. I must stick to the plan – the one I made the day I arrived in this city. My bag is packed. It always is. I will destroy every shred of evidence of my existence. The police must never find me. If they do, so will he. I made a mistake, and someone had to die. But I’m the one who has truly lost her life.I need to make a choice. If I keep running, I’ll never stop. If I go back, he will make me suffer. 

Close Your Eyes is the tenth book in a series of crime thrillers featuring DCI Tom Douglas and his team, it can be read as a stand-alone but I think it’s better read as part of a series. Rachel Abbott has been one of my favourite authors ever since I picked up her first book. This book, as expected, was clever, intriguing and completely absorbs you from the first page. I was lost in another world whilst reading it, so twisty that I finished it in one day! The story is told from 3 perspectives, DCI Tom, Martha and a girl called India. The chapters are short, sharp and easy to read. From the blurb you can’t really figure out what the story is about and I think that’s the best so I’m not going to go into details but I can say that this is one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year. Highly recommend!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ericka Waller: Dog days

George is a grumpy, belligerentold man who has just lost his wife. She has left him notes around the home and a miniature dachshund puppy called Poppy. But George doesn’t want a dog, he wants to fight everyone who is trying to help him. Dan has OCD but has channeled his energy into his career as a therapist. Afraid to acknowledge his true feelings, his most meaningful relationship so far is with his dog Fitz. That is, until Atticus walks into his life. Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from the world. She distrusts dogs, but when she starts having to walk the refuge’s dog, Maud, things begin to change. As three strangers’ lives unravel and intersect, they ultimately must accept what fate has in store for them with their dogs by their sides.

So I picked up this book expecting a light read. I love dogs and I was thinking this will be very heartwarming book. Well, it wasn’t. It was actually very serious and at times depressing. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that I expected a story where all the characters meet in a park with their dogs and become friends but I was very wrong. Yes there were dogs involved in the story but it was so much more than that. This is a very emotional and powerful book combining humour and sadness. Each of the characters is struggling to cope with something whether it be grief or their sexuality but the loyalty of the animals shines through and helps them through their dark days. This book touches on suicide, depression, domestic violence, grief and homophobia. It highlights how not everything in life has a happy ever after, people and their emotions/actions are complex and not straightforward. A great book if you like reading about messy lives without fairytale endings like I do.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

lucy clarke: The castaways

Lori books a holiday for herself and her sister, Erin to Fiji for a break, but the night before they are due to fly, they end up falling out and Lori ends up on the plane alone, wondering what’s happened to Erin. The plane disappears without trace leaving poor Erin wondering what’s happened to her sister and the plane. Now as a reporter she tries to find out the truth. 

The book alternates between Lori and Erin, the past and the present, from each sister’s point of view and wow, it took on a life of its own. I had no idea where the story was going, and could never have guessed it, but I loved every minute of this castaway adventure. It’s a slow paced story but you could feel all the tension and anxiety. Atmospheric from start to finish. I’m not going to give anything else away as it really would ruin the book and all I can say is read it for yourself. It’s pure escapism and I loved every moment. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

peter swanson: Every vow you break

Abigail Baskin never thought she’d fall in love with a millionaire. Then she met Bruce Lamb. He’s a good guy, stable, level-headed, kind—a refreshing twist from her previous relationships.But right before the wedding, Abigail has a drunken one-night stand on her bachelorette weekend. She puts the incident—and the sexy guy who wouldn’t give her his real name—out of her mind, and now believes she wants to be with Bruce for the rest of her life.Then the mysterious stranger suddenly appears—and Abigail’s future life and happiness are turned upside down. He insists that their passionate night was the beginning of something much, much more. Something special. Something real—and he’s tracked her down to prove it.

Peter Swanson is one of my auto-buy authors so I got this book on the day it was published and started reading it straight away. I gave all of his previous books 4 or 5 stars so I’m very sad that I have to write this review. I just can’t believe that this book is written by the same author who wrote my favourite thriller ever, The Kind Worth Killing. Yes, the premise sounded amazing but from the start I knew where this was going. The first half was very repetitive and boring and even though the second half was more interesting it was definitely more ridiculous as well. There were moments that were entertaining and I was hoping it was building up towards some big twist but it didn’t. The ending was the worst for me. Maybe someone would be thrilled by the conclusion but for me the whole thing was very farfetched and over the top.

⭐⭐💫

lauren ho: last tang standing

Andrea Tang is in her early 30s living the dream; she is working her way towards partner in the law firm she works for, has an amazing condo (that she owns) and knows where all the best restaurants and clubs are located in Singapore thanks to great friends. What she doesn’t have is the man that will make her “perfect” life more perfect. When she begins the process of trying to find said man she doesn’t expect the craziness or all the dick pics that ensue with dating apps. Andrea also doesn’t expect to find herself laughing and hanging out with her office mate, Suresh, who is her top rival for the position of partner and enjoying it more than every date the apps have matched her with. 

Andrea Tang is in her early 30s living the dream; she is working her way towards partner in the law firm she works for, has an amazing condo (that she owns) and knows where all the best restaurants and clubs are located in Singapore thanks to great friends. What she doesn’t have is the man that will make her “perfect” life more perfect. When she begins the process of trying to find said man she doesn’t expect the craziness or all the dick pics that ensue with dating apps. Andrea also doesn’t expect to find herself laughing and hanging out with her office mate, Suresh, who is her top rival for the position of partner and enjoying it more than every date the apps have matched her with. 

This book was fast paced, funny and taught me a lot about Chinese-Malaysian culture and how pressured women feel that they have to get married young or by their thirties or their families will disown them and cut them out. But, this romance was very slow paced. There is actually no romance at all in first part, a little bit in a second and then finally we can see some signs of it in the last part. I feel this was more about Andrea’s personal growth than romance which is not a bad thing but just keep that in mind if you are expecting more romance and passion. Overall, it was a little boring for me. most of it is just Andrea’s daily life, and the things she ended up doing with her cousin. However, I enjoyed reading about the Chinese culture and the Singapore backdrop in the book.

⭐⭐⭐💫

cara hunter: all the rage

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back . . 

As I big Cara Hunter fan it should be no surprise that I loved this book. I was really intrigued about how the story would tie together, as there were a lot of twists and turns, and I didn’t guess the ending. All I can say about this story is that it is one twisted read. I kept thinking we were being taken down one road when it comes to the case that Fawley and his team are working on, only for it to go off down a totally different route. Multiple times as well! I can’t wait for the fifth book that is being released at the end of April.

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What I Read: February 2021

Cara Hunter: No Way Out(#3)

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life. Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone? Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

I feel like I’m repeating myself but I have to say once again how much I love this series and how much I love Cara Hunter’s writing! No Way Out is Cara Hunter’s third book in the DI Adam Fawley series and it is every bit as captivating and clever as the others. In this police procedural, DI Fawley takes a more backseat role, and for good reason, he is an emotional wreck as his wife, Alex, has left him but that allows the others in his team to shine and I loved that. As ever, Cara Hunter has produced a storyline that has great pace and lots of twists and turns, with a truly great little twist at the end. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

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Dolly Alderton: Ghosts

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan. A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

I’m not sure I can summarise how much I loved this book. I had to pace my self so that I didn’t finish it too quickly but when I was doing something else I just ended up thinking how I really want to go back and just finish it. This is a very lovely and gentle and yet funny book. It is everything I want from a book. Dolly’s observations on dating in your 20s/30s, especially online dating, friendships as you get older and love and relationships are spot on. As someone who has used dating apps before (I met my fiancé online) I could see myself in Nina, all the disappointment, uncertainty and ghosting. It also made me so grateful that those days are behind me now. But this story is about so much more than just being ‘ghosted’ by a man. She explores themes like female friendship, dementia, growing up, and being one of the last ‘single’ friends. Although Ghosts is at times sad and realistic about the disappointments of life, it isn’t without its laughs or tender moments. So refreshingly relatable and I enjoyed it from start to finish!

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Rachel Hawkins: The Wife Upstairs

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded jewellery off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name. But her luck changes when she meets Eddie­ Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie–he’s rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.  Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

Well this is how you write a domestic suspense thriller! I feel like I’ve just read my favourite thriller of 2021 and it’s only February! When it hooked me from the first page I knew it it would be a good one. This book kept me on my toes the entire time and I was completely invested in every character, all of them with some dark, twisted secrets… This is a reimagined, modern twist on JANE EYRE, a novel I’ve heard about, but never read. I was also unfamiliar with details of the plot so I think that’s why I enjoyed the twists and the story more. I completely devoured this book! There were some twists that I could see coming, but there were even more that took me by surprise. I love the writing style of author Rachel Hawkins. It’s very smooth and easy to get lost in her descriptions, characters lines, and imagery. It’s just a fun book that reveals secrets at a perfect pace. That made it very hard for me to put down. I can’t recommend this book enough.

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Emma Gannon: Olive

Olive is in her early thirties and lives in London with long-term boyfriend, Jacob. She is a journalist who loves her job working at .dot magazine. She remains close to her three childhood and university friends, Bea, Cecily and Isla. As they all settle down, marrying and starting families, Olive is pretty sure she doesn’t want children, but everyone else thinks she will change her mind. Jacob wants children and so when he ends their relationship because of this, we follow Olive as she struggles, feeling distant from her friends

Focusing on Olive and her friends, the narrative moves from earlier points in their friendship, and Olive’s relationship with Jacob, providing context. Gannon writes movingly and with empathy, about the four womens’ different choices and situations, all of which have their difficulties. Motherhood, infertility, IVF, the choice to be child-free and infidelity that are all experienced by four friends. I was sucked into this book right from the very first page because I loved getting to know Olive as I really identified with her. I’m child free by choice, I knew that I didn’t want children pretty early in life so I experienced all the cliche comments that she was getting including the famous one: ‘You will change your mind”. Also this was the first time that I saw a woman who was child-free by choice portrayed in a book which is amazing but also shocking because it’s 2021! The book also explores female friendship and how the lives of Olive and her friends diverge, all based on their decisions/desires to become or not become mothers. This is a definite must read for any woman, young or old, and not just child-free ones. Highly recommended!

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Anna Downes: The safe place

Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day. Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily. Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.

Well I must say I was very intrigued and excited to start this debut book. I always love checking out a new author. I loved the writing style, it was really good and kept me hanging on to every word. Downes created this doomed and sinister atmosphere and I was just waiting for something terrible to happen. The characters are interesting. The storyline is intriguing and the French home while it sounds like a dream come true, turns out to be creepy and strange. That being said, I felt a bit let down at the end. I expected something more, but i’m not sure what. Maybe something a bit more sinister? This is the author’s debut novel and it shows promise, I will be on the lookout for more books from her in the future.

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Elle Cosimano: Finlay Donovan is killing it

Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors. When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.

This book is the first in a new comedy-mystery series, about a single mum and struggling suspense novelist, whose fiction may or may not be, inspired by events in her own life. I loved this book so much, it was funny, unputdownable and refreshing. If you’ve watched and loved the Netflix TV show Dead To Me, you will love this. The story isn’t completely realistic, but it’s always entertaining. Finlay and her nanny Vero are a delight and they had me smiling and laughing on nearly every page. A little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a whole lot of laughs which was exactly what we all need during this time.

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Samantha downing: my lovely wife

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbours, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive. Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

Ok, this is a very messed up psychological thriller about a husband and wife with a really ‘interesting” fetish. It was labeled as Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Dexter for a reason. It was a very addictive and twisted read that held my attention from the first page. The story is narrated from husband’s point of view and even though you should hate them both, for some reason you become sympathetic towards him. This novel didn’t follow the standard formula, in which someone dies, and we spend the remainder of the book figuring out the why and who. No! In this story, we are introduced to the villains early on. I really enjoyed how the author created an eerie atmosphere from the first page and the tension was carried on through out.  While I managed to predict one twist early on, I had no clue how things were going to play out at the end. Highly recommended.

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What I Read: January 2021

Matt Haig: The Midnight Library

After life becomes to overwhelming for Nora to handle, she decides she no longer wants to live. She finds herself in-between life and death in the Midnight Library. Here, there are thousands upon thousands of books showing all the alternative lives she could have lived if she didn’t make certain mistakes. Nora now has the opportunity to find her perfect life, but will she go for it?

It’s been weeks since I’ve finished this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a really cool concept that between life and death there is a library where you get an opportunity to see how your life would look like if you’ve made a different decision. I think a lot about this, what my life would be like had I made different choices. This book forces you to ask hard questions, like what makes a life worth living and are your dreams really something you want? I love the way this book talks about regrets and how most of the time our regrets are bunch of nonsense and are out of our control but they still are causing a major burden on our life. The writing is amazing and picks up really fast. Once you get into the book, it’s hard to put it down. A must read! I would recommend it to everyone!

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Eve Chase: The Glass House

The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds. And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .

The first bit had me slightly bored, and the characters were all a bit confusing as we switched between 3 different POVs, two from the past and one from the present. But as we keep going, things clear up, and you just get sucked right into the imagery, and the deep, dark secrets of the Harrington family. It takes a talented storyteller to pull off a multi-layered, emotional story like this but Eve Chase does a great job! This is very much a slower paced character driven story and despite the inclusion of a dead body, it’s not a crime story. It’s more of a domestic drama with a mystery which builds slowly. Not the type of the book I normally read but I really enjoyed this one. This is the first book I’ve read from this author but I will definitelly read more!

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Cara Hunter: In the Dark

A woman and child are found locked in a basement room, barely alive. No one knows who they are — the woman can’t speak, and there are no missing persons reports that match their profile. The elderly man who owns the house claims he has never seen them before.The inhabitants of the quiet Oxford street are in shock. How could this happen right under their noses? But DI Adam Fawley knows that nothing is impossible.

Last month I started DI Adam Fawley series by reading one book each month so here we are! I love this series so much and I can’t believe I just discovered Cara Hunter! I liked this one even more than the first one. Loved that this book kept me on my toes with lots of suspects along the way. It’s really fast paced with lots of twists . At first it seems like an open and shut case but as the story unfolds it is revealed to be grittier and darker! If you haven’t read the first one, it’s ok because it can be read as standalone even though it could help if you knew backstories of investigative team as we are getting more of it in this book. If you are looking for a fast paced, easy read, I high recommend this one.

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C.J. Tudor: The Burning Girls

Welcome to Chapel Croft. Five hundred years ago, eight protestant martyrs were burned at the stake here. Thirty years ago, two teenage girls disappeared without a trace. And two months ago, the vicar of the local parish killed himself. Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent with a fourteen-year-old daughter and a heavy conscience, arrives in the village hoping to make a fresh start and find some peace. Instead, Jack finds a town mired in secrecy and a strange welcome package: an old exorcism kit and a note quoting scripture. “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed and hidden that will not be known.”The more Jack and daughter Flo get acquainted with the town and its strange denizens, the deeper they are drawn into their rifts, mysteries, and suspicions. And when Flo is troubled by strange sightings in the old chapel, it becomes apparent that there are ghosts here that refuse to be laid to rest.But uncovering the truth can be deadly in a village where everyone has something to protect, everyone has links with the village’s bloody past, and no one trusts an outsider

Since reading The Chalkman C.J. Tudor is on auto-buy for me. Her books just never disappoint me. This is a complex mystery, a bit of a character driven slow burn, but the fact that it is composed of 3 POVs moving about in different directions really produced an eerie, page turning journey. I have to warn you, this is a pretty dark book. There are quite a few of in depth events of bullying, and some of the plot parts are boarder line horror. Too be honest I thought it will be much scarier when I saw the name of the book but luckily it wasn’t the main story of the book. On the other hand, the atmosphere of the small cottage coupled with the crumbling chapel, had me freaked out and I was yelling at the characters for going places. There are some surprising twists and turns. Although, some big clues are given early on, and if one catches on, not much will be surprising. Overall, this was fun, quick read. I recommend it to those who love a good thriller, tons of twists, and a hint of horror. 

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Brit Bennett: The Vanishing Half

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

I loved the premise and the theme of the book, it covered wide range of subjects from colourism and passing for white, classism, domestic violence, racism to identity issues and LGBTQIA+. It was fascinating and sad seeing how different the lives of the twins, their daughters, and their significant others were. Not only because of the choices they made, but in a way their race played a part too. But…even though this book’s message was heavy, relevant and timely it was sometimes a chore to read. I felt it was lacking depth, especially with the trans character Reese. I still don’t understand why this is brought up in this story if there wasn’t intention to be explored more. Also first 1/3 of the book was very slow and the ending was strange and hurried. I turned the last few pages expecting some of the loose ends to be tied up, but there were no real answers. Overall, this book is equally educational and entertaining. I feel my expectations were too high but that’s not the reason someone else won’t like it.

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Hazel Prior: Away With Penguins

86 year old Veronica McCreedy is a very wealthy woman living in a coastal mansion, The Ballahays, in Ayrshire. She has been lonely and alone for a long time, with no family, divorced, her only human contact is with Eileen who comes in to clean. Veronica is contemplating her life and what do with her money, when a grandson is unearthed, Patrick, living in Bolton. Patrick’s life has fallen apart, his girlfriend, Lynette, has left him, leaving him gobsmacked, having to move, and financially poorer. When Veronica and Patrick soon meet, expectations are not met, and intentions are misunderstood. Their parting is laced with mutual disappointment. Veronica then stumbles upon a television show about penguins one night – and falls head over heels for the pint-sized feathered friends. Quicker than a blink, she books a trip to a penguin research centre in Antarctica in order to learn all about the adorable creatures.

If, like me, you adore penguins, then Hazel Prior’s moving and hopeful novel will be the perfect read. This book is so charming and comforting, it’s like a big mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows . The story alternates between Patrick’s and Veronica’s points of views. Veronica is one of those prickly characters who sneaks up on you until you find yourself cheering her on. Patrick may seem like a lost young man drifting through life, but there is so much more to discover about him. In the beginning I didn’t like Patrick’s chapters but later I got into it.With a little bit of romance, gentle humour and an environmental message, this is definitely one for the penguin lovers out there and for those who enjoy a heartwarming, feel-good tale.

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What I Read: December 2020

Ruth Ware: One by One

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?

For the last three years every winter I have read a book like this, remote setting, snow storm (or in this case an avalanche), people with messed up histories and murder(s). There is certainly nothing original here but I really like the atmosphere and it’s very Agatha Christie.In the beginning, I did find myself confused with keeping up with “who was who”. I rarely have a problem remembering large casts of characters but, in this case, only the two protagonists, were well developed, so I had to distinguish the others by their role. Also I found the first third very slow due to that, but the story picks up from there and is really intense with the avalanche and a killer killing randomly. This is where I got really hooked. Having said that, I didn’t like the ending. The book continues to drag on after the ending, tying up all the ends when it didn’t really matter. Also I felt the killer’s revelation was a bit obvious. There was no surprise and it was more why than who. All in all, an enjoyable and entertaining thriller to cosy up with under the blanket.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Sophie Cousens: This Time Next Year

Down-to-earth baker Minnie Cooper knows two things with great certainty: that her New Year’s birthday has always been unlucky, and that it’s all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she’s never met. Minnie and Quinn were born at the same hospital just after midnight on New Year’s Day thirty years before, and not only did he edge her out by mere minutes to win the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990, but he stole the name she was meant to have, as well. With luck like that, it’s no wonder each of her birthdays has been more of a disaster than the one before. When Minnie unexpectedly runs into Quinn at a New Year’s party on their mutual thirtieth birthday, she sees only more evidence that fortune has continued to favor him. The handsome, charming business owner truly seems to have it all–including the perfect girlfriend. But if Quinn and Minnie are from different worlds, why do they keep bumping into each other? And why is it that each frustrating interaction somehow seems to leave them both hoping for more?

This is one of those missed chances style stories that can sometimes drive me a little crazy, but this one was really cute. The story takes place over the course of a year, with several flashbacks to past NYEs, for both Quinn and Minnie. The story is predictable but has a little more depth than I initially expected. There is also a real unique subplot within this and it made the ending even happier! I would describe it as part of woman fiction, part chick lit, part romantic comedy. It’s about romance but it’s also about building friendships, family dynamics and most importantly loving yourself. Overall, this was such a charming and delightful book and I would recommend it to all contemporary romance fans.

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Richard Osman: The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?

I was delaying reading this book because I honestly thought it was based on good PR because celebrity books are kind of hit and miss. But TV presenter Richard Osman’s debut novel is such a charming and heartwarming mystery with so much wit, fun and interesting characters that I couldn’t put it down from the first chapter. The plot is fast paced, keeps you guessing as it’s got many a twist along the way, It’s very cleverly written with several clever red-herrings thrown around and I really couldn’t guess the murderer. I always appreciate a book that can trick me like that and leave me clueless and guessing right up to the last page! Super fun and sweet with characters so lovable and quirky you’d love to have them around for tea. Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2020! Looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Josie Silver: One Day in December

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away. Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be. What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered.

The story is told from both Jack and Laurie’s perspectives, starting from the snowy December day they find themselves on opposite sides of a misty bus window, inexplicably drawn to each other. This is not a typical love story. It unfolds over the course of ten, angst filled years! In the decade following the moment they first laid eyes on each other we follow Laurie and Jack’s ups and downs, their heartaches and relationships, misunderstandings and of course their friendship and undeniable connection. I found this book to be addictive. I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen to these characters. This is a great book to get a blanket and curl up with. I actually managed to finish the whole book one Sunday afternoon! My only complaint was that I wanted an epilogue! I just wanted to know what kind of life they have now! I found this book to be engaging, fun and a very enjoyable read. It has a little bit of everything: friendship, loss, grief, new beginnings, forgiveness, heartache, and love.

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Holly Jackson: Good Girl, Bad Blood(#2)

Pip Fitz-Amobi is not a detective anymore. With the help of Ravi Singh, she released a true-crime podcast about the murder case they solved together last year. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her.
But she will have to break that promise when someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared but the police won’t do anything about it. And if they won’t look for Jamie then Pip will, uncovering more of her town’s dark secrets along the way… and this time EVERYONE is listening.
But will she find him before it’s too late?

Ok, I really hope these books will be turned into a tv show or something because they are brilliant! This book was as thrilling and engaging as the first one. After reading so many crazy adult thrillers I really needed a break and this was it. It’s fun with an easy to follow story and likeable characters. I just couldn’t stop reading! It’s fast paced and the mystery is even more dreadful than the first book, not giving readers time to chill out even for a second. We have no clue why Jamie disappeared and we also have no clue if he was dead or alive for the majority of the book. And even though it is a bit farfetched, I love the way the mystery unraveled. I can’t wait for the next book! 

Just a heads up: even though the books can be read as a standalone, there is a major spoiler about the first book and so you might want to read that one first.

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Sally Thorne: The Hating Game

Lucy Hutton is charming and accommodating and prides herself on being loved by everyone at Bexley & Gamin. Everyone except for coldly efficient, impeccably attired, physically intimidating Joshua Templeman. And the feeling is mutual. Trapped in a shared office together they’ve become entrenched in an addictive, ridiculous never-ending game of one-upmanship. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything—especially when a huge new promotion goes up for the taking. If Lucy wins this game, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign. So why is she suddenly having steamy dreams about Joshua, and dressing for work like she’s got a hot date? After a perfectly innocent elevator ride ends with an earth-shattering kiss, Lucy starts to wonder whether she’s got Joshua Templeman all wrong.Maybe Lucy Hutton doesn’t hate Joshua Templeman. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

So this book will now be the reason I will have a break from rom coms! This is the most cringy romance book that I’ve ever read! I was sitting on the sofa and I could’t stop saying ‘oh my God’ even half an hour after I finished it. I noticed that American chick lit is just not for me because it’s just too over the top. There is no surprise they are turning it into a movie, because it would really be a great tv! It was a quick and fun pass-time but it was a bit childish considering they are not teenagers but working professionals. Also repeatedly using The ______ Game in the text was so annoying. Definitely more chick lit than I would prefer but still enjoyable on some level.

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T.M. Logan: The Holiday

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday – a group of families enjoying a week together in the sun. Four women who have been best friends for as long as they can remember making the most of a luxurious villa in the south of France. But Kate has a secret: her husband is having an affair. And a week away might just be the perfect opportunity to get the proof she needs – to catch him in the act once and for all. Because she suspects the other woman is one of her two best friends. One of them is working against her, willing to sacrifice years of friendship to destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined . . . Because someone in the villa may be prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.

I’m in a minority here but I couldn’t wait to finish this book. I would give it fewer stars if the ending wasn’t so interesting and twisty. I had previously read Logan’s The Catch and really liked it so I thought this would be as good but it wasn’t. I was expecting something to happen because there was this constant sense of dread in the air but ultimately nothing did. There was too much descriptive writing which didn’t really add to the story (like describing the weather in detail), the adults were so unlikeable and the children were bratty and the plot lacked pace. The last 25% made it better. I feel everything was very well explained and more complex than I thought. I didn’t guess who the killer was and definitely didn’t guess the reason which means that I have to give the story some extra points.

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