Daisy In Chains – Sharon Bolton

Famous killers have fan clubs.

Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.

Who would join such a club?

Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.

Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .

Would you?

This book, for me, was just something else. It was dark and twisted yet beautiful, emotive and addictive.

Feeling hypnotised from start to finish, Bolton held me under her spell of dark twisted addictive wanton. I just couldn’t wait for the next chapter, the next ‘incident’ or letter. The need for a new instalment.

A story full of complications, guarded emotions and deceit, even though it was written as a thriller it felt almost fanciful and delicate as segment by segment the reader is drip fed further information.

Bolton has a way of writing that captures the darker side of beauty, showing the reader how beautiful our demons can be, talented creative writing right there.

The characters were the story, bringing the words in the book to life, sharing hidden secrets, individual quirky ways which often left the reader wondering  and all those very important minute tiny details. A story capturing a complex pool of characters at their very best, working in harmony with and against each other, and that magnetic draw creating intensive relationships and highly charged emotions tumbling through the chapters.

Beautifully written, delicately put together with an electrifying undercurrent and explosive finale that, I never saw coming at all. 

Highly recommended and I will certainly be reading more of Bolton’s very well crafted work. An author I am glad I have finally found.

 

Emma In The Night – Wendy Walker

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night five years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Emma In The Night is a tormented read with harrowing realities and emotional draw, yet breathtakingly beautiful and delicately spun yarn by silken yarn

Never doubting that Walker had written another stunning read. I was not to be disappointed as I read her latest novel word to word, sentence to sentence and chapter to chapter. Walker writes with a beautiful presence, her characters fully formed in complexity displaying an exceptional strength of imagery.

This is a story of love, loss and revenge with a side of tension and a competitive streak thrown in the mix. A wholesome novel with a satisfying conclusion.

Not every writer can hold my attention, presenting script that feels flat and bland, without the delicacy of emotive scribblings and musings from within. Walker, for me, writes with everything I need from a novel, with an understanding of each character and a depth so deep they too walk from the page and for those few days become part of the daily life and routine. Maybe I just crave a more articulate verse than most? but I praise the writing style that evokes emotion and feeling grabbing my attention and most importantly holding it firmly in place.

Walkers words lift from the page in silken strands that wrap intricately around the all consumed reader.

Whilst the characters seem to all be fighting for attention within the story, Dr Winter was the character for me, she was the strength and the soul of the story becoming the saviour who helps bring this tragic tale to a close. Her side of the story slides under skin wrapping its way around the reader, tightening the binds until the anticipation is too intense, only to fall away to an amazing conclusion and outstanding finale.

I thoroughly adored her debut novel All Is Not Forgotten. I find myself living within her books, absorbed deep in the centre, too enthralled to put them down. This, is everything I need from a book.

Eveyln After – Victoria Helen Stone

Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.

Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.

But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?

I REALLY enjoyed this book. I loved the journey Stone took the reader on, full of intrigue, betrayal and passion.

I found myself completely enthralled and drawn into the story.

The prose, the writing and storyline were magnificent, how we heard a before and after point of view really strengthen the story and kept the reader engaged. I was constantly rooting for Evelyn, even when she was in the wrong. I cheer on Evelyn even in her wrong doings which throughout all she had been reborn and found a newer more confident version of herself loving and appreciating her womanly drive once again, albeit from the wrong situation but regardless she is on fire and thriving. It is so easy to become lost and insignificant as the years drift by.

My favourite character was most certainly Evelyn but I must say I adored Noah.

The connection between the two is delicious and the antics they got up to even more so, I wanted a happy ending, I desperately wanted them to be. Noah is the man Gary can never be and would never even try to be. Evelyn deserved Noah and they both deserved happiness.

What I found the most interesting aspect is that the control her husband held was crippling yet Evelyn had no idea how much so until her world was shattered by his betrayal. Her journey begins with the night when she is jolted from sleep to come to the rescue and from there how he lies to cover his tracks. Evelyn has a lot to discover.

I also very much appreciated the artistic aspect of the story, giving it an extra depth and providing a further connection.

Evelyn After for me was a brilliant story, and originally presented with an air of suspense where the reader has no idea how things will end up. It discusses long-standing relationships, marriage, aging insecurities and the relationships with children. It leaves bare that not everyone is as happy as they portray to be to the outside world.

 

Best Reads of 2016 – My Top Nine Reads

 

I have to say that by no means was this an easy decision. I wanted to include so many after reading 93 books in 2016 but these nine are the ones that either deeply impacted me, stayed with me or took me on a mesmerizing journey.

All of these books received a 5 star rating and resonate with me in one way or another, whether it be the writing style, the storyline, the characters or the shocker twist and turns they stood out.

NUMBER 9

It’s 1956 and fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent has never left the Cornish fishing village of St Steele or ventured far beyond the walls of the boarding house run by her erratic mother.

When the London press pack descends to report on a series of gruesome murders of young women, Betty’s world changes. In particular she is transfixed by mysterious and aloof reporter, Mr Gallagher. As the death toll rises, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Betty and Gallagher.

As their bond deepens, they find themselves entangled with the murders and each is forced to make a devastating choice, one that will shape their own lives – and the life of an innocent man – forever.  Full review here

NUMBER 8

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding… Full review here

NUMBER 7

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end. Full review here

NUMBER 6

‘I photographed the moment of my husband’s death…’ So begins HOLD STILL, a nerve-twisting thriller from bestselling author Tim Adler.

How much do we really know about those we love? Kate is visiting Albania with her husband Paul, a much needed break from Paul’s stressful website business. ‘Hold still,’ says Kate, taking a picture as Paul steps onto the hotel room balcony. ‘We’ll always be together,’ Paul responds.

Suddenly there is screaming below and a blaring car horn. Kate stares down from the balcony at the broken body of her husband lying lifeless in the street. Overcome with grief, Kate can’t accept the truth of Paul’s tragic death, and replays the incident over and over again, searching her pictures for a vital clue to what really happened.

When she meets the enigmatic Priest at a grief support group, they journey together into a dangerous world of violence and secrets as Kate realises what Paul really meant when he said he would never leave her…… Full review here

NUMBER 5

When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and

But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?

As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears… Full review here

NUMBER 4

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion. Full review here

NUMBER 3

Internationally bestselling author Julie Myerson’s beautifully written, yet deeply chilling, novel of psychological suspense explores the tragedies—past and present—haunting a picturesque country cottage.

Mary Coles and her husband, Graham, have just moved to a cottage on the edge of a small village. The house hasn’t been lived in for years, but they are drawn to its original features and surprisingly large garden, which stretches down into a beautiful apple orchard. It’s idyllic, remote, picturesque: exactly what they need to put the horror of the past behind them.

One hundred and fifty years earlier, a huge oak tree was felled in front of the cottage during a raging storm. Beneath it lies a young man with a shock of red hair, presumed dead—surely no one could survive such an accident. But the red-haired man is alive, and after a brief convalescence is taken in by the family living in the cottage and put to work in the fields. The children all love him, but the eldest daughter, Eliza, has her reservations. There’s something about the red-haired man that sits ill with her. A presence. An evil.

Back in the present, weeks after moving to the cottage and still drowning beneath the weight of insurmountable grief, Mary Coles starts to sense there’s something in the house. Children’s whispers, footsteps from above, half-caught glimpses of figures in the garden. A young man with a shock of red hair wandering through the orchard.

Has Mary’s grief turned to madness? Or have the events that took place so long ago finally come back to haunt her? Full review here

NUMBER 2

For the third time this week he is watching her scream.  Watching, not listening. Rebecca Laurence is centre stage and shining in her role as Ophelia. She pivots, rotating like a ballerina impaled in a musical box, red hair cascading down her back. Amidst the thundering applause, one man is watching.

Rebecca meets the charismatic Seth Gardner, and as attraction grows between them, he invites her to join his Friday Folly, a group of artistic friends. But as Rebecca is drawn into the web of tangled relationships all is not as it appears. The scene is set for the night that will rip the group apart.

Consumed by loss and surrounded by secrets, Rebecca must escape the grip of the Folly to have any chance of saving herself. Meanwhile, one man continues to watch. Full review here

NUMBER 1

Don’t Trust This Book

Don’t Trust These People

Don’t Trust Yourself

And whatever you do, DON’T give away that ending…

‘Sarah Pinborough is about to become your new obsession’ Harlan Coben

Louise – Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David – Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele – Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really is the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears? Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them? Full review here

I do hope my recommendations have inspired you, why not add maybe one or two of these great reads onto your must read books for 2017. Thank you for all of the support you have shown me in 2016 and I look forward to all those amazing new reads in 2017.

 

The Unforgotten – Laura Powell

 It’s 1956 and fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent has never left the Cornish fishing village of St Steele or ventured far beyond the walls of the boarding house run by her erratic mother.

When the London press pack descends to report on a series of gruesome murders of young women, Betty’s world changes. In particular she is transfixed by mysterious and aloof reporter, Mr Gallagher. As the death toll rises, an unlikely friendship blossoms between Betty and Gallagher.

As their bond deepens, they find themselves entangled with the murders and each is forced to make a devastating choice, one that will shape their own lives – and the life of an innocent man – forever.

I absolutely loved this story. The description of the book pulled me in, sounding intriguing with an air of mystery. I never expected to fall in love with the Betty or her journey. I certainly never expected the ending, that was a shocker and so eloquently done.

The draw of The Unforgotten came from the timeframe and the setting of the scene, written drama style like something from a screenplay, reminding me very much so of Murder on the Homefront, albeit a little later set. Powell’s writing clear allowing the reader to envisage the minute detail, the clothing, the hairstyles, the beach front pulling us closer and further into Betty’s story.

The characters are fantastic, solid and wholesome. Multifaceted with plenty of layers and depth. I will guarantee you will fall in love with one of them at least.

It was subtle, the stories of the two timeframes combined but yet it takes a while to get there, takes a little longer till the penny drops and then when it does it opens a whole new can of worms with a lot more answers needed. Gallagher has forever had his hold on Betty yet is Gallagher the man we think he is?

This is a story that I would love to reach the screen, one of those that will remain on my bookshelf and one I would recommend to all. This is a brilliant whodunit set in the fifties with a set of very well written characters.

 

 

 

Don’t You Cry – Mary Kubica

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.  

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

I adore the work of Mary Kubica, my favourite was always Good Girl, for being so different yet this, Don’t You Cry won hands down!

Just before starting this book I read a review that stated not much had happened yet the story was keeping him hooked. It was the writing, I totally agreed because even though there wasn’t a fast pace hanging on the edge of your seat beginning there was something so very hypnotic and seductive in the writing that held me captive and left me hanging onto every word.

I was enthralled by Dont You Cry with time standing still as I read page by page becoming deeper submerged under its spell

The characters made this story for me. Two stories of two different lives all joined together. Even those who only play the minor parts, the sub characters if you will, are strong and meaningful within the story. Alex Gallo appealed to me more than anyone. His heart warm and nature caring and such a beautiful boy. His relationship with Ingrid is so heart warming and how without the knowledge of doing so they continue to support each other, look out for each other and understand what it feels like to be lonely.

This soothing tale wraps itself around you joining you on the journey to find Esther whilst at the same time treads carefully along the eggshells of the life that Alex leads and his mysterious companion the lady he nicknames Pearl. As thought patterns are pulled this way and that the story changes yet again and just as you think you have worked it all out…you realise you were wrong all along.

This isn’t a book of red herrings, it doesn’t lead you to suspect individuals it sends you on a journey of companionship, friendship, self discovery and the powerful emotion of unconditional love and what you would do to protect that love.

Certainly a ‘keeper’ a ‘must read’ and a definite ‘recommend’ read this book and allow it to seep into your pores, absorb into your blood stream and savour the story thereafter.

A beautifully written novel with an excellent, unforeseen conclusion and a cast of perfectly developed characters.

This book certainly makes my top ten for 2016. Such a remarkable one that it is.

Dark Water (DCI Erika Foster #3) – Robert Bryndza

 

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker, comes the third heart-stopping book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

I admit Bryndza is on to a winner with this series and this is by far my favourite of the three. Dark Water is set in a cold climate in remote places with lots of hidden secrets. The historical aspect of the main investigation is fabulous giving the series a new spin. It was great to see the old cast of characters together and see how things ‘blossom’ with relationships and how we learn a little more about Erica Foster.

This book was a very good mix of old and new introducing some likely characters we may well meet again in future books.

I think with this being the third in the series we are now forming more of an understanding about the characters on the set. This is the third thriller we have run alongside and are bound to notice much more. The more time you spend with a person the more you see and do not necessarily like.

I did notice that Foster is an arrogant, stubborn and selfish sod when she wants to be and I found more of that character trait in this book. Whilst developed, well-rounded yet complex she has a knack of getting all the wrong backs up, ensuring she gets exactly what she wants and always ever so insistent she gets the front role in the case. I understand why she hasn’t had that promotion yet. People always seem to want to kill her off.

We see another side to James Peterson in this book too. He holds onto his anger and appears very opinionated, almost irrational in his views, not always professional and often misunderstanding of the boundaries but has a soft centre and a warm heart wanting more than he is able to have and feeling on the outside when he would rather be by the fire. At times I feel Peterson needs to grow up and act like the man he should be although do like him and believe he is a strong character throughout I envisage Gary Dourdan from CSI as Peterson when I read about him, I think he would play a pretty good Peterson.

The storyline and historical case kept me gripped, I really enjoy Bryndza’s writing style and find his books really easy to read.

The conclusion was simply amazing, very well thought out and delivered. I had no idea how the story would end and was very satisfied with the conclusion indeed. Maybe in the next book DCI Foster can finally have her heart thawed… she needs to learn to love again.