Fires – Tom Ward

There’s a fire on the horizon.

For Guy, a fireman, it means the death of his wife and daughter. For 19-year-old Nathan and Alexa it means a chance to fight back against austerity and abandonment.

While the teenagers turn to arson, Guy searches for meaning behind his family’s deaths, battling corruption and a lost underclass, intent on fiery revolution.

For all three, their actions will lead them to the precipice of disaster.

The latest novel by Tom Ward is very different from his previous two. Fires, which is due to be published and available from November 2nd is a dark, gritty and tragic read. Absolutely absorbing, heart wrenching and heroic in a twisted kind of way, from beginning the first sentence I was transported to the dank streets of smoke, grit, rain and fear, deposited within the worlds of both Guy and Nathan as they both pursued their own personal journeys to find the right to correct the wrong and peace in a harsh dying setting that has lost all hope and left to abandonment.

The story begins with Guy, in happier times, we catch a glimpse of his family life, his world outside of the long hours and roaring heat of the fires he manages each day, his agony and hardship he feels at leaving his daughter to yet again attend another lengthy night shift. Three pages in and the story hits the reader with full force as tragedy strikes and Guy finds his whole world turned upside down. Fires tells the story of a devoted father and loving husband on a mission to discover the truth no matter of what the cost.

We are introduced to Nathan very early on. Young adolescent teenager, tired of the same old, tied to a suffocating routine and dead-end living. Looking for that spark of excitement he ventures down the path of no return turning his hand to arson and the addictive glow of burning embers. Nathan wasn’t what I expected him to be, he was a lost soul looking for some affection and an escape from the mundane, regardless of the result.

Ward weaves both stories together, the reader witnessing the challenges of both characters as each run aligned close together, how they cross paths and disperse only to become entangled again. Both characters are as important as each other, both determined, strong and seeking a new outcome, answers to questions and a chance to do the right thing, even if it isn’t the conventional way forward.

My interest in Fires was captured by the journeys of Guy and Nathan, with every other character playing their part as best they could

A captivating read with a satisfying and conclusive ending

Allow Ward to draw you in, feel the flames against your skin but be careful you don’t get too close

Read about these amazing characters and their journeys for finding the right solution. I am delighted to publish the very first review!

 

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Watching Edie – Camila Way

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…

I love the works of Camilla Way, I become entranced by the easy way she writes yet her words managing to encapsulate me pulling me into her prose with the emotion that hangs from each word

Watching Edie was just like that, the whole story weaving its way around the reader, gently leading you along the garden path pulling you in the direction of the winding edges and shaded trees, filling in the back story, writing in the way you believe the story should unfold. If only life was ever that simple, the shocker of this story is very much that, A shocker!

The characters are very well thought out, quite different to each other and none without a million layers, reading the story from separate timelines really fuses the story together bringing to life these main characters and filling in the gaps. It is one of those stories that doesn’t really go the way you anticipate but leaves you in awe of the revelations and shocking outcome.

Way is a wonderful author, one of those I know will never disappoint, I really do love her work.

 

 

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

The text message is just three words: I need you.

Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her now.

Something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three best friends she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten. Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, after what they did.

At school the girls used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But for some, did the boundary between fact and fantasy become too blurred?

And how much can you really trust your friends?

I was invited by Penguin Random House to join their Vintage Crime Reviewer Club, which came at just the right time. I have been struggling with reading, continuously in a book slump and not managing to finish the last five I have attempted, which for me, is quite alarming.

With the request to form part of this exciting new venture I got to choose which book took my fancy and found myself gravitating towards The Lying Game by Ruth Ware, I felt it would be a good easy read with a gripping storyline to draw me in and keep me hooked.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Lying Game, what I loved the most was the location of the story, the history around that location, the young lives of a group of close friends and the memories of a sizzling summer that changed the lives of all concerned thereafter.

Ware carefully wraps both the timelines together expertly, the presentation of memories from time gone by and the here and now as secrets are told and reality unfolds with history close on their heels is so delicately woven together dropping breadcrumbs one by one expecting the reader to follow the trail and join the dots.

Strong characters and a twisty plotline that keeps you on your toes

such an interesting read with an edge of raw emotion running throughout. The tales of a life before and a life in the present and how time and age defines who we are. Feeling captivated from the start this was one of those fevered reads that has you reeling just from the emotion alone.  An excellent read and one I would most certainly recommend.

 

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.