Someone is Watching – Joy Fielding

As a special investigator for a hotshot Miami law firm, Bailey Carpenter is smart, savvy, and fearless. When she’s assigned to spy on a deadbeat dad in the middle of the night, Bailey thinks nothing of the potential dangers, only that she needs to gather evidence. Then she is blindsided—attacked and nearly killed.

Now the firm grip Bailey once had on her life is shaken. Her nightmares merge into her waking hours and she’s unable to venture beyond her front door without panicking. A veritable prisoner in her own home, Bailey is uncertain whom she can trust. But old habits die hard, and soon Bailey finds a new use for her idle binoculars: casually observing from her window neighboring buildings and other people’s lives. This seemingly harmless diversion becomes a guilty pleasure when Bailey fixates on the handsome guy across the street—until she realizes that he is also watching her. Suddenly she must confront the terrifying possibility that he may be the man who shattered her life.

Though crippled by fear, Bailey knows she can’t ignore her suspicions and risk leaving a predator at large. With the police making no headway in solving her case, she’s determined to overcome her terror and reclaim the power she lost by unmasking her attacker and taking him down herself. But it’s a harrowing battle that threatens to wreck Bailey’s credibility, compromise an investigation, and maybe even claim her sanity.

I have just finished reading the paperback copy of this book, at first I struggled, the text was tiny and I found I had to really concentrate on every word for fear of rereading every sentence. I had not read anything by Fielding before and found her writing style a little different to what I was accustomed to so it took me a couple of days to settle into the narrative of the book.

About a quarter of the way through I became addicted the story just gripped me and everything began to make sense and fall into place.

The prose, the writing style and even the small font just registered as familiar and they story really took hold.

Fielding wrote a complex story which was multi faceted and layered like an onion. Cleverly executed leading the reader along the path, leaving the clues like breadcrumbs. Each layer offering something different, the relationships, the family, the money, the rape and the sex.

I had my suspicions about the rapist long before the story ends, the motive however I couldn’t work out,

The red herrings were written all over the pages yet expertly so to continuously throw the reader off the scent and lose track of what exactly was reality and what wasn’t.

I think this one, for me, may have been a slow burn to begin with but felt really wholesome and satisfying as a result. I would definitely recommend it and suggest you give it a read.

 

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval—Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

 

The magic and enchantment of this story will bind you to its pages and hold on  to you tight. This is a tale of so many levels, a journey of self discovery, loyalty, passion, love and sheer determination.

Caraval might only be a game but yet it is one that you embrace with gusto never being quite the same when the game is over.

The enchantment around the book was amazing, the buzz of people reading something so special and sharing the excitement it created, I needed to read this book exactly because of that reason and the more I wanted it the harder it was to obtain. Then, as if my magic, it became mine.

Garber’s writing is beautiful in a fairytale way, flowing easily from one word to the next with a large amount of fantastical descriptions and majestic prose, almost written to feed the craving of needing to know more, needing to continue the game, needing the be involved.

The relationships between characters were volatile yet gentle almost loving, emotions displayed in colours and lavish scents with motions captured in beats and flutters almost audible to us as readers.

The suspense is captivating, the surrounding mystery and the playing at night, the lights and colours and rules…made to be broken and not forgetting Legend the man himself!

If you are a lover of The Night Circus you will love this one and better still this is book no.1

I think I am a little bit in love with Julian. I would like to play the part of Crimson please, she is my heroine.

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.

 

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough


screenshot-2016-12-06-at-21-10-52Don’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?



One of those failing marriages and a secret past kind of story, yet nothing is really quite as it seems, which keeps you attentive and alert your mind rushing ten thousand miles per hour to resolve the puzzle with no idea where to begin.

I have never read a book quite like this.

The story follows three main characters, Adele, David and Louise with a fourth character referred to as a link to the past, Rob, this character is part of Adele’s history, a friend within her recovery after tragedy hit, a permanent reminder of how she has struggled to battle her demons although we find that his presence is persistent throughout the story and as we are slowly drip fed the pieces of information at a time it feels that Adele had never quite broken the tie that binds them as one.

I believe Adele was just a lonely lost girl looking for something other than broken love. At 18 still very young, naive and innocent. Very easily influenced Adele is easily persuaded and willing to please. The friendship with Rob is solid and loving but I find it is David that completes the circle, bringing the three together. David binds them together, the one person Adele lives and breathes for, yet Rob is unsure and disturbed by the controlling aspect of David’s nature unable to agree with the suffocation he bestowed upon his friend. This has always caused a rift in the marriage.

Adele and Rob have their connection being able to discuss their bad dreams and solutions at will, another connection, another secret from David.

Then enters Louise.

Louise meets David in a bar and connects with him at once. Louise is lonely and feeling unloved, trying to survive the single parent life style and keep her happiness in the balance.  This woman once scorn needs the attention, craves the love of David. Through David Louise meets Adele, his wife and a strong friendship begins to bloom but secrets are kept and nothing appears as it seems. 

Adele needs a friend, new to the area, hoping for a ‘fresh start’ she immediately takes an interest in Louise latching on instantaneously. Louise is easily influenced still feeling the hurt from her ex husband’s recent news. Even though Louise is initially unsure it doesn’t take long for her to come around to being friends with Adele, which she keeps from David. Another secret. 

The plan is in place, the trap is set, the game begins

Riveted to the pages as the relationships progress and we witness as Louise rides her tortured roller coaster of emotions on their journey as the relationships between the three develop. Louise follows the instructions to a tee plays her part beautifully and with ease, without the realisation dawning until it is way too late. The triangle between the three is fast paced and highly charged keeping the reader flipping through the pages at breakneck speed.

I was never sure which character I had an alliance with. I didn’t know who to trust and would shift between Adele and David. Whilst David was strong masculine and controlling Adele was manipulated vulnerable and weak. Yet disturbing in her intensity. She frightened me with certain aspects of her behaviour which only increases the belief in the story David is trying to protect Louise from.

Louise is the puppet, the pawn the game piece. It’s her I feel sorry for. A part of a cruel game in manipulation and mind games draining her of rationale and reason. 

An amazing read leaving with reeling with stunned shock after reading the conclusion.

I had no suspicions, no preempted ideas and not a clue how everything would end. With 6% remaining all the loose ends tied together bringing with it the final clear sharp picture. It was nothing I was expecting. Pure genius.

An Off-Piste Christmas – Julie Houston


The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace’s, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.

Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces’ class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town… But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles…

This was the first Christmas read of the season for me and not my usual genre either.

I absolutely adored this grab your attention festive novella and giggled my way through from one page to the next!

I loved the lighthearted way it was written especially about subjects not very lighthearted and maybe even close to home for some. The humour that rolled off the pages, softening the reality of heartfelt situations was very well-played and added that extra joviality to the storyline bringing the characters to life.

This was the first story I have read by Houston with this being the first introduction to the characters but how they shone, bold and bright from the pages.

Very well-developed and loveable, with those who were not so loveable being realistic and dramatic, over the top if you will, yet you can sympathise and laugh hoping you never find yourself in one of those situations and certainly not with those people. At some point in our lives it is inevitable we will!

There were very real aspects of the story that struck a chord with me. The mother – daughter relationship and the spilling of home truths, the feelings about the marriage of Nick and Harriet and the standing up to the overbearing mother and saying your piece! that I especially enjoyed.

The very best thing for me was that this Christmas story was a realistic read, not a soppy rom com affair with a fairytale ending

It felt real and relatable, crazy, manic and a little off the wall but all in such a great way. Thoroughly enjoyable and a superb little read to get you ready for Christmas.

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.

 

 

 

ALL FALL DOWN – Tom Bale

You tried to save a life. Now you’re fighting to save your own.

It should have been an idyllic day for the Turner family – until a dying man, beaten beyond all recognition, arrives at their home, uttering the words, HELP ME. Rob and Wendy Turner and their children try to explain away the horrific scene as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but in the days that follow their lives are threatened in ways they could never imagine.

The family is unaware that they are being watched by someone with their own terrifying agenda, who will stop at nothing to fulfil their own twisted desires.

But when hidden secrets come rushing to the surface, it’s clear not everything is as it seems in this happy family. Are the Turners a victim of circumstance – or does the key to their fate lie closer to home?

Forced to fight for everything they hold dear, can they save themselves before time runs out – or will their act of compassion see them paying the ultimate price…?

I must say I really love the work of Tom Bale, mainly due to the fact that his work pushes the boundaries, as he writes in-depth playing with ideas and scenarios that may be a thing of our bad dreams.

I found All Found Down a great read, albeit disturbing, at times I had to stop writing and distract myself for a while.

I find his writing very emotive and thought-provoking and at the same time transporting to within the pages of the story, as wicked as it may be and as much as you would rather close your eyes and pretend it isn’t happening, you are there.

Bale gives you no choice, his writing just pulls you trapping you inside his novels ensuring you are living alongside his characters.

All Fall Down was different and yet similar to See How They Run, the main link being that regardless of the differences in these families between the two novels that Tom has written both are protecting their families.

Protection is the moral behind the whole story and something I personally understand.

I am not sure you can expect the outcome of All Fall Down, there are a lot of sub stories running along with the main event, all these stories play their valid part creating atmospheric tension, whispering secrets and those niggling doubts between family members causing them to question and to turn against each other, which is very interesting to witness.

Once again Bale has proven he can write that gripping edge of the seat dramatic stuff, with a much darker plot and aggressive characters this time around he delivers yet another thriller that will keep you entertained until the final word.