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Hot off the press! Check out the books we think are the best of the best this month!
Immerse yourself in this chilling, gripping, psychological thriller. It's an addictive page-turner and I couldn't put it down. The 17-year gap in friendship between Abi and Mel, the reunion, reliving the happy times, the twists and turns, the glamorous celebrity versus the suburban housewife. I was hooked on the book and it reminded me why I love Adele Parks so. You can't help but question yourself all the way through and deliberate about how you would deal with the scenarios encountered. I'm not sharing, but what the hell would you do?
A psychopath preys on lonely women and lures them into his trap using a dating website. But DS Imogen Grey is back and on the case as three separate stories unravel and we see the light in what is a dark dark crime novel. The fourth in the DS Grey Series, The Promise has big shoes to fill after The Teacher, The Secret and The Angel. However this is another banging book and can be read as a standalone if this is your first Katerina Diamond encounter. I promise you'll then want to read them all though!
A rawly realistic, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining crime novel set in a small New Zealand town. Police officer Sam Shephard responds to reports of a missing person, when a body is found she discovers there is far more behind the apparent suicide than would first appear. The prologue is absolutely riveting, the first few sentences fell like a sledge hammer, nailing my concentration to the page. Sam is as fabulous as a main character could be, gutsy, down-to-earth, likeable, I could reach out and touch her feelings, empathise with her. Vanda Symon writes with a beautiful simplicity, not once overplaying her hand, she took me completely and entirely into the storyline. The Sam Shephard series has been on the New Zealand best seller list and shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel and I can see why. I highly recommend Overkill, it is powerful, cooly assured, and an absolute belter of a read.
Classic stuff with Paris very much at its centre. Although set in the present, the past echoes through it as various people brush up against history, politics and atrocities. Our main characters are a 19-year old, illegal, Moroccan immigrant, Tariq, and a lonely, middle-aged American academic, Hannah, bruised by a love affair in Paris ten years earlier. Tariq works in a fried chicken shop with a couple of Algerians who discuss the brutality of the French in the war of independence. This echoes the interviews Hannah is transcribing for her research about women under German occupation. A quirk of fate allows Tariq to become Hannah’s lodger and then translator. Although a comparatively short book, at under three hundred pages, there is a huge amount within it. Faulks is without a doubt an impressive novelist. This is a must-read.
Where Has Mummy Gone? is a captivating insight into the life of a foster carer. Eight-year-old Melody is angry and confused when she comes to live with Cathy Glass and her family, claiming that her drug-dependent mother Amanda can’t manage without her. Over time, it transpires that this vulnerable child isn’t the only one who needs help. Cathy works tirelessly to juggle Melody’s needs alongside the bureaucracy of fostering and bringing up her own children. It’s a difficult and demanding role, especially because, in this particular situation, Amanda needs specific care as well. This is my first Cathy Glass book and certainly won’t be my last. It’s written in a clear and easy-to-read style, with vivid descriptions bringing people, places and events to life. At times I forgot that this is a true story, with several revelations that could have come straight out of fiction. Where Has Mummy Gone? is filled with compassion and love, mixed with heartbreak and tragedy – a reminder that foster care can help to make a big difference to people’s lives. Its bittersweet ending brought tears to my eyes, touched me deeply and left me thinking.
Caroline is an esteemed senior research psychologist, formerly a woman who seemed to have it all - professional acclaim, financial comfort, handsome husband Jack, and adorable kids – but she’s lost everything due to her sadistically selfish ex convincing everyone that she’s a jilted madwoman, unable to look after herself, and certainly unfit to care for their children. As Caroline careers deep into self-destruction mode, seeking solace in booze, shopping and one night stands with married men, an administrative error sees her take delivery of Jack’s luggage. After discovering a diary recounting each of his affairs in painful detail – replete with intimate photographs and ratings of every woman he’s won over – Caroline embarks on an intense mission to exact revenge on Jack for his longstanding controlling behaviour and multiple betrayals. But, more than that, Caroline wants her children back. This is a seriously addictive thriller, with Caroline’s cunningly executed campaign providing plenty of heart-pounding moments, especially when her actions become increasingly risky. But she’s being played too; watched, stalked and threatened as she implements her revenge via a cunningly executed social media campaign. But it’s a hideously complicated situation, and Jack is nothing if not a master of manipulation. Penetratingly sharp on the complexities of psychological abuse and the human heart, this compulsive, disturbing debut will be relished by fans of Gillian Flynn and Paula Daly.
A dynamic, powerfully expressive novel that feels so real, you could be conjuring it to life as you read. Angel saves the life of English teacher Nina, later that night Angel turns from saviour to adversary when she and her blood soaked brother turn up at Nina’s door. Each chapter is headed by one of the main characters, they feel vividly real, almost touchable, and their pain and anguish sliced into my thoughts. Cass Green created an unexpected atmosphere as energetic whip-fast chapters gently, almost quietly revealed background information, which allowed my mind to process the action while sifting, analysing, questioning. Good and bad may be seen as opposites, yet there are times when lines and edges blur, creating a stimulating storyline that just crackles with tension. Don’t You Cry surprised me (which I always love) and left me feeling very satisfied indeed. Just make sure the edge of your seat is comfortable, as you’ll be spending a fair bit of time on it!
A deeply emotional, dramatic, and refreshingly original story for young (or older) adults, set in the late 1990’s in Australia. Teenager Sam’s mother dies in his arms on New Year’s Eve, mourning and traumatised, he moves in with his estranged Aunt and cousins, and his life is forever altered. The first chapter simply and vividly set the scene, I could look around me, almost touch, smell, hear my surroundings. Claire Zorn writes with eloquent empathy, yet doesn’t hide from heartache. As I read I could see Sam’s pain as a stinging physical entity. I found myself completely immersed in the story, the words caught hold of me, picked me up and ran. Sam’s raw emotions scorch the pages, he is the focus, yet the surrounding characters are fascinating in their own right. I adored the ending, where it left me, how it left me feeling. At times hope seems so very far away, yet it is very much a part of this story. ’One Would Think The Deep’ is a beautifully written tale, tender yet penetrating and powerful, it offered itself to me and let me sink into its depths.
Cloaking herself in Christie’s Poirot mantle for the third time, bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah here presents Hercule Poirot with something of a peculiarly personal puzzle. Our loveable hero is left feeling somewhat perplexed when an agitated middle-aged woman - “a whirlwind most fierce” – demands to know why he sent her a letter accusing her of killing a certain Barnabas Pandy. And then a second person presents themselves, demanding to know the very same thing. Mon dieu! Poirot has no idea who Pandy is, or why someone is sending these letters in his name, and so a thrillingly unpredictable mystery unfolds. The writing is elegant, suffused with the spirit of, and reverence for, Poirot’s creator, and this makes for an entertainingly satisfying experience.
'Welcome to Ocean View. You don't know it yet, but you'll be happy here...' Julia's not running away. Not exactly. She just needs a break from Paris and Marc and all the sad stuff that's been going on lately. A little time to pull herself together. The job offer felt like a lifeline. But now she's back in Biarritz, suitcase in hand, she hasn't the faintest idea what she was thinking. What Julia doesn't yet know is there's more to the odds and ends of Ocean View than meet the eye. Behind the double doors lie broken hearts, lifelong secrets, a touch of romance and an unwavering passion for life. And sometimes it's the most unlikely of places and people who help you find your way.
‘Pieces of Her’ blew me away, it’s sharp, edgy, compulsive reading. I foolishly started to read late in the evening and ended up keeping the early hours company for some time as I simply couldn’t put it down! 31 year old Andrea finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about her mum Laura when a birthday trip ends in horrific violence, further danger rushes in and Andy desperately needs to find answers. The prologue encourages intrigue to bubble away nicely then, oh my word… chapter one! Chapter one brilliantly sets the scene before exploding in the most shocking way, I gulped, settled further into my chair and just read. Karin Slaughter has the ability to set the page on fire, she fans the flames, and I needed my wits about me as the time frame changed and left my understanding floating for a while, searching for answers. Andy and Laura are fascinating characters, they challenged my thoughts and feelings in the best possible way. Incredibly stimulating and enthralling ‘Pieces of Her’ has left me on a heart-hammering reading high!
This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself. But no one can say why. The question is one that cries out to be answered - by Ryan's mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families' secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame... the truth seems to vanish. A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.
A new emotional and gritty drama from the bestselling author of The Throwaway Children. After her mother's death, twenty-year-old Sophie Ross is left orphaned, with only her erstwhile nursemaid and faithful friend, Hannah for company. Penniless and little chance of an income, she looks for work as a governess in London to avoid destitution. But unbeknown to Sophie, her mother instructed Hannah to post a letter to Trescadinnick House in Cornwall upon her death. The letter will be the catalyst that changes Sophie's life forever as she learns of her mother's doomed romance and family she left behind in Cornwall. The Penvarrow family welcomes Sophie into their fold, but the new life she's built is threatened by secrets and lies that soon come to light...
A sparkling, witty, occasionally rather sexy debut that made me nod in agreement and splutter with laughter. 30 year old Polly works for Posh! magazine, she excels in making the aristocracy look spectacular on paper, however her love life is wilting dramatically… and she needs a Plus One for her best friend’s wedding. Polly quickly settled into a fabulous friend status, we sat together gossiping, I giggled, winced, and regularly raised my eyebrows as I read. Sophia Money-Coutts has a wonderfully light touch, she also keeps laughing gas in her pen, and isn’t afraid to use it. I alternated in reading bits out loud to my husband (who was as shocked as I’d hoped he’d be), and just sinking into, and enjoying the story. There is a heart-felt reality kick along the way, however for me this was an outrageously feel-good read. ‘The Plus One’ became my best friend while I read it, very funny, sometimes shocking, always extremely entertaining.
Gosh, what a striking and chillingly provocative tale this is. Geo’s best friend disappeared when they were 16, 14 years later a body is found, a serial killer is suspected, Geo knows the truth, has always known the truth, but then the murders start again. This has such a clever premise, the choices Geo made at 16 continue to play havoc, I questioned her, and my own thoughts and feelings about her as I read. I was wholly consumed by the writing, Jennifer Hillier has created a world that feels entirely real, I was taken inside the words, to think and feel and ponder. This isn’t about good and evil, or even whether monsters are born or created, it felt to me as though it was about decisions, choices, hearts and minds, in very, very human bodies. The climax sent a shockwave through me, when I reached the end I was left feeling unsettled, in the best possible way. ‘Jar of Hearts’ is an observant, penetrating read, one that grabs and shakes you, and leaves you thinking about the characters for a goodly while afterwards. Highly recommended.
September 2018 Book of the Month From the creator of the mega-selling Cherub series comes the author’s first foray into standalone fiction, a killer-concept, Vegas-set page-turner in which a virus threatens to wipe out humanity. Fourteen-year-old Brit boy Harry is a something of a fish out of water in his Vegas high school. His photojournalist mum died when he was seven, and she’s given him “an urge to follow her path”, which is why Harry grasps his first big opportunity when there’s an explosion at his school and he riskily films the aftermath. As his footage goes viral and starts earning him big bucks, thirteen-year-old Charlie is in the frame for the attack. Described as “low-rent trailer trash” by Harry’s friend, she’s a science geek with a rough home life and a history of making explosives. Harry sees her as a “beautiful freak”, though, and over the course of the next eight years their lives crisscross at a pivotal point in human history. With gene-editing tech developing at a rapid pace, everyone wants in on procedures that can enhance their body and brain. But, with the terrorist-created Killer T virus spreading like wildfire, and a crazily huge ransom demanded for the release of a cure, society is sinking into a hot mess of modified monsters, death and violence, with Charlie and Harry trying to hang on to doing the right thing. Charlie and Harry are the kind of fully-formed characters whose stories you’re desperate to follow. They’re complicated, authentically flawed, and the sparky tension between them is tinglingly tangible. This is truly gripping tale, big in scope, big in action and big in emotional impact. - Joanne Owen A Piece of Passion from Felicity Johnston, Commissioning Editor; It's always so exciting to see a bestselling author do something different. KILLER T has all the hallmarks of Robert's writing - brilliantly observed characters, cool gadgets, corruption, blackmail and suspense - but it will also surprise you. At its heart, KILLER T is a love story, set in a world just a few years ahead of our own - but then slowly, slowly, slowly, Robert ups the stakes, until the effects of technology and gene modding become frightening and all too real. It's meticulously crafted, with the energy of CHERUB - and also the sort of satisfying story arc that only a true standalone can provide. Oh, and you'll never look at a wasp the same way again!
This is quite simply a wonderfully gorgeous must-read! My whole being poured into ‘The Possible World’, soaked up the words, the feelings, the story. Six year old Ben is left traumatised after a violent crime, Lucy the doctor who initially treats Ben in the Emergency Room has her own issues, while Clare has lived a lifetime of secrets, is she ready to tell her story? Each chapter is headed by one of the characters, each story, stands resolute, almost isolated, and yet a transparent thread weaves between them, creating a cobweb of a connection. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz writes with such beautiful heartfelt emotion, yet is also able to communicate stark realism. At certain points, my mind clouded in confusion, before clarity hit me like a hammer blow. I adored the storyline, the mysterious, spellbinding route that is taken almost feels as though you happen upon it by chance. I read without stopping, completely consumed by the story and it hurt when I turned the final page, when I had to come back into my world. I still ache when I think about ‘The Possible World’, it truly is a beautiful read and will topping my books of the year.
An electrifying and riveting tale, my thoughts and feelings were captured from the moment I opened ‘Watching You’. Joey returns home to Bristol, she soon becomes rather obsessed with an older man, however doesn’t realise that while she is watching him, someone else is watching her. I was absolutely thrilled to hear I would be reviewing Lisa Jewell (sharp elbows and pushing to the front of the queue may have been involved), as her books have the ability to really get under my skin. Intrigue and suspicion smiled slyly as they settled over the first page and prologue. I adored the way this book opened out in front of me, tight fast moving chapters created a throbbing energy which played havoc with my emotions. I met each character with a certain amount of uncertainty, weighing, judging, evaluating as I got to know them. Information is steadily and exquisitely revealed, a beautiful balance is maintained, keeping thoughts on a knife edge. ‘Watching You’ is a completely wonderful, intensely satisfying tale. I can highly recommend just letting go and sinking into the pages, be warned though, I didn’t want to come up for air and it was a one-sitting read for me.
It was supposed to be a final celebration for six British graduates, a French getaway, until she arrived. As they leave Oxford five privileged graduates and one grammar school girl go to a French farmhouse owned by the family of one. Next door is a French girl who has a habit of using their swimming pool. Ten years later her body is found in the well of the farmhouse. The six were the last to see her alive. Naturally the French detective needs to interview them. So the drama unfolds as we are introduced to the five (one was killed in Afghanistan) their present lives, their relationships with each other and their pasts. Rivalry and jealousy erupt and as the investigation mounts and begins to effect their working lives so they begin to doubt one another's memories of that last night in France, a night when a huge row occurred. This is suspenseful stuff full of red herrings and different perceptions of one fateful night.
A short, sharp, shock of read and it’s absolutely fabulous! Maxwell is determined to win his ex-wife Lily back even though she has moved on and found love with Sebastian, jealousy, spite, and rage enter their lives, laying waste. This is just so incredibly easy to read, even though the prologue cranks up the tension, and each chapter adds a whip-crack of suspense I simply galloped my way through ‘Do No Harm’. L. V. Hay has created characters who entered my mind in vibrant colourful intensity, the different points of view clear to see and feel yet disquiet fills the pages. Maxwell’s conversational diary-like entries as he makes his feelings clear slices through the new relationship. My thoughts almost turned themselves inside out as I read and the ending… oooh that ending! ‘Do No Harm’ is a little cracker, bursting with fiery energy, it certainly creates a stir.
A hammer-hard blast of a novel set in the underworld of Essex. Alfie and Vaughn return from Spain looking to become kingpins in the world of crime, however the local criminals are already forming a queue ready to take them down. Jacqui Rose immediately sets the action loose in a fast-paced wild ride and I just leapt straight in. There are characters full of bravado and swagger who set the pages on fire. The chapters are short, snappy, and full of menace. I raised my eyebrows and smirked at the brilliantly snarky quips and retorts. A mystery of whispers from the past gather to meet the present setting up a tidal wave, ready to crash into the ending. ‘Toxic' comes with shocks a plenty and a tommy gun of wise-cracking comebacks, plus there is a particular storyline ready to melt hearts, all resulting in a captivating, absolutely cracking read.
A siren-like read, the storyline simply swallowed me whole, it created such tension I could not stop reading! Mac a retired history lecturer who specialises in folklore and oral tradition hires Lucie who is running away from her life, as her Girl-Friday. As the story reveals itself, so does a threatening and deadly presence. The sense of foreboding sent shivers down my arms. While this is a very modern story, it has the feel of a twisted ghostly fairytale as a deep dark power weaves through the pages. Both Mac and Lucie tell their own tales, while another story ensures the past shimmers ever closer, before crashing into the present. I also adored Sandra Ireland’s debut ‘Beneath the Skin’, her writing has the ability to seduce, while creating a slicing piercing energy. I feel as though I was fated to read ‘Bone Deep’, that our paths were meant to cross, it is a chilling, yet absolute treasure of a book - highly recommended.
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