The Minaturist by Jessie Burton published 2014

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Nella arrives in Amterdam at the age of 18 as the wife of merchant Johannes Brandt. As a wedding gift he gives her a a beautiful cabinet that is a miniature re-creation of her new home. Nella enlists the services of the Minaturist to create furniture and objects to fill the cabinet. But when the pieces arrive they are exact replicas of the objects and people she lives with, how does the Minaturist know so much about not only the house but also the people who live there and their secrets. Is the Minaturist trying to help Nella and give her an insight into the people she lives with or destroy them?
Every now and then as an avid reader a book comes along that really stands out from others you have read and The Minaturist is one of those books. It is so beautifully written with the most wonderful characters. The narrative flows with ease and is well plotted and deals with complex issues like race, sex, marriage, class and religion in 17th Century Amsterdam. It is beautifully atmospheric and immerses the reader in the smells, sights, and sounds of Amsterdam. It is a book full of surprises both in plot and characters, things are never what they first seem and there is an air of mystery surrounding the characters. This is a delightful book to read and hard to believe it is Jessie Burton’s first novel. This book has everything; historical detail, suspense, mystery, love and romance. I cannot recommend it enough, I would have given a 10 rating if I could, it is sublime.
Since reading the book I have found out that the BBC will be turning it into a drama in 2017, I just hope hey do it justice.

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry published 25 August 2016

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This is a book of two halves that centres around four main characters. In the first part we meet Lily and Ed who are just back from honeymoon in Italy. Ed works for an advertising agency but wants to be a full time artist. Lily is a newly qualified lawyer preparing to take on her first criminal case. The client is Jo Thomas, convicted of killing his girlfriend in a scalding bath. Lily is trying to get the conviction overturned and lay blame on the boiler company who have had problems with thermostats. There is something about Jo that Lily is dangerously drawn to and him to her. The final protagonist is Carla, the daughter of their neighbour whom Lily and Ed look after on Sunday’s when her mother has to work.
For the second part we move on 12 years. Lily and Ed are having problems; Lily is a successful lawyer and Ed a struggling artist. At this time both Jo and Carla come back into their lives with devestating consequences.
The book is narrated in alternating chapters by Lily and Carla. In the first part Carla gives the reader a chance to see a child’s view of the lives of adults, where things are a lot more literal. Both narrators are very plausible and give different viewpoints on complex relationships and events. All four characters have their flaws; Lily in putting work before family; Ed with his drinking and artistic temperament; Jo and his criminal past and Carla who blames everyone else for what happened to her and her mother. All are believable, if not a times likeable.
There are so many emotions in this book, it is a real roller coaster. Twists and turns are also in abundance so you are kept on your toes. It is well written, with a good storyline that grabs the reader and holds on to them throughout. At times I felt it did drag a bit hence my rating, however it is a must for thriller fans.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillian published 25 August 2016

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Zoe Maisey is a child prodigy on the piano. But three years earlier she killed three teenagers. Now, after serving her time in a Unit she is home with her Second Chance Family; her mum, stepdad Chris, stepbrother Lucas and baby sister Grace. But her new perfect life is set to fall apart after a piano recital. By midnight her new family will learn of her past and her mum will be dead.
This is a well written tense psychological drama. There is a small but intense set of protagonists who all have their own secrets and flawed personalities. The narrators are Zoe, Tessa, her aunt, Richard her uncle, and Sam, her old lawyer and the lover of Tessa. These very different voices give different views on what’s happening making the narrative multi-layered.
The plot is full of suspense and intrigue and is well paced to build up the finale. There is also a theme of morality that runs through the book that raises questions about people’s actions both past and present.
This is a good read that will grab and keep your attention until the end.

The Humminbird’s Cage by Tamara Dietrich published 25 August 2016

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Joanna thought she had married the man of her dreams but instead he was her worst nightmare. Trapped in a violent relationship she sees no way out. She can’t go to the police because Jim is the local sheriff, she no longer has contact with family or friends, her only raison de etre is her daughter Laurel. One day she is offered the chance to escape, to start again, and she finds herself in the town of Morro but she has no recollection of how she got there. The more time they spend in Morro the more they begin to realise that the town and its inhabitants are not all that they first seemed.
This is a very emotional and difficult read in parts due to the accounts of domestic violence, which is dealt with honestly. Jim’s character really is horrible but realistic in his control over Joanna. Joanna really grows through the book as she gets away from Jim and finds the woman she was before loosing herself in the physical and mental abuse. The inhabitants of Morro are diverse and each character has their own back story that draws the reader in and you feel invested in their lives.
It is a well written novel that really grabs the reader’s attention. Not wanting to give anything away there is a great twist about a third of the way through that makes this stand out from other psychological thrillers.
It really is a great read, and one I enjoyed more than I thought it would.

A Jarful of Moondreams by Chrissie Bradshaw published 26 July 2016

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It is going to be an interesting and life changing summer for three generations of the Moon women; Teri and her daughters Cleo and Alex.
Teri, having brought up her to daughters on her own, has decided to fulfil her lifelong dream of visiting Egypt. She hopes that if she leaves her younger daughter, Alex, in the care of her older daughter, Cleo, that they may sort out their differences and become closer. Events that summer will change the lives of all three women, and they will discover what they really need to make their dreams come true.
This is a beautifully written debut novel. The narrative flows with ease making it an easy book to read. The characters are well drawn and very realistic endearing them to the reader. Teri’s story is heartwarming and I think many readers will identify with putting her dreams on hold to bring up her daughters. Cleo and Alex are like many siblings with a significant age gap and have difficulty understanding each other.
I loved this book, it will make you laugh and cry. It is a vey accomplished debut novel and I can’t wait for the next book.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas published 11 August 2016

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Frankie and Sophie have been best friends since they were 7. In 1997, aged 21, Sophie goes missing after a night out. The only clue as to what happened is one of her trainers at the end of the Old Pier. It is presumed that she fell into the sea and drowned.
18yrs later in 2015 Franke gets a call from Sophie’s brother, Daniel, to tell her that some human remains have been washed up and that the police believe they are Sophie’s. Daniel asks Fankie to come back to her childhood home of Oldcliff and help him find out what really happened to Sophie that night. Fankie is reluctant to go back but goes out of loyalty to Daniel and Sophie. But finding the truth is not that easy. Old ghosts return to haunt her and she begins to question who she can trust.
This is a brilliant psychological thriller, with a compelling plot with a lot of twists and turns throughout. The narrators are Frankie, in the present, and Sophie, through her diary, in the summer of 1997. Sophie’s diary take us through the summer of 1997 up until the night she went missing. Going between the two narratives you see the main protagonists from the different view points of both Sophie and Frankie and their different outlooks in that tragic summer.
I won’t give the ending away but the final twist is brilliant, I certainly didn’t see it coming. I highly recommend this book, but make sure you have no plans as you won’t be able to put it down. It’s well worth my five star rating.

Sanatorini Sunsets by Anita Hughes published 2 August 2016

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New York socialite Brigit Palmer is in Santorini with her family and friends for her wedding to Hollywood heart-throb Blake Crawford. This should be the happiest time in her life but she begins to have doubts when she finds out that Blake has sold the rights for the wedding to Hello magazine. To make matters worse the journalist is her ex-husband Nathaniel. As the week goes along Brigit begins to wonder if there are other things she doesn’t know about Blake.
You may think this storyline sounds familiar: the New York socialite about to marry for the second time; the appearance of her ex-husband at the wedding; the wedding pictures being sold to a magazine without the bride’s knowledge. It is the same as The Philadelphia Story/High Society, two of my favourite films.
I don’t like writing bad reviews, but this book was tedious. There was not much of a storyline [the two films are so much better], and it reads like a article of a society wedding from Tatler, or The Lady Magazine, with its description of the many parties. There are endless references to famous actors,-Leonardo Di Caprio, Johnny Depp- and to designer brands, -Dior, Chanel, Kate Spade, that would not be amiss in the covers of Vogue. The worst part of this is that it’s added nothing to the story, it was more like name dropping for effect. The whole thing lacked imagination and not just in the storyline; there was a lot of repetition in her writing, Eg When describing the 3 main male protagonists she used the same phrase “his cheeks glistened with aftershave” several times. I also got annoyed with the continuous misspelling of the word ‘Cheque’ spelt as ‘check’. Obviously this is just my opinion and may appeal to others but I feel I have wasted valuable reading time.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty published 28 July 2016

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Erika and Clementine have been friends since school so when Erika needs help it is Clementine she turns to. However, Clementine is trying hard to practice for an important audition as well as looking after two young children, and does not need Erika’s problems to add to her own. At a friends BBQ, which is meant to take their minds of their troubles, everything begins to spiral out of control with disastrous consequences.
The novel follows the fallout of the BBQ and the way it effects the families involved. We are drip fed information as to what happened that day which is a good device to keep the readers interest [I have to say is was so tempting to flip forward to find out what’s happened, but I didn’t]. It is almost voyeuristic in the way the reader sees the relationships of the three couples and how they change over the course of the book, both in their own relationships and in their relationships with each other. We have a front row seat to see how the dynamics change in the fallout from the BBQ. The characters are all believable and I felt invested I their relationships by the end of the book.
This is an excellent novel, full of suspense and great characters to keep the reader interested.