Top Tens

My Top Ten for 2020

I’m not going to harp on about what a crappy year 2020 has been, as personally I can’t wait to see the end of it, but I will say that I am slightly surprised that with all the amount of time I spent at home my reading unfortunately did suffer and I didn’t even meet my own Goodreads challenge of 100 books… I only read 96, however I did watch some fantastic Netflix boxsets instead.

So, back to the 96 books I did read – some were OUTSTANDING, some were TWISTED, some were DARK and DISTURBING and each and every one of them helped me to escape my reality and keep me occupied for hours so I would like to thank the authors for writing the books and giving us readers hours of entertainment. Below are the books I’ve read and you can find my reviews for each of these on my blog under Reviews.

So now you’ve seen the 96 books I read above, let’s look at my Top Ten Favourites.. in no particular order – except the order I read them in:

THE OTHER PEOPLE – CJ TUDOR

Driving home one night, Gabe sees the face of a little girl he knows in the rear window of the car in front.

She mouths one word – ‘Daddy’. It’s his five-year old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

The police believe she’s dead. But three years later, Gabe still drives the roads, searching for the car that took Izzy, never giving up hope . . .

Meanwhile Fran and her daughter, Alice, aren’t searching – but running.

Always one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth about Gabe’s daughter.

And she knows what the people chasing her will do if they ever catch them . . .

DEAR MRS BIRD – AJ PEARCE

London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.

But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could
that possibly do?

THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES – JOHN BOYNE

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery. At least, that’s what his parents make sure to remind him. Adopted as a baby, he feels more and more disconnected with the family that treats him more as a curious pet, rather than a beloved son.

So, as a young adult, Cyril decides to embark on a quest to find his place in the world. Sometimes misguided and often in the wrong place at the wrong time, life has dealt him a difficult hand but Cyril is resolute that he can change things, and find the courage to be himself.

And in doing so, his story will come across that of Catherine Goggin, a young, pregnant woman finding herself alone and isolated at only sixteen. There is a place in the world for both of them, and Cyril is determined to find it.

WHAT LIES BETWEEN US – JOHN MARRS

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

MINE – CLARE EMPSON

‘Who am I? Why am I here? Why did my mother give me away?’

On the surface, Luke and his girlfriend Hannah seem to have a perfect life. He’s an A&R man, she’s an arts correspondent and they are devoted to their new-born son Samuel.

But beneath the gloss Luke has always felt like an outsider. So when he finds his birth mother Alice, the instant connection with her is a little like falling in love.

When Hannah goes back to work, Luke asks Alice to look after their son. But Alice – fuelled with grief from when her baby was taken from her 27 years ago – starts to fall in love with Samuel. And Luke won’t settle for his mother pushing him aside once again…

THE RESIDENT – DAVID JACKSON

THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. With a trail of bodies in his wake and the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that he can drop down into all the other houses through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing is playing games with his victims – the lonely old woman, the bickering couple, the tempting young newlyweds. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

HOW TO DISAPPEAR – GILLIAN MCALLISTER

You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

THE PUSH – ASHLEY AUDRAIN

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right.

I had always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.

Is it her? Or is it me? Is she the monster? Or am I?

___

The Push is an unsettling, breathtaking and powerful read about obsession and our deepest fears that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

VERITY – COLLEEN HOOVER

A thrilling, instant bestseller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author. Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. 

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of the night their family was forever altered. 

She decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. 

Due to graphic scenes and mature content, this book is recommended for readers 18+.

THE LAST THING TO BURN – WILL DEAN

He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .

Cover Reveals

Cover Reveal – The Lies I Tell

I am thrilled to be able to finally share the amazing new cover for Joel Hames’ The Lies I Tell.

This book was originally self published in May 2020 and I was fortunate enough to read it and absolutely loved it. If you enjoy clever, twisty and gripping psychological thrillers you are in for a treat.

Now it’s been given a little coat of paint, a smart make-over and republished by those clever ladies at Spellbound Books and will be out for you to download officially on 5th February 2021..

So without further ado and my blabbering on about how brilliant this book is…… here is the new cover. Isn’t it stunning?

About the book:

SHE’S WATCHING YOU, 

BUT WHO’S WATCHING HER?



From the bestselling author of Dead North, a tense, claustrophobic psychological thriller perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Claire McGowan and Clare Mackintosh.

Meet Polly.
Meet Emily.
Meet Belinda.

They’re all me.

My name is Lisa and I’m an identity thief. If I’m not inside your system stealing your money, I’ve probably already stolen it. I’m your friend. I’m your enemy. I’m in control.

Only now, the tables have been turned. I’m in danger. My son is in danger. And I don’t know where that danger’s coming from.

NOBODY CAN BE TRUSTED.

Tracy Talks To...

David Jackson, Rod Reynolds & Chris Whitaker

Welcome to this week’s edition of Tracy Talks To… and I am absolutely thrilled to be chatting to these 3 incredible crime authors: David Jackson, Chris Whitaker & Rod Reynolds.

David Jackson:

I was a latecomer to fiction writing, having spent most of my adult life producing academic papers and reports. After some limited success entering short story competitions, I submitted the first few chapters of a novel to the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. To my great surprise, the book was not only short-listed but given the Highly Commended accolade, which stimulated the interest of agents and publishers and eventually led to the publication of PARIAH. Since then, I have written several more crime thrillers, including two series set in New York and my birth city of Liverpool. I still have a day job in Liverpool as a university academic, but now live on the Wirral with my wife, two daughters and a British Shorthair cat called Mr Tumnus

Rod Reynolds:

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger, and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); the Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, in 2020 Orenda Books will publish his first novel set in his hometown, Blood Red City. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters.

Chris Whitaker

Chris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. He now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and three young children. 

His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. His third, We Begin at the End, was published in 2020. 

Reviews

Safe and Sound – Philippa East

Home can be the most dangerous place…

In a small London bedsit, a radio is playing. A small dining table is set for three, and curled up on the sofa is a body…
 
Jenn is the one who discovers the woman, along with the bailiffs. All indications suggest that the tenant – Sarah Jones – was pretty, charismatic and full of life.

So how is it possible that her body has lain undiscovered for ten whole months?

Philippa East is a fiction writer with HQ/HarperCollins and she also works as a clinical psychologist.

Philippa grew up in Scotland before moving to Oxford and then London to complete her clinical psychology training. A few years ago, she left the NHS to set up her own part-time practice and dedicate more hours to writing. The result was her debut novel LITTLE WHITE LIES, which was longlisted for The Guardian’s Not-The-Booker Prize and shortlisted for the CWA “New Blood” Award 2020.

Philippa’s next book SAFE AND SOUND is another twisty and compelling tale. For a fun preview, check out the video trailer on Philippa’s Amazon Author page (best with sound on!). SAFE AND SOUND will be released in February 2021 and is available to pre-order now.

Philippa now lives in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside with her husband and cat. She loves reading (of course!) and long country walks, and she also performs in a local folk duo called The Miracle Cure. Alongside her writing, Philippa continues to work as a psychologist and therapist.

My Review:

I love a dark book with interesting characters and unusual circumstances and Safe and Sound really ticks those boxes for me.

Set in Brixton, single mother Jenn is trying to juggle her work life and her family life caring for her young son Charlie as well as dealing with crippling anxiety.

Jenn works for the local council in the housing department and when she attempts to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent she discovers the body of a young women lying on the sofa, radio playing in the background and the table set for 3. Shaken by this discovery and then horrified when she learns the victim has been dead for 10 months, Jenn starts a personal investigation to try to discover how this situation could possibly happen.

Jenn has issues herself, anxiety, panic attacks, constant concerns about her son’s health, a dysfunctional family and this situation tips her over the edge. Following Jenn’s journey to find out more about the young woman, Jenn puts herself in potential danger and difficult situations when her obsession becomes out of control. This is a very claustrophobic tale, written beautifully about mental health issues, obsession and isolation.

Safe and Sound is, in my opinion, a stunning book and I highly recommend it. Out on 18th February 2021.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Reviews

Half A World Away – Mike Gayle

Strangers living worlds apart.
Strangers with nothing in common.

But it wasn’t always that way…

Kerry Hayes is single mum, living on a tough south London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot forget her past.

Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a young child, Noah never looks back.

When Kerry contacts Noah, the sibling she lost on the day they were torn apart as children, she sets in motion a chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.

By turns funny and moving, Half a World Away is a story that will stay with you long after you read its final page.

Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism and worked as a Features Editor and agony uncle. He has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, the Guardian and Cosmopolitan.

Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by the Independent as ‘Full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,’ and by The Times as ‘A funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic’. Since then he has written thirteen novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and The Man I Think I Know. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

You can find him online at mikegayle.co.uk and on Twitter @mikegayle.

My Review:

Where do I begin with this review? Well firstly, I listened to it on Audible and the narrators Kayi Ushe and Joanna Brookes were absolutely incredible and I could see them quite clearly in my mind and to me Kerry was a very young Kathy Burke and Noah a young Adrian Lester!

Now in her early 40’s Kerry is a single mum to a young son, living on a rough estate, she has her own small business cleaning the houses of the rich and entitled. Having been put into the care system at a young age and separated from her younger brother Jason when he was 18 months old, she has spent her life determined to provide for her own child and give him the stability and direction she never had.

Meanwhile over in an affluent part of London, Noah is a successful barrister with a wife and daughter he adores. Knowing he was adopted, he has always accepted this with no desire to look into where he came from and trace his birth mother. His refusal to accept his past is causing marital problems and when he receives a letter from someone claiming to be his sister his life is turned upside down.

This is a wonderful book about family, unconditional love and hope. It is joyful, tearful, emotional, moving and heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measures. I made the mistake of listening to the book whilst shopping in Tesco’s and started sobbing in the pasta aisle!

This is the first book I have ever read or listened to by Mike Gayle and immediately upon finishing it I used up my Audible credits and bought The Man I Think I Know and All The Lonely People.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Reviews

The Festival – Sarah J. Naughton

FOUR WOMEN.

Orly, Lenny, Mel and Thea have been best friends since school. But now it is 20 years later and inevitably they have drifted apart.

ONE WEEKEND.

It is Lenny’s 40th birthday, plus Orly and Mel need cheered up, so Thea suggests a weekend away at a festival in their hometown. It’s a chance for them all to reconnect.

NOT ALL OF THEM WILL SURVIVE.

But their holiday soon takes a sinister turn, and not all of the friends will leave the festival alive…

Sarah Naughton’s debut novel, The Hanged Man Rises, was shortlisted for the Costa children’s award. It was followed by a second young adult thriller, The Blood List. Her thrillers for adults, Tattletale and The Other Couple (Orion) are Amazon bestsellers. Sarah lives in London with her husband and sons.

My Review:

I read The Festival by Sarah J Naughton as part of my monthly online book club’s readalong with approximately 60 other members over a 3 week period.

The Festival is the story of four women now approaching their 40th birthdays who have been friends since school but their lives have all gone in very different directions.

Orly is a recent widow, grieving the death of her husband from Cancer and the loss of their hopes and dreams, Lenny is a successful business women raising her twins as a single mum and trying to balance her work and life, Mel is a struggling single mother of a teenage son who is about to leave for university and having severe “empty nest” concerns and Thea is the beautiful trophy partner of a rich older man who appears to be losing interest in her.

With Lenny’s 40th birthday fast approaching the ladies decide to get together for a weekend away and go to a Festival, held in their home town and escape their current situations by dancing and getting drunk and reliving their youth. However as this is a thriller you will expect things to go wrong and they certainly do in this book. Long kept secrets are uncovered, guilty consciences force the women to reveal the truth about their past and what should have been a weekend of fun and frolics turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

I really enjoyed the pace of the writing and getting to know each of the characters throughout the storyline. When the women find their lives in danger, there were several red herrings scattered throughout the book to ensure the reader is constantly kept on their toes and never quite knows who to trust.

I look forward to reading more from this author.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Reviews

The Other Half of Augusta Hope – Joanna Glen

Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.

At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.
 
And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.

When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?

Joanna Glen read Spanish at the University of London, with a stint at the Faculty of Arts at Córdoba University in the south of Spain. She went on to teach Spanish and English to all ages, and, latterly, was a school principal in London. Joanna’s short fiction has appeared in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology. She lives with her husband and children on the River Thames in Battersea, returning to Andalusia whenever it gets too grey

My Review:

I listened to the Audible version of The Other Half Of Augusta Hope which was narrated by the wonderful voices of Stephanie Racine and Jude Owusu.

I always choose my audible books that have a character led story rather than a gripping thriller as I love to savour the story and get to know the characters over a period of weeks rather than an afternoon frantically page turning.

Augusta Hope is the most wonderful, observational, honest character that I fell for almost immediately. She narrates her story with an innocence and honesty that is both refreshing and emotional.

The story begins with Augusta looking back at her life, growing up in a small town in England with her twin sister Julia and her staid and uptight parents. She is different to her perfect twin, questioning everything and looking to escape her Suburban childhood as soon as she can.

This is a really slow burner but the narrators bring the story to life. It was absolutely mesmerising, beautiful in parts, heartbreaking in others.

I completely recommend the audible version of this story and can’t wait to see what the authors writes next

Reviews

Anxious People – Fredrik Backman

A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, his first work of non-fiction, will be released in the US in May 2019. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Twitter @BackmanLand or on Instagram @backmansk

My Review:

Another OUTSTANDING, BRILLIANT, POIGNANT, EMOTIONAL, COMPASSIONATE novel by one of my favourite authors, Fredrik Backman.

I listened to his latest book Anxious People on Audible which normally takes me between 7 and 10 days as I only listen when walking the dog… EXCEPT this time, I listened to the book in 2 sittings, refusing to talk to the family, walk the dog and even read on my kindle because this is, in my opinion, my new favourite audio book of the year and considering I finished it on 7th January 2021 that is quite a statement.

Fredrik Backman has the ability to create the most wonderful, quirky, funny, sad, unlikeable, loveable characters and bring them to life in your mind in such a way they become a part of your family and grab a piece of your heart.

Once again the observational humour is spot-on, the clever and indepth ways the author has of bringing everyday situations, interactions and behaviours to the forefront of the story is a work of art.

Anxious People is a wonderful escape from reality, with one of the best narrators I’ve listened to, and a storyline that will make you laugh, groan, cry and smile all at the same time. If you are feeling low, then pick up this wonderful story and immerse yourself in this tiny town in Sweden which finds itself in the midst of a bank robbing, hostage taking situation with the most eclectic group of characters who over the space of a few hours learn more about themselves and what it really means to be human.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Tracy Talks To...

Sarah Pinborough, SE Lynes & CJ Tudor

Welcome to another episode of Tracy Talks To…, and I am delighted to welcome 3 incredible authors Sarah Pinborough, SE Lynes and CJ Tudor on to my blog, especially as I am a HUGE fan of their work and recommend their books all the time.

Note: Due to some network and WiFi issues, some of the images keep freezing after the first 40 minutes, but the entire conversation is still audible.

Sarah Pinborough is a New York Times bestselling and Sunday Times Number one and Internationally bestselling author who is published in over 25 territories worldwide. Having published more than 25 novels across various genres, her recent books include Behind Her Eyes which will air on Netflix in January 2021, Cross Her Heart, in development for UK television, and 13 Minutes in development with Netflix.
Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and is currently working on three TV projects and the film adaptation of her novel The Death House.
Her latest novel, DEAD TO HER and is a dark and twisty, sexy tale of hidden secrets and revenge in high society Savannah and has been sold for TV in the US.
Sarah lives in the historic town of Stony Stratford, the home of the Cock and Bull story, with her dog Ted.

Former BBC Producer, S.E. Lynes is the Amazon top #20 best selling author of ‘intelligent and haunting’, ‘beautifully written’ psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT, THE PROPOSAL, THE WOMEN, THE LIES WE HIDE, CAN YOU SEE HER? and her latest novel, THE HOUSEWARMING.

After completing her MA, Lynes taught creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College for over ten years. She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.

She has also published three children’s books in Italy: IL LEOPARDO LAMPO, LA COCCODRILLA INGAMBA, and the bilingual LA SCIMMIA SPIRITOSA/THE FUNNY MONKEY, all available at Amazon.
C. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.
Tracy Talks To...

Anne Cater, Linda Hill & Joanne Robertson

I am delighted to be able to share my latest Tracy Talks To… with 3 wonderful fellow bloggers: Anne Cater of Random Things Through My Letterbox, Linda Hill of Linda’s Book Bag and Joanne Robertson of My Chestnut Reading Tree.

In today’s episode these prolific readers share their TOP TEN reads of 2020 and between the 3 of them have read over 530 books during 2020 which means their choices should be fascinating and varied.

Anne Cater has been reviewing books for almost fifteen years. 

She has blogged about books at Random Things Through My Letterbox since March 2011, reviews fiction for the Daily Express and is a CWA Dagger Awards judge.   

Anne organises Book Blog Tours for publishers and authors, and created the Book Connectors group on Facebook for authors and bloggers. 

Anne lives in Lincolnshire with her husband, her cat and lots of books. 

https://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.com/

Linda Hill is a blogger and reviewer at Linda’s Book Bag whose entire life has revolved around books and reading;  from studying English at university, then teaching it, through becoming an Educational Consultant, Inspector and Adviser with a focus on literacy and English to writing non-fiction English teaching resources and, more recently, completing the first draft of her novel.

Linda enjoys a broad spectrum of books including poetry and children’s fiction as well as the full range of adult genres, but still rereads her childhood Paddington books annually.

As well as reading, Linda is passionate about travel, having been from Antarctica to Zanzibar and visiting well over 30 countries in the last 10 years, although she complains when she has to weigh her books to keep her suitcase light enough to carry. She also loves cats, chocolate and gardening.

Website https://lindasbookbag.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/Lindahill50Hill

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ljh50hill/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LindasBookBag/

Joanne Robertson

Hi my name is Jo and I love reading which is why I set up My Chestnut Reading Tree in February 2016 so I could share my thoughts about the books I read with the world! I read mainly crime and psychological thrillers but I also love women’s fiction.. basically I just love a good story and will review most books apart from sci-fi or horror. I am a working mum and nana and I spend the little free time I have curled up with copious amounts of tea, chocolate and a (hopefully!) good book. I always leave reviews on Amazon (where I am now a Top 500 reviewer) and on Goodreads. I am happy to review both ebooks and paperbacks in my preferred genres. You can find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson or on my Facebook page My Chestnut Reading Tree Book Blog.

www.mychestnutreadingtree.wordpress.com

Reviews

The Sun Sister (The Seven Sisters Book 6) – Lucinda Riley

The Sun Sister is the sixth epic story in the Seven Sisters series by the number one international bestseller Lucinda Riley.

To the outside world, Electra d’Apliese seems as though she is the woman who has everything: as one of the world’s top models, she is beautiful, rich and famous. But beneath the veneer, and fuelled by the pressure of the life she leads, Electra’s already tenuous control over her mental state has been rocked by the death of her father, Pa Salt, the elusive billionaire who adopted his six daughters as babies from around the globe. Struggling to cope, she turns to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain, and as those around her fear for her health, Electra receives a letter from a complete stranger who claims to be her grandmother . . .

In 1939, Cecily Huntley-Morgan arrives in Kenya from New York to nurse a broken heart. Staying with her godmother, a member of the infamous Happy Valley set, on the shores of beautiful Lake Naivasha, she meets Bill Forsythe, a notorious bachelor and cattle farmer with close connections to the proud Maasai tribe. When disaster strikes and war is imminent, Cecily decides she has no choice but to accept Bill’s proposal. Moving up into the Wanjohi Valley, and with Bill away, Cecily finds herself isolated and alone. Until she discovers a new-born baby abandoned in the woods next to her farmhouse…

Sweeping from the frenetic atmosphere of Manhattan to the magnificent wide-open plains of Africa, The Sun Sister is the sixth instalment in Lucinda Riley’s multi-million selling epic series, The Seven Sisters.

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty five languages and sold twenty-five million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.

Lucinda is currently writing The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is inspired by the mythology of the famous star cluster. It has become a global phenomenon, with each book in the series being a No.1 bestseller across the world. The series is currently in development with a major Hollywood production company.

My Review:

Typical.. the one book I was really looking forward to reading is possibly my least favourite in this incredible series, but that doesn’t mean much because it’s only my opinion and I think I was expecting more salacious gossip, celebrity drama and diva tantrums, however thinking back now I’ve finished the book, Electra certainly did provide all that and more.

Once again, I listened to this book on Audible and this is possibly the longest book of the series so far at an eye-watering 26 hours and 14 minutes and I will admit in some places I did think about pressing the fast-forward button a few times as the dual storyline set in the past did drag in places and there was only so many times I could listen to Cecily Huntley-Morgan say “oh my!”.

In the previous 5 books I have found the dual story line as interesting and compelling as the sister’s story set in present day, but this time I just couldn’t connect with the story set in Kenya in 1939 and wasn’t able to feel much empathy towards the central character, but Electra was fascinating and once you got beneath her hard exterior the reader is able to understand why she behaves as she does and hope that she gets a happy ever after like her older sisters.

I was thrilled to see that the final book in the series will be released in May 2021 – The Missing Sister which is the story of Merope.

Rating: 4 out of 5.