Booky Bits

My Top 5 Books of 2019 so far…….

Where has 2019 gone?  I can’t believe we’ve just entered July but it’s a perfect time to look back at the books I’ve read and loved during the first half of the year and put together a list of my TOP FIVE books so far….

According to Goodreads I have read 61 books and here is a snapshot of them all:

So on to my TOP FIVE Books of 2019 so far… in no particular order here they are – surprisingly they are ALL psychological thrillers and I thought they were all exceptional and outstanding which is why they are in my TOP FIVE:

I Know Who You Are – Alice Feeney

About the book:

Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

My Review: WOW – OMG – WOW – that’s basically my review.  Without wanting to give away any twists or spoil the book I absolutely LOVED this story.  I Know Who You Are is simply psychological thriller perfection.

Narrated by Aimee Sinclair, an  actress who is about to see her career rocket, comes home to find her husband Ben missing, their joint account emptied so she calls the police. Upon further investigation it appears that not all is quite what it seems and Aimee becomes the prime suspect.  With a past she is desperate to protect she needs to uncover the truth without revealing her secrets.

The chapters alternate between Aimee’s present and past and are so beautifully and seamlessly interwoven they leave you gasping for more which means you can’t stop turning the pages.  There are parts that are very uncomfortable to read and left me feeling disturbed, however I am definitely putting this one in my TOP TEN books of 2019.

To sum up I KNOW WHO YOU ARE: a stunning, twisted, dark and clever psychological thriller with plenty of OMG moments, twists that I didn’t see coming and characters that either make your skin crawl or your heart break.  A fast-paced, on the edge of your seat story guaranteed to keep you turning those pages eager to find out what, why, when and how.

My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing

About the Book: Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting…

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbours, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

My Review.  Last week I asked the members of THE Book Club “What is guaranteed to make you buy a book?” and I went on to say that my tick list would include a bat shit crazy female psycho; an unreliable narrator, spooky twins, dark humour and a killer twist.  Someone recommended MY LOVELY WIFE so I started it immediately.

Well you could knock me down with a feather duster as MY LOVELY WIFE contains 4 out of my 5 requirements (to be honest the spooky twins wouldn’t have worked in this story anyway) and I really can’t believe this book is Samantha Downing’s DEBUT novel.

Our narrator is happily married to Millicent, has 2 teenage children and is a professional tennis coach for an affluent country club.  They’ve been married for 15 years and have found an unusual way to keep their marriage alive!

This is one of those books that gripped me from the opening paragraph, shocked me at the end of the first chapter and didn’t stop entertaining me until the final sentence.

I’m not going to give anything away, but this is a dark, sinister and occasionally humorous tale with some excellent twists along the way.  I would 100% recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers and I have already pre-ordered her next novel He Started It which comes out 11 June 2020.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning – Iain Maitland

About the book:  Norman Bates is alive and well… He’s living just next door

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath.

The father Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home… with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry.

The son Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where?

The unholy spirit in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

My Review:  This is my first book by Iain Maitland and I am still trying to get my head around this book and write a coherent review, so forgive me if I start rambling, but hopefully by the end of this you will get the gist of what I am trying to say.

Mr Todd’s Reckoning is so dark you need to read with the lights on; it’s so uncomfortable that you need to sit down on a soft cushion whilst reading it and it’s so disturbing you will need to take a breather every few chapters and remind yourself “it’s only a book; it’s not real“.  Once you have prepared yourself, you are in for one hell of a ride and brace yourself as it’s not a particularly pleasant one.

Mr Todd is our narrator – a seemingly harmless, retired Tax Inspector living in surburbia with his 25 year old son Adrian, an unemployed, socially awkward, OCD man-child who is certainly on the spectrum and has a history of “unusual behaviour” which on occasion has brought the police to the door.

Our story begins with Mr Todd in the midst of a heatwave, in his small bungalow, trying to avoid confrontation with Adrian and retreating to his bedroom to write his diary and that’s where the fun (!!) starts.

This is such a clever book, the characters are brought to life so vividly I could see and smell them; Mr Todd’s observations of life were both funny and frightening in equal measures.  The way the story flowed and all the characters interacted was genius and whilst the reader gradually learns the horrifying truth behind Mr Todd and his son Adrian, you can’t stop turning those pages eager to see what will happen.

I don’t want to say anymore except that if you are looking for a jaw dropping, atmospheric, creepy and uncomfortable read then look no further than Mr Todd’s Reckoning and buckle up for an uncomfortable ride.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce

About the Book: Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

My Review.   Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh I don’t know how to write this review so it will make sense.  There were so many things about this book that I really didn’t enjoy and yet so many things about this book that I was utterly gripped by and couldn’t actually turn the pages fast enough.  So, I shall try to break it down and start at the beginning.

Our main protagonist is Alison – a 40-something successful female barrister with a stay-at-home husband and cute 6 year old daughter Tilly, and what appears initially to be the “perfect” life.  However it is soon apparent that Allie has problems, big, ugly, inexcusable problems including excessive drinking, having a sordid affair with a colleague and completely neglecting her husband and daughter.   I’m not even going to pretend to like Allie or say I could relate to her because I absolutely could NOT – she made me very angry and very disappointed and at no time could I feel an iota of sympathy or excuse her behaviour.

Then there is Patrick – her manipulative colleague and often brutal lover – another revolting character that made my skin crawl – what the hell does Allie see in this pig?  He made me want to have a shower in bleach every time he touched her.

Blood Orange‘s main story starts when Patrick assigns Allie her first Murder case to defend.  A woman has been caught red-handed having stabbed her husband 15 times with a knife in their bedroom.  However this is a twisted, dark psychological story so nothing is as it seems and the reader is led in multiple directions trying to follow the case and watch Allie try to salvage her personal and professional life.

I can think of 2 high profile books I’ve read in the past few years where I absolutely HATED the main characters but loved the books, the writing style, the pace, the storyline and BLOOD ORANGE falls into that category too.  In my opinion, any author who can make the reader feels so much emotion (good or bad, disgust or admiration) towards a fictional character is one to look out for and follow her career closely.  As much as I really disliked all the main characters I literally COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN.

Definitely a MARMITE book, but as I love marmite I’m happy to recommend this.  Car Crash fiction writing at it’s best!

Dirty Little Secrets – Jo Spain

About the book: 

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

My Review: Dirty Little Secrets is Jo Spain’s latest psychological thriller and as I loved her previous book The Confession I was very excited to start this one.

OMG I absolutely LOVED this book and devoured it in a day – I even woke up at 3.30am thinking about the book and finished it at 4.30am because I couldn’t wait to find out more.

In a secured, affluent gated community are 7 houses with seven neighbours all with HUGE secrets.  When one of the neighbours, Olive Collins is found dead inside her house, having been left to rot for 3 months, the police start to investigate how, why and when and more importantly realise that almost every neighbour had reason to want Olive dead.

I absolutely LOVED each character narrating their version of the truth and Olive telling us her side of the story from beyond the grave was utter genuis.  If you can imagine Desperate Housewives directed by Quentin Tarantino then you might get an inkling of how dark and deliciously disturbing Dirty Little Secrets is.

Fabulous characters, loved all their back stories, loved the relationship between the 2 police detectives, loved the pace, the humour, the style of writing, the amusing twists and turns along the way and I am pretty confident this is going into my Top Ten of 2019 – 100% recommended.

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