Top Tens

My Top Ten Books for 2016

MY TOP TEN BOOKS FOR 2016

Another incredible year for books and once again almost impossible to narrow my Top 10 books down to only 10 out of the 130+ books I read – but here are my standout 5 star books, which made my Top 10.  Enjoy – read them, recommend them and then review them:

A Mother’s Confession – Kelly Rimmer – Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Blurb: Olivia and David were the perfect couple with their whole lives in front of them. When beautiful baby daughter Zoe came along, their world seemed complete.

But now David is dead and Olivia’s world is in pieces. While she is consumed with grief, her mother-in-law Ivy is also mourning the loss of her son. Both women are hiding secrets about the man they loved. Secrets that have put the family in danger.

Something was very wrong in Olivia and David’s marriage. Can Olivia and Ivy break their silence and speak the truth? A mother should protect her child, whatever the cost…shouldn’t she?

My Review: My thanks to Netgalley for the honour of reading this simply incredible book. A Mother’s Confession is an emotional roller coaster and one of the only books I didn’t want to read purely because I didn’t want it to finish. This is a story about a man called David, a husband, father and son, told from the viewpoint of Olivia, his wife and Ivy, his over protective mother. Shocking and deeply uncomfortable in parts, sad and heartbreaking in others, this gripping and moving book is going straight into my Top Ten Reads of 2016 5 BIG FAT STARS

Between You and Me – Lisa Hall – Genre – Psychological Thriller

Blurb: They say every marriage has its secrets.  But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.  And sometimes those doors should never be opened.

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

My Review: Is this really the author’s debut novel? This story was utterly gripping and compelling and told with such detail and description that I felt like I was actually there watching Sal and Charlie’s marriage disintegrate. An exceptionally clever story and a real page turner (except I read it on my kindle so is that a “screen tapper”?). Highly recommended to all fans of psychological thrillers. 5 BIG FAT STARS

Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough – Genre – Psychological Thriller

Blurb: Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake, but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend. But she also just happens to be married to David. And if you think you know where this story is going, think again, because Behind Her Eyes is like no other book you’ve read before.

David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife. But then why is David so controlling? And why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

In Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has written a novel that takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.

My Review: Behind Her Eyes is the new psychological thriller by Sarah Pinborough which has been heavily hyped as the next BIG book of 2017 and marketed with the hashtag #wtfthatending.
Now I don’t believe in spoilers in reviews but it’s quite fair to say that 99.9% of psychological thrillers contain twists so I feel comfortable saying WTF I did NOT see that coming! I feel like I’ve been reading this blindfolded because this entire story tricked me from page 1. Full of devious and twisted individuals this story is told via Adele, the beautiful and wealthy wife of David a successful psychiatrist and Louise, an overweight single mother who is David’s secretary. Switching from past and present this gripping, tense and darkly disturbing story will leave you breathless with a smirk on your face and definitely saying WTF! 5 STARS

Edward Unspooled – Craig Lancaster – Genre – Contemporary Fiction

Blurb: Change keeps stalking Edward Stanton. He and his new wife, Sheila, have retreated to his small house in Montana after an unsuccessful attempt at operating a motel in Colorado. That failure has left wounds, especially for Sheila, and now they face a bigger challenge: pregnancy and impending parenthood.

Edward begins penning notes to the child (ever precise, he refers to the gestating being as “Cellular Stanton”) as he navigates married life with Sheila, who is unhappy and unfulfilled in Montana; a work partnership with his friend Scott Shamwell, whose own life is teetering; and the emergence of a long-buried family secret and the effect of this revelation on his relationship with his overbearing mother.

Even as Edward’s world expands, he must confront questions about whom to let in, how much to give, the very definition of family, the fragility of hope, and the expanses of love.

My Review:  I truly don’t know how to give this book the praise it deserves. All I can say is that I adored 600 hours, I devoured Edward Adrift and when I heard that Edward was coming back into my life I got a little excited (wet myself actually). Meeting Edward again is like meeting your old best friend, despite being several years since reading Adrift this book brought everything back. The humour, the innocence, the honesty, the wonderful observations and idiosyncrasies of Edward made this book truly beautiful and moving and I confess to crying throughout the last few chapters. Everyone needs an Edward in their life. 5 humongous (I love that word) stars. #TBConFB

Her Husband’s Lover – Julia Crouch – Genre – Psychological Thriller

Blurb: She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My Review:  Holy sh*t balls. This book has so many twists and turns that I now have whiplash. An exceptionally tense and dark psychological thriller which I almost wanted to read with my eyes shut as it was so disturbing in places. I could NOT put this book down, the characters, the storyline, the chilling and gripping plot puts this book into my Top Ten Reads of 2016 5 BIG STARS

Nina is Not OK – Shappi Khorsandi – Genre – Young Adult / Contemporary Fiction

Blurb: Nina does not have a drinking problem. She likes a drink, sure. But what 17-year-old doesn’t?

Nina’s mum isn’t so sure. But she’s busy with her new husband and five year old Katie. And Nina’s almost an adult after all.

And if Nina sometimes wakes up with little memory of what happened the night before, then her friends are all too happy to fill in the blanks. Nina’s drunken exploits are the stuff of college legend.

But then one dark Sunday morning, even her friends can’t help piece together Saturday night. All Nina feels is a deep sense of shame, that something very bad has happened to her…

My Review:This incredibly brilliant debut novel by Shappi Khorsandi has left me slightly breathless. A disturbing and brutally frank account of a young 17 year old girl battling alcoholism, A levels, boyfriends and growing up at the same time. Told with frank and graphic honestly and with the authors wonderful self-deprecating humour, this story deals with living with an addict, the fall out and the shame. Totally gripping and heartbreaking and also thought provoking. 5 stars.

The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchinson – Genre – Thriller / Mystery

Blurb: 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…

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…

My Review: This will be going in my top ten reads of 2016. An absolutely incredible story which was strangely mesmerising and very disturbing in equal measures. Our “heroine/victim” Maya recounts her horrific neglected childhood and subsequent kidnapping by the sick and twisted serial killer known as The Gardener who abducts beautiful young women and keeps them like butterflies. There was an element of dark humour and an underlying glimmer of hope throughout. This book transported me to the garden through the wonderful descriptive words and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves reading! 5 HUGE STARS

Good Me Bad Me – Ali Land – Genre – Pyschological Thriller

Blurb‘NEW N A M E . NEW F A M I L Y. S H I N Y. NEW. ME . ‘

Annie’s mother is a serial killer.
The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.
But out of sight is not out of mind.
As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly.
A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.
But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me.
She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

My Review: A thoroughly gripping and highly disturbing debut novel. Millie is an intelligent 15 year old trying to fit in and belong. However being the daughter of a prolific serial killer who is on trial thanks to Millie telling the police is not easy, especially when your serial killing parent is your mother. This page turner kept me gripped throughout. With a mixed bag of feelings ranging from horror to sympathy I thoroughly recommend this book especially if you enjoy uncomfortable stories. 5 stars 

A Thousand Small Explosions/The One – John Marrs – Genre: Thriller

Blurb: One simple mouth swab is all it takes.
One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.
A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.
Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets.
And some are more shocking, heartbreaking and deadlier than others.

My Review:  This is the 3rd book I’ve read by John Marrs and once again he has created an original and thought provoking storyline centred around finding your perfect DNA match via a website. Following 5 individuals quest to find their perfect match, each story is full of love, sadness, hope and humour with the inevitable Marrs twist thrown in. I found this gripping and a real page turner, my heart was pounding at particular places and I really didn’t know where each chapter would take me. 5 big fat stars from me.

Small Great Things – Jodi Picoult

Blurb: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st Century’ Real Reader Review

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.

What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us.

It is about opening your eyes.

My Review:   It is not often I am left speechless after finishing a book, but right now I don’t know what to say to give this book the praise it rightly deserves.  This is an incredibly powerful and thought provoking book about racism, prejudice, preconceptions and above all family.  Jodi Picoult’s research attention to detail is present throughout. From midwifery to working in McDonalds, her descriptions are so minute that at times, you forget you are reading a story and think you’re being educated.  This book is breathtaking and therefore I am delighted to put it in my Top 10 books of 2016.

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