My Top Ten Books of 2017

My Top Ten Booksof 2017

Hi guys! Exactly one year ago I was sharing my most favourite reads of 2016 with you, and now it’s time to do the same with the 2017 reads. What is so special about this is the fact that there are the same authors on both lists!

In 2017 I haven’t read as many books as I’d like. The current number is 156 and when some might say wow, I know that I struggled to get to this number – life getting in the way, child growing up and serving as a taxi to bring her to and back from her activities, looking after the dogs, going to work that lately is very stressful… But let’s not whinge, altogether it was not a bad year, and not only in a bookish sense, but let’s focus on books, guys, this is why we’re here, right? I’ve read many brilliant novels, introducing me to characters that are going to stay with me for ever, and I spent thousand of magical hours in my fictional worlds, and here are some of my most favourite ones. They are not in particular order but there is one book that immediately springs to mind and so I just have it to place it at the very top of my list.

A Song for Tomorrow by Alice Peterson

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February releases brought one of my most anticipated books this year. Alice Peterson belongs to my top favourite author but with “A Song for Tomorrow” she has overdone herself – this book is an absolute gem, a book like no other that turned me into a a weepy mess but that was also full of hope. I absolutely loved this book and it’s going to stay with me for ever!

My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

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One novel that made me laugh out loud, that made me cringe, that made me cheer the characters on and also made me feel inspired by the main character was “My Sweet Revenge” by Jane Fallon, a story that I’ll be getting back to many, many times – though I’d love to be able to read it for the first time over and over again. “My Sweet Revenge” was a bittersweet story with strong and solid characters, with laugh out loud moments and many twists and turns, and you really couldn’t be sure what to expect and – and it was the best! – who to trust and which information is true, the author has really messed with her readers! Absolutely brilliant read!

A Not Quite Perfect Family by Claire Sandy

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I am actually a little bit in love with this book. It was fun and quirky, with brilliant characters, and the author tells about things like they are, with no holds barred. She has written about normal family – with all the ups and downs, function and dysfunction, troubles and successes but she has made this family not only special but down – to – earth. They could have their differences but in the end they all stuck together, they supported each other, just like it should be. “A Not Quite Perfect Family” was full of laugh – out – loud moments, but also there were moments that were much, much more poignant. A cringey, embarrassing moments intertwined with deeper, poignant ones and I loved this mix – it was perfect.

The One by John Marrs

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Oh holy moly, guys. This book. THIS BOOK. When I started to reading it, I couldn’t put it down. Literally. This book. THIS BOOK. It was freakingly brilliant. So refreshing, so original, so unpredictable – one of the best novels this year, believe me. This novel was unputdownable. It was exciting and addictive, and as the chapters were so short, I more than often found myself telling only one chapter and coming out for an air few hours later. It is so, so cleverly plotted, full of shocking twists and turns. “The One” was one of the most unpredictable reads you can ever wish for.

Catch Me if You Cannes by Lisa Dickenson

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There can’t be a list without Lisa Dickenson’s book on it!!! “Catch Me if you Cannes” was packed full, as it usually is with Lisa’s stories, of incredible, belly – ache one – liners. There is something magic and addictive to Lisa’s writing. It’s so light and easy to follow, and it leaves you full of sparkles and will to live, really. But it’s not only laugh – out – loud story about the adventures of two best friends, oh no, Lisa, as usually, has added some softer and emotional moments to the plot as well, that just made me love the story much, much more!

Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

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This story is so beautifully written, it’s full of layers, it’s deep and incredibly funny at the same time, and full of unforgettable characters and situations, friendship and the overwhelming feeling of being welcome. It’s bittersweet, and it is very honest and raw but there is also this incredibly uplifting, optimistic side to it. You can feel the love, the friendship and hope and it is great. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby, and it evoke all kind of emotions in me. It is Debbie Johnson at her best!

The Break by Marian Keyes

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“The Break” was full of dramas, small and huge, and brilliantly captured family bonds. It touches on some more serious and some lighter issues. It is first of all about love, but also about death and grief, health issues, patchwork families and how they work, betrayal, temptations and also your everyday troubles and issues. It’s about overcoming those troubles and staying strong. It’s about choices. It was compelling, emotional, complex and so wise! A book with unforgettable characters that’s going to stay with you for a long time after you’ve finished reading it, with plenty of emotional but also plenty of this incredible Irish charm and humour.

Dancing Over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

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This book made me laugh so hard and I couldn’t wait to discover what’s going to happen. It is this best kind of book when you want to turn the pages as quickly as possible but on the other hand you don’t want it to end. It was a brilliant, entertaining story about love, family and finding your priorities, relationships and seeing that grass is not always greener on the other side. It had me emotionally involved and just pushed all the right buttons for me.

The Year of Saying Yes by Hannah Doyle

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“The Year of Saying Yes” was a story about learning things about yourself, pushing your boundaries, learning that impossible is nothing. It shows that no matter what we think about ourselves, we’re strong enough to face the challenges – in a brilliant, hilarious, light – hearted way. I really can’t wait to see what Hannah Doyle has in store for us, because this book was a real winner and it is a novel that should be shouted about from the rooftops.

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

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This book is  pure genius. A bloody good psychological suspense/thriller with a writing style that just draws you in, and you can’t stop reading. “Sister, Sister” is a story of betrayal, lies and secrets, an absorbing and disturbing psychological suspense with greatly developed characters full of secrets and issues, all so significant to this story and they keep you guessing till the end. This is this kind of a book that you say to yourself you’re going to read only one chapter more and come up for a breath few hours later.

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The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin

The Birthday Girl by Sue Fortin

 

36066989Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 30th November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 364

Genre:  Suspense, Mystery

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Dear Carys, Zoe and Andrea
Come and join me for my fortieth birthday adventure weekend, full of mysteries and surprises the like of which you can’t imagine.

When Joanne’s friends reluctantly accept an invitation to her birthday party, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to this weekend than they are expecting.
One of them is hiding a secret.
And Joanne is planning to reveal it…

A weekend away in a cottage in the woods sounds like fun – until no one can hear your cries for help.

Four friends.
A party to die for.
Who will survive?

Rating: four-stars

After reading “Sister, Sister” by Sue Fortin I was impatiently waiting for this author’s next release, so when “The Birthday Girl” was offered to request on NetGalley I didn’t hesitate long, quickly downloaded it to my kindle and almost immediately started reading this another compelling, hooking read.

The story follows four friends, Carys, Andrea, Zoe and Joanne. The first three have been invited to a mystery birthday weekend by Joanne and reluctantly they arrive at the very remote place. Why reluctantly? Well, lately their friendships haven’t been as good as they used to be and, as it turns out, each of the women had a grudge against the other ones. However, for the sake of the friendship and relationships, they agree – but they are going to regret it, as Joanne feels wronged and she has conjured a plan to expose some of her friends’ secrets.

The relationship between the four women is brilliantly described and very complex – the author knows when and where to add another red herring to change our perspective and to start thinking differently. She can also perfectly well capture the atmosphere, that was changing from very frosty to very heated to full of mistrust. The characters are really not immediately likeable ones, and some of them aren’t likeable at all but this only makes the whole story even more gripping and interesting. They are also all so very different which – I think – is a great thing as it only makes the story so hooking. Joanne is reserved and cold and – in my opinion – unpredictable, Andrea is outspoken and straightforward, Zoe is bouncy and optimistic and easy going and Carys is a very complex person, with a complicated past, with plenty of survival skills, that she’s going to need during the weekend.

It brilliantly describes how a female friendship works, with all its petty jealousies but also bigger and more serious dramas – just as it usually is within groups. The writing style is brilliant, and the author so skilfully builds layer upon layer of secrets, misunderstandings to gradually unpeel the layers and reveal the overall picture. It is very fast paced and it keeps you tightly in its grips, you just can’t put it down as you want to know what’s going to happen next. Also, the setting already adds tons to the atmosphere of uncertainty and fear – in remote woods, far away from inhabited places, it creates this feeling of foreboding and danger.

I can’t stop comparing those two books, though, “Sister, Sister” and “The Birthday Girl”, and I am really sorry for this, I probably shouldn’t be doing this as they are two totally different novels, so please forgive me, but in comparison “The Birthday Girl” was not as full of this palpable tension as “Sister, Sister”. What is the same, however, is the fact that the author incredibly professionally and skilfully makes each and every character suspicious. Guys, really. I was changing my mind instantly and with every new character entering the scene I was suspecting them. While I guessed the main suspect, I haven’t guessed their motivations, and also the author of the few hate letters between chapters directed to Carys was a great surprise to me. She skilfully played with our minds and I was all the time asking myself whom should I trust – is it Carys, as we mostly get the story from her point of view, or is she really hiding something? Shall I believe her version of events or those of the others? I loved this, this feeling of uncertainty and of anything being possible.

Altogether, “The Birthday Girl”, though not as good as “Sister, Sister” (sorry. Sorry!), was a brilliant, compelling and suspenseful read, full of twists and turns and it surprised me more than often. I was very intrigued what the secrets that each of the woman kept were and couldn’t wait to discover them. This book is filled with dramas, feelings and emotions, it is complex and clever, and it ends with a terrific grande finale. However, the very end seemed a tad too flat in comparison to the whole story. Nevertheless, it was a great novel and I can’t wait to read more from the great Sue Fortin. “The Birthday Girl” – recommended!

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin

 

51r1rv74islPublisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 6th January 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 364

Genre: Psychological Suspense/Thriller, Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback (out on 20. 04. 2017)

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling author of The Girl Who Lied
Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Claire: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Claire thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.
Alice thinks Claire is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac.
Two sisters. One truth.

Rating: 5/5

“Sister, Sister” is the first of Sue Fortin’s books I’ve read but definitely not the last – I’ve no idea how I’ve missed on this author’s previous novels, guys. Mea culpa. I am already looking forward to reading Ms Fortin’s other books. “Sister, Sister” is a perfect psychological suspense, just what I am developing to love very much, a book with a lot of tension, questions and missing elements but without murders, pouring blood or gory details. Just incredibly clever, intelligent, complex and brilliantly plotted story that made me experience all kind of feelings and emotions.

But. This book. It could go two ways. Either I could love it or hate it. Why? Because lately I’ve read two books with very, very similar pattern, like leaving home and not remembering it or thinking you’re loosing your mind, one of them I only reviewed yesterday, and so it could be I’ve been there, I’ve seen this, there is nothing new, I’m bored. However, this book has defended itself for me. Yes, I relatively quickly guessed the turn. Then the hints were probably too unsubtle for my liking because I was dead sure I’ve guessed the second twist as well. Yes, there were moments that were much too familiar for me. But then I thought, well, it’s not this book’s fault that it is the next one with a similar pattern, right? And let’s be honest, it was a great book. Thrilling and tense, and it had me totally glued to the pages, hell, it kept me awake while I should have been making use of my beauty sleep!
And guys, this book annoyed me so much! It was because it was crystal clear for me from the very beginning who is the good one and who is in the wrong, and I could cry out loud from frustration that I can see it but the other characters can’t! I wanted to pat one of the sisters on her shoulder and tell her she’s not alone, that I know she’s not going crazy. Arrgh, I tell you guys, I really felt annoyed and frustrated and I could bang the characters’ heads together. As for Luke… oh my word. As much as I loved Luke, he was a great husband and brilliant dad and I loved his sense of humour, he disappointed me more than once with the way he talked to Clare. I understand he could have doubts but there is no justification for him speaking to her like that! Really, all the characters were brilliantly written, they had depth and their own personalities, they were believable.

So yes, it’s like this, guys. I was dead certain that I know who’s right and who is wrong, I just felt it in my heart, head, stomach and at the tips of my fingers. Nevertheless, I was glued to the pages and raced through the book to see that I was right. See this? “To see that I was right”, not to see IF I was right. If the book turned out differently, I’d be very surprised! Very! Not sure if I’d be happy if it turned out differently, though, and I was extremely glad that the story ended in the way it did. Did I feel disappointed that I knew how it’s going to finish? Absolutely not! I really think that if it ended differently then I’d be disappointed. Did it also take the joy of reading and wondering if it is the narrator who’s unreliable or are there other characters making things up away? The answer is also no. I absolutely loved this book!

What was absolutely thrilling was the fact that the story was all the time developing, unravelling layer after layer of new facts, buried skeletons and secrets, being then caught up in a brilliant, surprising grande finale that I couldn’t predict. I knew perhaps who but the events at the end of the book took me totally by surprise. The story runs at great pace, and there is all the time something happening, either at home, or at Clare’s work or with her friends, and I really appreciated this diversification. Also, Sue Fortin didn’t stop adding twists and turns till the very end of the story! There were many of them but I’ve never felt too overwhelmed or couldn’t sort them out, I’ve never felt confused. It was all cleverly and skilfully plotted and the events flew effortlessly.

So all in all, guys, even with me guessing who (but now how!), I think this book deserves the big, fat 5 stars rating because it’s pure genius. A bloody good psychological suspense/thriller with a writing style that just draws you in, and you can’t stop reading. “Sister, Sister” is a story of betrayal, lies and secrets, an absorbing and disturbing psychological suspense with greatly developed characters full of secrets and issues, all so significant to this story and they keep you guessing till the end. This is this kind of a book that you say to yourself you’re going to read only one chapter more and come up for a breath few hours later. Highly recommended!