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A Family Recipe By Veronica Henry

A Family Recipe‘The Family Recipe’ is by Veronica Henry.

Laura Griffin is preparing for an empty nest. The thought of Number 11 Lark Hill falling silent – a home usually bustling with noise, people and the fragrant smells of something cooking on the Aga – seems impossible. Laura hopes it will mean more time for herself, and more time with her husband, Dom. But when an exposed secret shakes their marriage, Laura suddenly feels as though her family is shrinking around her. Feeling lost, she turns to her greatest comfort: her grandmother’s recipe box, a treasured collection dating back to the Second World War. Everyone has always adored Laura’s jams and chutneys, piled their sandwiches high with her pickles. Inspired by a bit of the old Blitz spirit, Laura has an idea that gives her a fresh sense of purpose. Full of fierce determination, Laura starts carving her own path. But even the bravest woman needs the people who love her. And now, they need her in return.

The latest book from Veronica Henry is a delicious heartwarming story about love and family.

The story is set in the past during the Second World War, when Jilly Wilson tragically loses her parents during an aid raid on the night that she meets handsome stranger called Harry Swann, who leaves her to fight for their country. Fast forward to nearly 70 years later to the present day and her great grand-daughter is leaving for university, whilst her mother Laura is wondering what to do with her spare time.

Suddenly with an empty house, she decides to embark on a new venture and use her own culinary skills and rustic home to create a new income for herself. She was looking forward to spending time with her husband Dom, now that both their daughters are gone but fate has dealt her an unexpected hand.

The two different eras and characters are a lovely touch to the story, as both women separated in age, both deal with sudden circumstances that are set to challenge them. Jilly AKA Kanga is a lovely woman, she’s strong and caring and even at the loss of her parents, sees her put others before her and give them sanctuary when their houses are bombed. Meanwhile, Laura is a kind hearted woman who’s goal is to look after her children and protect them from hurt, she throws herself into her work and to distract herself.

I genuinely loved this story, the characters are heartwarming and relatable and the different eras give an interesting quirk to the story. With a charming cover and a lovely blend of family dramas, complicated relationships and new beginnings, ‘The Family Recipe’ is an absolute treat.

You can buy A Family Recipe from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Your Closest Friend By Karen Perry

Your Closest Friend‘Your Closest Friend’ is the latest book by Karen Perry.

Cara shouldn’t have survived the attack. But at the last moment, a stranger snatched her to safety. In the hours that followed she told this Good Samaritan secrets she’d never told a soul. Not even her husband. In the aftermath, Cara is home, healed and safe. Which is when the anonymous threats begin. Someone knows things about her they shouldn’t. Cara’s Good Samaritan offers to help her – to save her all over again. That night Cara made a friend for life. But what if she isn’t a friend at all?

‘Your Closest Friend’ is the second book that I’ve read by writing duo Paul Perry and Karen Gillece and I have to admit that I enjoyed it much more than the first book that I read by them.

This claustrophobic and intense thriller is set during a terrorist attack in London when two strangers meet for the first time, when Amy rescues Cara and gives her sanctuary in her workplace. It’s in this short time that the pair of them talk, telling their fears and secrets as they fear for their lives. When Cara says goodbye to Amy, she never expects to see or hear from Amy again, but Amy has gotten herself a lot more involved in Cara’s life than Cara imagined and finds herself suddenly with a new close friend. As Cara’ tries to move forward from that fateful day that she met Amy, she finds her life suddenly spiralling out of control as she begins to receive strange messages from ‘Your Closest Friend’. Meanwhile, Amy is delighted to have met Cara and is convinced that fate has brought them together, no matter how much Cara protests.

The story is cleverly written through the narrative of both Amy and Cara and give an interesting insight into their personalities. Cara is calm and collected, trying to move on from that night and play the perfect mother/wife whilst Amy is consumed by it. The pair of them are intriguing characters, Cara is mysterious and gives little away whilst Amy is compulsive and wild. She’s come from a troubled background and right from the outset, the reader can see that her troubled past has really affected her. She’s obsessed with Cara and occasionally, this does make for unsettling reading as she regularly tries to prove her love for Cara with disastrous results.

Dark, bleak and very atmospheric, this book is a troubling and gripping story of love and obsession, taunt with a strong storyline, narrative and unnerving characters, this story makes for creepy reading, ‘Your Closest Friend’ is a twisted tale about how far a person will go for love.

You can buy Your Closest Friend from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Watching You By Lisa Jewell

Watching You‘Watching You’ is the latest book by ‘Sunday Times’ bestselling author, Lisa Jewell.

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow. You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room. That’s when you meet the man next door. He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him. All the time. But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession. Or that someone is watching you.

With a title called ‘Watching You’, I knew the latest book from Lisa Jewell would be a dark read, but nothing quite prepared me for the sinister twist to the tale that chilled me on the final page.

The story is primarily through the eyes of Joey, Jenna and Freddie, all people who keep a close eye on their community. Joey has recently moved back home from Ibiza with a new husband in tow. She’s trying to settle down to the quieter pace of life, but finds herself distracted from the handsome headteacher who has just moved into the area and has turned the heads off quite a few people. Jenna lives alone with her single mother who’s convinced someone is watching her. Jenna has to be adult of the family and deal with her mother’s paranoia, as well as look out for her best friend who has developed a crush on the new headteacher whilst Freddie, the son of the new principal, enjoys nothing more than observing and recording world around them. He knows a different side to his father and is tired of seeing people in awe of this supposedly charismatic man.

Since ‘The Third Wife’, I have found that Lisa’s books get considerably darker and I thought ‘Then She Was Gone’ was dark but then I read this and thought, wow this is twisted.

The story starts at the present moment, when a body is found and sets the scene perfectly as it backtracks through the narrative of the three main characters all with different perceptives of the situation and the people involved.

The different perspectives are a clever addition to the tale and give an interesting slant to story, keeping the reader on their toes. For me, I found the characters to be suspicious and regularly found them to be quite untrustworthy at times and this really keeps the reader absorbed as secrets and situations are revealed.

I was so fortunate that I had a day off work so I could absorb myself in this book as it really did need my undivided attention. A taunt thriller filled with paranoia, suspense and plenty of untrustworthy characters, ‘Watching You’ is a claustrophobic and dark story that will have you looking at your neighbours in a new light. Like a fine wine ageing, Lisa just gets better and better with each book.

You can buy Watching You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

You Were Made For This By Michelle Sacks

You Were Made For This ‘You Were Made For This’ is Michelle Sacks’ debut novel.

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores baking, gardening, and caring for her infant son, while Sam pursues a new career in film. In their idyllic house in the Swedish woods, they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built for themselves, away from New York and the events that overshadowed their happiness there. And then Merry’s closest friend Frank comes to stay. All their lives, the two women have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank sees things that others might miss. Treacherous things that unfold behind closed doors. But soon it’s clear that everyone inside the house has something to hide. And as the truth begins to show through the cracks, Merry, Frank, and Sam grow all the more desperate to keep their picture-perfect lives intact.

When Merry and her husband Sam up stick from New York to Sweden, to the house that his deceased aunt left him. He thinks, it’s the perfect start for them with their new baby Connor, whilst Sam chases the dream of becoming a film director, Merry is left at home with the baby. Whilst Sam is away, Merry struggles with being a mother and pretending that she’s the perfect stepford wife, so when her best friend Frank plans to visit, she jumps at the chance for company.

Frank and Merry have a strange relationship. Their best friends but constantly are trying to outdo one another. When Frank visits, she’s surprised at how adept Merry has adjusted to her new life in the middle of no-where, but also finds herself jealous of Merry’s life and wants it for herself. Whilst Merry is trying to hide her struggles of parenthood as well as hide her mistrust of Frank as she settles into her role as Aunt Frank.

The story is written through the eyes of Merry, Sam and Frank and gives an insight into all of the characters and how all of them are hiding something and they’re not quite as perfect as we are all lead each other to believe. They are all unsettling in their own ways, Sam’s viewpoint of women and the relationship between Frank and Merry is toxic. Having been friends for 30 years, they know each other’s ticks and pretend to be best friends, but really they prefer to tear each other down, particularly Merry, who’s not as sweet and wholesome as she pretends.

The story is set in the wilderness of Sweden and this adds a lonely atmospheric touch to the story, as Merry spends most of her time alone until Frank turns up.

‘You Were Made For This’ is an exploration of motherhood and friendships, a story of lies and obsession, this story is deeply unsettling throughout. With believable characters and narrative, this psychological thriller about damaged characters and lives makes for brutal reading

You can buy You Were Made for This from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Our Kind Of Cruelty By Araminta Hall

Our Kind Of Cruelty‘Our Kind Of Cruelty’ is the latest book by Araminta Hall.

Mike and Verity have a special game. The Crave. They play it to prove what they already know: that Verity loves Mike. That she needs Mike. Even though she’s marrying another man. Now Mike knows that the stakes of their private game are rising. This time, someone has to die.

While the rest of the United Kingdom were absorbed in the England versus Sweden football match, I had my head buried in a book.

I read ‘Everything And Nothing, Araminta’s debut novel a few years ago, I really enjoyed it and thought she was an author, I’d like to read more off. So, when I received a copy of ‘Our Kind Of Cruelty’, I was keen to get stuck in.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Mike, a high powered business man who has moved back to London, hoping to reconcile with his ex Verity, who broke his heart when she broke up with him. Verity and Mike had an obsessive and intense relationship, where they played a game called ‘The Crave’. With ‘The Crave’, the couple would visit a club and Mike would leave Verity alone at the bar and they’d wait for someone to approach her. Once, someone would chat Verity up, she would give Mike the secret signal which was to play with her eagle necklace and he would swoop in and save her. So, when Mike receives a wedding invite from Verity, he sees this as an elaborate extension of the ‘The Crave’ and sets up creating the perfect life for her when he rescues her on her wedding day.

Mike is a complex character, somewhat reminiscent of Patrick Bateman from ‘American Psycho’. To the outside world, he’s a charismatic and successful business man, living the dream and settling into his new home with his partner ‘Verity’, but behind closed doors, it’s quite a different story as Mike is unravelling at the seems as Verity prepares for her big day.

This book is a dark and thrilling story and right from the offset, you can see that something terrible is afoot. The book is cleverly written and with it being only being seen through Mike’s narrative, it gives quite a rose tainted view of the world. Mike is a complex man, a gentleman but troubled and marked by his turbulent upbringing and sees solace and security in Verity and longs to be knight in shining armour, no matter the cost.

A troubling story about toxic love and obsession, ‘Our Kind Of Cruelty’ is a fantastically intense and suspenseful domestic noir that sucked me right in from the very beginning.

You can buy Our Kind of Cruelty from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.