My top 20 reads for 2016…

I have read so many wonderful books this year that this has been so much harder than the top 10 I did for 2015! I have read 244 books according to Goodreads where I set myself a target of 200 books for 2016. Three of the books that made this list aren’t out till 2017 but there are so many brilliant books coming out next year I thought I would include them this year to make next December a little easier for me!! These books are in no particular order, just books I have adored this year with links to my reviews.

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

A Tapping at My Door by David Jackson

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Bloq by Alan Jones

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

See How They Run by Tom Bale

Death Stalks Kettle Street by John Bowen

Flowers for the Dead by Barbara Copperthwaite

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

A Mother’s Confession by Kelly Rimmer

A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone

Valentina by S E Lynes

The Mountain In My Shoe by Louise Beech

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley

And that’s it for 2016! It’s been a great first year for My Chestnut Reading Tree and 2017 will bring the first anniversary of my blog in February so I’m pretty excited about that! All it leaves me to do now is wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

TBC 20/20 Bloggers Event Mondays Five All Time Favourites

I was asked last week to step in at the last moment to an event over on THE Book Club over on Facebook. Everyday for four days, twenty bloggers will post five of their all time favourite books with a brief description and why those books have made their top 20. So head on over there to check out everyone’s choices. As I love psychological suspense and thrillers I have chosen my top 20 favourite books with a twist and here are the first five!

1. A Place of Execution by Val McDermid


A journalist looking into the cold case of a missing 13 year old girl for a book she is writing, interviews the police officer who lead the search for her with far reaching consequences for them all.
This was my first Val McDermid book and my favourite-I re-read it every few years and am still amazed by her brilliance as a crime writer.

A Place of Execution is available at Amazon UK

2. Before I go to Sleep by S.J Watson


Every night a woman goes to sleep knowing that when she wakes up all her memories will have disappeared. But will a search to discover her past put her life in danger?
This book was unlike any book I had read up till that day. One of the cleverest plots I’ve ever come across. But please read the book do NOT WATCH THE FILM!

Before I Go To Sleep is available at Amazon UK

3. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica


Mia goes home from a bar one night with a stranger but is she about to make the worst mistake of her life?
OMG I still love this book so much and make everyone read it! What a clever and engrossing plot that you won’t truly appreciate until the last page! I bought copies for all my friends and family!

The Good Girl: An addictively suspenseful and gripping thriller is available at Amazon UK

4. One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis


Lawyer Emily one day just ups and leaves behind  her beautiful home and happy family life to reinvent herself in London. But why? And will her past come back to haunt her?
EVERYONE, including Tina, herself knows how much I love and constantly recommend this book! It is the one that got me loving that BIG twist which I totally didn’t see coming. Not many people can fool me but this one certainly did and I’ve never forgotten that feeling of WOW!!!

One Step Too Far is available here at Amazon UK

5. Blood Ties by Sam Hayes (Samantha Hayes)


January 1992- a mother leaves a baby girl to pop into a shop, just long enough though for her to be taken. 13 years later and why does a mother not want her talented daughter to go to a school for the gifted in London? What is she hiding?
Again, everyone knows what a MASSIVE Samantha Hayes stalker (sorry I mean fan!) I am. I adore all her books but this is my very favourite-the first one I ever read. It shocked me totally!! I still have a very dog eared copy which I refuse to lend to people, I love it that much!

Blood Ties is available here at Amazon UK

So that’s it for my choices today!  I have included links to the kindle versions of the books on Amazon UK but am aware that as these books are older ones the kindle price may actually be higher than usual. Make sure your check back tomorrow for the next five. I have to add that they are in no particular order but are all in my top 20 favourite psychological thrillers/suspense of the past few years.

Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop: Sequins and Snowflakes by Jane Linfoot @janelinfoot @HarperImpulse

About this book…

The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.

Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…

Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?

My review…

There’s always something special about a winter wedding isn’t there? Whereas most brides want a beautifully warm and sunny June day for their nuptials, there is definitely a trend now for a different style of wedding in the colder months of the year complete with snow, furry capes and sleigh bells. And here we have a winter wedding on what is usually a manic day at the best of times….Christmas Eve!

Now this is the first book I have read by Jane Linfoot but it’s not the first in the series as its a follow up to The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea. I read it as a standalone though and it worked perfectly for me. Seraphina East is working in a beautiful bridal store in Cornwall by the sea where she designs the most gorgeous dresses for that very special day in a girls life! So rather unusually when her sister Alice plans her winter Cornish wedding, she doesn’t ask Sera to make her dress for her. As sisters go they are very different in temperament but when the organised bridezilla that is Alice has to leave a lot of the last minute planning to her younger sister and the best man there could be trouble ahead for the sisters! And also rather unusually, there are two best men at this Yuletide wedding so that gives bridesmaid Sera a difficult choice when both show an interest in her! Will Sera get her happy ending too?

This is such a fun and comforting feelgood Christmas romance. The difference in the sisters outlooks leads to lots of misunderstandings but there is a sweet and gentle humour running throughout. The scenes with the Winter Warmer cracked me up and I just loved all the food and drink references throughout. Wedding food and Christmas dining? Just don’t read whilst hungry or you will end up drooling over your kindle or book and heading straight for the nearest cupcake retailer! And make sure you read right to the end of the book for a few winter recipes that will keep you warm (and rather merry!) on the countdown to the big day!

I loved the countdown to the Christmas wedding and watching the changes both sisters went though as they prepared for the big day. I’m a sucker for a happy ending with all the ends tied neatly but I do hope we get a glimpse of Sera in other books to come in the series as we did here with Jules.

This is a perfect read for escaping all the Christmas mayhem so find a warm corner, cuddle up in some reindeer pyjamas and big fluffy socks and relax. Winter Warmer and mince pies are optional!

Many thanks to the author for my review copy.

Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop: Sequins and Snowflakes (The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea) was published by Harper Impulse on 30th September and is available to purchase from Amazon UK

About the author by the author…

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I write fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines and a bit of an edge. Writing romance is cool, because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. I live in a mountain kingdom in Derbyshire, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos. Happily, we’re in walking distance of a supermarket. I love hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage, most things French. When I’m not on Facebook, and can’t find an excuse for shopping, I’ll be walking, or gardening. On days when I want to be really scared, I ride a tandem.

My weekend at Theakstons Crime in Harrogate

You will all have to forgive me as it’s taking me sometime to get back down to earth after a fabulous time at the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate last weekend. I just had the most amazing few days meeting so many authors, publishers, fellow bloggers and readers. There were probably too many to mention but I must mention Noelle and her sidekick Claire from Crimebookjunkie Sarah from By the letter book reviews  Kat from BCB and More Shell from Chelles book reviews Susan from Books from Dusk till Dawn Helen from Baatty about books Anne from Random things through my Letterbox and Janet at From First Page To Last

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Highlights for me included a workshop on the Saturday morning for Mark Edwards and his new book The Devils Work which is out in September and this was followed by a Bloggers Brunch which was organised by the lovely Sam Eades and was attended by authors Mason Cross, Daniel Coles, Harry Bingham and Sarah Naughton. We had a lot of fun with a speed dating approach so that we could have a chat with them all!

But I think the highlight for me (apart from the most amazing reaction to meeting ME that made my day-you know who you are!!) was when I had an email in the middle of the Crime Novel of the Year awards ceremony to tell me I had won afternoon tea at Bettys with…..Linwood Barclay!!! So taking fellow blogger and roommate Sarah Hardy with me, we had the most amazing two hours with the man himself over a fabulous and delicious afternoon tea. Definitely an occasion that I will never forget!

And then to top it all, I came home with a huge pile of books! So until next year…it may take me that long to read all these books!!

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Book spine poetry!

Now I have seen this on a few other blogs although I can’t find which ones so I can tag and thank them. Now I tend to read most books on my Kindle nowadays but I do still ADORE real books so took a few to have a go at book spine poetry. Man, this was hard!! And here is my effort!

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It is harder than it looks! Have you had a go? Let me know in the comments how you got on!

The Liebster Award

Liebster award

Thank you to Kerry at Chataboutbooksfor my nomination:-)

The Rules are:

  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
  • Answer the questions assigned to you.
  • Give 10 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 10 deserving bloggers for the award.
  • Ask 10 questions to your nominee.

1 – Chips or Jacket potato?

Jacket potato but I just love potatoes in any shape or form really. I love them!

2 – Seaside or countryside?

Seaside! I live in the countryside and love it but I was born by the sea and miss it every single day.

3 – Do you have a holiday booked? If so, where are you off to?

Not yet but hoping to soon. My hubby isn’t happy as I’m now working in a school again and so we are now back to going in school holidays.

4 – Do you have pets?

I have my gorgeous little cavapoo called Darcy. I love cavalier king Charles spaniels but I wouldn’t have another one after losing my last one Oscar when he was only 9 due to a heart problem.

5 – What’s your favourite sport to play?

I am so not a sporty person!

6 – What’s your favourite sport to watch?

Same again, I never really watch sport either

7 – Do you have a favourite author?

Agatha Christie is still my favourite

8 – If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would be the first question you would ask them?

I get very tongue tied when meeting authors so whoever it is would probably look at me like I’m the village idiot! I would love to meet Jilly Cooper and just talk about dogs!

9 – Your favourite restaurant?

It’s a little Italian restaurant in the village where I live called Don Albertos

10 – Ice-cream or cake?

Ice cream every time! I love it!

Ten random facts about me:

1. I hate moths and butterflies

2. I was once trick or treated by Harry Styles who sang me a very rude song.

3. I  was once on Songs of Praise

4. I trained as a Podiatrist but hated cutting my girls nails when they were babies, my husband had to do it!

5. I was born in Norfolk but moved to Aberdeen when I was 11

6. I have been grey since the age of 25 but will “dye till I die”

7. I hate Westerns but my top film of all time is The Searchers!! A Western lol

8. I can’t watch Toy Story 3 because I sob at the end every time and my grandchildren laugh at me.

9. I make the best lasagne in the whole wide world!!

10. My name is a combination of my parents names and my eldest daughters name is a combination of mine and my husband’s

 

I nominate:

Susan @ Books from Dusk till dawn

Jo @ Jo’s Book Blog

Kaisha @ Thewritinggarnet

Lindsay @ Bookboodle

Kate @ Bibliophilebookclub

Sarah @ Bytheletterbookreviews

Wendy @ Littlebooknesslane

Linda @ Lindasbookbag

Joanne @ Portobellobookblog

Claire @ Art and Soul

My questions for you all are:

1. Dogs or cats?

2. Kindle or real book?

3. Favourite drink?

4. What’s your favourite thing to cook?

5. What makes you cry?

6. What made you want to blog?

7. Favourite cheese?

8. Sandals or boots?

9. Last time you laughed?

10. Sunshine or snow?

It’s Friday and it’s Twin Day!

I thought that I would share a few of the books about twins that I have read recently in honour of my own twins whose birthday it is today!  Due to being a mum of twins, I have always been drawn to works of fiction featuring them and the complex relationship they have. Most people find twins fascinating, myself included, and I’m sure that’s why there has been an increase in the amount of books that have twins at the centre of them. So here goes!

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

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Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.

My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

But what really happened to Coco?

Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed…

Reviewed January 2016

As soon as I heard Alex Marwood had a new book out I pre-ordered it from Amazon. Having a chance to read it early with a review copy was a fantastic opportunity for me as I am an incredibly impatient reader when it comes to books by my favourite authors. In fact, I normally read my books in order of publication (it does border on ocd to be fair!) but I made a huge exception for The Darkest Secret as I physically couldn’t wait!
I don’t want to go into the plot of this book too much as I think people should read it with no preconceptions. Sean Jackson is holding his 50th birthday party over a Bank Holiday weekend in August attended by various friends and family. Over the course of the weekend, one of his twin daughters, Coco aged 3, goes missing. Ten years later Mila, Coco’s half sister, and Ruby, Coco’s twin, come together to attend his funeral. The story unfolds in 2004 and is told from the viewpoints of various party guests and then alternating with Mila in 2014, who is trying to make sense of her relationship with her deceased father and her half sister Ruby but may also be about to uncover the truth about Coco.
It’s amazing that an author can take a bunch of unlikable and immoral characters and make you want to keep reading about them! You are watching what is happening with a hand over your eyes, dreading what you will find out about these dreadful, narcissistic “friends”. It shows how the actions of adults can ripple down the years to affect children, even when they are adults. It’s very true to life unfortunately.
I loved this book. The apprehension as you read, to find out what has happened to Coco, builds up gradually until you don’t want to read further as the truth is revealed but you just have to know! I adored the relationship between Mila and Ruby and the way it developed over just a few days. And I started off hating another character but as the story unfolded further my opinion turned on its head as it also did with other characters but in reverse!
A superb read from Alex Marwood and will certainly be one of the big reads for the start of 2016. Her best so far I think and as a huge fan of The Wicked Girls that is saying something!
I received a copy of the book via netgalley in return for an honest review.
The Darkest Secret is available to buy at Amazon UK

Beside Myself by Anne Morgan

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Helen and Ellie are identical twins ? like two peas in a pod, everyone says.

The girls know this isn’t true, though: Helen is the leader and Ellie the follower.

Until they decide to swap places: just for fun, and just for one day.

But Ellie refuses to swap back…

And so begins a nightmare from which Helen cannot wake up. Her toys, her clothes, her friends, her glowing record at school, the favour of her mother and the future she had dreamed of are all gone to a sister who blossoms in the approval that used to belong to Helen. And as the years pass, she loses not only her memory of that day but also herself ? until eventually only ‘Smudge’ is left.

Twenty-five years later, Smudge receives a call from out of the blue. It threatens to pull her back into her sister’s dangerous orbit, but if this is her only chance to face the past, how can she resist?

Reviewed in January 2016

I am a total pushover for books about twins (especially twin girls due to having my own!!) as twins are still seen as something a little bit different, with a mystical quality that still makes complete strangers stop and ask questions. I’ve been through them all personally myself “are they twins?” “are they identical?” and everyone’s favourite quote “double trouble! You’ve got your hands full there!” So I was looking forward to this darker novel about twin girls who decide to swap places one day when they are six and, as one of them refuses to change back, it affects the lives of both girls into adulthood.
Helen is the “good twin” who does well at school and is much loved by their mummy whereas Ellie is a little slower, not so popular at school or home. One day Helen thinks it would be fun to change places and they swap clothes, hairstyles etc. But Ellie likes the attention and enjoys being Helen so refuses to swap back. This leaves Helen stuck in the “personality” of Ellie which gradually because hers when no one believes what has happened to her.
I found this such a sad book and was totally frustrated by it. The girls mother Margaret is awful! How 2 small girls can fool their own mother is totally unrealistic in my opinion but there are many hidden layers in this well executed debut novel and so you suspend believe as you get sucked into the story. It’s a moral tale of how we act when we are pigeon holed into a specific role in life. My twins have taken place in studies since they were very young to see if it is nurture or nature that defines who we become as an adult. In this case, mental illness in the twins as adults is thought-provoking in very different ways, both girls affected by the differing life experiences and the personalities they took on.
Our main focus is Helen-who-becomes-Ellie and we don’t get such an insight into Ellie. I would have liked more of her story if I’m honest to get a balanced idea of why things happened and how and why she reacted the way she did. But that didn’t spoil my reading experience of this disturbing insight into how society defines us from a very early age. I will certainly look out for books by this author in the future.
I received a copy of the book from a competition giveaway in The Book Club.
Beside Myself is available to buy at Amazon UK

Dont Say A Word by Jennifer Jaynes

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Death has always stalked single mother Allie Callahan. For the first time in her life, she has found a fragile sort of happiness living a quiet, peaceful existence in East Texas with her young son, Sammy, and her adoptive mother.

Still, Allie fears she may be susceptible to the same mental illness that destroyed her serial-killer mother and brother. She’s haunted by the idea that she could become incapable of caring for Sammy.

When twelve-year-old twins Zoe and Carrie arrive on her doorstep late one night, their parents slain in a vicious double homicide, Allie’s strength and sanity are put to the test. What did the twins see on the night of their parents’ horrific murder? They are too frightened to say.

Soon faced with a series of menacing phone calls, a rising body count, and the pressure of keeping the girls and her own son safe, Allie fears she’ll lose her mind—and her one shot at happiness—once and for all.

I reviewed Don’t Say a Word by Jennifer Jaynes in May 2016

The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

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I’m alone in the dark, please can you find me …

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia vow never to be parted. But when Abigail goes missing from Blackwater Farm, DC Jennifer Knight must find her before it’s too late.

Twin sister Olivia has been mute since Abigail’s disappearance. But when she whispers in Jennifer’s ear, Jennifer realises it is Abigail’s voice pleading to be found.

A damp and decaying house set in acres of desolate scrubland, the farm is a place of secrets, old and new – and Jennifer must unravel them all in order to find the lost girl. But could Olivia’s bond with her twin hold the key to finding Abigail? And can Jennifer break through her silence in time to save her sister’s life?
The Silent Twin: A dark, gripping detective thriller (Detective Jennifer Knight Crime Thriller Series Book 3) is available to buy at Amazon UK

Too Close by Gayle Curtis

This is going to be next next “twin read” and here is the blurb..

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A devastating and unsettling story of a powerful and unshakeable twin bond, Too Close is a twisty and gripping tale of secrets and lies. For fans of The Twins by Saskia Sarginson.

Cecelia and Sebastian have a connection like no other – more than just brother and sister, they’ll go to any lengths to protect each other. Growing up in a bleak old farmhouse, their mother gone and their father violent and abusive, the twins have only each other to keep them alive.

But when the secrets of their mother’s disappearance start to emerge, and truth and lies are thrown into question, events take a terrifying turn . . .

As Cecelia tries to break away from the ties that bind her to her brother, Sebastian is determined that the twins should be together – whatever the costs.

 

So that’s just a few of the twin books that have come out in 2016 so far! Have you read any others that I might have missed? And after reading these books I thank my lucky stars that MY twins come with a lot less drama. Happy birthday girls!!