The great thing about a book is that regardless of whether it’s pouring with rain, or the sun is making your commute to work even more stifling, it has the perfect ability to help you escape. Have to wait a few more weeks till you go on holiday? Or are you back and looking for something to keep you thrilled as you go back to your working week? Then these books should tick all those boxes.
The Thirty List by Eva Woods
I turn 30 in a few weeks and I’m finding it increasingly easier to be reflective. I’m analysing my life and thinking of all the things I haven’t done yet, so I loved the character of Rachel instantly. Rachel is having a bad time, ditched by her husband, unemployed and penniless she feels that she has to climb back on top of the mountain that is her failed life.
During a search for a place to live she somehow finds herself moving in with Patrick and his four year old son. Recently separated from his wife, Patrick is difficult to read and often quite grumpy. Under the guidance of her two best friends Emma and Cynthia they make it their mission to get Rachel’s life back on track and make a list of the 10 things they want to achieve. It consists of everything from ‘try an extreme sport’ to ‘have sex with a stranger’ some, if not all, the things Rachel has always wanted to do but didn’t. Pretty soon, Patrick gets involved too.
Although at times it’s a little obvious what’s going to happen, it doesn’t make the story any less enjoyable, and the friendship and connection Rachel builds with Patrick and his adorably written son Alex is both authentic and happens organically enough to avoid if being forced. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way and the pacing is spot on. I tore through it during a 6 hour train journey, it’s hard to believe that this is Eva Woods first romantic comedy novel as it contains all the classics of a true professional.
The Thirty List is published by Mills & Boon and is available for the Kindle from amazon.co.uk (RRP £2.84) The print edition is available in all good bookshops (RRP £7.99)
Coming Home by Annabel Kantaria
When Evie gets a phone call to tell her that her father has died suddenly she catches the first flight she can back home. Expecting to return back home to the UK to a distraught mother, she’s surprised at how composed and organised she seems to be. When Evie is tasked with the job of going through all her father’s files she uncovers a secret that brings up painful memories from the past and changes her life and the memory of her father forever.
Evie slips into investigation mode to get as many answers she can, but finds that asking her mother any questions will take her no closer to uncovering the truth. If anything her mother becomes very closed or very aggressive and manic. Supported by her old boyfriend Lucas, Evie steps into her father’s second life. This novel is filled with plenty of shocks and the ending with leave you feeling cold.
This is an incredibly well written novel, the way it flits between young Evie and modern day, a promising debut from Annabel Kantaria, it’s a definite page-turner.
Coming Home is published by Harlequin MIRA and is available for the Kindle from amazon.co.uk (RRP £2.49) The print edition is available in all good bookshops (RRP £7.99)
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
I know in my profession I’m not supposed to judge a book by a cover, but when I first received this through the post I thought it was aimed at children. But within the first few pages not only did this become apparent, but I also became incredibly hooked. Based in a crumbling country house in the middle of Cornwall, this story flits between a character named Amber during the 1960’s and a woman named Lorna in the present day. Lorna is looking for a venue for her wedding and feels drawn to Black Rabbit Hall, a place her adopted mother used to take her. Pretty soon Lorna is invited to stay at the house by the old eccentric lady living there and her assistant Dill, a shy young woman who is constantly spoken down to by old Mrs Alton.
As the story progresses not only does Lorna feel more drawn to the place she begins to think that there is something connecting her here and she seeks out answers from Dill and Mrs Alton. But the closer she comes to the truth the more distant she becomes from the life she thought she knew.
This is an incredibly immersive read, perhaps it’s my somewhat biased love for Cornwall, but the location really adds to the setting with this story. There’s something almost classic and gothic about the novel, as the ghosts of the past and their lives are played out on the page. The characters were well written and the plot took many an unexpected twist. This is a great novel, tragic, romantic, and haunting and by far one of the best novels I have read this year.
Black Rabbit Hall is published by Michael Joseph for Penguin and is available for the Kindle from amazon.co.uk (RRP £4.35) The print edition is available in all good bookshops (RRP £12.99)