I read 46 books last year. This is largely due to the book club that I joined and also a lot of buddy reads with Irena. I reviewed a lot them, but not all. Reading is the best part for me, so sometimes the reviews slip by with just a number rating.
Here are all the books I read in 2021.
It is a difficult decision to chose my top books of the year as so many of them were really gripping, entertaining and some so funny. But as a bookblogger and keen to recommend the best books in my opinion, I will tell you my top 4 of 2021.
I haven’t reviewed this one, but it is well reviewed on Goodreads and Amazon. A very twisty thriller based on the main character Louise receiving a Friend Request from a former high school student who is dead.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this one so much as it was a different genre from what I usually like best. This was based on monster type sea creatures and a group of explorers and scientists going out on a ship to find proof that they exist. Very different and very good. Thanks to Irena again for this recommendation.
What were your favourite books of 2021? Give me your recommendations of what I should read in 2022.
Thank you to Netgalley, the Author Georgina Lees and publisher One More Chapter for my advanced copy of this book. I was in the mood for a good thriller when I read this one and it was just what I wanted after reading a few other genres with my bookclub.
How well do you know your neighbour? Would you trust them with your life?
I heard Emily before I saw her. The harsh smack of heels against cheap wooden floorboards. The loud phone calls. The incessant music.
I knew Emily before I met her. Discarded receipts in our communal hallway. Sticky leftovers in the shared food waste bin. Wine shop vouchers in the letterbox.
Now she’s gone missing, and I’m the only one who can find her. The only one who can save her.
Because I know her best, and I heard everything.
The Girl Upstairs is a spine-tingling psychological thriller of grief and obsession that explores how lonely London can be and how sometimes it’s our neighbours who see us most, who know us best…
A must-read for fans of Lisa Jewell and Sarah Pinborough.
I think the moral going into this book, is that not everything is as it seems. I guess that is true with many thrillers and often in life. I wouldn’t describe this book as a page turning suspenseful thriller, but it is a thriller. We hear mainly from Susie’s point of view, that she hears everything her upstairs neighbour does. Susie is a bit down in the dumps and can’t help but get annoyed with every little and loud noise that the girl upstairs makes. Susie knows when the girl upstairs is in the shower, cooking, having guests. Its not creepy, there are just very thin walls and Susie is in her house and quiet a lot.
When the girl upstairs goes missing, Susie can’t help herself but to get involved. She feels like she must know something and be able to help find Emily. From all she has heard from Emily, Susie feels she knows her well enough to help, despite only having met her a few times.
Things and people are not as they seem. I started off feeling that Susie was being a bit harsh, but as the book continued I started to feel for her. I think the moto of ‘being kind to everyone because you neverknow what someone is going through‘ is quite apt for this book. I found it got more interesting when we heard Emily’s point of view aswell. Both women have plenty going on with them that we don’t see on the surface.
It is a slow burner and very character led. I wouldn’t describe it as a twisty thriller, but it did keep me gripped and I wanted to know what happened to Emily, and what Susie would do next. The end was good and I closed my kindle with satisfaction. I hadn’t heard of Georgina Lees before, but I will be looking out for more of her books.
Thank you to Netgalley and Spiderline publishers for my copy of this book. I love psychological thrillers and even the name of this one had me hooked from the beginning.
From the mind of a psychologist comes a chilling domestic thriller that gets under your skin.
What happens when a psychologist begins to question her own sanity?
Sara runs a private psychology practice for troubled youth in the newly inherited house she is refurbishing with her husband, Sigurd. One morning, a voicemail from Sigurd tells Sara he’s arrived at a holiday cabin for a weekend away with the guys. A couple of hours later, Sigurd’s friends call from the cabin asking where he is — according to them, Sigurd never arrived.
Sara is irritated by what she thinks is a practical joke. But as the hours stretch out, her anger turns to fear, and the large empty house begins to feel increasingly threatening.
To get to the root of Sigurd’s disappearance, Sara must question everything she knows about their relationship. But can she trust her own thoughts? And where is she safe?
I love the strapline to this novel – “The truth is inside her head“. Sara is a therapist, treating her patients in her office at home. Her husband Sigourd is supposed to be renovating their big old inherited house. But Sigourd is so busy with his work, he doesn’t get around to doing much renovating. He needs a break away with the boys for the weekend, so Sara is home alone. But when Sara gets a call to say Sigourd never arrived, things start to unravel. At first Sara thinks its a weird stupid joke from the friends of her Husband, friends she never really liked. But as the hours pass, Sara gets worried.
Sara was not a likeable character, but as a therapist, I enjoyed seeing the way her mind worked. As the police investigation continues into Sigourd’s disappearance, strange things continue to happen around Sara. So much so that she starts to doubt herself. We didn’t hear to much about the investigation from the police side of things and as their suspicions are told to Sara, this is when we learn about them. The fact that a Sigourd left a message on Sara’s phone to say he arrived to see his friends makes this all the more strange and makes the reader question, why Sigourd lied? For the first half of the book, I didn’t have any suspects, which is odd as usually I suspect everybody. As I got into the second half of the book, more suspects appeared.
The writing and translation of this book was excellent. If it wasn’t based in Norway with Scandinavian names, then I would not know it was not originally written in English. I have read quite a few Scandi Noir books over the years and I was not disppointed with this one. The ending of the book was very good and I felt satisfied that all ends were tied up.
Author Helene Flood is a psychologist herself. The book has already had been bought for film rights, which I look forward to seeing. She also has another book due out next year which I look forward to hearing about.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher and author for my copy of this book.
This was chosen as our June bookclub read. It seemed like a great choice for a thriller and for discussing.
Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a legging-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.
Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.
When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.
Never Saw Me Coming is a compulsive, voice-driven thriller by an exciting new voice in fiction, that will keep you pinned to the page and rooting for a would-be killer.
Published 7 September 2021
This was our book club choice of read for June. I didn’t choose this one but loved the sound of it and was excited to read and discuss it.
Lots of psychos in a thriller book! Perfect recipe for murder, plotting and me being a book detective. 😊🤔
This was a very original plot line where a doctor at a university finds and enrolls several diagnosed psychopaths to take part in his study whereby he claims to be able to help them live a “normal” life. I learnt a bit about psychopaths in this book. I wrongly assumed psychopaths were dangerous. I learnt that they don’t feel guilt, empathy or fear and after reading this I think psychopaths are far more common than I believed.
The characters in this book were very intriguing. Obviously I couldn’t relate to many ( any) of them of myself but I think that is why they were so interesting to me. You’d think to not feel fear would be a good thing, but then you aren’t aware of danger. And when there is a killer targeting students you need to be aware of danger. Our main character Chloe does not fear the deaths around her, she has a mission of her own. The lack of fear is a big part of what made me suspect everyone.
The fact that there are many psychopaths in this book made for quite a guessing game. I did not guess the killer which is a good thing as I like to be surprised with twists and red herrings. The ending to me was a little disappointing, but overall this was a good read with a really original plot.
I think this would make a great film or even a tv series.
Thank you to Netgalley and publisher Dutton Books for my copy of this book. I had heard very good things about this Author, and having not read any books by Sager yet, I wanted to give this book a go.
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.
Well this book takes place over one night, as could be guessed from the title. From receiving my copy to beginning to read it, I didn’t read too many reviews or re read the blurb. So I went in a little blind. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was set in 1991, which meant no mobile phones or internet. It was nice to revisit this time, and I have to say it makes thrillers seem more dangerous as you can’t just call for help on your phone.
The plot begins with the main character Charlie, we learn that her best friend has been murdered on a night out. Charlie feels guilty and wants to leave campus and get home. As she isn’t able to drive herself home she looks for a travel buddy to car share with. Here enters Josh. The majority of the story is between these two characters and told from their points of view.
Because the chapters are written from the two main characters point of view, I got a good sense of who they both are. Personally I didn’t like Charlie and after the first few chapters, any sympathy that I had for her was gone. I found her to be one of the most stupid characters I have ever read about. She made terrible decisions concerning her own safety and I don’t think this was due to lack of common sense I think she just decided to do stupid things. Charlie was a very frustrating character to me. The only positive part of her that I liked was that she used a lot of movie references. These were entertaining and helped to get a better idea of who she was and why she was as she is.
Josh on the other hand was a bit more interesting. I had a few theories about who he was while I read the chapters. I won’t say too much about that because it would lead to spoilers. The writing was easy to read and flowed well.
As we were reading this as part of a book club we ended up reading it much faster than we initially planned.
Overall I have to say that sadly I was a bit disappointed with this book. All the chapters lasted the one night, but then at the very end goes years to the future and tells us what happened there. Again I found Charlie to be continuing to make bad decisions.
I wouldn’t be against reading another book by this author as the writing style and the idea of the plot was good. I just felt to strongly that the decisions made were a little ridiculous. There was also a part of Charlie’s character where she had what she called ” movies in her mind” . It was left unclear whether this was a mental health condition or just part of Charlie’s coping mechanism. ( perhaps it’s the same thing?) I would have liked the epilogue to make this a bit clearer as I felt it was quite a big part of the story that wasn’t explored and explained to the reader enough.
The Captivewas a bookclub readagain and this timemy choice of bookgot voted for as the book of the month to read.
I always hope the book will be good but as it was my choice that everyone read, I particularly hoped it would be good.
Hannah knows the cage intimately. Small, the size of a shopping mall parking space. A bed, a basin, a table and chair. A hatch and metal drawer through which to exchange food and other items.
Then there’s him. Always there on the edges of her vision, no matter how hard she tries to block him out.
Every day, the same thoughts run through Hannah’s mind:
What if he speaks to me?
What if he hurts me?
What if he gets out?
First published 12 January 2021
This book intrigued me right from the start of reading the blurb. A prisoner being kept captive in your kitchen.
I didn’t know why he was being kept in a cage and why Hannah would be scared of him.If she was scared whywas he there. Well the futuristic rules of criminals and prisoners is not something I like the sound of.
This was a reallyinteresting and unique book. It was really well written and although the prisoner captivity idea is futuristic, the book explains why this came about and mentions the pros and cons which were interesting and thought provoking.
The chapters alternated between main characters Hannah and Jem’s points of view. There are also chapters which go back in time to Jem’s past. I could ‘feel ‘ both characters and although I wouldn’t have acted the same waysthatHannah did, I can understand her.The author did a great job of bringing these two to life in my head.
There were plenty of twists, thrills unexpected parts and characters to suspect. Everything I could want from a thriller. Highly recommended as a very unique thriller with parts domestic noir, legal guilty or not guilty, and tension that leads the reader to turn the pages faster and faster to see what will happen next. I loved it.
Thank you to Netgalley, the Author and publishers for my copy of this book. I was attracted to the book by the intriguing sounding description.
Everyone’s welcome. But not everyone leaves…
Nick and Amber Miller are splitting up and selling their Devon family home. But despite the desirable location, the house isn’t moving. Not a single viewing so far.
When their estate agent suggests an open house event, Amber agrees, even as she worries about their gossiping neighbours attending and snooping around their home.
But Amber has more to worry about than nosy neighbours. Because thirteen people enter her house that afternoon, and only twelve leave.
Someone doesn’t want the house to sell, and is willing to do anything to stop it…
This book was great, full of twisty plots, sub plots and an array of interesting characters.
When Amber and her Husband decide to split up, they need to sell their house. Its been on the market for a while but there hasn’t been any interest yet. When it’s suggested to Amber that she has an open house to attract more interest, although not thrilled with the idea of people nosying around her house, she agrees. The only problem is it seems that 13 people went into the house, but only 12 came out. I was intrigued as to how this would make the premise of a whole book. But there were many subplots which were based around this idea.
There were lots of creepy things happening in Amber’s house and I thought she was brave to stay there alone with her children. When weird things happen, do you convince yourself that you must have done it yourself and forgotten or do you remember that only 12 people came out of your house and where is that last one? Did you count wrong? Were you seeing things? Questions questions! Perfect for a thriller.
There were lots of great characters, not necessarily likeable ones but lots of interesting ones. The chapters alternated between different characters points of views. I think this made me consider lots of red herrings which is always fun in a thriller. I read this book on my own and having participated in lots of book club reads recently, I found there were many thoughts that I would have liked to discuss. This would be fab for a book club read.
The end of this book ties up all the loose ends properly and the many twists that come up throughout the book all make sense. I found myself suspecting many of the characters, from the husband to the new boyfriend to the nosy neighbour who wants to know everyone’s business to the annoying busy body of a mother in law to the estate agent. In fact the only characters I didn’t suspect was Amber herself and her 2 friends ( whose names were mentioned in the acknowledgement as having their names taken from the authors friends). I did guess some parts towards the end but I didn’t see all the twists coming.
A great read with twists, sub plots and a page turning finale.
The Silent Patient was another book club read for me and a few other girls. Thank you Irena and Monika for a great choice and a really enjoyable read and book chat.
Description: The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….
First published 5 February 2019 by Orion.
My Thoughts: Wow, just Wow! This book is fantastic, so clever and gripping and just Wow. I loved it. I enjoy books that have a psychological element to them and this book involved Alicia being locked in a secure institution. So already I was intrigued just by that part. There were many questions throughout this book. Was Alicia choosing not to speak or was unable to? Did Alicia shoot her husband and if so why? Why is Theo so interested in her? This book was perfect for a BookClub chat because of the questions, the intrigue and the thrill of the words and pages. Highly recommended for those who like twisty thrillers.
Thank you very much to Author Paul Gitsham and Netgalley for my copy of this book. These are my unbiased thoughts on A Price To Pay.
If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned…
It should be an easy solve: a murder in broad daylight with two eyewitnesses. But the victim is the son of a notorious local crime family who has a habit of hitting on other men’s wives; the witnesses are Serbian nationals who speak limited English.
For DCI Warren Jones, this is his most challenging case yet. As the suspects pile up, the victim’s family work to protect their son’s memory by destroying any evidence that could betray his criminal past – or might have led to his killer.
Somehow Warren must uncover the truth about the murder – but there are secrets at the heart of the case more dangerous than anyone could have imagined, and the fallout could tear Warren’s team apart.
Publisher: HQ Digital (5 Jun. 2020)
A Price To Pay is the sixth book in this series with DCI Warren Jones. It is however, the first that I have read. I can see how reading the prior books would give you a bit of back knowledge but this in no way made the book any less enjoyable for me. Everything was clear that should be clear. The case in question though was not so clear.
DCI Warren Jones begins this case with a murder of a man from a notorious crime family, he was murdered in a massage parlour. Whether the victim is a criminal himself made no difference to Warren, but it made the case much more difficult as evidence and witnesses seemed difficult to find and be clear cut. It also impeded the murder hunt that the main witnesses are Serbian with very limited English language.
The book is primarily police procedural, so as they find the clues, we know the clues. This did not lead me to the murderer until the very end though. The process and the crime itself became more intense and more complicated as the team delved in. ( just the way I like it)
I like to discover new detectives. Having just ” met” DCI Warren Jones, I wondered what kind of man and detective he would be. I like him! Many of the detectives we read about, in the many crime books that are about now, are so dedicated to their jobs that they have little time for anything else. While this makes them excellent detectives, it also makes them seem like lonely souls. Warren was different in that way. He has a lovely wife and a few other extended family members and he cares deeply for them. While this makes his job more difficult, it makes Warren seem relatable and likeable. Warren is probably one of the most compassionate detectives I have ” met” through the thousands of pages I read.
Aside from being a police procedural, crime thriller book, it also has humorous parts and parts that taught me something about policing!
Some quotes that made me smile 😁
” if my old mum is right, then should the wind ever change direction when these girls are pouting for the camera, they’ll end up permanently looking like goldfish “.
It’s not just the British and American girls that pout for photos. Something I find really odd, but maybe I’m just getting old 😛
” Andy calls CSI the Open University for Burglars “
I haven’t watched this show but after this quite I feel like I might enjoy it.
A Price To Pay is an enjoyable crime thriller that picks up pace as the pages turn. The plot thickens with each chapter and DCI Warren Jones is a pleasure to get to know. I can see why this is the sixth book on the series.
About the Author. Paul Gitsham started his career as a biologist, working in such exotic locales as Manchester and Toronto. After stints as the world’s most over-qualified receptionist and a spell making sure that international terrorists and other ne’er do wells hadn’t opened a Junior Savings Account at a major UK bank (a job even less exciting than being a receptionist) he retrained as a Science Teacher. He now spends his time passing on his bad habits and sloppy lab-skills to the next generation of enquiring minds. Paul has always wanted to be a writer and his final report on leaving primary school predicted he’d be the next Roald Dahl! For the sake of balance it should be pointed out that it also said “he’ll never get anywhere in life if his handwriting doesn’t improve”. Twenty five years later and his handwriting is worse than ever but millions of children around the world love him.* You can learn more about Paul’s writing at http://www.paulgitsham.com or http://www.facebook.com/dcijones *This is a lie, just ask any of the pupils he has taught.
Thank you to Author Darren Tarditi for gifting me a copy of his first published novella. And many congratulations on self publishing his first book.
This is one of the extremely rare books that I accepted to review without really knowing what it was about. I fancied a novella and Darren contacted me at just the right time.
A brutal and horrific crime occurs, shaking a town to its core, not least Sergeant Stevie McBride. Prior to this, Paul Michaelson was a normal lad, going about his life when he suffers an accident. Due to a brain injury he suffered during this accident, he lands in a coma for many months. When he awakens his life has been turned upside down, with the sudden departure of his girlfriend whilst he was still in the coma and feelings of rage and injustice that he cannot clear. As his recovery progresses, he starts hearing a persistent voice in his head. He has no idea that not only is the voice real, but that it belongs to an incredibly powerful creature who has ravaged and desecrated its own world for millennia. Now Earth is its next target and Paul its vessel. Slowly but surely, it twists and manipulates Paul into performing a series of horrific deeds. With all this going on it catches the nose of Sergeant Stevie McBride. As times passes, he starts to realise something is not right, but he can’t quite put his finger on it. As the creature and Paul ramp up their agenda, Stevie scrambles from one clue to the next, hoping to catch a killer, and unknown to him, stop something so much worse…
This is not my usual kind of read. I went in blind and hoped for the best. Sometimes this is a refreshing way to go into a book as a bookblogger where there are no expectations.
I was very pleasantly surprised that within the first few pages I found that the book was based not far from where I live in Scotland.
As I read on, I realised that this isn’t your average crime thriller book. There are realms of crime, possible supernatural and gory horror. This book is not for the faint hearted. I’m not a fan of supernatural, but the plot could leave it open to the readers imagination, real or ghostly?
The horror part of the plot was graphic and bloody. I’m used to it with all the crime, murder books I read. But even at that, this was very dark.
The novella is a quick read with a gritty plot and characters that get you thinking. If you are wondering why the title Niegfrid, well who and what Niegfrid is will become apparent as you read on.
I liked the Scottish dialect that was added in. If a book is based in a place then it has to be believable that the Author knows the area and this is true for this novella and Author.
The descriptive work in the novella shows good potential for more books to come from this new Author.
“…….like a virus he was working his way into Paul’s psyche….”
If you like dark books with violent crime and a bit of a weird plot, then this book is worth a download.
As a first novella and self published Darren Tarditi has good potential for more books to come.