Friday, 28 April 2023

Book Review: THE KIND WORTH SAVING by Peter Swanson



Author:  Peter Swanson

Publisher:  Faber & Faber

Read: April 2023

Expected publication: out now



Book Description:


There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity becomes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive.

My musings:


Swanson’s wicked novel THE KIND WORTH KILLING was the type of book that immediately jumped onto my all-time favourites list, and I picked up its sequel with both excitement and trepidation – could it possibly live up to its predecessor? I think that Lily Kintner is that rare type of character you recognise as being totally without a normal moral compass but who you want to root for nonetheless, and I was curious to see how she had fared since the events in TKWK.


Henry Kimball is now a private investigator after having been forced to quit the police force (at this stage I realised that I had to re-read TKWK to refresh my memory and I’m glad that I did). He is hired by Joan Whalen, a woman he soon recognises as being one of his former students during a quick stint as a graduate English teacher before realising that the profession was not for him. Joan is curious to find out whether her suspicions are correct that her husband is cheating on her. In typical Swanson style, things escalate quickly from here and everyone seems to have secrets to hide.


Whilst Lily features in TKWS, she has only a peripheral role, and we mainly bear witness to both events in Joan’s past as well as the present mayhem the investigation creates. But don’t despair, because readers who are hoping for the same kind of flawed, amoral characters we saw in TKWK will soon find them here, as well. You don’t pick up either book if you’re easily triggered because here a normal moral compass doesn’t apply, so if this is not your thing, you should probably give this a miss. As for myself, I could appreciate the almost satirical character study of this wild bunch. Do these type of people exist in real life? I hope I will never have to find out. Was it entertaining though? Very much so – as the normal rules of society don’t apply, everything is possible, and the novel held a few clever surprises in store.


Thank you to Netgalley and Faber & Faber for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

Reading from my TBR pile: a mixed bag


DAISY DARKER by Alice Feeney


Feeney knows how to write a good plot twist, so I always know I’m in for a wild ride when one of her books comes out. DAISY DARKER was no exception. Just as I thought I was so very clever to have seen through her ploy, wham-bang! I was wrong again.


But let’s start at the beginning. DAISY DARKER takes off just like a classic whodunnit in the vein of Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. A family reunion at an old mansion on a remote island, only accessible at low tide. Here we have the whole happy Darker family in their bickering glory, gathered together for grandma’s birthday, when they start dying, one by one. The killer has to be one of them, right? Seeing that none of them are particularly likeable, the list of suspects is long, until they fall off the perch. Feeney is especially clever, giving enough hints to let you guess some plot twists, but always keeping the joker up her sleeve.


Dark, twisty and cleverly plotted, DAISY DARKER is the sort of mystery I have come to expect from Feeney, and which always makes me come back for more. Suspend a little bit of disbelief and enjoy!



With characters like Emmet, Billy, Duchess, Wooley, Sarah and Ulysses , this was never going to be a dull tale. I just loved the cast in Amor Towles’ latest book and soon lost myself in the story of their escapades. There was nothing predictable about this book and each character brought something unique and unusual to the story, making this tale one I won’t forget for a while (not to mention that ending).


A story about mateship and family ties, of loyalty and adventure, of choices we make and consequences we reap. A tale that would fit nicely into Billy’s “big red book” and can be enjoyed by a variety of readers of all ages and genders. If you would love to lose yourself in a multi-layered adventure story set in the 1950’s, then this book is definitely for you.  




Every time a new Lisa Gardner book comes out, I know that I can’t go far wrong with it – she has never written anything I haven’t enjoyed. As a seasoned thriller writer, Gardner knows how to create interesting, fleshed out characters who instantly come to life on the pages. I liked Frankie Elkin, even though I admit I am getting a little bit tired of the troubled alcoholic protagonist trend (maybe I am just reading too many of these type of books). I kept thinking that there could be more satisfying and original explanations for Frankie’s drive to find missing girls than her alcoholism, which was the first thing in the story that didn’t quite add up for me. Secondly, I was a bit disappointed that Frankie was portrayed as a middle-aged white woman going into battle for missing people from minority groups. I thought that she could have brought more insight and credibility to the racial issues she discusses in the book if she had belonged to a minority ethnic group herself (such as Sheena Kamal’s main protagonist Nora Watts in EYES LIKE MINE).

That said, I really enjoyed Gardner’s descriptions of one of Boston’s troubled neighbourhoods, a backdrop that added both atmosphere as well as tension to the story. As Frankie slowly uncovers more and more clues in her search for the missing teenagers, readers are prompted to form their own conclusions and theories in real-life time just as Frankie is – my favourite type of mystery. The balance between suspense and action provided just enough tension to keep me reading until I had found out all the answers. Whilst Frankie Elkin wasn’t a stand-out character for me, I would probably still pick up the next book in the series and see where it leads me.


Wednesday, 22 March 2023

5-star alert: THE ONLY SUSPECT by Louise Candlish


Author:  Louise Candlish

Read: March 2023



Book Description:


Withheld for the sake of getting the most out of this mystery

My musings:


What a brilliantly deceptive, wicked and clever mystery this was! Louise Candlish is getting better and better.


Rolling out in two separate timelines, the mid-nineties and today, we get transported straight into the lives of two men, Alex and Rick, whose lives will spectacularly intersect later in the book. This is all I am willing to say – you really should go into this one blind and let you take it along its winding dangerous path (which incidentally also features in the story).


Cleverly constructed and tricking you by its innocuous beginning, THE ONLY SUSPECT was one of those psychological thrillers I couldn’t put down until I had all the answers. If you love mysteries where nothing is quite what it seems and every character has a secret to guard, then this is definitely the right book for you!


PS: I never give trigger warnings, but you may get a laugh out of this one: I think I have a phobia of house guests that overstay their welcome, because there was a part in the book where I felt myself becoming very anxious, with sweating palms and a racing heart, and perhaps discovering some slightly murderous tendencies within my own heart towards one particular character. If you share that sentiment, have a stiff drink ready before you delve in!

Sunday, 12 March 2023

Audiobook fest


No time for reading? Why not try an audio book? It's no secret that I absolutely love them. I listen to them everywhere - whilst doing the dishes, walking the dog, driving to and from work. They make the most boring chores enjoyable. Here are some beauties I have listened to recently. And the best news is, they are all available for free from your library on the Libby and Borrow Box apps.

ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE by Ashley Flowers


I love thrillers in which an adult protagonist returns home to a small country town and starts investigating a crime that has traumatised them in their younger years – this trope never gets old for me! In ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE, Margot returns home to the small town of Sarakusa, Indiana, to care for her uncle, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia. When a young child goes missing, Margot is reminded of the disappearance and murder of her best friend when they were six years old, a crime that has haunted her for two decades. Are there similarities between the two crimes? Hoping both to lay old demons to rest and perhaps revive her flagging career as a small town journalist, Margot starts asking questions …


I listened to the audio version of ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE and the story immediately drew me in, even though (or perhaps because of?) parts of it were slow burning character studies rather than an action-fuelled thriller. Carrying the burden of a childhood trauma, a dysfunctional family background and the stresses of caring for a sick loved one, Margot made for an intriguing and sympathetic character that was easy to root for. Her flashbacks to her childhood and the murder of her best friend made for two interesting stories running parallel to one another, and I was invested in finding out the answers to both.


ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE was an intriguing small-town mystery linking two separate crimes through the eyes of one protagonist. I really enjoyed the small town atmosphere and – even though this will be polarising – thought the ending was very cleverly carried off. I hope to read more from this author in future.


WHEN THEY FIND HER by Lia Middleton


Weaving the best and the worst of parenthood into a taut psychological thriller made WHEN THEY FIND HER a nerve wrecking and heart breaking read from beginning to end. Savoured slowly through the (excellent) audio narration allowed me to immerse myself deeply in the novel’s flawed characters, a journey that is not for the faint of heart.


After an incident that is not revealed until much later in the book, Naomi Williams has not only lost her marriage but also custody of her four-year-old daughter Freya. Finally, she has managed to persuade her ex-husband Aiden to allow Freya to spend a night with Naomi at her remote farmhouse. That night, whilst Naomi is under the influence of heavy sleeping pills, something terrible happens to little Freya. Having no memory of the night, and trying to protect herself, Naomi reports her daughter as missing to police, starting a landslide that can only end in more tragedy …


You can see that no matter how this story pans out, there can be no winners at the end. And yet the journey to the answers was so cleverly woven and so intriguing that I couldn’t stop reading until I had all the answers. Love Naomi or hate her, she is an unreliable narrator of the best kind, always casting a shadow of doubt over everything she is willing to share with the reader.


If you are a reader who expects lots of action, then perhaps this won’t be the right book for you. Yet for those of you who, like me, can appreciate an excellent, in-depth character study of mental illness and addiction casting shadows on marriage and parenthood, then this book should definitely be on your list. With Naomi’s hazy recall of events, her denials and her excuses and her erratic decision making, the journey was both harrowing as well as utterly intriguing. The ending may also surprise you!


This was my first book by the author but it definitely won’t be the last.




Time travel books can go either way for me and the secret is usually whether the plot is clever enough to help me suspend disbelief. In THIS TIME TOMORROW, Straub focuses not so much on the intricacies of time travel, but on the emotional theme of second chances and our desire to help those we love most. As Alice tries time and time gain to save her father by turning back the clock and changing a few details of that fateful night when she was sixteen, we are instantly reminded of losses we have experienced ourselves. Who would not want to turn back the clock to have the chance to save one of loved ones? Having lost both my parents, I would give anything just to spend a few more moments with them and tell them how much I love them.


If you have any misgivings that this story would be overly emotional or soppy, rest assured that Straub doesn’t dwell there but lets her story flow easily from the pages, allowing the reader to fill in the gaps with their own emotional baggage. I found the book moving in a way that never crossed the line into melodrama, which is not an easy balance to achieve with themes of love, loss and grief. I was also pleasantly surprised that the teenage Alice was as easy to relate to as the adult one, again highlighting the author’s skill at characterisation. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed THIS TIME TOMORROW, reminding me to treasure the time I have with my loved ones and the memories of those who have passed. A touching story that prompted reflection and may have made me shed a tear or two.


THE LAST PARTY by Claire Mackintosh


Mackintosh is one of my go-to authors when I want to read a good slow-burning mystery, and even though THE LAST PARTY wasn’t my favourite by the author, it still made for an intriguing read. Extra credits go to narrator Chloe Angharad Davies, without whom I would never have known how to pronounce the Welsh names and quotes in the story – and who brought each character to life for me.


Popular singer Rhys Lloyd is dead, and half of the locals of the small Welsh community of Cwm Coed seem to have a motive for murder. With so many people hating the man, solving the crime won’t be easy, even involving two murder squads, one from England and one from Wales.


With an extensive ensemble cast, multiple timelines and suspects galore, this police procedural allowed for plenty of armchair sleuthing. Unfortunately I found Rhys, the victim, so repulsive that I almost wanted to give a medal to his killer for ridding the community of a menace (or is it politically incorrect to admit this?). I did, however, really enjoy the chemistry between the two main investigating detectives, DC Ffion Morgan and DC Leon Brady. The picturesque Welsh lakeside setting made for a wonderful backdrop, and I was longing to take a plunge into its icy waters.


With this being the first of a series, we are bound to see more of Ffion and Leo, and I am very interested to see how their relationship will develop and what other crimes they will get to solve.


THE PINK HOTEL by Liska Jacobs


Sometimes you just have to go into a book blind without overthinking whether you would like it or not. THE PINK HOTEL is probably not my usual choice of story, but I do love a good social critique and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the antics of the super-rich in a luxury hotel whilst around them the world is on fire. Some scenes oddly reminded me of scenes out of Titanic – the band plays on whilst the ship is sinking, i.e. the staff keep serving drinks so people don’t have to think about their imminent death. The Pink Hotel prides itself on giving in to its guests’ every whim, and we certainly meet an eclectic bunch here, all catered for by its dedicated staff.


This is the place young married couple Kit and Keith (Mr and Mrs Collins) find themselves in on their honeymoon. The Pink Hotel wasn’t Kit’s idea of a romantic getaway, and the couple certainly don’t fit the demographic, but Keith has met the hotel’s manager on a previous occasion and is hoping to secure a job here to provide them with a better future than their humdrum existence in rural Florida. Whilst Keith is easily mingling with the rich and famous and even working unpaid shifts in the hope of ingratiating himself with the hotel manager, Kit feels like a fish out of water, which is soon putting their marriage under strain. Meanwhile, outside the hotel’s lush grounds, wildfires are raging and riots are destroying homes, but the guests of the Pink Hotel party on, choosing to stay ignorant about anything that does not directly affect them.


I thought that THE PINK HOTEL was a well-written, dark social satire exploring both the fascination with the rich and famous as well as the unspoken class system that is ruling our society and our response to outside events. The characters, whilst sometimes a bit over the top, provided some entertainment and cringes, but were always strangely fascinating. Jacobs’ writing style is descriptive, which painted a vivid picture of the hotel’s lush gardens and its guests. The audio version of the book helped me to immerse myself in its atmospheric setting and stay engaged. Whilst there was little action as such (I lie – there was a gory scene involving a wildcat), the dark undertones and the characterisations were intriguing and kept me interested. I think that this book may not be for everyone, but readers who like a dark social critique should definitely give it a go. I certainly enjoyed it as something different from my usual reading choices, and characters that made me scrutinise my own feelings and choices in our times.


NEXT OF KIN by Kia Abdullah


NEXT OF KIN was my first book by Kia Abdullah and a difficult one to review. It’s well written and immaculately researched, and yet I felt conflicted. This story is grim! Even if you get past the sheer tragedy of a child’s death from being left in a hot car in the middle of summer, there are more blows yet to come. As an ED nurse I’m not easily shocked, but the final few chapters felt like a punch in the gut and left me reeling. On one hand I applaud the author for her courage to tackle such a difficult matter, on the other I found the final reveal detracting from its initial premise even though it certainly added shock value and that “killer twist” that has become so popular in thrillers.


I can’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t love this book more than I did, other than finding the pacing a bit inconsistent and struggling to connect to either one of the sisters (which perhaps made more sense as the story progressed). Purely as a family drama some of the emotional dynamics seemed a bit off to me, even though those also made more sense in the light of the “mystery” element. Gosh, it’s so hard to talk about this book without giving spoilers! I feel an intense need to discuss this with someone. So perhaps it would make a great bookclub book, if the audience can stomach some of the more gruelling elements. I really liked Kia Abdullah’s writing style though and will definitely read some of her other books.


🌟🌟🌟1/2 sitting-on-the-fence stars from me

Saturday, 11 March 2023

"5-stars are not enough" book alert


It’s a fact that favourite book reviews are the hardest to write, so belatedly, here are two of my all-time favourites I read in 2022 and just haven't got around to reviewing until now. My words cannot do either of these justice, so I'll keep it short and sweet but urge you to pick them up and judge for yourself. Very highly recommended!



I read LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY a few months ago and absolutely adored it. Welcome to Elizabeth Zott, one of the quirkiest, pluckiest and most unique characters I have ever met in a book, supported by the equally enigmatic Mad Zott and dog Six-thirty. Five stars are not enough. One of the best books of 2022 – very highly recommended!




Maggie O’Farrell has done it again – like her previous book HAMNET, THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT was a fascinating window into history, this time exploring the events surrounding the untimely death of Lucrezia de’ Medici, the third daughter of Cosimo de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany during the Italian Renaissance. It only took a few paragraphs for Lucrezia to steal my heart, and I was hooked.


Written with the heart and poetic beauty that characterises her work, O’Farrell has merged history and fiction so skilfully that the tale takes on a life of its own. And even if some of it has sprung from her imagination rather than truth, it has brought the fate of a young woman at the mercy of her society’s rules back into our focus so her story will not be forgotten. Written with a style so visual that it brought each character to life for me, it was impossible not to be swept away by a tide of emotions whilst reading it. The elaborate backdrop of the Italian palazzo provided both an escape as well as an almost whimsical backdrop that gave the story an otherworldly air where history could be rewritten. I challenge you not to be moved by Lucrezia’s fate!


Poetic, magical and utterly captivating, THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT was one of my favourite books in 2022, and one that has stuck in my mind. Very highly recommended!

Binge reading Gillian McAllister

Have you ever read a book, loved it and gone out straight away to get every book the author has ever written to have a huge binge reading session?

If you’ve ever read any of Gillian McAllister’s book, then you will have come to appreciate the ethical and moral dilemmas at the heart of every one of her stories. I love a book that throws me right into the middle of a tricky situation and makes me ponder how I would react if I was in the characters’ shoes (even if I feel like yelling at the characters at various points in the book). It’s one of the reasons McAllister has become one of my favourite devour-in-one-sitting authors!




THE EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU is the sixth book I have read by this author and again it was a solid five stars for me, keeping me enthralled from beginning to end. McAllister knows how to create a well-rounded, interesting protagonist you cannot help but relate to, no matter what difficult situation they find themselves in. So even though it was impossible to imagine how I would react if I came face to face with my father after serving a life sentence for murdering my mother when I was in my teens – the scenario Izzy must deal with in McAllister’s latest novel – there were plenty of points where Izzy and I shared sentiments. The loss of a parent at a young age, for example. Or the way we still struggle with certain points of adulthood after losing our mother, without their adult presence as a compass point to orient our own lives towards. Izzy’s quest to find out information about her dead mother struck a deep chord with me, as did the emptiness her death has left in Izzy’s soul. I therefore found it easy to understand Izzy’s readiness to give her father a second chance, despite his murder conviction, his lies and his betrayal of her trust.


As is her trademark, McAllister weaves an intriguing mystery that not only kept me guessing the whole time, but also changed direction so many times that was suspended in a state of doubt the whole time whilst reading it. Who was telling the truth and who was lying? With her background in law, McAllister has a solid grip on the legal system, which grounded the novel in fact and made even the most difficult situations credible. With a main protagonist who is in equal parts scarred and vulnerable, but also brave and likeable, I could not tear myself away until I had all the answers.


THE EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU is the kind of top notch psychological thriller that makes me rush out and read everything McAllister has written, and eagerly await her next novel. If you are a fan of the genre, and enjoy a good ethical dilemma, then this book should definitely be on your list.



In EVERYTHING BUT THE TRUTH, Rachel, a young pregnant doctor, catches a glimpse of a preview of an email on her partner’s ipad and has a terrible premonition that he is hiding something sinister from her. The more she digs into it, the more her suspicions grow as he clams up and refuses to talk about his past.


The theme of “how well do you really know your spouse” is a well-trodden trope in domestic noir thrillers, but for me it never gets old. I was instantly intrigued: what was Jack hiding from Rachel? And how far would I go to find out the truth if I was in her position?


As a slow burning character study, the book kept me reading eagerly to find out the answers, even though some of Rachel’s internal agonising was a bit repetitive at times. Don’t pick this one if you expect a lot of action or a twisty thriller, but if you enjoy ethical dilemmas and family secrets then it may be the right book for you. It definitely made me question some of my own ethics and morals and discover that there really wasn’t a black and white answer to the problem. Rachel’s medical background added an extra layer of interest to the story, and even though there weren’t any great surprises or twists in this one, it kept me interested until the end.



THAT NIGHT by Gillian McAllister


Three siblings, bound by a tragedy in their past. They live next door to one another, work together in the family business and stick together through thick and thin. Even their spouses can never be a part of their tight knit circle. They would do anything for one another, but does that include murder? On a dark night on holidays in Verona, Frannie, the baby of the family calls her older siblings for help. There has been a terrible accident and she doesn’t know what to do. It’s the night that will change the siblings’ lives forever. The night they will make a decision that will haunt them. How far are they prepared to go to help one of their own?


If you love a good ethical and moral dilemma, then this is the perfect read for you. Again, as with most of McAllister’s books, the answers aren’t black and white but will make you dig deep into your own psyche to ask yourself the difficult questions: what would you do if you were in the characters’ shoes? How far would you go to protect the ones you love most? How would your past experience (going as far back as your childhood) influence your decision? And what would be the point of no return for you, at which you would draw the line?


THAT NIGHT made for fascinating reading from beginning to end and I could not tear myself away, even as the train was thundering towards the abyss. I loved the way McAllister explores the sibling relationship and the events that have shaped their position in the family, ultimately guiding their decisions. The ending, which I anticipated to be difficult no matter where the story was ultimately headed, wrapped everything up in a satisfying finale, leaving me pondering my own position on the matter some more. An intriguing character study that looks into the heart of family dynamics. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from this author in future.



Monday, 6 March 2023

From my TBR pile straight onto my favourites list




Erin Kelly has done it again- this was a solid 5 star read for me! What a well plotted, complex novel. Sometimes delving into a novel blind is the best way, but I admit that after the first chapter I nearly DNF’d the book, thinking it was some dystopian story about a weird bone hunting society. Luckily I had full trust that Kelly would not disappoint me (she never has in the past) and was soon totally hooked.


It's very difficult to review such a multi-layered, well-plotted mystery without giving anything away, Let’s just say that it’s a story about fame, greed and family secrets. A LOT of dark family secrets. As an added bonus, the book also contained two of my favourite themes: a story based on an old legend, plus a “book within a book”.


Whilst the story started out revolving around Frank Churcher’s famous book The Golden Bones, which has led to his fame and wealth but also to the formation of a worldwide fan base of “bone hunters” who have put his own daughter at risk (you will have to read it to find out why), it soon became more character driven, exploring the intertwined relationships of the Churcher and Lally families. As dark secrets were revealed, and family dynamics became more and more dysfunctional, my fascination with these characters made me loath to put the book down. There were quite a few “aha!” moments when pieces of the puzzle fell into place and revealed cleverly plotted twists. Kelly is a talented writer who not only knows how to utterly enthral her readers, but also to weave magic into the multiple threads that form her stories.


Whilst the story is mainly being told by Eleanor, the daughter of author Frank Churcher, we get small glimpses into the past and through different eyes, which reveal those pieces of the puzzle we may not have anticipated. Each character is fundamentally flawed, which made them more compelling, and some truly unforgettable in all their dysfunctional glory. I can’t say much more without giving things away, so I will leave it at this: do yourself a favour and pick up this clever mystery today to find out for yourself why I couldn’t put it down. Another brilliant piece of writing by the talented Mrs Kelly.

SALT AND SKIN by Eliza Henry-Jones


I picked up SALT AND SKIN from a book exchange, so I did not know what to expect or even what the book was all about, but I knew that I had enjoyed the author’s previous books. Again, Henry-Jones rewarded me with beautiful soulful writing full of longing and emotion and that slight otherworldly touch that gave it an almost dreamlike quality.


Set on a small island off the coast of Scotland, SALT AND SKIN follows the lives of Luna and her two teenage children, Darcy and Min, as they are trying to make a new start after a tragedy back in Australia. Weaving together history, folklore and a touch of magical realism, the tale soon drew me into the small island community and made me want to find out all its secrets.


SALT AND SKIN is an exquisitely written, character driven novel that explores the aftereffects of trauma and grief, and the faint blossoming of new hope. Wistful and dreamlike, it weaves together different elements to create a tale that both haunted me and kept me enchanted. Whilst there are loose links to the island’s witch trials, this is very much a contemporary novel exploring the hold that the past and folklore still has on everyday life, especially in wild and remote places. I really enjoyed this book and its characters and as sad when it ended and I knew I would not find out more about their lives. I can’t wait to read more from this author in future.


THE LIES I TELL by Julie Clarke


“The difference between justice and revenge comes down to who’s telling the story.” Be assured that there’s a bit of both in Clarke’s latest novel, which ticked all the boxes of a good thriller for me (as did her last novel THE LAST FLIGHT).


Meg is the type of character I love in a mystery: she may be flawed and often follows her own moral code, but she is a strong, kick-ass woman you cannot help but cheer on all along the way. Now here’s someone who is brave enough to act out every wronged person’s fantasy: a strong woman who will not stay a victim for long, who instead will take matters into her own hands and serve out her own flavour of justice. If you are tired of meek and whiny victim-mentality characters waiting to be saved, then this one is definitely for you! Meg spends very little time wallowing in self-pity despite the injustice done to her. Instead, she acts. And here is one very clever woman you do not want to mess with!


As you can tell, I loved the character of Meg, who really drove this story for me and made me anxious to find out how it would all turn out. Like THE LAST FLIGHT, Clarke presents us with a well-plotted, compulsive story that kept me reading late into the night to find out the answers. The way Meg outwitted her components was a pleasure to watch – and a lot of nail-biting as the story neared a tense finale. Kat, the second POV, even though not quite as compelling as Meg, gave the story a unique second perspective and insights we may otherwise not have gained – another clever tool used by the author to ratchet up tension.


THE LIES I TELL is a clever revenge thriller that will definitely make my favourites list this year. Featuring strong female protagonists and a tense cat-and-mouse game of clever minds pitched against one another, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a well plotted and extremely compulsive read.



Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Book Review: THE WRITING RETREAT by Julia Bartz



Author:  Julia Bartz

Publisher:  Oneworld Publications

Read: February 2023

Expected publication: 2 March 2023

My Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸ


Book Description:


 Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.

But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.

A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of friendships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.

My musings:


I think that I am about two decades too old for this story! The premise of THE WRITING RETREAT immediately appealed to me – I love stories about writers and the “book within a book” theme, especially if it also contains a remote, atmospheric setting. Bartz’s novel has all that, plus some intriguing friendship dynamics that most of us will be able to relate to, because who hasn’t ever had a fallout with a best friend and had to suffer the heartbreak and awkward moments that follow. I was fully engaged in the story up to the moment the group of young writers were pitched against one another, each trying to write the story that would catch Roza Vallo’s eye and land them a publishing deal.


Then things started going wrong for me. Even before the story took a turn into the realm of the unbelievable, I felt that Alex as a main character was inconsistent and quite frankly a mess! In fact, the whole group of women acted like a bunch of boarding school teenagers rather than the almost-30’s they were described as. I am neither a fan of the “I was drugged so I acted out of character” theme that excused some of the bizarre behaviour, nor of explicit sex scenes thrown in just for – what exactly? Shock value? At times I felt like the author was trying too hard to include multiple themes (feminism, LBGTQ, peer pressure, friendship issues, supernatural themes, etc) without properly including them into her characterisations and storyline. The “book within a book” also didn’t fit in with the main story and distracted from the trying-to-be-claustrophobic atmosphere rather than add to it.


I conclude this review by conceding that I am probably not the right audience for this novel, because from the halfway point onwards it was just a struggle to stay connected. I am definitely an outlier here, so if you find the premise as intriguing as I did, give it a go and make up your own mind.


Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

Monday, 16 January 2023




Do you find that you read a book with a certain theme you love and then crave ALL the books with that subject manner? I do! This has been 6 months in the making, but I've finally sorted a lot of the books I've read by themes to make it easier for readers to connect to their favourite subject matter. Enjoy!

Just click on the cover to be taken to the book's description on Goodreads.

Updated January 2023

Action packed:

The River at NightScrublands

Books about addiction:

The Girl on the Train

Amateur / non-police sleuths investigating a crime:

  • Bloggers / Podcasters / Social media personas / Filmmakers:

  • Journalists / Writers:
Eight Perfect Murders  The Nothing Man

Journalist Martin Scarsden (Australia)
Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson M... Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mys... Black River (Tuva Moodyson ... Reporter Tuva Moodyson (Sweden)

  • Lawyers:

  • Private citizens:
Distress Signals

The Boy in the Suitcase (Ni... Invisible Murder (Nina Borg... Death of a Nightingale (Nin... The Considerate Killer (Nin... Nurse Nina Borg (Denmark)

  • Private investigators (PI):

A Drink Before the War (Ken... Darkness, Take My Hand (Ken... Sacred (Kenzie & Gennaro, #3) Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & ... Prayers for Rain (Kenzie & ... Moonlight Mile (Kenzie & Ge... PIs Kenzie & Gennaro (Boston US)


  • Psychologists:
Blue Monday (Frieda Klein, #1) Tuesday's Gone (Frieda Klei... Waiting for Wednesday (Frie... Thursday's Child (Frieda Kl... Friday on My Mind (Frieda K... Saturday Requiem (Frieda Kl... Sunday Morning Coming Down (Frieda Klein, #7) The Day of the Dead (Frieda... Psychologist Frieda Klein (UK)


  • Related to the victim:
11 Missed Calls

Books featuring great armchair travel, atmospheric or wilderness settings:

I Remember You: A Ghost Story Where the Crawdads Sing The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1) Force of Nature (Aaron Falk... The Snow Child Burial Rites The Great Alone Scrublands The Tea Girl of Hummingbird... Petra's Ghost In a Dark, Dark Wood The Thorn Birds Out of the Ice The Lost Swimmer The Marsh King's Daughter Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson M... Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mys... Black River by Will Dean An Unwanted Guest The Woman in Cabin 10 The Scandal Us Against You (Beartown, #2) Coastliners The River at Night Our Endless Numbered Days Swimming Lessons Into the Jungle Picnic at Hanging Rock Flight Behaviour The Lost Man The Retreat The Hunting Party Dark Matter Thin Air: A Ghost Story All the Birds, Singing Still Life (Chief Inspector... Broken Harbour (Dublin Murd... The Light Between Oceans The Bronze Horseman (The Br... Devil's Fjord The Girl without Skin (Matt... The Cry The Silence Silver The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld The Missing One by Lucy Atkins Sheerwater by Leah Swann Strange Shores by Arnaldur IndriΓ°ason How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann Pine by Francine Toon Akin by Emma Donoghue The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes A Gentleman in Moscow Rebecca The Italian Party The Mountain Shadow of the Moon The Grapes of Wrath After She's Gone Marguerite This Tender Land The Split The Searcher The Wicked Sister

Books that feature art:

Best Australian settings:

 The Thorn Birds Picnic at Hanging Rock The Light Between Oceans The Cry The Silence  Sheerwater by Leah Swann The Lost Summers of Driftwood by Vanessa McCausland Dustfall The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone Little Secrets Dark Horse Jasper Jones The Wisdom of Stones The Lost Man

  • Best Australian settings in series:

Pearl in a Cage Thorn on the Rose Moth To The Flame Woody Creek series
  Paul Hirschausen series

 Force of Nature (Aaron Falk... Aaron Falk series

Books that feature books or writers:

After She Wrote Him Eight Perfect Murders The Fragments The Word Is Murder (Hawthorne, #1)

  • Book within a book concept:

The Stranger Diaries The Weight of Lies The Nothing Man After She Wrote Him 

Captivity / Hostage situations:

Cat-and-mouse games:

The Day of the Dead (Frieda...
 The Woman in Cabin 10 How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond FleischmannHe Said/She Said

Circus settings:

Best character studies:

  • Twisted characters (you still want to root for):

The Kind Worth Killing The Perfect Girlfriend The Good Samaritan Jane Doe (Jane Doe, #1) Unraveling Oliver Dear Wife My Cousin Rachel My Lovely Wife Gone Girl The Swap  A Ladder to the Sky They Never Learn

  • Flawed characters

Try Not to Breathe The Girl on the Train Lie With Me The Night Visitor

  • Evil characters

The Nothing Man Secret Smile The End of Her The Wicked Sister just plain evil

  • Creepy child characters

The Golden Child

The Wicked Sister

  • Quirky or unusual characters

  • Toxic friendships


  • Vigilantes:

 They Never Learn Jane Doe (Jane Doe, #1) The Kind Worth Killing


Claustrophobic settings / closed door mysteries:

I Remember You: A Ghost Story Force of Nature (Aaron Falk... In a Dark, Dark Wood Out of the Ice An Unwanted Guest The Woman in Cabin 10 The Hunting Party The Escape Room The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton House of Correction The Wicked SisterLock Every Door

Coming of age stories:

This Tender Land The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone Where the Crawdads Sing Jasper JonesPearl in a Cage Dear Edward The Chalk Man The Marsh King's DaughterThe Great AloneThe Scandal

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Favourite crime series:

The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan... The Reckoning (Maeve Kerrig... The Last Girl (Maeve Kerrig... The Stranger You Know (Maev... The Kill (Maeve Kerrigan, #5) After the Fire (Maeve Kerri... Let the Dead Speak (Maeve K... Cruel Acts (Maeve Kerrigan #8) The Cutting Place (Maeve Ke... DI Maeve Kerrigan (UK)
Talking to the Dead (Fiona ... Love Story, With Murders (F... The Strange Death of Fiona ... This Thing of Darkness (Fio... The Dead House (Fiona Griff... The Deepest Grave (Fiona Gr... DC Fiona Griffiths (UK)
Now You See Me (Lacey Flint... Dead Scared (Lacey Flint, #2) Like This, For Ever (Lacey ... A Dark and Twisted Tide (La... DC Lacey Flint (UK)
The Ruin (Cormac Reilly, #1) The Scholar (Cormac Reilly,... The Good Turn (Cormac Reill... DI Cormac Reilly (Ireland)
In the Woods (Dublin Murder... The Likeness (Dublin Murder... Faithful Place (Dublin Murd... Broken Harbor (Dublin Murde... The Secret Place (Dublin Mu... The Trespasser (Dublin Murd... Dublin Murder Squad (Ireland)
Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson M... Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mys... Black River (Tuva Moodyson ... Reporter Tuva Moodyson (Sweden)
The Legacy (Children's House, #1) The Reckoning The Absolution (Children's House #3) Gallows Rock (Freyja and Huldar #4) Children's House series (Iceland)
Blue Monday (Frieda Klein, #1) Tuesday's Gone (Frieda Klei... Waiting for Wednesday (Frie... Thursday's Child (Frieda Kl... Friday on My Mind (Frieda K... Saturday Requiem (Frieda Kl... Sunday Morning Coming Down (Frieda Klein, #7) The Day of the Dead (Frieda... Psychologist Frieda Klein (UK)
The Diggers Rest Hotel (Cha... Blackwattle Creek (Charlie ... St Kilda Blues (Charlie Ber... Detective Charlie Berlin (Australia)
The Boy in the Suitcase (Ni... Invisible Murder (Nina Borg... Death of a Nightingale (Nin... The Considerate Killer (Nin... Nurse Nina Borg (Denmark)
The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1) Force of Nature (Aaron Falk... Detective Aaron Falk (Australia)
The Dark Lake (Gemma Woodst... Into the Night (Gemma Woods... Where the Dead Go Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock (Australia)
Journalist Martin Scarsden (Australia)

A Drink Before the War (Ken... Darkness, Take My Hand (Ken... Sacred (Kenzie & Gennaro, #3) Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & ... Prayers for Rain (Kenzie & ... Moonlight Mile (Kenzie & Ge... PIs Kenzie & Gennaro (Boston US)
 Detective Joona Linna (Sweden)
 Dark Iceland series, Ari Thor Arason (Iceland)

  Paul Hirschausen series

Book that made me cry:

Fresh Water for Flowers Life, Death and Vanilla SlicesThe Vanishing Half Marguerite The Dream Daughter Miracle Creek The Good Sister You Be Mother Lily's House

Disappearances / missing persons:

Emma in the Night Then She Was Gone The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone 11 Missed Calls Swimming Lessons Pine by Francine Toon I Remember You: A Ghost StoryDistress SignalsPicnic at Hanging Rock Gone Girl 99 Red Balloons

Domestic noir:

A Good Marriage Dear Wife My Lovely Wife Gone Girl The Girl in Kellers Way His and Hers The Truth Hurts

Books about doppelgΓ€ngers / lookalikes / assuming someone else's identity

Dual timelines:

  • Ancient times:

  • 1600s:

  • 1700s:

  • WWI:

  • 1930s:

  • WWII:

  • 1940s:

  • 1950s:

  • 1960s:

  • 1970s:

  • 1980s:

  • 1990s:


Enemies to lovers:

Books with ensemble casts:

Pearl in a Cage The Scandal Us Against You (Beartown, #2) Into the Water Miracle Creek Big Little Lies Truly Madly Guilty Nine Perfect Strangers Little Fires Everywhere

Ethical dilemmas:

Family sagas:

Mysteries / thrillers revolving around family secrets:

The Lost Man When the Lights Go Out The Death of Mrs. Westaway 99 Red Balloons The Weight of Lies Emma in the Night Then She Was Gone Every Last Lie The Dry (Aaron Falk, #1) Dark Places Here To Stay Spare Room Never Have I Ever Gretchen The Good Sister The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone The Family Upstairs The Nanny The Missing Years The Au Pair Stone Mothers In the Vines The Winters Unspeakable Things 11 Missed Calls Let Me Lie Into the Water The Marsh King's Daughter Follow Me Down Swimming Lessons The Girls The Golden Child Inheritance of Secrets Magpie Lane The Silence by Susan  Allott The Missing One by Lucy Atkins Pine by Francine Toon The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda Big Little Lies The Weight of Blood The Forgotten Ones The Wicked Sister

  • How well do you know your spouse?
Every Last Lie My Lovely Wife


Fantasy / Historical fiction mix:

The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)

Games we play:

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

 The Hunger Game trilogy

Books featuring health professionals as main characters:

Eight Lives The Silent Patient Not a Sound The Physician (Cole Family Trilogy, #1) The End of Winter Dustfall Frantic (Detective Ella Marconi, #1) In Falling Snow Side Effects Flashback White Lies Marguerite The Split

All the feels (books that touched my heart):

Fresh Water for Flowers Miracle Creek You Be Mother Little Fires Everywhere The Scandal Us Against You (Beartown, #2) Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine A Man Called Ove Life, Death and Vanilla Slices Moving Lily's House The Language of Flowers Where Love Goes Blackberry Wine Love and Other Impossible Pursuits The Silence Chocolat (Chocolat, #1) The Vanishing Half Marguerite Pearl in a Cage This Tender LandOur Endless Numbered DaysThe Dream Daughter

Historical Fiction (not WWII, not dual timelines):

  • 1300s:

  • 1500s:

  • 1600s:

  • 1700s:

  • 1800s:

  • early 1900s:

  • 1910s:

  • 1920s:

  • 1930s:

The Great Depression

  • 1940s:

  • 1950s:

  • 1960s:

  • 1970s:

  • 1980s:


Book with a hospital / asylum / sanatorium setting:

Stone Mothers

Housemates / houseguests / neighbours:

The Fence Don't You Cry The House Guest Here To Stay Spare Room The Family Upstairs The Last House Guest Those People Through the Wall The Couple Next Door The Neighbors

Identity changed / characters in hiding or on the run:

The Passenger The Girl from Widow Hills Pieces of Her Dear Wife This Tender Land The SplitHe Said/She Said 

Immigrant life:

Intergenerational friendships:

Legal thriller / Courtroom scenes:

The Good Sister House of Correction A Good Marriage The Night Swim 

Books featuring LGBT main characters:

The Girl with the Dragon Ta... The Girl Who Played with Fi... The Girl Who Kicked the Hor... Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson M... Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mys... Black River Marguerite The Vanishing Half They Never Learn

Books with a lighthouse setting:

Magical Realism:

Books featuring mental illness:

The House We Grew Up In The Secrets She Keeps The Ballroom The Echo Maker Addition The Woman in the Window Pearl in a Cage The SplitOur Endless Numbered Days 

Mysteries / thrillers revolving around mother-daughter relationships:

Eyes Like Mine The Night Olivia Fell Pieces of Her Baby Teeth Unspeakable Things 11 Missed Calls Let Me Lie 99 Red Balloons The Weight of Lies The Memory Watcher Then She Was Gone The Trophy Child Swimming Lessons The Perfect Girl The Nanny Pine The Missing One by Lucy Atkins The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda When the Lights Go Out Her Daughter's Mother

Books featuring music:

Books featuring a nanny / babysitter / live-in housekeeper as main character:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins The Nanny The Au Pair The Safe Place Marguerite The Truth Hurts Lock Every Door

Unusual narrators:

  • Animal narrators:

  • Child narrators:
Our Endless Numbered Days
  • Inanimate objects as narrators:

  • Death /dead people / ghost narrators (excluding those where it would be a spoiler):

  • Narrator in a coma:

Nature's fury (storms, floods, fires and other natural disasters):

Books that feature neuroscience / amnesia:

The Echo Maker The Other You Forget My Name Before I Go to Sleep What Alice Forgot The Truth About Melody Browne The Asylum When I Find You The Girl from Widow Hills I Found You The Split

New beginnings:

Nordic Noir:
I Remember You: A Ghost StoryStrange Shores by Arnaldur IndriΓ°ason After She's Gone

Millenium series

Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson M... Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mys... Black River (Tuva Moodyson ... Reporter Tuva Moodyson (Sweden)
The Legacy (Children's House, #1) The Reckoning The Absolution (Children's House #3) Gallows Rock (Freyja and Huldar #4) Children's House series (Iceland)
 Detective Harry Hole series (Jo Nesbo)

 Detective Joona Linna (Sweden)
 Dark Iceland series, Ari Thor Arason (Iceland)

Ocean / island settings:

The Missing One by Lucy AtkinsThe Light Between Oceans

Books about obsession / revenge:

The Night Visitor The Perfect Girlfriend The Wives Secret Smile Jane Doe (Jane Doe, #1) Why Did You Lie? The Escape Room The Memory Watcher Gone Girl Friend Request His and Hers The Swap The Red Hunter They Never Learn

  • Stalkers:

Secret Smile

Living off the grid:
The Wicked Sister

Books about pandemics / quarantine / the plague:

Year of Wonders World Without End (Kingsbri... The Last Hours (Black Death... Bird Box (Bird Box, #1)

Books featuring reincarnation:

Books featuring religion / cults / secret societies:

The Poison Garden The Room by the Lake The Family Upstairs The Handmaid's Tale (The Ha... The Girls The Suicide House


All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella's Stepmother The Winters The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)

Books with school / boarding school / college / university settings:

The Suicide House The Stranger Diaries The Secret Place (Dublin Mu... The Silk House The Broken Girls They Never LearnMagpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Secrets / past mistakes come back to bite you:

The End of Her  Friend Request White Lies Why Did You Lie? The Truth Hurts The Neighbors Never Have I Ever

Serial killers:

Mysteries / thrillers playing out over a very short timeline:

Before I Fall


Sibling relationships:

  • Sister mysteries:

Into the Water Are You Sleeping Emma in the Night The Silent Sister (Riley Ma... Sister White Bodies Don't Close Your Eyes The Girls The Twins My Sister's Bones Body Double (Rizzoli & Isle... Two Sisters Dead Woman Walking The Thinnest Air In the Vines The Good Sister Long Bright River Saint X After Her The Wicked Sister

Snow & ice:

The Snow ChildOut of the Ice Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mys... The Hunting Party Dark Matter Thin Air: A Ghost Story How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond FleischmannStrange Shores by Arnaldur IndriΓ°asonThe Siege (The Siege, #1)

Books featuring social media / podcasts / TV / the web:

Unfollow Me Rewind I Know You Know The Ones You Trust The Memory Watcher Friend Request Are You Sleeping The Swap The Night Swim


Secret Smile


Spooky / a hint of the supernatural / gothic:

Dark Matter Thin Air: A Ghost Story I Remember You: A Ghost Story Why Did You Lie? Petra's Ghost The Broken Girls The Chalk Man The Winter People Blood Harvest Broken Harbour (Dublin Murder Squad, #4) Pine The Deep

All the Birds, Singing

  • Spooky house settings (old):

The Death of Mrs. Westaway Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James The Lost Ones Stone Mothers The Missing Years The Stranger Diaries   The Silk House  The Suicide House Lock Every Door

  •  Spooky house settings (modern):                        

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware The Girl Before Darkest Place

  •  Spooky objects:                        


Sporting theme:

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)


Our Endless Numbered DaysI Remember You: A Ghost Story The Wicked Sister Into the JungleForce of Nature (Aaron Falk... Where the Crawdads Sing The Great AloneDark MatterThin Air: A Ghost StoryThe MountainThe River at Night

Time travel / multiverse:

The Dream Daughter 11/22/63 The Time Traveler's Wife Outlander (Outlander, #1) Life After Life (Todd Famil... Time and Time Again Dark Matter Recursion The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton Before I Fall Ferney The Time Traveler's Wife

Transport (trains, planes, ships) as setting:

Dear Edward Before the Fall The Perfect Girlfriend planes

The Woman in Cabin 10 Distress Signals The Other Passenger  Do Not Become Alarmed Life of Pi The Deep
 ships / ferries / boats

The Silence Between Breaths The Woman on the Orient Express I See You The Girl on the Train Confessions on the 7:45 trains

The Escape Room elevators


The legacy of trauma:


  • Childhood trauma: 

    Our Endless Numbered DaysDark Places


  • Generational trauma

Lola Bensky Those Who Save Us

Based on a true story:

Dear Edward The Deep Picnic at Hanging Rock


The Twins

Brilliant twist:

The Kind Worth Killing The Wives Eight Perfect Murders The Ice Beneath Her After She's Gone The Family Upstairs Unraveling Oliver Dear Wife The Silent Patient: The Fir... My Lovely Wife The Escape Room I Know You Know Cross Her Heart White Lies The Memory Watcher He Said/She Said The Craftsman (The Craftsma... Every Single Secret Sometimes I Lie The Chalk Man The Girl in Kellers Way This is How it Ends 99 Red Balloons I Let You Go Gone Girl Lie With Me The Night Visitor His and Hers 

Unreliable narrators:

His and Hers

Forget My Name The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware The Stranger Diaries  The Perfect Girlfriend The Good Samaritan The Escape Room

Mysteries featuring urban myths / legends:

Little Darlings The Whisper Man The Bone Keeper The Marsh King's Daughter Slender Man The Dead Girls Club The Wicked Sister

Weddings gone wrong:

Witches / witchcraft / wise women:
The Mists of Avalon (Avalon, #1)

Well written WWII or holocaust novels:

The Bronze Horseman (The Bronze Horseman, #1) Tatiana and Alexander (The Bronze Horseman, #2) The Things We Cannot Say The Siege (The Siege, #1) Devastation Road All the Light We Cannot See Two Brothers The Book Thief The Tattooist of Auschwitz The Wish Child  The Women in the Castle The Storyteller Garden of Stones The Imposter Bride Lola Bensky The Testimony All That I Am Between Shades of Gray Hannah and Emil Clara's War Those Who Save Us Winter Garden Tell Me How It Ends The Tree House Lone Star The Yellow Bird Sings