2016 was my fourth year of participating in the British Books Challenge. I love doing this every year and think it’s important to support our authors here in the UK, old and new. Here’s what I’ve managed to review this year in British Books!
So if I’ve calculated correctly, that makes it 72 books for the British Books Challenge this year. It isn’t as much as last year but I’ve still made the target of 12 books a year which I’m very happy with, especially as I haven’t had a great blogging year with a lot of illness. 😦
Highlights from this year include Disclaimer by Renee Knight which I will treasure as not only is it a fantastic book but I also managed to meet the lady herself at Crime At The Court (hosted by Goldsboro Books, London) with my blogger buddy Cleopatra Loves Books. She’s lovely and so very talented and I will probably read anything she ever writes! The Last Act Of Love was also a hugely important and emotional book for me and I loved reviewing it with my sister, Chrissi Reads in our little “Talking About” feature which we do on occasion. Other honourable mentions go to Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig, Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, the Forbidden Spaces Trilogy by Helen Grant and the fabulous Emma Carroll who wrote the beautiful Frost Hollow Hall. I could go on and on. I’m certainly looking forward to reading some more “best of British” books in 2017! Look out for my sign up post coming soon.
Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.
Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her.
What did I think?:
Even though this is Renée Knight’s debut novel, she is no stranger to writing, having written multiple scripts for the BBC, Channel 4 and Capital Films. Evidence of her writing experience certainly comes across in this fantastic thriller which made my list of favourite books of 2015 and is a book I continue to think about today. I was lucky enough to meet Renée at Crime In The Court at Goldsboro Bookshop in London which I attended with a blogger friend, Cleo from Cleopatra Loves Books. I happened to be halfway through reading Disclaimer at the time and she was so lovely and approachable even though I may have been slightly over-excited at meeting her!
Back to the book – Disclaimer is an exciting roller-coaster of a literary ride that leaves you reluctant to get off and so glad you took the plunge in the first place! The main character is Catherine Ravenscroft, a successful woman who makes documentaries for television, married with an adult son who has recently moved out so Catherine and her husband, Robert are on their own once again in a brand new house. Whilst unpacking, Catherine becomes aware of a book that she has never seen before and the disclaimer i.e. any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidentalis crossed out in red ink. Her curiosity is piqued but as she begins reading, she is shocked to recognise that it is her own story of an incident that occurred twenty years previously, a huge secret that the only other person who knew about it is dead and it will destroy her life and family if it ever gets out. What happened twenty years ago and why is Catherine so frightened about it? Who wrote this book and why? And…. can we trust anyone?
From the very beginning of this novel, the fantastic plot and stellar story-telling pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. The suspense all the way through the narrative is truly masterful and the characters so powerful that it’s difficult to put the book down at all. I know a lot of people have issues with characters if they are not likeable but personally, I think it brings out stronger emotions for the reader and becomes a more compelling story as a result. I don’t want to go into a whole lot of detail with the plot as with this book, you just can’t say too much. However, I will certainly be pushing it into the hands of everyone who is a fan of this particular genre (and even those who aren’t!) and are looking for a strong, fascinating read that lingers long in the memory even after the final page.