Top Six Books I’ve Read This Year

Due to a transfer in career from New Mexico to Utah, I decided to take a brief hiatus from writing. Having completed a stand-alone thriller and nearing the end of the Detective Temeke series, there’s no better escape than reading books. Here are six of my favorites this year written by brilliant, talented writers.

AAA Oliver

Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press, (Simon and Schuster) Pages: 273. Rating 4.3. Reviews 315. Genre: Family Life, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Thriller and Suspense.

Brief Description: Oliver Ryan has the perfect life. Elegant and seductive, he wants for nothing, sharing a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books that have brought him wealth and fame. Until one evening, after eating the dinner Alice has carefully prepared, Oliver savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead.

Described as a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit, Unraveling Oliver is an intricately woven story of a man who apparently has everything. Or does he? Highly suspenseful and told from the perspectives of the injured parties, it is the tragic story of a fractured mind. Some of the reviews indicate that readers found the alternating points of view hard to get to grips with, but I love this style. If a book doesn’t have that extra layer it can fall flat for me and I end up distracted and looking for food. This story intrigued me and after the last page, the plot was thick enough to stick for at least a week. Highly recommended.

The wife between us

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press. Pages: 342. Rating 4.2. Reviews 1,739. Genre: Women’s Fiction, Psychological, Detective, Suspense.

Brief Description: When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

I found this story intriguing although a little slow to begin with. A twisty plot of love and betrayal written from two points of view, Nellie (the bride) and Vanessa (the disturbed ex). You you get the impression fairly early on that we are not getting the whole story and I had to go back and reread sections to make sure I had it down correctly. It’s well-read territory, twists and turns are a little contrived but around the half-way mark the reveal took me by surprise. The book is described as a clever suspense novel and compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. I’m not sure it’s quite up there, but it’s well worth the read.

Silent Girls

Publisher: Witness Impulse/Harper Collins. Pages: 411. Rating 4.0. Reviews: 1,406. Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Heist. Supernatural. United States.

Brief Description: Frank Rath thought he was done with murder when he turned in his detective’s badge to become a private investigator and raise a daughter alone. Then the police in his remote rural community of Canaan find an ’89 Monte Carlo abandoned by the side of the road, and the beautiful teenage girl who owned the car seems to have disappeared without a trace.

I had heard of Eric Rickstad but not read any of his novels. Needless to say, I was hooked at the first few pages. He has a rhythmic writing style I love, although I could have done with less of the short sentences. They were a little choppy and when more than one character (narrative voice) attempted the same style, it can get confusing. This was another book I thought I had figured out, but nope. The ending, for me, was a serious twist. Not everyone likes cliffhangers, so I hope he comes up with a second book. Recommended.

I let you go

Publisher: Berkley, Penguin Group. Pages: 377. Rating: 4.3. Reviews: 1,275. Genre: Women’s Fiction, Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense. Detective. Psychological.

Brief Description: On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street… I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past.

The blurb for I Let You Go enticed me to buy it and I was glad I did. The book tells the story of a mother who loses her child in an accident (not a spoiler since this is in the blurb) during those one of those dangerous split seconds of inattention. Its the hit-and-run the reader focuses on and Jenna’s way of coping with this terrible tragedy.  Unputdownable and disturbing, and brought home by brilliant, atmospheric writing. Just too many layers of this particular onion that I enjoyed, a truly emotional journey that made me feel no matter what Jenna did, she was going to pay the price at some point. Highly recommended.

all the light

Publisher: Scribner, Simon and Schuster. Pages: 545. Rating: 4.6. Reviews: 28,078. Genre: Historical Fiction, French, German, Military.

Brief Description: Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

Probably one of my favorite books of all time, All The Light We Cannot See takes you through the lives of Marie-Laure, her father and the gadget-obsessed German orphan Werner, tied together by a dangerous and priceless gem. It’s an intricate masterpiece that draws you in so you can’t fail to become personally connected. With alternating character chapters, the atrocities and the lasting scars on each will very likely create an image of war some of us have never imagined. I think this book will haunt me for some time. Highly recommended.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing. Pages: 526. Rating: 4.8. Reviews: 19,097. Genre: Literary Fiction, Biographical, Women’s Fiction. 

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

With phenomenal ratings—4.8—it’s no surprise that this cinematic and literary work was chosen by Pascal Pictures to be made into a movie. Based on a true story and set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Milan during World War II, this book carries an intense pace and leaves you feeling like one of the characters and not just the reader. Pino becomes a driver for Major General Leyer, and through his eyes we ‘see’ all the harrowing Nazi atrocities and the allied advances to liberate northern Italy. Full of action and suspense, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The writing is poetic and impeccable and as quoted within the opening chapters, nothing will ever be the same. Highly recommended.

There’s nothing like reading a book with that extra special magic, the type of book you can’t bear to finish. If you’re searching for a compulsively readable novel, these must-read books, complete with publisher information, ratings, genre and descriptions, are impossible to put down. 

Next, I will be reading a book by Tess Gerritson, Paula Hawkins and K.L. Slater.




A Warm Welcome to Author Kathryn Gauci

Kathryn smaller image (2)I am delighted to welcome author Kathryn Gauci to my blog today.

Kathryn Gauci was born in Leicestershire, England, and studied textile design at Loughborough College of Art and later at Kidderminster College of Art and Design where she specialised in carpet design and technology. After graduating, Kathryn spent a year in Vienna, Austria before moving to Greece where she worked as a carpet designer in Athens for six years. There followed another brief period in New Zealand before eventually settling in Melbourne, Australia.

Before turning to writing full-time, Kathryn ran her own textile design studio in Melbourne for over fifteen years, work which she enjoyed tremendously as it allowed her the luxury of travelling worldwide, often taking her off the beaten track and exploring other cultures. The Embroiderer is her first novel; a culmination of those wonderful years of design and travel, and especially of those glorious years in her youth living and working in Greece – a place that she is proud to call her spiritual home.

Kathryn is here to tell us about a scene from The Embroiderer which is set against the mosques and minarets of Asia Minor and the ruins of ancient Athens. A gripping saga of love and loss, hope and despair, and of the extraordinary courage of women in the face of adversity.

My favourite scene in The Embroiderer and why.

9781781322963-Perfect.inddA hard choice as The Embroiderer spans 150 years and I have several favourites, especially the prologue and Dimitra’s memoirs which throw light on the family’s early life.

The story is written in four parts and in the end I have chosen the last scene in Part II – a pivotal point in the book. The year is 1922 and the Greek troops have occupied the Smyrna region for three years. The main protagonist, Sophia Laskaris, has left Constantinople for her home town of Smyrna (modern day Izmir). For reasons I cannot divulge, her highly successful life as a couturier has come crashing down and she is forced to re-open her couture house, LA MAISON DU L’ORIENT, in the Rue Franque – Smyrna’s equivalent of Bond St or Fifth Avenue.

Unfortunately, not only for Sophia and her family, but for the entire population of Smyrna, they underestimated the strength and determination of Mustafa Kemal’s Nationalists. In late August 1922, the remnants of the Greek army return from Anatolia and evacuate back to Greece leaving in their wake, thousands of desperate Christian refugees who pour into the city.

Smyrna before 1922 showing the Hotel Kramer (2)

Smyrna before 1922 showing the Hotel Kramer

During the first week of September, Kemal’s Nationalists enter the city determined to take their revenge on the Christian population. Despite calls for calm, atrocities start to take place immediately. When the Greek archbishop is reprimanded and then set upon by Turks who torture and kill him, many believe all is lost, yet others believe that because of the presence of foreign warships in the Bay of Smyrna, and the many foreign nationals living in Smyrna, the Allies will not stand by and see a massacre.


Rue Franque (2)

Rue Franque

During the second week of September, a fire breaks out in the Armenian quarter of the city which was later proven to have been deliberately lit by the Turks. The fire takes hold and the wind changes direction. The fire, now burning out of control, spreads towards the harbour where there are thousands of helpless refugees. All those hiding in hospitals, schools and churches are either burnt alive or forced out into the arms of the Turks who slaughter them.


Most of the remaining westerners are evacuated leaving the Greeks at the mercy of the Turks. From the safety of the ships, the Allies are forced to watch on as they have strict orders not to antagonize the Turks. Sophia flees to the harbour with several of her family. All the buildings are now on fire, thousands are either crushed to death, burnt by falling embers or fall into the sea which has become a quagmire of floating bodies and debris. Fearing an international backlash, the Allies now send out boats to rescue some of the survivors.

Refugees congregate on the seafront  Smyrna 1922 (2)

Refugees congregate on the seafront. Smyrna

This is the culmination of the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Thousands are killed and except for the Turkish quarter, the beautiful cosmopolitan city of Smyrna lies in ruins. Two thousand years of Greek settlement in the city and the Aegean and Anatolian region comes to an end. Sophia survives but most of her family and friends do not. She leaves for Athens and will never set foot on Greek soil again. This chapter is one of the most harrowing scenes in the book.


Why not visit Kathryn at her blog:

 Kathryn blog Blog – Kathryn Gauci

Author interview with John Manuel Over the next few months, A Literary World is taking a new angle and looking at writers whose novels are set in Greece.

Buy The Embroiderer

The EmbroidererThe Embroiderer is a beautifully written novel spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, set against the backdrop of the Greek War of Independence. It was published on 5th November 2014 and is available to buy in paperback and as an ebook.

You can order from all good bookshops and online retailers.

Purchase directly from the publisher here:

Published by SilverWood Books Ltd.

Cornucopia is the award-winning magazine for connoisseurs of Turkey. The Embroiderer can also now be purchased from the Cornucopia web site.

CornucopiaCornucopia: Turkey for Connoisseurs


Find Kathryn Gauci here on Facebook

Kathryn Gauci | Facebook