A Good Read

In The Kitchen by Monica Ali
Gabriel Lightfoot is an enterprising man from a northern England mill town, making good in London as executive chef at the once-splendid Imperial Hotel. He is trying to run a tight kitchen but his integrity, to say nothing of his sanity, is constantly challenged by the demands of an exuberant multinational staff, an eagle-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is secretly planning to open a restaurant of his own. Despite the pressures, all his hard work looks set to payoff, until a worker is found dead in the kitchen's basement.
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The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez
Sunny is the proud proprietor of a small coffee shop in one of the most dangerous places on earth. She offers hospitality to the expatriates, misfits, missionaries, and mercenaries who stroll through the doors. Sunny and four very different women befriend each other and form a bond of friendship and secrets.



The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
Pilot Chip’s plane is struck by a flock of geese shortly after take-off. His attempt to land on the Hudson River goes terribly wrong and 39 people perish. Haunted by the accident, Chip and his wife, Emily, and their 10-year-old twin daughters move across country to Bethal in rural New Hampshire. Their hopes to recover from the trauma and rebuild their lives are hindered by a mysterious door (sealed with 39 bolts) in the basement of their dark creepy Victorian house, and some malevolent neighbours who have an unhealthy obsession with herbs and potions. 

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Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
New Year's Eve. Strangers Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ plan to commit suicide by jumping off a high building called Toppers' House in London. Their plans for a solitary death are ruined when they accidentally meet each other on the roof.
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In the Woods by Tana French.  Twelve year old Adam and his friends Jamie and Peter were playing in woods near their homes when something terrible happened. Adam was found with his back to a tree clawing the bark, he had blood on his shoes and slash marks on his back. Jamie and Peter were never seen again and Adam’s amnesia holds to the present day. Twenty years on Adam has changed his name to Rob and is a detective in Dublin. The plot circles around the murder of a twelve year old girl, Katy Devlin, whose case Rob and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to investigate. The body was found in the same woods where Rob’s friends disappeared, at an archaeological dig site, and the coincidence is enough to make him nervous.    Continue reading

Secrets And Lies
Christine Keeler's name is as synonymous with the sixties sexual revolution as is the pill. An English former model and showgirl, little did she know when she walked into a dance-club and met society osteopath Stephen Ward she was also walking into the history books. And what a history. She can never escape being Christine Keeler, she will be a headline forever.
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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane. 
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The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself. But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. 
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Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood 
Artist Elaine Risley, in her late fifties is revisiting Toronto for the opening of a retrospective of her work. This rekindles vivid memories of her childhood and teenage years. Her strongest memories are of Cordelia, who was the leader of a trio of girls who were both very cruel and very kind to young Elaine, in ways that tint Elaine's perceptions of relationships and her world, not to mention her art. 
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Crimson China by Betsy Tobin
On a freezing night in February 2004 twenty-three illegal Chinese migrants perished whilst picking cockles in the deadly waters of Morecambe Bay. Only twenty-one bodies were recovered. At a memorial service for the victims, a member of the local community offered the hope that one or both of those not found had somehow managed to survive. This is fact. The rest of the story is based around what Tobin imagined might have happened to one of the survivors. 



The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Lisbeth Salander lies in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital with a bullet wound to her head. She is fighting for her life in more ways than one: just two rooms away, under guard, is Zalechenko. Also, if and when she recovers she will be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. 
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The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire
In the second of the trilogy we find Lisbeth in the Caribbean having laundered a few million dollars into a disguised bank account. From her hotel room she observes her neighbour, Dr Forbes, an American tourist physically abusing his wife, on several occasions. Lisbeth utilises her connections among hackers to investigate Dr Forbes and learns that he has no assets, but his wife is the heiress to a fortune worth $40 million.
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The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
In the first book of the Millenium Trilogy Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Soon afterwards he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history. The investigation was carried out by Lisbeth Salander a taciturn young woman, anti-social, fiercely private and highly intelligent; she works as a surveillance agent. 
Blomkvist is promised considerable financial reward and solid evidence against Wennerström in exchange for writing the Vanger family history. Vanger believes that his great-niece, Harriet, was murdered by a member of his family 36 years earlier, and has spent the intervening years obsessively trying to solve the mystery. 
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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
The title is very apt. This is a story about horrible people doing horrible things. They are the kind of people we know exist but hope we never come into contact with. 
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas. As her family lay dying little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived and testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer.  Continue reading
Untorn Tickets by Paul Burke
Essentially a coming of age tale. Notting Hill 1978, the story focuses on Andy Zymancyk and Dave Kelly the teenage offspring of staunchly Catholic Polish and Irish families. Both are pupils of St Bede's Roman Catholic Grammar School for Boys, an institution whose "manifesto of academic and sporting excellence, religious fervour and iron discipline" is described by headmaster, Father "Johnny Mac" McLafferty, as "work hard, play hard and pray hard".  
Part-time jobs in Westbourne Grove's Gaumont Cinema provide the boys with rather a different kind of education which changes their lives in more ways than they can imagine.  Continue reading


The Devil’s Acre by Matthew Plampin
1853, Colonel Samuel Colt expands his gun-making business into England. He acquires a riverside warehouse and sets about converting it into a pistol works capable of mass producing his patented revolvers on an unprecedented scale - aware that the prospect of war with Russia means huge profits. 
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernieres
Set in an imaginary Latin American country the novel's political themes parody the worst excesses of the Pinochet government of Chile, the collapse of democratic social order in Uruguay in the 1970's and other dirty wars of the 1960's to 1980's in Southern and Central America.
In the village of Cochadebajo macho philosophers, defrocked priests and reformed (though still active) prostitutes live in cheerful anarchy. But this unruly utopia is about to be interrupted when the demon-harried Cardinal Guzman decides to inaugurate a new Inquisition, with Cochadebajo as its ultimate target. Continue reading


Restless by William Boyd  depicts the tale of a young woman who discovers that her mother was recruited as a spy during World War II. "I am Eva Delectorskaya,” Sally Gilmartin announces, and so on a warm summer afternoon in 1976 her daughter, Ruth learns that everything she ever knew about her mother was a carefully constructed lie. Sally Gilmartin is a respectable English widow living in a picturesque Cotswold village; 
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The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
“A spellbinding thriller” says the synopsis, mmm well I can’t be that generous. It features Sigmund Freud and the search for a diabolical killer in turn of the century New York. 
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The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas 
An epic story of wartime, family secrets and forbidden love, set against the stunning exotic backdrop of 1940's Kashmir. Within one exotic land lie the secrets of a lifetime... It is the eve of 1941 and World War II is engulfing the globe. Newlywed Nerys Watkins leaves rural Wales for the first time to accompany her husband on a missionary posting to India.
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Red Lotus by Pai Kit Fai
Full of Chinese villains, English heroes and brave virtuous women, this is a sprawling family saga of three generations of women. 
Yip Mann, an elderly spice farmer, purchases fifteen-year-old Pai-Ling as his concubine in the hope of producing sons. Pai-Ling has lotus feet and is beautiful but to Yip Mann’s dismay she delivers a worthless daughter. Yip Mann snatches the new born baby and goes to bury her in the paddy fields where he has buried his previous daughters. In a desperate bid to save her daughter Pai Ling throws herself out of the window and falls to her death.
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Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger 
When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her American nieces, twins Julia and Valentina. The girls had never met their English aunt, they only knew that their mother was a twin, and Elspeth was her sister. Julia and Valentina are fairly normal teenagers with an abnormally intense attachment to one another, and very little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cosy home in the suburbs of Chicago. 
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The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
Pearl has a secret which she keeps from her mother Winnie, and Winnie has her own long kept secrets about her past and the confusing circumstances of Pearl’s birth. 
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Testimony by Anita Shreve
This was my book group's read, and a very thought provoking one it was too. 
It deals with a sex scandal at a New England boarding school. Three males aged between 17 and 19 and a 14 year old girl engage in an alcholoc-fuelled evening of bad choices, immaturity and hormones.
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Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moaggach
When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks and move from London to rural Wales he has no idea what he is letting himself in for.

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Millroy The Magician by Paul Theroux
The story begins at the Barnstable County Fair. The narrator is Jilly Farina, a 14-year-old girl. Her mother is dead, her father is a drunk and she lives with her abusive grandmother. Jilly walks into a tent and her life is transformed
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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
What if there were second and third chances, in fact an infinite number of chances to live your life. Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
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Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington (pseudonym of Nugi Garimara) 
The remarkable true story of three young girls who cross the harsh Australian desert on foot to return to their home. 
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Complicity by Iain Banks
Involvement, connection, liability. Are we guilty by association?
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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.
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White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Focuses on the later lives of two wartime friends— Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and Englishman Archie Jones, and their families.
Archie is contemplating suicide until he meets Clara, who is fleeing an oppressive Jehovah's Witness mother. Meanwhile Samad has arrived in England to meet with his old war-time friend and to complete his arranged marriage
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A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. Nikolai is eighty four, she is thirty six and will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth, a British passport and an education for her son. 
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The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Dorian Gray is the subject of a painting by artist Basil Hallward. Dorian (whimsically) expresses a desire to sell his soul to ensure the portrait Basil has painted would age rather than himself. 
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Holiday reading. I grabbed this off my book shelf a few days before leaving.
Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland
tells the absurd and tender story of Susan Colgate, a former tv star and beauty pageant contender, and John Johnson, a hard-living movie producer, who find each other by losing themselves. 
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The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Born in a village in heartland India, the son of a rickshaw puller, Balram is taken out of school and put to work in a teashop. As he crushes coals and wipes tables, he nurses a dream of escape.
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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Fierce evangelical Baptist Nathan Price takes his wife, four daughters and his mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959
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