THE HIDDEN HOURS by Sara Foster
(Simon and Schuster, $35)
I raved about The Hidden Hours back in April for being a different kind of read, more of a thriller-mystery, and my kind of mystery at that (sans the blood and guts). I loved it because it keeps you guessing at every page and had a real Girl on the Train feel. It's told from the point of view of 21-year-old Eleanor, who has moved to London to try to escape her previous life in Australia. One morning after a work party, Eleanor learns her boss turned up dead last night and she can't remember where she was when this would have happened. It's here that two stories begin to unfold.
THE LITTLE BRETON BISTRO by Nina George
Another of my 2017 favourites, simply for being a beautiful love story, and love not just between people but of place, friendship and community. Its starts off dark, with Marianne attempting suicide by throwing herself into the Seine because she believes this is the only way out of her terrible marriage. Surviving, she impulsively runs away to a destination seen on a coaster and it's here the story changes from sad to uplifting. It's full of emotion but was balanced enough to keep me engrossed right through-out. I've been recommending this one to friends and family ever since.
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COME SUNDOWN by Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts at her best, and one of the best novels I've read this year. It's a romance at its core but with mystery and suspense that kept me turning the pages. Alice is returning home to her family's Montana ranch, though she never quite makes it. We then jump to a seemingly ordinary life at the ranch where we meet Alice's niece and ranch manager Bodine, the family and a raft of employees. Just as you start to get comfortable with the characters and events, everything changes, as Bodine finds a body in the snow and Alice's story unravels. Come Sundown deserves a sequel, evolving the secondary characters Roberts expertly creates here.
TOGETHER by Julie Cohen
This book is beautifully written; captivating because of the utter love and devotion between two people. It has a Jojo Moyes feel, which I love, and stays in your mind long after reading. We meet Emily and Robbie in 2016 before jumping back 50 years to where it all began and filling the years in between. At the very start — which is also the end — Robbie wakes and leaves his wife a letter, before walking into the sea and taking his own life. The pages in between explain all of this, with so much feeling and so many revelations you forget you're reading a book while knowing the ending.
THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US by Charles Martin
My top recommendation for summer and one of my favourite reads this year. For the first time in a long time, I even found myself talking out loud in parts. It's the story of two strangers who accept a charter flight home to try to beat a storm. When the plane crashes over snowy mountains, Ben and Ashley must survive with nothing but those snowy mountains and trees for miles. It's enchanting, maybe a little convenient in parts, but I'm still thinking about it. (The Mountain Between Us is now a movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba — though I have a feeling the book will be the better of the two).