1. The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley
A story described as “a book for lovers of romantic fiction”, isn’t a book I’d normally reach for. However, this author came highly recommended by Gina, and after conducting research on Lucinda Riley, I settled on The Olive Tree for several reasons – the idyllic setting, the back and forth narrative, and as much as I don’t want to admit it, the hint of romance. I’m getting soft in my ‘old age’. *wink*. This light and easy read will capture your heart with its effortlessly descriptive handle on writing. The story is set in Cyprus, at a magical holiday home called Pandora. “It is said that anyone who comes to stay at ‘Pandora’ for the first time will fall in love . . .”
Pandora belongs to Helena, the novel’s main female character, who has returned to the house with her family for the first time in 24-years, having inherited it from her recently deceased godfather. The story is brimming with the palpable atmosphere of beautiful Cyprus; an engrossing story about family dynamics spanning three generations. There’s no doubt about it; this novel is a clear case of ‘history repeats itself’. At close to 600 pages, this is a surprisingly quick read, which I personally believe is a testament to Lucinda Riley’s successful ability at holding the reader’s attention.
Secrets, lies, love and shocking revelations abound in The Olive Tree. I suppose it’s true what they say; anyone who comes to stay at Pandora will indeed fall in love, just as I did with Lucinda Riley and her charming style of writing. Prepare to be swept away by the sultry heat of Cyprus, alluring Cypriot men, family fun and plenty of wise and insightful words scattered throughout.
2. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Psychological thrillers lure readers in with the promise of mystery, anticipation and a shocking twist, and A dark, dark wood successfully ticks all those boxes. When prompted, I would label A dark, dark wood as ’a hen party from hell’; I believe most hen parties are dreadful, but this one, set against the backdrop of a glass house in the dark and silent woods, is especially grim. The past and present are interwoven as we are introduced to Nora, our protagonist, waking up with selective amnesia in a hospital bed.
Ruth Ware prefaces her gripping debut novel with this eerie rhyme, and she uses this scare tactic to set the tone for the rest of the story – “‘In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house; And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room; And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard: And in the dark, dark cupboard there was… a skeleton.” You can expect fluid storytelling as well as a compelling aptness at prolonging the suspense. You’ll undoubtedly find yourself on the edge of your seat. Ruth Ware offers us a peek at her suggestive writing style and I’ll be the first one to admit that I love it. This atmospheric thriller will keep you guessing, just as all the best ones do.
Chilling weather, creepy woods, and no cell phone signal are all clues to what you, as the reader, can expect as the story unfolds. A medley of six unusual characters cooped up in a remote countryside house will leave you asking “Who did it?”