Books Magazine

Five of the Best (December 2011 to 2015)

By Cleopatralovesbooks @cleo_bannister

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favorite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!


My choice for 2011 was a book that when I initially reviewed it, I wasn’t overly sure how to interpret the narrative of this very dark book which centres on the obsession one (female) teacher has for one of her pupils – not as good as Notes on a Scandal , but The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman has more to offer than is immediately apparent.

The Kingdom of Childhood


The Kingdom of Childhood is the story of a boy and a woman: sixteen-year-old Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother’s extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes. Thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school and bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts each of them. Judy sees in Zach the elements of a young man she loved as a child, but what Zach does not realize is that their relationship is—for Judy—only the latest in a lifetime of disturbing secrets.
Rebecca Coleman’s manuscript for The Kingdom of Childhood was a semifinalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. An emotionally tense, increasingly chilling work of fiction set in the controversial Waldorf school community, it is equal parts enchanting and unsettling and is sure to be a much-discussed and much-debated novel. Goodreads

2012 yr

In December 2012 it was a historical murder that kept me entertained. Ruth Dugdall who is more known for written a crime series featuring Cate Austin, explores The Story in the Red Barn, a true crime from nineteenth century Britain in The James Version.

The James Version


A fictionalised account of true events which shocked nineteenth century Britain. The story of ‘The Murder in the Red Barn’, this book describes the events through the eyes of Ann Marten, a woman suffering guilt and despair following the terrible history of her family, as she tells her tale to a reluctant young rector. James Coyte has taken up his called in Suffolk, but sinks into his own despair as Ann’s story unfolds. Goodreads


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is a must-read (or now watch) for all lovers of psychological thrillers and I picked this one up in December 2013 and joined the legions of fans who loved this dark tale… ok it may be a tad unrealistic in parts and have a cast of wholly despicable characters but it certainly had me turning the pages at a rate of knots.

Gone Girl

Click on the book cover to read my review


On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? Goodreads


There is no contest at all for my favorite read of December 2014 which was without a doubt The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, this sumptuous story follows what happens when Mrs Wray and her daughter Florence accept that their straightened circumsatances mean that they have to rent out some rooms to lodgers. Set in 1920s London, this book is one of the best examples of historical and mystery fiction.

The Paying Guests

Click on the book cover to read my review


It is 1922, and London is tense. Ex-servicemen are disillusioned; the out-of-work and the hungry are demanding change. And in South London, in a genteel Camberwell villa — a large, silent house now bereft of brothers, husband, and even servants — life is about to be transformed as impoverished widow Mrs. Wray and her spinster daughter, Frances, are obliged to take in lodgers.
With the arrival of Lilian and Leonard Barber, a modern young couple of the “clerk class,” the routines of the house will be shaken up in unexpected ways. Little do the Wrays know just how profoundly their new tenants will alter the course of Frances’s life — or, as passions mount and frustration gathers, how far-reaching, and how devastating, the disturbances will be. Goodreads


I have just finished my favorite read of the whole of December 2015, The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood a superb psychological thriller for those readers who love wry humor and a whole bucketful of secrets.

The Darkest Secret

Click on the book cover to read my review


Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed… Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my December reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here although sadly I didn’t manage to do the list for July and August.

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best
April Five of the Best
May Five of the Best
June Five of the Best
September Five of the Best
October Five of the Best
November Five of the Best

Five of the Best (December 2011 to 2015)

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