This month, bestselling author and MBE Adele Parks shares the books she’s reading, including a chilling and compulsive thriller you won’t want to put down, a comical novel about a group of women’s collective drive to seek revenge, and an uplifting comedy about taking chances when all is not lost.

DARLING GIRLS by Sally Hepworth (£9.99, Macmillan)

A disturbing and convincing novel that delves into the traumatic past of Alicia, Jessica and Norah, who grew up with a foster mother, Miss Fairchild. These girls were deemed “lucky” to have been placed in an apparently loving foster home, but Miss Fairchild was unpredictable; her strictness plunged into cruelty and her moments of kindness were simply manipulative acts that underlined how unstable the girls’ lives were. The long-lasting impact of the abuse shapes the adults they become.

Alicia has low self-esteem, Jessica develops OCD, and Norah is permanently raging. They are just about managing their painful pasts when a body is discovered under the house they grew up in. The demons they tried to bury start to haunt them as they move from victims to suspects. Despite the subject matter, Darling Girls is far from bleak. It is a compelling exploration of the glorious bond that exists between these three girls that were thrown together in adversity but emerge as close as sisters. Their shared trauma is a source of strength, and the novel is a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.


THE F**K IT! LIST by Melanie Cantor (£8.99, Penguin)

Daisy’s 40th birthday party did not go to plan. Instead of the festivities she expected, she discovered her boyfriend in the ultimate compromising position with someone else. As a result, she’s camped out in her childhood bedroom; it’s sad, undignified and unfair.

Most heartbreakingly, for Daisy, it looks like her dream to have a baby has been lost too, considering her age. How many chances does she have left? This novel is an authoritative, heart-warming, unique comedy. Daisy is a fresh, tremendous character that you will want as a real-life friend. You’ll experience her humiliations and triumphs alongside her and be left with a wonderful uplifting sense that it is possible to take the world on in your own terms.


GLASS HOUSES by Francesca Reece (£8.99, Headline Publishing)

Gethin Thomas is struggling in his rural hometown in North Wales. Smart, charismatic, but apathetic, his only passion is a stunning lakeside house that he gatekeeps, despite it belonging to absent English owners. When the owners decide to sell, Gethin loses his remaining sense of purpose.

Then he discovers that Olwen, his first love who left him and their small town for a new life in London, has returned to North Wales with her husband. Gethin and Olwen are pulled back into the past and nostalgically look at what was, and wonder could it still be. However, mysterious messages start arriving at the house, and it becomes clear that something sinister lurks behind this love story. A beautiful, compelling, intuitive voice.


THE REVENGE CLUB by Kathy Lette (£16.99, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Matilda, Jo, Penny and Cressy are all women at the top of their game. They’ve worked hard to get there, and they haven’t rested on their laurels (what woman can?). So imagine their astonishment when they start to be personally overlooked and professionally pushed aside by less-qualified men. Maybe you can.

These ladies are not the type that will go down without a fight, though. Society might think they have passed their amuse-by dates but The Revenge Club members have plans to be seen and heard. Kathy Lette always delivers a laugh-out-loud, wickedly comical novel that can help us look at the less-than-funny sides of life. Sometimes dark, often rude and always sparkling. A total tonic.


HOLD BACK THE NIGHT by Jessica Moor (£16.99, Manilla Press)

Set between the 1950s, the 1980s and the present day, this visceral heart-wrenching novel looks at the themes of complicity and atonement as it delves into one nurse’s experiences of the little-known history of conversion therapy and the tragedy of the AIDS crisis. In 1959, Annie was a student nurse at Fairlie Hall mental hospital.

The work was arduous and moral complexities were steamrollered by a requirement to follow rules without question. In 1983, Annie is struggling with being a single parent but is perhaps given the opportunity to atone when she offers a sick man a bed for the night. She finds herself creating a haven and entering a new life of service. Beautiful, complex and moving.


A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY by Jane Casey (£16.99, Hemlock Press)

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read any of the gripping thrillers featuring DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent (although I imagine you have!), each book is stand-alone. It’s every parent’s utter nightmare; nine-year-old Rosalie Marshall vanished from her bed one summer night. Her disappearance ripped her family apart. Now, 16 years later, her mother is found dead, her husband by her side.

Initially it looks like a murder-suicide but it transpires the Marshalls have secrets, the sort people are prepared to kill over. Chilling, carefully constructed and compulsive, this is one of those books where you will keep saying to yourself “just one more chapter”, but one more won’t be enough until you reach the thrilling end.


Adele Parks MBE is the author of 23 bestselling novels including her latest release Just Between Us, which is now out in paperback. She writes propulsive, twisty, psychological thrillers that are popular all over the world, with five million English language editions sold.

She is dedicated to spreading the joy of reading and is a proud ambassador of the National Literacy Trust. She loves hearing from readers so keep in touch with her via X @adeleparks or at