So, my first 2016 fave isn’t out yet but it’s my tip for 2017’s hot book – The One by John Marrs. Come January 26th this is the book that everyone will be talking about. Get ready to be asked ‘would you?’. If you want to know what I’m talking about you need to get onto Amazon and check it out. FOMO was invented for The One!
Naturally, my two favourite authors didn’t let me down (not that it was on the cards!). Lindsay J Pryor had a cracking year with the release of books 6 and 7 in her Blackthorn series – Blood Instinct and Blood Bound. If you haven’t started on this mix of gothic and urban romantic thriller you really must. Undoubtably, the penultimate Blood Bound is the best book in the series so far. It was an absorbing and brutal read. Fans of this incredible series are both desperate and scared for the next book. Bring it on!
And of course Nalini Singh had three great releases. For me the best was Allegiance of Honour, which incredibly is the 15th book in her psy changeling series. What a humongous feat! I’ll always treasure this series as its the first ever series I truly fell in love with. I was gutted this story arc came to a close. However, Ms Singh has set the stage for round two with Silver and her cuddly bear! Yep, I said bear!
Ms Singh’s Rock Wedding and Archangel’s Heart showcased what a versatile author she is. Three series on the go and none of them losing the plot like most of the romance series out there. JR Ward’s The Beast shows she still has it, but only her BDB has the same strength. Not three at once! A personal highlight was meeting Nalini – she’s absolutely lovely and has the best taste in lipstick, love her!
I found a couple of new fab authors too (well new to me). Kelly Rimmer’s A Mother’s Confession quite rightly got a lot of buzz, but When I Lost You was probably my fave book of the year. The story grabbed every bit of me. Reading Kelly’s books comes with a warning ‘not in public’ especially if like me you’re an ugly crier! #SharesinKleenex
I was lucky enough to have afternoon tea with Diane Chamberlain and discovered a new to me author with a fantastic back catalogue. She writes such rich stories all framed around a social issue and set in a recent historical era. I read several of her books but Secret Sister was my fave.
I have to mention Jem Lester’s Shtum. This is such a powerful book and I loved reading the male/father perspective for a change. Such a difficult story told so beautifully.
Sawyer Bennett’s Hawke was a cracker, especially if you love second chance romance. Hawke is gorgeous and needed this story. As usual Sawyer’s stories are far more complex than you first realise. This isn’t disposable romance, it will stay with you. Her latest Max is another great read, but 2017’s Roman is going to blow your socks off!
If you’ve got kids then Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers is a must read. It’s a story about hope and possibilities. I loved how it celebrated quirkiness, people should be different!
Best New Series (to me)
This totally goes to Catherine Gayle and her Tulsa Thunderbirds. This author knows angst and how to write it. And talk about difficult subjects – AIDS, porn stars, prostitution, disabled heroines, sex scandals etc. The author is currently unwell, so I wish her a speedy recovery.
This one is quirky and thought provoking. I’d say it was perfect for book clubs as there’s so much to discuss. Andrew Kauffman’s The Tiny Wife is intriguing and the many stories will have you thinking way after you’ve finished it. A brilliant message, perfect for this time of year!
Best Books 2015
I read a lot of books in 2015, close to 200. Below are my top ten reads of the year they weren’t all published this year but that’s not something I’m worried about.
The order is mostly random just as it came to me but the first three were my absolute and equal favourites.
Rock Hard Nalini Singh. I read this pre rugby World Cup and Sonny Bill William’s team doing so well. He’s the inspiration for a scene from TRex’s past. I’ve read it four times now and I still smile at the chapter headings – it’s fun you can’t fake! As for what a mouse nearly did with a stapler…
Blood Dark Lindsay Pryor. Sometimes the waiting is too much and the book doesn’t live up to it. But mostly great authors don’t let their fans down. And just occasionally, right before your eyes an author goes from great to sublime genius. This book nearly killed me. What on earth will happen in book 6? And on top of it all the author is the most charming sweet girl. My god what goes on in her head?!
Valentine Heather Grothaus. Oh my! There are plenty of book boyfriends out there but Valentine has kind of ruined it for me. He was so good I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s just say he shops, end of!
Welcome to Wherever You Are John Marrs. The follow up to his fantastic debut was a corker. Not for the faint hearted though. The story lines are intricate with complex multi layered characters so it’s not a fun read but it’s worth it. I’m still thinking about how the story might end for one of the characters. John is another author who knows how to engage with his audience. Meeting him in the flesh was a real fan girl moment!
Everrealm JD Wright. Wow! What an amazing world and written with such colour and texture. This should be a film. The camera would love it! I’ve not been able to give the follow up it deserves so that needs to happen in 2016.
You, Me and Other People Fionnuala Kearney. I loved the multi layered and interesting characters and situations I could relate to. It had the ‘what if’ factor. Thought provoking reading. I should also say I loved Tamar Cohen’s The Broken for the same reasons so it was hard to choose.
The Red Tent Anita Diamant. This was my favourite bookclub read of the year. Thank you my happy cows for choosing it. Such an interesting period of history and so well researched and surprising. Fantastic for reading groups and anyone interested in the history of women. Wonderfully rich and it made me feel I had some special insight! It just beat out The Perfume Collector which was another great book club choice.
The Night Circus Erin Morgenstern. I read this at New Year – a year later I still marvel at the inticate care that went into creating it. This book has my two favourite non human characters ever – a clock and a circus. I feel like I’m a five year old talking about Disney – enough said.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman. Another great bookclub read. I loved how quotable it is. Some of his thoughts on books and childhood will stay with me forever even if the story left me floundering on occasion.
The Faerie Tree Jane Cable. This was a simple, gentle and yet disturbing read looking at two of life’s big issues – depression and grief. It will talk to everyone individually and I totally related to it.
Favourite novella or short story
I’ve read a lot of these this year, more than I thought. My absolute favourite for capturing an era of history usually swamped by other aspects of WWII was An Incidental Spy by Libby Fischer Hellman.
My new favourite genre
This year I discovered sports romance – who knew I would like such stuff?! And especially ice hockey? I’ve never even seen it on TV. But wow! Sawyer Bennett and Kate Willoughby set the standard. Sawyer’s Alex was my first foray into the genre and she had me hooked. Kate’s passion and quirky stories with her Barracudas have certainly kept me going!