Monday, 12 December 2016

Top Ten Books of 2016...


Hi all,

I want to say thank you to all who have read my reviews this year. Time constraints mean that I am not able to blog as much as I would like, this makes me frustrated because I love reading/blogging way more than working! 2016 however has been an amazing year for books and I have a sneaky suspicion that next year is going to be even better.

I have read some amazing books this year and I am about to give you my top ten out of those that I read this year. I just want to thank my fellow bloggers, publishers and authors who I have interacted with in whatever capacity this year. You are all amazing.

Right I am going to do the other nine in no particular order but there is one that is my book of the year. I read to find books as emotive as this, written with as much passion, grace and poise as this author writes. My book of the year is The Wacky Man by Lyn G. Farrell. This book is astonishing, bold and brave and it has captured a piece of my heart. Below are some of my thoughts from the time I read it:


Published by Legend Press on 2nd May 2016. Available in paperback and e book.

My new shrink asks me, 'What things do you remember about being very young?' It's like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone... 

Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised. 

As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?

 I am going to go out on a limb here, and I don't often say this, it is one of the most incredulous, brilliant and stupendous pieces of writing I have EVER read.

This story is about the lives of a family where all is not well, most live in fear. Happiness is snatched in the smallest of glimpses, before The Wacky Man comes around. Happiness is not an option with him around. Amanda and her two brothers are not children who are allowed to grow up and experience the best things of childhood, they are scared, they are abused and they are vulnerable. 

The emotions danced around on the page, every emotion that the characters portrayed provoked a strong reaction in me. This story made me cry, but it also made me so bloody angry. Angry, at the father, angry at the way the children were treated and angry at the mother for not intervening more.

I don't know with what if any experience that the author writes this story. Her background in Psychology might have helped but I don't know. She managed to get into every one of the characters heads entirely and lay them out on the page bringing a stark, harsh reality to the story they portrayed.

Amanda is heart breaking, this poor damaged girl. The start she had to life was unfair and unjust and it shows as the book progresses the lasting damage that can occur. My heart ached for her throughout. No one to understand her and nobody that seemingly particularly cared. I think that she felt alone, unloved and abandoned. 

This book is absolutely astonishing, I am pleased to have read it. There are some times when I read a book that I class as important. A story that ought to be told and ought to be read. A story with a message and this is one of those.

Important, emotionally charged, unflinching in its scope and a masterpiece of human emotion and a portrayal of the worst of behaviours. It would take flying unicorns to park up outside for this not to be on my books of the year list.

Read it for yourselves, you'll see...

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Here are the other nine in no particular order, all wonderful and memorable in their own way, I have given the description and the link to my review. 

Every secret has consequences.
Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.
Spring 2016
A year after Lena's release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.
Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth - before there's another death . . .

What I said:
" It would seem to me that Sarah Ward is not afraid to tackle important issues and whilst a work of fiction, some important social problems. They are also tackled with care and sensitivity despite the brutality of the story. 

Excellent and assured, I know I am in safe hands when I pick up one of this authors books, from the gripping first chapter until the final closing sentence and I can't wait for the third. "
A Deadly Thaw was published by Faber & Faber and you can see my full review here.

In the woods outside the town of Willnot, the remains of several people have been discovered, unnerving the community and unsettling Dr Lamar Hale, the town's all-purpose general practitioner, surgeon and town conscience. 

At the same time, Bobby Lowndes - his military records missing, and followed by the FBI - mysteriously reappears in his hometown, at Hale's door. Over the ensuing months, the daily dramas Hale faces as he tends to his town and to his partner, Richard, collide with the inexplicable vagaries of life in Willnot. And when a gunshot aimed at Lowndes critically wounds Richard, Hale's world is truly upended. 

What I said: 

The writing enclosed within these pages is bold and beautiful. It makes you think and it makes you care. Within such a small space James Sallis has created a glimpse at the location and cast of individual and fantastic characters all as if the reader is looking through a window. The characters all have a uniqueness but no one is more important than another. The writing is sparse and poetic. At times brutal but always honest. "

Willnot was published by No Exit Press and you can read my full review here.


You will be scared. But you won’t know why…

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.

In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin,
 I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.  


What I said: 

"This book is an examination of ones identity, and of desire and longing. It is about things not being quite as they appear set against a backdrop of horror and sadness. 

I was scared witless and it was quite simply brilliant."

I'm Thinking of Ending Things was published by Text Publishing and you can read my full review here.

 A MOTHER’S LOVE CAN BE MURDER

Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. However, there is one thing Lydia desperately yearns for to make her perfect family complete, and nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants…


Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons are on the surface an upstanding couple in the community. He is a judge and she is, although a little reclusive a housewife. They have a son called Laurence, but Lydia has always wanted more children. One fateful night a young girl called Annie is murdered by the Fitzsimons. You would imagine here that I have given something remarkable about the plot away but when you consider the opening sentence which is fantastic, it becomes clear that I haven't.

"My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it".

What I said: 

This book has left me with much to think about. There are thoughts of what happens when the events of our childhoods have repercussions in adulthood and it is also a story of a Mothers love and how far someone is prepared to go to protect the ones they love. It is also a story of truth and lies, cat and mouse and a story of control. 

Addictive reading, I would definitely recommend it. "

Lying in Wait was published by Penguin and you can read my full review here.

If war is madness, how can love survive?
Yugoslavia, summer 1979. A new village. A new life. But eight-year-old Miro knows the real reason why his family moved from the inland city of Knin to the sunkissed village of Ljeta on the Dalmatian Coast, a tragedy he tries desperately to forget.
The Ljeta years are happy ones, though, and when he marries his childhood sweetheart, and they have a baby daughter, it seems as though life is perfect. However, storm clouds are gathering above Yugoslavia.
War breaks out, and one split-second decision destroys the life Miro has managed to build. Driven by anger and grief, he flees to Dubrovnik, plunging himself into the hard-bitten world of international war reporters.
There begins a journey that will take him ever deeper into danger: from Dubrovnik, to Sarajevo, to the worst atrocities of war-torn Bosnia, Miro realises that even if he survives, there can be no way back to his earlier life. The war will change him, and everyone he loves, forever.

What I said:

This book is a brutal and realistic portrayal of the savages of war on lives and also those that are left to continue afterwards. War changes everybody. I felt incredibly emotional reading this book, the author did such a fantastic job of describing Croatia, and then also did an accurate job of describing how whole villages were destroyed when the fighting starting. "

The People We Were Before was Published by Quercus and you can read my full review here.


A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own 

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

What I said:

I would say that ultimately this book is an exploration of families, identity, betrayal, and what happens to us when the root of everything we know gets turned upside down.

If you like thrilling, shocking and exciting books written with a great skill and beautiful prose then this author and this book are for you. You can tell with every word, sentence and page that writing is her craft."

In Her Wake was Published by Orenda and you can see my full review here.

1977: A killer is released from prison and returns home to a decaying, deserted boarding house choked with weeds and foreboding. 

Memories of strange rituals, gruesome secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon. 

She is eager to restart her life, but first she must confront the ghosts of her macabre family history and her own shocking crime. Guilt, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web of truth and lies. All is ambiguous. Of only one thing is she certain... 

Stella Moon killed her own mother.

What I said:

The author's experience in Psychology has made this book the triumph that it is, an exploration of memory and of truth and reality. A melee of past and present,  I have found few other books as compelling this year. It made me sad in places and it make me feel angry and I think that it is a great skill of writing to be able to provoke reactions and thought. "

The Confession of Stella Moon was Published by Contraband and you can read my full review here.

When Ben and Juliette's young daughter dies in a tragic accident on a school trip, they begin searching for answers. But will they ever know the truth? What was the role of the teacher on the trip - and are the rumours about his past true? As Ben and Juliette search for the truth and the pressure rises, their own secrets and motivations are revealed.... An Honest Deceit is an intelligent and gripping contemporary psychological thriller that questions not just the motives of others, but the real reasons for discovering the truth.

What I said:

This book is spectacular. It burns away with a quiet fury, that doesn't die down until the final page turns. Clever, creative, complex and unforgettable it gets under your skin and itches away. Guy Mankowski is a very talented writer, who has a real skill for the portrayal of the best and worst traits of humanity. "

An Honest Deceit was Published by Urbane Publications and you can read my full review here.

A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.

On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she's leaving, he doesn't come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she's befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor's foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband's secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

Exquisitely written and deeply touching, The Mountain in My Shoe is both a gripping psychological thriller and a powerful and emotive examination of the meaning of family ... and just how far we're willing to go for the people we love.

What I said:

This is a story of hope and fixing what is cracked but never broken, it is about removing the pebble from ones shoes and it is about not being defined by one portion of your life....Louise Beech writes with such a grace and elegance. There is a real empathy between those lines, but also an urgency that demands the story to be read and a spark that keeps the story real. It is hard not to be enchanted by her work."

The Mountain In My Shoe was Published by Orenda and you can read my full review here.

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So that is it from me for the moment, I hope you get a chance to read some of the books listed here if you haven't already. 


6 comments:

  1. Great choices! I have read a few of those too...and might be adding some to my TBR! *whistles innocently as I head to amazon*

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    1. Excellent, still honing my book pusher skills x

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, I really liked your list too.

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