Thursday, 31 December 2015

Authors' Top Reads of 2015 - Part 3

It's Day THREE of the special feature that Liz Barnsley (Liz Loves Books) and I have had GREAT fun putting together – with the third group of authors telling us THEIR top reads of 2015.

Today, I have Linwood Barclay, Erica James, Elizabeth Haynes, Claire Fuller, Mike Carey, Helen Cadbury, Helen Smith, Angela Marsons, Marnie Riches, Melissa Bailey, Su Bristow and Graeme Cameron telling us their ONE top pick for a book they read in 2015.

Pop over to Liz’s place ( to see who SHE has talking about their books of the year!

Linwood Barclay, author of Broken Promise, published by Orion in September 2015.

“Meanwhile There are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald (edited and with an introduction by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan; Arcade Publishing). No writer had a greater impact on me in my teens and twenties than Lew Archer creator Ross Macdonald (Kenneth Millar in real life). The friendship that grows between Welty and him is fascinating, heartbreaking, and a must for fans of either author looking for greater insight into what made each of them tick.”

Book blurb
In 1970, Ross Macdonald wrote a letter to Eudora Welty, beginning a thirteen-year correspondence between fellow writers and kindred spirits. Though separated by background, geography, genre, and his marriage, the two authors shared their lives in witty, wry, tender, and at times profoundly romantic letters, each drawing on the other for inspiration, comfort, and strength. They brought their literary talents to bear on a wide range of topics, discussing each others' publications, the process of translating life into fiction, the nature of the writer's block each encountered, books they were reading, and friends and colleagues they cherished. They also discussed the world around them, the Vietnam War, the Nixon, Carter, and Reagan presidencies, and the environmental threats facing the nation. The letters reveal the impact each had on the other's work, and they show the personal support Welty provided when Alzheimer's destroyed Macdonald's ability to communicate and write. The editors of this collection, who are the definitive biographers of these two literary figures, have provided extensive commentary and an introduction. They also include Welty's story fragment "Henry," which addresses Macdonald's disease. With its mixture of correspondence and narrative, Meanwhile There Are Letters provides a singular reading experience: a prose portrait of two remarkable artists and one unforgettable relationship.

Click here to purchase Meanwhile There are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald, published by Arcade Publishing in July 2015.

Follow Linwood on Twitter (@linwood_barclay) and find out more about his novels here.  If you’d like to try his latest novel, click here.

Erica James, author of The Dandelion Years, published by Orion in June 2015

“E.F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia. If you like your characters maliciously funny and wonderfully eccentric, then this is the book for you. I’m only sorry I didn’t discover this gem of a comic novel years ago.”

Book blurb
Subtly brilliant comedy of social rivalry between the wars. Emmeline Lucas (known universally to her friends as Lucia) is an arch-snob of the highest order. In Miss Elizabeth Mapp of Mallards Lucia meets her match. Ostensibly the most civil and genteel of society ladies, there is no plan too devious, no plot too cunning, no depths to which they would not sink, in order to win the battle for social supremacy. Using as their deadly weapons garden parties, bridge evenings and charming teas, the two combatants strive to outcharm each other - and the whole of Tilling society - as they vie for the position of doyenne of the town.

Click here to purchase Mapp and Lucia, published by Penguin Modern Classics in July 2004.

Follow Erica on Twitter (@TheEricaJames) and find out more about her novels here.  If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Elizabeth Haynes, author of Behind Closed Doors, published by Sphere in January 2015

“What She Left by T R Richmond. The story of how Alice Salmon met her death and what led up to it is told in an exceptionally clever, intriguing way - this one is thrilling, don't miss it!”

Book blurb
Alice Salmon
young, smart, ambitious -
with her whole life ahead of her.
Until the night she mysteriously drowns.
Nobody knows how or why.
But Alice left a few clues:
her diary, texts, emails, and presence on social media
Alice is gone but fragments of the life she led remain - and in them might lie the answer to what really happened to her - if only someone can piece it all together before it vanishes for ever . . .

Click here to purchase What She Left, published by Penguin in October 2015.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter (@Elizhaynes) and find out more about her novels here. If you'd like to try her latest novel, click here.

Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days, published in paperback by Fig Tree (Penguin) on 31st December 2015

“One book that only narrowly missed my top 10 books of this year is Catriona Ward's debut, Rawblood. It's a gothic ghost story set on Dartmoor. It's chilling and tragic and the perfect book to read this winter.”

Book blurb
She comes in the night.
She looks into your eyes.
One by one, she has taken us all.
For generations they have died young.
Now Iris and her father are the last of the Villarca line.
Their disease confines them to their lonely mansion on Dartmoor; their disease means they must die alone.
But Iris breaks her promise to hide from the world. She dares to fall in love.
And only then do they understand the true horror of the Villarca curse.

Click here to purchase Rawblood, published by W&N in September 2015.

Follow Claire on Twitter (@ClaireFuller2) and find out more about her novels here.  If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Mike Carey, author of The Girl With All The Gifts, published by Orbit in June 2014

“The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge - a really haunting YA fantasy with something important to say about the practice of science. One of the best protagonists I've met in recent years.”

Book blurb
Faith's father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father's murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

Click here to purchase The Lie Tree, published by Macmillan Children's Books in May 2015.

Follow Mike on Twitter (@michaelcarey191).  If you’d like to try his latest novel, click here.

Helen Cadbury, author of Bones in the Nest (Sean Denton series), published by Allison & Busby in July 2015

"A Song For Issy Bradley by Carys Bray. It's the story of a Mormon family torn apart by the death of their youngest child. Told through different family members, each of whom is struggling with grief and some of whom are beginning to question their faith. it is a fascinating incite into a particular way of life but also reflects many universal truths about family dynamics. Bray's writing manages a combination of heart-breaking perfection combined with gentle humour."

Book blurb
Meet the Bradleys.

In lots of ways, they’re a normal family:
Zippy is sixteen and in love for the first time; Al is thirteen and dreams of playing for Liverpool.

And in some ways, they’re a bit different:
Seven-year-old Jacob believes in miracles. So does his dad.

But these days their mum doesn’t believe in anything, not even getting out of bed.

How does life go on, now that Issy is gone?

Click here to purchase A Song for Issy Bradley, published by Windmill Books in May 2015.

Follow Helen on Twitter (@helencadbury) and find out more about her novels here If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Helen Smith, author of the Beyond Belief (Emily Castle mystery), published by Thomas & Mercer in January 2014.

“The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber.  The Book of Strange New Things is a moving book about loss. An English missionary travels to a faraway planet that has been settled by people from earth. His job is to keep the indigenous population happy by talking to them about the Bible. His separation from his wife, who is still on earth, leads to a gradual estrangement. It’s an extraordinary book - one of the best I’ve read in a long time. Partway through reading it, I realised the author’s wife was dying as he wrote it, which gave it an added, almost unbearable poignancy.”

Book blurb
Peter Leigh is a missionary called to go on the journey of a lifetime. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Bea, Peter sets out on a quest to take the word of God to the farthest corners of the galaxy. His mission will challenge everything - his faith, his endurance and the love that can hold two people together, even when they are worlds apart.

Click here to purchase The Book of Strange New Things, published by Canongate Books in August 2015.

Follow Helen on Twitter (@emperorsclothes) and find out more about her novels here If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Angela Marsons, author of Lost Girls, published by Bookouture in November 2015.

“A Sister's Promise by Renita D'Silva. This was a step outside my usual genre of crime but it was a beautiful journey travelling between India and England that slowly unveiled the painful and poignant journey of two very special sisters. When I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it and was always eager to get lost in the story again. This is a book I would like to read for the first time over and over again.”

Book blurb
Two sisters. Bound by blood. Torn apart by love.
My sister – the glue that held our family together and the gatekeeper to the memories of our shared childhood.
The girl I made a pact with – to protect each other for life.
The woman who destroyed my family, my future.
And the only one who can save my daughter.

Click here to purchase A Sister's Promise, published by Bookouture in July 2015.

Follow Angela on Twitter (@WriteAngie) and find out more about her novels here If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Marnie Riches, author of The Girl Who Broke the Rules, published by Maze (Avon) in August 2015

"Paul Hardisty's The Abrupt Physics of Dying. This an international thriller that will have you gripped from the outset. Hardisty evokes the harsh Yemen landscape so well that I could taste the desert sand in my mouth and feel the sweat rolling down my back, as Claymore Straker tries to fight his way through layer upon layer of governmental bureaucracy and corporate corruption. If you like your thrillers complex and a bit different, this is for you."

Book blurb
Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions. As Clay scrambles to keep his friend alive, he meets Rania, a troubled journalist. Together, they try to uncover the truth about Al Urush. But nothing in this ancient, unforgiving place is as it seems. Accused of a murder he did not commit, put on the CIA’s most-wanted list, Clay must come to terms with his past and confront the powerful forces that want him dead.

Click here to purchase The Abrupt Physics of Dying, published by Orenda Books in December 2014.

Follow Marnie on Twitter (@Marnie_Riches) and find out more about her novels here If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Melissa Bailey, author of Beyond the Sea, published by Arrow in July 2015

“A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara follows the lives of four men living in New York City and at its core is a story about friendship - its power and its limits. It is both a harrowing tale of abuse and self-harm and an inspiring one of love and kindness. A beautifully written, heart breaker of a novel. Unforgettable.”

Book blurb
When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he'll not only be unable to overcome - but that will define his life forever.

Click here to purchase A Little Life, published by Doubleday Books in March 2015 (paperback in March 2016).

Follow Melissa on Twitter (@mbaileywrites) and find out more about her novels here If you’d like to try her latest novel, click here.

Su Bristow’s debut novel Sealskin will be published by Orenda Books in 2016

“Terry Pratchett’s (poignantly unfinished) last novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. ‘I could make little miracles for ordinary people’, says Granny Weatherwax.  I want that on my epitaph.”

Book blurb

Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.

This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.

There will be a reckoning . . .

Click here to purchase The Shepherd's Crown, published by Doubleday Children's in August 2015.

Follow Su on Twitter (@SuBristow) and find out more about Su here 

Graeme Cameron, author of Normal, published by Mira Books in April 2015

"Much has been made of the astonishing central twist that turns Clare Mackintosh's beautifully written and (deservedly) phenomenally successful debut thriller on its head, but to recommend it in those terms is to sell it hopelessly short. At its core lies a truly harrowing tale of loss - loss of family, of safety, of hope, and ultimately of identity - told by one of the most casually frightening narrators you could hope never to encounter. As a thriller it stands on its own merit (give or take an eyebrow-raising final twist), but as an exploration of the psychology and effects of control and abuse, it's distressingly brilliant and an absolute must-read."

Book blurb
A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.
Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

Click here to purchase I Let You Go, published by Sphere in May 2015.

Follow Graeme on Twitter (@GNCameron) and find out more about his novels here. If you'd like to try his novel, click here.

Remember to pop by Liz Barnsley's blog (http://lizlovesbooks.comto find some more Authors' Top Reads of 2015.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these amazing book suggestions by some of our favourite authors. 

And that, as they say is THAT. What a FANTASTIC year for reading this has been, and 2016 is shaping up to be even better, if that is possible!

Watch this space for another feature soon to give you the heads up on some tales to watch out for in 2016. 

Liz and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a VERY Happy New Year!

We’ll both be back in 2016 with more book reviews, author interviews and author guest posts.