Monday, 16 December 2019

#BookLove2019 on Off-the-Shelf Books

I haven't had the chance to make #BookLove2019 banners this year - though there's still time! 

In the meantime, here are some of the books I've been shouting about in 2019 (in the order I read them, though I do have my favourites, obviously). These are books that have wowed me with their beautiful writing, compelling or fast-paced plots, intriguing characters and/or great sense of place.

I haven't read vast numbers of books this year. In case you haven't seen on social media or read some of my posts, I've been finishing off my own book, The Redeemer, and I'm currently trying to find it the right home. I was first runner up in the DHH Literary Agency's New Voices Award. I have also been proofreading fiction and increasing my writing/editing workload. I'm hoping to catch up on a few more of my 'must reads' over the festive season. I also need to catch up on reviews, as there are several that I still need to write up.

Anyway, here are my top reads of the year (I haven't counted them but I know there are a lot more than 10 - oops!).

Changeling by Matt Wesolowski

This first one is cheating a little as I actually read it at the end of 2018, but it wasn't published in paperback until 2019 so I saved it for this year's Book Love post. And I certainly can't leave it out!

'...gripping writing, authentic dialogue, heart-pounding tension and a final twist that I seriously didn't see coming! Yes, as you may have guessed, I loved Changeling.'

Read my full review here.

The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl

It's not often that crime novels prompt me to do more research, and this book certainly took me on a journey of discovery. You can read about that here.

'So much tension bubbles away under the surface. But this is far more than just a thriller and a murder mystery ... it's a heartbreaking read.'

Read my full review here.

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

I love this series - Sam Shepherd is a fabulous protagonist.

'This gripping series is a definite 'must read' for me - and anyone else who loves entertaining, humorous crime fiction with plenty of heart.'

Read my full review here.

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

I love Fiona's books and now can't wait to read her next one, When I Was Ten. She's an expert in creepy crime fiction!

'Fiona Cummins writes beautiful prose with some gruesome descriptions, and certainly manages to get right inside the minds of all of her characters - good or bad!'

Read my full review here.

My Name is Anna by Lizzy Barber

I couldn't put this book down, reading it into the early hours!

'This book is more than just 'another psychological thriller'. It's a dark, intense and well-plotted exploration of identity, childhood abduction, memories and a mother's love.'

Read my full review here.

Turbulent Wake by Paul Hardisty

The writing in this is stunning and the book is compelling, educating me as well as entertaining me.

'I could read this book forever and it's likely to become one of my all-time Orenda favourites.'

Read my full review here.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

For me, it's often all about the writing - and this book's prose is beautiful.

'This is a touch, challenging read - brutal, unsettling, raw and shocking yet also filled with vivid beauty and hope ... I wanted to turn away yet couldn't as the writing was too compelling, too addictive and too powerful.'

Read my full review here.

Violet by SJI Holliday

SJI (Susi) Holliday is an expert plotter - and this book certainly showcases her talent.

'The plot is creepy, chilling and clever - and very dark and very twisted... SJI Holliday has written two believable and deeply flawed unreliable narrators.'

Read my full review here.

Ruin Beach by Kate Rhodes

Kate Rhodes is a favourite writer of mine, with her beautiful poetic prose that I often read out loud.

'...yet another suspense-filled crime novel from Kate Rhodes with a fabulous sense of place.'

Read my full review here.

The Secretary by Renee Knight

A leading character that you may love to hate - or hate to love.

'I struggle with a lot of psychological thrillers at the moment, but The Secretary had me hooked all the way through.'

Read my full review here.

A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan

Yet another book I couldn't put down! This whole book is a rollercoaster ride - and I felt as though I was part of it!

'I read this book so quickly - I barely took a breath and could feel my heart pounding throughout. I had to force myself to slow down.'

Read my full review here.

The Lost Ones by Anita Frank

I haven't yet written a review of The Lost Ones - it's on my list. This book swept me away to spooky 1917 England and wowed me!

I tweeted: 'A haunting, emotional, ghostly & tragic mystery filled with family secrets.'

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

I used the word 'brilliant' a few times in my review...

'The writing is staccato - quick, fast-paced and compelling - drawing the reader in. As a few things slotted into place, I realised the book was so clever too - like nothing I've ever read before. The underlying premise is unique and ... yep... brilliant.'

Read my full review here.

Six books that are out next year:

Three Hours by Rosamund Lipton (9 January 2020)

This book ... it's incredible.

'Three Hours was a traumatic reading experience in many ways - it challenged me, thrilled me, stunned me and upset me - but I am so glad that I immersed myself within its pages.'

Read my full review here.

The Other People by C.J. Tudor (23 January 2020)

No review written yet. But I tweeted: '...pretty much a one-sitting read. A twisty & compelling crime thriller with supernatural/horror undertones.'

Haven't They Grown by Sophie Hannah (23 January 2020)

No review written yet. But I tweeted: 'It's brilliant - very twisty and not what I expected at all!'

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (31 March 2020)

No review written yet. But I tweeted: 'Traumatic, dark, thought-provoking ... I had to put it down several times yet each time felt compelled to pick it up again.'

These, and several other books I've read that aren't yet published, could well be in next year's list! 

For full transparency, I'm disclosing that I have been proofreading for Orenda Books this year, BUT I never recommend books if I don't truly love them. If you know me well, you'll know that I'm honest about the books I read and only tweet about, and review, the ones I have genuinely enjoyed. Any Orenda books featured in this list really did wow me for various reasons.

In 2020, I'm looking forward to reading some more fantastic books and catching up on some of the books I didn't manage to get to this year. I'll be a book blog partner of Jewish Book Week 2020, so look out for some of those posts.

Have a great Christmas and New Year!

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