It’s been a wonderful reading year and I would like to thank the authors and publishers for all the amazing books i read in 2018. I would also like to thank the amazingly tour organisers who brought reading pleasure into my life.
I hope you enjoy my end of year favourites list and I look forward to sharing more fabulous books with you in 2019.
Top Ten Fiction reads of 2018
1 The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech
Be careful what you wish for…
Long ago, Andrew made a childhood wish, and kept it in a silver box. When it finally comes true, he wishes he hadn’t…
Long ago, Ben made a promise and he had a dream: to travel to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally makes it, it isn’t for the reasons he imagined…
Ben and Andrew keep meeting in unexpected places, and the intense relationship that develops seems to be guided by fate. Or is it?
What if the very thing that draws them together is tainted by past secrets that threaten everything?
A dark, consuming drama that shifts from Zimbabwe to England, and then back into the past, The Lion Tamer Who Lost is also a devastatingly beautiful love story, with a tragic heart…
Why is this my book of 2018? Because it’s beautiful, exquisite, heart breaking and establishes Louise Beech as one of the best writers this country has to offer.
2 Attend by West Camel
When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.
Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, an exquisite history of hidden Deptford and, ultimately, the solution to their crises.
With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.
This is another stunning read from publisher Orenda Books and a close contender for book of the year. Just like The Lion Tamer Who Lost its beauty lies in the exquisite story about friendship, love and the stories that connect us.
3 The Lido by Libby Page
Meet Rosemary, 86, and Kate, 26: dreamers, campaigners, outdoor swimmers…
Rosemary has lived in Brixton all her life, but everything she knows is changing. Only the local lido, where she swims every day, remains a constant reminder of the past and her beloved husband George.
Kate has just moved and feels adrift in a city that is too big for her. She’s on the bottom rung of her career as a local journalist, and is determined to make something of it.
So when the lido is threatened with closure, Kate knows this story could be her chance to shine. But for Rosemary, it could be the end of everything. Together they are determined to make a stand, and to prove that the pool is more than just a place to swim – it is the heart of the community.
The Lido is an uplifting novel about the importance of friendship, the value of community, and how
ordinary people can protect the things they love.
This is a charming story about friendship and community. Uplifting, gentle, a fine debut and a wonderfully generous read.
4 Keeper by Johanna Gustawsson
Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims.
With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?
Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.
Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.
This is a superb and exciting sequel to Block 46. A dark and intelligent read, it’s one of the finest examples of the thriller genre currently available to read.
5 Turning For Home by Barney Norris
‘Isn’t the life of any person made up out of the telling of two tales, after all? People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them. The whole world makes more sense if you remember that everyone has two lives, their real lives and their dreams, both stories only a tape’s breadth apart from each other, impossibly divided, indivisibly close.’
Every year, Robert’s family come together at a rambling old house to celebrate his birthday. Aunts, uncles, distant cousins – it has been a milestone in their lives for decades. But this year Robert doesn’t want to be reminded of what has happened since they last met – and neither, for quite different reasons, does his granddaughter Kate. Neither of them is sure they can face the party. But for both Robert and Kate, it may become the most important gathering of all.
The reason I loved this book is the lyrical use of language which weaves a story about family, connections and the reality that separates our dreams and real lives. It’s a stunning read.
6 Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen
Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary.
With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives – chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.
Delicious, dark and very funny. It’s noir at it’s best.
7 Good Samaritan by Will Carver
Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly listenable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.
One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach.
Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phone book, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.
But a seemingly harmless late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into daytime meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker when Seth brings Hadley home…. And someone is watching….
This wonderful novel not only made me wonder why my mother spends so much time selecting her bleach, it left me turning the pages because it is such a thrilling read.
8 Mostyn Thomas and The Big Rave by Richard Williams
When Mostyn, an ageing Pembrokeshire farmer on the brink of bankruptcy, runs into Jethro, a young raver, his fortunes appear to take a positive turn. The pair secretly mobilise the locals of the village pub to help put on the greatest money-spinning event in the history of Little Emlyn: Lewistock. The tension ramps up as the clock ticks down to the August bank holiday rave and young revellers begin to pour in from all corners of the county. But things do not go to plan; moneylenders, drug dealers, the county council and the bank all set a collision course with Mostyn and Jethro. It’s not clear who will get out alive…
This is an incredibly moving, funny and exciting read, that left me sad that the story had to end.
9 Overkill by Vanda Simon
When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.
A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.
This book is simply unputdownable, with a exciting story, fabulous characters and I’m excited to read the upcoming sequel.
10 The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne’s controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis – a curious, obsessive boy – she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge.
On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter’s vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith.
As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both.
The Essex Serpent is a celebration of love, and the many different shapes it can take.
Such a beautiful read. The language is stunning and the story wraps itself around your very reading soul.
Top Ten Non Fiction Reads
1 This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay
Funny, moving and a warning to all of us of how much we stand to lose if we don’t act to protect the NHS and it’s staff.
2 The Luckiest Thirteen by Brian Lavery
Social history writing at it’s very best.
3 Reading Allowed – True Stories and Curious Incidents From A Provincial Library by Chris Palling.
Funny, moving, a tribute to the importance of libraries and why their closing is such a tragedy.
4 The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller
Such a wonderfully absorbing read.
5 Somebody I Used To Know by Wendy Mitchell
Powerful, uplifting and a must read book.
6. The Princess Diaries – A Sort of Memoir by Carrie Fisher
When I was young, Princess Leia became my Princess and so I had to read this book. Funny, touching and honest.
7 I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzal with Christopher Lamb
This was an incredibly moving and powerful read about such an incredible young lady.
8 Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh
LGBT non fiction read and I loved it. The story is powerful and very moving.
9 One Hundred Favourite Poems by Classic FM Listeners
Truly a lovely and fun read.
10 The Light In The Dark by Horatio Clare
Depression can affect us all. Here the author opens up his experience for us and it’s both moving and inspiring.
Favourite children’s and YA reads
1 Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love
The sweetest and most generous story of celebrating difference that I’ve ever read. Truly a book both adults and children should read.
2 Go To Sleep by Marion Adams
I know a little girl that used to say she had forgotten how to go to sleep and so I passed this to her and we loved it.
3 Sarah’s Shadow by Nick Jones
Bullying is wrong, it hurts and ruins lives. This powerful book for younger readers tells them why and how to overcome it.
4 The Lights of Time by Paul Ian Cross
One for older children, this tale is an exciting fantasy story, that made me hope the author soon published more YA books.
5 The Seven Sisters by Sibel Beadle
6 Sleepless in Stonehenge by Sibel Beadle
7 The Golden Bunny of The Lake District by Sibel Beadle
8. Nessie’s Husband by Sibel Beadle
All the books in this series encourage the younger reader to travel and to believe that adventures can be made through reading. They charming and very enjoyable.
9 Star Jumpers by Zoe Baxter.
Another exciting children’s book that I really enjoyed reading in 2018.
10 Hemlock Jones and The Angel of Death by Justin Carroll
This was a fun, quirky read that I really enjoyed. I’m really hoping there will be more in the series.
Well those were my favourite reads of 2018! I’m looking forward to more fabulous reads in 2019.
Thank you everyone for your support. It really meant the world 💕