Tuesday, 19 January 2021

** COVER REVEAL ** #WhoIsIt @HelgaFlatland #OneLastTime @OrendaBooks Trsl by @rosie_hedger ** COVER REVEAL **

 


I am so THRILLED to share this cover reveal with you today! 


One Last Time 

by

Helga Flatland

translated by Rosie Hedger

Published by Orenda Books

E Book : April 2021

Paperback : June 2021



Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.

 

 

Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her – and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia – it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

 

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heartwarming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

 

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all – and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.





Helga Flatland ( born 16 September 1984) is a Norwegian novelist and
children’s writer. 

She was born in Notodden and grew up in Flatdal.
She made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Bli hvis du kan. Reis hvis du må, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ debutantpris .

The novel was the first in a trilogy, and was followed by Alle vil hjem. Ingen vil tilbake (2012) and Det finnes ingen helhet (2013). 
In 2015 she published the novel Vingebelastning, as well as the children’s book Eline får besøk. 

In 2015 Flatland was awarded the Amalie Skram Prize and Mads Wiel Nygaard’s Endowment.








 


 



Monday, 18 January 2021

Girl A by Abigail Dean @AbigailSDean #GirlA @flisssity @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction #BookReview

 


‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.




Girl A by Abigail Dean is published on 21 January 2021 by Harper Collins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 


Crikey! This one is dark. It so gripping, yet horrific at the same time. The reader can feel a little voyeuristic at times, almost at though you are deep into something that you really shouldn't be part of.

Lex is 'Girl A', given that name by the authorities and the media after she escaped from her parents. Lex and her six siblings lived in what has become known as the 'House of Horrors'. They lived with their parents, and for most of us, that means they were safe. However, these children were far from safe. As their father's mental health deteriorated and he experienced more disappointment in life, he restricted his children's freedoms. Just before Lex escaped, the surviving children were chained to their beds, skeletal and dirty and almost beyond hope. 

The author writes sparingly. Lex is a difficult character to warm to. Of course, the reader will empathise with her situation, and be joyful that she managed to escape, but her detachment and often cold emotions make her difficult to understand. This is not a criticism. I loved how Lex was created, I adored the unpredictability of her actions, and her thoughts, she's complex and fascinating and drives the story so well. 

Lex's mother has died in prison and she made Lex in charge of her estate; just the derelict house of their childhood nightmares that has laid empty for years, and a cash lump sum. Lex knows what she wants to do with it but has to ensure that her remaining siblings are in agreement.  
The author then cleverly introduces the adult children, with flash backs to their beginnings.  This is a clever way to enable the reader to learn more about what happened to them individually, and how that treatment has impacted upon their adult lives. 

This is a powerful debut from an author who is incredibly talented. There's such a feeling of unease and distrust of the narration throughout that adds incredible depth to this story.  Lex and her siblings haunted me throughout the reading of this novel. It's a fine mix of psychological observation and darkest of family noir. 

Highly recommended by me. 



Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated
from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel, The Conspiracies.


Girl A sold in the UK after a 9-way auction, and also sold in auction in the US. The novel has since been acquired in 23 other territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony.

Abigail has always loved reading, writing, and talking about books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AbigailSDean.








Thursday, 14 January 2021

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse @SarahVPearse BLOG TOUR @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #TheSanatorium #BookReview


An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she's taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother's recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it's beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous - as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin's unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she's the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they're all in . . .

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is published by Bantam Press; ebook on 4 February and hardback on 18 February 2021, and is available to pre-order now. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours blog tour.



I started to read The Sanatorium quite late one evening and ended up staying awake way past bedtime. It's one of those books that has an opening that just snatches your breath away, making it almost impossible to stop reading. An excellent beginning to what has been a real thrill of a read, sending me on wild-goose chases, suspecting so many people and then being totally thrown by this very clever author. 

The setting is perfect for the plot line. A top-class hotel, recently converted from an old sanatorium, high in the Swiss Alps. Whilst the hotel style is modern and minimal, the developers have incorporated artefacts from the original building into the decor. The constant reminder of the building's original purpose adds a subtle chill to the proceedings. 

Elin Warner and her boyfriend Will have arrived at the hotel to attend the engagement party of her estranged brother Isaac and his financee. Elin is a police detective, currently on extended leave after a traumatic incident at work. She's fragile and a little bit broken. She's not sure that travelling to see her brother after all this time is a good idea. Elin harbours a lot of resentment toward Isaac. Their younger brother Sam died as a child and Elin has always held Isaac responsible. She's also angry that he didn't return home to visit their terminally ill mother before she died, and didn't even attend the funeral.

The hotel makes Elin feel uneasy too. Coupled with the the impending storm and the fear of an avalanche and not being able to leave, she's really jittery.

The discovery of a woman's body; mutilated and wearing a strange and frightening mask doesn't add anything to Elin's mood, and despite the fact that she's not officially working, and is in a different country, she jumps in to help. This will only put her and her family in more danger. 

Pearse has created a tense and chilling story that goes to another level due to the setting. Even without the gruesome murders and the absolute terror of realising that there is a killer amongst the hotel residents, the description of the claustrophobic ice and snow add so much depth. It's the type of book that makes you want to wrap a blanket around yourself as you read.

As Elin gets deeper and deeper into the investigation, it becomes clear that nobody can be trusted. There are so many secrets being hidden. So many things unsaid, and the author creates such a feeling of unease and darkness that my heart began to pound in terror. 

There were times when I wanted to scream at Elin. Her past experiences don't seem to have taught her much and her determination to solve the case, and prevent any more deaths often seem to make her blind to the danger she puts herself in. There's a feeling of self-despair that comes from her, with her own personal history becoming entwined with current events.

The Sanatorium is a vividly described, tense and chilling thriller. I was glued to the pages, frantically turning each one as the complex and cleverly structured story unfolded. 
Anyone who loves a twisty ride of a book will enjoy this one. 


Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters.
She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands.After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel.Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy - remote spaces and abandoned places - so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she'd found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes. 

You can find Sarah on Twitter @SarahVPearse and Instagram @sarahpearseauthor





Tuesday, 12 January 2021

There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F Ross BLOG TOUR @dfr10 @OrendaBooks #TheresOnlyOneDannyGarvey Guest Post - The Origins of the Book

 


There's Only One Danny Garvey by David F Ross is published by Orenda Books - eBook 21 November 2020 and paperback on 21 January 2021.

I've already posted my review of this incredible book, and it was my favourite book of last year.

You can read my review of There's Only One Danny Garvey here.


As part of the Orenda Books Blog Tour today, I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things. David has written a fabulous, and personal piece about where the book came from and what it represents to him.


There's Only One Danny Garvey - The Origins of the Book

David F Ross


I once stayed at The Queens Hotel in Leeds. I was there for an extended period, working on a project in the city. It was during an emotionally dark, difficult time for me and the sense of isolation and disconnectedness I felt was very tangible. It wasn’t busy during midweeks and that only reinforced the remoteness. The hotel began to exemplify a type of mental incarceration.

A few years later, I read The Damned United; David Peace’s masterful novel depicting the 44-day tenure of Brian Clough as manager of Leeds United. During this short time, Clough was based in the same hotel. The book describes how his paranoia and loneliness (and irrationality) grow in the hotel. Insomnia takes hold and the Brian Clough of the novel struggles to understand why the skills and practices that made him a brilliant football player - prior to career-ending injury - and then a mercurial manager, have apparently deserted him.

Having experienced a little of this loss of control myself in the same building, I was fascinated by a complex contradiction; people who can focus on performance in a high level, pressurised contextwhile concealing a personal trauma that could be slowly destroying them. For Danny Garvey, it happens that this context is football, but it could easily have been in any other field.


The Queen's Hotel - Leeds

There’s Only One Danny Garvey is a book set against a footballing backdrop, but it isn’t a book about football. Just as The Damned United is a book that examines, through a stream of conscious narrative, the obsessions of a man being played out in the often-illogical, unforgiving, alpha male-dominated, dressing room environment.

Danny Garvey is a troubled individual. His narrative is increasingly unreliable. He isn’t unique in this; we all want people to see the best side of us, perhaps endeavouring to conceal what we are really like. I’m interested in the space between these two presentations of the self. Human frailty is more interesting as a subject to investigate, than untrammelled achievement. As Danny allows himself to care, to become even more vulnerable, he reveals more of his true self and the extent of the childhood trauma that has shaped him.

The books that I love and cherish most are ones which prompt interests outside of the story and the characters; either related to the cultural context or the physical place that they inhabit. I guess that might be to do with my natural interest in the architecture of a book, and in the universal truth that environment influences behaviour. Books which send me off in different directions to discover new things, especially about myself or preconceptions I’ve harboured about all forms of creative human culture are the ones that stay with me longest. The Damned United had this effect. I may have read it fifteen years ago, but There’s Only One Danny Garvey is the flowering of that seed. 




I’ve always wanted my books to be immersive experiences, whether it’s in the identifications of attitudes that characters have for the times in which they live or simply the reinforcement of those times and how they shape actions; all of it is to cement the authenticity of the story for the reader, and to make them feel that my characters are believable and relatable. Their attitudes to music, or film, or literature is an important facet of this; not perhaps to the extent that Patrick Bateman expands on Genesis, as essays unrelated to the plot of American Psycho, but to similarly reinforce personal values.


There’s Only One Danny Garvey is set 1996. It centres on a talented young footballer returning to his home village – and a host of dark and complicated family secrets – to manage his local Junior team after his playing career has ended abruptly. Danny’s loneliness and isolation are reflected in the music he finds solace in. His taste of music – exemplified in a ‘mix-tape’ composition that forms the book’s playlist - helps set the novel’s tone and its atmosphere. The songs are extremely important to Danny, in helping him to articulate feelings and emotions that he doesn’t quite have the vocabulary for.

In terms of my selection as the writer, three songs are probably more notable as the ones that help form the direction of the story. As the novel opens, an old, disorientated man is playing a melody on a discarded piano at the Barshaw village dump. The eight-year-old Danny hears it and he recalls how it made him cry. I imagined that melody to be very similar to this one:

‘Magellan’ by Felt.



As a young footballer, Danny was regularly referred to as a special talent. The word special was used to describe the positive attributes he had on the field. After returning to Barshaw, he comes into contact – and increasingly identifies – with his brother’s ten-year-old autistic son, Damian. Damian (or Damo) is also referred to as special but in a way that has far more negative connotations.

‘I Couldn’t Bear To Be Special’ by Prefab Sprout begins to sum up Danny’s identification with Damo.



The underlying theme of the book is personal isolation; of a gradual appreciation of the difference between loneliness and aloneness, and of trying to find redemption before it’s too late.

‘Isolation’ by Joy Division, and it’s crushing lines - ‘Mother I tried, please believe me, I’m doing the best that I can. Ashamed of the things I’ve been put through. Ashamed of the person I am.’ - were an influential thread running through the writing of the book.



I hope you enjoy There’s Only One Danny Garvey, whether you care for the beautiful game or not. As Albert Camus famously said: 'Everything I know most surely about morality and duty, I owe to football';. I’m sure Danny Garvey – and Brian Clough – would’ve agreed with him.



David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has lived in Kilmarnock for over 30 years. 


He is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art, an architect by day, and a hilarious social media commentator, author and enabler by night. 
His debut novel The Last Days of Disco was shortlisted for the Authors Club Best First Novel Award, and received exceptional critical acclaim, as did the other two books in the Disco Days Trilogy: The Rise & Fall of the Miraculous Vespas and The Man Who Loved Islands. 
David lives in Ayrshire.

Twitter @dfr10







Monday, 11 January 2021

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves BLOG TOUR @g_c_reeves @AllenAndUnwinUK #VictoriaPark @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours

 


Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona's declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.


With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.


Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves was published in eBook and Hardback by Allen and Unwin on 7 January 2021, the paperback will be published in August. 
My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour .



I have been utterly enchanted by the beautifully written, tender debut novel from Gemma Reeves. I am a huge fan of multiple points of view, and Victoria Park is exactly that. Whilst the reader does begin and end the journey through the park with Wolfie and Mona, we are also introduced to the other residents who live by the park.

Just like most streets in the UK, the houses that look out on to Victoria Park are occupied by a mixed and diverse group, with at times, only their location connecting them. The author cleverly tells each character's tale as she proceeds through the months of the year, so whilst these are individual characters, they do grow and move on through the year. It's fascinating to hear from one resident, and then hear from another; about the same incident, or the same person, and hear the different view and voices of each thing.

There's an air of sadness that runs throughout this novel. Beginning with Mona's obvious health decline, and Wolfie's determination to care for her at home. They were both Kindertransport children and have been together for almost sixty-five years. The strength of their love is palpable, and it is quite heart breaking to read of Mona's decline; although she's a wonderful character in herself; with some fabulous one-liners too.

Sometimes a character seems like they are just passing through, and then later in the book, they will have a whole chapter of their own. The connections can seem loose at first, but the author's incredible skill in knitting together these glimpses into lives is perfectly done, and the reader is often a little shocked when they find out more. 

There are some serious issues uncovered within the novel too. There's a central focus for many of the characters; a terrible acid attack that recently happened in the park. Whilst the reader, or the characters, to be fair, know very little about the reasons behind the attack, it is an incident that has affected them all, in different ways. The author deals with things that affect all walks of life; from the teenager who is struggling with identity, to the effects of infidelity on a family. She doesn't go into enormous detail about these issues, she leaves the reader to ponder and maybe create their own stories to go alongside hers. 

Victoria Park is warm, witty and wise. It's a story of an everyday street, filled with everyday people. It's a story that celebrates our differences, and celebrates the strength of community. This is a moving read with characters that linger. Highly recommended.







Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London

Victoria Park is her debut novel.



Twitter @g_c_reeves











Thursday, 7 January 2021

Without A Trace by Mari Hannah @mariwriter @orionbooks @orion_crime #WithoutATrace @AlainnaGeorgiou #BlogTour #BookReview

 


A FATAL CRASH

A plane on route from London to New York City has disappeared out of the sky. This breaking news dominates every TV channel, every social media platform, and every waking hour of the Metropolitan Police and US Homeland Security.

A PRIVATE TRAGEDY

The love of DCI Kate Daniels' life was on that aircraft, but she has no authority to investigate. This major disaster is outside of her jurisdiction and she's ordered to walk away.

A SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH

But Kate can't let it lie. She has to find out what happened to that plane - even if it means going off book. No one is safe.

And there are some very dangerous people watching her...



Without A Trace by Mari Hannah is published today; 7 January 2021 by Orion. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this Blog Tour.



Without A Trace is book seven in the Kate Daniels series and was voted Capital Crime's 'Crime Book of the Year'. Whilst I have read this author before, I've not read any of the Daniels series before this one. I think I should really have read the previous books first.  Hannah is a skilled author and this is easily read as a stand alone, however, Kate is a character who appears to have many layers. I feel as though I would have appreciated the story far more if I had been more familiar with the characters.

What I enjoyed most about Without A Trace was the emotional impact that the author conveys in her writing. This is far more than 'just a crime story', there's a real edge to this one. The author allows the reader to feel the grief, and guilt and longing that Kate experiences as she battles her personal emotions to solve a major crime.

A plane has gone missing. The plane took off from London, bound for New York and has disappeared, without a trace. Kate Daniels realises with horror that her girlfriend Jo was supposed to be on board. Kate and Jo had a major falling out and did not part on good terms and now Kate realises just what she had in Jo. She is distraught and determined. No matter to her that the investigation is taking place in London, while she is based in the North. Kate and her work partner, DS Hank Gormley are in London within hours and Kate will risk the wrath of her superiors to make sure that the is in the thick of the action. 

The drama builds quite slowly for such a huge investigation, allowing the reader to learn more about Kate and Jo, and their relationship. This soon changes as the intensity increases and the story becomes more and more compelling with every page. This author writes with such authority; her sense of place and her ease with police procedure is excellent and her character building is incredible.

This tense, tight thriller is quite addictive with a fabulous female lead.


Multi-award winning Mari Hannah is the author of the Stone & Oliver crime series, the Ryan &
O'Neil series and the DCI Kate Daniels series.


In July 2010, she won a Northern Writers' Award for Settled Blood. In 2013, she won the Polari First Book Prize for her debut, The Murder Wall. She was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library 2017 as the author of the most enjoyed collection of work in libraries. In 2019, she was awarded DIVA Wordsmith of the Year. In that same year, Mari was Programming Chair of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Festival.

She lives in Northumberland with her partner, a former murder detective.

To find her or see where she's appearing, visit her events page at: marihannah.com or follow her on Twitter @mariwriter.




Thursday, 31 December 2020

My Top Reads of 2020 #AmReading #TopReads2020 #TopBooks2020 #BookBlogger

 




My Top Reads of 2020


2020 .... what a year! I can say nothing that hasn't already been said.

It's been a year like no other in our life times. It's been a year of disruption and sorrow. It's been a year of unease and unrest. I hope I never have to live through another year like it.

I have continued to read. I have continued to shout about books. Luckily, I didn't lose my reading mojo, in fact I probably read more, and I certainly read a wider range of books.


I read around 140 books in total. Most of them have been reviewed on this blog. I rarely finish a book that I'm not enjoying, so picking out my top reads of a year is always incredibly difficult. I have 25 books on my list, there could have been so many more.

As always, my list is split into three sections; I start with some of the 2020 books that I read in 2019. I mentioned them last year and hoped that they would be huge.

The second part is my list of  Top Books of 2020

Finally, I'll give a mention to some 2021 publications that I've read early.
I really think that 2021 is going to be another fabulous book year!

Enjoy! 




2020 books that I predicted would do well

At the end of last year, I'd read these 2020 books pre-publication, and predicted that they would do well. I'm still recommending them, twelve months later.  (click on the title for my full review).


A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone published by Orenda Books on 23 January 

The Home by Sarah Stovell published by Orenda Books on 22 January 

It Started With A Secret by Jill Mansell published by Headline on 23 January 

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson published by Bantam Press on 23 January 

The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper published by Headline on 9 January 




My Top Reads of 2020

My Top Reads of the year are listed in order of reading. The list contains some favourite authors who pop up year after year, and also some debuts. I think it's a great list, with something for everyone. I heartily recommend all of these books.  (click on the title for my full review)

Firewatching by Russ Thomas published on 20 February by Simon & Schuster
Firewatching is smart, it's suspenseful yet considered. The plotting is so intricate and the pace is absolutely perfect.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech published on 16 February by Orenda Books
There's a tenderness to this author's writing that brings a lump to the throat, and the final scenes are heart-stopping in their beauty.

The River Home by Hannah Richell published on 19 March by Orion
The writing is captivating, the sense of place is incredible and the story itself is intricate and perfectly woven. The River Home is beautifully and insightfully written, this probably one of the most beautiful books that I will read this year.

Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan published 2 April by Simon & Schuster
It is so carefully crafted, with multiple threads and so many shocks revealed. It is a story that haunts the reader as more is revealed. I was totally gripped throughout.

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent published 26 March by Penguin Ireland 
I was left breathless by this novel and I have so much respect for an author who can create characters who evoke so many feelings in a reader.
Sublime and really just brilliant.  Highly recommended

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman published 7 May by Allen & Unwin
A novel that looks at perception and belief. A story that is so powerfully moving, from an author who really is at the top of her game.  Highly recommended.

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith published 9 July by Orenda Books
This novel is shockingly brilliant, and I devoured it. It is thought provoking yet written with such an exquisite touch and is a devastating yet eye-opening story of how humanity and science merge.

Watch Him Die by Craig Robertson published 11 June by Simon & Schuster
Watch Him Die is absolutely absorbing. The sense of place, of LA and of Glasgow is perfect. It's unsettling yet compelling. Totally unputdownable.  Highly recommended by me


The Curator by MW Craven published on 4 June by Constable
Masterful and quite brilliant, this is an extraordinary story. It is an intelligent and  exhilarating read. Craven has done it again. Another pitch perfect addition to this top class series. Now I need the next one please.

The Shadow Friend by Alex North published 9 July by Michael Joseph
This is an ambitious story that is told incredibly well. It is dark, creepy and at times, a little bit terrifying. I found it really difficult to put down, and impossible to forget.

Quiet Acts of Violence by Cath Staincliffe published 2 July by Constable
This is a powerful story, excellently written with compassion and painful honesty. Outstanding and highly recommended by me.

Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers published 9 July by W&N
This author writes magnificently. Her prose is just sublime, from the descriptions of everyday things such as the falling rain and a suburban living room, to the more complicated affairs of heart and emotion, she never puts a word wrong.

Finders Keepers by Sabine Durrant published 9 July by Hodder
Finders Keepers is mesmerising and mysterious. I was absolutely gripped throughout. This author really cannot put a foot wrong, in my view. Highly recommended 

Below The Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin published 23 July by Bonnier Zaffre
This is a captivating and heart-rending story and I was totally involved and immersed. It really is just beautiful; sensitive, empathic and polished to perfection

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn published 17 September by Orenda Books
The writing is skilled and the plotting seems effortless, yet is so dramatic, leading the reader to the final, shocking reveal.

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall published 20 August by Orion
The novel is structured perfectly, it is a dark but very powerful read and the characterisation is quite fabulous.  This is a first-class read 

The Island by Ben McPherson published on 6 August by Harper Collins
Ben McPherson is a master story teller. This brilliantly unnerving read leaves the reader in shock, with questions of their own. It is brilliantly and sensitively written

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh published 3 September by Orion Books
An intense and powerful crime thriller, populated by characters who are totally believable and who the reader will invest in. Yet another tense and inventive story from one of the most talented crime authors around.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo published 5 March by Penguin
Girl, Woman, Other is an important book, it's a revelation for those of us that have little knowledge of the worlds inhabited by the characters within it. It is compassionate and moving, and filled with life.

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone published 20 August by Orenda Books
This talented author can do no wrong in my eyes. His depiction of the complexities of a the female family relationship is wonderfully done, with empathy, warmth and some deliciously dark humour

Burning Island by by Suzanne Goldring published 20 January by Bookouture
Burning Island is an absorbing and emotionally charged read and I learnt so much about parts of Corfu's history that I had no idea about before. It is so well researched and the sense of place is so well portrayed

The Housewarming by SE Lynes published 21 October by Bookouture
The frailties of human kind are laid bare, and the long term damage caused by impetuous and quite selfish acts are laid out starkly.
The Housewarming is a gripping thriller but is also a mediative look at the nature of community and close relationships. 

When The Music Stops by Joe Heap published on 29 October by Harper Collins
This is bold, inventive and perceptive. Dazzlingly good, this one will stay with me forever. Highly recommended. 

Sins of the Father by Sharon Bairden published 27 November by Red Dog Press
I am in awe of this writing, and the story. It's heart-breaking and brutal and filled with characters who are far more than they appear to be on the surface. 
Tough, emotional, raw and shocking. The Sins of the Father is an outstanding read. Highly recommended from me. 



And so, I come to my final choice; my favourite book of 2020

This is the only the second time that I've ever singled out an individual  book in my favourites list in over 10 years of compiling one. 

There is just something about this book; the writing, the characters, the plot. It has stayed with me ever since I turned the last page. 
I will shout about this one for a long time.


published by Orenda Books on 21 November, digitally - the paperback will be published on 21 January 2021

It's an exploration of family, of community and of how the past is not always another country. A book filled with honesty and written with a tenderness that is faultless. 
There's Only One Danny Garvey is one of the best books I've read for years.







Books to look out for in 2021 ....

I've already made a start on the 2021 books, and if the ones that I've read already are anything to go by, we are in for another outstanding book year.
Here are a few tips; books that I think will be huge next year. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain - 7 January 2021 from Michael Joseph
It is an exceptional debut novel. Raw and honestly brutal. Highly recommended. 

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean - 7 January 2021 from Hodder & Stoughton
An extraordinary book. One that will haunt me for a very long time. A masterpiece.

Daughters Of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson - 18 February 2021 from Mantle/Pan Macmillan
This impressive story will have you on the edge of your seat. What an incredibly talented author she is. I really want more now.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles - 9 February 2021 from Two Roads
My review of this one has not been published yet. Look out for my thoughts which will be in the Daily Express in January

Everything Happens For a Reason by Katie Allen - 10 April (digital), 10 June (paperback) from Orenda Books
My review of this one has not been published yet.  I read this really early, on submission and fell for it hook, line and sinker. I intend to read the finished version and review very soon.






That's 2020 over and done with. Thank goodness!

It's been a fabulous year for books, but very little else has been joyful.

I want to wish everyone the VERY BEST for next year - let's hope that we can all meet again very soon.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who reads my reviews and puts up with my book shouting.