Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Favourite Reads of 2016 .... and some to look out for in 2017

Ahhh, 2016, what a year that was!  We had referendums in Britain, elections in the US, and so many losses. We also had Olympic successes, a man talking to us from Space and some actual, real sunshine!
In terms of books and reading, it was a FABULOUS year!  I've read some outstanding books this year which only makes it more difficult to choose my favourite reads. However, I have managed to whittle it down to my favourite twenty.  I've listed them in order of the date that I read them.
There's also a mention at the end, for some of the 2017 releases that I've already read. Books that I know are going to be huge, and you really must keep a look out for.
So, here goes; my favourite reads of 2016.

Before I begin, I do have to mention one book that was published in 2016, but that I read in 2015. I said then that it would be huge and I'm delighted that I was correct. Published in hardback in January by The Borough Press and in paperback on 26 December.
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by
Joanna Cannon is a wonderful story, and has been selected for the WH Smith, Richard and Judy Spring Book Club 2017.

"The Trouble With Goats and Sheep is quite extraordinary. It is a very special novel that should be savoured. This is an ambitious story, but also a beautiful story."

 My favourite books of 2016, listed in the order that I read them. Please click on the title of the book to read my full review.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

Published by Sceptre in hardback on 21 April 2016    
Paperback release 12 January 2017

"This is a captivating and all consuming novel that I absolutely loved, and will recommend and shout about for the rest of the year."

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

Published by Orenda Books in paperback on 22 March 2016

"In Her Wake is psychologically chilling, but it is also a beautifully observed story of a journey of self-discovery. Amanda Jennings' words are alluring, persuasive and so incredibly elegant, the reader is carried along effortlessly into Bella's world. Her characters scream with realism, her settings are well observed and precise and the insight into the human mind and the power of family relationships is both unsettling and convincing."

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

Published by Doubleday in hardback on 10 March 2016
Paperback release 18 May 2017

"Love, being loved and how to love is the theme of this wonderful story, along with abandonment and rediscovery. Threaded with true Northern grit and Scouse humour, The Finding of Martha Lost is a story that should be savoured, enjoyed, digested and remembered for a long long time."

At The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

Published by The Borough Press in hardback on 10 March 2016
Paperback release 23 February 2017

"At The Edge of the Orchard is brutal yet tender, educational and evocative. Tracy Chevalier is a first-class author and this is quite possibly, her best novel yet."

Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary

Published by Headline in hardback on 7 April 2016.  Paperback release 28 July 2016

"It sounds strange to describe a novel that has such dark and disturbing subject matters as beautifully written, but it really really is. There are metaphors and descriptions of place, person and events that are quite breathtaking. The pace is perfect, the characters are developed so very well, it is unflinching and engrossing.

I am a huge huge fan, Tastes Like Fear is a triumph; brutal, honest and quite brilliant."

Relativity by Antonia Hayes

Published by Corsair in hardback on 7 April 2016.  Paperback release 19 January 2017

"Relativity really is a magical book. I was transfixed by it, pulled in immediately and held in its thrall until the final page. The complexity of the emotion is beautifully done, but light enough that the heartbreak doesn't become consuming."

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

Published by Transworld on 21 April 2016

"This is a powerful and chilling story. Tammy Cohen is a wonderfully talented author, her writing is skilled and her stories are gripping and compelling. I was left completely in awe of her talent."

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O Farrell

Published by Tinder Press in hardback on 17 May 2016
Paperback release 18 May 2017

"This Must Be A Place is a novel to talk about, to discuss and to debate. It should be savoured and treasured. Maggie O'Farrell proves once again that she is one of the finest authors of our time."

The Wacky Man by Lyn G Farrell

Published by Legend Press in paperback on 2 May 2016

"Lyn G Farrell writes with incredible insight, I don't know of her background, I don't know how she's captured Amanda's life so well, but she really is one of the most talented and gifted authors that I've come across for many years. Mental anguish, brutality, family relationships, fear and ignorance; these themes make up the heart of this story."

My Map of You by Isabelle Broom

Published by Penguin in paperback on 21 April 2016

"The reader will meet Greek people who are so wonderfully drawn that they become a part of life whilst reading the book. You'll be delighted by the descriptions of the island, the food and I can promise you that you will be Googling 'holidays to Greece' within minutes of finishing this heart-warming, beautifully written story."

The Museum of You by Carys Bray

Published by Hutchinson in hardback on 16 June 2016
Paperback release 6 April 2017

"Beautifully imagined and expertly told The Museum of You is a complete triumph. I continued to think about the characters long after I finished the story. Beautiful."

The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan

Published by Hodder in hardback on 30 June 2016
Paperback release 12 January 2017

"Sarah Vaughan is a very clever author. She's created a story based on love, guilt, regret and pain that is, at times quite heart breaking. She's captured the feelings and emotions of her characters, both as young people just starting out in the world, and also when they are in the last years of their lives."

Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

Published by Penguin Ireland on 14 July 2016
UK Paperback release 26 December 2016

"Tightly plotted and excellently paced, Lying In Wait is absolutely gripping. The writing is excellent, the surprises never stop. It is unnerving and irresistible, dark with a devastating twist."

A Life Without You by Katie Marsh

Published by Hodder in paperback on 14 July 2016

"A Life Without You is a warm and witty, yet at times it is harrowing and ferociously sad. Gina's steady descent into the grip of early-onset Alzheimer's is portrayed with thoughtful sensitivity, yet does not shy away from the painful realities that Gina, Zoe and their extended friends and family have to face."

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes 

Published by Myriad in paperback on 6 October 2016

"Chilling, claustrophobic, enticing and heart-pounding.  Never Alone is a story that is so clever, and so frighteningly real.  I raced through it to the astonishing ending in complete awe."

The Last Photograph by Emma Chapman

Published by Picador in hardback on 28 July 2016
Paperback release 27 July 2017

"This novel moved me, it has stayed in my head, I have thought about it endlessly. It's so very different to the author's first novel, but it's also so very very beautiful. She deals with very important issues with bravery and honesty and I am, once again, astounded by her writing."

Miss You by Kate Eberlen

Published by Mantle / Pan Macmillan in hardback on 11 August 2016
Paperback release 4 May 2017

"Miss You is a truly wonderful story, an absolute joy to read. It's so cleverly structured and whilst it deals with themes that include terminal illness, mental health, grief and loss, it is also full of sparkling wit and evocative locations. London city stars and Italy takes equal billing, both brought to life; the hustle, the bustle, the culture, the people."

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

Published by Faber in hardback on 1 September 2016
Paperback release 2 February 2017

"A Deadly Thaw's characters are as strong as the plot. Sarah Ward is an extremely talented author, she's written two stunning novels. I'm looking forward to reading her next book."

The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech

Published by Orenda Books in paperback on 30 September 2016

"At its heart, The Mountain in My Shoe is a story of bravery, just like the author's first book. It is absolutely captivating with characters who are still living in my mind, and a plot that packs a very powerful punch. This is an absolute triumph. Brilliant."

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

Published by Orenda Books in paperback on 1 September 2016

"The Bird Tribunal is a gently paced story, developing the characters and the location with ease. The writing is haunting, it is melodic and I was completely transfixed, hating the times that I had to put the book aside, and desperately wanting to get back to it as soon as possible."

That's my list of twenty books. It was so difficult to choose the final twenty, there are so many other books that I've loved this year too.
Now for a few tips for books to look out for next year.  I've been really fortunate to have already read, and enjoyed these, they all come highly recommended from me.

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
Published by Michael Joseph in hardback on 12 January 2017

Annie's mother is a serial killer.
The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.
But out of sight is not out of mind.
As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.
A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.
But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me.
She is, after all, her mother's daughter...

Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Published by Pan Macmillan in hardback on 26 January 2017

A serial killer to chill your bones
A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.
He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he's just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family's macabre museum.
Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.
Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.
What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey's father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.
Set in London's Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.
It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it's also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
Published by Two Roads in hardback on 26 January 2017

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters...
With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you've finished reading.

Published by Fig Tree in hardback on 26 January 2017

'Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.'
Gil's wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.
A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil's books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?

Published by Black and White in paperback on 2 February 2017

Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie s luck runs out.
Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie s death. And it s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother s mysterious friend?
With Banktoun s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands...

The Two O Clock Boy by Mark Hill
Published by Sphere in paperback on 20 April 2017

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children's Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home's manager.
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis' favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O'Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders - but he will go even further to cover up the truth.
Discover the gripping, twist-filled start to a fantastic new London-set crime thriller series starring morally corrupt DI Ray Drake - the perfect new addiction for fans of Luther.



  1. So many of the Ines I've also read. Good choices Anne. Here's to 2017 and getting the blog up and fully active with reviews of fab books to share. Thx for all your support and friendship this year xx

  2. What a great selection. So many good titles and no doubt 2017 will offer up a whole lot of wonderful reading opportunities. Have a great New Year!