Top 13 Books of 2016…

Hi everyone,

It’s that time of the year again. The time where I draw up this list over and over AND OVER again, trying to whittle down the great books I’ve read into one small one.

As I type this I’m surrounded by 5 or 6 different attempts, and I’ve decided that because 13 is my lucky number, I’m recommending 13 great books from those I have read this year. And for good measure, I’m putting in two books at the end from 2017 that you all need to watch out for!!!

The drawback about listing books, is that I know for a fact I have some absolute standout books from 2016 on my TBR shelves, but I haven’t gotten around to reading them, yet… And also it’s SO hard to choose and not everyone will be happy! But at the end of the day this is personal preference, books that have been great for me. 

This is almost a list of two halves. There is a certain publisher who consistently releases excellent books, so needless to say, they feature heavily. I’ve also got a couple of book series thrown in because I’m not doing two separate posts this year like I did in 2015! If you want to see them, the links are below:

My Top Ten Books & Series of 2015 Part 1!!!

My Top Ten Books & Series of 2015 Part 2!!!

Anyway, as usual, I digress!!!

Onto my TOP 13 BOOKS OF 2016 (in no particular order, with review links under the photos)…

img_0334

Dodgers by Bill Beverly 

I read this at the right time. It was everything I was looking for, and I absolutely loved it. I still think about East, months later.

 

image

The Constant Soldier by William Ryan

This book broke me. I sobbed as I finished it, I just couldn’t comprehend the beauty of this book. It was utterly breathtaking.

img_0716

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Nevernight took me weeks to read, I just didn’t “get it” immediately, so I left it and came back. I was hooked when I picked it up again. Amazing storytelling, magical prose and a kick-ass heroine, it is a superb starting point for a series.

img_0782

The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

Menacing book this one! Slow deliberate prose that will make the hairs on your neck stand on end. Unputdownable, gripping and eloquent!

P1

Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

Best action thriller of the year for me I think! Pendulum was fast-paced, cinematic and super fun (not for the characters obvs, but I loved it!).

img_0565

The Deviants by C J Skuse

Another one that broke me. A YA book so full of heart with great characters. Bawled!!!!

RJ1

Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson 

This man can do no wrong in my eyes. In my top books last year, and here we are again. Highlight of my year was meeting Ragnar. #epicfangirl

Dead Is Better by Jo Perry

Dead is Best by Jo Perry

These books are all kinds of awesome. Charlie and Rose are dead and they are two of my favourite characters in fiction this year.

Where Roses Never Die cover Vis copy 2

Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen

Another beautiful Scandi crime novel makes the list. This one was special. Well worth reading!

The Defence by Steve Cavanagh

The Plea by Steve Cavanagh

Eddie Flynn is another of my favourite characters this year. Steve Cavanagh writes legal thrillers, and they are just perfection. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!

Epiphany Jones A/W.indd

Epiphany Jones by Michael Grothaus

This book! This one. Unexpected, odd, and absolutely wonderful. Read it, you’ll thank me later!


There you have it, my Top 13 Books of 2016. Here are the two I think you all should keep an eye out for in 2017 and that will more than likely be on this list next year for me…

image

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole 

A PROPER serial killer thriller. Edge of your seat amazing, great characters and a twisted antagonist. What more could you want?

img_3276

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

LOVED this one! Haunting and threatening. It freaked me out more than once. Superb writing style, razor sharp. You’ll want to read it!


And so it ends. These books have been my favourites this year, by a mile. They have made me cry (which rarely happens with books!!!!), made me laugh, given me hope and filled me with excitement.

Have you read any of these? Would you? Do let me know in the comments…

See How They Run by Tom Bale

Tom Bale

Where do I even begin with this review?! First off, when I wrote this review I had no blurb or cover image as it was that new!!!

When I got an email from the lovely ladies at Bookouture, I knew it was only going to be something good. I had no idea it was going to be AMAZING!!! However, when Keshini said she hadn’t felt this excited about a book since Angela Marson’s Silent Scream, I knew it had to be a winner!

Anyway, onto the business of finding the words to explain See How They Run…

About the book:

How far would you go to save your family?
In the dead of night, new parents Alice and Harry French are plunged into their worst nightmare when they wake to find masked men in their bedroom. Men ruthless enough to threaten their baby daughter, Evie.

This is no burglary gone wrong.
The intruders know who they’re looking for – a man called Edward Renshaw.
And they are prepared to kill to get to him.

When the men leave empty handed, little do Alice and Harry realise that their nightmare is just beginning. Is it a case of mistaken identity? Who is Renshaw? And what is he hiding?

One thing is clear – they already know too much.

As Alice and Harry are separated in the run for their lives, there is no time for breathe in their fight to be reunited. And with their attackers closing in, there is only a choice:

STAY ALIVE. OR DON’T.

 

My thoughs:

I’ve read hundreds of books, or hundreds of thrillers specifically, and not in a LOOOOOOOOOONG time has a book’s opening made my skin crawl the way See How They Run did. I am not squeamish, but for want of a better phrase, it gave me the heebie jeebies. But I couldn’t stop reading!!! I read 50% in one sitting!!

Harry, Alice and 8 week old Evie are all asleep in bed when Harry hears a noise. in his sleepy state, he’s unsure if it’s that he was dreaming and woke up, or whether there was an actual noise somewhere in the house. All of a sudden, chaos ensues as Harry realises there are intruders in their house, IN THEIR ROOM!!!!!!!

See How They Run starts off with a shock. That shock makes you keep turning the pages until the very last line. It is a superbly well written tale, with so many different avenues and turns. It shakes you, disgusts you, frightens you and angers you in equal measure at times.

The characters are brilliant, and they each have their own narrative running alongside the main plot. Not one part of this book made me think “oh, that shouldn’t really be happening”, which is great as it means the story flows really well.

Tom Bale’s writing, for me, was reminiscent of Linwood Barclay’s storytelling. Fast paced, shocking turns and thrilling scenes which make the reader focus purely on the characters plight within the pages.

See How They Run is a fantastically thrilling whirlwind of a book. It is a tense, masterful lesson in putting ordinary characters into extraordinary circumstances and watching the story unfold. A highly entertaining 5 star read for me! 🙂

Happy reading 🙂

 

SEE HOW THEY RUN by Tom Bale – Pub date: 6th May

UK: http://amzn.to/22oO7mm

US: http://amzn.to/21wHPPs

 

About Tom Bale:

Tom-Bale-500px

Tom Bale decided that he wanted to be an author from the age of seven but, after another career got in the way, it wasn’t until much later that his dream was fulfilled.  After several books with Random House, Tom signed with Bookouture for two stunning ‘everyman’ thrillers.

www.tombale.net

www.twitter.com/t0mbale

www.facebook.com/tombalewriter

 

YOU CAN CATCH UP AND KEEP UP WITH THE BLOG TOUR ON ALL THESE BRILLIANT BLOGS! 🙂

See-How-They-Run-Blog-Tour-Graphic (1)

The Long Count by JM Gulvin

*** Originally published on Random Things Through My Letterbox in March 2016***

First off, huge thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Through My Letterbox for my copy of The Long Count to review 😊


About the book (via Faber & Faber):

In The Long Count, the first book of JM Gulvin’s masterful new crime series, we meet Ranger John Quarrie as he is called to the scene of an apparent suicide by a fellow war veteran. Although the local police want the case shut down, John Q is convinced that events aren’t quite so straightforward.

When his hunch is backed up by the man’s son, Isaac – just back from Vietnam, and convinced his father was murdered – they start to look into a series of other violent incidents in the area, including a recent fire at the local Trinity Asylum and the disappearance of Isaac’s twin brother, Ishmael. In a desperate race against time, John Q has to try and unravel the dark secrets at the heart of this family and get to the truth before the count is up…

Dripping with atmosphere and a sense of time and place, The Long Count is a page-turner and a psychological puzzle – for fans of Shutter Island and True Detective. It will be available in ebook format in May 2016, and paperback in October 2016.
My thoughts:

The Long Count is a brilliant crime thriller. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I first started the book as I only glanced at the blurb without really taking it in. Once I started, I didn’t want to put it down. I devoured The Long Count in 3 sittings.

John Quarrie (John Q) is a Ranger and he reminds me of Jack Reacher and Walker, Texas Ranger at the same time. He is tough, honest and very quick with his guns if the situation arises. When he is called to the scene of a suicide of an Army vet while  on his way to another incident, he is all but convinced that it’s not as simple as it seems. Quarrie suspects murder, but the local law enforcement disagree.

The Army vet’s son Isaac, just having returned from Vietnam is also certain that his father would never commit such an act. Together, John Q and Isaac find coincidences in nearby violent crimes and so they investigate the connections further not realising that it will have dangerous consequences.

I don’t like to divulge too much about plots, but sufficed to say this book is so well planned out. It is full of red herrings, beautiful descriptions of the American deep South, moments where you find your pulse is racing a little because you just know something is going to be said or done. Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Count. It has everything I look for in a book. It has a really likeable character in John Q, there are plenty of little nuggets of information scattered around the book which only come together towards the end and it is also a fantastic appetite-whetting beginning to a series.

Regular readers of my blog will know I’m a sucker for a good series, and if The Long Count is just the start, then I cannot wait for the next installment. John Q is also one of my favourite characters I’ve encountered so far in the books I’ve read this year.

Massive thanks again to the lovely Anne Cater for letting me review this hidden gem of a book that I’m so glad to have found!

The Long Count is released in ebook format on May 3rd by Faber & Faber and you can pre-order your copy by clicking the link below:
The Long Count: A John Q Mystery

Happy reading! 🙂

 

 


In Her Wake By Amanda Jennings BLOG TOUR

img_0587-1

 

Hi everyone,

Today is my stop on the In Her Wake blog tour, a beautifully written book by Amanda Jennings and published by Orenda Books.

My thanks as always to these lovely ladies for the opportunity to read such a wonderful book and join the tour! 🙂

 

About the book (via Goodreads):

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

 

My thoughts:

It’s weeks since I finished In Her Wake and yet I still cannot find the right words to describe the emotional rollercoaster that this book puts you on.

When we meet Bella, she is travelling back to her family home with her husband due to a family tragedy. What follows is an utterly heartbreaking journey into the deepest corners of her life.

In Her Wake is a beautifully woven tale of loss and grief, but at the same time it instills in the reader a hopefulness, a sense that there is more to the world than what we can see.

Amanda Jennings has written an absolutely beautiful novel. It is the most descriptive book that I’ve read in a long time, with the landscape being used so perfectly that it mimics the turmoil of the characters at certain points, and at others its beauty is showcased to perfection.

I read In Her Wake slowly. I couldn’t have flown through it even if I wanted too. The lyrical prose demands attention and speeding through would have meant missing out on Amanda’s beautiful way with words.

In Her Wake is an emotionally fraught read. Full of secrets, and the damage that these secrets can do to those who keep them as well as those who seek to find the truth. It is a heartrending tale of grief, loss, and above all, love. Emotional, hopeful, chilling and gripping in equal measure, I am still thinking about In Her Wake almost two months on from finishing it…

Here’s the tour schedule for In Her Wake if you want to keep up! 🙂

In Her Wake Blog tour.jpg

In The Shadows by Tara Lyons Blog Tour 

img_0589

 

Yay!! My stop on the IN THE SHADOWS blog tour is finally here! 🙂 Massive thanks to Tara for asking me to be a part of it, as well as letting me read it before release!

 

About the book (via Goodreads):

 

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London – and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify.

Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends’ bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer’s next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer’s identity.

How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer?

 

My thoughts:

 

In The Shadows is Tara’s solo debut novel so I was super excited to read it. I had read and enjoyed Web Of Deceit, which was co-written with Mel Comley and I reviewed it on here too so if you click the link below it will take you to the review.

Web Of Deceit

In The Shadows is a really well written book. The prologue grips you immediately as you meet the killer and get a glimpse into their twisted mind as they commit a murder.

We are introduced to the main character, Grace, who is mourning the loss of her grandfather and struggling to hold herself together while grappling with her grief. We also meet Detective Hamilton, who is trying to catch a killer stalking and murdering women, yet somehow not leaving a shred of DNA evidence behind.

The frustration at the lack of evidence is apparent for those tasked with investigating the murders. As they stack up, and suspects are non existent, you can feel the tension being built in the book.

Since her grandfather passed away, Grace has been having awful nightmares and has been finding comfort at the bottom of bottles. In a moment of clarity, Grace takes it upon herself to do some investigating of her own, especially as she knew at least one of the victims. In doing so, the reader is made to question whether or not Grace is going to end up on the killer’s radar and if she’s putting her own life in danger too.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away! I really enjoyed reading In The Shadows though! It is a brilliant solo debut, and Tara Lyons is definitely an author to watch out for!

In The Shadows was released on March 17th and you can purchase a copy HERE.

You can also follow the IN THE SHADOWS BLOG TOUR on these brilliant blogs! 😉

IN THE SHADOWS_Blog tour March 2016

 

 

 

Death In Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson

DIP

 

First off, my thanks to Netgalley and Urbane Publications for my copy of Death In Profile.

 

About the book (via Goodreads): 

The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?

 

My thoughts:

I had Death In Profile on my kindle for a while before I got to it so with publication day looming I figured this week was as good as any to start it!

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading as I hadn’t read any reviews before I started as I like to go into a book with as little knowledge as possible, bar the blurb.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book though. Guy Fraser-Sampson has a very nice writing style, and though it took me a few chapters to get into it, i found myself enjoying it.

Death In Profile is a modern whodunnit, but it also manages a nod to classic crime fiction along the way. I don’t (and have never) read any of the classic detective novels so I don’t pretend to know much about them but I can see how the author has managed to weave the classic into the modern.

The story focuses on the murders of five women in the Hampstead area of London and how the various teams investigate them. I really liked the characters in this book too. There’s the classic “old school” detective, working alongside the decidedly “new school” detectives and how their methods differ is very interesting to read and to see what results are yielded from their investigations.

At times, I found myself thinking I knew who had committed these murders, and then I would turn the page only for my notion to be shot down immediately. There are clever hints scattered around Death In Profile and I really enjoyed trying to work it out, even if I was wrong more than once!

Guy Fraser-Sampson has written a great novel. It harks back to the classic detective novels, while managing to stay completely relevant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gave Death In Profile 4 stars on Goodreads. It is published on March 28th by Urbane Publications and you can pick up a copy directly from Urbane Publications HERE.

Happy reading! 🙂

 

Hold Still by Tim Adler

img_0588-1

My thanks to the author for my copy of Hold Still in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the book (via Goodreads):

‘I photographed the moment of my husband’s death…’ So begins HOLD STILL, a nerve-twisting thriller from bestselling author Tim Adler. How much do we really know about those we love?

Kate is visiting Albania with her husband Paul, a much needed break from Paul’s stressful website business. ‘Hold still,’ says Kate, taking a picture as Paul steps onto the hotel room balcony. ‘We’ll always be together,’ Paul responds. Suddenly there is screaming below and a blaring car horn. Kate stares down from the balcony at the broken body of her husband lying lifeless in the street. Overcome with grief, Kate can’t accept the truth of Paul’s tragic death, and replays the incident over and over again, searching her pictures for a vital clue to what really happened.

When she meets the enigmatic Priest at a grief support group, they journey together into a dangerous world of violence and secrets as Kate realises what Paul really meant when he said he would never leave her……

 

My thoughts:

I thought the premise for Hold Still was excellent. I mean, imagine taking a photo of your loved one at the moment of their death, how harrowing would that be?! Torturing yourself in the aftermath, wondering could you have done something different.

This is how we are introduced to London-based couple, Kate and Paul Julia. In Albania, after attending a family funeral, Paul leaps to his death from their hotel balcony. Kate is instantly plunged into shock and grief at the death of her husband. A short investigation takes place, and Kate returns to London with her husbands ashes.

However, Kate doesn’t understand why her husband jumped, and why there was in incriminating picture sent to his phone just before he went out onto the balcony. Unsatisfied with how the investigation was handled in Albania, Kate does some digging of her own.

What follows is a tense story, with themes ranging from drugs and prostitution to cyber crime  and everything in between.

While I enjoyed Hold Still, I found myself left wanting at times. While it is refreshing to read a female protagonist in a book, I just found it stopped short for me. That being said, it is a great book full of intrigue and thrills with a very Jason Bourne/Robert Ludlum-esque style plot.

I gave Hold Still 3 stars on Goodreads. It’s published by Urbane Publications on March 17th and you can preorder a copy HERE.

Happy reading!