Disappointing Reads of 2016

I did a top 16 list or more I think of my best reads from this year and its only fair to follow it up with a disappointing reads of 2016, I call them thus because apart from maybe 2 on the list they really are just that disappointing and there are only 7 of them so without further ado here goes. Actually its a positive that out of the 364 books i’ve read this year there are only 7 that have made me this unimpressed.

1)Ammonites and Leaping fish by Penelope Lively – A disappointing memoir. I found this a little dull and slightly artsy. this came highly recommended as a book group book and was my least enjoyable book group read this year.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ammonites-Leaping-Fish-Life-Time/dp/0241966981/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482945275&sr=8-1&keywords=ammonites+and+leaping+fish

2) Wonder woman Vol 1 Blood – I love wonder woman she is my favourite super hero, and all around awesome read especially the original William Moulton Marston comics. However this is one of the New DC reboots and I felt it lacked a lot of the soul and humour of the original.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wonder-Woman-Vol-Blood-New-ebook/dp/B008J2GADM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482945468&sr=8-1&keywords=wonder+woman+vol+1+blood

3)Blood bath by Stephen Leather – I do have opinions about this, a selection of underwhelming vampire stories most submitted as fan fiction and not actually by the author mentioned although at the time I also did not know that the author was an admitted sock puppeter and if I had known this I would have not given my time or energy to reading something by someone who would stoop so low.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/12/stephen-leather-cyberbullying-steve-mosby-jeremy-duns

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Bath-Seven-Nightingale-Stories-ebook/dp/B00JYHM36Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482945695&sr=8-1&keywords=blood+bath+stephen+leather

4) Go set a watchmen by Harper Lee – Again the only other book I have strong opinions about, this is outright racist in places and maybe we should have respected Ms Lee’s wishes in never showing this manuscript the light of day. Definitely not worth all the hype.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Go-Set-Watchman-Harper-Lee/dp/1784752460/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482945782&sr=8-1&keywords=go+set+a+watchmen

5) The crossing by Michael Connolly – This one is a case of the author maybe cashing in a little and overwriting. I dont feel like this novel went anywhere and it felt a bit Bosch by numbers which I think can happen in such long running series.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Harry-Bosch-Michael-Connelly-x/dp/1409145875/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482945985&sr=8-1&keywords=crossing

6) Tale of Genji by Murasaki shikabu – this is more a case of a bad translation this is a Japanese classic and I’m sure I would have loved it if i’d have not cheap-skated my amazon order with a slightly rubbish translation.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tale-Genji-Murasaki-Shikibu/dp/1609422112/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1482946126&sr=8-7&keywords=tale+of+genji

and finally

7)Robert frosts poetry – I love poetry but I don’t feel like these went anywhere, they are descriptive but didn’t come to a point. Then again poetry is quite literally the most personal thing you can read, and if it doesn’t work for you then you should move on and try a different poet, this was another book club read and Robert frost is so not a poet for me.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robert-Frost-Collection/dp/1617202649/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1482946239&sr=8-3&keywords=robert+frost

 

 

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The place that never existed by Jim Ody

I have had the privilege recently of reading some authors from the very first thing they have published. This can be a fascinating process as you see the writer growing and developing as you go, and this is the case here. I first read Jim Ody this year when I discovered his book Lost connections through the UK crime book club that I help Admin.

Lost connections is a fascinating book, although it doesn’t really know what genre it wants to be in. Jim came up with some unique viewpoints on things including having a tattoo artist as his main character. I also particularly enjoy his many pop culture references throughout his novels.

The Place that never existed is Jim’s second novel and features different yet related characters to the first novel, it can be read as a standalone. Again it plays with genre slightly, for most of the time it reads like a fairly straight crime novel until the end but I shan’t giveaway spoilers.

This is a much tighter plotted novel and it clearly shows Jim’s evolution as a writer and he is on the right path. I will always have a soft spot for book 1 though. I thought the characters in this were believable although I think that the crazy stalker lady would probably have been dealt with before she was in the novel although it was  a way of helping the plot along.

For me this is a Solid 4* read, it is a well plotted, thoroughly readable at times quite exciting read. I had a slight problem with a lot of the chapters ending with this choice could change things type comments, its a great suspense builder but was a little overused. Again the pop culture references were there and were throughly enjoyable as well as references to other great crime writers. I’m a little worried about Jim’s Nora Roberts obsessions though.

If you are a fan of Urban fantasy, books such as the Rivers of London series or James Oswalds crime novels then this is a book for you and if you pop on over to the UK crime book club then you can even currently request a review copy. author6.jpg.gallery.jpg

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Dark Minds Blog Tour

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the wonderful Dark Minds anthology from Bloodhound books

which is devoting all of its proceeds to Hospice UK and Sophies Appeal 2 fabulous charities. I’ll add the links to this blog so if for some crazy reason you dont want to buy the book you can go and donate to the charities directly and show them some love.

I got the wonderful job of reading an advance copy of Mel Comleys story Dangerous Actions and it is one cracker of a read, Short and packed full of action it raises the question of just how safe you are online. Packing some great believable characters into a well thought out story, this story bodes well for the rest of the collection.

There is a great mix of well known traditionally published, successful independent authors and people who are newer to writing represented here, all with an interesting take on crime, some like Mel Comley’s fantastic one are looking at the darker side of daily life through things like Facebook, others have different viewpoints but whatever you like in crime fiction i’m sure you will find within these pages. I give Dark minds a solid 4* (based on the one story i’ve read so far) and i’m looking forward to getting lost in the rest of the pages.

One final thought I would leave you with is that these charity or indeed normal short story anthologies are a little like a music festival you might buy it for a few of the big names that are represented, or to help out a good cause but you are likely to come across a previously unknown treasure that will brighten your days to come. So if you love to read and want to discover some great new authors what are you waiting for, pick up your copy today.

www.hospiceuk.org

www.sophiesappeal.org

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Top reads 2016

That time has rolled around again and here are my top reads for the year plus honourable mentions. I cannot limit myself to 10 this year because in the nearly 350 that ive read there have been so many stand out reads so i’ve had to settle for a top 15. Also one special mention before we start has to go out to Ledston Luck by Andy Barrett which would be in this list if it wasnt for the fact that it doesn’t get published until next year but its one hell of a good read and will probably be featuring in 2017’s list. So without further ado here are my top reads for 2016 in no particular order.

  1. The best friend by Shalini Boland – This is a great work of fiction to rival some of those much talked about books like the Widow or Girl on the train. Only Shalini is a fantastic independent author, the best friend looks at what happens when those people close to you are the ones that you should trust the least. This is a really clever well written work that sticks with you long after you have finished reading. A great book group book, as it raises so many questions as you read it. I loved the character development in this and found the whole story utterly engrossing. Shalini is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors and is definitely one to watch. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Best-Friend-chilling-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B01M9A8458/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482002148&sr=8-1&keywords=the+best+friend
  2. The Fireman by Joe Hill – It is no secret that Joe hill is one of my all time favourite authors, I’m a big fan of great characterisation in novels, and I think that Joe hill is a master at making really evil characters from what come across as totally normally people which in my mind is way scarier than horror fiction with vampires etc. I have read everything Joe hill has written and with the publication of this one got to go and meet him at my local bookstore and get a signed copy of my favourite book of his. The fireman is a fantastic dystopian novel with a really poignant story, although it is a long novel it is one you will read in a handful of days because it is so captivating, there is one scene in particular featuring a group of children in Hilary clinton masks among others that will really creep you out.https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fireman-Joe-Hill/dp/0575130717/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482002978&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fireman
  3. CXVI (the whole trilogy) by Angie Smith – Really not the type of novel I would normally read, as it is a high octane thriller featuring spies and all sorts of other sinister people, but it is such  an amazingly written trilogy that it cannot fail to feature here. How the author keeps all the many threads of this novel running without confusion is beyond me but it shows what a fantastic author Angie Smith really is complex and intriguing this is without doubt a standout series of books. Another author i got to meet this year as well , i’ve had a fantastic year of meeting authors.https://www.amazon.co.uk/CXVI-Beginning-End-gripping-suspense-ebook/dp/B00TM97WFG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482003190&sr=8-1&keywords=CXVI
  4. The Girl With all the Gifts by M R Carey – Another interesting novel in that as a work of Zombie fiction it is again something that I wouldn’t normally read but is a really intelligent well written work. The main protagonist is a young girl who doesn’t know that she is a zombie, this is an incredibly bleak novel that is breathtaking to read, you will fall in love with Melanie who is the girl mentioned in the title, read this and then watch the movie both are fantastic. This has a John Wyndhamish feel to it, that means it is likely to become a true modern classic. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-All-Gifts-M-Carey/dp/0356500152/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482003397&sr=8-1&keywords=the+girl+with+all+the+gifts
  5. Frailty by Betsy Freeman Reavley – Bloodhound books are taking the crime fiction world by storm at the moment signing up loads of up and coming new authors and publishing a great charity anthology.  Frailty asks what would you do if your child was abducted and takes you on a journey with one family to who such an awful event has happened. At times as you read this it feels like the novel takes a few steps to far in its descriptions of what happens but it is worth staying with as it is a really clever well written piece of work, that deals with some complex issues. Another standout novel to me that pushed another work by the same author off of this list. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frailty-psychological-page-turner-Betsy-Reavley-ebook/dp/B01M2CMC3Z/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482003664&sr=8-1&keywords=frailty
  6. The Martian by Andy Weir – I must thank Noelle Holten for this one being on the list she gifted me an amazon voucher this year that I used in the spirit that I use all book vouchers for in buying something I maybe wouldn’t normally read. I have discovered a love of Sci fi this year and have really enjoyed the Martian again its another cracking book and film combination. This is a very hard science sci fi novel and if you are keen on biology then it is really one for you. It is again really well written and you ave a mixture of feelings toward the main character which is great. This story works on your emotions as well and there were times i genuinely laughed out load as i read it. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Martian-Andy-Weir/dp/1785031139/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1482003724&sr=8-3&keywords=the+martian
  7. Planetes by Makoto Yukimura – Where would one of my top 10 lists be without a Manga recommendation, another fab work of sci fi, this is a truly great read collected into 2 volumes. It features people who work in space removing debris and follows them as their lives unfold and some of them move onto other tasks such as visiting jupiter, there is also a short section on mars, this is definitely my top manga read of the year. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Planetes-Omnibus-1-Makoto-Yukimura/dp/1616559217/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482004004&sr=8-1&keywords=planetes
  8. Angel by Anita Waller – Another author from the bloodhound kennel, and another fantastic read. This one will really knock you for six emotionally, I had tears coming out of my eyes as I was reading it on the bus. Not a read for the faint hearted but Anita is becoming one of my favourite authors and I was lucky enough to win this and its prequel signed by the author in a charity auction this year. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-compulsive-thriller-that-guessing-ebook/dp/B01DR4USZC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482004273&sr=8-1&keywords=angel+anita+waller
  9. Station 11 by Emily St John Mandel – the first book I read this year and like the circle last year my first book club read of the year as well. I love dystopian fiction, books set in a not to distant future that has experienced some kind of world altering event. Station 11 is a little post apocalyptic showing what could happen if a particularly nast virus hit the world. This is literary sci fi the kind that features at the front of the bookstores and is ok to buy (it doesn’t make you into a nerd) but for all of that it is an beautifully bleak and interesting read. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Station-Eleven-Emily-John-Mandel-x/dp/1447268970/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482004483&sr=8-1&keywords=station+11
  10. Only Ever yours by Louise o Neill – This is one book the hits all the main genres I usually buy, Dystopian YA. This looks at a world where young girls are judged by their beauty and fashion choices and are constantly rated on these, ratings which will decide their future. This is as bleak as it sounds but is a truly fabulous read https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Only-Ever-Yours-Louise-ONeill/1784294004/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482004620&sr=8-1&keywords=only+ever+yours
  11. His Kidnappers shoes  by Maggie James – Maggie James is another stand out author discovery of this year for me. She writes consistently intelligent works of psychological fiction, this one looks at why someone might abduct a child, and what would happen if you discovered that your mother is not who you thought she might be. Again if you read and loved books like the Widow this book is one for you, In my opinion it is better written and more engaging. I loved that none of the characters in this are overly likeable although you find yourself emotionally engaged with all of them for many different reasons, this is another great book group read as it really makes you think. If you are looking for one author to try from my suggestions you will not go wrong if you choose Maggie, I have not yet read a book of hers that hasn’t received 5 stars from me and that is only because my most rating systems go to 5. I’m a serious Maggie James fan girl.https://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Kidnappers-Shoes-Maggie-James/dp/1503941124/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482004933&sr=8-1&keywords=his+kidnappers+shoes
  12. A head full of ghosts by Paul Tremblay – I bought this because one of his books had an author recommendation by Joe hill and if an author you love recommends a book then it is probably worth a read. This genuinely features all that is classy about modern horror, intelligent, full of interesting plot twists, ostensibly about ghosts or is it, featuring really believable real characters who you care about thereby making the events that happen way more thrilling. This also asks questions about evangelical  beliefs and their effects on people. A truly great read. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Head-Full-Ghosts-Paul-Tremblay-x/dp/1785653679/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482005132&sr=8-1&keywords=head+full+of+ghosts
  13. Disturbed Earth by E E Richardson – I love a bit of urban fantasy and these are great urban crime fiction, set in the wilds of north yorkshire they have a great rivers of london feel about them, real coppers working on supernatural crimes and dealing with the issues that all coppers have being short staffed, under budgeted and over worked. This is a really engaging and enjoyable series. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ritual-Crime-Unit-Disturbed-Earth/dp/1781083142/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1482005310&sr=8-2&keywords=disturbed+earth
  14. The Haunting of Highdown hall by Shani Struthers – Another recent author discovery for me and another author who has yet to write a book that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. Shani is one of my top 3 horror writers (the other 2 being Joe Hill and Shirley Jackson). This is the first in the psychic survey series of books and features some really well created characters what I love about this novel is that the ghost who is being dealt with and who at first seems really quite scary also develops as a character and has an interesting back story that as it develops has you constantly changing your feelings towards her.  If you enjoy well written horror than Shani is an author you should be checking out https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1540846725/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482005607&sr=8-1&keywords=highdown+hall
  15. And Finally Beowulf by Seamus Heaney (translator) – I’ve had a bit of a classics and poetry binge this year and have discovered some amazing reads including the norse mythological poems and this, a translation of Beowulf by Seamus Heaney. You would think that such an old work of poetry would be a really dense and complex read but this is so well translated that the poem becomes really accessible and enjoyable. Beowulf is one of the first works of fiction and is one that really should be enjoyed. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beowulf-New-Translation-Seamus-Heaney/dp/0571203760/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1482005721&sr=8-1&keywords=beowulf+seamus+heaney

My honourable mentions for this year are the Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdahl a wonderful real adventure story, about Thor’s experiment to try and prove that Easter island could have been settled by people from South America. Kath Middleton writes a great classy ghost story – for this time of year I would highly recommend her work Stir up Sunday. also Nicky Black whose work the Prodigal based on a housing estate in the North East (Newcastle) is a really fab read and David Evans whose Wakefield trilogy is a really great work of crime fiction. I am privileged to help admin the UK crime book club and as part of that get to read some fabulous works of fiction by many new authors (some like kanrichardson from the very first thing they publish, she writes a fab series featuring forensic scientists, that have a different main protagonist each time and are well worth a read) and I am sure that as I finish this I will kick myself by not thinking of and mentioning the many fantastic author members who I have had the privilege to read this year, this doesn’t mean their works of fiction are not amazing because they really are it is more a testament of my poor memory.

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Bibliophile Book Club

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…

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Top 13 Books of 2016…

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