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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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
  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.

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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