I don’t often blog any more but i’m reviving it to discuss my 10 best and worst reads of 2018. I found it really difficult to compile this list the top 2 books were easy they might even be on a top 10 of all time. But I’ve read a lot of amazing books this year and narrowing down the 10 best was really difficult, but I have managed it and here it is in order from 10 – 1.
But first some honourable mentions, these are the books that almost made the top 10 and are still well worth checking out, these go to Anita Wallers, Malignant a beautiful emotional crime story. Little witch academia (manga), a japanese mash up of the worst witch and harry potter that is way better than that description would have you believe). Reprobation by Catherine fearns, a crime novel that features a death metal band, a nun and a rogue geneticist. And the tunnel runner by Cameron Trost, set in the melbourne tunnel system this is a great story about human interactions.
10) Berserk (series) by Kentaro Miura – Not a manga series for the faint hearted, This was initially a book discovery by the Mr. The series is a smart supernatural action story, that defies words to explain. As it is graphic it really does draw you in emotionally but it is a read for over 18’s only.
9) Fingers in the sparkle jar by Chris Packham – Chris packham is a great spokesperson for people with autism, especially those who are diagnosed later in life, this memoir is part natural history and part the story of a young boy growing up who can’t quite fit in and doesn’t quite now what is wrong with him. I found the writing style of this charming and it combines to make a strangely beautiful read. A good introduction to reading about how people with autism view the world.
8) The vegetarian by Han Kang – This is an intriguing novel about a woman who decides to become vegetarian, a thing that disrupts her less than great relationship with her husband and leads to both their lives unravelling. The writing in this is lyrical and descriptive and the story draws you in. This author was a new discovery for me this year and I will be reading everything she has written.
7)Convenience store woman by Sayaka Murata – This is another strange little story about a woman who has worked in the same convenience store for 18 years. She has no interest in other jobs or relationships with other people beyond her family. Again this is quite a short novel but one that really leaves you thinking about how we view people different to ourselves and should we judge peoples happiness by whether they have a job we consider worthy or whether they are happy in the job they choose. I heartily recommend this book
6) Deception wears many faces by Maggie James – Maggie James is one of my favourite authors, mostly because she writes clever stories with interesting protagonists that differ from your usual crime novels. This one is no different and discusses the impact con artists can have on peoples lives. Also it features a character with a really awesome name as the main characters best friend. Being immortalised in one of your favourite authors books doubly means that it has to make your top 10 list.
5) The puppet show by Mike Craven – Another book that features really well described characters that draw you into the novel. In the characters of Poe and Tilly, Mike has created people that you have a real emotional investment in and that you can see featuring in a series of books. Like Berserk this is not a book for the faint hearted as it features some quite gruesomely described crime scenes but it is a well plotted interesting crime novel with characters that I for one really hope we see more of
4) The Roma Nova Series by Alison Morton – The book group I help admin reached 5’000 members this year and as a celebration of that we held a charity auction for 2 worthy causes where we had a number of signed books and characters in books to be won. Roma Nova 4 (Aurelia) was one of my auction wins and in the short time since we held the auctions in August I’ve read 3 of this series plus a novella and bought all the remaining books for myself for christmas so it had to feature on this list. These books are sort of crime sort of futuristic, set in the present day but in a world where a roman enclave has survived to this day, they make for fabulous reading especially if you like your novels to have strong female characters that are likeable and kick ass. I love this series and long may it continue
3) Hilda (series) by Luke Pearson – This is a lovely series of graphic novels and now a cartoon on netflix by luke pearson. This has a real scandanvian influence the city of Trolberg that is mentioned reminds me of Bergen and it also draws on a lot of scandanavian myths. This is one of those series that is designed for children but has such a simple beauty in its art and narrative that it will appeal to all ages. You can pick the stories up anywhere but this whole series is a bit like the Moomins for me, stories I will return to time and again when I want to lose myself in that beautiful world that they create. My favourite of these to date is Hilda and the Bird Parade.
2) Flesh of the tree’s by Kath Middleton – until recently this was my number one book of the year. It is a beautiful strange story about children, a town that is down on its luck and a forbidden part of the forest. Again it reminds you of myths of old when you read it and was one of those novels that really resonated with me and I found myself thinking about over and over again after I finished it. I have a signed copy of this that I will treasure and return to in the future. This is a 5* read for me and one that I urge as many people to read as I can
And finally my top read of the year is
- The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths – This is one of those perfect storms of a book, like norse mythology by Neil Gaiman. It features all the things I love in a novel, written by one of my favourite authors of all time. This is a smart modern gothic fiction novel that centres around a story called the Stranger that I wholeheartedly believed was a victorian gothic horror story, I even googled the story only to discover it was written by Elly. The novel features a great new character in the police lady Harbinder. This is such a fascinating story well written with great characters and several intertwining threads that you will not be disappointed to have read it. A real tour de force of gothic fiction and deserving of its place in my top reads of 2018 and maybe my top reads of all time