My top 10 reads of 2018

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.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hilda-Bird-Parade-Hildafolk-Pearson/dp/191117102X/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1545504370&sr=1-4&keywords=hilda

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

  1. 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

 

 

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Cover Reveal – Unspoken Truths by Liz Mistry

I’ve long been a fan of Liz Mistry’s work, her Gus Maguire novels set in Bradford are some of my favourite crime novels. I particularly enjoy how she reflects the true nature of Bradford as a city in her books, it’s not all dark and gritty there is lots of vibrant culture and interesting places and people too Also she has some amazing characterisation and you find yourself almost feeling like Gus, Mo and the others are your friends. So when I was asked to reveal the cover for the upcoming Gus Maguire novel you can imagine my delight, it was worth blowing the cobwebs off my Blog for. Read on for some information from the author and the Blurb and then the cover will be revealed at the bottom of the blog. Preorders will be up in the next few days, get it ordered it will be a cracker

Note from the author

October is supposed to see temperatures plummet in a sure sign that Summer is well and truly over and Autumn is settling in. So, what better way to herald the start of the darkening nights and colder temperatures than a little reminder of The Beast from the East and Storm Emma that ravaged the UK earlier in the year.

Unspoken Truths is set in the middle of the biggest storm to hit the UK for decades and poses great problems for DI Gus McGuire and his team as, in the midst of these adverse conditions, he tries to investigate a murder and disappearance that are very close to home for him.

So what else is in store for Gus and co? Well, Alice is put through the mill and then some, showing a side of her we’ve never seen before. Geeky Compo, the digital expert, reveals a lot of his backstory and Taffy comes into his own and Mo has personal issues to resolve. As for Gus – he is perhaps the happiest we’ve seen him – yet clouds hover above him as he battles the elements, his family and his ongoing mental health issues. Unspoken Truths can be read as a standalone

As ever, I am grateful to all you readers who take the time to read and review my Gus books. I hope you enjoy this one, too. It will be up for Pre-order soon, so watch this space.

Thanks to Caroline for doing my cover reveal.

If you want to connect with me then here’s how

Facebook: @LizMistrybooks          Email: LizMistryAuthor@yahoo.com

Twitter: @LizCrimeWarp               Blog: https://thecrimewarp.blogspot.co.uk/

Website: https://lizmistrycrimewriter.wordpress.com/

Blurb

In Unspoken Truths, DI Gus McGuire and his team navigate a complex web of intrigue, espionage and murder. Set in Bradford, Manchester and on Saddleworth Moor, Gus is pushed to his physical and psychological limits.

First a rural train between Manchester and Bradford is deliberately derailed by a vehicle with a boot filled with drugs, then a woman’s tortured body is discovered in Keighley. When Gus’ brother-in-law goes missing, the investigation becomes personal. As he battles against the storms of the Beast from the East, Gus must uncover the links between the dead woman, a pharmaceutical company in Manchester and a research facility in Northern Cyprus, as well as the disappearance of his brother in law. With the body count increasing, Gus sets Compo loose on the Dark Web – how will Gus react when he discovers that things are not as they seem?

Meanwhile, DS Alice Cooper faces extreme danger in prison and, as the evidence piles up against her, Gus and his team’s loyalties are pushed to the limit.

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Beneath the Whispers

Im once again out of my blog hibernation to discuss Jim Ody’s Beneath the whispers. Another fab read from mr Ody.

The novella: Beneath The Whispers A Jim Ody novella Genevieve Deboise is too good for Scott Dean. He’s always known that. It isn’t a shock to learn she is cheating on him. What is a surprise is bumping into his childhood sweetheart in the woods where he’d planned to take solace in his heartbreak and bruised ego. But running into Mary-Ann Jennings isn’t exactly the fairy tale it might seem. Instead, his first love needs his help finding a USB stick that has fallen into the wrong hands. Now in the cellar of Genevieve’s new lover, Scotty must confront his feelings for both women in order to retrieve the missing USB stick. On a quest to confront his past and locate Mary-Ann’s property, he journeys through the whispers that have always surrounded him. Love will make you do crazy things. But is it enough to get beneath the whispers?

My thoughts: Again there is a lot in a short story in this, I liked the complex interplay between characters, there is a young teenage lad in this who was my favourite character by far. I enjoyed Jim’s subtle humour throughout, it is one of the best facets of his writing as it makes the story more engaging. This is a fascinating concept and one that Jim explores in an interesting fashion. I’ve been a Jim ody fan since his first novel, but I truly believe that his writing is going from strength to strength, This is a fascinating novella that I read in one sitting and I’m wholeheartedly looking forward to reading whatever Jim write next. A solid 5* from me.Beneath The Whispers Blog Tour Final.jpg

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A cold retreat by Jim Ody

Today i have the great good fortune to be on Jim Ody’s blog tour, I have enjoyed watching Jims author career move from strength to strength.

A cold retreat follows – Penny, As a child, Penny dreams of being a princess. She knows life isn’t exactly like fairytales, but she hopes it can be similar.
The future isn’t so kind to Penny. The princes in her reality turn out to be evil. Battered and bruised she hits rock bottom

My thoughts: whilst i’ve always enjoyed Jim’s writing, I felt that he needed to ground himself more on one genre and with A cold retreat he does just that. You have all the classic parts of Jim’s writing – interesting characters that stray away from the norm, plenty of humour and the odd clever music reference. But this time they are paired with a really smart fairly straight crime novel plot. There is a wonderful twist you don’t see coming and some interesting point of view chapters from different characters. This is a truly intelligent enjoyable read, and long may this New era of Jim’s writing continue

 

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My 10 (ish) Best reads of 2017

Final blog post of 2017 and final post for a little while, 2017 was fun for me the group I help run reached 4,000 member, i’ve been privileged enough to beta read a few books one of which i’m a character in can’t wait for that one to come out, so I can share it with everyone. And after sharing my 10 most disappointing reads of 2017 here are my 10 (ish) best reads of 2017.

starting with

10) The Secret mother by Shalini Boland – this was a real page turner of a read, a wonderful work of domestic noir. with some twists that you dont see coming, I’m a big fan of Shalini’s work anyway but this novel for me was a must read, and one I would happily recommend to anyone who was a fan of maggie james or works like girl on a train.

10) also joint ten, I did say ish is the Chalk pit by Elly Griffiths – Elly’s writing is one of the things that got me back into reading crime novels and i’ve eagerly followed the adventures of ruth, nelson, cathbad and judy over the years, I’ve even been privileged enough to meet the lady a couple of times. This was a fab addition to the ruth galloway series and leaves you with a lot of questions that you hope will be answered in the next installment.

9) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimain – I am a huge fan of both Neil Gaimain and Norse anything including the mythology. So when this book was announced it was like all my dreams come true and it did not disappoint, a great introduction to the mythology and a well written version of the creation stories, great for people interested in an entry level book to the norse myths or just people who like great storytelling.

8)The spy who chipped the china teacup by Angie Smith – one of the books I was privileged to beta read this year and a fantastic read, I am not a fan of spy novels or fast paced thrillers generally but Angie’s writing is so phenomenal it is like a masterclass in weaving plot threads together. I find Angie’s writing breath taking and this was a fabulous novel.

7) The girl from the other side – This is a beautifully written manga with a lovely mythos to it, the story of a little girl and the mysterious creature who looks after here it has beautiful art and an intriguing story that make for a fabulous read.

6) Guilty innocence by Maggie James – Maggie is another author that you just cannot go wrong with and a few of her novels were republished by the inimitable bloodhound books this year. This to me is one of the best books by maggie, following the story of a young man who”s girlfriend discovers that he has a dark secret what ensues is a spellbinding story that will really make you think.

 

5) The three body problem by Cixun Liu – In a massive change for me i’m including a sci-fi novel in my top 10 novels, i don’t often read sci-fi but i’ve discovered a great range of quite hard sci -fi including this novel that starts during the cultural revolution and is a fantastic read.

4) Your Name – another beautiful manga about a boy and a girl who although they live in different towns quite a distance apart swap bodies when they sleep  – they both bring something to each others lives and need to unpick why this happens to them all making for quite an intriguing read. Another story i’d really recommend.

3) Blakemort by Shani Struthers – I love Shani’s writing she is one of my favourite horror writers, producing a great range of classy ghost stories. This is a companion novella to her psychic surveys series which are fascinating and shows the back story of Corinna one of the main characters. I found this a genuinely disturbing story one you don’t want to read on your own or late at night.

2) Untainted blood by Liz Mistry – Another fantastic writer – this crime series really stands out to me as it shows the authors love of Bradford as she reflects the true shades of light and dark in the city, her characters are amazing and well developed and I am now thoroughly hooked on the exploits of Gus and his family and friends.

  1. Thank you for smoking by christopher buckley – Another new author discovery for me this year. A wonderful satire of the american lobbying system where the lobbyists for smoking firearms and alcohol meet for friendly lunches where they call themselves the death squad, funny and very irreverant this was a thoroughly enjoyable read that when i finished it resulted in me going to buy as many more books by the author as he had written which is a sure sign of a great read.
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my 10 most disappointing read of 2017

here we go with the best and worst of lists – after this I will be taking a short blog hiatus so expect to see less from me in 2018, although hopefully I will read and review more. So without further ado my 10 most disappointing reads of 2017

starting with

10) the mask of dimitrios – This was an airport buy for me and a classic crime novel that i thought would be really interesting as it is partly set in Istanbul a city I once called home, however I found it weakly written for me and not that engaging, it was at best a 2-3* read. With poorly developed character and a really strange twist.

9) Hyper space by Michio Kaku – A popular science novel that was a book club read for me and one that made a few interesting points but remained slightly disappointing with a few too many reaches for what if’s and what the author thought of as clever literary references that became a little tedious.

8) A cup of rage by Raduan Nassar – described as an erotic novel, this will do less for the average reader than 50 shades of grey. At times mysogynistic it is a tawdry novel at best although a very quick read.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=a+cup+of+rage

7)  Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt- A ya novel of someone finding love at a comic con, written by someone who has at best watched some footage of a con on TV. Its very by the numbers romance with nothing to really set it above the rest.

6) Mobile suit gundam wing – A poorly written manga that makes very little sense although book 2 in the series is better than the first – if you were a fan of the cartoons of these then this is a book you need to avoid at all costs, a lazy product.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mobile-Suit-Gundam-WING-Endless/dp/1945054344/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513875947&sr=1-1&keywords=mobile+suit+gundam+wing

5) Kraken by China Mievelle – Another book club choice and another of my disappointing reads, a weak urban fantasy with poorly developed characters and a fetish for lovecraft at its core. for an author that is lauded as a star i found this a disappointing introduction to his work, I love urban fantasy and can think of a lot more engaging introductions to the Genre

4) `Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon – Another YA romance with a twist this time the girl lives in a bubble because she has a poor immune system and falls in love with her neighbour, again this felt lazily written and the twist at the end is slightly laughable although not what you would expect, this has been turned into a move but is not up to the standards of some of the classic YA out there

3) The Bronte Cabinet by Deborah Lutz – another book club pick on the disappointing list and the main problem I had with this is I think it smacked of lazy research she makes a rookie error about Burke and Hare in the opening chapters that any historian worth their salt wouldn’t make which makes me question the validity of the rest of the work which in a non-fiction novel can be a problem

2) Cross Stitch by Dianna Gabaldon – Outlander by another name and after seeing people rave about the books and the series i felt like I needed to read this book, and what a load of drivel it turned out to be wrapped up in one of the longest books I read this year. I would love to write a long review about it but it is complete tosh.

  1.  Spirits and cat ears – and now for the book that made me most angry in 2017, this is a manga that had a cute and interesting sounding plot but at it’s heart is a mean spirited story where someone bullies a much younger girl in a creepy sexual manner, this is offensive and disgusting and i would heartily recommend you do not buy a copy.
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The End of Lies blog tour

I am a huge fan of Andy Barretts writing, and think that he is a jolly nice chap in person too, so I leapt at the chance of being on the blog tour for the end of lies , his first stand alone book.

the story:

My name is Becky. I arrived home to find my husband, Chris, stabbed to death and a gang of men ransacking our house.
Turns out that Chris has something that belongs to them. And if I want to stay alive, I have to find it and return it. They have given me seven days. And a beating.
There is nowhere to hide and no time left to look. So I will stand my ground as the deadline approaches. All I have is a head full of lies and a very bad plan.
my thoughts:
Not the usual CSI packed affair from Andy  – but it still retains some of the same humour and fabulous writing that we have come to expect from him.
An enjoyable action packed story full of twists and turns that are completely fascinating and not what you expect at all. As always Andy is very good at fooling you into thinking one thing is happening and then surprising you with a twist.
It can be difficult when an author that you enjoy and know for a particular style of story or character moves away from that theme and tries something new. I feel that for Andy this was a success but I personally will remain a bigger fan of his previous series.
A really enjoyable novel from one of my favourite authors although I do hope Eddie makes a comeback soon as he is one of my all time favourite characters. A 5* read for me.
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