According to my Goodreads Challenge, I’ve read 100 books this year. This is the third year now that I’ve done a Top Reads post on my blog and it doesn’t get any easier to choose from the many 4 and 5* books that I’ve enjoyed over the last 12 months. Previously I have restricted my list to just 10 books but this year, I simply couldn’t choose just 10 so I’m going to cheat and have a top 15.
None of these are in any particular order, they are just 5* reads that I have enjoyed immensely over the last 12 months and have stayed in my mind long after I have turned the final page.
To see my reviews, please click on the link in the book title and in the description.
A Place Called Winter – Patrick Gale
This was the first book by Patrick Gale that I have read, but it won’t be the last. I loved this story and, partly based on his own family history, Patrick has written a perfect tale of love, loss and the ability to endure under extremely testing circumstances.
The Tea Planter’s Wife – Dinah Jefferies
I really enjoyed Dinah’s debut novel, The Separation, which featured on my ‘Recommended’ list of 2014. However, with this story, her writing has gone up several notches and she is definitely on my list of favourite authors. This was a tragic and evocative story of life in 1920’s Ceylon. I am very much looking forward to reading her new book, due in February ‘The Silk Merchant’s Daughter‘.
I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh
This was Clare’s debut novel and I was blown away by the unexpected twists and turns in the story. I can’t wait to get hold of her new book, ‘I See You‘ which I believe is due to be published in August.
A Memory of Violets – Hazel Gaynor
Hazel’s debut of last year, The Girl Who Came Home (a novel of the Titanic) was on my highly recommended list. However A Memory of Violets surpassed this for me. Hazel writes beautifully and I was completely enthralled by this tale of orphaned flower girls in the 1800’s given the chance of a better life. This was a poignant and at times, heartbreaking, story based on true events. Hazel has a new book due in June 2016, ‘The Girl from the Savoy‘ and I can’t wait!
The Mistake I Made – Paula Daly
Paula appeared on my 2014 Top 10 list with ‘Keep Your Friends Close‘. This was another fabulous ‘what would you do?’ scenario of suspense and intrigue. I just love her books; she could publish a shopping list and I would read it!
The Dandelion Years – Eric James
Erica is another long time favourite author. Her 2014 book ‘Summer at the Lake‘ made my recommended list last year. The Dandelion Years is a dual time story, set in the present and during the war years at Bletchley Park. I believe that Erica has a new book due in 2016, another I am looking forward to.
Letters to the Lost – Iona Grey
For some reason I never got round to posting a review of this wonderful book although I did prepare one (which I now can’t find). I adored Letters to the Lost and would happily recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. It’s another dual time story – set in the present and during WW2 and is a beautifully written tale of love and loss. This is Iona’s debut novel – I do hope she has another book to come, I’m a fan already!
No Other Darkness – Sarah Hilary
This is the second book in the Marnie Rome series. I really enjoyed the first, Someone Else’s Skin and NOD was even more addictive and powerful. Sarah has a book 3 coming soon ‘Tastes Like Fear‘ due to be published in April. This is becoming one of my favourite crime series and am very much looking forward to meeting up with Marnie and Noah again.
No Place for a Lady – Gill Paul
No Place for a Lady is set during the period of the Crimean War in the 1800s and features two sisters, estranged, but both facing dangerous situations on the front line. This is a beautifully written story of love and duty amid the horrors and hardship of war. I believe that Gill’s next book will be about the Romanovs – I am very much looking forward to reading this.
The Silent Hours – Cesca Major
This is set in France, during the years of WW2 and is a stunning debut, partly based on a true story. It is an emotional and shocking tale of those caught up in the horror and brutality of war. I loved it and am eagerly awaiting a new book from Cesca.
A Killing Moon – Steven Dunne
This is book 5 in the DI Damen Brook series and again, one of my favourite crime series. This story is particularly dark and twisty, involving student abductions migrant labour, religious fanatics and kept me reading until the early hours. Another series that I can happily recommend.
The Dress – Kate Kerrigan
This was a dual time story, straddling the present day and the 1950’s. It was a tale of 1950’s glamour but had a more serious undertone of alcoholism and love and betrayal. I’ve always enjoyed Kate’s books but this was definitely something special.
Burnt Paper Sky – Gilly Macmillan
This was another fabulous debut thriller. A young child goes missing and his mother is effectively put on trial by the public and the media for being negligent. A very powerful and compelling read. I certainly look forward to reading more from this author.
How To Be Brave – Louise Beech
This is Louise’s debut novel and what a stunner. Part fiction, part fact, it’s about the struggle to survive faced by the author’s grandfather whilst enduring 50 days in a lifeboat after his ship is torpedoed during WW2. His story connects to that of his great-granddaughter with her struggle to come to terms with a life changing illness. This was an emotional and sometimes heartbreaking story but throughout there was the desire to survive and shed loads of bravery from all concerned.
Three Amazing Things About You – Jill Mansell
Jill Mansell has always been a favourite author and I couldn’t end my post without including one of her books. This was her 26th novel (her 27th is out in January – ‘You and Me, Always‘). This story centres on a character suffering from cystic fibrosis and the importance of organ donation. It made me laugh and cry, and with twists in the story it is far from the light fluffy read that is often associated with this genre. If you’ve never read her books before, then you couldn’t do better than to start with this one.
Looking back at my list, so many of these reads are historical fiction. It’s not deliberate, I love crime and other genres too but there have been so many fabulous historical reads this year.
There are so many exciting books to be published in 2016, I am sure that next year won’t be any easier in choosing. One of my 2016 book resolutions is to get round to reading some of the older books on my shelves which tend to get neglected. I do hope you’ve enjoyed my selection, and would love to hear your comments, especially if any of your favourites are mentioned here.