Most are my own reading choices, but some I have been fortunate to find via my role as a member of Rosie Amber's Book Review Team (#RBRT on Twitter)
Here we go, then; just click the title of the book for my full review, with Amazon links.
First off, one of my favourite genres. This is my most read category, so the list is the longest: Historical Fiction. All the books mentioned are exceptionally well written, intricately researched, and I'd recommend them to any fellow history lovers.
If I was to name my favourite book of the year it would be La Petite Boulain by Gemma Lawrence, which is about the early life of Anne Boleyn. Wonderful. I've also loved the second book in the series, The Lady Anne, and you can find links to books one and two in her series about Elizabeth I on the first link. Bowled over by them all!
I'm not usually a great fan of Victorian history, but I was completely engrossed in this story of the darker side of life in 19th century London ~ the outstanding Back Home by Tom Williams. It's part three of a trilogy, but a complete stand alone (I read it before the others). Staying in the 19th century, I was certainly not disappointed by the fourth in Carol Hedges' Stride & Cully murder mystery series, Rack & Ruin. Links to the other three can be found on this review; it's a terrific series, never so much as a weak sentence.
Back to the 18th century, and I've become a great fan of William Savage's fantastically well researched and plotted Georgian murder mysteries, my favourite of the five that I've read being The Fabric of Murder. Contains links to all others, and here's his latest one, A Shortcut to Murder
Now a free novella you must get if you're interested in the witch hunts of the 17th century ~ Blackwater by Alison Williams. It'll be the best £0.00 you ever spent!
On the same theme ~ some non-fiction telling the stories of several of those accused of witchcraft. Accused by Willow Winsham. Fascinating!
Still in the 17th century, I discovered one of my new favourite authors via a tweet RTd by someone else (***don't ignore all those book promo tweets!***).
This Rough Ocean by Ann Swinfen is an epic adventure set during the English Civil War, and definitely in my top five books of the year. I was also engrossed in her two books set during this time in the Fenlands, Flood and Betrayal, and the first in her medieval mystery series, The Bookseller's Tale. Also set in the Civil War, I recommend Deborah Swift's Highway Trilogy ~ I thoroughly enjoyed the last one, Lady of the Highway.
And back to the Plantagenets, just pre-Tudor times ~ I've read a few of Tony Riches' books, but the one that really stood out for me was Jasper, following the fates of Jasper Tudor, great uncle of Henry VIII, in the Wars of the Roses.
Next, a few I can't categorise ~ the Contemporary Dramas (being a writer of books that don't fit into a pigeonhole, I sympathise!). These are the outstanding ones I've read this year; all of them come under the banner of 'women's fiction', I suppose, too.
Fascinating drama set in Tajikistan ~ The Disobedient Wife by Annika Milisic Stanley.
I also loved the edgy psychological drama The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello, and family mystery The Brazilian Husband by Rebecca Powell.
I'm not usually much of one for medical type dramas, but I was most impressed by the unusual Silent Trauma by Judith Barrow ~ 'the story is fictional, the drug is real'. Something that needed to be written. I also read a collection of short stories by Wendy Janes, the title story of which is outstanding ~ What Tim Knows is written from the point of view of a boy with autism. It's so worth reading, as is The Never Ending Day, about a woman with post natal depression.
I must include Leaving The Beach by Mary Rowen, even though it's currently unpublished. Eating disorders and the music of the 70s and 80s. Loved it.
...and not forgetting a quirky little novella set in 1970s New York, by L Donsky-Levine: The Bad Girl was an unexpected gem! Similarly, this delightful collection of short stories set in Suffolk ~ Sandlands by Rosy Thornton.
Now... the Zombies. Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm borderline obsessed with The Walking Dead, and I love good zombie fic, too. These are the best of the bunch.
I'm mad about Kate L Mary's Broken World series, and thought the 6th book was the very best ~ Forgotten World. I also loved the short stories attached to the series, Broken Stories, which I'd recommend to anyone as an introduction, along with Silent World and the sinister Twisted World (links to reviews for all her books can be found somewhere on the two reviews provided!). Set in California and Colorado, mostly.
A great new discovery: the Mountain Man series by Keith C Blackmore. This author's zombie world is a lot more gory and brutal than Kate Mary's, with few nice settlements where everyone gets along. More of a guy's zombie series, maybe (I veer away from all things girly, so they suit me fine). Here's the link to my favourite in the series so far, the stunningly good third one, Hellifax. Links to others at end. Set in Canada.
Frank Tayell's were some of the first zombie books I read, and this year I really enjoyed Here We Stand: Infected books 1 and 2. Set mostly in England and Pennsylvania.
Part 3 of the totally excellent Blueprint Trilogy by Katrina Mountfort - Freedom's Prisoners was a very worthy finale. The UK nearly 200 years on, now State 11 of China... scary indeed!
Dylan Morgan is a great favourite of mine (and indeed with many of the reviewers in Rosie Amber's Review Team), a master of characterisation and darker than dark suspense, and I highly recommend The Dead City and novella October Rain
Next, some Non-Fiction, of many types...
I discovered the books of Jon Krakauer this year, and read several of them. He's a mountaineering addicted journalist, for those who aren't familiar with him (click name for more info). My favourite book of his was Under The Banner of Heaven, about the Mormons, but I've loved all of them. Here's my review of Into Thin Air, on which the film Everest was based, links to others at the end.
The funniest book I read this year was Do Not Wash Hands In Plates by Barb Taub, a short account of her trip around India with two friends. It's HILARIOUS. (I just found this very funny blog post about it, too...HERE)
I adore Travel Memoirs, and love anything by Jo Carroll. I found Frogs and Frigate Birds absolutely magical ~ it's about Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
I also enjoyed Val Poore's account of her watery exploration of Belgium: Walloon Ways.
I'm not a great reader of Thrillers, but I've discovered Joel Hames' books this year. The Art of Staying Dead fairly blew me away, and Brexecution was jolly good too - no prizes for guessing what that's about! Also just adding Abandon by Blake Crouch, which I read over Christmas Day and Boxing Day ~ top stuff!
And finally.....a Classic I can't believe I never got round to reading before. Wonderful, wonderful book. The Call of the Wild by Jack London.