Sunday, 11 December 2016

My Favourite Books of 2016

In December I usually do a Top 20 of the books I've read, but I can't do so for 2016 because I've discovered lots of new authors in the past year and wouldn't know which of their titles to choose!  Instead, I've decided to do a 'highlights' post, by genre.  I have only chosen my very, very favourites for this post or it would go on forever, as I've read so many good books in the last twelve months.  If you want to look at any similar, just click on the tags at the end of each post for subject, author, star rating, etc.


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 MurderContains 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 witchcraftAccused 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. 


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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-LevineThe Bad Girl was an unexpected gem!  Similarly, this delightful collection of short stories set in Suffolk ~ Sandlands by Rosy Thornton.

 
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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. 
 
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Three that come under the heading Post Apocalyptic/SciFi:
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.

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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.


And another year bites the dust.  Seriously, I'd recommend any of these, they're all first class! 






25 comments:

  1. Fabulous list, Terry. We’ve overlapped with quite a few again :-) Great minds!

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    1. I would expect nothing less - look forward to seeing yours!

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  2. What a great list of books, Terry. Thank you for including mine, glad you like them so much. Every person at Rosie's Book Review Team are a favorite of mine. :-)

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  3. What a fantastic list of books, Terry. Lovely to see one of mine amongst them. Thank you so much.

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  4. I'm loving this list, Terry, especially your contemporary selection. I want to read 'The Disobedient Wife' and hope I can get round to doing so soon!

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    1. I feel jealous of you having it yet to read, Abby!

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  5. What a fantastic list, TT. There are several here I'll be after soon. Thank so much for including my WW in your list here. I'm so glad you liked it and I'm honoured to be in such great and talented company!

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  6. Great list, Terry. Thanks for including Tim.

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  7. Goodness, what a wonderful list! I'm honoured to be among this lot!!

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  8. Thanks so much for the mention Terry - and for so many great recommendations that I'm now off to Amazon to buy :) xx

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    1. I look forward to discussing with you!

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  9. Thank you so much Terry! So many fabulous books—I'm just absolutely thrilled to be included in this very fine company!.

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    1. Just realised I have actually reviewed 115 books this year - and that's just on here. And started even more. Those 3 months of being incapacitated had their upsides!

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  10. Full of awe at how quickly you read and how organised you must be! Agree completely about Wendy Janes fantastic book 'What Tim Knows'.

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    1. Jenny, I was in hospital or laid up during Jan, Feb, March and April of this year, so did little else but read - fab upside to having an operation and not being able to walk wihtout crutches!!! Also, I suppose this book blog has become something of a hobby to me (as opposed to writing, which I consider my occupation), so I give it as much time as anyone gives anything they really enjoy doing. Also, I don't do much housework, but we don't go into that ;^D.

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  11. Great list, Terry! Merry Xmas and happy reading year 2017!

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    1. Yep.... and 2016 isn't finished yet...!!

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  12. I'm sure I'm late to the party - again! So many great books I can feel my TBR list begging for some of these to be added, happy 2017 reading.

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  13. Thank you for including my book, Terry. So many brilliantly recommended reads to be added to my TBR books

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