Book of the Year 2017

So finally here is my post with my books of the year from 2017. Yes, yes, I do realise that it is now 2018 but I just didn’t have time to get this post written and done before Big Ben chimed. Hopefully it will be worth the wait!

I’ve picked ten books that I think were my best reads of the year, it’s never easy to choose but I guess that this is where my dyslexia is a good thing because I read far fewer books than the average book blogger. I only have 63 books to choose from but some have hundreds. It still isn’t easy and there’s always going to be one or two that I wish I could have squeezed in!

None of the books are in order but one book will win the highly coveted If Only I Could Read Faster Book of the Year 2017!

 

 

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The One Memory of Flore Banks by Emily Barr.

 

First up we have The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr.  I used to love Emily Barr many years ago but hadn’t read any books of hers in such a long time. The blurb on this book really appealed to me and I do enjoy reading young adult books.

This book really took me by surprise. Flora Banks is a young adult with memory problems after being involved in a car accident, she proves to be incredibly resourceful and finds a way around her amnesia by leaving herself notes, but when her parents are called away Flora is left to look after herself.

I have to say that I absolutely loved Flora Banks, she is such a wonderful character that I really learnt from and took a part of her with me when I finished the book. It is a beautiful story and one that I will remember for a long time to come.

You can read my original review here.

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The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech.

I was very excited to read The Mountain In My Shoe by Louise Beech, the story of a little boy who is looking for someone to love and care for him. It’s a wonderful tale of how we sometimes find love in the most unexpected places. Louise Beech is one hell of an author, she could make anything interesting to read, her talent is huge and, in my opinion, very special. Publisher Orenda Books is skilled at finding these amazing authors and The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech easily earns a spot on my top ten list.

You can read my review of the book here.

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The One by John Marrs.

I really wasn’t convinced about the premise for The One by John Marrs, dating apps is not something that particularly appeals to me but it did sound intriguing and lots of people were raving about it.

The One follows different people after they sign up to a dating agency that uses your DNA to find your perfect match. While some of the characters were better than others I enjoyed reading about all of them, but some were so good that I found myself wanting to read their bit. I read the book quickly and I have to say that I absolutely loved it, it was such a clever and unique story and, well I just loved it.

You can read my review for The One by John Marrs here.

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The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne is one book that I totally wasn’t prepared for. Before I started blogging and getting to know publishers and other bloggers I read a lot of books set in America, now it is rare that I do, almost all of the books that I now read are set in the UK. The descriptions in this book meant that it felt like I was there with the characters, I can still picture it in my mind now which is pretty impressive.

One thing that had me in awe was the detail in this book, I could only imagine the amount of research the author had done to make the story so rich and realistic, and while I didn’t know whether her descriptions of guns and hunting techniques were correct, I’d place good money on them being so.

The story that unfolded was unexpected and fascinating and I wasn’t surprised when I heard that the author had herself lived in similar conditions so was able to use her own experiences.

You can read my review of The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne here.

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Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys.

Rachel Rhys is the pseudonym for Tammy Cohen, a successful psychological thriller author, whose books I really like. What I didn’t like, or so I thought, was historical fiction. But when I read Block 46 which narrowly missed out on being on this list I realised that I was wrong to discount a huge genre and that it was time to change that. Dangerous Crossing was just the book to do it with.

I loved this book, it’s one book where I enjoyed every page. The story was so rich and wonderfully told with some great characters and I am sure that at times I could smell the smells that the character was experiencing. The author didn’t forget her psychological thriller background which perhaps made me feel more at home reading it. This was definitely a book that I was sorry to finish.

You can read my review of Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys here.

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Broken Bones by Angela Marsons.

Regular readers of If Only I Could Read Faster will know that I love the author Angela Marsons and her Kim Stone books. Broken Bones is the seventh book in a series that has gained many fans and sold millions of books. The most impressive thing with the Kim Stone series is that every book in it is a great book, there’s no weak link which I think is hard to do when you’re writing so many books in a series.

Whenever I start a new Kim Stone book I am a little bit worried that this one will be the one to let the side down, but I really should have learnt by now that Angela Marsons is an amazingly talented author who certainly knows how to hook the reader into the story and give lots of twists to keep them guessing.

My favourite book in the series has previously been Evil Games, mainly because of a truly evil character who was so wonderfully written that she scared the hell out of me. I really didn’t think that any book would knock Evil Games off the top spot until I read Broken Bones that is.

I remember finishing this book and late into the night posting that I felt as though I’d just been tossed around in a tumble dryer. In case you aren’t sure that is a compliment! I love a book that has so many twists that I don’t know what is going on and who to trust and how the book will end. It really was a brilliant read and if you haven’t read any of the Kim Stone books then you really should!

You can read my review of Broken Bones by Angela Marsons here.

 

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The Breakdown by B.A.Paris

In 2016 my book of the year went to Behind Closed Doors by B.A.Paris so when the Breakdown was coming out I just had to read it but boy did I have high hopes for it. The Breakdown wasn’t as good as Behind Closed Doors in my view, but it was still a damn good book.

What I loved about it is that I just didn’t know who to trust, how reliable were the characters and could we trust what they were telling us? Of course I’m not going to tell you the answer but if you like a book that keeps you guessing and you’re never quite sure what’s going on and why then you will love The Breakdown. The author’s third book, Bring Me Back is out in March 2018 and I am lucky enough to have an early copy of it which I am desperate to read, perhaps it will be third time lucky for the author making my top reads of the year?!

You can read my review of The Breakdown by B.A.Paris here.

 

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Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite.

I do like Barbara Copperthwaite and Her Last Secret has to be one of her best. I loved the start of this book, goodness I remember reading it and I just wanted to keep reading right to the end as fast as I could to find out what happened. This is truly a book that I can imagine people would read in one sitting, sadly something that I’m just too slow a reader to do myself.

Once the book grabs you at the start it keeps you hooked as the story unfolds to show the reader how the events of at the start of the book happened. It is so cleverly written and revealed that I really didn’t know what the ending was going to be. Brilliant storytelling and a great read.

You can read my review of Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite here.

 

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Ragdoll by Daniel Cole.

Now technically this book shouldn’t be here as I read it in 2016, but it was the last book that I read that year and too late to be included in my top reads 2016, but it definitely deserves a place so I’ve carried it over to this year.

I really enjoyed reading this book, sure at times it was a little bit far-fetched but I loved it, the characters and the twists and the who done it and the ride that it took me on was great. As a debut novel, I thought that it was great, not perfect but a fun read if not a perfectly written one. I do love reading about the hunt for a serial killer.

You can read my review of Ragdoll by Daniel Cole here.

Book of the Year 2017

So, now we need a drumroll so that I can tell you which book wins my Book of the Year 2017 award. The book has been hugely successful with so many people talking about it and how much they loved it and the main character.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is not a book that I expected to enjoy. Everyone was talking about it so I figured that I’d give it a go, fully expecting to hate it and give up reading it. At first I thought that would be the case, the main character, Eleanor Oliphant, has a very strange way of speaking and at first, it annoyed me and I really did think that I wouldn’t get passed it, but thankfully I did.

This book is not in a genre that I would think of as one of my favourites, psychological thrillers are normally my favourite but this book is nothing at all like one of them. But soon enough Eleanor Oliphant wormed her way into my heart, literally. I really felt when I finished the book that part of her remained with me and will continue to do so for a long time to come. She was so wonderful and inspiring, a bit like the character Flora Banks that I talked about earlier, Eleanor is definitely a one in a million.

This book said so much about loneliness and how all sorts of people can be affected by it, both young and old. But it also said a lot about reaching out to others and allowing them to help you, no matter how scary that might be. Any book that raises awareness of mental health issues gets bonus points from me but this book was just so wonderful and very, very special. I loved it and if I had the time I’d definitely read it a second time.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is a really deserving winner of my book of the year 2017 and you can read my review here.

Ok, so yes that is ten books that I’ve told you about but there are so many other good ones that I just can’t totally leave out!! Is that cheating? Perhaps but it’s my blog so I can do it if I want to!

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The Watcher by Netta Newbound.

I do like Netta Newbound, she’s on Facebook and we both belong to some book related groups and I have to say that she appears to be a really nice and normal person with a family that she loves. So quite how she manages to write such chilling and gruesome books I don’t know. Her author mind really is twisted and this is evident by the ways in which she kills people, in her books I hasten to add.

I loved this book but it did make me want to close my eyes sometimes, which of course doesn’t work for a book but if you are squeamish you could skim the gruesome parts if you wanted to.

This book was really creepy and a lot of fun to read, I don’t think that I have ever felt so sorry for a character though as the main character in The Watcher really does go through a lot!

You can read my review for The Watcher by Netta Newbound here.

 

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Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson.

I really like Tammy Robinson as an author, firstly she’s from New Zealand which is a place that will always have a special place in my heart and she manages to describe scenery unlike any other author that I have read. But her books also have such heart and are lovely to read, although often sad too.

Since I read this book it has been picked up by a publisher (hurrah) so it’s currently available to pre-order and is released on 30th January 2018. You can read my review for it here along with a Q&A that I did with Tammy Robinson.

 

 

And finally I am going to give you two children’s books that myself and my children enjoyed reading this year.

 

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The Fox in the Box by Amanda Gee, illustrated by Lee Holland.

This was such a lovely book, we really enjoyed it and the illustrations were brilliant. A wonderful little story with a great environmental message. I’d definitely recommend this book for kids under six. You can read my review here.

 

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The Christmas Tale of Elaine Gale by Daniel Thompson and illustrated by Connor Edwards.

My kids loved this book, a lot. Although a little bit scary it is a great Christmas tale and I just loved that the girl took the main role and helped to beat the baddie. You can read my review of it here.

 

Right, that’s it! This has taken me hours and my bed is calling. I really hope that you enjoy my top reads and I’d love to hear what you think, do you agree with my choices?

 

My Top Ten Reads of 2016.

I’ve been putting this off, lots of other bloggers have posted their top ten (or twenty) books of the year weeks ago. I’m not quite sure why I’ve been putting it off but part of me has been thinking that the year isn’t over yet and I’m still reading. But I think that mainly I’ve been putting pretty much everything to do with Christmas and New Year off. I only put my tree up this morning (it’s the 22nd December!) after finally giving in to my children’s demands, for whatever reason, I am not ready for this year to end and the next to start.

So it is with some trepidation that I’m going to attempt my top reads of the year. They aren’t in any particular order, that would just be too difficult but I have given one book my Book of the Year 2016 award!

So to kick off we have The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley, a fab read that just wasn’t anything that I was expecting. It was shocking and gruesome and sad and, well, shocking. If you think that your stomach is strong enough then read it!!

 

 

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The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley.

 

Next up is Nina Is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi. I thought that this was a brilliant book and described addiction, or more specifically, alcoholism, so well. I think that this should be required reading for everyone, every teenager should read it as should anyone who knows or loves someone who struggles with addiction.

 

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Nina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

 

M.J.Arlidge released two books and one novella this year, spoiling us really! While all of them were good I’m putting Little Boy Blue in my top reads. His detective, Helen Grace, is a great character, strong yet flawed. In Little Boy Blue someone uses those flaws against her with shocking consequences. If you haven’t read any of the Helen Grace books then do, I’ve reviewed a lot of them on the blog.

 

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Little Boy Blue by M.J. Arlidge.

 

So while the Helen Grace series is definitely one of my favourite detective series, Kim Stone edges slightly ahead. While the Grace series has had some amazing books it has also had some average books, whereas Angela Marsons’ Kim Stone books are consistently good. I’ve enjoyed each and every one of them and although they are written so that they can be read as standalone books I’d definitely recommend reading them from the start (Silent Scream). This year I read two Kim Stone books and I’m adding Play Dead by Angela Marsons, and I can’t wait to read the ones to come in 2017. I was also lucky to have Angela Marsons stop by for a fab Q&A, she really is one lovely lady.

 

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Play Dead by Angela Marsons.

 

The next book wasn’t the best written book, but it was definitely one of the most fun to read. Although calling it fun seems kinda wrong given the death count in the book. But it was definitely one of the most gripping books that I’ve read this year. The Killing Game by J.S. Carol is without a doubt one of my top reads. I loved it, what a rollercoaster!

 

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The Killing Game by J.S. Carol.

Next up is one of my favourite authors from years ago, I absolutely loved Jodi Picoult and her books but at some point, she seemed to lose her way and I stopped reading her books. That changed when I heard about Small Great Things, it all seemed positive and so without knowing much at all about the story I started to read it. Soon I was emersed into a world that I had been largely unaware of. I knew that prejudice in America was a problem in many areas, that black people are often treated differently, that parents worry about their black sons being shot by the police. But Small Great Things opened my eyes and my mind up in a way that not many books are able to. I think that many are put off from reading a book about prejudice, but please don’t be. While it’s a thick book it is such a worthy read, especially in the world today with hate crime all over increasing. I was also lucky enough to hear Jodi Picoult talk about Small Great Things and I wrote about that too Jodi Picoult: Talking about her latest book, Small Great Things.

 

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse is another book, a bit like Nina is no OK and Small Great Things, that I think that people should read because you will have your eyes opened to something that you were perhaps unaware of before. This time the subject is anorexia and the author has written an incredibly well-researched book with well-formed characters that show the reader the reality of anorexia.

 

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The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse.

My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal was the first book that I reviewed on my blog and so will always be a bit special to me. But it is also special in itself. Leon is a little boy who broke my heart, set in the 1980s it frequently reminded me of my childhood, but thankfully my childhood was nothing like Leon’s. With a mother unable to care for him Leon and his baby brother are thrown into the British care system. This was such a lovely book, but incredibly sad too but the wonderful characters made this a book to remember.

 

 

 

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My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal.

Goodness, this is harder than I expected! Too many good books to choose between and for the penultimate one I’m torn between two books, My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor and The Caller by M.A. Comley and Tara Lyons. Both are good in their own right, My Husband’s Son tells the story of a couple brought together by the loss of their children, one was murdered and the other kidnapped and missing. But has the wife finally found her husband’s son? This is an impressive debut novel by O’Connor and I look forward to seeing what she does next. The Caller tells the story of the police hunting for a team of criminals who are murdering women in their own home, gaining access under the pretense of having a delivery. The Caller gave me the heebyjeebies and when I found myself receiving the same phone call that the women received before being murdered I likely came across as more than a little bit crazy to the poor woman on the phone but there was no chance that I was giving her the information that she wanted!

So I guess that’s both of them included in my top reads of 2016 but I’ve still got one more book to go!

I think that the book that I have spent the most time thinking about after reading it has to be Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, I loved this book in so many ways even though at times it was very hard to read and quite distressing. When I finished this book I literally wanted to throw it across the room as I just did not want it to end. I managed to restrain myself (mainly because I was actually reading it on my Kindle), but this was a wonderful book. The author has a new book, The Breakdown, out in 2017 which I cannot wait to read, unfortunately, my request to read it wad turned down on Netgalley, something that I still haven’t quite recovered from, but I will be reading it as soon as I possibly can!

So, my book of 2016 is without a doubt, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.

 

There’s also a couple of books that I need to give a mention too, even if they don’t make my top ten. The Goblin Princess: Smoky The Dragon Baby by Jenny O’Connor was the most wonderful children’s book that I have read this year. I enjoyed reading it and my children loved listening to it too. The illustrations were beautiful too and made it even better. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi was also a very worthy read, it was touching and inspirational in so many ways, I’d really recommend reading it. Finally, Tom Bale wrote two cracking reads, See How They Run and All Fall Down which just miss out from a place too.

I could go on and on but I’m going to stop here. I hope that if you’ve got this far I have inspired you to pick up some of these great books. I hope that 2017 will be another bumper year of great reads too.