book of the year, Top Ten Reads

#TopReads2018 @WriteAngie @AkeaWolfStories @SSCav @ProfNoelFitz @cjtudor @MandyBerriman @rhiannonnavin @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @vandasymon @DKHood_Author @harpercollinsuk @bookouture @BoroughPress

So, once again it is that time of year when we think about the year that has flown past at astonishing speed. For some 2018 will have been a good one and for others, it might have been a bad one and for many, it might be somewhere in between. Whatever it was for you, I hope that 2019 will be better.

For me 2018 has gone in a bit of a blur, life was trundling along pretty normally until June when everything suddenly changed. Literally over the course of one day, in the morning all was normal and in the evening I was in A+E. I don’t want to go into detail as I’m sure that many of you don’t want to hear the gory details but it wasn’t fun and suddenly life felt very uncertain and unknown. Regular readers of my blog will know that I struggle with my mental health and the stress and uncertainty had a definite impact on me.

My little blog was neglected, reading wasn’t always the escape that it had been and I struggled to concentrate and enjoy reading in the same way. It made me sad, but I just had to do the best that I could.

In November I somehow managed to complete NaNoWriMo when I wrote 50,000 words for a new book. I know that it will need major editing as my head was all over the place, but I love the storyline. And near the end of the month, I had major surgery, something that at the start of the year I would not have imagined that I would be having this year. The recovery wasn’t a lot of fun and I am still not healed, far from it, but I’m getting there and so I really, really, really hope that 2019 will be better, that I will edit my book and read some brilliant books. And I really hope that my blog is less neglected.

But now I need to think about the best books that I read this year, never an easy thing! As always I set myself a Goodreads challenge, last year I had failed to reach my target so I had lowered it this year to 60 and I am currently on 78 books! So I smashed it! Hurrah. I so wish that I could read faster (hence the blog name) and read the hundreds that some bloggers manage but that just isn’t going to happen.

So, here are my top reads. They are not in order, that would just be too stressful to work out!

So, to kick us off is a book that totally took me by surprise. Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh was one hell of a read. I loved it from the very first word to the very last word.


There was a bit of fuss about the book as the tagline appeared to tell the reader what the twist was. I didn’t get the fuss at all, because it worked so well as a read and totally kept me hooked. I absolutely loved it and will definitely be reading other books in the series, but this can definitely be read as a standalone.

Next up is The Crying Season by DK Hood, which is book four in the fabulous Detective Kane and Alton series.


I’ve enjoyed all the books in this series set in a small American town which has a scarily high murder rate. The Crying Season was, undoubtedly, the best book yet and I enjoyed it immensely. This is a series that is best read in order, so start at the beginning with Don’t Tell a Soul by D.K. Hood.

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin was a book that took my breath away. Told from the point of view of little Zach, Only Child tells the story of a family torn apart by a school shooting.


It isn’t often that a book is told from the point of view of a child and it gave the reader a real insight into the family and at times it really was heartbreaking. I loved the father in the story and his relationship with Zach, he was flawed but he was trying. This is a book that will stay with you for a long time to come.

The next book is one of another series, the much loved DI Kim Stone series by Angela Marsons. There were two books in the series out this year and I loved both but Dying Truth has to be on this list.


This was the book that broke readers hearts, online support groups sprung up to give readers a place to process what happened and all the while, author Angela Marsons could be heard chuckling in the background, enjoying her readers’ distress.

Next up is Home by Amanda Berriman. This is the second book on my list that is told to us by a young child, Jesika who is four.


I loved this book, although it isn’t always easy reading it is a very special book and a fabulous debut novel. I highly recommend it.

I don’t normally read a lot of non-fiction but this year I have read a few and they have all been good reads, but one stood out for me.


When I heard that Listening To The Animals: Becoming The Supervet was coming out and written by Noel Fitzpatrick himself I really wanted to read it. As a long term Supervet fan, and a secret admirer of Noel himself I was keen to find out more about the man and this book definitely did that. I really enjoyed this read that made me laugh and nearly cry.

Next up is a book that I was biased towards liking before I started to read it. Overkill by Vanda Symon is set in a small New Zealand town, and having lived in New Zealand for a number of years and wishing that I could return, I was so excited to read Overkill.

Overkill Cover

Just look at the cover?! Doesn’t that make you want to read the book all by itself? I really enjoyed it and loved the main character and I’m very excited about the rest of the series that the fabulous Orenda Books will be publishing.

Technically I read this book in 2017, but too late for it to be included in my top reads of that year so I’m putting it in here.


The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor is an incredibly impressive debut and I absolutely loved it. You have probably heard about it, even if you haven’t read it yet, as it has been hugely popular, but it deserves the hype. It is creepy and engrossing and just brilliant.

My next book is a book that I haven’t even reviewed on my blog yet. I was sent an advanced copy of this book to read and review recently, apparently the publisher picked 30 book bloggers to send it to and I was rather astonished to be one of them.


I have to admit that when I started to read The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen I was a bit worried that I wasn’t going to like it. I was a bit confused by the writing style took a bit of getting used to and I really wasn’t sure where it was going. But gradually I fell into the story and what a story it was. Sure, it was quite predictable in a way but that didn’t matter, it was beautiful and special. You’re going to have to wait until June to read it, but it is definitely worth the wait. I will be reviewing it on my blog soon.

So now it is the time that you have all been waiting for…what will be my Book of the Year 2018?!


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Yes, my 2018 Book of the Year award goes to… The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech. This is a truly deserving winner as it really is such a beautiful book with characters that you will fall in love with and scenery that reads so real you will think that you can smell it. Louise Beech is a hugely talented author and if you haven’t read any books by her then you really are missing out, she really is something special.

But I’m not going to leave it there. I need to give a special mention to my top children’s book from 2018. Akea- The Power of Destiny by Elizabeth Jade is a wonderful story that many will enjoy.    

2018 Top ReadsThere we go, my yearly roundup. I’d love to hear what you think, do you agree or disagree? Is there a brilliant book that I missed out? There are lots of great books that I couldn’t squeeze into this list, Anita Waller, Louise Jensen, Barbara Copperthwaite, Alison BelshamLuke AllnuttMatt WesolowskiAdam KayLouisa De LangeRonnie TurnerStephanie Rogers and Patrick Redmond are just some of the authors who missed out.



book of the year, Top Ten Reads

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!



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.

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.

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.

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.

Dangerous Crossing Cover
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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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?


5*, book review

Review: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge

hide and seek
Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge

My huge big fat 5* review:

I am a big Helen Grace fan, from the first few pages of Eeny Meeny I was gripped by M.J Arlidge’s books and have read every one in the series. While some have been better than others I would definitely recommend reading them in order as you will no doubt get a lot more out of the books and the characters. I think that this is especially true of Hide and Seek.

The end of the previous book in the series, Little Boy Blue, ended with a shock. Readers were stunned and desperate to know what happened next. So I was very much looking forward to reading Hide and Seek. In my mind I had an idea of where I thought the author would take us, but happily I was wrong. I was blown away by this book and the storyline and devoured the book as I just had to know what was going to happen.

Once again Arlidge provides us with a solid and well written book, with great characters and twists, turns, shocks and surprises. I think that Hide and Seek is definitely a strong contender for my book of the year, I loved it and it isn’t often that I feel bereft when a book ends. My only question is, how long do I have to wait for the next book?

I received an ARC of Hide and Seek by the publishers via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Hide and Seek is out now in hardback, audible and ebook from Amazon UK and on audible from Amazon US.


Helen awaits trial in a crumbling women’s prison in Southampton. She has a fight on to prove her innocence from inside her prison cell, but this soon turns out to be the least of her worries.

A serial killer is picking off fellow inmates, thriving in an environment where there is truly nowhere to run. Is it a criminal giving in to their dark urges or a member of the prison staff preying on the captive population? Helen must work fast to reveal this devious killer, all the time wondering if she will be next on her list….