I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already! I also can’t believe that the anniversary of this site is just around the corner! It seems almost impossible to me but then I am constantly surprised by this blog. I had to separate my ‘Top Ten’s’ this year because I’m greedy. This Top Ten list is made up of books not in a series that I have adored reading this year.
1. The Corset by Laura Purcell
Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?
Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she finds herself drawn to Ruth, a teenage seamstress – and self-confessed murderess – who nurses a dark and uncanny secret. A secret that is leading her straight to the gallows. As Ruth reveals her disturbing past to Dorothea, the fates of these two women entwine, and with every revelation, a new layer of doubt is cast…
Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?
H – without a doubt, this was the best book I read this year. It was the book I recommended most and it was the book I kept thinking about long after I read it. It’s a very captivating book that allows you to not only get gripped by the story but to think of the characters in a deeper way and explore how people work, not just in the story but in reality as well.
2. The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell
H – I was so lucky to stumble across this in Waterstones because it is a truly enchanting story of adventure and family, wrapped up in an exploration in the north. The characters were warming and detailed and I felt that there were many levels to the story past what the plot was made from (the sequel is equally as good!)
3. Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow is cursed, destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But, as the clock strikes midnight, she’s whisked away by a remarkable man called Jupiter North and taken to the secret city of Nevermoor.
There she’s invited to join the Wundrous Society. Mystery, magic and protection are hers – if only she can pass four impossible trials, using an exceptional talent. Which she doesn’t have…
H – I was so excited to read this and it became the book I recommended to all children I know (I.E. 2), this is the only book since Harry Potter that gave me excited chills as I read it. I loved the effortlessness, the charm, the characters, the magic, the mystery, the innocence. There is such a warmth to this book and the story unfolds naturally as you read. I was gripped from beginning to end as I read this. Stunning.
4. The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda
Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.
Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl–but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable–until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her.
H – I waited so long to read this! Actually buying it on a trip to New York and I couldn’t wait to read it. It only took me 3 hours to read and for those three hours I was completely transported into another world as the story unfolded. I greatly enjoyed Miranda’s writing style and the way the words seemed to flow off the page. I didn’t guess the ending correctly, which was a big plus for me.
5. The Murder of Patience Brooke by J. C. Briggs
Charles Dickens has set up Urania Cottage as a sanctuary for fallen women.
But he is shocked when the matron’s assistant – Patience Brooke – is found hanging outside the property, covered in blood.
Desperate to protect the reputation of the Home and to stop a scandal from spreading, Dickens takes the investigation into his own hands.
With the help of his good friend, Superintendent Sam Jones of Bow Street, and a description of the suspect as ‘a man with a crooked face’, Dicken’s search takes him deep into the filthy slums of Victorian London.
Can Dickens save his reputation? Will he found out the secrets of Patience Brooke’s troubled past?
Or will the killer strike again…?
H – I can’t rate this book highly enough. Something about Charles Dickens investigating was so interesting to me and I very much enjoyed this book. The language wasn’t overly complicated or hard to follow – I find many of the ‘classics’ hard to read because of the older language and structure – and I found I could fully immerse myself into the world given. I haven’t read the others in the series yet, but do plan on getting around to it.
6. The Confession by Jo Spain
Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.
An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.
Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?
H – Jo Spain’s books have become a slight obsession of mine over the course of this year. Something just clicks when I read her works and this was no exception. This book kept me guessing from beginning to end and it was another book that made me take a closer look at the characters but also made me think about the people I interact with on a daily basis and how much I really know about her. This is the second most recommended book of this year (and has found its way into many a Christmas present this year!)
7. The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle
When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island it begins to stir beneath his feet…
Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new keeper will rise.
But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.
H – If you want a book that is full of magic, adventure, emotion and family, then you really need to read this book. I thought the concept was incredibly interesting and unique, it manages to be both incredibly gripping and emotional at the same time. It’s full of heart-warming moments and really captures the essence of what a Children’s book should be.
8. The 1,000 Year Old Boy by Ross Welford
There are stories about people who want to live forever.
This is not one of those stories.
This is a story about someone who wants to stop…
Alfie Monk is like any other nearly teenage boy – except he’s 1,000 years old and can remember the last Viking invasion of England.
Obviously no one believes him.
So when everything Alfie knows and loves is destroyed in a fire, and the modern world comes crashing in, Alfie embarks on a mission to find friendship, acceptance, and a different way to lives…
…which means finding a way to make sure he will eventually die.
H – I found this incredibly lovable. Alfie was such a unique character with a distinctively loud voice that spoke to me on many levels as I read this book. The concept of the book is different and unusual but it’s also very moving and gripping. The story has to be lived, not just read, it transports you into Alfie’s world and you want to stay because you want to see how Alfie gets to the end of his story.
9. Prophesy by Peter James
A game that turns to a nightmare …
Non Omnis Moriar
I shall not altogether die
A young boy watches his mother die. A sadistic man dies in agony. Drunk students play with a Ouija board in a damp cellar. Can bricks and mortar retain imprints of the emotions experienced within them?
Frannie is delighted when a chance meeting with a handsome man and his son leads to a romance. The fact that the relationship is marred by gruesome tragedies, she dismisses as an unsettling coincidence. But eventually she can no longer ignore the fact that she is the only thing linking these horrible events. Is it a murderous practical joke?
H – I got a set of 8 Peter James books in the Black Fridays sales, totally an impulse purchase, as I had got the first of Peter James’s Roy Grace series but wanted a different introduction to his work. This kept me gripped from beginning to end in a heart racing, can’t quite believe it’s happening, adrenaline junkie kind of way. It was chilling and thrilling and lingered with me long after I’d finished reading!!
10. Possession by Peter James
A terrifying novel of a young man who is willing to defy everything. Even death…
Fabian Hightower has been killed in a car crash. At least, that is what a policeman is asking Alex, his mother to believe. But Alex knows she saw him that morning – at a time when he must have been dead.
When the funeral is over Alex tries hard to forget her bizarre experience. But her mind seems to be playing strange tricks on her, turning her grief into horror. When she turns to a medium her worst fears are realised. Fabian has unfinished business and he is determined to come back. But why?
Whatever the answer, something terrifies the medium so much she refuses to return. Alex longs to
turn to others for support. But there is a secret about Fabian that only she knows – a secret she must never share…
H – This book haunted me, dipping from good haunting to bad haunting the more I read and the more I thought about it. It was slightly addictive to read (I sacrificed many hours of sleep because I couldn’t put it down!) I understand now, why so many people recommend Peter James’s work. I have found myself recommending him constantly since I finished this book – and I have 6 more of his works to read!!
You will honestly not know how long and hard it was to narrow 140 books down to just 10. It was a slightly stressful process and I made many a list of pros and cons, to try and find which books were deserving of a top ten position.
I’ve been lucky in reading so many books this year. It has been a year of triumphs for me this year, thought there have been hard bits, I can say goodbye to 2019 knowing I had a good time and welcome 2020 with a hoard of more books!!!