Category Archives: Thoughts and Blabberings

My thoughts about reading, review writing and blogging.

Bloomin’ Brilliant Books’ Favourite Reads of 2017

It’s that time of year again when I and other book bloggers try to narrow down our favourite books of the year. I can’t believe that 2017 is coming to an end! This year has flown by (a sure sign I’m getting old, I think) and it has been a fantastic year for books. So, after much deliberation, here are my favourite books of 2017 judged largely by the impact they had on me. Some of the books I have chosen were published in 2016, as this is about the books I have discovered this year. Click on the pictures to read my reviews.

The Book That Made Me Want to Adopt


Not adopt any child, however, but a specific child. That child was Mary in Ross Sayers’s gorgeous debut Mary’s The Name. I’m still astounded by Ross’s writing talent. His ability to write authentically from the perspective of an eight-year-old-girl as an adult man is amazing and he nailed it. Mary’s The Name is both heartbreakingly moving and laugh out loud funny. An absolute treasure.

The Book That Made Me Pee My Pants Laughing


The Day That Never Comes, the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin Trilogy, had me rolling on the floor laughing. While I love Bunny McGarry, it was Maggie the German Shepherd who stole the limelight for me in this book. The Day That Never Comes demonstrated the talent Caimh has for combining rip-roaring comedy with edge of your seat thriller – a match made in heaven. It was followed up in 2017 by the prequel Angels in The Moonlight which is also fantastic and a great place to start for anyone wanting to get into the series.

The Book That Made Me Sob


On the flipside there was a book this year that made me cry … a lot! I don’t cry very often (I have a hard heart, hahaha) but there is one thing guaranteed to get me sobbing and that is dogs. FJ Curlew’s Dan Knew had my face leaking at the end and this real-life tale about the Ukrainian street dog that is taken in by a British family is incredibly moving and really captures the essence of canine. A must read for dog lovers.

The Book That Took My Breath Away With Its Beauty


This undoubtedly has to be Sealskin by Su Bristow. This book based on the selkie myth is absolutely stunning and this is an outstanding debut. I loved everything about it and it is one of those books that has you thinking ‘If I could write, I would want to write like that.’ Every inch of Sealskin is sublime.

The Book That re-ignited My Love For The Gothic Novel


An eagerly anticipated book for me this year was House Of Spines by Michael J Malone. It has everything I have loved in a novel since my teenage years when I first discovered Du Maurier and the Brontes – the omnipresent house, the family secrets, the questionable sanity and the spine-tingling element. Simply wonderful!

The Book That Had Me Nodding In Recognition


This is an older book that I read this year and it is a novella rather than a full-length novel. Best Seller by Terry Tyler is the short book that packs a punch. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a strange love/hate relationship with social media. While it can be wonderful in so many ways it can also bring out the worst in people. Best Seller captures all of this with Terry’s acute observations of human behaviour. A deliciously dark tale.

Favourite Historical Fiction


I couldn’t decide between two books for this one so I’m including them both! I will start with The Shogun’s Queen by Lesley Downer is captivating, sumptuous and a book to be savoured. The story of the courageous Okatsu gets deep into your heart.

My other favourite book in this category is The Constant Soldier by William Ryan. A compelling look at the human condition and psyche during one of the most horrific acts in history – the holocaust – this book had me thinking about it for weeks afterwards.

The Book That Horrified Me


Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul Hardisty really had an impact on me and Paul’s ability to combine gripping thriller with political acuity is outstanding. Set in South Africa during two time zones – 1981 and 1996 – it is based on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is incredibly hard-hitting and I found I had to take breaks from this book, but is a book that should be read.

The Book That Totally Transported Me To Another Place


Sandlands by Rosy Thornton is a collection of short stories all set on the mudflats and marshes of Suffolk. Rosy’s stunning prose is haunting and evocative and you become completely immersed in the surroundings in each beautiful tale.

My All Time Favourite Book of 2017


My favourite book of 2017 has to be Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski. A creepy, ethereal blend of folklore and social media that bristles with unease and tension, Six Stories is quite unlike anything I have ever read before. Utterly refreshing with a different take on how crime/thrillers are usually presented Six Stories is highly original. I have been lucky enough to read Matt’s second book, Hydra, and it would seem that my prediction that Matt is an author to keep your eye on is correct as Hydra is equally brilliant.

So, those are my choices. Do you agree/disagree on any of them? Which books have been your favourites of 2017? Please feel free to comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Bloomin’ Brilliant Books’ Favourite Reads of 2016

I have pondered over this post for a couple of weeks and it has been incredibly difficult to narrow it down into my all time favourite books because 2016 has been an incredible year. There have been so many books that I have loved but this would be a ridiculously long post if I included them all so I told myself to keep it to ten. Being an emotional reader I have decided to base it on the books that had the biggest emotional impact on me.

You can click on the title of each to read my full review. So, in no particular order, here goes…

The book that made my skin crawl and stuck with me for days…
My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor

My Husband's Son

Deborah’s debut novel is gritty, seedy and the ending totally shocked me. It got right under my skin and I couldn’t shake off the feelings it evoked in me for days. A fantastic debut novel, I can’t wait to read more by Deborah in the future.

The book that totally transported me to a different time and place…
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

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Another debut novel, Goats and Sheep is set during the long hot summer of 1976. Joanna brought back so many memories of that time and the early 1980’s with her rich descriptions that every time I settled down to read it I was living, breathing and feeling that era. Goats and Sheep is also a beautifully written, intricate novel – a truly breathtaking debut that makes you laugh and think.

The book that made me feel as though I was going to have a heart attack…
See How They Run by Tom Bale

See How They Run

Bloomin’ heck this book took me on one hell of a ride. The pace never lets up and it is relentless. Utterly gripping, Tom has written one hell of a page turner with a momentum that never ceases.

The book that sent shivers down my spine…
Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent

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From the amazing first line to the shock ending this deliciously dark book left me open-jawed and gasping. Full of hideous characters (which I love) Liz has written what could quite possibly be the most chilling psychological thriller I have read in a long time. Absolute perfection!

The book which made me read lines over and over again…
Jacques by Tanya Ravenswater

Jacques

This book is poetically written and to be savoured as you take in the sheer gorgeousness of the prose. One of those books that makes you think ’I wish I could write like that’.

The book that totally enchanted me…
Himself by Jess Kidd

Himself

Totally beguiling and wonderfully written, Jess incorporates stunning symbolism and descriptions in this dark yet funny novel. I love gothic novels and Himself incorporated all that I love about them.

The book that made my heart ache…
The Mountain In My Shoe by Louise Beech

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Louise’s book touched me so deeply, she has conveyed the emotions of a child within the care system with empathy, intelligence and real insight. I challenge anyone not to be totally moved by this book.

The book that outraged me…
Untouchable by Sibel Hodge

Untouchable

Sibel has created both a tense thriller and an authentic social and political commentary. A story about injustice and how the elite can get away with literally anything, Untouchable really hit a nerve with me.

The book that made me howl with laughter…
Melody Bittersweet And The Girl’s Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French

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This book totally cheered me up when I most needed it. Melody is kooky and off-the-wall and her antics with The Girl’s Ghostbusting Agency produce hilarious resultsPerfect lighthearted reading.

The book that re-ignited one of my past interests…
The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

The Secret Wife

I have always been fascinated by Russian history but had kind of forgotten about it if that makes sense? Gill reminded me of this interest in her wonderfully written part fiction/part historically accurate account of Grand Duchess Tatiana and cavalry officer Dmitri. Completely capturing the time and setting Gill made me cry with this beautiful tale of love in extreme circumstances.
There are so many other books I have loved this year and could write a post that would take days to read. I want to give a big shout out as well to Helen MacKinven for Buy Buy Baby, Susan Gandar for We’ve Come To Take You Home, Simon Booker for Without Trace, Chris Brookmyre for Black Widow, Sam Carrington for Saving Sophie and Jane Corry for My Husband’s Wife as these six books stuck in my mind (click on the pictures for my review).  And that’s it…time to walk away from this post before I add any more!

Buy Buy BabyWe've Come to Take You HomeIMG_20160615_134144

Black WidowSaving SophieFB_IMG_1464031982080

So what do you think of my choices? Are any of these books in your top reads of 2016? I would love to hear your thoughts.