2016 Book list
Well this is more impressive than last year’s 27. I managed to pass my original target of 35 which I then extended to 45 and my final count was 52. Hopefully I will be able to sustain this rate. I made good use of the library this year.
For one of my online book groups I had to pick my 10 favourites. I thought that would be easy – just check out the highest rated, i.e. those with 5*. Not that simple – I ended up going through the list and updating my ratings. The books are listed in the order that I read them. My 10 favourites are in bold.
Not Forgetting the Whale – John Ironmonger 5* I thought this was going to be quite dark as it’s apocalyptic in a way but it turned out to be a really enjoyable read.
A Year of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman 3*
The Secret by the Lake – Louise Douglas 4* Essentially a mystery but with a ghostly element.
Crooked Heart – Lissa Evans 3*
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller 2* FINALLY FINISHED! I hate giving up on books and this one was a real challenge and very long. The writing is clever but it could have been a lot shorter.
Letters to the Lost – Iona Gray 4* Two love stories linked by letters.
The Redeemer – Jo Nesbo 4* Another in the Harry Hole series. Classic crime fiction.
The One that Got Away – Simon Wood 4* Crime fiction
The Life I Left Behind – Collette McBeth 4* Crime fiction
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins 3* Not sure this quite lived up to the hype but I enjoyed it.
Do No Harm – Henry Marsh 5* This is the only non-fiction book I managed this year, but was really interesting. Henry Marsh is a renowned brain surgeon. I wouldn’t want to work for him but if I needed brain surgery I’d want him as my surgeon. (Or maybe someone he’s trained as I think he’s probably retired now.)
The Ice Twins – S.K. Tremayne 3* A story revolving around the death of a twin. I found how the family dealt with this (moving away to a remote Scottish island) a bit unrealistic.
Moving – Jenny Éclair 4* Wasn’t sure what to expect from the author but I enjoyed this book. Edwina has reached a stage in her life where she needs to sell the family home. A good study of family relationships.
Vanessa and Her Sister – Priya Parmar 3* A fictitious study of Vanessa and Virginia Woolf based on actual letters. Interesting but hard to follow at times.
Broken Promise – Linwood Barclay 5* This is just a good old page turner of a crime thriller.
The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh 3* Romantic fiction.
I Let you Go – Clare Mackintosh 4* This book had me rereading large chunks to see how I’d missed the twist.
The Girl in the Red Coat – Kate Hamer 3* This is about a child abduction but I found some of it far fetched.
Memory Man – David Baldacci 4* Baldacci is a new favourite of mine.
The Food of Love – Prue Leith 2* Romantic fiction that I didn’t realise was the first in a series. Consequently the ending was very unsatisfactory and I didn’t enjoy the book enough to want to read the next in the series.
Room – Emma Donoghue * Speaks for itself.
First One Missing – Tammy Cohen 3* Psychological thriller but police procedures are a bit glossed over. Told from different POVs so also a bit confusing at times.
The Accident – Linwood Barclay 4* Another good crime fiction from a favourite author.
Alone with the Dead – James Nally 2* Essentially a crime thriller with a bit of paranormal thrown in. Didn’t grip me. Didn’t like the characters.
The Bones of You – Debbie Howells 4* This is about the loss of a child and a very dysfunctional family. Not the easiest of reads but it kept me guessing.
The Kindness – Polly Samson 3* This is about complicated family relationships and although I enjoyed the writing it’s written from different POVs and the ending is wrapped up very quickly.
The 100 Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson 5* This book had me laughing out loud. Always a good recommendation.
While my Eyes were Closed – Linda Green 4* A missing child, how it happened and the outcome. There are no dramatic surprises but it kept me absorbed.
Ursula’s Secret – Mairi Wilson 4* This book is quite hard to follow at times and I thought it was going to be a story of unrequited love but it turned out to be much more.
Follow Me – Angela Clarke 3*Crime thriller but brought up to date by bringing in social media.
One Small Act of Kindness – Lucy Dillon3*Light hearted read but with the thread of paying forward an act of kindness carried through it.
The Judge’s Wife – Ann O’Loughlin 3*An overbearing husband, a missing baby and unrequited love.
The Ballroom Café – Ann O’Loughlin 4* Two sisters living together in a large family house but not speaking – communicating by notes. One decides to open a café in the house to bring in funds. Interwoven with a story of Nuns passing on babies for adoption from unwed Mothers.
Missing Presumed – Susie Steiner 4* A good solid crime fiction revolving around a missing person. Didn’t go where I expected it to,
The Lake House – Kate Morton 4* Another mystery involving a missing child. Well written (although a bit long) it kept me engaged but I felt some of the loose ends were tied up too neatly at the end.
House of Dreams – Fanny Blake 3* A nice light hearted read – good holiday book.
The Turning Tide – Brooke Magnanti 2* Is it a murder mystery? A political farce? Or about a woman facing a midlife crisis? It tries to do all 3 but it’s no House of Cards.
Summer with My Sister – Lucy Diamond 3* Another ideal read for summer.
Late Summer in the Vineyard – Jo Thomas 3* And another summer read!
Beside Myself – Ann Morgan 2* Another book about twins. The story centres around the twins switching identities and the consequences. I found it a bit far fetched.
Fire and Rain – Diane Chamberlain 3* I’m a Chamberlain fan but this took a while to get into. Complicated relationships that felt a bit disjointed.
The Light Between the Oceans – M.L. Stedman * Beautiful. Sad, but beautiful.
The Girls – Lisa Jewell 4* A disturbing tale of how newcomers can change the dynamics of established friendships and the extremes to which some people will go driven by jealousy and a need for revenge.
A Room Swept White – Sophie Hannah 4* Essentially a murder mystery but quite a complicated plot.
Time of Death – Mark Billingham 3*I’ve read several of Billingham’s books – crime fiction based around the detective Tom Thorne. I don’t think this was one of his best but it still kept me engrossed.
The Liar – Nora Roberts 3* Shelby, the heroine in this tale, returns home after her husband is killed and she is left with massive debts. A story of lies begins to unravel leading to a dramatic but ultimately happy ending. An easy read, bit predictable and a bit long.
Look at Me – Sarah Duguid 4* This book grew on me and I began to appreciate the descriptive writing and the author’s understanding of grief. Based around Lizzie, her brother and her father, all still mourning the loss of their Mother. Into this mix Lizzie invites Eunice, a half-sister they didn’t know they had.
Calling Mrs Christmas – Carole Matthews 4* A lovely topical read just before Christmas. Cassie and Jim are struggling to make ends meet. Cassie reinvents herself as Mrs Christmas, offering her services to local businesses and people who need help organising Christmas. It has beautiful descriptions of Lapland and an Ice Hotel but also what the real meaning of Christmas should be.
You Belong to Me – Samantha Hayes 2* This is essentially a story of stalking. It’s creepy and has a major twist in it but I found some of it just too far fetched.
Did You Ever Have a Family – Bill Clegg 2* This is beautifully written at times but the basis of the story, (a woman loses her home and all her closest loved ones in a fire) is quite dark. The aftermath is told from lots of different POVs and overall I found I just didn’t like it or feel any empathy to the characters.
A Life Without You – Katie Marsh 5* This book is about a daughter reconnecting with her estranged Mother and then losing her again as she succumbs to Alzheimer’s. Sounds really miserable but it isn’t all doom and gloom.
All I Ever Wanted – Lucy Dillon 4* A nice easy read. Just right for after Christmas. Caitlin has separated from her husband and is trying to get her life on track. But then Nancy, her four year old daughter becomes a selective mute. Sad at times but with humour as well, wanting to know how the family situation is resolved kept me reading.