Sunday, 11 December 2016

My favourite books - Top reads of 2016

My pick of the best books which I've read in 2016

It's that time of year when I look back over another year which has been mapped out in books.

I've read some superb fiction this year, including several great debuts by new authors.

Here are my top 15 books which I've read over the past year.

My very favourite genre is superbly imagined suspenseful literary historical novels, of which there never seem to be quite enough to completely satisfy my desire for dramatic fictional time travel.

Although lacking in quantity the quality this year has been superb and the ones mentioned here have included several outstanding historical mysteries and dramas based around factual events.

Click on the title for a reminder of my review:

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

A haunting romance set in a grim asylum in North Yorkshire in the early 1900s.

The Unseeing - By Anna Mazzola

A Shrewd and genius work of fiction woven around a true crime in London in the first half of the nineteenth century

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Another cleverly constructed novel woven around factual events, following the story of a nurse who served with Florence Nightingale who is appointed to observe a young girl in Ireland who refuses to eat.

To the bright edge of the world - Eowyn Ivey

An unusual and different haunting romantic adventure set in 19th century Alaska and again worked around real exploration of the last wildrenesses.

Two to watch for in 2017:

The Witchfinders sister by Beth Underdown

This is yet another richly imagined work of fiction describing the life of real life character Matthew Hopkins the notorious Witchfinder General responsible for the persecution and trail of many women accused of witchcraft in the mid 17th century. Its not due out until 2017 so I guess it cheating a bit to put it on my list but its one to watch for in 2017.

It would be remiss of me not to mention that there is another superb book on my radar, which I have been lucky enough to read in advance of publication, however its also not due for publication until January next year.

But I loved it so much I wanted to recommend it as one to watch out for:

It is called See What I have done by Sarah Schmidt and it reworks the true crime of Lizzie Borden who "gave her father 40 whacks"

Here's a sneak preview of the cover:

Finally in my historical fiction is one which is just a little different to the usual.

A strange and delightful quirky novel set in the 1970s

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

captivated and enchanted me as the girl who lived in the lost and found office at Liverpool station spun her way through life.

Moving from historical fiction now we end up at my next favourite choice of reading entertainment - to be terrified and horrified by twisty psychological fiction and again this year I have discovered some corkers.

Invisible by Barbara Copperthwaite

Blew my socks right off. This first novel by an author whose later work Flowers for the dead featured highly in my favourite reads of last year. She is one of my favourite authors because she can create amazing serial killers and take you right inside their brains. A scary capability of which I am in awe.

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings 

is a tale of lies, secrets and deception which I described as phenomenal after reading it.

Valentina by S E Lynes

a multi layered and exceptionally gripping Domestic Noir thriller

Inside the Whispers by A J Waines

is the first in a new series of thrillers based around the work of clinical psychologist Samantha Willerby.

I also read and loved No longer safe by the same author in 2016 and it was a difficult choice which of this fabulous writers works to choose to be in my top reads, but inside the whispers won by a narrow margin due to the very real anticipation for the next book in the series for which I cannot wait.

Good me, Bad me by Ali Land 

fairly leapt into my top reads a chilling and terrifying debut novel which took me deep into the psyche of an abused child as a teenager who is the main witness to the heinous crimes of her Mother. Oh so deliciously dark and deep.

My sisters bones by Nuala Ellwood

is a terrifying exploration of ptsd and mental illness which is wonderfully written and shook me to the core

Next is a work of exceptional womens fiction

My Husbands Wife by Amanda Prowse

Emotional and quite harrowing it is the very relatable story of a women who loses everything and when she's down life keeps on kicking her.

Nina Is NOT ok by Shappi Khorsandi 

is a raw and shocking, no holds barred look at teenage alcoholism

Aimed at young adults this is a must read for anyone who's ever woken up fuzzy headed and hungover wondering what they said or did.

Appropriately Last but not least is the very different

The Last one by Alexandra Oliva

A tense and exciting post apocalyptic reality tv show based drama like Bear Grylls meets the Hunger Games.

I hope you find something that's passed you by in my selection and if we have similar tastes watch this space for reviews of all the exciting new books I know are to be discovered in 2017.


  1. What a great list Janet. I've read a few of these and I'm hoping that Santa might bring me a few that I haven't! 😉

    1. Which ones are highest on your Christmas wishlist? :)

    2. The Ballroom and The Finding of Martha Frost would be at the top I think ;)

  2. What a super list with at least five. Poke that may well make my top ten too!

    1. Poke that? predictive text lol guess you mean some that? Glad you enjoyed my list and we agree on many x

  3. Thanks so much for including The Unseeing! We evidently have similar reading taste, as I loved loads of these too.


    1. Glad to hear we have similar tastes must be why I loved your book so much x

  4. Oh! So delighted to be on your list, Jan! Thank you! *pinches self*


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