Best of the Best

Every year, around this time, I pull together a top ten list of books that I’ve read.  This is usually a difficult choice because over the course of 12 months I usually manage to fit in a good number of books and given that I don’t force myself to read those that I’m not enjoying these are mostly all good reads.  This year is no exception although for once (in perhaps 15 years) I haven’t read 100 books.  This is a new all time low for me which I put down to a mid year hiatus where I read and blogged very little.  My reading is back to normal now, I’m pleased to say, and I have plenty of great books to look forward to so far this year. So, this is part 1 of my ‘Best of’ list.  I’ll be doing a further post to highlight some of my other great reads but this is about choosing my absolute favourites.  Without further ado:


The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

In a nutshell.  This book has so many winning elements.  A thrilling adventure.  A twisted ending.  Characters that you can love (and hate), a jaw dropping conclusion and also one that is packed with emotion and a series that manages to be fantasy and science fiction combined.


The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

This story compelled me to keep turning the pages into the early hours.  I loved the choice of narrator, the world is developed with (more than likely) deceptive ease, the murder mystery is intriguing and more complex than first meets the eye and, well, put simply, it just won me over so easily and quickly.  I can’t wait to read the second instalment which is now waiting on my shelves.


Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

I would say that not only did I like Insomnia but I liked it even more than Behind Her Eyes.  It’s a perfect jumble of crazy mixed up, spiralling out of control, sleepless insanity.  Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on it turned out I was wrong and I just love the way that the ending is totally out there – let’s just say #wtfthatending


The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne

Gwynne is an author who excels at action scenes and all them are breathtakingly described.  I had my heart in my throat every time shields locked wondering whether any favourites would fall under the axe.  There’s also wonderful moments of camaraderie and banter, or cunning snippets of other scenes playing out and weaving the story together.  The pacing is just so well planned and I loved the way that as the story progresses you have these shorter chapters that really pack a punch and I have to acknowledge it drove my reading on into the early hours with the age old ‘just one more chapter’.


Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher

Fairytale style stories are absolutely one of my favourite reads and I’m always on the lookout for more.  This is an author that I hadn’t read before but have wanted to do so for quite some time and now, with the benefit of Nettle and Bone under my belt, I can genuinely say that I will be visiting all her previous books.  I loved this book so much.  It’s full of everything that I enjoy, it’s got elements of old fairy tales but as the same time feels unique.  It takes us on a wild ride to a far away kingdom.  There are princesses in distress, people who can talk to the dead, a dog that came back to life, amazing characters and the beginnings of a sweet romance.


Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandell

I am in complete awe of this author and can’t even begin to outline how impressive this book is.  On the face of it this is a standalone story that fundamentally connects the lives of four people who share an experience through a strange anomaly, a glitch in the system if you will, that in the future will be scrutinised and investigated by a time travel agency.  Dig a little deeper and this novel actually brings together elements from the author’s previous works (definitely The Glass Hotel and also I think Station Eleven) in the most eye popping feat.  If that wasn’t enough, one of the characters is an author herself, of a post apocalyptic book that has become a bestseller.  There are so many little twists and turns in this book all finished off with a mouth dropping conclusion that is simply brilliant.  Read it – please.


Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I picked this one up and was immediately intrigued with the storytelling voice. There’s an almost ethereal feel to the way the narrative is delivered and this is strengthened by the unusual setting and the dysfunctional family that we are introduced to.  Feeney starts out with a captivating hook, she then lets us run on the line enjoying the freedom to explore the remote setting and the histrionics of the Darker family before reeling us in to a climatic and dramatic grand finale.  Brilliant.

Daisy Darker

A Dowry of Blood by ST Gibson

I will say from the outset that I loved this.  I was gripped from beginning to end and couldn’t put it down.  This is my catnip.  Retelling famous stories from the point of view of side characters, victims or misunderstood characters is popular without a doubt at the moment and I for one am enjoying this trend.  Dowry of Blood is no exception.  Take the classic vampire story, Dracula, and take a look at him and his life through the eyes of three of his ‘children’.  Dracula’s chosen ones.  A story with a message.


Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson

Miss Percy is an absolutely delightful, regency period, fantasy of manners style story that won me over with ease.  The writing is wonderful, the plot is well thought out and totally absorbing, the characters are Austen-eque but with a slightly more uptodate sensibility and for those readers out there who usually shy away from fantasy elements, but who are in good need of a period drama, I implore you to give it a try, because, whilst I cannot deny that the inclusion of a dragon definitely falls most firmly into the realm of make-believe, the way this story is told, it feels almost less sensational than forgetting to wear a bonnet.  Please give it a try, I’d love to discuss your thoughts about this one.


Emily Wilde Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

I don’t have a link to a review for this book yet as it’s a recent read that I’ll be posting about shortly.  I did love this book though and highly recommend it.  Simply superb.



Some more Goodies

Posted On 2 January 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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So, I made a list of ten books that I absolutely loved in 2021.  You can find it here.  I also decided to post some of my other great books because there were plenty (I tried to keep this within reason although this could very easily have been doubled or trippled!)

I wanted to highlight some of the other great books I’ve read this year because, although it has been a funny year (with a very strange ending (see this!) there has been some very good books.  My thanks to the bloggers, authors and publishers that make up this wonderful community.  Anyway, to the list and don’t spare the keyboard:

Great start to series

MaskofThe Mask of Mirrors by MA Carrick

Great second books in series

queen 154304266The Two Faced Queen by Nick Martell

Great ending to series

TheFallofThe Fall of Koli by MR Carey


ShapeofThe Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell


Shiver1Shiver by Allie Reynolds


iddenThe Hidden by Melanie Golding


LastoneLast One to the Party by Bethany Clift


M7The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

Romantic Fantasy

Scales andScales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis

Science Fiction

EchoThe Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey


AlltheMurmuringAll The Murmuring Bones by AG Slatter

Historic Fiction

Drowned CityThe Drowned City by KJ Maitland

Ancient History

the womenofThe Women of Troy by Pat Barker

Norse fiction

hallHall of Bones by Tim Hardie


LaterLater by Stephen King


MrsRochester'sghostMrs Rochester’s Ghost by Lindsay Marcott

Best of the Best list : 2019

As with previous years I’ve been through my list of books for the year and tried to narrow my favourites down to a top ten, I was leaving this until the last possible moment but I realise that I’m not going to squeen any last minute books into my queue at this stage.  I must say that I’ve had an amazing year of reading and I can’t deny this was a difficult list to draw up and I have no doubt I’ve missed a number of books off here that I would also like to shout out about – but, there comes a point where you have to draw the line. Also, for info, these may not all be 2019 releases.

Here are my ten favourite reads of the year:

  1. The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  2. Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
  3. A Time of Blood by John Gwynne
  4. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  5. A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
  6. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
  7. The Bone Ships by RJ Barker
  8. The Black Hawks by David Wragg
  9. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
  10. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

And, because it was so difficult to choose only 10 I have a few other categories which means I can choose a few more books that I want to highlight (because I like to cheat):

Great beginning to series:

  1. (The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
  2. The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons
  3. Westside by WM Akers
  4. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson (not entirely sure there will be more but I’m hopeful)

Great conclusion to series:

  1. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
  2. House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark
  3. The King of Assassins by RJ Barker – review to follow

Fantastic Urban Fantasy

  1. The Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher
  2. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse
  3. Strange Practice by Vivien Shaw
  4. Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw
  5. Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw
  6. The Hanged Man by KD Edwards

Great Sci Fi/futuristic

  1. One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
  2. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
  3. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
  4. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  5. Ration by Cody T Luff
  6. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence
  7. Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin King

Great Gothic or dark reads

  1. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  2. The Corset by Laura Purcell
  3. The Truants by Kate Weinberg
  4. Mistletoe by Alison Littlewood

Great Magical Realism

  1. The World that we Knew by Alice Hoffman
  2. Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein
  3. The Strawberry Thief (Chocolat #4) by Joanne Harris

Great Standalone:

  1. Never Die by Rob J Hayes
  2. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge – review to follow

In total I have read 109 books this year.  I have reviewed 103 with six outstanding reviews to follow in the New Year.  Eight of my books have been audio. My reading focuses mainly on fantasy but there is also a light sprinkling of murder mystery, historic and horror books.  My complete list of reading is below with links to reviews.

  1. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
  2. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
  3. The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  4. The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
  5. The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
  6. Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne
  7. Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc
  8. Fog Season by Patrice Sarath
  9. The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons
  10. Thornbound (The Harwood Spellbook #2) by Stephanie Burgis
  11. The Taking of Annie Thorne C. J. Tudor
  12. White Stag by Kara Barbieri
  13. Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter
  14. The Anointed by Keith Ward (one of the SPFBO finalists)
  15. Bound by Mark Lawrence
  16. Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon
  17. The True Queen by Zen Cho
  18. The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty
  19. Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
  20. The Strawberry Thief (Chocolat #4) by Joanne Harris
  21. The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
  22. The Dollmaker by Nina Allan
  23. Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
  24. Aching God (Iconoclasts #1) by Mike Shel
  25. The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters
  26. Sowing (The Purification Era #1) by Angie Grigaliunas
  27. The Binding by Bridget Collins
  28. A Time of Blood by John Gwynne
  29. One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
  30. The Brotherhood of the Wheel by RS Belcher
  31. Emily Eternal by M G Wheaton
  32. A Boy and His dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher
  33. Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse
  34. Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
  35. Ruthless Magic  by Megan Crewe
  36. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
  37. The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss
  38. The Furies by Katie Lowe
  39. Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen
  40. Westside by WM Akers
  41. A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
  42. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  43. The Poison Song by Jen Williams
  44. We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
  45. Orconomics by J Zachary Pike
  46. Council by Snorri Kristjansson
  47. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
  48. The Red Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear
  49. Queenslayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  50. Priest of Lies by Peter McLean
  51. The Fall by Tracy Townsend
  52. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence
  53. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
  54. The Corset by Laura Purcell
  55. The Whisper Man by Alex North
  56. Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  57. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

  58. Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa
  59. The Toll by Cherie Priest
  60. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  61. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Storm
  62. Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham
  63. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
  64. Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson
  65. Cry Havoc by Mike Morris
  66. The Undoing of Arlo Knott by Heather Child
  67. Lord of Secrets by Breanna Teintze
  68. The Truants by Kate Weinberg
  69. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  70. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  71. House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark
  72. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz
  73. The Witch Who Courted Death by Marie Lewis
  74. Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
  75. Brightfall by Jamie Lee Moyer
  76. Healer’s Ruin by Chris O’Mara
  77. Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin King
  78. Strange Practice by Vivien Shaw
  79. For Emily by Katharine Slee
  80. The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga
  81. A Shadow on the Lens by Sam Hurcom
  82. Ration by Cody T Luff
  83. Bone China by Laura Purcell
  84. The World that we Knew by Alice Hoffman
  85. Violetby Scott Thomas
  86. The Bone Ships by RJ Barker
  87. The Black Hawks by David Wragg
  88. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
  89. The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
  90. Mistletoe by Alison Littlewood
  91. Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw
  92. From the Shadows of the Owl Queen’s Court by Benedict Patrick
  93. Grave Importance by Vivian Shaw
  94. Ivory Applesby Lisa Goldstein
  95. The Absinthe Earl by Sharon Lynn Fisher
  96. Songs From the Deepby Kelly Powell
  97. Dark Pattern by Andrew Mayne
  98. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  99. Never Dieby Rob J Hayes
  100. The Blade Within by Jackson Lear
  101. Vortex Visionsby Elise Kova
  102. River of Thieves by Clayton Snyder
  103. Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of the Less Valued Knights by Liam Perrin
  104. The Hanged Man by KD Edwards
  105. Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence
  106. The Land You Never Leave by Angus Watson
  107. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
  108. The King of Assassins by RJ Barker
  109. Where Gods Fear to Go by Angus Watson