My Best Books of 2021!

This year has been another difficult one, but authors have stepped up and given us some amazing stories. I struggled to whittle my favourite books of the year down to a reasonable number. There was no way I could stop at a Top Ten, but I managed a Top Fifteen. These are the books that made my year, and I highly recommend each and every one. Here they are, listed in no particular order:

  1. The Tell Tale by Clare Ashton

2. A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry

3. The Island Between Us by Wendy Hudson 

4. The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan 

5. Ignis by KJ

6. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

7. Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R Austin

8. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

9. The End Of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

10. Her Last Request by Mari Hannah

11. The Dead Of Winter by Nicola Upson

12. Song Of Serenity by Brey Willows

13.The Appeal by Janice Hallett

14. Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

15. Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Review of ‘The Tell Tale’ by Clare Ashton

‘The Tell Tale’ by Clare Ashton is outstanding. My book of the year by a long way. Lady Sophie Melling is lady of the manor, but the men of the village will not accept it. Her former schoolfriend Beth Harris is back in the village after years away. Like most people she has a secret, and when nasty notes begin appearing it looks like her secret may be revealed to all. Who is leaving the notes? And what does it have to do with unexplained events twenty years ago? As the tension builds, a sense of foreboding clings to the village and its inhabitants. 

This is the best novel Clare Ashton has written. My jaw dropped again and again as the shocking realities were revealed. The exquisite writing, beautiful descriptions, and insight into the welsh language and people had me mesmerised. I could feel the fear of the villagers as they received their vicious notes, and the all-pervading abuse of power by certain men of the village. But I could also feel the growing confidence of the women as they tried to be true to themselves and fight against it all. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. If you only read one book this year, let it be ‘The Tell Tale’. You will not regret it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘That Certain Something’ Audiobook by Clare Ashton

This is such a sweet story, and has two of the most adorable main characters. They are so different from each other, but seem to click beautifully. Pia is a romantic, whilst Cate seems to think you have to spend to make a date special. Can Pia show Cate that love doesn’t need to cost?

I loved the London setting and seeing little pockets of the city through Pia and Cate’s eyes. This is a story to make the reader swoon. I enjoyed the narration by Jessica Jeffries too. She pitched it perfectly.

Kitty’s Top Ten Books of 2020

We’ve all relied on distractions this year. I know I have. Books have been a lifeline and have taken us to other places, far away from the world we’ve had to live in.

I have read so many wonderful books over the past twelve months, so choosing a Top Ten has been extremely difficult. Only three have been pure romance and each of the three were exceptional. Two were mystery and crime stories and among the best I’ve ever read in that genre. The remaining books on my list veered into other genres – science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural. I needed some escapism it seems. 

I recommend each and every one and hope that you will have a look at my reviews and maybe try them for yourselves. Here are my Top Ten, in alphabetical order

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton

The Lost Temple of Psiere by K Aten

The Thing About Tilly by G Benson

Never Too Late for Heroes by A.L. Brooks

Spirited by Julie Cohen

Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star by Fletcher Delancey

Without A Trace by Mari Hannah 

Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Whispering Wildwood by Emma Sterner-Radley

 

Review of ‘Finding Jessica Lambert’ by Clare Ashton

Jess can’t take any more. Everyone wants something from her and it seems like the whole world expects her to live up to an unattainable ideal. When a kind stranger takes care of her when she needs it most, her life changes. Anna has her own problems, but doesn’t hesitate to help the panicked young woman. As they hide from the world in Anna’s tiny rooftop flat, they learn about each other and themselves. Can a chance meeting spark the change that each of them needs?

‘Finding Jessica Lambert’ is an absolute joy of a book. It’s about two women who just click. Two women who know what’s its like to be on the very edge. Who know what it’s like to crave space and an escape from it all. It’s heartbreaking at times, but also beautifully romantic and sensual. It’s about meeting your soulmate. About finding the one and having the courage to be with them. It’s also about the perceptions we have of people, and how they can be way off the mark. There are so many layers to this story that I can see if being one of my favourite re-reads for years to come. I adored it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Ireland – Peace, Quiet and Lots of Reading!

Enjoying the peaceful Irish countryside – reading as usual

I have just returned home after a wonderful two-week holiday in Ireland. I took full advantage of the quiet countryside to catch up on some reading. In this photo I was engrossed in ‘Steel City Confidential’ , a new thriller by Anne Hagan. The Carlingford Mountains are behind me and The Irish Sea in front. I could have heard a pin drop in the garden of the cottage, so it was the ideal location to read.

The Irish Sea

Whilst there I also read ‘A Shot at Love’ by T.B. Markinson and ‘After Mrs Hamilton’ by Clare Ashton. I can certainly recommend a trip to the emerald isle for those seeking a space to relax. I was also able to get some writing done and squirrel away some ideas for future stories. Of course there are plenty of things to do for those days when you want to get out and about. I visited The Giant’s Causeway, Portrush, Dublin, Dundalk and had many lovely meals out at some truly fantastic restaurants. All in all a truly memorable trip.