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:
- 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
‘Her Last Request’ by Mari Hannah is her best Kate Daniels story yet. When a murder victim leaves a note for whoever finds her, Kate is drawn into the life of the deceased, and must do everything she can to act on the one request she makes. ‘Find Aaron’. Who is Aaron and what danger is he in? It will take Kate into a world of fear, abuse and danger. Will her obsession affect her relationship with Jo – and will it put her partner in peril too? The story is full of tension and is impossible to put down.
You get fond of a character over the course of a few books and it’s scary to think something terrible could happen to them. It’s chilling and personal and it feels so very real. I know it’s fiction, but Mari Hannah makes me believe that these characters are real people, and so are the terrible things that happen to them. In this story the stakes are huge. This was the most immersive experience. The writing is of such high quality, the reader is transported to the world Kate Daniels inhabits. It was an excellent story, with an important message too.
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
‘Without A Trace’ is the best Kate Daniels book yet. It’s an emotionally intense, perfectly plotted story, that doesn’t let up for a second. When a plane goes missing over the Atlantic, with Kate’s soulmate on board, she stops at nothing, and is willing to break all the rules to find out what happened. Mari Hannah’s pacing ramps up the tension bit by bit, and takes the reader with Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels as she struggles to cope with the prospect of losing Jo. This is the book in which we see more of Kate than ever before. We see her vulnerabilities and her pain. I could feel that pain with her and like her, I held onto hope. The combination of personal and professional and the pull of her heart over the job was powerful. It’s something Daniels has always struggled with, but not to this extent before. Mari Hannah is an astounding talent in the field of crime writing, and here she is at the top of her game.
I was given this ARC to review.
‘The Scandal’ is a gripping story from the start, as a terrified woman flees for her life, frantically trying to evade her pursuer. I could feel her fear. But it is the investigation into another death that impacts DS Frankie Oliver and she finds herself in conflict with her boss, DI David Stone. The realism, be it of story, character or setting, really struck me.
Mari Hannah captures the emotions of her characters with such insight and precision. I appreciated that the police never lost sight of the victims and their families. I also can’t get enough of the North East as described in Ms Hannah’s novels. She moves from the beauty of the Northumberland countryside to the modern, vibrant city of Newcastle. This is the first of the Stone and Oliver series that I’ve read but I was so impressed that I’ll have to go and read the other two. An excellent read and highly recommended.
I was given this ARC for review by Netgalley and Orion.
This is my first Mari Hannah Book and I’m seriously impressed. Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels is a brilliant character, strong and capable but when it comes to her personal life I just wanted to shake her. She’s living in fear of her secret being found out and of losing what she has built in her job as a murder squad detective. The personal and professional become intertwined and it was interesting to see how she dealt with it all.
The story was tense, thrilling and creepy and was intensified by the short chapters. Mari Hannah’s writing had a gritty realism and the Newcastle and northeast area was a character in itself. I loved it and can’t wait to work my way through the whole series.