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 Island Between Us’ by Wendy Hudson

‘The Island Between Us’ by Wendy Hudson is an atmospheric and wonderfully descriptive story set on a Hebridean Island off the coast of Scotland. Adventurer Georgia runs survivalist courses using the skills she has gained over many years travelling in the most remote areas of the world. When famous actress Kelsey signs up for one of her courses, Georgia initially has no idea who she is, or that they have a long-lost connection. The fierce Scottish weather leaves the group stranded and faced with using their newly acquired survival skills for real. How will they cope? And what will it mean for Georgia and Kelsey as they become reacquainted? 

Wendy Hudson has surpassed herself with this novel. The writing is excellent, with exquisite descriptions of the island and the dire situations the group face. She slowly ramps up the tension, making the adventure real and dangerous. The distinct personalities within the group add to the drama, and it is only by working together they can overcome the situation they are in. It’s about teamwork and camaraderie and realising what is important. The story is compelling, with characters I could believe in. Georgia was strong, and a born leader. She brought out the best in people – especially Kelsey. I loved seeing how they became a unit and encouraged the others to believe in themselves too. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Books, Beer and Lesfic Buddies – Wendy Hudson’s Book Launch

I attended the book launch party for Wendy Hudson’s latest novel, ‘Meant to be Me’ in Glasgow last night. It was a night of books, beer and lesfic buddies. Wendy chatted about her book and signed copies for the queue of fans, family and friends who had come to toast the success of her new book. Fellow writer Wendy Temple, author of ‘Defensive Mindset’, had travelled from Edinburgh to join the party, and Trish L. Devoy had flown in from Dublin. Wendy’s lovely Mum Carol was on hand to help as was her partner Lynsey.

Wendy Hudson and Kitty Kat at the book launch for ‘Meant to be Me”

The launch was held at The Curler’s Rest, a popular pub/restaurant on Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow. As anyone who knows Wendy will be aware, she is an aficionado of craft beers and she made sure her guests were able to partake of some of her favourite beverages.

Trish L. Devoy and Wendy Temple

‘Meant to be Me’ is Wendy’s third novel and is set in the beautiful Scottish city of Inverness. It is a is a heart-thumping, nerve-jangling, suspense story that had me glued to the page. I loved it and highly recommend it. I was delighted to be able to get Wendy to sign my copy last night, and it has pride of place beside ‘Four Steps’ and “Mine to Keep’ on my bookshelf.

Trish L. Devoy, Wendy Hudson and Wendy Temple
Wendy and her guests enjoy a fantastic evening in Glasgow
Wendy signing ‘Meant to be Me’

Review of ‘Meant To Be Me’ by Wendy Hudson

‘Meant To Be Me’  is a heart-thumping, nerve-jangling, suspense story that had me glued to the page. Inverness-based engineer Darcy has a stalker and finds it hard to let her guard down, even for a second. Her loyal best friend Anja is always on hand with support and work keeps her sane. When she literally bumps into an early morning jogger, Eilidh, she dares to hope that things may be looking up for her. Will the two women ever be able to find a way to get together? Circumstances and interference conspire to put stumbling blocks in their way. But there is much more to it than that.

I have read Wendy Hudson’s first two novels and found them seriously impressive. But I believe this is her best so far. She knows just how to ramp up the tension and this story had a psychological suspense element that had me on the edge of my seat. Just when I thought I knew where it was going I was surprised again and again. It was scary, perfectly pitched and did not let up. The baddie in the mix was so plausible and I wanted to scream out to Darcy. ‘Meant To Be Me’ is beautifully written and one that I can see me re-reading. Highly recommended.

Wendy Hudson’s Book Launch for ‘Mine To Keep’

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for Wendy Hudson’s latest novel from Ylva Publishing, ‘Mine To Keep’. The party was held at ‘The Curler’s Rest’ on Byres Road, Glasgow and gave fans of Wendy’s books a chance to meet her and chat about ‘Mine to Keep’ and her previous novel ‘The Four Steps’. She made everyone very welcome and signed numerous copies of both books, while taking time to talk with each reader.

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‘Mine to Keep’ is the story of maths teacher Erin who  books into a Scottish Castle hotel with a plan to research her difficult past, setting off a chain of events that lead to a tense, thrilling and frankly heart-stopping story that had me breathless. There is also a sweet and romantic relationship with hotel chef Abby and a further mystery that I won’t spoil. I loved it and had no hesitation giving it a 5 Star Review. It is getting rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as is her first published novel ‘Four Steps’ which won a GCLS award this year.

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Wendy’s mum and her girlfriend Lynsey were on hand to help and enjoyed chatting to those in attendance.

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Mine to Keep by Wendy Hudson

Four Steps by Wendy Hudson

Review of ‘Mine To Keep’ by Wendy Hudson

 

When maths teacher Erin books into a Scottish Castle hotel with a plan to research her difficult past she sets off a chain of events that had me hiding behind the metaphorical sofa. Nightmares from her childhood  begin to resurface, causing her to question the path she has taken. Meeting gorgeous chef Abby and her brother George brings some light and the hope of something more. I enjoyed the blossoming relationship between Erin and Abby. It was sweet and romantic with a fair bit of heat.  Of course the path of true love never runs smooth and the introduction of an irritating ex threatens to mar their happiness. The wonderful Scottish countryside setting was beautifully described and made me want to explore as Erin did. But the true strength of this book was Wendy Hudson’s skill in writing a tense, thrilling and frankly heart-stopping story that I couldn’t put down. She knows exactly how to ramp up the tension. Just when I thought I could relax she had me breathless again! A brilliant second novel from a very talented writer.

I was given this ARC by Ylva Publishing in return for an honest review.

Review of ‘Four Steps’ by Wendy Hudson

Four Steps
This is a truly wonderful book and I can’t quite believe it’s a first novel. The writing is so accomplished and I could not put it down. The story of Lori and Alex, who meet in a bothy in the Scottish Highlands while out walking the mountains, is part heart-achingly beautiful romance, part thriller. I loved both of the main characters and so wanted them to become a couple. Lori is getting over a failed romance with a control freak boyfriend and Alex is finally getting over a breakup. Both have complex background stories and we slowly find out exactly what that means to the present and to their future together. Their family backgrounds have huge implications for them and how their relationship develops. The romance element was tender and loving and drew me in. These two were so meant for each other and I didn’t want anyone or anything to get in the way. The thriller part of the story was at times violent and scary and the tension was palpable. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough and I hope Wendy Hudson has another one on the go for next year.
I was given this ARC free by Ylva Publishing in return for an honest review.