My Top 10 Books of 2015!

top books copy

I’ve read 167 books this year, which isn’t quite as many as I normally read but it’s not bad considering I had major surgery in the summer and didn’t read anything at all for quite a few weeks. It was still very hard to get it down to a top ten though as I have read so many great books this year. I only started blogging at the start of September and I’ve compiled my top ten from books I’ve read over the whole year so some of these books don’t have reviews.

The first nine books in my list are in no particular order as they were all fab, and are all books that are still swirling around in my mind. There was one book that I read this year that simply had to be number one, so I have made a top pick this time around!

Here goes…

(The books that I’ve reviewed have clickable links underneath the images)

My Top 10 books of 2015

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

 

Suicide Notes for Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

I read this book before I started my blog so I haven’t reviewed it but I’ve picked it for my top ten because I read it earlier this year and I can still remember the plot vividly and still think about the characters. Of all the thrillers I’ve read this year, this one was the best because it was so twisty that I just couldn’t work out who to trust or how it might end.


 

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony

Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart by Jane St. Anthony

I requested this book on Net Galley soon after signing up as the title just jumped out at me. This is a YA/MG novel but, like all the best books written for young people, it explores things in a way that while seemingly simple, have a huge impact on the reader. This is a brilliant novel exploring loss and grief but is also an uplifting read.


 

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh

Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh

This is another novel that I read before I started my blog so I haven’t reviewed it but even though it’s months after I read it, I still keep thinking about it and even though I know how it ends it’s definitely a book that I’d like to re-read at some point. This novel has one of the best endings, it’s so unsettling, but it works brilliantly.


 

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink

This is one of the most beautiful and heart-breaking books I have read in a really long time. Cathy’s love for her brother shines off the page and I could feel her devastation at what happened to him. It’s a very moving read.


 

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

I read this novel quite recently and it’s made my top ten because I still feel unsettled by it. The story and the characters really got under my skin and I’m still thinking about the book even now. It had a similar effect on me as Du Maurier’s Rebecca; it unnerved me and yet I want to read it again and again (even though I’m generally someone who doesn’t like to be unnerved to the degree these books make me feel!).


 

The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

The Theseus Paradox by David Videcette

I only finished this book a week or two before Christmas but it made my list because when I compared it to other contenders for my top ten, it just kept jumping out at me. It’s so different to anything I’ve read in a really long time. It made me think, it was thrilling from the first page to the last, and I really hope it becomes the first in a series!


 

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

This book is a prime example of why I never compile my top books of the year list until the very last day of the year. I only read this book over the last couple of days (and at the time of compiling this post I haven’t even finished writing my review of it!) but it had such an impact that it simply had to be in my list. This is a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come. It raises such important issues around rape, consent and the social media age we live in. It’s a book I urge everyone to read. It’s a disturbing read but a must-read all the same.


 

normal by graeme cameron

Normal by Graeme Cameron

This was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I have never read a book before where I was in the mind of a serial killer and yet he seemed like an okay sort of man. He appears normal except for when he’s killing people, and that messes with your head in such a clever way that this book will stay with you for such a long time after you’ve read it.


 

 

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

I was offered the chance to review this book for a blog tour and I am so glad that I said yes. I devoured this novel and absolutely adored it. It’s a mystery novel set in 1920s London and I loved everything about it. The author really captures the period so well and she has such feisty, believable characters that it was impossible to put down. It was one of only two books to be added to my favourites this year and I already can’t wait for the next in the series. I highly recommend reading this.


 

and my top book of 2015 is…

 

 

*drum roll*

 

 

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

This book is incredible! It’s a very moving exploration of grief that will make you cry but by the end you feel such a sense of solace. Hogan looks at the different ways people grieve and the ways people try to move on; this novel is one that can be read on so many different levels. It’s a book that I know I will re-read many times in the future; I got so much comfort from it and it’s one I simply had to own in print so I could have it on my favourites book shelf where I could see it. I honestly can’t recommend this novel highly enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My November Wrap-Up Post!

Monthly Wrap-Up

I can’t believe I’m writing my November wrap-up post already, I don’t know where this month has gone! I’m loving blogging more and more as the weeks go by and it’s become such a massive part of my life now, I can’t imagine not being a blogger. It’s absolutely second nature to me now to make notes as I’m reading and to write a review as soon as I’ve finished a book. I’m slowly getting to grips with WordPress too.

This month I added a new section to my blog… a shelf were I can add all my favourite books. Please check that out here. I’ve posted a list on there for now but plan to gradually add mini reviews of all my favourite books that I’ve read previously. This month I added two books to this shelf – the only new additions this year. It takes a lot to be added to my favourites, only the most special of books make it there. I’ve revealed the two books at the end of this post!

My blog has now had over 6000 page views and over 2500 visitors. It amazes me every time I check my stats to find that people are reading my posts, it really has made such a difference in my life to have found blogging and the support from everyone just increases it tenfold!

Thanks to all of you who have read a post on my blog, or liked or commented or shared. Thanks to all of you who have followed my blog, or on social media.


 

In November I read 20 books and managed to review all of them. If I didn’t keep a record of the books I read I wouldn’t have believed I’d read that many, I think blogging has got me reading even more than I was before! Please click on the links below the images to read my reviews.

Time to Die by Caroline Mitchell

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan

How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

The Boy in the Bookshop by Katey Lovell

The Boy at the Beach by Katey Lovell

What Rosie Found Next by Helen J. Rolfe

Wendy Darling by Colleen Hoover

What Happens at Christmas by T. A. Williams

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

The Single Feather by R. F. Hunt

Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Search for the Truth by Kathryn Freeman


 

This month I have received books for review from authors I’d not read before but I now want to go back and read all of their previous books. I love this part of blogging, it’s got me reading more widely and as a result I’ve found so many books that I might otherwise have missed.

The best thing about this month though is that for the first time this year I’ve added two new books to my favourite books collection.

9781782641759

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith is just such a delightful mystery novel, with a brilliant protagonist in Poppy and I already can’t wait to read the next book! I’m planning on buying copies of this book for friends who I’m sure will also enjoy it.

 

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan is one of those books that arrived in my life in the most serendipitous of ways and I just fell in love with it. It’s a novel that made me sob my heart out, it made me think about things in my own life, but by the end I felt better. I felt like the novel helped me make sense of things and it made me feel comforted. I was so lucky that Katy very kindly sent me a signed copy to keep and I will treasure it. It literally takes centre stage on my favourites bookcase and it’s a book I know I will read again and again. I’ve already bought couple of copies to give to friends who I know will get as much out of it as I did, and I’m sure I’ll be buying more copies in the future. I just want everyone to read this book!

Weekly Wrap-Up and Stacking the Shelves (28 November)

It’s been another busy week on my blog.

I was very lucky to get to do an author interview with Lynda Renham.

I had a promo post and giveaway of The Lost Girl by Liz Harris.

I’ve joined in with my usual WWW Wednesday and Book Beginnings memes.


My week in books:

I’ve read five books this week and have reviewed all of them. (Please click on the titles in the list below the pics to read my reviews)

 

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage by Talli Roland 

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

The Widow by Fiona Barton

 


 

stacking-the-shelves

I’m also joining in with Stacking the Shelves (hosted by Tynga’s Reviews), which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.

Books I’ve bought this week: 

The Past by Tessa Hadley

Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales by John Hargrove

Head for the Edge, Keep Walking by Kate Tough

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

 

ARCS I’ve received this week:

The Boy Under the Mistletoe by Katey Lovell

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

This Secret We’re Keeping by Rebecca Done

Perfectly Broken by Robert Burke Warren

 


 

 

How bookish has your week been? Have you added any books on to your TBR pile? Have you bought a book that you’re particularly excited to read? Let me know in the comments and feel free to link back to your own blog.

Blog tour | Review: The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

9781782641759

Today, I’m thrilled that it’s my stop on the blog tour for the fabulous The Jazz files by Fiona Veitch Smith.

My Review

The Jazz Files is a wonderful novel. From the moment I first saw the cover I was very keen to read the book, it’s such an eye-catching and memorable cover. The novel then opens with a poem by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which meant it immediately appealed to me as she is one of my favourite writers. I was sure that I was going to be in for a real treat with this book and I was absolutely right.

Poppy Denby arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, who was a part of the suffragette movement. Dot quickly encourages Poppy to go out and find herself a career. Poppy finds herself a job as an editorial assistant at The Daily Globe but is soon working as an investigative journalist after a reporter falls to his death in the newsroom.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved how spirited Poppy was, and her Aunt Dot was such a character. I really enjoyed the flashbacks to 1913 and all the references to the suffragette movement as it’s such a fascinating period in history. Smith acknowledges in the notes for this book that she played with the timeline of real events ever so slightly but it doesn’t affect your reading of the novel at all; there is so much truth and believability in this novel, it is impossible not to enjoy it. I love how the struggles that women had gone through, and were still going through, run through this book, and yet it remains such a celebration of what women were beginning to achieve. The female characters are at the forefront of this story; they all have such tenacity to achieve their goals that you just so want them to succeed and you can’t fail to admire them.

I loved Poppy’s friendship with the slightly eccentric Delilah; the things they got up to in the name of investigating the mystery were such fun and I was so engrossed in the story that I felt like I was along on the ride with them.

I very much enjoyed Poppy’s flirtations with Daniel too. I adored the way that she was falling for him and how she was so forward-thinking in many ways but then all of a sudden she would tell him off for being too bold. It was delightful to read and I can’t wait to see what might happen next for these two!

I was intrigued by Elizabeth and I very much enjoyed how the mystery around her and her family was revealed. I noticed what was perhaps another reference to Charlotte Perkins Gilman later in the novel when Elizabeth thinks the mould on the walls in her room is changing and moving, it reminded me of the woman losing her mind in The Yellow Wallpaper. It meant the reader was never absolutely sure about Elizabeth and what she had to tell, which heightens the sense of mystery.

I am thrilled that this is the first in a new series of books and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Poppy’s adventures; I’ll be first in line to pre-order the next book as soon as it’s available. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough; I’m actually going to be putting it on my favourites shelf and there aren’t very many books that make it on to there. Even though this was a mystery novel and I now know the outcome, I will still re-read this because I loved the characters and the story so much. I’m also about to buy a couple of copies to give as gifts to friends who I know will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

I rate this novel 5 out 0f 5 and give it pride of place on my all-time favourites shelf!

This book was sent to me by Lion Hudson in exchange for an honest review.

The Jazz Files is out now and available on Amazon.

 

Blurb

‘The Jazz Files’
Book 1 in Poppy Denby Investigates series (Lion Fiction) By Fiona Veitch Smith

Release date: 17 September 2015 RRP: £7.99
Publisher: Lion Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-78264-175-9

Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby from Morpeth, who ar- rives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earli- er, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…

Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roar- ing Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative jour- nalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove use- ful.”

About the Author

 

Fiona Veitch Smith

Fiona Veitch Smith was inspired to write The Jazz Files by the centenary anniversary of the death of Morpeth’s Emily Wilding Davison, who died after being struck by the king’s horse in a suffragist protest in 1912. “I initially intended Poppy to be a suffragette reporter sleuth but decided instead to have her as a 1920s flapper inheriting the freedoms won for her by her aunt and other brave women of the time. The Jazz Files has feminist undertones and is an exploration of the challenges faced by a woman in the male-dominated workplace, but it is first and foremost – I hope – just a cracking good mystery,” said the author.


 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Jazz Files 1: Author Fiona Veitch Smith will be hosting a launch of her new book The Jazz Files on 25 September. Here she is in Waterstones, Newcastle, with her vintage 1922 Remington type- writer just like the one her heroine reporter sleuth Poppy Denby uses in the book.

 

Poppy Denby 2

Jazz Files 2: Fiona Veitch Smith dressed like her character Poppy Denby, a reporter sleuth in a new mystery series set in the 1920s.


 

JazzFilesblogtourposter

WWW Wednesdays (18th November)

WWW pic

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m reading now:

the jazz files

The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith

(Out now! My review will be up on Monday 23rd November as part of the blog tour)
I’m thoroughly enjoying reading this novel, I haven’t read anything like it for such a long time and it feels like a real treat.

Blurb:

“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful.” Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die?

 

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

Follow Me by Angela Clarke

(Due to be published 3rd December)

This book is so good and near impossible to put down but is utterly terrifying at the same time. I’m over half way through and am suspicious of  just about everyone in this novel!

Blurb:

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …

 

the silent dead

The Silent Dead by Claire McGowan

(Due to be published on 19th November)

I started reading this last night and it’s brilliant! It’s so good to be catching up with Paula Maguire again. This is one of my favourite book series!

Blurb:

Victim: Male. Mid-thirties. 5’7″.

Cause of death: Hanging. Initial impression – murder.

ID: Mickey Doyle. Suspected terrorist and member of the Mayday Five.

The officers at the crime scene know exactly who the victim is.
Doyle was one of five suspected bombers who caused the deaths of sixteen people.
The remaining four are also missing and when a second body is found, decapitated, it’s clear they are being killed by the same methods their victims suffered.
Forensic psychologist Paula Maguire is assigned the case but she is up against the clock – both personally and professionally.
With moral boundaries blurred between victim and perpetrator, will be Paula be able to find those responsible? After all, even killers deserve justice, don’t they?

 

bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey

(Out now!)

I’m listening to the audiobook of this and am really enjoying it. 

Blurb:

Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her.

Before 30 Rock, Mean Girls, and ‘Sarah Palin’, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon – from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.

Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.

 

I’m also still reading from last week: 

A Notable Woman   winter's fairytale   hello goodbye and everything in between

A Notable Woman ed. by Simon Garfield (Kindle Book)

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey (Kindle Book)

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith (Kindle Book)

What I recently finished reading: 

(Click the titles in the list below the pics to read my reviews and to find out more about the books)

IMG_3165  What Happens at Christmas_FINAL  the single feather ruth hunt  The Winter Wedding   Sky Lantern

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

What Happens at Christmas by T. A. Williams

The Single Feather by R. F. Hunt

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements (review to follow soon)

Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos

What I plan on reading next:

the secret by the lake

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

(Due to be published on 19th November. My review will be up on 26th November as part of the blog tour)

Blurb:

A FAMILY TRAGEDY
Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.
A SISTER’S SECRET
But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.
A WEB OF LIES
Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

 

Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin (1)

Sugar and Snails by Anna Goodwin

(Out now!)

The past lingers on, etched beneath our skin …
At fifteen, Diana Dodsworth took the opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of her life, and escape the constraints of her small-town existence. Thirty years on, she can’t help scratching at her teenage decision like a scabbed wound.
To safeguard her secret, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon Jenkins sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, and he expects Di to fly out for a visit. She daren’t return to the city that changed her life; nor can she tell Simon the reason why.
Sugar and Snails takes the reader on a poignant journey from Diana’s misfit childhood, through tortured adolescence to a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age that challenges preconceptions about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

 

the mince pie mix up

The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce

(Out now!)

‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…

 

the drowning lesson

The Drowning Lesson by Jane Shemilt

(Out now!)

The press conference, one year ago
Our home is a crime scene now.
I am in yesterday’s clothes. The clothes in which I kissed Sam goodbye. Then he’d belonged only to us. Now his image will be shared with the world.
We should be grateful.
‘Our son . . . Sam . . .’ My eyes fill with tears, the writing on the paper blurs. ‘Someone took him. Please help us . . .’
I back away from the microphone, the paper falls from my hands.

The anniversary
The Jordan family thought they would return from their gap year abroad enriched, better people, a closer family.
Not minus one child.
A year on, Emma remains haunted by the image of that empty cot, thousands of miles away, the chasm between her and the rest of the family growing with each day that Sam remains missing. Is her son still out there? Will the mystery about what happened that night ever be unravelled?

 

How To Get Ahead in Television by Sophie Cousens (1)

How To Get Ahead in Television by Sophie Cousens

(Out now!)

Poppy Penfold desperately wants a career in television. After months of dead-end applications, she gets her big break with a temporary job as a runner for RealiTV. But to land a permanent role, Poppy will need to go head-to-head with fellow runner Rhidian: arrogant, highly competitive – and ridiculously good looking.

Poppy goes all out to impress, but somehow things don’t go to plan. Whether failing to prevent a washed-up soap star from becoming roaring drunk during Scottish game show Last Clan Standing, or managing to scare the horses during the filming of Strictly Come Prancing, Poppy gets noticed for all the wrong reasons. With highly strung presenters and distractingly handsome producers in the mix, it’s Poppy’s determination that will see her win or lose her dream job, and maybe her dream man too…


 

What are you reading today? What have you finished reading this week? What are you hoping to read over the next week? Have you read any of these books? Please share your answers in the comments below.