My Favourite Novels of 2018!

My Favourite Books 0f 2018!

Firstly, happy new year to you all! I hope 2019 brings you good health, peace and happiness!

2018 has been an amazing reading year for me. I read 290 books, which is the most I’ve read in one year since I started keeping track of my reading! Of the 290, 211 were fiction so that has made it so hard to pick a top 10 or even a top 20 so in the end I made a list of the books that have stayed with me the most and 27 novels have made my list! (My non-fiction picks will be in a separate post tomorrow).

Some of these books have stayed with me because they were well-written, some were impossible to put down and others brought out such an emotional reaction in me that they simply had to be on this list.

So without further ado, here are my favourite books of 2018 (click the title if you’d like to read my full review on each of these books)…

 

In reverse order: 

27. Dead in Venice by Fiona Leitch

This is one of the best audio books I listened to this year and had to be on my list as it’s really stick with me.

26. The Lingering by SJI Holliday

This was an unsettling, creepy novel that I couldn’t put down!

25. You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I love Lucy Clarke’s writing and this has joined The Sea Sisters as my favourite books by her!

24. The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

This was such a different read for me and I utterly adored it.

23. Perfect Bones by AJ Waines

This is a crime fiction novel that haunted me in the times when I wasn’t reading it, it definitely earned its place on my list.

22. The Date by Louise Jensen

I love Louise Jensen’s writing and this book was another brilliant read by her. It gave me an insight into a condition I knew nothing much about and the ending of the book gave me chills!

21. An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

I read this book in one sitting on a boiling hot day but the writing was so good that I could feel the snowy cold and the oppressive atmosphere of those trapped in the hotel with a murderer on the loose!

20. Odette by Jessica Duchen

This is such a beautiful book and it really resonated with me so it had to be on this list!

19. Attend by West Camel

This is a recent read but I keep finding myself thinking about the characters and it’s staying in my mind so I had to have this in my top books.

18. Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies

This is a wonderful story about a young girl who wants to make it as a champion swimmer in a time when it’s not the done thing for females. It’s inspiring and beautiful and I knew it would make my top books of the year as soon as I finished reading it.

17. The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn

This is a bit different from my usual reads but it’s so beautiful and very moving in places and I still think about it.

16. Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

This was such a brilliant novel, and is another book that really has stayed with me.

 

15. The Girl in His Eyes by Jennie Ensor

This was a very prescient and moving novel, and while it was hard to read at times for me personally the writing is so sensitive and honest that I couldn’t put it down.

14. Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did but it’s so stunningly written and the story is still swirling in my mind. It was an unforgettable read for me and deserves its place on my list.

13. Narcissism for Beginners by Martine McDonagh

This is another book that was a bit different to my usual read but I devoured it. It’s funny and emotional and I adored it.

12. Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This is such a brilliant read, one I’ve been recommending to people ever since I finished reading it.

11. Overkill by Vanda Symon

This is my new favourite crime thriller series and I’m desperate to get my hands on the second book as soon as it’s out!

10. Him by Clare Empson

I got this book on a whim from NetGalley and I’m so glad I did. This really got under my skin and I couldn’t put it down until I’d read all the way to the end.

9. Miss Marley by Vanessa LaFaye with Rebecca Mascull

This is the only book on this list that I haven’t managed to review but I highly recommend it. It’s gorgeous and moving and just brilliant. It honours A Christmas Carol so beautifully whilst also standing on its own as a novella. The final couple of chapters were incredibly moving. I know this will be a book that I read every Christmas from now on so it absolutely deserves to be on this list.

8. Roar by Cecelia Ahern

This short story collection is brilliant. I loved every story and enjoyed finding the ones that resonated with me. It’s fabulous!

7. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This is such a magical and lyrical novel, it’s another book that is staying with me and I know I’ll want to read it again in the future.

6. The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse 

I was looking forward to reading this novel but I wasn’t expecting it to get to me in the way it did. It’s very moving and so fascinating, and the writing is stunning.

5. Snap by Belinda Bauer

This was my favourite crime thriller of the year, I loved it. I don’t think I’ve read a crime novel before that has made me cry in the way this did. It’s such a brilliant novel.

4. Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

This novel really connected with me in so many ways and my review ended up being very personal as the story got so entwined with my emotions at the time I was reading. It’s a beautiful novel and I urge you to read it if you haven’t already.

 

 

Love and Fame Cover

3. Love and Fame by Susie Boyt

This book is why I love blog tours – I was offered a copy of Love and Fame, a book I hadn’t heard of before and decided to give it a go. It’s such a witty, funny and moving novel about grief and loss in various forms. I absolutely fell in love with this book and it’s one I consider to be a firm favourite. I’m so glad this book found me!

 

 

And the next two books are jointly my favourite books of the year because I just couldn’t pick between them…

 

 

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

I adore Louise Beech’s writing anyway but The Lion Tamer Who Lost stole my heart in a way that no other book has done in 2018. I keep thinking of the characters and wondering how they are, I keep thinking of how cruel life can be but how a novel like this does ultimately remind you why you need to keep going. I cried buckets reading parts of this book but I fell in love with it and it absolutely deserves this number one spot!

 

Let Me Be Like Water by S. K. Perry

I hadn’t heard of this book before a copy got sent to me for review but it was serendipity that it came into my life at the perfect moment. This is such a beautiful, lyrical novel that had me sobbing one moment and feeling consoled the next. The characters are wonderful and the depiction of grief is so real, as is the way we find a way to start living with grief. A stunning book that I will treasure forever and ever!

 


Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my Top Non-Fiction books of the year so look out for that then. In the meantime what were your favourite books of 2018? If you have a blog post please feel free to leave the link below. Happy New Year! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: Odette by Jessica Duchen | @JessicaDuchen @Unbound_Digital @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours #Odette

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About the Book

When a swan crashes through her window at the height of a winter storm, Mitzi Fairweather decides to nurse the injured bird back to health. At sunset, though, it becomes a human being.

This unexpected visitor is Odette, the swan princess – alone, in danger and adrift in 21st-century Britain, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Bird by day, woman by night, with no way to go home to Russia, she remains convinced that only a man’s vow of eternal love can break her spell.

Mitzi is determined to help Odette, but as the two try to hide the improbable truth, their web of deception grows increasingly tangled…

A contemporary twist on Swan LakeOdette asks – in the best tradition of fairy tales – whether against all the odds, hope, empathy and humanity can win the day.

 

My Thoughts

I loved reading fairytales as a child – I still have my huge works of Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm from childhood and I still love finding adaptations of my favourite fairytales so I was delighted to get the chance to read Odette by Jessica Duchen for the blog tour. I’m really pleased to say that I adored this novel!

Odette is the story of Mitzi, who one day during a storm has a swan fly in through her living room window. Mitzi seeks help for the swan and is determined to nurse it back to health but the next morning she discovers a young woman, Odette, in place of the swan. Odette is a swan princess trapped in this life of being a swan during the night and a woman during the day until she finds true love. Mitzi decides to let Odette live with her and is determined to help her.

I felt a connection to Mitzi very quickly in this novel. I know how it feels to be facing Christmas after losing a parent, and it’s hard. She misses her father terribly and doesn’t know how to even begin to work through her grief and to come to terms with him being gone. She is looking for something or someone to fill the void in her life and Odette seems to appear at just the right moment.

Odette and Mitzi help each other throughout this novel. Mitzi shows Odette what a normal life in the 21st century is like, and Odette gives some comfort and solace to a lonely Mitzi. The friendship that grows between them isn’t always straightforward but it’s believable and genuine and I wanted somehow for this to be enough for Odette to be able to stay.

Of course, this being based on the fairytale means there is a romantic interest or two, and there is also the bad guy that wants to stop Odette from finding love. I really enjoyed seeing Odette dating and learning about modern men. I have to be honest that I got so wrapped up in Odette’s new-found happiness with her friend and potential lover that I forgot to look out for the bad guy so when the reveal comes I wasn’t expecting to be who it was. It’s not often that I don’t spot things coming in a novel so this is testament to the wonderful writing!

This is a take on a fairytale but it’s also a very modern novel. Odette experiences trying to get a job and not understanding how things work because of the language barrier, and this is how it must be for refugees and newcomers to a country. I also loved the way that it looks at whether love between friends can be as fulfilling as romantic love. It really is a novel that can be taken in different ways and I really appreciated that.

Odette is a beautiful novel and is one that I think will make my top books of the year as I adored it. It’s been on my mind ever since I finished reading it and I know I will read it again in the future. I definitely recommend this book.

Odette is a beautiful, magical and moving novel, I loved it!

Many thanks to Unbound and Anne of RandomThingsTours for my copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.

Odette is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

Jessica Duchen Author Picture

Jessica Duchen is an acclaimed author and journalist, specialising in words for, with and about music. Her work has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous magazines around the world. Her first five novels have gathered a loyal fan-base and wide acclaim. Music plays a vital role in her books, and she frequently narrates concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dancesand Ghost Variations.

Jessica is the librettist for the opera Silver Birchby Roxanna Panufnik, commissioned by Garsington Opera and shortlisted for a 2018 International Opera Award. Current projects include the libretto for a youth opera with composer Paul Fincham for Garsington 2019 (an updating of an Oscar Wilde fairy tale) and two large-scale choral works with Roxanna Panufnik.

She was born within the sound of Bow Bells, studied music at Cambridge and held editorial posts on several music magazines before going freelance to concentrate on writing. She edited a piano magazine for five years and was then classical music and ballet correspondent for The Independent from 2004-2016. Her output also includes plays, poetry, biographies of the composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gabriel Fauré (published by Phaidon) and her popular classical music blog, JDCMB. She lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys playing the piano, cookery, long walks and obscure books about music.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Odette Blog Tour Poster

This Week in Books (5 Dec 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

This is an easy read and enjoyable enough but I’m almost halfway through it and it isn’t hugely festive as yet. I’m hoping that the second half of the book has all the Christmas!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

This book is stunning! It’s the first time in a really long time that I’m deliberately reading a book slowly as I  don’t ever want it to end. It’s an incredible read, I think it will be making my top books of the year!

Chase Your Shadow by John Carlin

This is a really interesting book about Oscar Pistorius. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it or not but so far it’s a very well-balanced book that helps you understand his character and the South African justice system. It’s respectful of Reeva Steenkamp too which I appreciate.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

I haven’t read much more of this over the last week as I’ve been catching up on my blog tour reading and also Christmas review books. I’m still really enjoying though, it’s such an interesting book.

Then 

The Snowman by Michael Morpugo

I read this yesterday afternoon just before we put our Christmas tree up and it made for a lovely time. This is a new take on The Snowman and is a novella, I really enjoyed it.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

This ARC has been on my TBR for ages so I was glad to read it this week. It didn’t quite live up to my hopes though unfortunately. I don’t know if I’d just heard too much hype and my expectations were too high, or if it just wasn’t the book for me. I do plan on still reviewing this once I’ve got my thoughts in order.

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton

This book was such a great read. It was a harder read than I was expecting but it rewarded my sticking with it and I loved it. I’m reviewing this for the blog tour in the coming weeks so look out for my thoughts but in the meantime I definitely recommend it.

Odette by Jessica Duchen

I adored this book! It’s based on a fairytale and set in modern day and it’s just beautiful. I knew I was going to enjoy it as soon as I picked it up but I didn’t realise just how much I was going to love it.

The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

I’ve been looking forward to getting to this thriller and ended up reading it in just two sittings! It was really good. I’ll be reviewing this one soon.

Mother of a Suicide by Joanna Lane

This book started off really interesting but ultimately it wasn’t for me. I think that for anyone who thinks they might be affected by the medial condition in the book this would be a useful read.

My Life in Football by Kevin Keegan

I listened to the audio of this and it was such a great book. It’s frustrating (and anger-inducing) as a Newcastle United fan to be reminded of all the failings of the current owner but it was fab to hear all Keegan’s other stories.

Under the Wig by William Clegg QC

I really enjoyed this book and have already reviewed it so you can read my thoughts here if you’d like to.

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I had an ARC of this but was struggling to get into it so I bought the audio book in a recent Audible sale. I enjoyed it more listening to it and it was an okay read overall.

Next

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I didn’t manage to get to this Christmas book when it was on my TBR last week but I’m definitely planning to pick it up this week. I’m really looking forward to it.

The Rumour by Lesley Kara

I wanted to predominantly focus on Christmas reading for the next three or so weeks but I’ve been hearing such good things about this book and it’s calling to me from my TBR!

Attend by West Camel

I’m on the blog tour for this later in December so want to try and read this in the coming days. I’m so keen to pick it up, it sounds like my kind of book!

A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

My husband bought me the Vintage Christmas classics a couple of years ago and I haven’t managed to read them all as yet so I definitely would like to pick this one up in the week ahead.


What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

This Week in Books (28 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

I’ve had a rough few days health wise with my asthma badly flaring up and as a result ending up on a course of steroids. Unfortunately I’m still struggling and I’ve had a reaction to the medication which has caused me to only sleep a few hours in total over the last few days. The only upside is the enforced rest has meant lots of reading and listening to audio books so I’ve got through a lot of books over the last week.

 

Now

 

Under the Wig by William Clegg

I downloaded this on a whim recently when I spotted it in the Read Now section on NetGalley. I’m so glad I did because it’s a really interesting look at what it is to be a barrister, and also to work on high-profile cases. I’m really enjoying it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I only started this last night so am only a couple of chapters in but I can tell I’m going to love getting lost in this novel. It’s beautiful and I’m so looking forward to reading more of it in the coming days.

 

Believe Me by JP Delaney

I got a copy of this from NetGalley but struggled to get into it so I bought the audiobook in a recent Audible sale and am enjoying it more now I’m listening to it. It’s not as good as I hoped it would be but it does have me intrigued and I’m keen to see how it’s all going to end.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

This is a fascinating read about Abraham Zapruder, the man who filmed the assassination of John F Kennedy. There is so much that I didn’t know about what the Zapruder family went through in the immediate aftermath, and for many, many years after. It’s such a good book and I definitely recommend it.

 

 

Then 

 

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King

This is such a lovely festive read, I really enjoyed it.  I read an ARC so I’ll definitely be reviewing this one soon.

Life to the Limit: My Life in Formula One by Jenson Button

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while as I was always a fan of Jenson Button in his F1 days. I picked up the audio book in a Black Friday deal on Audible and immediately started listening to it. I very much enjoyed this book, it was a look back over Jenson’s whole career but was also very much a tribute to his late father. I definitely recommend this book to F1 fans.

 

Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

This book was sent to me for review and I’m so glad I picked it up to read. It’s a beautiful and moving look at the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan a few years ago. This book left such a mark on me and I feel it will be one I’m thinking of for a long time to come.

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

I requested this on NetGalley recently and have been so keen to read it. I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t as Christmassy all the way through as I was hoping but it was still a wonderful read and I loved it.

 

Snowday by B R Maycock

This book gave me real comfort and escape on a bad night with my asthma and I really got swept away in this lovely wintery read. I’ll be reviewing this on my blog very soon so keep an eye out for that.

How Not to be A Boy by Robert Webb

I got this book for Christmas last year and have been so keen to read it. I finally picked it up at the weekend and read it over two days. I really enjoyed this, even more than I thought I would (and I had high hopes for it).

 

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

I’d forgotten I owned this audiobook but when sorting through my audible books on my phone I spotted it and while it wasn’t on my non-fiction November TBR it seemed fitting to listen to it this month. I found this to be such a fascinating listen and I’m so glad I picked it up.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I’ve had this on my TBR since it was published earlier this year and I finally picked it up this week. I really enjoyed this one but it wasn’t quite as good as Behind Her Eyes. I do love Sarah Pinborough’s writing though and would recommend this one.

 

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

This was one of my non-fiction November picks and I listened to the audio book. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I’d hoped, it just didn’t really work for me.

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

I really enjoyed this festive read, it was a lovely novella set in the lead up to Christmas. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour in December!

 

 

Next

 

Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton

I’ve been really intrigued by this book so was delighted to be invited to read and review if for the forthcoming blog tour. I’m hoping to start this book in the coming days.

Attend by West Camel

Orenda Books can do no wrong in my eyes so I’m thrilled to have this book on my TBR for the week ahead. It sounds like such a good book and I know I’m in for a treat!

 

Odette by Jessica Duchen

I was also offered a copy of this book to read and review for the tour next month and I jumped at the chance. I’m fascinated to read this one and it feels like such a perfect read for these colder, darker days.

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

This is my next pick from my pile of festive reads and I’m really looking forward to this one.

 

 


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂