My Favourite Books of 2018 #bookblogger #bestbooks2018

Where did it go?!  As we reach the last day of the year I thought it was about time I looked back on the books I read in 2018 – and it’s been an absolutely astonishing year in terms of numbers of books I managed to read, and the quality of the stories I’ve discovered!    GoodReads is currently telling me I’ve read 256 books this year…. yep I’m shocked too!   If you’d like to look at all the books I got through then click here and you’ll be able to see them in all their glory!  You’d also think that reading that many books would mean your bookshelves at home would be empty and your TBR pile was a now manageable amount…. you’d be very, very wrong!!!

So choosing my favourite reads of the year has been a nightmare!! My thanks to ALL the authors  and publishers of books that I read this past year for so many wonderful stories! I could have included about 50 of these books that have been outstanding, but have narrowed it down to my Top 25 of books that have just stayed with me, stolen my heart and blown my socks off this year!  In no particular order here they are……click on the title for my GoodReads review link

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

The Hoarder by Jess Kidd

The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

The Lido by Libby Page

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

The Girl in the Tower (Winternight #2) by Katherine Arden

Circe by Madeline Miller

Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow

The Long Forgotten by David Whitehouse

A Boy in the Water by Tom Gregory

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

Flames by Robbie Arnott

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas

The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Call of the Curlew by Elizabeth Brooks

The Parentations by Kate Mayfield

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

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What a year!  Looking back at those just makes me want to pick them all up again and re-read!! Any of these make your final lists?!  Could so easily have picked so many more but very happy with this little lot as the outstanding reads of 2018 for me!

Roll on 2019!!

#BookReview Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

About the book

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Published by Atria Books

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

Where to even begin with sharing my love for this book??!! Even if it did leave me a complete emotional mess, and even writing this review a day after I finished it, the thoughts and feelings I have towards the inhabitants of Beartown are as strong as ever and it is fair to say this is going straight in my list of 2018 favourite books – as Beartown did in 2017.

I’d highly recommend reading Beartown, if you haven’t already, before picking up this book. The emotions and connections you make towards so many characters begin in book one, and just makes the impact of this follow up more hard hitting, more heartbreaking and more heartwarming.

It follows on story in a way I didn’t think it would be able to manage! After book one the town of Beartown is completely divided after the shocking events witnessed by some, disbelieved by many. A lot of the hockey players have switched to the rival team at Hed, and the story follows Beartown trying to get back its’ team, its’ pride and its’ community. The hatred felt between Beartown and Hed has gone on for years, but this year it is ramped up to a level like no other and the levels that some – on both sides – go to in their pursuit of making others suffer is often staggering.

It was fascinating to see how the main characters from Beartown evolved in this book – how they dealt with the brutal aspects of the events of the first book, how it affected everyone and the ripple effect that the one incident caused.

I’m still at a loss to explain why this book affected me so much! The way the author gets under the skin of so many different characters is astonishing, and the situations he puts them in is perfectly judged to add to the drama that envelops the community. He has an amazing connection with all the characters and they all seem to get equal billing in their struggles and the way the story flows from one to the other seamlessly makes you feel part of the community – a very messed up community! I felt emotionally drained with the pace of it all as it never let up from page to page and I couldn’t put the book down for too long before I was desparate to get back into that world, no matter what sickening twist would be next for me to face!

This isn’t a sports novel as I have seen some mention this and why it puts them off reading it. It’s a book with a sport at the heart of it but it focuses more on the impact that the team brings on the inhabitants – how it connects a community, and how it can split it apart. The author does a great job of conveying through certain characters of how much the team means to them and why they put themselves through so much just to benefit the team.

I found this to be a truly astonishing read and the quality of writing was staggering. I was very wary before picking this book of how the story could be added to after book one, but this was the perfect sequel. It was more than hockey, it was more than outrage, it was community, it was fighting on and showing strength and weaknesses.

It was all encompassing, shocking, inspiring, heartbreaking – thank you Mr Backman for such an amazing cast and story!

I’m often asked why I love reading…… books like this are why!!!!

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It is my extreme pleasure to be here for the latest stop on the Little Teashop of Horrors Blog Tour – my thanks as always to the author, publisher and Rachel at rachelsrandomresources for letting me be part of the fun and to share with you my thoughts about this wondeful read!!  I hope you will all love it too so here’s more information about the book before my thoughts!

Little Teashop of Horrors

Secrets, lies, carrot cake and an owl called Skrillex!

Amy Knowles has always been the plain sidekick to her pretty best friend Jules. And whilst the tearoom they both work in on the Monkpark Hall estate in Yorkshire is not exactly awash with eligible bachelors, it’s obvious where the male attention is concentrated – and it’s not just on the cakes!

There is one man who notices Amy. Joshua Wilson also works at Monkpark, where he flies his birds of prey for visitor entertainment. He lives a lonely existence but he has reasons for choosing isolation – and, in Amy, he may have found somebody who understands.

Then a management change brings slick and well-spoken Edmund Evershott to Monkpark. He’s interested in Amy too, but for what reason? Josh suspects the new manager is up to no good – but will Amy? Because Edmund could leave her with much worse than a broken heart…

BUYING LINKS

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane was born in Devon and now lives in Yorkshire. She has five children, three cats and two dogs! Jane is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has a first-class honours degree in creative writing. Jane writes comedies which are often described as ‘quirky’. Her debut Please Don’t Stop the Music won the 2012 Romantic Novel of the Year and the Best Romantic Comedy Novel award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Her Christmas novella, Christmas at the Little Village School, was the winner of the RONA Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2018.

Social Media Links for author

Twitter

Facebook

 Author Website

MY REVIEW

I adored this book!! It’s a story full of romance, laughs, heartache, cake, drama and an amazing owl called Skrillex! The cover is pretty gorgeous too!!

This is the story of Amy who works at Monkpark Hall in the cafe with her best friend Julia. They’ve grown up together and the historic hall is more than a place of work for them both but with a new owner arriving the panic sets in about whether there will be a place for them anymore.

Amy lives with her grandmother in a cottage nearby, and her grandmother is a very spirited and forthright woman, who is very set in her ways so when Amy is not at the cafe she is keeping things steady at home. Except for the spoons!! Are they being touched while nobody is home? Her grandmother is convinced things are being moved…..

When the new boss, Edmund Evershott, arrives he is full of big plans, that never seem to take off and he soon becomes a fan of taking other peoples’ ideas of how to make more money and increase visitor numbers and passing them off as his own. This doesn’t go down well with the many loyal staff at the Hall.

One of which is Josh who runs the very successful Birds of Prey display centre at the Hall. He is very focused on his animals, keeps himself to himself and is seen as ‘strange’ by many of the other staff. Amy always finds him friendly and he notices how she is with his precious birds and that immediately makes him feel at ease around her. But all is not as it seems with Josh and he’s obviously hiding something, but what? But he sees straight through the new boss and his sleazy ways and just hopes that others see that side before it is too late for their beloved Monkpark Hall.

I loved the character of Amy – she’s one of the worlds’ good guys with a positive attitude, except towards herself as she’s always putting herself down, and always willing to help, but sometimes that leads to you being taken advantage of. Her friendships are a big part of her life and wanting to do right by her grandmother too.

I absolutely raced through this book as the characters all quickly captured my heart and it was an absolute delight to be transported to the world of Monkpark Hall for an afternoon!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books I could re-read forever!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other bloggers’ lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

This week’s topic is Books I Could Re-Read Forever.  What a topic!!!!  I don’t tend to re-read a lot anymore – the overwhelming TBR mountain might have something to do with that! – but there are many books that are always there for me on my shelves that I can happily go back to when the dreaded reading slump strikes. as I often find that going back to an old favourite is the perfect remedy – so prepare for a list of old favourites that never grow old!!

MALLORY TOWERS by ENID BLYTON

My childhood!!! The whole series was wonderful to me and I desperately wanted to go to boarding school so I could have the same kind of adventures as Darrell and her friends!

THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE aged 13 3/4 by SUE TOWNSEND

Adored this when  it came out as it felt so different to anything else I’d read and I still love to go back and see how awkward Adrian was!

 

NARNIA SERIES by C.S.LEWIS

The whole series had me captivated and I have our old local GP to thank, as he used to have a little lending library and he let me borrow these from that!

HARRY POTTER series by J.K. ROWLING

More escapism reading that I always seem to discover something new from everytime I pick it up to relive the magic!

REBECCA by DAPHNE  DU MAURIER

This was a fairly recent discovery for me, but it has taken a special place in my heart!

TWILIGHT by STEPHENIE MEYER

The initial book in this series had such an impact on me as a reader that I can always go back to it to get all the vampire feels!

BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY by HELEN FIELDING

Because!!! 😉

THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. TOLKIEN

I love all of Middle Earth so can happily read any of these time and time again!

THE BOOK THIEF by MARKUS ZUSAK

One of the first books I think that made me cry and it has done everytime I’ve read it since!!

ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND & THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS by LEWIS CARROLL

No list of re-reads can be complete without this world! Still discovering  new things from the stories everytime I read them and they are just as wonderful now as they were back in my childhood!

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Loved this topic today!  Had so much fun going back to some of my favourite books! Hope you’ve enjoyed it too! Any of these on your lists?!

The Hoarder by Jess Kidd #bookreview

THE BLURB

Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her.

With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal’s decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried?

Publishing Date;  February 1st 2018

Publisher;  Canongate Books

Author Twitter Link;  @JessKiddHerself

Pre-order Links;

Amazon UK   £14.99 H/B

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore  £10.25 H/B

Book Depository   £13.41  H/B

Waterstones  £14.99  H/B

MY REVIEW

Where do I even begin??!! I loved Himself and it made it on to my Top Books of 2017, so I’ve been so eager to read this and was lucky to have been sent an early copy from the publisher.  

  I just couldn’t put this down!! I read it in one sitting!!  That pretty much tells you my thoughts on this book!  I frigging loved it!!  It made me laugh, it made me cry, it even made me forget to breathe at times as the tension started to build and the mysteries began to be revealed!  A pretty comprehensive and perfect reading experience all wrapped up in one book!!

It starts off quite quietly as we get acquainted with Maud Drennan who has the unenviable job of ‘helping’ the prickly Mr Flood who has a serious hoarding problem.  Of course he doesn’t see it as a problem so does all he can to prove as unhelpful as humanly possible, but there is something slightly different about Maud who doesn’t flinch at the abuse he throws her way, and Cathal Flood slowly responds to her in the way where others have given up and  been forced out.  During their time together he starts to share stories and opens up to her.  Maud has her own secrets too and she becomes fascinated by the stories she hears, and the house itself begins to give up its’ secrets as she clears things out and she finds herself involved in mysteries going back many years.

Maud also shares the stories she hears with her landlady, the wonderful Renata who is agoraphobic, and the ghostly Saints that follow Maud wherever she goes, and a world of intrigue soon opens up that maybe they should have left well alone. Even the Saints warn her off from exploring more – if only she listened to them!!

All the characters in this book were so different and complex but lovable in their own special ways.  Maud had her own difficult and secretive past and that was quite obvious at times, but that helped her put on a front especially when she first entered the world of Cathal.  Renata is a delight to read about – the way she took on trying to solve the mysteries was hilarious and there were many touching scenes involving her where it was obvious how much Maud and her were devoted to each other.  And as for Cathal, despite his abuse and prickly demeanour, you get to see different sides to him through his concern for a fox, his hatred for his son and the sadness over losses he has suffered over the years.

This book had it all for me – it was so cleverly paced so there were never any dips in where the story was heading, and it just had me captivated from start to finish!  I became so attached to all the characters that I’ve not really stopped thinking about them since I put the book down so can’t wait to pick this up again and enjoy all the dark humour, mystery, supernatural twists and human drama all over again!! More please Jess!!

Thank you to the publishers and author for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang #bookreview

THE BLURB

“Exquisite and adventurous” — Bustle, “11 New Fiction Books You Need”

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit. As amazing as these powers may appear, they tend to manifest themselves at inopportune times and places. From freak storms to trees that appear to grow over night, Weylyn’s unique abilities are a curiosity at best and at worst, a danger to himself and the woman he loves. But Mary doesn’t care. Since Weylyn saved her from an angry wolf on her eleventh birthday, she’s known that a relationship with him isn’t without its risks, but as anyone who’s met Weylyn will tell you, once he wanders into your life, you’ll wish he’d never leave.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance tells the story of Weylyn Grey’s life from the perspectives of the people who knew him, loved him, and even a few who thought he was just plain weird. Although he doesn’t stay in any of their lives for long, he leaves each of them with a story to tell. Stories about a boy who lives with wolves, great storms that evaporate into thin air, fireflies that make phosphorescent honey, and a house filled with spider webs and the strange man who inhabits it.

There is one story, however, that Weylyn wishes he could change: his own. But first he has to muster enough courage to knock on Mary’s front door.

In this warm debut novel, Ruth Emmie Lang teaches us about adventure and love in a beautifully written story full of nature and wonder.

Publisher;  https://us.macmillan.com/smp/

Author Website;  https://www.ruthemmielang.com/

Online Shopping Links

Amazon UK

Book Depository

Abe Books

MY REVIEW

Magical.  Captivating.  Wonderful.  Absorbing.  Enchanting.  Enthralling.  Whimsical.  Spellbinding.  Charming.  Delightful.  

Just a few words I noted down as I read this book! It’s fair to say I adored every single page of this book!!  This is a book that was brought to my attention by the BookTuber Simon Savidge, and I’m so glad I saw him rave about it as it’s one of the most wonderful books I’ve ever read!

It’s the story of Weylyn Grey.  Raised by wolves from the age of 4 he has always spent his life on the outside, not fitting with the norm.  But this book shows us how his life impacts on people who come into contact with him, and how it changes them and him!  Plus there’s a magical pet pig called Merlin – what  more could you want?!!

As I knew very little of what to expect from this book when I started it, I think this made it even more of a magical read and the way the story was told was also really clever and allowed you to see the story from different views of the people he came into contact with and over so many years.  The character Weylyn is such an extraordinary being, that it is difficult not to fall in love with him almost immediately, and the way he touches the life of others just by being himself is enchanting.  

It’s a story about belonging, trusting, believing, hope ….. I frigging love this book!!!

Himself by Jess Kidd #bookreview

THE BLURB

When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.

His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers.

Buy your copy;

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository

Author Website

Follow the author on Twitter

MY REVIEW

I have just given myself a stern telling off for taking so long to pick this book up off my shelves!! From the dark opening, to the captivating characters, to the magical setting and supernatural goings on and the mystery at the heart of the story, this has gone straight onto my list as one of my favourite reads of 2017!!

It is going to be difficult to sum this story up in a review as it has a little bit of everything in it! Elements of mystery, violence, supernatural, magical, historical and dark wit are throughout this story and I loved every minute of it! One of those books where you are conflicted as you want to race through it and find out what happens, but you are then loathe to get to the end as you just want to stay within the world created!

The simple way of describing this story is that Mahony returns to the village to find out what happened to his mother. Did she leave the town as the villagers thought or was she murdered? His mother wasn’t well liked and you feel like many villagers aren’t being honest with their take on what happened. But Mahony gets help from Mrs Cauley – I loved her!! – who has lived in the village for many years and understands his special gift along with wanting to stick her nose in and get to the bottom of the murkier side of the village. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and isn’t afraid to say what she thinks. Would love to read a book just about her too!!

There is a great feeling of dark humour throughout which does lend itself perfectly to lightening the mood of what is often quite a serious storyline. The story flits between the timelines of 1976 when Mahony turns up, and back to the late 1940’s and the story of his mother and how life was for her and what she got up to that enraged some of the locals so much.

Full of such fascinating characters and a truly magical storyline, I highly recommend this to everyone looking for a story that is so different and covers all genres!!

Do you get the impression that I loved reading this?! Have you read it?!  Hope you thought the same as me if you did!!

HAPPY READING!!