My Top 10 Books of 2015

Thursday 24 December 2015 0 comments
Is it really that time of the year again? I can't believe that in March 2016 my blog will be two years old. 2015 was a brilliant year for reading, and I hit 200k page views on the blog just a couple of months ago. Unlike the majority of other bloggers I found it relatively easy to choose my Top 10, just not so easy to rank them! Oddly, with the exception of my Book of the Year for 2015 which I have known since I first read it in March. Until then though I have nine other books to reveal! I hope you enjoy reading my Top 10 Books of 2015.

10. The Doris Day Vintage Film Club - Fiona Harper

It was only when I started reading some of my 2015 reviews to remind myself of the 200 books I had read this year that I surprised myself with the books that I didn't choose to include in this list. The Doris Day Vintage Film Club jumped out at me as a memorable read with a perfect ending, and so I simply had to include it in my Top 10. I am unashamedly a huge Doris Day fan and whilst Doris and her films are used mostly as a backdrop for the story of Claire Bixby, I loved reliving some of her most famous films and songs, and particularly enjoyed how Fiona Harper used not only the films of Doris Day but also Doris's real life story to really help the reader relate to, understand and ultimately fall in love with Claire and her story.

9. Scandalous Lies - Nigel May

Nigel May has been on my radar for a couple of years but it wasn't until he signed with Bookouture that I finally picked up one of his books. I was only a few pages in before I was kicking myself for not having read his books sooner. Nigel writes the type of books that I just love, and the ones I wish I could write myself. He's been called the male Jackie Collins and really, I can't think of a greater accolade. In my review I described the book as wall to wall filth but with a truly engrossing and multi-layered story within and I think the bonkbuster genre has long been seen (by those that have never read it) as just sex but Nigel has completely revitalised this genre for me and I can't wait for his next book, Deadly Obsession.

8. Pleasure Island - Anna-Lou Weatherley

Anna-Lou Weatherley is another author I had heard of but was yet to read before she signed with Bookouture. Bookouture have become my go-to publisher in 2015 and are yet to let me down with one of their releases, which is why I didn't hesitate to pick up Pleasure Island. At times it was reminiscent of various films and books but overall was one of the most addictive and enjoyable books I read in 2015. I called it in my review 'a faultless novel' which for me is often one of those heat of the moment comments I write when I finish a book but thinking back, I totally stand by that comment. There wasn't a single thing (certain characters aside) that I disliked about it. Pleasure Island is pure, unadulterated excitement from start to finish and I cannot recommend it enough.

7. What Remains - Tim Weaver

Tim Weaver is one of my favourite authors and the latest David Raker thriller is always near the top of my most wanted books of the year. I literally set one day aside for doing nothing but reading Tim's latest book. What Remains was another brilliantly addictive mystery but this time around, a really emotional story too which left me feeling an even greater connection with his characters than I have in the past. The book also had a couple of incredible twists that meant this book was always going to make my Top 10. I called What Remains one of Tim's best books yet (something I find myself saying with each one) and I think that's testament to his talent as a writer. I highly recommend this brilliant series and I can't wait to read what Tim writes next.

6. Tennison - Lynda La Plante

Lynda La Plante is, in my opinion, one of the greatest crime writers ever. I just love her books and when I found out she was writing a Prime Suspect prequel, I couldn't wait to read it. Set in the East End of London in the 1970's Lynda captured the time period perfectly, completely transporting me back to that era. I felt like I was walking the streets with Jane Tennison herself. It was refreshing to read a crime story featuring a female officer which was nothing like the crime fiction set in the present day where female police officers are commonplace. We get a real insight into the policing of the 1970's, particularly the sexism that female officers faced. Prime Suspect fans will pick this up already knowing Jane Tennison but will finish it knowing a whole lot more about her.

Tennison will shortly become a TV series to celebrate 25 years of Prime Suspect and I for one cannot wait and think it will be one of the standout dramas of 2016.

5. Evil Games - Angela Marsons

I could easily have included all three (yes, three!) of Angela Marsons' 2015 releases in this Top 10, but decided that I would have to man up and choose just one out of three of the year's best crime novels. In the end I chose Evil Games and the reason for that lies in the villain that Angela Marsons created for this story. A sociopath like no other, it was a total thrill to read a book like this and it certainly stood out amongst her other two books. I described Evil Games in my review as crime fiction with some truly realistic psychological elements to it and that is so true. It is so real and believable at times that I felt genuine fear for Detective Kim Stone, a character I just fell in love with when I read Angela's first novel, Silent Scream. With sales of 1 million and counting and the ink on a print deal just about dry, you are going to be hearing a lot more from Angela Marsons in 2016.

4. The Wronged - Kimberley Chambers 

Anyone who follows my blog will know how much I love Kimberley Chambers and her books. The excitement of receiving books pre-publication is never greater than when it is one of your most anticipated books of the year and I also shared a video interview with Kimberley on my blog to celebrate publication of the book. The Wronged continues the story of the Butler family, and much like The Trap and Payback before it, was one hell of a read (and then some). Kimberley Chambers is currently at the top of her game, and has completely revitalised this genre of books and made it her own. 2016 sees the conclusion of the Butler saga and I simply cannot wait to see how she is going to end it all. If you haven't read a book by Kim before, then it definitely needs to be one of your resolutions for the New Year. Kimberley is one of those authors who gets even better with each book she releases and I recommend that readers pick up every single book she has written, they do not disappoint.

3. I Am Death - Chris Carter

There is one man who very near ruined the crime genre for me and he goes by the name of Chris Carter. He writes crime fiction that is so good, very little else compares to it. I Am Death was a standout read of 2015 for me and so I had no hesitation in making it my third top read of the year. Chris is in a league of his own when it comes to crime fiction and his Robert Hunter series should be looked at as a true masterclass in how to write in this genre, how to truly enthrall a reader and leave them desperate for more. Crime fiction is one of the busiest and biggest genres and I like to think that my list of favourites are amongst the best, and sitting pretty at number one is Chris Carter and Robert Hunter.

I am also part of Simon and Schuster's #TaskForceCarter and one of my tasks was to introduce Chris's books to some new readers and so I picked three of my favourite bloggers; Vicki, Christine and Gordon, and all three of them fell in love with his books too. Everyone I have recommended Chris Carter's books to have all came back with glowing reviews, and so if you haven't read them yet yourself, what are you waiting for?

2. The Santangelos - Jackie Collins

One of my blogging highlights is something that didn't even occur on the blog, it was the Tweets sent back and forth between me and Jackie Collins about her latest novel, The Santangelos, back when she was still writing it in 2014. I couldn't believe actual Jackie Collins (my favourite author!) replied to and favourited my Tweets. I pre-ordered the US hardback copy and got it sent over from America because the UK release wasn't until September 2015. Then, an early copy from Simon and Schuster arrived before the US one! The Santangelos continues the saga of the Santangelo family and it was everything I wanted and more. I can still remember the first time I picked up Chances, I completely lost myself in the world that Jackie had created. Chances is the book that started the whole Santangelo saga off, and introduced readers to the incomparable Lucky Santangelo, my favourite fictional character ever. When reading The Santangelos I did not want it to end and it could easily have been my top read of the year if it wasn't for a certain other book!

As most readers will know Jackie Collins sadly passed away earlier this year. As my favourite author I was devastated by the news, and wrote a tribute to Jackie and her books which you can read here.

And so to my Book of the Year for 2015!

1. The Spice Box Letters - Eve Makis

When I read the Tweets from my fellow bloggers about their difficulties in choosing their Number One read of the year, some even choosing not to rank them such was the difficulty, I thankfully couldn't relate to that because I have known what my Top Read of 2015 would be since March of this year. Only a very special book could have changed my mind, and some one hundred and odd books later and my choice hasn't changed. That book is The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis.

Eve Makis wrote a book that drew genuine and real emotion from me as a reader. She wrote a story that has remained with me since I turned the very last page and it is a book I recommend that everybody pick up and it is one that I will be rereading in the New Year. Published to mark the centenary year of the Armenian genocide, it tells the story of Katerina who travels to Cyprus after her grandmother dies and leaves behind a wooden spice box containing letters and a diary written in Armenian. In Cyprus she meets Ara, who translates the diary for Katerina, revealing Mariam's long-buried secrets, and revealing to Katerina and the reader a life that started with her grandmother being exiled from her home in Turkey and separated from her brother Gabriel, her life then marred by grief and the loss of her first love.

The Spice Box Letters was difficult reading in places but the writing and storytelling was absolutely necessary to highlight the pain and suffering these people went through, and made the emotional connection that I felt as a reader to these characters all the more powerful. The characters in this book are fictional, but the basis for the story lies in fact and the story has so much more of an impact because of that. Eve Makis is a truly wonderful writer, and the book is beautifully descriptive when Eve is talking about Cyprus, which is my favourite place in the whole world. She really captures the setting, and I loved her descriptions of the food consumed by her characters. I was practically salivating reading about all the foods that I love so much. On the other hand her harrowing descriptions of the genocide, the horrible deaths of the characters, and the emotional turmoil those who survived went through left a lump in my throat, and towards the end of the book tears streamed down my face I'm not ashamed to admit. The book is an emotional read, but there's also positives to be taken from it as well.

Below is how Eve Makis describes The Spice Box Letters:

I would like to think of the book as a spice box, not only peppered by tragedy, but also evoking a distinct sense of culture through food, folklore and customs, an attempt to balance a dark, turbulent past with a lighter, more hopeful present. It is essentially a story about intimate family secrets, slowly unraveled and the enduring quality of love.

I was lucky enough to be able to share an exclusive guest post from Eve Makis to celebrate publication of The Spice Box Letters back in March and you can read that here. Given just how much I loved this book it was a real honour to be able to share the story behind it.

And that's my Top 10! For personal and family reasons I have had to take a longer break than I originally planned towards the end of 2015 but I hope to return with some reviews and posts in 2016 and hope that those that visit my blog and keep in touch with me on Twitter bear with me and hopefully normal service will resume sometime in the New Year! Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I hope that you will take a chance on some of the books in my Top 10 if you haven't already. 

Guest Post: Angela Clarke's Writing Process

Thursday 3 December 2015 0 comments
Today I am kicking off the blog tour for Angela Clarke's Follow Me. Sadly due to personal circumstances I have been unable to write my review and for the foreseeable future will be taking another step back from blogging. For now though I hope you enjoy reading this guest post where Angela talks about developing that first idea into an entire novel. Also, be sure to keep following the blog tour for more guest posts and reviews!


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?


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