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Friday, 11 January 2019

My Favourite Books Read In 2018!

2018 saw me read some fantastic books. And today I'm going to share them with you. So without further preamble, here are my favourite books read in 2018. 



I started the year with a festive read...one that turned out be totally gripping and immersive. I read this in a matter of hours, I just could not put it down. 


"It looks like a regular advent calendar.


Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors...and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it's a prank. Because if it isn't, a murderer has just surfaced - someone who's been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them...

It's shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas."


Tammy Cohen has fast become one of my favourite authors. The first novel of Tammy's I read was They All Fall Down, one of my favourite books read in 2017. Then, in 2018, she released a short story as part of 2018's Quick Reads collection. Which, of course, I snapped up. And it was so good. Just as suspenseful and thrilling as a full-length novel.

"Marriage is complicated, especially for Kate. Her husband Jack has a temper on him, and has been an absent father for years. Kate knows it's time for a divorce. The trouble is, Jack refuses. And now that he has found out Kate has met another man, his jealous rages escalate. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it's too late?"


This year's Quick Reads collection was fantastic, with two stand-out novels in the 2018 collection. I can't wait to see what they release for the 2019 collection! Six Foot Six was an endearing, humorous quick read. 

"It's an exciting day for Timothy Flowers. It's the third of November, and it's Friday, and it's his twenty-first birthday. When Timothy walks to his usual street corner to see his favourite special bus, he meets Charlie. Charlie is a builder who is desperate for Timothy's help because Timothy is very tall, six feet six inches. Timothy has never had a job before - or no work that he's kept for more than a day. But when Timothy and Charlie have to collect money from a local thug, things don't exactly go according to plan...



Over the course of one day, Timothy's life will change for ever."


I was so excited when one of my blogging besties, Holly Stockport, released her debut novel. And I was right to be excited. Because The Ascension of Melanie Winters was a powerhouse of a debut novel, and has got me so excited for Holly's second novel!



"She was a monster. But the worst kind of monster. One disguised as a living human. 

Melanie Winters is struggling with university life just as much as everyone else. Exams, lectures, the power to move things with her mind, the usual worries. 

After a a freak accident that she caused, Melanie is forced to rerun to her home in the welsh countryside with her mother to start again. 

But when strange events begin to occur upon her arrival, Melanie begins to realise that she, and the powers she fought so hard to keep hidden all these years, might be part of something a lot more sinister."


This was such a heartbreaking read. Not the easiest to digest, but an important read. We need to keep young James Bulger's memory alive. He doesn't deserve to be forgotten. 

"On February 12th, 1993, Denise's life changed forever. As she was running errands at New Strand Shopping Centre, she let go of her two-year-old son's hand to take out her purse. Denise never saw her son again. In this extraordinary and heart-wrenching book comes the unflinching account of that terrible day from James Bulger's mother, Denise. What if she had never taken James shopping? What if she had turned right coming out of the butchers, instead of left? Would she have seen her son being led out of the centre by two children? Denise's initial hope - of seeing her son on CCTV with other kids - quickly turned to devastation when, two days later, James' body was found. His murder shocked the world, as his killers became the youngest convicted murderers in the UK. Denise then took up a tortuous legal battle for James, and it was her astonishing strength and love for her son that ultimately helped to change the way the law treats victims of crime. This is a mother's tale, of finding a way through the despair to remember the happiness and wonderful memories that James brought his family. Above all, Denise doesn't want her son to be remembered as a murdered child, and with this beautifully written book she does just that."


The Wife Between Us was a fantastic thriller novel with a killer twist that I just did not see coming. This book plays on the assumptions we all make, and uses those assumptions to deliver the ultimate psychological twist. A fantastic read. 



"When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. 
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing. 


Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies."


This is a perfect example of why I always give authors a second chance. I  didn't love Daniel Cole's first novel in the Fawkes and Baxter series, Ragdoll. But I picked up the second book in the series, primarily because I wanted to see what would happen next, and my opinion couldn't have been more different. Hangman was a five star read, and I'm now thoroughly looking forward to book three in the series.



"How do you catch a killer who's already dead?

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer - PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the 'BAIT' is intended for, how the 'PUPPETS' are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings."


2018 saw me embark on reading all of the Penguin Modern Classics Book Set. Whilst the majority were okay and the minority awful, there were some standout books in the set. And Andy Warhol's Fame was one of them. 

"The legendary sixties New York pop artist Andy Warhol's hilarious and insightful vignettes and aphorisms on the topics of love, fame and beauty.

Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space."


John Steinbeck is one of my all-time favourite authors. I've read his classic Of Mice and Men at least twice. And this short story, The Vigilante, was just as good. 



"'Everything was dead, everything unreal; the dark mob was made up of stiff lay-figures'


One of America's greatest writers explores mob violence, voyeurism and betrayal in these unforgettable tales of Californian life.


Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space."


Another fantastic Penguin Modern Classic. I'd never heard of Ralph Ellison before, but this short story has definitely turned me on to this author.



"'If he only knew what it was, he would fix it; he would kill this mean thing that made Mama feel so bad.'

Belonging and estrangement intertwine in these four lyrical short stories from the the author of Invisible Man.

Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space."


Daphne Du Maurier is another favourite author of mine. Two of her novels, Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, are two of my all-time favourite reads. And her short story The Break-Through (or Not After Midnight) is now another favourite read!



"Dispatch the maimed, the old, the weak, destroy the very world itself, for what is the point of life if the promise of fulfilment lies elsewhere?
On the windswept coast of rural Suffolk, a deranged scientist attempts to extract the essence of life itself.
Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spiritof the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem andGeorge Orwell to Stevie Smith; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outerspace."
Martin Luther King, Jr, is an icon. And I can see why from Letter From Birmingham Jail. It's clear to see what an exceptional, talented, heroic man Martin Luther King, Jr, was. 
"'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'

This landmark missive from one of the greatest activists in history calls for direct, non-violent resistance in the fight against racism, and reflects on the healing power of love.

This edition also contains the sermon 'The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life'.


Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space."


2018 was the year I finally jumped on the Rupi Kaur bandwagon and read both of her poetry collections. Although I enjoyed her second book, it didn't live up to her first book. Milk and Honey was just fantastic, and re-sparked my love affair with poetry. 

"Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look."


And despite the fact that I picked Small Great Things up in 2017, or 2016 possibly, I only got around to reading it in 2018. However, it was worth the wait. A fantastic read; hugely important.

"Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game."


I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review. And I loved it. Such a creepy, gripping, chilling, thrilling read. I'll be looking out for Sharon Bolton's books again in the future. 

"Catching him will make her career - and change her forever. 


August, 1999 
On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.


June, 1969 
13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.

August, 1999 
As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks' old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy - one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?"


Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone In The Dark is a fantastic true crime novel that reads like a piece of crime fiction. Made even more chilling by the fact that it's all true, and based on years of research.

"A masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer - the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade - from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case.


'You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark.'

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website TrueCrimeDiary.com, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called the Golden State Killer. Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark - the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death - offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman's obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle's lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic - and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer."


Another book sent to me in exchange for an honest review, and not my usual read. I'd never heard of Kathryn Hughes before, but after reading The Key I went out and picked up The Letter immediately! Such a fantastic author.

"1956 

It's Ellen Crosby's first day at work as a student nurse at Ambergate County Lunatic Asylum. When she meets Amy Sullivan, a young woman committed for allegedly attempting to drown herself and her baby stepsister, and Dr Stephen Lambourn, a pioneering physician keen to try out the various 'cures' available for mental illness, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change all their lives for ever...

Present day
Under the cover of darkness, Sarah picks her way through the brambles to the abandoned Ambergate Asylum. A vast building with over six miles of corridors, the asylum still houses the metal-framed beds, rusty instruments and infamous padded cells used before it closed its doors for the last time. In an old wardrobe, Sarah discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who was admitted to the asylum in 1956. The shocking contents of the suitcase lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy, lost love and an old wrong that only Sarah may have the power to put right."


This book is one of Steph's favourite books, and one of the three she asked me to read as part of our collaboration. Shamefully, I still haven't written up my review of this for our collab, but that's a job for this month! Needless to say, THUG is now one of my favourite books too!

""What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?"


Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed."


My last read of the year was this cute, endearing read for all us crazy cat ladies. Full of insight into James and Bob's life together, and with plenty of food for thought, this was the perfect read to end the year on.

"'One thing I've known about Bob from the very beginning is that he possesses a wisdom that is unusual, even in cats. In the decade since we met he's grown even wiser in my eyes. This book is a collection of the insights I've gained during my years with Bob.'


In the spring of 2007, busker James Bowen came across an injured ginger tom cat in the hallway of his shelter in north London. What he didn't know was that this would be the start of a friendship that would turn both their lives around, and lead to A Street Cat Named Bob, the international bestseller that tells the story of their friendship.

The Little Book of Bob is a collection of the wisdom James has learnt from Bob throughout the years, as they go through thick and thin together. From the power of friendship to staying calm and finding the joys in a simple life, let Bob be your guide on how to navigate the ins and outs of life like a wise street cat."


And I ended the year with an audiobook. Damaged, by Cathy Glass, is a book that was recommended to me by someone from my group therapy course. It was a heartbreaking read, but a really fascinating and insightful one.


 "Although Jodie is only eight years old, she is violent, aggressive, and has already been through numerous foster families. Her last hope is Cathy Glass…
Cathy, an experienced foster carer, is pressured into taking Jodie as a new placement. Jodie's challenging behaviour has seen off five carers in four months but Cathy decides to take her on to protect her from being placed in an institution.
Jodie arrives, and her first act is to soil herself, and then wipe it on her face, grinning wickedly. Jodie meets Cathy's teenage children, and greets them with a sharp kick to the shins. That night, Cathy finds Jodie covered in blood, having cut her own wrist, and smeared the blood over her face.
As Jodie begins to trust Cathy her behaviour improves. Over time, with childish honesty, she reveals details of her abuse at the hands of her parents and others. It becomes clear that Jodie's parents were involved in a sickening paedophile ring, with neighbours and Social Services not seeing what should have been obvious signs.
It’s clear that Josie needs psychiatric therapy, but instead Social Services take Jodie away from her, and place her in a residential unit. Although the paedophile ring is investigated and brought to justice, Jodie’s future is still up in the air. Cathy promises that she will stand by her no matter what – her love for the abandoned Jodie is unbreakable."
And those are my favourite reads of 2018! Last year bought me some remarkable reads, and I'm excited to see what 2019 has in store for me. 
What was your favourite book read in 2018? 
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1 comment :

  1. I'm still so glad you loved THUG! There's some books on here that I really need to get around to - especially Holly Stockport's one! Hopefully I manage to in 2019

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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