Authors’ Top Reads of 2015 – Part Three. Finale!


Welcome to day three and the grand finale of a host of lovely authors picking their favourite reads of 2015. Fellow blogger Vicki and I have been overwhelmed with the wonderful and eclectic responses to this feature and it seems like a lovely way to finish off 2015 and head into 2016…

Today I have Rod Reynolds, John Connolly, Jane Casey, Sarah Bannan, Caroline Mitchell, Quentin Bates, Mason Cross, Jenny Blackhurst, Sharon Sant, Ragnar Jonasson,  Sarah Pinborough, Helen Giltrow and Neil White  telling us their ONE top pick for books they read in 2015.

Pop over to Vicki’s place to see who SHE has for you today!


Rod Reynolds, author of The Dark Inside, published by Faber & Faber in September 2015 (And incidentally my No 1 read of 2015!) chose:


A complex and engaging protagonist, an unusual and atmospheric setting, and prose to die for. More please!

Book Blurb:

When an elderly recluse discovers a corpse on his land, Officer Henry Farrell follows the investigation to strange places in the countryside, and into the depths of his own frayed soul.

Click here to Purchase Dry Bones in the Valley published by Faber in 2014.

Follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR and if you fancy trying The Dark Inside (oh yes you do!) click here



John Connolly, author of A Song of Shadows, published by Hodder in paperback in January 2016 (The Charlie Parker series being my favourite series ever in the history of books)


My pick of the year is a reissue, actually – or rather two linked reissues.  THE UNFORTUNATE FURSEY and THE RETURN OF FURSEY, written by the Irish writer Mervyn Wall, were first published in the 1940s, and are masterpieces of Irish comic fantasy, even if the second is more downbeat than the first.  At a time when Irish writers had largely abandoned the fantasy genre, Wall was one of the few who embraced it, albeit temporarily.  Swan River Press in Dublin has reissued both books in beautiful new editions, and they now grace my shelves.

Book Blurb

Originally published as two novels in 1946 and 1948, The Complete Fursey comprises The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey. They are a blend of satire, comedy and fantasy set in the 10th century where Fursey encounters sorcery, demons, witches, Vikings and the wealthy Festus Wisenuts.

Click here to purchase The Unfortunate Fursey published by Swan River Press in 2015

Follow John on Twitter @jconnollybooks and visit his website here. To discover Charlie Parker click here



Jane Casey, author of the Maeve Kerrigan series published by Ebury After the Fire published in 2015.


I’ve got about six different books of the year in different genres but my choice has to be a YA novel, All the Rage by Courtney Summers (which is actually coming out in January 2016 in the UK). Romy Grey is a rape survivor with no hope of getting justice since her attacker is the sheriff’s handsome, popular son. It’s beautifully written, searingly truthful and combines a profound understanding of teenage culture with a gripping storyline. Completely compelling.

Book Blurb:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Click here to purchase All The Rage published by Macmillan in 2015/Paperback 2016

Follow Jane on Twitter @JaneCaseyAuthor and visit her website here. To try After the Fire click here.




Sarah Bannan, author of Weightless, published by Bloomsbury, paperback in March 2016


I read so, so many books that I loved this year, and so many of them by Irish writers – including Tender by Belinda McKeon, The Green Road by Anne Enright, The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray & Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann – but when asked to pick one book, I inevitably fall back on the utterly brilliant, eye-opening and beautiful One by Sarah Crossan. It’s a verse novel that is also a page turner, and it as heartbreaking as it is life affirming. The writing is pitch perfect, and not a moment or word is wasted. Although it’s marketed for young adults, I think it has a universal appeal, and I’ve been feverishly pressing it into people’s hands since finishing it earlier this year.

Book Blurb

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

Click here to Purchase One published by Bloomsbury Childrens in 2015

Follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahkeegs and visit her website here If you want to try Weightless (which could easily have been my No 1 read of 2015) click here



Caroline Mitchell author of Time To Die published in 2015 by Bookouture


I knew from other reviews that there was a twist in the middle of the book, but I still didn’t see it coming. As others have said, I am now compelled to go back to the start and read the book again, knowing what I know. It’s so cleverly written, seamlessly flowing between characters, who all carry their own issues. I defy you not to read it in a couple of days, because you won’t be able to put it down.

Book Blurb

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.

Click here to purchase I Let You Go published by Sphere in 2014

Follow Caroline on Twitter @Caroline_Writes and visit her website here. If you fancy Time To Die click here



Quentin Bates, author of Cold Steal and Thin Ice (published by Constable in March 2016), and translator of Ragnar Jonasson’s Snowblind & Nightblind (published by Orenda Books)


Kati Hiekkapelto’s the Defenceless was one of a few books this year that I couldn’t put down – Anna Fekete is a sharply drawn and entirely real character, and David Hackston’s translation does Kati proud.

Book Blurb:

When an old man is found dead on the road—seemingly run over by a Hungarian au pair—police investigator Anna Fekete is certain that there is more to the incident than meets the eye. As she begins to unravel an increasingly complex case, she’s led on a deadly trail where illegal immigration, drugs, and, ultimately, murder threaten not only her beliefs, but her life.

Click Here to purchase The Defenceless published in 2015 by Orenda Books

Follow Quentin on Twitter @graskeggur and visit his website here. To Pre-Order Thin Ice click here.



Mason Cross author of the Carter Blake thrillers published by Orion


A tense, gripping mystery in a unique environment – a nuclear submarine. Fantastic lead character, I can’t wait for the next one!

Book blurb

Two hundred metres below the surface,
she will have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A sailor hangs himself on board a naval submarine. Although ruled a suicide Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, the Navy’s finest Special Branch investigator, knows the sailor’s wife was found brutally murdered only days before.

Now Dan must enter the cramped confines of HMS Tenacity to interrogate the tight-knit, male crew and determine if there’s a link.

Standing alone in the face of extreme hostility and with a possible killer on board, Dan soon realises that she may have to choose between the truth and her own survival.

The pressure is rising and Dan’s time is running out…

Click here to purchase Tenacity published by Headline in 2015

Follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks and visit his website here. To try The Samaritan click here.



Jenny Blackhurst author of How I Lost You published by Headline in 2015


It was so atmospheric, you could smell the salt in the sea and hear the waves crash against the cliffs. I was holding my breath for the last 30 pages! Brilliantly plotted and emotionally crushing – I cried more than once and it made me want to hug my boys and never let go

Book blurb

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely…

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

Click here to purchase Little Black Lies published by Transworld in 2015

Follow Jenny on Twitter @JennyBlackhurst and if you fancy trying How I Lost You click here



Sharon Sant, author of Dead Girl Walking published independently in 2015


It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and I was fascinated by how the elements that really shouldn’t work together, did. It was also full of humour and just wonderfully clever. I would love to see it made into a film and I can’t wait to continue the series.

Book Blurb:

My name is Peter Grant. Until January I was just another probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service, and to everyone else as the Filth. My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – We do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from a man who was dead, but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Chief Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England. And that, as they say, is where the story begins.

Click here to purchase Rivers of London published by Gollanz in 2011

Follow Sharon on Twitter @SharonSant and visit her website here. To try Dead Girl Walking click here


Ragnar Jonasson author of Snowblind and Nightblind published by Orenda Books.



Runaway by Peter May. Wonderfully written by one of the current masters of crime fiction

Book Blurb

In 1965, five teenage friends fled Glasgow for London to pursue their dream of musical stardom. Yet before year’s end three returned, and returned damaged.

In 2015, a brutal murder forces those three men, now in their sixties, to journey back to London and finally confront the dark truth they have run from for five decades.

Click here to purchase Runaway published by Quercus in 2015  For Snowblind click here

Follow Ragnar on Twitter @ragnarjo and visit his website here




Sarah Pinborough author of 13 Minutes published by Gollanz in 2016 and various other novels. Also one of my favourite authors, she writes with a truly unique style. 



Only Ever Yours.. a Handmaid’s tale for the modern generation that will linger with you long after you finish reading

Book Blurb:

frieda and isabel have been best friends their whole lives.

Now, aged sixteen and in their final year at the School, they expect to be selected as companions – wives to wealthy and powerful men. The alternative – life as a concubine – is too horrible to contemplate.

But as the intensity of the final year takes hold, the pressure to remain perfect becomes almost unbearable. isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty – her only asset – in peril.

And then, the boy arrive, eager to choose a bride.

frieda must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

Click here to purchase Only Ever Yours published by Quercus in 2014

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahPinborough and visit her website here. To pre-order 13 Minutes click here.


Helen Giltrow, author of The Distance, published by Orion in 2015


How did I get to 2015 without reading Don Winslow’s epic tale of the Mexican drug wars, The Power of the Dog? Published a decade ago, it passed me by completely until a chance tweet this summer had Mark Hill, Rod Reynolds and Stav Sherez all recommending it to me. Astonishing in scope and scale, and one of the all-time great crime novels.

Book blurb

The prequel to The Cartel, and set about 10 years earlier, The Power of the Dog introduces a brilliant cast of characters. Art Keller is an obsessive DEA agent. The Barrera brothers are heirs to a drug empire. Nora Hayden is a jaded teenager who becomes a high-class hooker. Father Parada is a powerful and incorruptible Catholic priest. Callan is an Irish kid from Hell’s kitchen who grows up to be a merciless hit man. And they are all trapped in the world of the Mexican drug Federación. From the streets of New York City to Mexico City and Tijuana to the jungles of Central America, this is the war on drugs like you’ve never seen it.

Click here to purchase The Power of the Dog published by Vintage in 2006

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenGiltrow and if you would like to try The Distance click here.



Neil White author of The Parker Brothers Trilogy published by Sphere. And still my 2nd favourite author 🙂


Hardly a new one, first published in 1970 with the title Jack’s Return Home and subsequently made into a film starring Michael Caine (I’m not going to mention the Stallone version). I was asked to read it in order to have an online conversation about it, with Nick Quantrill, a longstanding fan of the book, and I was instantly transported back to the north I remember of my childhood. Industry and grimy glamour, of fur coats and tall chimneys, Players No 6 and dark bitter. Small town big men and incessant gloom. The book is noir but firmly of the North.

As much as prose can be beautiful when it’s flowery, it is often best when at its most simple. Take the opening line, spoken from the viewpoint of a man on a train heading north. The rain rained.  As apt as it is right now, it sums also those days when it is not even worth looking out of a train window, because there is just incessant rain outside. There is a line later in the book, where a door in a club is as one that looks like it leads somewhere. Like a lot of noir, it says so much without seemingly saying anything at all.

The plot of the book involves the return of Jack Carter to his native north from his new home in London, where he’s become some underworld big shot, and how he deals with the small town big timers he comes across, settling old scores. It’s very much of its time, gangland meets black and white kitchen sink drama, but that is all part of its charm, because it records a north that is disappearing, thank goodness, but it is good to to be reminded of it.

Click here to purchase Get Carter published by Allison and Busby.

Follow Neil on Twitter @neilwhite1965 and visit his website here. To try out any one of his novels including The Parker Brothers trilogy  click here


We hope you’ve enjoyed these amazing book suggestions by some of our favourite authors. And  that, as they say is THAT. What a FANTASTIC year for reading this has been and 2016 is shaping up to be even better if that is possible!

Watch this space for another feature soon to give you the heads up on some tales to watch out for in 2016. Vicki and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a VERY Happy New Year!

We’ll both be back in 2016 with more book reviews, author interviews and author guest posts.











Authors’ Top Reads of 2015 – Part Two.


Welcome to day two of a host of lovely authors picking their favourite reads of 2015. Fellow blogger Vicki and I have had the best time seeing all these come in and here are some more for you.

Today I have Nikki Owen, Gerard Brennan, Amanda Jennings, Ava Marsh, James Law, Michael J Malone, Steve McHugh , Jack Croxall, David Ross, Elizabeth Forbes and Tony Black telling us their ONE top pick from books they read in 2015,

Pop over to Vicki’s place to see who SHE has for you today!


Nikki Owen, author of Subject 375, published by Mira Books in June 2015 chose:


A mesmerising story.  Once you get your head around the fact that the characters are bees, the whole thing just takes off and it’s so well written. No fat or waffle, and each line works hard at propelling the plot forward so you have a real page turner. The book stayed in my head for a long time afterwards.”

Book Blurb:

Enter a whole new world, in this thrilling debut novel set entirely within a beehive.

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen.

Click here to purchase The Bees published by Fourth Estate in January 2015

Follow Nikki on Twitter @nikkiwriter and visit her website here. If you fancy trying Subject 375 click here



Gerard Brennan, author of Undercover published in 2014


Aloysius Tempo is an Irish hitman thriller doused in black comedy; introducing a new character to the Jason Johnson universe, I hope aul’ Aloysius has at least four more breakneck adventures left in him.

Book Blurb

Irish-born Aloysius is a freelance killer for hire. Advertising his services – the ‘hard solve’ – on the Dark Web, he arranges fatal accidents, convenient deaths. ‘My job is the only job in the world where people you should have killed will throw it back in your face.’ Living off-grid, an old contact from home offers him work. Aloysius doesn’t take the bait and gets cornered by Imelda, the steely head of a shadowy unit close to the Irish government.

Click here to purchase Aloysius Tempo published by Liberties Press in 2015

Follow Gerard on Twitter @gerardbrennan and visit his website here. To try Undercover click here.




Amanda Jennings, author of In Her Wake, published by Orenda Books in April 2016


It’s not a genre I usually read and I was captivated by her characters and evocative writing from the first page. It was one of those books I was sad to finish and I can’t wait to see what this hugely talented writer brings to gives us next.”

Book Blurb :

1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London…

Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five.

… He promised to love her forever

Seventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan’s words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late?

Click here to Purchase Letters To The Lost published by Simon and Schuster UK

Follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings and visit her website here. To pre-order In Her Wake click here



Ava Marsh, author of Untouchable published by Transworld in 2015


A truly original, thoroughly engaging story with a character you’re rooting for all the way. Superbly written, and impossible to put down – deserves to be huge.

Book blurb:

You’ve never met anyone like Tuesday. She has suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of men, and so has taken it upon herself to seek vengeance. She wants to protect and help others like her, to ease their suffering. A force to be reckoned with, she lives beneath the streets of London in the hidden network of forgotten tunnels that honeycomb the city – and this is her preferred hunting ground.

Click here to purchase Tuesday Falling published by Harper Collins (Killer Reads) in 2015

Follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh and visit her website here. To try Untouchable click here.



James Law, author of Tenacity, published by Headline in July 2015


I don’t remember how I came across it, but it’s a beautifully creepy read that I really enjoyed from start to finish. I’d highly recommend it.

Book blurb:

You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.

That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?

The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.

Click here to purchase A Pleasure and a Calling published by Doubleday in 2014

Follow James on Twitter @JSLawbooks and visit his website here. To give Tenacity a try click here



Michael J Malone author of Beyond the Rage published by Saraband in 2015


This is one of the best fantasy debuts I’ve read since The Name of the Wind. Utterly engrossing, adventurous and well-realised. It’s difficult to bring originality to this genre and Levene does it in spades.

Book Blurb

Yron the moon god died, but now he’s reborn in the false king’s son. His human father wanted to kill him, but his mother sacrificed her life to save him. He’ll return one day to claim his birthright. He’ll change your life.

He’ll change everything.

Smiler’s Fair: the great moving carnival where any pleasure can be had, if you’re willing to pay the price. They say all paths cross at Smiler’s Fair. They say it’ll change your life. For five people, Smiler’s Fair will change everything.

Click here to purchase Smilers Fair published by Hodder in 2014

Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelJMalone1 and visit his website here. To try Beyond the Rage click here



Steve McHugh author of The Hellequin Chronicles published by 47North.


John wrote one of my favourite fantasy books in years. The story is well-written, and exciting, but it’s the characters that shine the most. Can’t recommend it enough.

Book Blurb

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

Click here to Purchase Malice published by Tor in 2012,

Follow Steve on Twitter @StevejMchugh and visit his website here. To try the Hellequin Chronicles click here



Jack Croxall, author of Wye, published independently in 2015


I loved Girl On The Train!! A scintillating mystery, investigated by a gloriously unreliable narrator. This was the one book that forced normal life into the background during 2015

Book blurb

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking.

Click here to purchase The Girl on the Train published by Transworld in 2015

Follow Jack on Twitter @JackCroxall and visit his website here. To try Wye click here.




David F. Ross, author of The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas, published by Orenda Books in e-book now and available in paperback in February 2016.


My book of the year is Beatlebone by Kevin Barry. It’s inventive, imaginative and I sorely wish I’d written it myself.

Book Blurb

It is 1978, and John Lennon has escaped New York City to try to find the island off the west coast of Ireland he bought nine years prior. Leaving behind domesticity, his approaching forties, his inability to create, and his memories of his parents, he sets off to find calm in the comfortable silence of isolation. But when he puts himself in the hands of a shape-shifting driver full of Irish charm and dark whimsy, what ensues can only be termed a magical mystery tour.

Click here to purchase Beatlebone published by Doubleday in 2015

Follow David on Twitter @dfr10 and visit his website here. To give Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas a try click here



Michael Stanley, author of Deadly Harvest (May 2016) and A Death in the Family (July 2016), both published by Orenda Books.


Meyer’s grasp of character is exceptional and the story is totally gripping.

Book blurb:

A week before Christmas, a young photographer discovers a plastic-wrapped corpse amidst the sand dunes north of Cape Town. The only thing found on the corpse is a dead iPhone, but it doesn’t take long for the police to identify the body as that of Ernst Richter—the tech whiz behind MyAlibi, an internet service that provides unfaithful partners with sophisticated cover stories to hide an affair. Meanwhile, Benny Griessel is called to the scene of a multiple homicide involving a former colleague, and four years of sobriety are undone on the spot.

Click here to purchase Icarus published by Atlantic in 2015

Follow on Twitter @detectivekubu and visit the website here To try A Death in the Family click here



Elizabeth Forbes, author of Who Are You?, published by Cutting Edge Press in July 2014.

Although Toby’s Room was written in 2012 I only discovered it this year. Pat Barker’s ability to thoroughly inhabit her characters and bring them to life through her superb prose is second to none. The novel is in turns shocking, poignant and revelatory and focuses on the role art played in recording the horrific disfigurations suffered by members of the armed forces in the Great War

Book Blurb:

This indelible portrait of a family torn apart by war focuses on Toby Brooke, a medical student, and his younger sister Elinor. Enmeshed in a web of complicated family relationships, Elinor and Toby are close: some might say too close. But when World War I begins, Toby is posted to the front as a medical officer while Elinor stays in London to continue her fine art studies at the Slade, under the tutelage of Professor Henry Tonks. There, in a startling development based in actual fact, Elinor finds that her drafting skills are deployed to aid in the literal reconstruction of those maimed in combat.

Click here to Purchase Toby’s Room published by Doubleday in 2012

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @lizzieforbes and visit her on Facbook here To try Who Are You click here.



Tony Black author of A Taste Of Ashes published by Black and White in 2015


A masterclass in how to keep a series character fresh, relevant and interesting. Jack Taylor is still the best mystery series around and I can’t see him being toppled any time soon. Genius writing

Book Blurb:

Recovering from the severe mental and physical wounds inflicted from his recent past, Jack Taylor has finally found a modicum of peace. He has managed to kick the myriad substances that have had a stranglehold over his painful life. Yet this fragile existence is threatened when a vigilante killer begins targeting the scum of Galway, signing mysterious notes with the moniker ‘C 33’. The killer addresses these cryptic letters to Jack, trying to goad the former cop into joining the murderous spree and to help cleanse Galway.

Click here to purchase Purgatory published by Atlantic in 2013

Follow Tony on Twitter @TonyBlackUk and visit his website here. To try A Taste of Ashes click here.

SO that is your lot for today!

Remember to pop by Vicki’s  blog to find some more Authors’ Top Reads of 2015.

Join Vicki and I again tomorrow for the grand finale!

Happy Reading Folks!


Authors’ Top Reads of 2015 – Part One.


I am delighted to kick off this end of year special feature, in conjunction with Vicki Goldman, with the first group of authors giving us their top pick of 2015.

For Day One I have  Erin Kelly, Susi Holliday, Steve Cavanagh, Joanne Spain, , Michael Grothaus TR Richmond, Jack Jordan and Nick Quantrill telling us their ONE top pick from the books they read in 2015.

Pop over to Vicki’s place to see who she has for you today!

Erin Kelly author of The Ties that Bind published by Hodder in 2015 has chosen:


The more fiction I write, the more non-fiction I like to read. This is Iain Sinclair’s perfectly-written account of walking around ‘the ginger line’. He’s been documenting London for years yet the books never get old. It’s brilliant to find him describing some parts of London I know well, and introducing me to others I know nothing about, even though I’ve lived here my whole life. His insight and descriptions are stunning.

Book Blurb:

Echoing his journey in London Orbital over a decade ago, Iain Sinclair narrates his second circular walk around the capital. Shortly after rush-hour and accompanied by a rambling companion, Sinclair begins walking along London’s Overground network, or, ‘Ginger Line’. With characteristic playfulness, detours into folk history, withering assessments of the political classes and a joyful allegiance to the ordinary oddball, Sinclair guides us on a tour of London’s trendiest new transport network – and shows the shifting, changing city from new and surprising angles.

Click here to purchase London Overground published in June 2015

Visit Erin’s website here and if you fancy one of her great novels including one of my favourites of all time The Poison Tree  click here



Susi Holliday author of Blackwood, published by Black & White Publishing in March 2015 


“Peter Swanson’s The Kind Worth Killing. The way the story switched from past to present had me gripped throughout, there was a huge WTF moment part way through, and the ending…. I actually gasped.”

Book Blurb:

Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Click here to purchase The Kind Worth Killing published by Faber in 2015

Follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday and visit her website here If you’d like to try out Black Wood click here


Steve Cavanagh, author of The Defence, published by Orion in March 2015


“My book of the year – A Song of Shadows. A bench mark in series crime fiction. Utterly brilliant.”

Book Blurb:

Grievously wounded, private detective Charlie Parker investigates a case that has its origins in a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. Broken, but undeterred, he faces the darkest of dark forces in a case with its roots in the second world war, and a concentration camp unlike any other . . .

Click here to purchase A Song of Shadows published by Hodder in 2015, Paperback in 2016.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav and visit his website here. If you’d like to try out The Defence click here


Joanne Spain author of With Our Blessing published by Quercus in September 2015


Camille by Pierre Lemaitre – thought it was another fantastic book by him. I love Verhorven’s sensitivity and brilliance and it was one of the most shocking opening chapters I’ve read!

Book Blurb:

Camille–whose wife Irene was murdered by a sadistic serial killer–has at last opened his emotional lockbox for Anne Forestier, the new woman who has unexpectedly entered his life. But brutal history seems to repeat itself as Anne is violently attacked one day in what seems like a random instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As she recovers, Camille begins the investigation while keeping his relationship with Anne secret from his superiors.

Click here to purchase Camille, published by Maclehose Press in May 2015

Follow Jo on Twitter @SpainJoanne and if you’d like to try With Our Blessing click here.


Michael Grothaus, author of Epiphany Jones, published by Orenda Books in May 2016


The prose is short and beautiful and though it’s about so much more than a love story, its realistic portrayal of a growing relationship between two people separated by decades is something all fictionalized romances should strive for. Kawakami has the guts to end it not sentimentally, but truthfully.”

Book Blurb:

Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, ‘Sensei’, in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass – from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms – Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.

Click here to Purchase Strange Weather in Tokyo published by Portobello books in 2014

Follow Michael on Twitter @michaelgrothaus visit him here you can pre-order Epiphany Jones here


TR Richmond, author of What She Left, published by Penguin in October 2015


This book had been recommended to me countless times, but I’d never got round to reading it until this year. It follows an unnamed narrator immersed in the 1980s New York party lifestyle – the highs, the lows and the eventual, inevitable fall. It’s that rarest of things – a book that perfectly captures its decade, but is also perfectly timeless.”

Book Blurb:

You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard Lounge. So begins our hero’s trawl through the brightly lit streets of Manhattan, sampling all this wonderland has to offer yet suspecting that tomorrow’s hangover may be caused by more than simple excess. This is a classic 80s novel.

Click here to purchase Bright Lights Big City published by Bloomsbury in 2007

Follow on Twitter @TRRichmondbooks  and if you fancy What She Left click here


Nick Quantrill, author of the Joe Geraghty series


Never afraid of tackling a tough subject, the master of the police procedural examines mercy killings in the latest instalment of his immaculate Devon-set crime series.

Book Blurb:

D/S Jimmy Suttle is called to a brutal murder in the picturesque Devon village of Lympstone. Harriet Reilly, a local GP, has been found disembowelled in the bedroom of her partner, climate scientist Alois Bentner.

Suttle’s estranged wife, Lizzie, has abandoned Portsmouth, moved to Exeter and returned to journalism, hearing rumours of a local GP offering mercy killings to patients meeting certain criteria. The name of the GP is Harriet Reilly.

So begins two investigations of the same crime.

Click here to purchase The Order of Things published by Orion in 2015

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickQuantrill and visit his website here. Try the Joe Geraghty series here



Jack Jordon, author of Anything For Her published independently in 2015


This true story shocked me to my core, and has stayed with me ever since. I mourned all of the men that history forgot. If you only read one non-fiction title in 2016, make sure it is this one

Book Blurb:

In 1939, Heger, a Viennese university student, was arrested and sentenced to prison for being a “degenerate.” Within weeks he was transported to Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp in East Germany, and forced to wear a pink triangle to show that his crime was homosexuality. He remained there, under horrific conditions, until the end of the war in 1945. The power of The Men with the Pink Triangle comes from Heger’s sparse prose and his ability to recall–and communicate–the smallest resonant details.

Click here to purchase The Men with the Pink Triangle published in 2010 by Alyson Publications

Follow Jack on Twitter : @_JackJordan_ and visit his website here. To give Anything For Her a try click here


SO that is your lot for today!

Remember to pop by Vicki’s  blog to find some more Authors’ Top Reads of 2015.

Join Vicki and I again tomorrow for some more great picks!

Happy Reading Folks!






Authors’ Top Reads of 2015 – Coming this week…


So as book bloggers Vicki Goldman (Off the Shelf Book Reviews) and I had a great time creating our top reads of 2015 posts – and doing some other shout outs the other night on Twitter (which we will probably do again sometime this week) but what about the other side of the equation? Those lovely authors who have entertained us this year and will do again are also readers too!


We have asked a whole plethora of lovely writer folk to provide us with ONE read that they have loved this year – and a little sentence or two on why. Over the next few days with a final post on New Years Eve to round off the year nicely, you will be able to see these shared between my blog and Off The Shelf Book reviews with a few authors each day giving a shout out for their reads of the year.


So want to know which book Elizabeth Haynes loved? Or what one novel had Linwood Barclay avidly turning pages? Personally I was fascinated to find out which book debut author Rod Reynolds (who wrote MY book of the year) chose for one of his favourites of 2015.


Join both Vicki and I here and over at her place ( ) on Tuesday 29th, Wed 30th and Thurs 31st December to get some hot tips for the best books read in 2015 by some of the wonderful and talented people WE have been reading…


Don’t miss it!


Happy Reading Folks!


Holiday Time!


I am taking a couple of weeks off – so while a post or two may appear if I’m so inclined for the most part Liz Loves Books is having a little holiday until the 1st January – upon which date I will be on the Nightblind Blog Tour and things from there will return to normal.

Look out after that as well for a whole lot more Indie Author spotlights and also a heads up for some great books coming in 2016  which is going to be a corker of a year for us readers. Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman – watch for that one it deserves to be huge, plus at least two addictively brilliant trilogies due to come to an end (The Passage and Red Rising) and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Have a GREAT Christmas everyone. May Santa bring you lots of books…



A Boy Called Christmas….


Publication Date: Available Now from Canongate

Source: Purchased copy. Or more accurately copies. I have 2 boys. one each or FIGHT. Plus Mum wanted one (Mum got reindeer food with hers…)

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?


Then let us begin . . .

There may be a more adulty review from me at some stage but I wouldn’t count on it as right now I’m a big kid again.

A Boy Called Christmas is, as my son Harry put it upon finishing , “absolutely awesome”.

I could probably leave it there. Harry is 8. He knows more than me on these things, I bow to his superior knowledge. But as it is a sort of review, I’ll expand a bit.

Lots of people have talked about how wonderful and magical it is (true)

Others have mentioned that it has its darker moments. (also true)

What I’d like to say (apart from Matt Haig you TOTALLY rock) goes more towards my reading experience of it – this was very much a family affair, two tiny terrors, one often harassed looking mother, bedtime, a chapter or two. Read out loud, through much laughter (not always at the story, Harry’s sounding out of the occasional word he’s unsure of can end up changing the entire meaning of the universe) a lot of going back and reading bits again that we loved and eventually a hot chocolate and marshmallow finish.

If you like reading with your children, if you like a story to read with them that will utterly engage them AND you (this is a book for kids of any age), that offers so much more than just a darn good yarn (want to know about Ho Ho Ho? Yeah you do..) then I would highly recommend this one. Its one that you know you can cope with the million and one times your children are going to want to hear it again.  Or read it again themselves and shout about it.

For me, A Boy Called Christmas is the literary equivalent of Love Actually. You’ll sneakily read it all year round upon occasion but come Christmas it’ll be one of the things that define the holiday season for you. Which reminds me…it’s probably time to dig out the Richard Curtis collection…

A classic in the making? Oh I would think so. I mean none of us will be around to be sure, so actually why the heck not confidentally say that this book will still be read in 100 years and loved by future generations. I believe it.

On a slightly more serious note – this is truly excellent. In every way you can think of and then a few more ways on top of that too. The writing is great, the story is oh so terrific, an imaginative journey, a new take on an age old tale and as such is incredibly powerful.

Back to the important stuff – I’m a bit (ok a lot) bah humbug. But occasionally the Christmas Spirit (the REAL one not the commercial rubbish or the endless pressure to conform and be GODARN HAPPY its that time of year) gets driven into my heart by something. This book did it. So theres that. Its ok…it’ll wear off. Which presumably means I’ll then have to read it again. Perhaps on my own this time.

A great gift this Christmas. A beautiful looking book that does exactly what it says on the tin.

Here is where you can find Matt hanging out shooting the breeze on Twitter:

And if you want to find the magic for yourself clickety click.

Happy Christmas Reading Folks!

Darn is it the 17th December already? I need to find myself an elf….





An Unfamiliar Murder… New cover – with Jane Isaac


OOH that is a bit large -but then there is a kind of an awesome central cover quote there look….


Yes I’m not modest. But honestly – Jane Isaac is re-releasing An Unfamiliar Murder and I’m really happy to show you the brand new cover – her first book and the first one I read of hers that turned me into a lifelong fan. It is a GREAT book – and it is now time to introduce it to some new readers and I am more than happy to get right behind that action.

About the book:

This novel was originally published in the US in 2012. It is being re-released here on March 1st 2016

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder inquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim…

Leading her first murder investigation, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

My Original Review:

So, you know how sometimes when you start a book, you get that little frisson of excitement because you are fairly sure you are about to add another set of novels to that already large grouping that you call “must read whenever there is a new one”? I had that feeling here, probably about a quarter of the way through the book.

Anna returns home from work one day to discover her flat broken into and a dead body occupying it. Which as you can imagine, is a bit of a shock. Suspected by the Police, and discovering that her life wasnt quite what she thought it was, Anna’s world is turned upside down. Enter DCI Helen Lavery (who I assume we are going to meet again – if not I may have to write a strongly worded letter!)leading her first Murder enquiry whilst juggling family life and responsibilities. Here’s what I loved on a personal level. I could relate very strongly to both the female leads here – Firstly, Helen Lavery is a woman after my own heart when it comes to dealing with stroppy teenagers and juggling the needs of the rest of the family whilst still holding down a high powered job. No she’s not perfect, who amongst us is? But she is realistically imperfect in the way of the real world rather than the fictional world.

Then there is Anna. For reasons I can’t mention due to my determination never to include spoilers, I really was right there with her – some of what she goes through I have been through myself (no, not finding bodies in my living room I promise, or any sort of violence!)and her reactions are very realistic – or at least I imagine they are as they mirror my own in a lot of ways. From a readers point of view – you get a great mystery, almost Christie-esque (although I’m sure the author won’t mind me saying she’s not quite Christie!) in its presentation and resolution and some terrific supporting characters to back up the wonderful leading ladies.

I kind of hope we meet Anna again as well – the relationship that develops between them is in its infancy here, but is fascinating none the less and I would like to see it explored further. All in all a darn good yarn – and I am looking forward with great anticipation to the next novel from this writer.

Interested? Find out more here:

Follow Jane on Twitter for updates and frankly, because she’s lovely and fun

Happy Reading Folks!



2016 Spotlight: Try not to Breathe by Holly Seddon


Publication Date: 7th January UK (Corvus) 23rd Febuary US (Random House -Ballantine)

Source: Netgalley – via Ballantine with thanks.

Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

Try Not To Breathe was a wonderfully engaging and intense story – one to watch in early 2016 I have a feeling it is going to be a huge hit..

Amy had a secret – and her secret nearly killed her. Years later Alex Dale is fighting a losing battle with alcoholism and trying to reboot her journalistic career. Whilst on a story about vegetative and locked in patients she stumbles across a case she remembers well and decides it is time to try and find justice for Amy. Amy meanwhile is not gone – just forgotton.

The storytelling in Try Not To Breathe is of a really brilliant standard – Holly Seddon draws you into Amy’s world, via Alex and others and even Amy herself…it is beautifully done and emotionally resonant throughout. There is a strong theme of redemption running in the narrative, for Alex, for Amy and beyond,  that makes YOU hold your breath, waiting to see if they can all come out the other side intact.

The mystery element is underneath all that – the author weaves a web of relationships old and new – Jacob, Amy’s boyfriend at the time who has allowed this horrific act to impact on his marriage is a very sympathetic character although I did want to kick him at times. Alex herself is so realistically flawed that no part of the story is unbelievable – as for Amy, locked in her own head, struggling to understand, her occasional appearances underneath the external happenings just complete this so well and give it a depth of emotion that you feel in every bone.

As for what happened to Amy – well that part of the tale is drip fed in stunning style, leading you ever closer to a resolution you may not expect, one that you need as much as Alex does in order to move on. It has a psychological thriller element that feeds into the character driven portions pitch perfectly, making this a real page turner. Try not to breathe – this one may hit you unexpectedly.

Overall a great read. One of those that you know you’ll think about, imagining what might happen next. There is a completeness to it, but also speaking solely as a reader, I hope to meet Alex again – we’ll see. If wishing made it so…

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:

Follow Holly on Twitter here:

Pre-Order information:



Happy Reading Folks!


Sewing the Shadows Together – Interview with Alison Taylor Baillie

cover STSTAlison Taylor-Baillie

Today I am VERY pleased to welcome Alison to the blog tellling us a little bit about her novel Sewing the Shadows Together.

Tell us a little about what inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved writing. At primary school my teacher restricted me to three pages because I couldn’t stop writing and my stories were always too long. I also used to write at home and make my stories into little booklets and magazines, a couple of which have survived the years.

I then studied English at university and became an English teacher, somehow thinking that this would lead to more writing – but, in fact, working and being a single parent of two boys filled up all my time. Although I used to write a column for a teachers’ journal, I only really started writing fiction when I stopped working full-time.

Was there a particular inspiration behind “Sewing The Shadows Together” ?

Yes, the story’s been in my mind for a long time – over thirty years! My first teaching job was at Portobello High School, in the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, a place which features strongly in my novel. At that time there were several serial killers in Scotland, the full extent of whose activity has only come to light in the last few years. I began to think about the effect of a murder on adolescent siblings and friends and so the seeds of my story were sown. Over the years the story was obviously developing deep in my subconscious, because when I came to write it I found that places I’d visited and things I’d experienced had become part of it, almost without my being aware of it.

Did you have a favourite character within the story? One that came easy?

Ah, that’s two questions! My favourites would have to be the two main characters, Tom and Sarah, because they totally absorbed me and I shared their pain and joy. However, they were probably the most difficult to write, because they were so emotionally-scarred it was hard to stop them coming across as too passive.

Of the other characters, the one that was easiest to write was Flora, Sarah’s mother. She had such a strong and distinctive voice she literally seemed to write herself. I have to admit that I also have a soft spot for Archie, the journalist. Unlike some of the other characters, he doesn’t really share any characteristics with anyone I know – but I’d like to meet him for a drink in the Café Royal in Edinburgh one day.

When reading, what type of book do you tend to go for?

I’ve always loved crime stories, especially Scottish and Scandinavian Noir, occasionally venturing down as far as the North of England. I’ve discovered so many fantastic new writers in these areas since I started reading blogs and going to crime writing festivals that I have enough to keep me going for a while yet!

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you choose to have?

I’ve been racking my brain to think up witty, original answers – but I’ve totally failed. So I’ll just say my Kindle, a fishing rod and a nice squidgy pillow.

Finally, can you tell us a little about what is next for you in the writing stakes?

I’ve started writing another novel, but I’m finding it slow going compared to Sewing the Shadows Together, probably because it’s only been in my mind for about two years! It’s another standalone, but it shares some themes with my first novel, as it’s about ordinary people having to face up to extraordinary situations, displacement (part of it is set in Switzerland where I’m living at the moment) and, of course, Scotland!

Thank you! Thank you, Liz

About the book:

cover STST

Can you ever get over the death of your sister? Or of your best friend?

More than 30 years after 13-year-old Shona McIver was raped and murdered in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh, the crime still casts a shadow over the lives of her brother Tom and her best friend Sarah.

When modern DNA evidence shows that the wrong man was convicted of the crime, the case is reopened. So who did kill Shona? Sarah and Tom are caught up in the search for Shona’s murderer, and suspicions fall on family and friends. The foundations of Sarah’s perfect family life begin to crumble as she realises that nothing is as it appears.

Sewing the Shadows Together was a great read – often tense and  atmospheric with a great sense of place, it is a mystery wrapped up in a family drama and as such worked really well.

It was a clever novel in its construction as the author shows us both the impact of sudden violent death on those closest to the victim and the echoing effects of that as they continue in their lives – plus the added hit of discovering that the closure they had received was no kind of closure at all. As Sarah and Tom begin to unravel the truth, they almost unravel themselves and it is very addictive and often surprising.

There is a strong sense of character running through the narrative – I was especially fascinated by the different ways that Sarah and Tom had gone about their lives – and Tom especially resonated, the intricacies of the relationships in the story are well drawn and engaging.

The mystery element is almost secondary to the rest, but drives our main protagonists towards the ultimate resolution in a highly readable fashion – you will get caught up in the drama and be with them all the way.

Overall really excellent. Definitely worth a try if you like the past/present dynamic and a psychological thriller with an intriguing plot and characters to match.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

Purchase Information:

Happy Reading Folks!


2016 January Spotlight: Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre


Publication Date: January 28th 2016 from Little Brown

Source: Netgalley

There is no perfect marriage. There is no perfect murder.

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.

Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for.

Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.

But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

My reading halo is slipping – this is my first Chris Brookmyre novel. I hear crime fiction fans everywhere shaking their heads in disbelief – to them I say – hey its fine, I’ve now ordered the entire back catalogue. Better late to the party than never arriving at all…

Black Widow is one of those novels that just sucks you into a vortex – Incredibly beautifully constructed with some increasingly fascinating characters, Chris Brookmyre takes us back and forth in time to tell a love story. Well you know, if love involved deceit, betrayal, massively hidden secrets and ended with blood, turmoil and more twists than a bag of pretzels. Is that not every time you say? I can believe it…

Diane Jager  is a perfectly formed character – difficult to pin down, occasionally utterly believable, then having you going Hmmmm…you are never sure where you are with her she is completely credible and endlessly durable. I both loved and hated her with a passion, at times wanting her to be exonerated and at other times locked up for all eternity. Therein lay the really great part of this for me, the inability to actually make up my mind.

This being my first foray into this particular writers mind, it was also my first encounter with Jack Parlabane who judging by the little asides has been put through the wringer in previous stories – I’ll find that out in due course, but in Black Widow he gets sucked into the same vortex the reader finds themselves in when he is tasked with finding out the truth behind Peter’s death by his Sister Lucy. Now Jack I loved immediately and that never went away – which makes me happily anticipate catching up with him later, but Black Widow is entirely comfortable as a standalone novel which is always nice to find when you realise you’ve been a bit of an idiot and missed something awesome.

Character driven crime is always the best crime for me – Peter himself, as a picture emerges, is also entirely engaging but with great characters there has to be a great plot. And Black Widow has a GREAT plot. Entirely addictive and flowing at just the right rate to get your blood up and keep you turning those pages, I have to give an admiring nod to how Chris Brookmyre puts all this together. If this is what I can expect from all his novels then I’m a fan. The final resolution was brilliant in its intricately woven style, this author is christie-esque in his manipulation of the reader and as such the whole thing was eminently readable, never disappointing and managed to surprise me every step of the way. I may write reviews now but I am first and foremost a reader and these are the days I live for. Cool.

Highly Recommended.

Find out more here:

Follow the author on Twitter here:

To Pre-Order clickety click:

Happy Reading Folks!