Authors’ Top Reads of 2016 – Part Two.


I am delighted to share this end of year 2 part special feature, in conjunction with Vicki Goldman, with the second group of authors giving us their top pick of 2016.

Today I have Johana Gustawsson, Sarah Stovell, Rebecca Thornton, James Swallow, GJ Minett, David Young, Rod Reynolds, Rory Dunlop and Chris Whitaker and Neil White telling us their one top pick from 2016.

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

Johana Gustawsson, author of Block 46 published by Orenda in 2017 picks:

I would say “In her wake”, a soul touching book

Book blurb:

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

Click HERE to purchase In Her Wake

Click HERE to purchase Block 46

Follow Johanna on TWITTER

Sarah Stovell, author of Exquisite publication date tbc from Orenda picks:

Mine was Garth Greenwell’s novel ‘What Belongs to You’ which is a wonderfully lyrical story about homosexual prostitutes and syphilitic willies. It’s amazing. My next best was This is how You Lose Her, a short story collection by Junot Diaz.

Book Blurb:

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher walks down a staircase beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture, looking for sex. Among the stalls of a public bathroom he encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, and their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, Bulgaria, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future.

Garth  Greenwell’s What Belongs to You is a stunning debut about an American expat struggling with his own complicated inheritance while navigating a foreign culture. Lyrical and intense, it tells the story of a man caught between longing and resentment, unable to separate desire from danger, and faced with the impossibility of understanding those he most longs to know.

Click HERE to purchase What Belongs to You.

Rebecca Thornton, author of The Exclusives published by Bonnier picks:

So many, I spent ages thinking about this but my choice is The Girls by Emma Cline, for it’s sublime writing. And the fact she is in her MID-TWENTIES. I still think about some of her writing now! (amidst my own second novel despair. ).

Book Blurb:

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

Click HERE to purchase The Girls

Click HERE to purchase The Exclusives

Follow Rebecca on TWITTER

James Swallow, author of Nomad, published by Bonnier picks:

“My top pick of 2016 has to be Rowland White’s INTO THE BLACK, retelling the story behind the very first Space Shuttle mission and history behind the creation of that remarkable endeavour. White has a great ability to dramatize true-life tales and his take on this “right stuff” narrative is compelling, page-turning stuff!”

Book Blurb:

On 12th April 1981 a revolutionary new spacecraft blasted off from Florida on her maiden flight. NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia was the most advanced flying machine ever built – the high watermark of post-war aviation development. A direct descendant of the record-breaking X-planes the likes of which Chuck Yeager had tested in the skies over the Mojave Desert, Columbia was a winged rocket plane, the size of an airliner, capable of flying to space and back before being made ready to fly again. She was the world’s first real spaceship.

On board were men with the Right Stuff. The Shuttle’s Commander, moonwalker John Young, was already a veteran of five spaceflights. Alongside him, Pilot Bob Crippen was making his first, but Crip, taken in by the space agency after the cancellation of a top secret military space station programme in 1969, had worked on the Shuttle’s development for a decade. Never before had a crew been so well prepared for their mission.

Yet less than an hour after Young and Crippen’s spectacular departure from the Cape it was clear that all was not well.

Click HERE to purchase Into the Black

Click HERE to purchase Nomad

Follow James on TWITTER.

GJ Minett author of The Hidden Legacy picks:

‘For me it would have to be This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell. Because no one handles emotional intensity or the workings of the heart as well as she does. Mesmeric . . . and I’d just love to meet her!’

Book Blurb:

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.

He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?

Click HERE to purchase This Must Be The Place

Click HERE to purchase The Hidden Legacy

Follow Graham on TWITTER

David Young, author of Stasi Child, published by Twenty7 picks:

Unrivalled storytelling and a fantastic portrayal of a brutal and terrifying period of European history.

Book Blurb:

1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut – a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who – against all odds – have so far survived the war.

When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.

But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope – for Brandt and the female prisoners – grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.

And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .

Click HERE to purchase The Constant Soldier

Click HERE to purchase Stasi Child

Follow David on TWITTER.

Rod Reynolds, author of Black Night Falling published by Faber picks:

I’ve read some incredible books in 2016, but the one that made the biggest impression on me is The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake (No Exit). I can only assume the alternate title was ‘A Book Written for Rod Reynolds’ because it encapsulates everything I love about modern American noir. It’s short, brutal and vivid; the setting is part of the story but not a replacement for story; there’s not a word wasted anywhere; and everyone operates somewhere in their own moral shade of grey. Brilliant.

Book blurb:

Eddie Gato Wolfe is a young, impetuous member of the Wolfe family of Texas gun-runners that goes back generations. Increasingly unfulfilled by his minor role in family operations and eager to set out on his own, Eddie crosses the border to work security for a major Mexican drug cartel led by the ruthless La Navaja.

Eddie falls for a mysterious woman named Miranda, whom he learns too late is the property of an intimate member of La Navaja’s organization. When they’re discovered, the violent upshot forces Eddie and Miranda to run for their lives, fleeing into the deadly Sonora Desert in hope of crossing the border to safety. But La Navaja’s reach is far and his lust for revenge insatiable. If La Navaja’s men don’t kill Eddie and Miranda, the brutal desert just may. Their only hope: help from the family that Eddie abandoned.

Click HERE to purchase The Rules of Wolfe

Click HERE to purchase Black Night Falling

Follow Rod on TWITTER

Rory Dunlop, author of What We Didn’t Say published by Bonnier picks:

Spring by David Szalay. I’m a sucker for beautiful prose and this is the best written novel I’ve read this year, full of witty observations about the reality (as opposed to the ideal) of relationships.

Book Blurb:

James and Katherine meet at a wedding in London in 2006, towards the end of the money-for-nothing years. James is a man with a varied past now living alone in a flat in Bloomsbury; Katherine is separated from her husband and working in an interim job in a luxury hotel. They exchange phone numbers at the wedding, but from then on not much goes according to the script…

Click HERE to purchase Spring

Click HERE to purchase What We Didn’t Say

Follow Rory on TWITTER

Neil White, author of The Domino Killer published by Sphere picks: 

“Not only did it have a great plot but the narrative voice made the reading of it an absolute pleasure”

Book blurb

Since the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.

So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

Click HERE to purchase The Wolf Road

Click HERE to purchase The Domino Killer

Follow Neil on TWITTER

Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks, published by Bonnier picks:

My book of the year is Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman. The toxic friendship between Lacey and Dex is as hypnotic as it is terrifying, and as the two bulldoze their way through adolescence I was left reading the last couple of chapters through my fingers. Dark and brutal and beautiful, I loved every page.  

 Book Blurb:

Girls on Fire tells the story of Hannah and Lacey and their obsessive teenage female friendship so passionately violent it bloodies the very sunset its protagonists insist on riding into, together, at any cost. Opening with a suicide whose aftermath brings good girl Hannah together with the town’s bad girl, Lacey, the two bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live; unconcerned by the mounting discomfort that their lust for chaos and rebellion causes the inhabitants of their parochial small town, they think they are invulnerable.

But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything…

Click HERE to purchase Girls On Fire

Click HERE to purchase Tall Oaks

Follow Chris on TWITTER

SO that is your lot!

Hopefully you will have found some inspiration for additions to your to be read piles.

Remember to pop by Vicki’s  blog to find some more Authors’ Top Reads of 2016.

Join Vicki and I again NEXT YEAR as I’m sure we will do this all over again. Becoming a bit of a tradition.

Happy Reading Folks!






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