My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2018

What an absolutely amazing year for books it has been! 

Just like last year, I thought splitting things up between series and stand-alones would help narrow down the list but nope. A Top 10 was never going to happen here. Despite the fact that my reading mojo was up and down like a bloody yo-yo all year, I still managed to read 250 books. Sure, that’s 50 less than last year but do I care? Clue : no, I don’t 😉

Anyway, I present to you My Top 20 Favourite (stand-alone) Reads of 2018. With apologies to the authors/books I had to drop from the list.

In no particular order, except for the Top 5, here we go!

Phoebe Locke – The Tall Man [my review]
Louise Voss – The Old You [my review]
Linwood Barclay – A Noise Downstairs [my review]
Mark Edwards – The Retreat [my review]

Ane Riel – Resin [no review]
Joanna Cannon – Three Things About Elsie [no review]
Gillian McAllister – No Further Questions [my review]
Shari Lapena – An Unwanted Guest [my review]

Lesley Kara – The Rumour [review to follow]
Karin Slaughter – Pieces of Her [my review]
SJI Holliday – The Lingering [my review]
Elly Griffiths – The Stranger Diaries [review to follow]

Gill Paul – The Lost Daughter [my review]
Louise Beech – The Lion Tamer Who Lost [my review]
Rachel Rhys – Fatal Inheritance [my review]

Top 5

5. C.J. Tudor – The Chalk Man [my review]
4. Ruth Ware – The Death of Mrs Westaway [my review]
3. Liz Nugent – Skin Deep [my review]
2. Elizabeth Haynes – The Murder of Harriet Monckton [my review]

My favourite book of the year is …

I don’t think this comes as a huge surprise. When I read this back in February, I said it would take something insanely special to knock this off the top spot. Skin Deep and Harriet Monckton came awfully close but in the end, “Agatha Christie on crack” won out. [my review]

A massive thank you to all the authors, publishers and Netgalley for making 2018 so spectacular! And to you, my fellow bloggers and readers, huge thanks for the support, for visiting and for commenting! ❤️

The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR @headlinepg @annecater #blogtour #TheLostDaughter #mustread #recommended

I am beyond delighted and extremely honoured to kick off the blog tour for The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul today! Huge thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my review copy!

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Author : Gill Paul
Title : The Lost Daughter
Pages : 440
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : October 18, 2018 (UK paperback)

aboutthebook

1918. With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of the Romanov family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria captures the attention of two of the guards, it will lead to the ultimate choice between right and wrong….

Fifty-five years later…

‘I didn’t want to kill her’. With these cryptic words Val’s father dies, leaving her to unravel a mystery which unites two families who have faced unspeakable tragedy and perhaps to finally offer an explanation which has been long overdue.

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Gosh, I don’t think I can put into words how much I loved The Lost Daughter. As soon as I finished the final page, I wanted to talk to someone about it, say “Oh my god, this novel, you have to read this now!”. Then I sat down to write my review, and poof, all my words were gone. I couldn’t seem to get past “amazing”, “awesome”, “brilliant” … which are all true but I’m guessing a review should have a few more words, right?

There are a few authors for whom I’d happily drop whatever it is I’m doing or reading and Gill Paul is, without a doubt, one of them. I knew that from the second I discovered her work. Picking up one of her novels always fills me with joy and excitement because I know she will take me on the most delightful journey. High anticipations, you ask? Check! But all of them were met and then some.

In The Secret Wife, Gill Paul already introduced us to the Romanov family and their dramatic circumstances. That story was centred around Tatiana Romanova and if you haven’t yet read it, you most definitely should as it is a brilliant novel. This time around, in The Lost Daughter, the focus is on the middle child of the family, Maria. And it’s an even more brilliant novel! Yes, that’s right, I said it. And used the “brilliant” word again. I must add that I loved how Gill Paul tied these two novels together with little references to Tatiana’s story.

We meet Maria in 1918, a most turbulent time in Russia. There’s been a revolution and people have turned on the royal family. Tsar Nicholas, his wife and children are prisoners of the new regime. Their circumstances are very different from what they’re used to. Maria is nineteen years old and a lovely, bubbly chatterbox who seems to be able to make friends with just about anyone. I warmed to her from the start as she’s a truly likeable character. But what will become of her?

The other thread of The Lost Daughter has us traveling all the way to Australia, where we meet Val. When she gets a phone call from the nursing home where her father is a resident, she decides to visit him although it’s been years since they last talked. But his words “I didn’t want to kill her” leave Val with a mystery to solve and set in motion a lot of changes in her life. Who was her father really? What secrets was he hiding?

From the first page, I found myself transported into the lives of Maria and Val, both extremely realistic and believable characters. I couldn’t quite see how the two threads of the story would come together but the road to get there was just marvellous.

This exquisitely written novel had me utterly engrossed and throughout the story, I often found myself with a lump in my throat. The Lost Daughter is a story across the ages and country borders about love, family, war, loss, survival and hope. But also about the strength of women, in sometimes horrifying circumstances. It is immensely absorbing, moving and powerful and I couldn’t tear myself away. When I flipped the final page, there was a happy sigh, a “wow” and then a little bit of sadness that I had come to the end.

I can’t even begin to imagine the painstaking amount of research Gill Paul must have gone through to come up with this incredibly captivating tale. If you are a fan of this genre, I can honestly not recommend her books enough. This is undoubtedly historical fiction from the top shelf and whenever Gill Paul publishes her next novel, I will be first in line!

The Lost Daughter will be available in paperback on October 18th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history.

She was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich, Ray Mears and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition and relationships.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you”– and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls “research trips” and attempting to match-make for friends.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

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This Week in Books (October 10)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading

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The Murder of Harriet Monckton is based on a true story that shocked and fascinated the nation.

On 7th November 1843, Harriet Monckton, 23 years old and a woman of respectable parentage and religious habits, was found murdered in the privy behind the dissenting chapel she had regularly attended in Bromley, Kent. The community was appalled by her death, apparently as a result of swallowing a fatal dose of prussic acid, and even more so when the autopsy revealed that Harriet was six months pregnant.

Drawing on the coroner’s reports and witness testimonies, the novel unfolds from the viewpoints of each of the main characters, each of whom have a reason to want her dead. Harriet Monckton had at least three lovers and several people were suspected of her murder, including her close companion and fellow teacher, Miss Frances Williams. The scandal ripped through the community, the murderer was never found and for years the inhabitants of Bromley slept less soundly.

This rich, robust novel is full of suggestion and suspicion, with the innocent looking guilty and the guilty hiding behind their piety. It is also a novel that exposes the perilous position of unmarried women, the scandal of sex out of wedlock and the hypocrisy of upstanding, church-going folk.

[And it is absolutely FANTASTIC!]

The book I’m currently reading

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Three years ago, nurse Zoe’s son Ethan was found drowned in a muddy river by their home, along with his best friend Josh. With no witnesses, their deaths were ruled a tragic accident.

Heartbroken, Zoe and her family, move away from her home. They’re just beginning to get back to some kind of normality, when, out of the blue, Zoe receives an anonymous email:

You need to find out the truth about what happened to your son. Don’t let this rest. Don’t believe the lie.

Shaken, Zoe starts an obsessive hunt for the truth. But why is her husband so reluctant to help?
And why is Josh’s mother so determined not to believe her?

What I’m (most definitely) reading next

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1918. With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of the Romanov family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria captures the attention of two of the guards, it will lead to the ultimate choice between right and wrong….

Fifty-five years later…

‘I didn’t want to kill her’. With these cryptic words Val’s father dies, leaving her to unravel a mystery which unites two families who have faced unspeakable tragedy and perhaps to finally offer an explanation which has been long overdue.

[So ridiculously excited to finally see this one near the top of my TBR. I love Gill Paul!]

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What are you reading this week? Do let me know! Happy reading! xx

My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2017

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Around this time last year, I first started to get this wee itch about starting a blog as I desperately tried to get my favourites of 2016 shared via twitter and realised there had to be an easier way to talk about books. I can’t believe a whole year has passed since then and I’m here talking about my favourite books of this year. Crazy!

Last week, I shared my favourite series of the year which I thought would help me narrow down this list. Boy, was I wrong. It’s been an amazing year for books and since I nearly read 300 (there’s still time! 😂), a top 10 was never going to happen.

So I present to you, My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2017. With apologies to the authors/books I had to drop from the list. I feel bad but I had to narrow it down somehow or I may as well just have listed every book I’ve read.

In no particular order (except for the last one), here we go!

Stuart MacBride – A Dark So Deadly [my review]
Stuart MacBride – Now We Are Dead
Karin Slaughter – The Good Daughter [my review]
Sharon Bolton – Dead Woman Walking [my review]

Louise Beech – Maria in the Moon [my review]
Lesley Allen – The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir [my review]
Michael J. Malone – House of Spines [my review]

Alice Feeney – Sometimes I Lie [my review]
Barbara Copperthwaite – Her Last Secret [my review]
Barbara Copperthwaite – The Darkest Lies [my review]
Paul Cleave – A Killer Harvest [my review]

Thomas Enger – Cursed [my review]
Matt Wesolowski – Six Stories [my review]
Will Dean – Dark Pines [my review]
Johana Gustawsson – Block 46 [my review]

Alison Weir – Anne Boleyn : A King’s Obsession [my review]
Rachel Rhys – A Dangerous Crossing [my review]
Gill Paul – Another Woman’s Husband [my review]
Eve Chase – The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde [my review]

My favourite book of 2017

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Fredrick Backman – The Scandal / Beartown [my review]

I’m sure it comes as no surprise but I knew it the minute I started reading, that this was going to be my top book of the year!

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And there you have it. Mahoosive thank you to all the authors, publishers and Netgalley for making my reading year so phenomenal! And to you, my fellow bloggers and readers of this blog, thank you for your support, for visiting and for commenting! ❤️

I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and Happy Holidays! xx

Another Woman’s Husband by Gill Paul @GillPaulAUTHOR @headlinepg

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Author : Gill Paul
Title : Another Woman’s Husband
Pages : 464
Publisher : Headline Books
Publication date : August 17, 2017

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Two women, divided by time, bound by a secret…

1911. Aged just fifteen, Mary Kirk and Wallis Warfield meet at summer camp. Their friendship will survive heartbreaks, continents, and the demands of the English crown, until it is shattered by one unforgivable betrayal.

1997. Kendall’s romantic break in Paris with her fiance is interrupted when the taxi in front crashes suddenly. The news soon follows: Princess Diana is dead. Trying to forget what she has witnessed, Rachel returns home, where the discovery of a long-forgotten link to Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, will lead her to the truth of a scandal which shook the world.

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Gill Paul’s The Secret Wife was one of my top 5 books last year so when the opportunity to read and review Another Woman’s Husband came my way, I may have done a little jig around my living room. When I finally settled down to read, I immediately knew I was in for another treat.

August 31st, 1997. For many of us, this date is probably burnt into our brains. This day is how the story starts when Rachel and her fiancé, Alex, find themselves in a taxi right behind the car accident that claims the life of Princess Diana. Alex is a tv producer and is quickly lost in a cloud of obsession in an attempt to figure out the events of that night. As interesting as those chapters were, touching on the various conspiracy theories, for me the true strength of the novel lies in the chapters about Wallis.

1911. Mary Kirk meets Wallis Simpson at a summer camp. Their friendship will endure many ups and downs until one final act of betrayal.

Of course, I’d heard of Wallis Simpson and her place in history. But I didn’t know anything else about her. Her story is told through Mary’s eyes and it’s just so incredibly fascinating to read about as we follow Wallis from her teenage years all the way to her marriage to the King who abdicated the throne for her.

Rich in atmosphere and history, this story had me hooked until the very last word on the very last page and while I was quite sad to see it end, I was also utterly delighted to have had the chance to read this absolute gem of a novel. Fact and fiction flow together seamlessly, intertwined with a nice dose of intrigue that had me wondering throughout how on earth these two iconic women could possibly be connected. The author has such a wonderful writing style, full of fabulously vivid descriptions that I found myself completely immersed and could almost hear the music or the clinking of cocktail glasses.

This is historical fiction at its finest and would make a truly fabulous movie. If Gill Paul hadn’t already been on my list of go-to authors, she most definitely would be now. I absolutely loved this and I feel that even if you aren’t necessarily a lover of historical fiction, you too will greatly enjoy this novel! I can’t possibly describe how excited I am about the author’s next offering.

I can’t thank author Gill Paul and Phoebe at Headline Books enough for my advanced copy, which I received via Netgalley and chose to review honestly!

Another Woman’s Husband will be published on August 17th.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads