As I check my book wish list for this Christmas, I thought it a fitting time to look back on some of the books I’ve read during the year. Like all avid readers there have been plenty and I have to say, most of them a truly great read. It was a hard choice but here they are - my top 5 reads in 2018.
A Winter Beneath the Stars - Jo Thomas
An escape to snowy Sweden from my cosy fireside chair was just the tonic these last couple of weeks.
Not only was this book a funny, heart-warming romance that had me a little smitten with Bjorn, the mysterious reindeer herder, myself, Jo captured Swedish Lapland brilliantly. I found myself longing to eat Bjorn's sumptuous food cooked on the open fire and go on a sled ride across the tundra wrapped in reindeer skin. The characters came alive in my head; I was with Halley on every page turn willing her to keep going.
This book is Christmas escapism at its best.
The Girl in the Letter - Emily Gunnis
A mystery that is at times dark, sinister, and desperately sad; more so because it's based on true events of the past.
When journalist, Samantha Harper comes across a letter from the past with heart-wrenching contents she is drawn into the tragic story of Ivy Jenkins, a young pregnant woman sent in disgrace to St Margaret's house for unmarried mothers. Sam races against time to solve the mystery before St Margaret’s is demolished. Me, well I raced through the book, looking for answers too and at times fearing for the safety of Sam and her own family.
A twisty, compelling story that will stay with you long after the final page is read.
The Calico Cat - Amanda James
I've become quite a fan of Amanda James novels, not only because they are set in the rugged gorgeousness that is Cornwall, but because they are damn good stories. This was no exception.
When Lottie quits her teaching job half way through a lesson to pursue a Painting career kike her grandmother's, she sets off on a walking holiday with Caleb. Trekking along the Cornish coastline she meets many different people all of whom have an impact on Lottie, changing her life in ways she'd never have imagined.
I was drawn to this book because, like Amanda I have written about a walking holiday and the people's affect on each other along the way. And because walking the Cornish coastal path is on my bucket list.
Described as ‘a voyage of self-discovery’, The Calico Cat is that and so much more, a really enjoyable read.
You Let Me In - Lucy Clarke
I love Clare Mackintosh's books, so when I read her comment, 'the very definition of a page-turner' she sold it to me, and boy-oh-boy it didn’t disappoint.
Creepy stories set in the home always freak me out and Lucy did just that with this book and the sense of risky panic with every page.
Elle is living a dream writer’s life in her stunning home overlooking the ocean. But nothing has felt right since she rented out her house, now she has a constant prickly feeling that she is being watched, that someone has discovered her secrets. Fear and paranoia set in, the more scared Elle becomes the faster I read. I have to tell you I was totally shocked at the twist, I did not see that coming. If you like creepy, clever and twisty, read this book.
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy - Rachel Joyce
I received The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry last Christmas. It was a wonderful book, making you laugh, cry and fall in love with the gentleness of Harold Fry as he made the pilgrimage to see Queenie Hennessy before she died. The book is not a sequel, but rather a companion to the first book.
Here we are told Queenie's side of the story and her perspective on the characters in Harold Fry. Both books are a journey; a funny, sad, heart-warming, tear-jerky journey that I loved every page of: If you do fancy reading these it's best to read Harold Fry first.
All that's left for me to say is have a wonderful Christmas holiday and may all your book wishes arrive on Christmas morning!