Great books from 2019 – Happy New Year and Happy Reading #HappyNewYear #2019books #2019wrapup #MyYearinBooks #BestBooks #MustReads #amreading #readingforpleasure #books #CrimeFiction #Thriller #FamilySaga #Saga #Historical #Kidslit #YA #NonFiction #Fiction #Fantasy #UpLit #Bookish

Great Books to check out and read from 2019

I have read and reviewed so many books this year. I have decided to follow the trend of compiling an end of year list of what I would consider “The Must Read or Top 2019 Books. The list will be in no particular order, but will be broken down into genre. Here you will find great Children’s Books and Young Adult books, followed by all types of crime fiction; followed by general fictional books; followed by family saga/historical fiction; followed by fantasy; followed by non-fiction/autobiographical/biographical.
Firstly, I would like to say a few thanks:

I am incredibly grateful to everyone however who contacts me through my blog or Twitter, interacts with me, sends me books to review, either personally or through publishing houses. I am grateful for the generosity of authors, publishers and bloggers for sharing my reviews on their social media platforms and websites. I thank publishers and authors for considering me and for giving me the responsibility of reviewing their books. Reviewing someone’s work is something I don’t do lightly. A lot of thought goes into it all and also I am so conscious that what is in my hands at that moment is someone’s hard work and, whether I’ve met the person/people face to face or not, I am always aware of them being human too. I must say that I do love writing my blog and I appreciate every opportunity I have ever had that has come with writing it.

I also thank those authors, publishers and bloggers who have been kind and generous in other ways too, such as help with the community library I currently lead. You know who you are and I am eternally grateful.

Now onto the lists. I hope people find something new, some inspiration or are perhaps reminded that they want to check out a book. The books on the list are all on my blog, so feel free to check out the full reviews. The books can be borrowed from libraries, bought from bookshops and are also e-books on the various e-book platforms.

Children and Young Adult Fiction


Princess Poppy – Please, Please Save the Bees by Janey Louise Jones
Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
The Hangry Hamster by Grace McCluskey
Leo and the Lightning Dragons by Gill White
Toletis by Rafa Ruiz
The Age of Akra by Vacen Taylor

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
10 Things to do Before You Leave School by Bernard O’Keefe (YA)

Crime Fiction , including Thrillers and Political Thrillers

Absolution by Adam Croft
Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver
In the Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

Nothing to Hide by James Oswald
The Poisoned Rock by Robert Daws
Death at the Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly
The Killing Rock by Robert Daws
In Plain Sight by Adam Croft
Sealed with a Death by James Sylvester
Hands Up by Stephen Clark
The Silence of Severance by Wes Markin
A Friend In Deed by G.D. Harper

General Fiction

 


The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris
Birthday Girl by Haruki Murakami
A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
Let it Snow by Sue Moorcroft
Summer at the Kindness Café by Victoria Walters
Secret Things and Highland Flings by Tracy Corbett
Sunshine and Secrets – The Paradise Cookery School by Daisy James

Family Saga/Historical Fiction

Bobby Girls coverHeady HeightsTime will tell book

Bobby Girls by Johanna Bell
Welcome to the Heady Heights by David F.Frost

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan

Fantasy

The Blue Salt Road Joanne HarrisThe Old Dragon's Head Coveer

The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris (YA and Adult)
The Old Dragon’s Head by Justin Newland

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet
Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew
First in the Fight 20 Women Who Made Manchester by Helen Antrobus
The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

I have some books to review already and working on them for 2020.
I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. I will also be publishing brief resumes of great theatre shows from 2018 and 2019, most of which are still running, going to tour nationally in the UK and some of which come back every so often, so could be ones to look out for in the future.
For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!

As I didn’t do this in 2018, here is a quick run down of the best books I read then. 
Fiction – Stealth by Hugh Fraser, Antiques and Alibis by Wendy H. Jones, The Wrong Direction by Liz Treacher, A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft.
Non -Fiction – An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe, Charles Dickens by Simon Callow, Fill my Stocking by Alan Titchmarsh.
Young Adult – Tony Plumb and the Moles of Ellodian by J.M. Smith
Children’s books – The Treasure At the Top of The World by Clive Mantle.
Reviews can be found on my blog. Please note the Christmas books are reviewed within one blog post with quick reviews.

Happy New Year 2020

 

Bookmark pic

Review: In Plain Sight by Adam Croft @AdamCroft #Review #CrimeFiction #Newbook #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #Christmas

In Plain Sight
By Adam Croft
Rated: *****

This isn’t a book just for Christmas. This is a great book for all year round. If you are looking for a crime novel for yourself or as a Christmas present, this is definitely one to consider.

Click below for links to websites to find out more and also where to buy his books:

Adam Croft Website

Partners in Crime

I was first accepted to review Absolution (also on my blog), which is an excellent first part of a new series of books by him. Very excitingly I have now been also asked to review In Plain Sight, which is the ninth book of the ever popular Culverhouse and Knight series. Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of this series before, I would say it also works pretty well as a stand-alone book too and it might entice for other readers to explore the series, and indeed his other books further.
*So, today I present you my unbiased review of unputdownable In Plain Sight.

About the Author

His 2015 worldwide bestseller Her Last Tomorrow became one of the bestselling books of the year, reaching the top 10 in the overall Amazon Kindle chart and peaking at number 12 in the combined paperback fiction and non-fiction chart.

His Knight & Culverhouse crime thriller series has seen huge popularity worldwide, with his Kempston Hardwick mystery books being adapted as audio plays starring some of the biggest names in British TV.

In 2016, the Knight & Culverhouse Box Set reached storewide number 1 in Canada, knocking J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child off the top spot only weeks after Her Last Tomorrow was also number 1 in Canada. The new edition of Her Last Tomorrow also reached storewide number 1 in Australia over Christmas 2016.

During the summer of 2016, two of Adam’s books hit the USA Today bestseller list only weeks apart, making them two of the most-purchased books in the United States over the summer.

In February 2017, Only The Truth became a worldwide bestseller, reaching storewide number 1 at both Amazon US and Amazon UK, making it the bestselling book in the world at that moment in time. The same day, Amazon’s overall Author Rankings placed Adam as the most widely read author in the world, with J.K. Rowling in second place.

In January 2018, Adam’s bestselling book to date, Tell Me I’m Wrong became a worldwide bestseller and quickly went on to outsell Her Last Tomorrow.

Adam has been featured on BBC television, BBC Radio 4BBC Radio 5 Live, the BBC World ServiceThe GuardianThe Huffington PostThe Bookseller and a number of other news and media outlets.

In March 2018, Adam was conferred as an Honorary Doctor of Arts, the highest academic qualification in the UK, by the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his services to literature.

Adam presents the regular crime fiction podcast Partners in Crime with fellow bestselling author Robert Daws.

 

In Plain Sight Book Cover

Blurb

A trail of death. A web of corruption. The ultimate betrayal.

A series of armed robberies on local petrol stations leaves Mildenheath CID chasing their tails. But things are about to get a whole lot worse.

When an elderly woman is killed during an armed raid on her jewellery shop, Knight and Culverhouse realise one of their own is involved — a police officer.

With the future of Mildenheath CID at stake and the lives of their loved ones under threat, time is running out — fast.

As they begin to investigate the web of corruption, they discover just how deep it runs — and how close to home. But are they prepared for the truth?

Review

I am really enjoying Adam Croft’s work. This is part of his hugely popular Knight and Culverhouse series (although works well as a stand-alone too). 

Knight and Culverhouse make a great partnership in fighting crime. They are also however quite different from each other. You would certainly know where you are with Culverhouse who tells it how it is. Knight is more the voice of reason in this partnership.

This book is gripping and so well written and is available to buy now. It definitely is worth adding to your crime collection.

Mildenheath is a place having a fairly ordinary day until a BMW pulls up to a petrol station and robs it and then more are robbed as security is rather lax around them and CCTV isn’t exactly helpful. A woman then dies in a jewellers that is raided. Someone has insider information, but the question is by whom and is the person from inside their own police station or not. Makes you think and wonder.
The pace is excellent and makes you want to know what happens next.

There’s more to this book though than the crimes for readers to also get their teeth into. Culverhouse is also under pressure to get results, but there are personal issues to handle too. It really works when there is a crime to solve, but also how readers can really get to know the characters personal lives too. Adam Croft balances it all very well to tell a great layered story.

There’s also the future of Mildenheath CID to consider too as it is at stake. There were plans to have the unit moved to a larger main city team, but had so far managed to not be sucked up and incorporated into this. So, there’s a fight on their hands for the team to stay as they are. This is a clever bit of the story as it happens so often these days with smaller forces being merged into larger ones, whether they want to be or not and it is depicted well here.

Culverhouse could do without the personal problems at this moment in time of trying to work out how to build a relationship with his estranged teenage daughter, as he is also under pressure to get results at work.

There are twists and turns to really keep readers involved and care about how it’s going to end.

I highly recommend this book, even if you haven’t read anything by Adam Croft before, this is one to read. He has written several other books in this series and has even started a new series, so there’s plenty to choose from after you’ve tried out In Plain Sight.

* I give thanks to Joanne and Adam Croft for inviting me to review for you again. It’s an absolute pleasure to do so and I thank you both for sending me a digital copy of In Plain Sight.

#Review of Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver – A Relevant, Gripping, Addictive Thriller for our times @Will_Carver @OrendaBooks #NothingImportantHappenedToday #BlogTour #Review #Thriller #Fiction

Nothing Happened Here Today
By Will Carver
Rated: 5 stars *****

Today I am so excited to share my review of Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver. This is one of the most relevant, exceptionally dark, yet beautifully written and gripping thrillers you will come across to read this year. Please do read further about the author and my review.

About the Author

Nothing Important Happened Today Will Carver 2Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series.
He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.
He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children.
Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Express, and hit number one on the e-book charts.


Blurb

A shocking, mesmerizing original, pitch-black thriller, which, following the critically acclaimed Good Samaritans, confirms Will Carver as one of the most imaginative, innovative and exciting authors in crime fiction.

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But, at the same time, they leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today. That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People of Choice: a mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on a train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe. It becomes a movement. A social-media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers.

The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader who does not seem to exist …

 

Nothing Important Cover (1)

Review

I will start by saying this is one of the most highly original and  dramatic books I have read. This book is relevant to today in every single way. Every part of it is believable, every part of it can be related to or recalled as some real events are mentioned. I give it a well-deserved full 5 star rating.

From the first page, I was hooked. My first thought was “Wow!” I will say, if you are suffering from depression, perhaps this is not the book for you, but for anyone else, this book is a fantastically gripping thriller. The prologue – oh my goodness, I’ve read some pretty good prologues in my time, but nothing like this. Read the prologue and also with the genius that is the fact, just prior to it, is who the book is for -“For nobody” is what it says, with that opening line “nobody cares…”

The sentence structure along with the words has grabbed me. The sentences are so sharp, feel so natural and the atmosphere, location and the scene is set. It is dark, but resembles a truth in many ways and even through the darkness, the way it is written is somehow quite beautiful. The descriptions are incredible. There is something weirdly, almost poetic and entrancing about them, that drives readers further and deeper into the events that ensue.

If you didn’t know what a cult was or how they end up being formed, you sure will after the first chapter.

The characters are grouped, numbered and have no actual name. It makes a thought-provoking statement. It’s also so different from so many other books. Keep with it. You will be able to follow the story. You will still understand what is happening. You will get to still know the characters and their lives as you delve deeper into “Nothing Important Happened Today”.

There’s the lovers desperately trying to find that spark pre-children. There is the ungrateful for whom nothing is ever enough, no matter how much of something they have, they want more and more and more. There’s the poet harbouring a lot of angst and deep, dark thoughts and dreams. There’s the doctor, who just wants to help others, she has no room in her life for anything else, that’s what she wants to do, even though she seems exhausted. There’s Nobody #1, the one who works in a library or you’ve perhaps noticed on the street etc. There’s Nobody #2 who is similar to other nobodies. There’s Nobody #3 who may have people who may miss him. There’s Young Levant who is seeing a psychiatrist.
Every single character could well be someone in reality, the types of people you’ve perhaps met or may meet in the future, just living life. This creates an incredible impact.
All those on the bridge could be anyone’s son, daughter etc and could be well-educated and in any profession or doing anything at all with their lives and still, stuff could happen. This is partly what makes this book important to read. This is showing people in story-form that the events and reasoning can be very real. Real names of companies and heads of them are used and people will remember or know of what happened in real life to some people, and yet this is a fictional thriller book. 
These are the people who have notes posted through their letter box. These are the people who end up being caught up in “The People of Choice”. There’s just a global need for there to be a connection of some sort and to belong.

There are police as well investigating what happened and there are witnesses from a train and you’ll need to read the book as to how they handle this grave situation.

As I read on, I am entranced and sort of fixated on what’s going to happen next. It is so hard to put the book down. It is a page-turner and is highly addictive. It had a hold on me. It is ok, I’m not about to follow what is actually occurring in this book), this is incredibly powerful writing from Will Carver. He knows what he is writing about and knows how to capture his readers.

This book isn’t just about cults, it addresses  society too. It tackles society and community ills and how community can so easily become something darker, even though the people within any community are just average people going about their daily lives, and bam!!! They can find themselves unexpectedly caught up in something, in this case an ideology, a cultish type of thing, before they know it. This is a brave book in many ways, as people will discover in its contents as they read it.  This book is so thought-provoking and hopefully many people will find that is the case too.

Look at the cult name – “The People of Choice”, Look at the characters. Look at the bridges. Read and think. See the clever irony. Question, did these people want to die, did they not? All of them strangers to each other, all of them died and yet “Nothing Important Happened Today”.  It’s slick, it’s at an amazing pace with short sentences and chapters.

All of the chapters are fabulous and amazing. They tackle so many issues and what can currently happen. It cleverly talks of millennials, parenting, social media and many issues that all arise in today’s society that everyone lives in, in some form or another.

This book, I just know will become my latest obsession to hope people will read.

This book is just amazing and powerful and gripping from start to finish. It’s a book of our time. It’s a book that could well linger with you, even when you’ve finished reading it. It’s left its mark. “Nothing Important Happened Today”.

Check out other reviews from this blog tour too.

nothing happened poster 2019 (4)

 

Review of Ka-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home – A beautifully written book about the repatriation of a flag, history, culture and love by B. Jeanne Shibahara #Time to Go Home #B.JeanneShibahara #Review #WW2 #Japan #UK #USA #History #Culture #ModernTimes #fiction #Mystery #Humour

KA-E-RO-U – Time to Go Home
by B. Jeanne Shibahara
Rated 4 stars ****

About the Author and Book

B. Jeanne Shibahara studied fiction writing from Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) B Jeanne Shibharaand copywriting from Beth Luey (Editorial Consultant, Chicago Manual of Style, 16thEd.) in the MA program for creative writing at Arizona State University.

In Japan, B. Jeanne has taught English at a private university, written articles for research groups, and created jazz lyrics for composer Hajime Kitamura.

Daughter of a US military officer, she married into a family of calligraphy, ikebana, and tea ceremony teachers, shamisen player, kimono fabric artist, business entrepreneur, and architect. Her home is in Nara City, the ancient capital of Japan.

Time-slip to my Osaka life, 1995, fifty years after the end of WWII—bubble economy ready to burst and the seed to KA-E-RO-U falls into my hands. A WWII Japanese flag. A widow of a US veteran in Akron, Ohio sends the flag to a colleague of mine, asks him to find the family of the fallen soldier who had carried it into the battlefields.
Please click on the website link for more information about the author and the very interesting backstory to the book.           Link:    Website

Meryl is a Vietnam War widow who misses her grown son, feels left out after her father’s recent marriage. A WWII Japanese flag falls into her hands. The gentle push of a love-struck professor starts her adventure to take the flag home. From the neon of Osaka, to the ancient capital Nara, to the forests of Akita, the trail follows British and US expats, a newspaper reporter, factory manager, ikebana teacher, a Matagi hunter and winds through Japanese culture, past and present. A story of shared humanity and love “in the simplest things.”

Kaerou

Review

The book is well organised and split into 6 sections – Desert Flower M, The Backstreets of Namba, Day 2 in Japan, To Meryl To Atika, Returns and Finale.

The opening sentence is  “Everybody who knew the secretary knew she couldn’t resist any chance at serving up beefy gossip—seasoned, well done, sizzling and sputtering the latest, the most titillating, the just-gotta-tell.” I must say, it is instantly intriguing and I wanted to know a bit more and it is written so excellently.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book as a whole really, but I was intrigued enough to really want to read it. I started to enjoy it from the outset in the office and getting to know the characters. The letter interested me as do the Shakespearean quotes. I like that there is some humour mingled in with history and people’s lives.

Kaerou takes readers along with Meryl, who is a war widow from the Vietnam war, on a  journey to Japan. She discovered a Japanese flag of a fallen soldier from the second world war and wants to deliver it back to the family. She meets many interesting characters who I enjoyed reading about, including a professor and a writer. The book is very character driven. The premise of the actual plot is fine and interesting enough. Sometimes the grammar isn’t at its best, but somehow that doesn’t detract from the actual story and the richness in culture. It really is fascinating to read about the cultures and how they sit in people’s minds as the book isn’t just about Japan, it covers the UK, Vietnam and the US.

The scenery is beautifully written and picturesque.

The book is nicely written and it is interesting as there are some quick, short chapters, yet the pace is smooth and gentle. The way it goes between past and present is beautifully presented and flows well and in an unconfused way. With all the complexities of the book, everything marries up well on the whole, leaving a pleasant satisfaction.

The book is a love story and one of discovery. It is also one of history and how it can join up with the present as there is a journey to join up the flag of the fallen soldier with his family. It’s about moving on, but not without making peace first with what was lost in the war. It’s also about life ever-moving onwards and it’s there to be really lived and embraced and trying to overcome and bridge that which divides us. So, as much as this is Remembrance Sunday and we think of our war dead and the veterans who are still alive, this book is about love too and there is something to learn here as well, even though Japan wasn’t an ally nation. In this book readers can learn about the past and more present times of Japan through the characters that are written about.

I think B.Jeanne Shibahara has achieved what she set out to achieve. She has a book that has a story, great characters and I get the sense of most importantly, one that tells the world about Japan.

Overall, I recommend this book. Take a leap, take that chance and read about the familiar and the perhaps, lesser well-known and learn something from this story that, although is fictional, is based on fact. So, I recommend to try this book for something new. Sometimes we get into reading very similar books time and time again, this book brings something new, or if you like reading about people’s lives or family sagas even, or learning about different cultures and thoughts and feeling emotions and history in terms of where it also sits with the present,  then I would recommend Ke a rou. Bascially, I say give it a go for a pleasant, satisfying read.

I have to say I enjoyed reading the book. Thanks to B. Jeanne Shibahara for contacting me on my contact page on my blog and for giving me this amazing opportunity to review her book. I thank her also for buying me a copy of her book and sending it to me.