ShortBookandScribes **Very Special Reads of 2018**

I’m delighted to be able to share with you my Very Special Reads of 2018 today. I am not stingy with my five stars and give them to many books, all of which totally deserve them and which I have, obviously, loved reading. But there are some books that stay with me, that stand out from the crowd. Last year I struggled to narrow them down and had 20+ top reads but this year, from the very beginning, I have marked those special five star reads (the six star ones, if you like) so that when this moment came I would know which ones to share with you.

Here they are in the order I read them (click on the titles to read my reviews):

Appetite by Anita Cassidy

This is one of those books that I just ‘got’. Exploring themes of greed and longing (oops, not sure what it says about me that I ‘got’ it) and how they can control and take over your life, I thought it was a fantastic read.

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

I love psychological thrillers and read plenty of them, but this is the only one you will find on my list. I think it’s because they don’t leave me with the kind of feelings that the others on here have done. But The Perfect Girlfriend makes it on here because it is so shocking, so terrifying in the lengths Juliette will go to in her pursuit of Nate, and so utterly thrilling.

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Next up is The Lido by Libby Page

I was a complete mess when I got to the end of this gorgeous book. Not just a tear was shed, more like a river of tears. It’s a beautiful story, of fighting for what you believe in, of love, and of friendship across the ages.

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Little Big Man by Katy Regan

This is a gorgeous story of a boy looking for his dad. The children’s voices are so authentic that I actually felt proud of them. It’s a book that deals with some meaty topics with understanding and care. Another one that made me cry too.

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The Street Orphans by Mary Wood

I love a good saga and I think that Mary Wood has to be one of my very favourite writers in the genre. This book is set in the 19th century, so a little out of my usual comfort zone, but I loved the story of a plucky lass with a club foot who goes through a crazy amount during the course of the story, most of it to protect her brothers and sisters. There’s such warmth in Wood’s writing and I found myself thinking about this book when I wasn’t reading it.

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My Husband’s Lies by Caroline England

This is a tangled story full of secrets between a group of friends. It’s a brilliant domestic drama that is chock-full of twists and turns. At the end of each chapter I was left gagging for more only for the focus to change in the next section so it was one of those books I just couldn’t put down.

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How Far We Fall by Jane Shemilt

I found this modern day version of Macbeth absolutely compelling reading. It’s the story of three people – two men linked by one woman – and how the tangled web they find themselves in impacts on their lives. The detail, the plotting and the writing are masterful.

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Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas

I think anyone who reads my blog knows that I’m a huge fan of Jo Thomas’ writing. She has the ability to transport me to wherever she might be writing about. In Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard it was Spain with Beti Winter, a woman trying to realise her dream of running a bar in Spain with her fiancé. In true romance style, things don’t go to plan and instead she’s doing flamenco and learning to pick cherries at Antonio’s farm. There’s a strong sense of atmosphere in this book and I just loved it.

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The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding is a unique and clever story, so much so that I’m in awe of the author for thinking it up. Despite an element of fantasy about it, it’s so plausible and a bit frightening, although at its heart is a powerful love story.

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The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

The other thing that readers of this blog will know is that I love time travel. This book (with a glorious cover) celebrates women and their intelligence as we follow four female scientists who are inventing a time machine. It’s a fabulous read.

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Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Bitter Orange is the story of a toxic friendship over the course of one heady summer. It’s one of those books where a house is a big part of the story and in this case it’s where Frances, Peter and Cara end up getting to know each other. There’s a real sense of foreboding throughout this absorbing novel, which talks of love and loss, passion and voyeurism.

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

Louise Beech is a beautiful writer who sends me on a rollercoaster of emotions every time. This book was no exception. It’s a stunning read, with an achingly tender love story and an “OMG, no” moment. Set partly in Zimbabwe and partly in Hull (!), it had me sobbing as it drew to a conclusion.

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Daughters of War by Lizzie Page

I simply adored this wonderful story, based around the real life war nurse, poet and novelist, Mary Borden. The protagonist is May Turner, a woman ahead of her time who goes to nurse in France during World War 1. Her story is full of emotion, heartbreaking and intense, so much so that I spent quite a bit of time trying to swallow the lump in my throat or wiping my eyes.

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Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas

Well look here, another Jo Thomas book. Her first winter one didn’t let me down at all. This time she took me to Lapland where I experienced a journey through the snow with a herd of reindeer. I thought it was a breathtaking read and travel fiction at its very best.

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And finally, just sneaking in at the very last minute, is The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton.

This is a quite magical and enchanting story set over the course of around 160 years. It’s an intricately woven one starting with a group of artists in 1862 and taking us right through to an archivist in 2017. And if that combination of words alone isn’t enough to tempt you then I don’t know what to do with you! The Clockmaker’s Daughter is an utterly gorgeous book that I found myself completely absorbed in.

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I read 174 books in 2018, more than I have ever read before, and these are just 15 of them. If I can read such wonderful books in 2019 then it’s going to be a great year. Hope you have had a fabulous reading year too and that you have enjoyed my selection. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the books I have featured in this post.

 

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