As people keep reminding me, it’s only just over a month until Christmas. Unfortunately, I’ve barely even thought about the presents I’m going to buy, never mind started shopping.
So I thought I’d put together a recap of some of the fantastic books I’ve read this year, just in case you need gift inspiration.
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
Wandering on the beach near her home on a remote island in the Desolation Sound, British Columbia, Japanese-American novelist Ruth finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up in the sand. Inside she discovers some old letters, a watch and a diary written in Japanese. Curious, Ruth begins to read, and is quickly absorbed by the story of Japanese teenager Nao.
Convinced that the items were swept out to sea in the wake of the Japanese tsunami, Ruth becomes obsessed with learning what happened to Nao and her family.
The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, by Caroline Smailes
In The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, Greek mythology comes to a bleak town in northern England and the result is one of the quirkiest books I’ve read in ages.
After a traumatic incident when a photograph of his cock ends up on Facebook, isolated teenager Arthur stumbles into The Oracle, a derelict Edwardian bathhouse, desperate to escape the school bullies and his shitty life. There he glimpses Delphina, a beautiful young girl swimming naked in the Males 1st Class pool and is completely captivated.
Life! Death! Prizes! by Stephen May
When his mum is killed during a botched mugging, after refusing to hand over her Netbook, 19-year-old Billy is left alone to care for his six-year-old brother, Oscar. Tortured by sightings of her killer and under pressure from Oscar’s previously absent father, Billy struggles to deal with his grief and learn how to raise a child.
Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie O’Farrell
When their father pops out to the shops one morning during a fierce heatwave and fails to return, the three adult Riordan children are forced to return home and support their mother. They each bring their own problems and as the family searches for their patriarch, seething tensions and long buried secrets threaten to come to the surface.
Burial Rites, by Hannah Kent
In 1829, the last ever public execution was carried out in Iceland. Agnes Magnusdottir was put to death for her part in the murder of two men on a remote farm in the north of the country.
Based on actual events, Burial Rites follows Agnes in the last months of her life as she brought to live on a farm in the same valley where she spent most of her life as a farm servant. Forced to live and work closely with the horrified farming family, Agnes begins to share her story with a local priest, who is sent to redeem her soul before she is executed.
Crime and Thrillers
Stolen, by Rebecca Muddiman
Abby Henshaw is a doting mother to her baby daughter, Beth, until one horrific day when they are attacked on the way to a visit a friend and the child is taken. As the police begin their investigation, DI Gardner is determined to unravel Abby’s complicated family life and find the baby.
Days go by and there is still no sign of Beth. Traumatised by her ordeal, Abby is adamant that her baby is alive and she will get her back. But will she fall apart first?
To Catch a Rabbit, by Helen Cadbury
When some local kids discover the body of a young Chinese girl on his Doncaster patch, dead from a drug overdose, PCSO Sean Denton can’t bring himself to forget the girl, even if no one else seems to care. The body of another woman is found soon after and Sean begins to investigate the case alongside an ambitious young SOCO.
But how do the drug overdoses fit with a human trafficking case and a man who has mysteriously disappeared, leaving behind his wife and young daughter?
The Fire Witness, by Lars Kepler
After two people are brutally murdered in the middle of the night at a facility for disturbed girls, National Police detective Joona Linna is called in to observe the local police, despite being under investigation for his actions in a previous case. He soon discovers that one of the girls, Vicky Bennet, is missing and she quickly becomes the chief suspect in the killings. But when she kidnaps a young boy, the race is on to find both children before disaster strikes.
Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake
Cas Lowood is no ordinary teenage boy. He doesn’t care about sports or computers and he isn’t interested in girls. He hunts ghosts.
His latest hunt takes him to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where a violent spirit known as Anna Dressed in Blood haunts the town, brutally murdering anyone who dares to stray into her home.
Everyone except Cas…
Shadows, by Paula Weston
Gaby Winters is still haunted by the car crash that killed her twin brother, Jude, a year earlier and left her broken and scarred. Despite her grief, she is slowly putting her life back together in the small seaside town of Pan Beach, away from her family and former life.
But every night she dreams about killing demons, a beautiful and brutal man by her side.
When Rafa turns up for real, Gaby begins to realise that everything she thought she knew about her past is a dream and the truth might actually be closer to her nightmares.
You can also check out my full review thread here.