I’m continuing my count-down of the best books I read in 2017.
5. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven – Chris Cleave (Sceptre 2016) (Read and reviewed in April)
It’s been a good year for writers called Chris, as there are two of them in my Top 10. This British novelist’s fourth novel spanned the years 1939-1942 and centred on war-torn London and Malta, gripped by a blockade which threatens starvation for civilians and soldiers. I said “this is an excellent novel from a great story-teller who deserves his position amongst the best of the novelists who have written about this time in our history.”
Current Amazon sales rating: 10,968 in Books (has been much higher!)
4. The Wicked Cometh – Laura Carlin (Hodder & Stoughton 2018) (Read and reviewed in November)
Feel like I’m cheating a bit here as this hasn’t even been published yet (according to latest info the hardback is due on 1st Feb.) I was really drawn into the world of this debut novel set in Victorian London. I said “I think she has got everything more or less spot on here and has written an authentic historical novel and a really good thrilling page-turner.” Still expecting this to achieve very healthy sales in 2018.
Current Amazon sales rating: 68,464 in Books (based on pre-orders).
3. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead (Fleet 2016) (Read and reviewed in September)
I read this when it appeared on the Man Booker longlist and felt it had to be in with a great chance of scooping the Prize. In the US it had taken both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. Here, it shockingly failed to make the shortlist, probably overshadowed by British author Mohsin Hamid’s “Exit West” which touched on similar themes. It was the best American novel I read this year. I felt “it ticks all the boxes for me, an involving, entertaining, well-written, imaginative, educational, unpredictable read.”
Current Amazon sales rating: 81 in Books (this has been a big seller)
2. Owl Song At Dawn – Emma Claire Sweeney (Legend 2016) (Read and reviewed in February)
Pipped at the post by the very last book I read in 2017 this came very close to being the first British novel to be my book of the year since 2012 (also incidentally the last time a female author was at the top). The fact that this is a debut novel makes it all the more outstanding. I first heard of this when it was shortlisted by Nudge and newbooks for the BookHugger book of the year. It went on to win beating a set of books from a very good list which also included my year end Top 10ers by Jodi Picoult and Helen Dunmore. Dull February days were enlivened by this heartwarming novel. An unsentimental, humorous tale of a Morecambe guest house which is being used as a holiday home for guests with disabilities and their carers. Great central character, Maeve who is pushing 80 and has to come to terms with regrets in her past. It wasn’t a typical read for me but it works so well on so many levels.
Current Amazon sales rating: 328, 095 in Books
And the reviewsrevues Book of The Year is………….
1.The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (Black Swan 2017) (Read and Reviewed in December)
It just had to be this book. It is Irish author John Boyne’s 10th adult novel (and there are 5 for younger readers). I haven’t read him before but I was blown away by the whole thing right from the first few pages. I wrote a lengthy review (click on the title to read it) just to justify why it impressed me so much. “I said It may very well be my favourite books of this decade.” I think this is a book which has a reputation which will grow and grow. Perhaps the only thing I wasn’t totally convinced by is the front cover of the paperback edition, but that’s probably nothing to do with the author.
Current Amazon sales rating: 743 in Books
John Boyne joins a select bunch of authors. Here are my favourites from the last ten years, which probably tells you a considerable amount about me as a reader.
2017 – The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (2017) (Ireland)
2016- Joe Speedboat – Tommy Wieringa (2016) (Netherlands)
2015- Alone In Berlin- Hans Fallada (2009 translation of a 1947 novel) (Germany)
2014- The Wanderers – Richard Price (1974) (USA)
2013- The Secrets Of The Chess Machine – Robert Lohr (2007) (Germany)
2012 – The Book Of Human Skin – Michelle Lovric (2010) (UK)
2011 – The Help- Kathryn Stockett (2009) (USA)
2010- The Disco Files 1973-78 – Vince Aletti (1998) (USA)
2009- Tokyo – Mo Hayder (2004) (UK)
2008- The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (2007) (Australia)
Happy New Year and let’s hope there’s lots of great reading in 2018!