It’s that time of year again where I recap on the books that I have read over the last year; and lets face it I have read an awful lot, some of them have been outstanding, some have been boring as hell and some have left a mark long after the pages were closed and I’d moved on to the next book.
What I love about my job at STORGY (Executive Director of Books) is that I get to read a plethora of books from a range of independent and established publishers and discover some fabulous writers in the process. Below are a selection from my extensive reading this year which I would wholeheartedly recommend to everyone who has a passion for literature and wants to discover some fabulous writers and books.
These books are not listed in any particular order…
The Burning Ground
By ADAM O’RIORDAN
Well what can I say about this book…’The Burning Ground’ by Adam O’Riordan has one of the best short stories I have ever read and lets just say I have read an exhaustive amount of books and short stories in my time; but none hold a candle to ‘The El Segundo Blue Butterfly’. The pages drip with grace and brilliance; the whole book would make a wonderful addition to any short story lovers collection and anyone who loves a good story.
EVERY FOX IS A RABID FOX
By HARRY GALLON
‘Every Fox Is A Rabid Fox’ was one of my top books of the year, it snuck up on you like a hidden cancer, proving to be as deadly and as shocking. Harry Gallon writes with such a brazen disregard for the rule book that it transforms the book into a ferocious beast and causes the reader to be impacted by his masterfully constructed prose. The writing is top draw and caused me to reminisce about what I loved about Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk. Congratulations must also go to Dead Ink who have championed such brave writing since their inception as independent publishers.
By JAMES MILLER
James Miller delivers a fabulous novel which could be read as a series of short stories with interlocking narratives but does so with aplomb and as someone who is at the top of their game. UnAmerican Activities is so delicious in its execution that one can’t not be impressed by what Miller has been able to achieve. The book in my opinion should be winning awards this year for its brilliance in writing, this book is destined to become a cult classic…we shall see!
By Stephen & Owen King
If there was a book that I read this year that spoke about the direct plight the world finds itself in, it was Sleeping Beauties. I found the whole book gripping, told in a typically Stephen King vibe but delicately woven with the words and imagination from Owen King. The book was long, but never dragged. I have read many reviews about Sleeping Beauties and people have said that it didn’t quite do it for them, I personally enjoyed every last word. It had a strange effect on me that lasted well after the book was finished and I believe that this book has power within its pages and a message that can be transformative to the role and rights of women in the world at the moment.
If you want to read my full review of Sleeping Beauties please click here. We also interviewed Owen King about Sleeping Beauties this year, his interview can be read here. If you would like to know more about Hodder & Stoughton please click here.
By JAMES HERBERT
Each year I try to read something for myself, something that has nothing to do with STORGY and this year I wanted some horror. So I quickly devoured The Rats by James Herbert and then commences Lair the sequel – at some point I will get around to the final book in the trilogy but that is for another year. The Lair was brilliant and showed the development of Herbert as a writer, it was balls out horror but he’d added a masterful dimension to his writing and that was suspense. After the bloodletting of Rats I just wanted him to get down to the nitty gritty of huge rats devouring people left, right and centre. But he held back and rammed up the tension and in doing so created a fabulous sequel and a brilliant book!
If you would like to read my review of Lair please click here. Dan Soule another STORGY reviewer also reviewed Rats last year this can be viewed here. If you would like to learn more about Pan Macmillan please click here.
LETTERS TO A YOUNG WRITER
By COLUM McCANN
This books is a fabulous tool for writers, and young writers especially. The book itself are letters that Colum McCann had written about the craft, they are insightful and also help to unpack the writing world to those who are established within or struggling to get into it in the first place. The book for me had so many great pieces of advice that I couldn’t not put it in my list for this year, some of his advice I have already started using within my own writing. The book sits on my desk next to my copy of Stephen King on Writing, The Good Word Guide and my Dictionary – that is how highly I hold this book!
ALL THE GOOD THINGS
By CLARE FISHER
This debut novel by Clare Fisher is stunning, the care, detail, plot and writing are masterful and you have to wonder what she will be able to do next. The book deals with some very complex issues but in a way that are engaging and help to shine a light in areas that the press, government and others wouldn’t really want you looking too closely at. It’s brave and fierce and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
If you would like to read the full review of All The Good Things you can click here. We also interviewed Clare Fisher about her experience of writing her debut novel here. If you would like to learn more about Viking click here.
THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS
By JASON ARNOPP
If you like crazy horror and a flawed protagonist The Last Days of Jack Sparks is the book for you. Jason Arnopp writes in a masterful way, showcasing that he knows what he is talking about when it comes to all things horror. The book is terrific, some reviews say they didn’t know what to make of it, but for me it is utter brilliance. Oh and if you don’t believe me ask Ron Howard who has purchased the rights to bringing Jack Sparks to the screen.
WHO LET THE GODS OUT
By MAZ EVANS
One of the things I love about being a father is getting to read books with my children and discovering some pretty cool books in the process. Who Let The Gods Out is like Harry Potter for young children – but instead of Wizards its about Greek Mythology…whats not to like about that! The book follows the life of a boy who is the carer for his mother, struggling to make ends meet he stumbles upon the Gods who help him on his journey. This is a series of books and if you have some reluctant readers in your family this book will help break them into the world of literature with no hassle.
If you would like to read my review of Who Let The Gods Out please click here. We also had the opportunity to talk with Maz Evans about her book, the gods and young carers in the UK you can read more about it here. If you would like to discover more about Chicken House Books please click here.
THE BOY ON THE BRIDGE
By MICHAEL CAREY
The Boy On The Bridge by Michael Carey was a brilliant return to the world that he so wonderfully created in The Girl With All The Gifts. I personally feel that the book is a great addition to this world and expands on what we know about the previous book, it’s more of a prequel than a sequel as it looks at the origins of the plague and how everything develops to bring about The Girl With All The Gifts. Carey’s writing is masterful and leaves the reader hungry for the next instalment…
You can read my review of The Boy On The Bridgehere. We also had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Carey last year, its a great interview and we’d recommend you check it out here. If you would like to know more about Orbit click here.
BONUS BOOKS TO CHECK OUT
The following books are ones that I have read and enjoyed this year and deserve an honourable mention.
Post Office by Charles Bukowski is a fabulous book, an old book but one that I love to read, it’s like a friend you invite around but he never leaves.
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk I try to read this every year, it’s the first book that made me want to be a writer and after many years of reading still remains relevant and brilliant.
Sealed by Naomi Booth is another helping from the fabulous Dead Ink, we have a review going up shortly for the book, if you don’t know anything about it…you need to grab yourselves a copy.
Strange Heart Beating by Eli Goldstone is a tale of love, loss and hope told by a flawed protagonist and introduces Eli Goldstone as a new voice to keep an eye out for in the future.
Peach by Emma Glass is my current read, it’s poetic, brutal and unnerving; Emma Glass explodes onto the scene with this bold and brilliant book.
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