Last year I made a conscious decision to read more books written by women, something I continued to do this year. Of the 80+ books I’ve read, 60+ were written by women, so it’s no surprise that my best books of 2016 list is comprised solely of women.
I’ve read and enjoyed many books, both fiction and non-fiction, but these are the six I gave five star ratings to. These are the six that affected me the most. In a year that saw me rediscover my love of crime fiction it will surprise no one to see half the list made up of crime novels.
Some of these books made me laugh. Some made me cry. Some managed to do both. They all made me think. They all made me want to seek out people who had read them, so we could discuss the stories at length. They are all books I know I will re-read, which may sound strange when it comes to crime fiction but the three I’ve chosen are full of nuance and little details that lend themselves well to being re-visited.
Different Class by Joanne Harris*
Told by two narrators; Roy Straitley in 2005 and an unnamed student in 1981, Different Class* is dark, twisty, menacing and often times claustrophobic. It is a slow burning, yet character driven psychological thriller that will leave you with your heart in your mouth on more than one occasion. Joanne Harris skilfully controls a plot full of complex characters and sinister events. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.
Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard*
Distress Signals* is well paced and full of tension; what makes it stand out is the significant role the cruise ship plays. What happens when a crime happens on a cruise ship? Which country has jurisdiction and how many resources do they actually dedicate to crimes committed miles from land? These are the issues that Adam finds himself up against. These are questions that add an extra layer of intrigue to Catherine Ryan Howard’s confident debut.
The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel*
The Summer That Melted Everything* is an incredible piece of literary fiction. That it is a debut novel makes it even more so. Tiffany McDaniel’s writing is evocative, complex and full of confidence.
The summer of 1984 brings an intense heat wave to Breathed, Ohio. It also brings the devil. Things will never be the same again. Fielding Bliss has never forgotten that summer and it is through his eyes that we learn what happened. The novel alternates between 1984 and an unspecified year in the future.
It is a thought-provoking novel that deals with religion, racism, homophobia and mob mentality amongst other things. It’s a novel I’ll be recommending for a long time to come.
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent*
Told from multiple points of view; Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent* skilfully weaves a web of deceit, showing the fallout one incident has for two families. Just when you think you’ve figured everything out, Nugent skilfully takes the story in a different direction.
It is an engrossing psychological thriller. Liz Nugent has once again written a world full of complexity, depravity, secrets and the central question of whether ‘badness’ is a case of nature or nurture.
Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan
Dealing with the aftermath of abuse, Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan begins where many other novels would end.
Ces is smart, vulnerable and understandably angry a lot of the time. She may no longer be in the abusive situation, but it still has a hold over her. What follows is an unflinching, powerful, haunting, often times harrowing and poetic look at a teenage girl trying to get her life back.
My words can’t do Needlework justice, but trust me you need to read it.
Becoming: Sex, Second Chances & Figuring Out Who The Hell I Am by Laura Jane Williams
After being dumped by her childhood sweetheart, the man she thought she was going to marry, Laura Jane Williams turns to excess in order to deal with heartache. Drink? Check. One night stands? Check. Having a good time is nothing to be ashamed of. But what happens when you are no longer having a good time? What happens when you realise that you haven’t really dealt with the fact your ex-boyfriend is marrying your friend? What happens when you realise that you don’t really like who you’ve become?
These questions are at the heart of Becoming: Sex, Second Chances and Figuring Out Who The Hell I Am. Laura decides to take a vow of celibacy, one year without sex or dating. A year where she can focus on processing the emotions she’d previously been fighting against, however messy those emotions may become.
Laura’s writing is raw, honest and often times heartbreaking. Becoming is poignant, thought-provoking, funny, heartbreaking and above all an exploration of the work that’s sometimes involved in truly liking yourself.
Best Books of 2016 Giveaway
I am giving one person the chance to win the book of their choice from my best books of 2016 list.
The competition is open internationally and will run until midnight (GMT) on January 1st 2017.
To enter simply use the widget below. You don’t have to complete every step, but the more you complete the more chances you have of winning.