My Top 10 Books of 2016


About this time last year I revealed my Top 10 books of the year (check what they were here). I enjoyed doing it so much, that I’m going to do it again this year. One little rule – I’m excluding all the Harry Potters because otherwise my Top four would be dominated by him,.


Like many TV clip shows at the end of the year, you’ll have seen most of this before, but there is also some brand new content to keep you interested – as well as the drama of a countdown.


We’ll start – as is often traditional in Top Ten countdowns – at Number Ten…


  1. This Must Be The Place – Maggie O’Farrell


A story about the construction then the subsequent demolition of the relationship between Daniel and Claudette. We witness all the moments around the big arguments and the big decisions, and the characters are richer for it. The ending seems inevitable, but it makes it even more satisfying when we get there.


  1. The Loney – Andrew Michael Hurley


A deeply mysterious book, one that describes the cold, wet countryside of England so well, that I feel cold even thinking about it now. What’s it about? It’s hard to describe. A pilgrimage of sorts to the eponymous Loney, an attempt to cure the protagonist’s brother. But it has an ending that stays with you.


  1. See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt


A retelling – or in my case, just the telling – of the story of Lizzie Borden. A brilliant piece of writing that presents the facts of the case, plus some suppositions to help the reader come to their own conclusion to what happened on that August day. Fascinating and creepy in equal measure. Definitely one to keep on the bookcase for a re-read.


  1. Seven Ways We Lie – Riley Redgate


A bit of a guilty pleasure, and am a bit surprised to see it so high up my list for 2016. It’s a fluffy and throwaway story about an American high school and a rumour that rockets around its corridors. I found it very funny, and a great bit of escapism from some of the heavier fare I usually read.


  1. Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon


One of two non-fiction books on the list…  It’s a book about mental illness, specifically Bryony Gordon’s, but also about YOURS because it’s hard to read about Bryony’s experiences without comparing and contrasting with your own. Some bits make you feel better, some bits make you feel worse, but you’ll come out of this book knowing yourself a bit more (gosh, that sounds American). If you read this and don’t recognise yourself in any of it, then you’re lucky – but hopefully, you’ll understand the rest of us a little bit more.


  1. And I Darken – Kiersten White

The tale of Lady Dracul, a take on Vlad the Impaler. A Game of Thrones style epic that pulls you into the politics of a country a million miles and a million years away from where you are. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.


  1. The Last Act of Love – Cathy Rentzenbrink


A tough one – because this is real life. My biggest problem when it comes to Non-Fiction, I either don’t care because there’s no sensible narrative (spoiler, there is no sensible narrative in real life) or I care too much because ‘this really happened, damn it!’. This definitely falls into the latter – with the tragic story of a girl growing up coping with the result of a tragic accident involving her brother.


  1. The Stranger In My Home – Adele Parks


The only title on my list this year that I haven’t done a full review for, so here’s a mini one, right here.


I read this back in August, and the main reason for not writing a review is that I didn’t know what to say that I’ve not said about Adele before. This is her first contemporary novel since The State We’re In, which is one of my all-time favourites (And FYI, I’m still waiting for a movie adaptation?), and it tells of a couple who learn that their only daughter may in fact not be theirs.


Is everything as it seems? Tense in places, it builds to a wholly surprising but satisfying ending. This is my favourite thing about Adele’s writing. You’re sure you know where it’s going, yet you know there must be something else to it, and there is always something else to it, but until it happens you have absolutely no clue what it is. The clever bit, though, is that it makes perfect sense.


This is Adele’s take on the domestic noir genre that The Girl on the Train spawned, but there is more weight to this, more investment in the characters and much less reliant on a cheap twist. Currently only available in e-book, it’ll be released as a real book in January


  1. Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt


A book that starts off as normal as any other, but soon descends into gothic horror. It blends the contemporary world with the ritualistic world of the past and slowly builds it from a calm acceptance to a complete breakdown of civilisation that leaves both hero and anti-hero in a state of shock.


  1. Everyone Brave is Forgiven – Chris Cleave


I called this way back at the beginning of the year. The sheer poetry of the writing alone was enough to make me fall in love with it, but the characters and plot drag you along with it. There’s no more that can be said that I haven’t already said. Just go and read it.





The Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

We’re started a YA book club. Actually, we can’t stop starting them at the moment.


In honour of WHSmith joining forces with Zoe Sugg to start the Zoella book club aimed at Young Adults, a few of us in the office decided to start a small YA book club.


I was actually reading a YA novel before we decided this, so the one I’m reviewing today will be the first of several.


The Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate is set in your typical American high school. It centres around seven students all around the age of seventeen, not all of whom really interact with each other.


But when a rumour that one of the teachers is having a relationship with one of the students starts to sweep around the school, they find themselves in a series of events that will bring them all closer together.


The Seven Ways We Lie is a hilarious book, it made me laugh out loudly on more than one occasion. Flitting between seven different characters viewpoints, it’s pretty fast-paced, and also explores several issues.


However, because of the multiple characters it doesn’t take any of the issues into any great depth. It’s strength is also it’s weakness.


There were also characters that I felt were under developed, and for me, these characters were the most interesting. Lukas who is hiding his pansexuality from everyone else becomes friends with a character who is essentially asexual.


The friendship between the two of them is fascinating, but it’s not the main plot of the book, which I get, but it left me really wanting more. There’s a bigger story there that can be told and I would definitely be interested in reading it.


Perhaps it’s just because stories about sexuality are relevant to my interests, and other people would have been more interested in the relationship between the two sisters.


But that’s the beauty of this book, it really does have something for everyone. While it might be shallow at times, it’s a distracting, entertaining read, and I would definitely read more books by Redgate.


I’m looking forward to what else this genre has to offer.


The Seven Ways We Lie scores 3.9 out of 5.