Firstly let me wish everyone a Happy Christmas, sufficient to eat and co-operative family and children. I wanted to put holly leaves around the edges and stuff like that, but you know by now how non-techie I am.

To go and find the buying links for the books I’ve chosen I’ve had to log on to the Big A, and I’m feeling quite sad that some of my choices, books that blew me away, are really low in rankings and have very few reviews. I don’t know most of these authors so I don’t connect with them on social media, but I suspect they are not actively marketing and tweeting and screaming ‘buy my book.’ This has reconfirmed my suspicion that not all good books get to the top and not all top books are good whether indie or traditionally published.

Now I admit to not having read The Girl on the Train, but I did go and see the movie which I was told was very close to the book. It’s quite a good storyline, but dragged out way too long, and most of the men in the audience were furious with their wives at having to sit through it. Call it an OK story, I’ve read much better from author friends and strangers. It all boils down to visibility as I suspected – getting the word out there, which is hard work for little indies like me.

On to the last 5 countdown (Wow isn’t this more exciting than ‘Who’s got Talent or whatever?’ No? Well you can’t say I don’t try!)

THE HOMEWORK CLUB (The Journal of Bobby Woods) by Paul Humphries

From poignancy to hilarity, this book made me laugh from the first page to the last.  Well that’s not quite true, the end was amazing, but I’m not adding any spoilers here. Rather too many naughty words perhaps, but the people and their lifestyle demanded it. It reminded me of the Adrian Mole series, but a little more grown up. The ridiculous situations the characters got themselves into were quite brilliant, but then the tone changes and I ended up in tears. This was another book that was not going to leave my hands until I got to the last page.

PHENOMENA by Susan Tarr

I suspect this was also a review for Readers’ Favorite as I can’t see a review from me on the ‘you know where.’ I had to include a book that made me cry over the sad story of a young boy abandoned in a mental hospital in New Zealand. His story was heartbreaking and the author took you into his world and for a short while I was Malcolm and I was in that asylum and I felt his desperation and his pain. It’s a book I won’t ever forget.

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by David Lagercrantz

Like millions of other readers, I was entranced by the first three books in the series and was a bit hesitant about reading this book as of course it’s been taken over by a new writer. I needn’t have worried. All the same characters are featured and if anything, I enjoyed this book even more than the others as it was a little less complex, though sufficiently intriguing to keep me feverishly turning the pages. I’m thrilled there will be even more books in the future.


This intrigued me from the first page as Sami’s older brother whirls the walnut shells asking the punters to guess which one conceals the bean. A political thriller which takes the hero from a fictitious middle-eastern country to New York and later involves those controlling, shadowy people behind the large corporates. It’s so real you wonder if it could be true. It’s fast paced and page turning, but I loved the way the ending tied in so neatly with the beginning. Well worth the read if you like this genre, certainly a very clever and entertaining book.

THE SURROGATE by Louise Jensen

I admit I bought this book by mistake as I was searching for another book by the same name I’d seen on Twitter and, as Amazon so often do, they popped this one up first. It’s not often I read a book, live it, feel bereft when it’s over and then immediately search for anything else by the same author. I now have two more on my kindle to read. Great story, high octane suspense, it keeps moving and kept me guessing. And yes, I was caught out by the actions in the last few pages. I wasn’t expecting that. Highly recommended.

Choosing my top 15  was a very difficult choice to make overall, though about the middle of the year I had only highlighted 4 amazing books and was beginning to worry. Then I found some excellent ones. I had originally intended to choose 12 but there were some I just couldn’t leave out and others I wanted to include, but I had to stop at 15.  Do remember, these are my own personal choices in genres I like.

Till next week when I’ll be back to the normal format have a great New Year and happy reading writing and arithmetic and take care.


This week the list of 5 more books that had me totally enthralled. I’ve only read about 120 odd this year, most previous years I’ve read more than that, but with all the marketing, and writing and entertaining DH, I’ve not devoured as many in 2017. This passion for reading began before I started school, and I’ve always been caught on those application forms when it said ‘list your hobbies.’ I’d put down reading of course, and then I’d be stuck! It would seem frivolous to add chatting with friends or occasional meals out, but that was the truth. I read in the bath, at the table, waiting in the car for the kids to come out of school, every spare minute I had. I never go anywhere (and I mean anywhere) without my kindle in my pocket or bag.

Here are the second five books I’ve really enjoyed this year, although it’s been really, really difficult to choose which ones to include.

NO DARKNESS by Mark Morey

You will not be surprised by this choice as Mark has set his story in Zimbabwe under Mugabe where a simple misunderstanding leads to terrible consequences. The interaction between the hero and his African girlfriend highlight the cultural differences and this is another fast action-packed story set against a background I know well. (That Amie is listed under the ‘also bought’ has no bearing on my choice of best reads!) From my experience, Mark had it just right with an exciting story that moved fast and furiously.

THE GOOD MOTHER by Karen Osman

This is a psychological thriller and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I admit to guessing the ‘twist’ at the end quite early on, but this was such a good book that it didn’t stop me from reading it as fast as possible. Writing to a convicted murderer in prison seems an unlikely scenario and I’m not sure now where I saw it advertised, but I thoroughly enjoyed it especially as it was that bit different to many other books.

CYPHER by Cathy Perkins

This was a good, solid family drama with murder, mayhem, mystery and a bit of romance thrown in. It had me guessing and I love that in a book. There were enough twists and turns to keep me happily turning the pages. The added bonus was I learned new facts about the world of finance and big business. A book that entertains and teaches at the same time is the kind I really like.


There is a good reason the front cover of this book is plastered in awards. It’s based on a true story and I was intrigued to see if I could separate fact from fiction. It’s about physical and mental abuse, I can relate to that, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. The book is beautifully written, you cannot help but connect with Taylor, live with her through her pain and hope that she finds peace and a happy, stable relationship in the end.


This is another award-winning book which is beautifully written. Set in India in the 50s and 60s and the Indo China conflict, a family is torn apart from differing attitudes between traditional customs and the modern world. It’s a conflict taking place in so many countries even today, but the author takes us back to a time when change was not as common. You expect the young to want to forge a different future, but a parent seeking to break away from tradition gives this book another dimension entirely.

Only five more books to go and you can find them here next Monday. Till then, take care.



So far, this year I have read 126 books. I know this because I have a spreadsheet and mark up when I download, read, review and post. It might seem a bit %^%%^ retentive, but it’s the only way I can keep track. When you get on a bit, it’s easy to pick up a book and be into the second chapter before you realize you’ve read it before. Usually the Big A will tell you if you’ve already bought one, but DH’s friend passes on stacks of paperbacks and occasionally I read one of those as well.

The books I’m including in my Best Reads of 2017 include traditionally, and indie published but this last group probably makes up the bulk of my reads.

You are not likely to see any romance, fantasy or erotica on the list, as they are not my personal preferred genres. I like action and adventure and spy stories (well I would, wouldn’t I?) historical novels, humour, psychological thrillers and what I think of as ‘clever’ books – twists and turns that keep me guessing right to the last page – as a writer I like to think I’ve got it all worked out by page 3 – then be proved wrong.

The books in my list are those that so grabbed me I left the dirty dishes in the sink, read while I got dressed with one hand, or wandered around in my dressing gown eyes glued to the Kindle, neglected to feed DH, and shut out the rest of the world until I got to the end. They captivated me, kept my attention and made me think ‘I wish I could write as well as that.’

The first five in the countdown are:-

THE INDIGO REBELS by Ellie Midwood

The story of members of the French Resistance during World War II this covered two of my favourite genres, spies, and history in one book. I’ve also read the second in the series as I’m a great fan of this author I think I’ve read all of her other books many of which have won awards. Page turning excitement she took me back to the streets of Paris and a time when it was dangerous to be patriotic.

IS THAT THE SHIRT YOU’RE WEARING? A memoir in essays by Kristen Brakeman

I seldom read short stories or books compiled of essays but I picked this from the Readers’ Favorite comedy listings and I’m so glad I did. This lady writes for several top newspapers in the vein of Erma Bombeck who had such an influence on my own early writing. Kristen sees things with a sharp eye, makes the everyday seem supernatural and, most of all, makes you laugh.


This has to be on my list as it brought home to me the Englishness of England possibly as it was several years ago. A light-hearted, fun read that I suspect is partly biographical. You couldn’t make up an eccentric mother who greets visitors wearing her old wedding dress and allows sheep to wander around the kitchen. A great book you can zap through on a day when you’re feeling down.

TABULA RASA by Gordon Bickerstaffe

This also has to be included as I’ve read all Gordon’s books and this is by far the best. I can see the difference in quality, character development, plot and attention to detail. I’m a great fan of this author and each book has got better and better. I particularly like his flawed and cowardly hero and heartedly approve of his strong heroine.

ULTERIOR MOTIVE by Jack Coleston

I reviewed this book for Readers Favorite. It’s an action packed thriller featuring two operatives in the CIA who are working to find the Caliph, a man who has united fractured terrorist groups in the Middle East. This is a great first novel by a New Zealand writer that I think deserves greater attention. It’s difficult to leave this book alone once started.

Next week there are the next 5 of my best books. Till then, take care and happy shopping.