It’s that time of year when I list the books I most enjoyed in 2021. In the latter part of the year I chose to revisit some old favourites to see if they still held an magic.

Daily, I’m bombarded with emails and blogs with invites to courses and workshops and tips and writing and sales techniques, the list is endless. I’ve beta read dozens of books, reviewed many more and still the question remained in my mind, what makes a book special? Can I improve my own writing by learning from those authors who have stood the test of time? A few I revisited didn’t, but many did.

The answer? Those books which still captivated me had a story with characters I really cared about. Narratives that did not drag, dropped in a few new facts and threw one disaster after another at the heroes and heroines. These books were written from the heart and this is the lesson I learned from all of them. The more recent books in this year’s list were the ones that blew me away, for their originality, their awakening of emotions and the passion enclosed within the covers. My grateful thanks to all the authors I’ve chosen this year.

Thirteen Hours   Deon Mayor

They killed her best friend. Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town. The young tourist doesn’t dare trust anyone – except her father, back home in America. When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that to protect their country’s image, they must find Rachel’s hiding place before the killers.

A fast-paced book that kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last.

PURPLE HIBISCUS    Chimamanda-Ngozi-Adichie

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.
As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. 

A fascinating glimpse into another world and culture.

THE BOY KING   Janet Wertman

His mother, Jane Seymour, died at his birth. Now his father, King Henry VIII, has died as well. Nine-year old Edward Tudor ascends to the throne of England and quickly learns that he cannot trust anyone, even himself.
While Edward can bring frustratingly little direction to the Council’s policies, he refuses to abandon his one firm conviction: that Catholicism has no place in England. When Edward falls ill, this steadfast belief threatens England’s best hope for a smooth succession: the transfer of the throne to Edward’s very Catholic half-sister, Mary Tudor, whose heart’s desire is to return the realm to the way it worshipped in her mother’s day.

I love historical novels and this blending of facts with a fictional narrative made for an excellent read.


The box set Was a Man is the captivating final installment of the Clifton Chronicles, a series of seven novels that has topped the bestseller lists around the world. Cometh the Hour opens with the reading of a suicide note and book 3  opens with an IRA bomb exploding during the MV Buckingham’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic. So continues the lives of the Cliftons and the Barringtons throughout the twentieth century.,

There are seven books in this series and I devoured them one after the other. I really like
Archer’s easy read books but it is the story which makes them good. There are several main characters to relate to and you care about them. It’s not surprising his work has stood the test of time.

Four more choices next week.