To kick off our blogs for 2023, four of our authors share their favourite reads of 2022.
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First to discuss her top two reading choices from 2022 is multi-genre author V. K. McGivney:
Act of Oblivion by Robert Harris is one of the most impressive books I have read this
year. The novel is a thrilling account of the search in New England for two Puritans,
Goffe and Whalley, who were among the 59 people who signed the death warrant of
Charles the First. The two fled to America after the restoration of the monarchy and
spent years in hiding while the hunt for them relentlessly continued. Effortlessly
combining fact and fiction, the novel weaves between colonial US and seventeenth-century England and kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Harris is a sublime story-teller. I have read all of his novels and consider this one of his best.
Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls is a feminist rewriting of The Iliad from the point of
view of the women who were the victims of the Trojan War. In this novel, we follow
the experiences of the captured queen, Briseis, and the other women who were taken
from Troy and given to the Greek soldiers as domestic and sex slaves. In the
sequel, Women of Troy, again told from the perspective of Briseis, we move from
the war to its aftermath, in a plot which revolves around the death and non-burial
of King Priam.
I found both books un-putdownable. Beautifully written, they provide an
unvarnished account of the violence and slavery that can result from armed conflicts,
in particular with regard to women, so often the innocent victims of war and male
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Paranormal fiction author Shani Struthers also shares two favourite reads from 2022:
Two books that I devoured over Christmas were both written by the same author: S. K. Tremayne: The Drowning Hour and Just Before I Died.
The Drowning Hour is set on an island off the coast of Essex, in a hotel that was once thriving but is now becoming more and more desolate, all because of a local legend: the drowning hour, and something that happened in recent times seemingly fulfilling that legend. It’s a tense read, a slow-burn (which I like), building up to heart-pounding finale. Rather than go into the plot, suffice to say I could hardly put this book down, it has all the ingredients I like, including a murder mystery to unravel and a narrator that you think you can trust, but who is thoroughly tormented, oh…and a dog. There’s a dog too!
Just Before I Died was equally as captivating as The Drowning Hour, although a totally different story. This one is set on Dartmoor, and revolves around a woman with amnesia following a near-fatal accident. What she remembers and what those around her remember, though, seem to be totally different things - there is hostility towards her, and blame, especially from her own husband. What really happened that fateful night? It’s a much loved and well-used trope, perhaps, but Tremayne deals with it from a fresh perspective, but what I really loved about this book, was that Tremayne clearly knows Dartmoor well - there is so much information about this ancient land woven naturally into the narrative, that as well as enjoying the read, I found myself learning as well, and with a yearning to visit soon!
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Our third author to share her top reads from the past year is young adult adventure author Teresa Bassett:
Writers are advised to read widely in the genre in which they write, so I read a lot of young
adult mysteries and like to keep up-to-date with what’s happening there. Among my
favourites this year are the Murder Most Unladylike books by Robin Stevens, featuring young
sleuths Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, and the London-based Agatha Oddly series by Lena
Jones, featuring thirteen-year-old detective Agatha Oddlow. I was interested to learn that
“Lena Jones” is not one author but a team of writers working collaboratively, and it surprised
me to see how well this worked.
Apart from YA, though, I’ve been drawn to psychological thrillers for adults. In fact, it’s no
exaggeration to say that I’ve become addicted to them! One of the best ones I’ve read recently is I Know You by Claire McGowan. This page-turner brings together two threads, one current, one in the past: Rachel, living a quiet life in the British countryside, and Casey, a young nanny working in the US, accused of murder when the family she works for is brutally killed. The book was so tense, it kept me guessing well into the night.
I’ve also been enjoying some fabulous cosy crime, and one of my favourite new authors is
Carole Marples. Carole writes about the mishaps of amateur sleuth Helen Merang, who runs a
tearoom and cake shop in the fictional Northern town of Buttersley. Some of the scrapes
Helen gets into are hilarious, and the characters are so vivid and well-portrayed, you feel you
know them. There are currently two books in the series: The Murder Before Merangs and
The Murder Above Merangs, with two more on the way. Both are gripping murder mysteries
with a huge dollop of fun.
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Finally, young adult fantasy author Francesca Tyer shares her recommended reads from 2022:
As always, there are too many wonderful books to mention. However, I have managed to select just two wonderful novels to discuss in this blog.
Where the Crawdad's Sing by Delia Owens is an absolutely brilliant read. This seductive coming-of-age novel follows the story of Kya, an abandoned child fighting to survive in the desolate marshlands of North Carolina. Owens' exquisite depictions of the natural world and her command of language and pace make the novel utterly captivating.
New York Times bestselling novel Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is another unforgettable read. The story begins in Yeongdo, Korea in 1911 with the marriage of a club-footed man to a fifteen-year-old girl and the subsequent birth of their daughter, Sunja, who becomes a central character. After falling pregant, Sunja faces ruin but her marriage to a Christian minister offers her salvation and she begins a new life in Japan. Spanning eight decades, this epic tale of family, identity, survival, love and death is just incredible.
What were your favourite reads of 2022? We'd love to know.