My Big Books of 2017

As the year draws to a close, it’s traditional for me to consider the books I’ve most enjoyed in the past twelve months. I don’t like using ‘best’, because this is a personal list and my preferred reading tends to reflect my emotional state as much as, if not more than, anything.

2017 has been a tough year, both personally and professionally – it’s been pretty shitty politically and economically, too, in my opinion. On the home front, to name but one challenge, there was a horrendous run-in with Southern Rail and Ginger1, my eldest boy. Professionally, while Skin Deep has been incredibly well-received (reviews were beyond my wildest hopes and dreams – thank you, dear readers) sales are, to coin a publishing cliché, disappointing.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me – or you – that the majority of the books I’ve enjoyed the most this year are dark in tone and subject matter. The up-lit star might have been rising across the publishing landscape, but not in my house! Here’s my list of the novels (yes, they’re all novels this year) that have impressed me the most:

IMG_3650Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall – this isn’t out till Spring 2018 but I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy. A stunning exploration of obsessive love which delves deep into the twisted heart of a secretive, sexually charged relationship and the aftermath of its breakdown. One of the most compelling and psychologically complex thrillers I’ve read in a very long time – and its commentary on our current world is perceptive and terrifying in equal measure. I have no doubt this will be one of the most talked about psych thrillers of 2018. Breathtaking.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins – a celebrated academic and TV presenter – a woman who ‘has it all’ writes a memoir about a long-lost heroine, reluctantly enlisting the aid of a socially inept housekeeper. It’s a novel about ambition, privilege, morality and dung beetles. Fabulous.

The Muse by Jessie Burton – I adored The Miniaturist and I’m fascinated by the Spanish civil war and art so this was near enough a sure thing. That said, I preferred Burton’s debut, but her second offering is wonderful story, set across two time-frames, about hidden treasures, faking it, love and identity.

IMG_3651Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield – another one not released until 2018 (February) which I read this year. A story of love and quantum physics, it’s beautiful, sad and clever. We meet the eponymous protagonists over the course of 70 years in 11 different realities, or universes. Fans of The Versions of Us (like me) and Life After Life should enjoy it. Gorgeous.

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant – with a lying, narcissistic literary novelist at its heart and a supporting cast of unlikable metropolitan-elite types, this is a gripping and clever psychological thriller about a missing child and the dangers of little lies. Durrant’s brilliance lies in her ability to evoke sympathy for her male lead, Paul.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – it’s not a spoiler to reveal that this is a tale of incest (we know within the first 20 pages, if not earlier) set in the American mid-West. It’s a subject matter many will find distasteful, but Engel writes beautifully and sensitively. This incredible work has shades of Rebecca and reminded me in tone and in the portrayal of small town America and its inhabitants of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects – a much stronger book than her more successful Gone Girl, in my humble opinion.

That’s it. My to-read tower remains in danger of toppling and with lots of wonderful books scheduled for 2018 – including one by my good friend, Kate Helm (I can’t wait!) – I only hope I have enough time to write!

Merry Christmas one and all – here’s to the New Year!

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Laura x

 

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Sweet Talking in Cornwall: Guest post from Jenny Kane

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome fellow Accent Press author Jenny Kane to my blog. Jenny is the best-selling author of Another Cup of Coffee and is here to talk about her next novel, Abi’s House. Set in Cornwall it has all the elements of a delightful, romantic read. Anyway, you’re here to listen to Jenny, not me, so I’ll shut up. Here’s the literary baton, Jenny.

Abi’s House – A Cornish Escape

Abi's House_edited-1What would you do if your life was tilted on its axis and, suddenly, you found yourself free of an existence that had long since stopped being happy? Where would you go? What would you do?

Abi Carter is about to ask those very questions – and the answer is to escape to the seaside…

Blurb

Newly widowed at barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives-style life that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live.

Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall as a child she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories … maybe even buy a place of her own nearby?

On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, is new to the village. He soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams … but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

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When I first began thinking about writing Abi’s House, Cornwall seemed the obvious choice of places to send Abi to start her new life. Not only is the pace of life in the south-west of England a million miles from that of London and its suburbs, and therefore would provide the peace that Abi needs, but Cornwall- particularly the foot of the county – is a place I (like Abi) knew well as a child.

My father was born and raised in Penzance. My Grandad was a butcher in a shop along Market Jew Street, and my Nan ran a bed and breakfast down Alma Place. I have clear memories of walking through Penzance, eating fudge from the home made sweet shop, visiting Marazion, St Michael’s Mount, St Just, Lamorna, Sennen Cove, and all the other places mentioned on Abi’s escape to the south of England.

Not only was creating Abi’s House was a real trip down memory lane for me, it was also a change of direction. After writing two quite dark stories recently (as Kay Jaybee), I felt the need to write the sort of novel that could be enjoyed when sat curled up on the beach, or in the garden on a sunny day- a real piece of feel good fiction.

Abi’s House will be published by Accent House on June 13th 2015 (Kindle) and June 19th 2015 (Paperback) – http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Book/12915/Abis-House

Pre-order links:

Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711175&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-2&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane
Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711343&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

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Many thanks for letting me pop by to chat about my latest novel Laura!

Happy reading,

Jenny.

It’s been a pleasure and good luck with the book. What a gorgeous cover.

Bio

Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance/medieval crime time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance  Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s third full length romance novel, Abi’s House, will be released in June 2015, and Another Glass of Champagne will be published in 2016.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Coming soon from Hushpuppy)

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee.