My Top Reads of the Year #BookLove 2018

What a year it's been for book lovers! I've enjoyed so many fantastic books this year, which has been wonderful - until it came to picking my top reads for the year. After trying unsuccessfully for some time to narrow my list down to a sensible number, I eventually decided to write a post highlighting some of my favourite books by grouping them into categories. It's far from a perfect system as some titles could fit under more than one heading but if I'm going to share the 2018 book love before the end of 2019, it's going to have to do!

So without further ado, my first category is...

The Books That Made Me Cry
These are the novels that most moved me to tears in 2018 - and it turns out I've cried a lot! Click on the title to read my review of the book.

Turning For Home by Barney Norris
Home by Amanda Berriman
From A Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan
Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee
Grace After Henry by Eithne Shortall
The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain
The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas
Summer of Secrets by Nikola Scott
Attend by West Camel
Odette by Jessica Duchen

Historical Fiction
I love books that transport me to a different time and I was spoilt for choice this year; all of these novels perfectly evoked the period in which they're set.

Friends and Traitors by John Lawton
The Tin God by Chris Nickson
A Dead American in Paris by Seth Lynch
The Reading Party by Fenella Gentleman
No Ordinary Killing by Jeff Dawson
Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys
Sleeper: The Red Storm by J.D. Fennell
Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler
None So Blind by Alis Hawkins
My Sister, Myself by Jill Treseder

Books for Children and Young Adults
It's such a pleasure to read the wonderfully imaginative fiction that's aimed at younger readers and I've really enjoyed sharing some of these books with my youngest daughter this year.

The Mirror of Pharos by J.S. Landor
We Other by Sue Bentley
Time School by Nikki Young
#galaxygirl by Bev Smith

Thought-Provoking Books
All books have the power to make readers think but the following explore themes which I found to be particularly thought-provoking this year.

Karma Farmers by Pierre Hollins
The Light Between Us by Katie Khan
What Was Lost by Jean Levy
Nevertheless She Persisted by Jon Walter
The Word For Freedom  - an anthology by various authors
Bone Lines by Stephanie Bretherton
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Chilling Reads
I do enjoy a read that sends chills down my spine and each of these authors managed to just that with these thoroughly enjoyable books which teased, tantalised and terrified me as they hinted of things perhaps not quite of this world...

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski
The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke
And No Birds Shall Sing by E.A. Clark
The Night Visitor by Patrick RedmondThe Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday

Multiple Books By The Same Author
Some writers have published more than one brilliant book this year, often as part of a series. Each of these have each cemented their place among my must-read authors.

Keep Her Safe, Never Say Goodbye (Tom Fabian #1) and The Songbird Girls (Tom Fabian #2) by Richard Parker

The Scent of Guilt (DI Bliss #2), If Fear Wins (DI Bliss #3) and Cold Winter Sun (Mike Lynch #2) by Tony J. Forder

Dark Lies (Detective Rhodes and Radley #1) and The Goodnight Song #Detective Rhodes and Radley #2) by Nick Hollin

A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1), A Flicker of  Steel (The Avalon Chronicles #2) and A Thunder of War (The Avalon Chronicles #3) by Steve McHugh

A House Divided (Division Bell trilogy #1), Divide and Rule (Division Bell trilogy #2) and Divided We Stand (Division Bell trilogy #3) by Rachel McLean

Juliet & Romeo and The Savage Shore (Nic Costa #10) by David Hewson

Crime and Thrillers
This is probably my favourite genre and so definitely the hardest to narrow down to a shortlist (I'm aware my shortlist isn't actually short!!) Each one of these books has seriously impressed me this year and are wonderful examples of why crime fiction is just so compelling.

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb
Blue Night by Simone Buchholz
The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton
The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson
The Key to Death's Door by Mark Tilbury

Keeper by Johnana Gustawsson
The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl
Dying to See You by Kerena Swan
The Old You by Louise Voss
Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Dancing on the Grave by Zoe Sharp
Dead of Night by Michael Stanley
Blood Ribbon by Roger Bray
The Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss
Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner

The River Runs Red by Ally Rose
The Lonely Witness by William Boyle
No Time To Cry by James Oswald
Her Last Move by John Marrs
Too Far by Jason Starr

 And now finally for my top reads of the year. These books were all coincidentally published by Orenda Books whose consistency in releasing outstanding and original fiction continues to astonish me. In order of publication only then, my favourite novels of 2018 were...

There are so many different strands to the story but as the puzzle pieces fall into place, what is created is a truly superlative novel - Killed is the outstanding swansong of a series that showcases the very best of Scandinavian crime fiction. The complexity of plot of the overarching series and Henning's investigation in this novel with its large yet distinct cast of characters, shocks and red herrings, and the tense sense of foreboding meant I couldn't tear my eyes away from the page. 

The compelling action in Absolution is complemented by writing of the absolutely highest calibre throughout. Paul E. Hardisty has created an unforgettable story which touched me deeply and though I finished the book with the tears pouring down my face, I was left feeling inordinately satisfied and privileged to have read this wonderful conclusion and indeed the whole magnificent series.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a story about love in all its forms; passionate desire, tender care, unrequited feelings, family bonds and supportive friendships. It is wise, insightful, funny and heartbreaking. It's about knowing that even when it's time to let go, love doesn't leave. This is an exquisitely real, sensitive and beautiful book that I feel immensely privileged to have read.

Michael J. Malone is an author who seems to be able to get to the heart of the most complicated, damaged people and does so in a way that means their lives aren't sanitised but neither are they dehumanised. Some of the characters in After He Died live on the edges of society, they are the sort of people that others hurry past but here they are written about with honesty and compassion. One of my brothers was a drug addict who eventually died by suicide and this meant I felt a particular affinity with Cara. The people she comes into contact with through her role as an advocacy worker may be dismissed as no-hopers but Michael J. Malone ensures that their strong sense of community is also portrayed here.

It's probably a slightly annoying novel to read in company judging by my family's response every time I interrupted their activities by laughing loudly several times, including at the lyrics of Chico's magnum opus, Beach Princess and at an unfortunate young man's problems with his joystick... It is, however, the book to read for anybody seeking something a bit different from their usual choices, particularly those who love crime novels but can't help feeling they're often reading variations on a theme. This is the only book I've read twice this year and I loved it just as much second time around; it is a uniquely irreverent, very cleverly crafted story which kept me guessing throughout as to the eventual outcome and left me smiling long after I finished it.

Good Samaritans is uncompromising -  the violence is graphic, the sex is explicit and there are some raw subjects covered here, not just the murders (horrific as they are to contemplate), mental illness and suicide are also referenced and for various reasons this won't be a book for everyone. However, I loved it and can only heap praise on Will Carver for the risks he has taken writing this astonishing novel -  Good Samaritans is daringly original and exceptional storytelling.

All that remains now is for me to thank all the authors and publishers whose books I've featured in 2018, without your words to inspire me, Hair Past A Freckle wouldn't exist. A big thank you too, to my fellow bloggers, your support and friendship means so much to me.  Finally, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read, comment and share my posts, I truly appreciate it.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year and look forward to sharing more book love with you in 2019!


  1. We have a few mutual reads but all in all I've added 15 from your list to my Amazon wishlist.

    1. I love hearing when people decide to read books based on my recommendations - thanks so much for letting me know! Happy New Year to you!


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