Some of our favourite authors, including Liz Fenwick, Kate Williams and Jodi Ellen Malpas, share the best fiction and non-fiction books they’ve discovered over the last twelve months.
Veronica Henry recommends A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry
‘I love Diana’s inspirational cooking (and not just because we share a name) – she knows her stuff and more importantly knows how to impart culinary wisdom and make it achievable. We eat a lot of chicken and sometimes I’m totally stuck for something different to do. This wonderful book throws new light on the bird and forced me to make a bit more effort. Chicken , caramelised onion and pear tagine? Buttermilk chicken with chipotle slaw? The perfect present for poultry-philes!’
Veronica Henry’s High Tide is out now in paperback, ebook and audio. Read an extract here.
Eva Holland recommends Her by Harriet Lane
‘I read Her at the very beginning of 2015 but I am still thinking about it today. Harriet Lane’s tense story of the toxic friendship between two women crackles with menace and the writing is spellbinding. I love stories that explore the dark possibilities that lurk within everyday life and this is one of the very best’
Eva Holland’s The Daughter’s Secret is out now in trade paperback, ebook and audio. Read an extract here.
Ella Griffin recommends Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn gave me an appetite for psychological thrillers. It’s still my favourite in the genre followed closely by this year’s find – Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. It’s beautifully written and, like Gone Girl it has the most delicious twist!
But I’m still a die hard womens’ fiction fan! And, if Santa Claus is reading this, I’d like to be curling up by the fire this Christmas with Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett.
Ella Griffin’s The Flower Arrangement is out now in trade paperback and ebook. Read an extract here.
Kate Williams recommends Master of Shadows by Neil Oliver and House of Dreams by Fanny Blake
Neil’s debut is a fascinating exploration of fifteenth century Europe – and the Fall of Constantinople. He has a superb hero in John Grant – brave and engaging – and the Byzantine Court is wonderfully created. Oliver gives us a roller coaster ride with John across Europe full of daring adventure and touchingly drawn emotion.
Fanny Blake’s new book is gripping stuff that goes deep into the human heart. Grown up siblings, Jo, Tom and Lucy meet up in Spain after their mother’s death. They aim to remember her and scatter her ashes – but long hidden family secrets surface. Beautifully written and very moving – you can’t put it down.
Kate Williams’ The Edge of the Fall is out now in hardback, ebook and audio. Read an extract here.
Liz Fenwick recommends Not Forgetting The Whale by John Ironmonger
‘It captures the magic of Cornwall that I’ve been lucky enough only to experience for a few brief moments. It touches reality and the mythical yet speaks to the heart. Absolutely brilliant’
Liz Fenwick’s Under A Cornish Sky is out now in trade paperback, eBook and audio. Read an extract here.
Jodi Ellen Malpas recommends Betrayal by Aleatha Romig
‘I didn’t read nearly enough books in 2015, but the ones I did read were excellent. The one book that sticks out most in my mind is the first in the Infidelity series by Aleatha Romig, called Betrayal. It was enthralling and brilliant, and had me in a permanent state of anticipation. Aleatha is a sell-published author who writes dark, gritty romantic suspense. She’s an amazing writer, and I would urge everyone to check out her stories’
Jodi Ellen Malpas’ This Man and One Night trilogies are out now in paperback, ebook and audio. The Protector is coming September 2016.
Fanny Blake recommends The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
The book that left an indelible impression on me this year is The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink whose younger brother Matty was knocked down by a hit-and-run driver and left in a persistent vegetative state. This is the story of how Cathy and her parents came to terms with the accident and its devastating aftermath. It’s a brave, honest and heart-rending memoir that takes the reader into the reaches of profound grief but is shot through with extraordinary warmth and humour: a loving and uplifting tribute from a sister to a brother. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Fanny Blake’s House of Dreams is out now in trade paperback, ebook and audio. Read an extract now.
Katherine Webb recommends A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
‘My favourite book this year has been A God in Ruins, by Kate Atkinson. It’s predecessor, Life After Life, is one of my favourite books of all time, and the follow up did not disappoint. Kate Atkinson can do no wrong, in my opinion! Her characters are so well drawn you feel you know them, and that gives her books tremendous emotional heft. Unlike some more literary authors, she isn’t afraid of plot – however beautiful her prose, and whatever else a book of hers might deal with, they all tell gripping, addictive stories. I can’t wait for her next novel’
Katherine Webb’s The Night Falling is out in paperback, eBook and audio now. Read an extract here.
Shelley Harris recommends How To be Both by Ali Smith
Fiendishly clever and utterly engaging all at once. Its characters – one a contemporary teenager, the other a Renaissance painter – live intertwining lives, each half of the novel being taken up with one character’s story. The two halves can be read in any order, bringing subtle changes to the novel (and indeed your copy of the book may present either character first.) ‘Dazzling’ is an overused word, but here it’s entirely deserved.
Shelley Harris’ Vigilante is out now in hardback, ebook and audio. Read an extract here.
Kate Lord Brown recommends The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron
‘This posthumous collection of Ephron’s journalism, plays, scripts and fiction contains extracts from her greatest hits like Heartburn and When Harry Met Sally, and favourite recipes. Ephron explores what it means to be a woman in the twenty-first century with an amazing eye for detail. Nobody does unforgettable dialogue or snappy aphorisms better: “When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” As Ephron said: “Reading makes me feel I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. … Reading is bliss” – and so is this wry, bittersweet and generous collection’
Kate Lord Brown’s The Christmas We Met is out now in paperback and ebook. Read an extract here.
Nicky Pelligrino recommends A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
‘A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler is the book I’ve loved most this year. It’s the story of an ordinary American family. Except of course no family is entirely ordinary. All have their secrets, tensions, dreams and dramas. To know them you have to be right inside that family to see and hear it all. And that’s where we are taken in this gently unfolding tale about four generations who live in an old house in Baltimore’
Nicky Pelligrino’s One Summer in Venice is out now in paperback, eBook and audio. Read an extract here.
Maggie Mitchell recommends A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
I didn’t know whether Kate Atkinson could match Life After Life, but she’s done it again with the brilliant A God in Ruins. Her experiments in form are as serious as they are playful–no one is doing more interesting work. Every page sparkles with intelligence and invention and humanity.
Maggie Mitchell’s Pretty Is is out now in trade paperback, ebook and audio. Read an extract here.
Jo Bloom recommends A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
‘The most immersive, moving book I’ve read in a long time. Brutal, dramatic, compelling and a complete heartbreaker!’
Jo Bloom’s Ridley Road is out now in paperback, ebook and audio. Read an extract here.
Rachael English recommends A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
‘A new book by Anne Tyler is always a cause for celebration, and A Spool of Blue Thread didn’t disappoint. Like most of her books, it’s about a family, in this case the Whitshanks. There are no pyrotechnics or outrageous twists, but the writing is so beautiful and the characters so engaging that it quickly becomes an addictive read’