My Goodreads goal for this year was to read 150 books, very achievable thanks to audiobooks, which allow me to knit or do chores while reading. And don’t come at me with “that’s cheating”. You read with your mind, not eyes or ears, which makes the format redundant.
I did OK… I’m listening to number 194 as I type this up. So, what were the highlights of my year? Most of these authors make a repeat appearance. These are the people who could write a shopping list, and I’d rush to read it. Or maybe wait a few years but still read it.
Binging Michael Connelly
I discovered Harry Bosch after listening to the first book for free on Audible. And I really enjoy this series! I remember my Grant reading them; a few pages every night before bed. I’m nine books in and still have a way to go.
Let’s go back to the start
OK, wait. Let me highlight my favourites from the year:
The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hunder-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson. I absolutely adore everything Jonas Jonasson writes. My favourite is The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden. His books are funny and smart, with delightful twists. I also read Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. Solid four stars. (Five are very rare.)
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes. I’ve had this book in my Audible library since it was published in 2020, but for some reason, I was reluctant to read it, despite being a huge Marian Keyes fan. I finally read it, and I don’t know why I waited so long. As always, she seamlessly weaves several characters’ lives together. I really enjoyed it and happily gave it four stars.
Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones. It’s the second book in the Indian Lake Trilogy and a thrilling sequel to My Heart is a Chainsaw. Another four-star page-turner.
How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix. This wasn’t my favourite of his (The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires and My Best Friend’s Exorcism are excellent). My first encounter with Grady was Horrorstör. It was so strange and compelling, I was hooked!
Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding and read by Rachel Weisz is a reread. I remember buying this on CD many years ago (two decades if I’m going on the publishing date!), and I loved it. Bridget Jones is still my feel-good movie when things feel bleak. I do wish she’d write more.
The Sandman: Act II and Act III by Neil Gaiman and Dirk Maggs. After watching the Netflix adaptation, I was so excited to read these two books. The actors – in the series and the books – are excellent! I can’t wait for the next season. Four stars, obviously.
The Night House by Jo Nesbø has more twists than a cheap garden hose, and I loved it! I like these stand-alone novels away from Harry Hole. While I still want to follow the detective’s journey, one detective named Harry at a time is enough. So, in the meantime, I can enjoy his writing through these other works.
Holly by Stephen King. If I had to choose only one author to read for the rest of my life, it’s Stephen King. Firestarter was the first of his books I read in Grade 7, and I was hooked. Holly made her debut in Mr Mercedes, and in this novel, Mr King craftily knits COVID-19 in as another character.
The Only One Left by Riley Sager. Riley is a crafty writer of smart thrillers that keep you guessing until the end. Nothing is what it seems, and the final reveal is so satisfying.
Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes. Me Before You was a book club read – back when I still belonged to a book club – followed by After You. However, after that, I was reluctant to read Still Me. I still haven’t read it. But I liked the idea of how shoes can change your life. I mean, it certainly did for Cinderella. I very much enjoyed it and happily gave it four stars.
The Secret Hours by Mick Herron. If you’re a fan of the Slow Horses (and if you’ve only watched the show, do yourself a huge favour and read the books), this is a glimpse into the history of Slough House you’ve been waiting for!
The Thursday Murder Club (all four books) by Richard Osman. Oh, what a delight these books were! I wish I could rediscover them all over again. If you like your crime with a giggle, these are the best things you could read. And even if you don’t like crime, just excellently crafted stories with colourful characters, read this!
I also tested out a few new authors, some with series and some I was simply enticed by the book title.
Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rubert Holmes. I mean, who hasn’t ever contemplated eliminating their boss at one time or another? This is one of my more recent reads, and giving it four stars was easy.
Tom Lake by Ann Pratchett. I think this is a three-star book that earned four stars thanks to Meryl Streep’s excellent narration. It’s one of the few novels I read that wasn’t a thriller.
Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto wasn’t quite a four-star read for me, but it was extremely entertaining. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna. I’m a sucker for a book about witches, thanks to the stories my grandfather told me as a child. This is such a wonderfully warm story about family and belonging.
The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey. There’s one thing that I really disliked about this book: Its cliffhanger ending! It’s fast-paced, bursting with all sorts of magic, and just when things were getting REALLY interesting, it ended! Please, can they hurry up with the next book already?
The Glass Hotel and Sea of Tranquilty by Emily St. John Mandel. These two books were very interesting, jumping between different times and points of view. I didn’t know that reading the books in that order was what made sense, so I’m glad I did it. She’s a supremely talented author.
The Blonde Identity by Ally Carter. Oh my word, this was a fun read! It’s one of those modern rom-coms I devoured when I was younger, and it was delicious to dive into it for some much-needed escapism.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland. I first saw the title on Netflix – I still haven’t watched it – and was keen to read the book first. It is a tragic and heart-warming story about family and finding your own path. It is so well-written. It is a must for anyone looking for their place in their own story.
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London. For everyone who doesn’t fit into one of society’s moulds, looking for love and acceptance, this four-star read is a balm.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I will definitely read more of Alex’s books. This suspense-filled thriller has such an unexpected ending that I was tempted to read it again to see what clues I missed.
I dedicated days to listening to Gone with the Wind. I can usually work through a book in a day or two, but if you knew the movie was so long it actually had an intermission, you’d understand. This is a long, long book. I enjoyed it, but this will definitely not be on a list to reread.
The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. This. Oh. Five stars. I don’t have words. And the fact that it’s narrated by the late Frank Muller made it all the more compelling. This one will very likely be reread.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry. Hearing Matthew’s struggles in his own words, his own voice, was an eye-opener. And only a few months after I finished reading it, Matthew tragically passed away at home. Whether you liked Friends or not, it’s an important read to be reminded that money and fame can be a burden as much as a blessing.
That’s about it for the highlights
There are five other books that I’ll give an honourable mention to. I’ve reviewed them in my motorsport newsletter, The Martha Myth.
- The Mechanic’s Tale: Life in the Pit-Lanes of Formula One by Steve Matchett
- Racing with Rich Energy: How a Rogue Sponsor Took Formula One for a Ride by Elizabeth Blackstock and Alanis King
- How To Be An F1 Driver: My Guide To Life In The Fast Lane and Life to the Limit: My Autobiography by Jenson Button
- Max Verstappen by James Gray