Top Ten Reads 2016

Here are my top ten books of the past year, chosen from those I gave 5 stars on Goodreads:


1. Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent




2. I See You by Clare Mackintosh




3. The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe




4. Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton




5. When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen




6. Love You Dead by Peter James




7. Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinéad Crowley




8. Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary




9. Made To Be Broken by Rebecca Bradley




10. Dancers In The Wind by Anne Coates




TBR Book Tag

I saw this tag over at Book Boodle and decided to tag myself.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

I put any book I like the look of on my “Want to read” shelf on Goodreads. It also goes on my wish-list shelf until I’ve got my hands on a copy (paper or e-book). 

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

About 70% e-books on my Kindle Paperwhite, which I love. We’re short of book shelves so mine are filled with my signed (and already read) books. TBR print books are piled up precariously in a cupboard over my bed 😳


How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

A while ago (when I had far too much time on my hands) I organised my TBR into the order I intend to read them, and I keep this list up to date on my blog (though I haven’t dared publish it).

ARCs jump the queue and are read in order of publication date.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest?

In 2013 I won a huge box full of books in a competition run by Theakstons Crime Festival. I’m embarrassed to say that some are still unread (but I’m not naming names!)


A book you recently added to your TBR?

My most recent addition is My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry which I requested from Netgalley because it sounds like exactly my kind of book.

A book that’s strictly on your TBR because of the cover? 

I love a nice cover but I can honestly say I’ve never chosen a book strictly for its cover.

A book on your TBR that you never planned on reading…

My TBR is 90+% crime/psychological thrillers but I have one or two lighter reads sitting in my Kindle in case I ever fancy a change. One of these is Secrets and Rain by Cally Taylor.

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you…

At the moment everyone’s talking about In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings but I have about 10 ARCs to read before I can get to it.

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you…

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. I bought the paperback ages ago but it keeps being pushed back in the queue.

A book on your TBR you are dying to read…

All of them! But at the moment I’m most looking forward to Tastes Like Fear by Sarah Hilary.

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR?

Thanks to my obsessive TBR tracking this one’s easy! My TBR had 110 books but 27 are still on my wish-list so I actually have 83.

If you fancy completing this tag yourself, please leave a link in the comments below!

What’s in a name?

Or should that be what’s in a proper noun?

A little background: Eight weeks ago our gorgeous grandson Oliver was born. My dilemma? What will he call me?

I wanted to be Nanna. I called my mother’s mother Nanna and my daughter calls my mum Nanna. However, my mum doesn’t like the idea of Great-Nanna and two nannas would be confusing.

Ollie’s other grandmother is Grandma so even if I liked it there’d be confusion again. And living in Blackburn, Lancashire Grandma is pronounced Granmer (yuck).

My daughter and I came up with Nanma which we thought we’d invented until I saw the picture of a mug online.

So here’s what I’ve decided. Ollie’s not bothered whether I’m Nanna, Grandma (Granmer) or Nanma as long as I bring him a bottle/nappy change/cuddle when he wants one when I babysit. I’ll answer to pretty much anything until he decides what to call me when he’s older.

Any funny or original grandmother names to add to my list for him to choose from?


BritCrime Giveaway

To celebrate the launch of BritCrime’s first free online crime fiction festival, 11-13 July, I have teamed up with BritCrime authors to give away one fabulous prize.

You could win a gift bundle of ten print books, including new releases by Colette McBeth and Sarah Hilary, and MJ McGrath’s Gold Dagger longlisted White Heat. This giveaway is open internationally. One lucky winner will win all ten books.

Please complete the entries in the Rafflecopter before midnight 10th July for a chance to win.

To learn more about the BritCrime festival, please visit the website here and sign up to the newsletter. There will be giveaways and live Q&As with bestselling British crime fiction authors hosted on BritCrime’s Facebook page 11 & 12 July.

The Magpies + What You Wish For by Mark Edwards

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

The Life I Left Behind + Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

White Heat by M J McGrath

Beyond the Rage by Michael J Malone

Follow the Leader + Watching Over You by Mel Sherratt

The Harbour Master by Daniel Pembrey

Good luck!

Click the link below to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Carlisle Crime Writing Weekend

Full details of the crime weekend including the programme & authors who attended can be found here

I only attended two events on the Sunday:

Fact versus Fiction

featuring Mari Hannah, John Dean, David Mark & Matt Hilton

Apologies for the terrible photography.

This was an entertaining and interesting panel where the discussion ranged from how authors choose characters’ names to the process of taking a book to TV.

I was very happy to meet Mari Hannah afterwards and have a couple of books signed:


My second event was “In Conversation” featuring Paula Daly & Rhian Davies.

Paula is the author of two of my favourite books of the last couple of years (Just What Kind Of Mother Are You & Keep Your Friends Close) and it was fascinating listening to her being interviewed by Rhian.

I took the chance to get some more books signed: 

The venue, The Old Fire Station. Was excellent and very well organised, with the opportunity to buy books by all the  participating authors.

We stayed at The Crown and Mitre hotel the night before, just a short walk from the venue, and I would recommend this hotel to anyone visiting Carlisle.

I now wish I’d ‘done’ the whole weekend and will certainly look out for news of next year’s event. 

Peter James Q & A

To mark the paperback publication of A Twist of the Knife, Peter James’ collection of short stories, I am delighted to present a short interview with the author:

Peter James author photo

1. As your readers will know, a great depth of research goes into each of your books. How did you apply this to a short story collection?
I find a lot of my research gives me nuggets that I cannot always use in a novel. But lend themselves to the medium of short stories. For instance both Gifts In The Night and Ghost Painting were both as result of true stories told to me by the Chief Exorcist Of The Church Of England (he exists!) of the two occasions in his 40 years experience where had encountered something for which he truly had no rational explanation.

2. With the Roy Grace series, do you have in mind what will happen to the recurring characters in future books, or do you plot the character development for each story as you come to it?
I do have character development for each of them planned out, but often once I start writing, spontaneity kicks in, and I change my mind!!! What I do love is at the start of each new Roy Grace book sitting down and having an imaginary chat with them all, in my head. “Hi Norman, how are you doing, who’ve you pissed off today???”

3. Do you have any plans for more standalone novels?
Very much so! I have my first full length ghost story novel in 20 year coming out on October 8th this year, THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL, which I’m hugely excited about. And later this year I’m starting work on a thriller I’ve been planning to write for a long time, on the theme of religion and what would happen if someone claimed to have absolute proof of God’s existence. This is inspired by a strange man who contacted me very many years ago, saying just this…

4. Can you tell us a little about how it feels seeing your books adapted as plays?
The adaptations of THE PERFECT MURDER and DEAD SIMPLE for the stage have been some of the happiest experiences of my career. I had three previous novels – Prophecy Host and Alchemist adapted for television and was deeply unhappy with them. But Sean McKenna did the most fantastic job, and they have both been huge hits. I’ve now seen Dead Simple over thirty times but never tire of it – and I love watching the audience reactions! Tina Hobley, who co-stars in DEAD SIMPLE, said to me during rehearsals, “You know, you must feel like God! We were all in your head, and now we are all standing in front of you!” I know what she meant. It is a very strange but very wonderful thing to see your creation come so alive.

5. What are the best 3 books you’ve read in the past 12 months?

I’m on a Patricia Highsmith binge at the moment – I’d never read her before – but I’ve been asked on a panel at Harrogate in July to discuss her work so I’m reading her avidly – and she is one the best discoveries ever. I loved, loved, loved THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY and the novel that became the HitcHock Film, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. I also read a first novel that totally blew me away and has a twist that makes me envious, because it is so brilliant! I LET YOU GO by Claire Mackintosh.

6. 3 books you’d take with you if you were being whisked away on a surprise holiday tomorrow?
I would take a Michael Connelly, as he is my personal favourite crime writer. A former court reporter, he gets things right. So I would take his most recent, THE BURNING ROOM, I would also take Vernon Geberth’s PRACTICAL HOMICIDE, the best reference book ever for crime writers, and great to dip in and out of for ideas. And thirdly I would take THE DIARIES OF SAMUEL PEPYS – a book I have for so long wanted to read but never had the time for.

Thank you, Peter, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer those questions.

A Twist of the Knife – available from Amazon and good book shops- read my review here.

Twist of the knife PBB

Paperback Summer

I’m signing up for #PaperbackSummer hosted by @sophiertb & @scintillatingsz during June, July & August.

I think I’ll probably have the lowest target (8) because I have so many Kindle & Netgalley books to read during these months but I enjoyed taking part in Paperback Month earlier this year so I’m in!

Here’s my #PaperbackSummer TBR pile:


My TBR pile has changed a bit since my original post. Book 1 is now In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware: 


April 24-hour Readathon

I’m taking part in another readathon (I love readathons!) This one is a 24 hour readathon that takes place twice a year. Check out for details.

 From 1pm Saturday 25 April, I’ll be doing as much reading as I can fit in to the next 24 hours. 

Having checked my TBR pile I expect to read some or all of:

  • Only The Brave by Mel Sherratt (already started)
  • An Unfamiliar Murder by Jane Isaac
  • The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah 

All these are on Kindle so I’ll need to make sure it’s charged up! I’ll post pictures once I start reading.

My Reading Bench

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day here so, slightly earlier in the year than usual, it was time to uncover the garden benches. This makes me very happy as I now have access to my favourite place to read:


My “reading bench” got lots of use last summer and I’m crossing my fingers that this year will be as good.

I often have some beautiful, if distracting, company:


Where’s your favourite place to escape with a good book? 


Just found these two badges on my Netgalley profile. I used to display the “Professional Reader” badge on the blog, along with lots of other badges & buttons, but removed them when I recently renamed the blog. Now I just display my Goodreads Challenge info. What do people think? The more badges the merrier or keep it simple?