Peter James picks ‘I Let You Go‘ by Clare Mackintosh
‘I was sent this book as a proof by the publisher, knowing nothing about it. I read the first line – and kept on reading through the evening and night, unable to put it down. Halfway through it has one of the best twists I’ve ever read – one I am deeply envious of! When I finished and put it down, I thought to myself, “Wow – wish I had written that!”’
Peter James is an international best-selling crime thriller novelist. His novels, including the Sunday Times number one bestselling Roy Grace series, have been translated into thirty-six languages. He divides his time between his homes in Notting Hill, London, and near Brighton in Sussex. Peter’s latest novel ‘ The House on Cold Hill‘ is out now.
Stuart MacBride picks ‘Rumrunners‘ by Eric Beetner
‘My favourite book of 2015 has to be RUMRUNNERS by Eric Beetner, by far the most fun I’ve had reading a novel in a long time. Think The Dukes of Hazzard and Smokey and the Bandit go for a drink with Quentin Tarantino and you won’t be too far off. Fast, funny, furious, and above all: FUN.’
Stuart MacBride is the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae novels. His work has won several prizes and in 2015 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Dundee University. Stuart lives in the north-east of Scotland with his wife, Fiona, cat Grendel, and other assorted animals. His latest novel ‘ In The Cold Dark Ground‘ is available to order now!
Tracy Rees picks ‘The Chosen Queen‘ by Joanna Courtney
‘I loved this book because it’s the most vivid, heart-warming historical fiction I have read in a long time, bringing the period to life in a relatable and emotional way that has stayed with me long after I finished reading it.’
Tracy Rees was born in South Wales. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful career in non-fiction publishing. In 2014 Tracy’s debut novel ‘ Amy Snow‘ won the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller competition beating thousands of competition entries.
Robert Thorogood picks ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed‘ by Jon Ronson
‘Although I’ve read a lot of fiction this year, Jon Ronson’s unsettling (and often laugh-out loud funny) polemic against how we interact with social media is the book that’s resonated with me the most.’
Robert Thorogood is the creator and writer of the hit BBC One TV series, Death in Paradise, featuring on-screen favourite detective, DI Richard Poole. His latest book ‘ The Killing of Polly Carter’ is out now!
Charlie Higson picks ‘Dynasty‘ by Tom Holland
‘The book I’ve enjoyed most this year is Dynasty by Tom Holland, his follow-up to the brilliant Rubicon, about the end of the Roman Republic. Dynasty tells the story of the appalling and appallingly fascinating reign of the Caesars – a real life Game of Thrones. Tom’s a historian who writes like a novelist and his obvious love of his subject punches through in every line. He accepts that a lot of the stories about the Caesars could have been malicious gossip, but he relishes retelling them anyway.’
Peter Swanson picks ‘Dark Corners‘ by Ruth Rendell
‘A bittersweet choice, since she is no longer with us, but reading the new Rendell each year has been a joy of my reading life, and her last book doesn’t disappoint.’
Peter Swanson’s debut novel, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, was described by Dennis Lehane as ‘a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride’ and in the Observer as ‘very hard not to read in one sitting’. His second novel ‘ The Kind Worth Killing‘ was selected for the Richard and Judy Autumn Book Club 2015. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Kate Morton picks ‘Rising Ground‘ by Philip Marsden
‘A glorious book about Cornwall, weaving together history, mystery, myth and memory in a beautifully written meditation on why some places exert such a strong pull on us. My favourite read all year, and one I gave as a gift as often as I could.’
Kate Morton grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and lives with her husband and young sons in Brisbane. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, specializing in 19th century tragedy and contemporary gothic novels. Kate has sold over 9 million copies of her novels in 26 languages, across 38 countries. The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours and The Secret Keeper have all been number one bestsellers around the world. Her latest book ‘ The Lake House‘ is out now.
Laura Barnett picks ‘Our Souls at Night‘ by Kent Haruf
‘Our Souls At Night is a slim volume – just 179 pages long – and, like all of Haruf’s work, set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. I only discovered Haruf’s writing this year, and have raced through every book of his I could get my hands on; he wrote so beautifully about the joy, sadness and extraordinary beauty contained within apparently ordinary lives. The book is about two neighbours, both lonely and widowed, who, late in life, find unexpected solace in each other. It’s as close as a novel could get to perfect: spare, lean, sensitive, without a single word out of place; and, by the end, almost unbearably sad. On finishing it, I sat in tears for quite a while, not wanting to let the characters go.’
Cressida Cowell picks ‘Charlie and Lola: One Thing‘ by Lauren Child
‘Charlie and Lola: One Thing, by Lauren Child – A brilliant, brand new Charlie and Lola picture book about how children experience numbers. Any parent who’s ever said ‘two more minutes!’ will relate to how often numbers are part of the negotiation in family life.’
Cressida Cowell grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. She was convinced that there were dragons living on this island, and has been fascinated by dragons ever since. Cressida’s latest book ‘How to Fight a Dragon’s Fury‘ the last book in the ‘How to Train Your Dragon‘ series, is out now! Cressida lives in Hammersmith with her husband and three children.
Lucy Diamond picks ‘A God In Ruins‘ by Kate Atkinson
‘A companion novel to Life After Life, A God In Ruins is every bit as masterful. Beautifully written, this is a compelling, innovative and deeply poignant novel, with an ending so devastating I was left reeling.’
Lucy Diamond lives in Bath with her husband and their three children. Her novels include: Summer at Shell Cottage, The Year of Taking Chances and The Beach Cafe. Lucy Diamond is a nom de plume, she also writes children’s books using her real name Sue Mongredien. The latest Lucy diamond novel ‘ The Secrets of Happiness‘ is available to order now!
William Boyd picks ‘John Le Carré: The Biography‘ by Adam Sisman
‘Massive, authoritative, incredibly revealing and a must-read for all fans of the master spy-novelist.’
William Boyd is highly regarded in literary circles as a novelist and screenwriter. Since his first novel ‘ A Good Man in Africa‘ was published in 1981, Boyd has received continual praise and admiration from critics for his books that often explore historical events of the twentieth century in various locations across the globe. Demonstrating an effortless talent for gripping his readers, Boyd’s fascinating characters and vivid stories add colour and excitement to novels that are both informative and thought-provoking. William Boyd’s ‘Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay‘ is available now.
Simon Toyne picks ‘Born Survivors‘ by Wendy Holden
‘Best book of the year for me was Born Survivors by Wendy Holden. It tells the true story of three women who each gave birth in Nazi concentration camps and somehow managed to protect both their babies and themselves from death. It’s shocking, touching, incredible and very human. The juxtaposition of something as good and natural as bringing a new life into the world played out against the evil and unnatural backdrop of the Nazi genocide machine is extraordinary. At its heart it’s a book about life and survival, and how powerful and unstoppable both those forces are – and that, ultimately, (despite the harrowing nature of the story) is why I found it so unbelievably uplifting.’
Simon Toyne is the bestselling author of the Sanctus trilogy: Sanctus, The Key and The Tower. Solomon Creed is the first in a new series of epic thrillers that will centre around the enigmatic title character.
Shelley Harris picks ‘How to be Both‘ by Ali Smith
‘It’s rare that a book so experimental is also so utterly gripping – Ali Smith pulls off both in style here. I adored it.’
Shelley Harris was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1967, to a South African mother and a British father. She has worked, among other things, as a teacher, a reporter, a mystery shopper and a bouncer at a teen disco. For a few years, she combined writing with volunteering at her local Oxfam bookshop, helping customers find just the right book. Her first novel, Jubilee, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, a Top 10 bestseller and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize. The latest book by Shelley Harris ‘Vigilante‘ is available to order now.
Sarah Hilary picks ‘The Darkest Secret‘ by Alex Marwood
‘One of the advantages of being a crime writer is getting to read the Next Big Thing before anyone else. My book of 2015 – which will be everyone else’s book of 2016 – is The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood (published on 7 January). An absolutely heart-stopping thriller about the truth behind the disappearance of a little girl on a family holiday, this will have you turning pages like there’s no tomorrow.’
Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut novel ‘ Someone Else’s Skin‘ won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015. It was the Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”), a Richard and Judy Book Club bestseller, and has been published worldwide. ‘ No Other Darkness’ is the brilliant follow-up to her outstanding debut.
Emma Hannigan picks ‘The Way We Were‘ by Sinead Moriarty
‘I loved the concept of the book and always enjoy Sinead’s wit and turn of phrase.’
Emma Hannigan bestselling novels include The Secrets We Share, Driving Home for Christmas and the bestselling memoir Talk to the Headscarf which charted her journey through cancer. Emma lives in Co. Wicklow, Ireland, with her husband, two children and a dog. Emma Hannigan’s latest book The Heart of Winter, is out now!
Laura Lippman picks ‘Fortune Smiles‘ by Adam Johnson
‘I was a judge for the National Book Award in fiction, so that was my reading for 2015. And while all five finalists were worthy, wonderful books, the winner, FORTUNE SMILES by Adam Johnson, is my top pick. An amazing collection of short stories, at once serious and playful. In particular, the story “Dark Meadow” is not to be missed.’
Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. Since the publication of What the Dead Know, each of her hardcovers has hit the New York Times bestseller list. A recent recipient of the first-ever Mayor’s Prize, she lives in Baltimore, New Orleans and New York City with her family. Laura’s latest novel ‘ Hush Hush‘ is out now.
Kate Mosse picks ‘The Blue Touch Paper‘ by David Hare
‘In a year where I was mostly writing and promoting, I (unusually) read more non-fiction than novels: top of my list is David Hare’s memoir The Blue Touch Paper – searingly honest, funny and brainy, it lays bare the way in which writers learn their trade. Essential reading for anyone who loves film and theatre.’
Kate Mosse is an international bestselling author with sales of more than five million copies in 42 languages. Her fiction includes the novels Labyrinth (2005), Sepulchre (2007), Citadel (2012), and The Taxidermist’s Daughter (2014). Kate is the Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously the Orange Prize) and in June 2013, was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to literature.
Victoria Hislop picks ‘A Spool of Blue Thread‘ by Anne Tyler
‘This was one of my favourite books of the year – beautiful, subtle writing and so very “real”. Every note rings true. .’
Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26 part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, and in The Return she wrote about the painful secrets of its civil war. In her third novel, The Thread, Victoria returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki and its people across the 20th century. Victoria’s latest book ‘ The Sunrise‘ is out now.
Doug Johnstone picks ‘Our Souls at Night‘ by Kent Haruf
‘My book of the year was Our Souls At Night (Picador) by Kent Haruf. It’s a beautiful story set in small town America about two elderly people who find a chance of love late in life against the odds. Understated but incredibly powerful storytelling.’
Doug Johnstone’s acclaimed novels include Smokeheads, Gone Again and The Dead Beat, described by The Skinny as ‘superior crime fiction’. He is also a freelance journalist, a songwriter and musician, and has a PhD in nuclear physics. He lives in Edinburgh. Doug’s latest book ‘ The Jump‘ is out now!
Veronica Henry picks ‘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 has worked as a scriptwriter for The Archers, Heartbeat and Holby City amongst many others, before turning to fiction. She won the 2014 RNA Novel of the Year award for A Night on the Orient Express. Veronica’s latest novel ‘ High Tide‘ is out now.
Kate Williams picks ‘Master of Shadows‘ by Neil Oliver
‘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.’
Kate Williams is an author, social historian and broadcaster. The Storms of War, her first novel in the De Witt trilogy, was widely acclaimed, reviewed as ‘spellbinding, gripping and beautiful’. She has a DPhil from Oxford and is the author of the novel The Pleasures of Men and four historical biographies. She is Professor of Public History at the University of Reading. Kate lives in London. Kate Williams’ ‘ The Edge of the Fall‘ is out now.
Liz Fenwick picks ‘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 Grew up in Boston. Liz discovered early on that her best friends could be books. While waiting on a place for her master’s, she moved to London to see if life looked different from the other side of the Atlantic. It did and she soon fell in love with an Englishman. Now happily married with three children, she spends as much time as possible at her home in Cornwall. Liz Fenwick’s latest novel ‘Under A Cornish Sky‘ is out now.
Helen FitzGerald picks ‘The Dark Net‘ by Jamie Bartlett
‘Accessible, entertaining and brilliantly written, The Dark Net explores the negatives and the positives of the digital underbelly, and is a must-must-must read.’
Helen FitzGerald’s bestselling novels include Dead Lovely (2007), My Last Confession (2009), The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, and The Exit (2015). Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She is one of thirteen children and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children. Helen FitzGerald’s latest novel ‘Viral‘ is available to order now.
Jessica Cornwell picks ‘The Story of the Lost Child‘ by Elena Ferrante
‘Elena Ferrante’s THE STORY OF THE LOST CHILD (Book IV of the Neapolitan quartet) set my world ablaze in 2015. The breathtaking conclusion of Lila and Lenù’s powerful friendship in post war Naples spectacularly delivered on its promise, and kept me reading late into the night.’
Jessica Cornwell was born in 1986. She studied English at Stanford University and Drama at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, before training with the Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus. In 2010 she moved to London to work in film. She now divides her time between the city and her small home town in southern California. Jessica Cornwell is the author of ‘The Serpent Papers‘.
Celia Imrie picks ‘An Eagle in the Snow’ by Michael Morpurgo
‘A riveting story of a chance encounter that could have changed history. A heart-stopping revelation, superbly told.’
Celia Imrie is an Olivier award-winning actress best known for her parts in the films Calendar Girls and Nanny McPhee. In February 2015 she returns as Madge in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Her roles on stage include Dotty in Noises Off and Mrs Tilehouse in The Sea, and, on television, Diana in After You’ve Gone, Vera in A Dark Adapted Eye and Miss Babs in Acorn Antiques. Last year she brought her cabaret/revue show Laughing Matters to Crazy Coqs and then to the St James Theatre. Her autobiography, The Happy Hoofer, was published in 2011. Celia’s novel ‘Not Quite Nice‘ is available to order now.
Emylia Hall picks ‘Late Fragments‘ by Kate Gross
‘The most affecting book I read in 2015 was Late Fragments by Kate Gross. It’s so full of love and wisdom. It’s also beautifully written, heartbreakingly sad, and awe-inspiringly brave. I know I’ll return to it again and again, crying and smiling every time.’
Emylia Hall was born in 1978 and grew up in the Devon countryside. After studying English & Related Literature at the universities of York and Lausanne, she spent five years working in a London ad agency, before moving to the French Alps. It was there that she began to write. Emylia now lives in Bristol with her husband, the comic-book writer and children’s author, Robin Etherington. She is the author of The Book of Summers, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick in 2012, A Heart Bent Out of Shape and The Sea Between Us.
Lindsey Kelk picks ‘Fates and Furies‘ by Lauren Groff
‘My favourite book of 2015 was Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies (although I’m sure lots of people will pick this one!). I was given it by a friend and devoured it in two days. I felt as though I could have gone on reading it forever.’
Lindsey Kelk was a children’s book editor before writing her first novel, I Heart New York, which has been sold to over 20 territories. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Los Angeles and writes full-time. She is a prolific tweeter with an army of dedicated followers on social media and a keen blog following. Lindsey’s latest novel ‘A Girl’s Best Friend‘ is out now.
S. K. Tremayne picks ‘I Let You Go‘ by Clare Mackintosh
‘My favourite book of the year was Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go: which combined vivid storytelling with persuasive characters and a schemingly intelligent narrative – and one prize-winning plot-twist smack bang in the middle. Plus it’s an affectingly tender love story.’
S. K. Tremayne is a bestselling novelist and award-winning travel writer, and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around the world. His novel ‘The Ice Twins‘ was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Born in Devon, the author now lives in London. S. K. Tremayne has two daughters.
Cate Woods picks ‘Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China‘ by Fuchsia Dunlop
‘An intoxicating blend of memoir, travelogue and recipe book, Fuchsia Dunlop’s account of eating her way around China is as fascinating as it is entertaining – although at times a strong stomach is needed. Boiled sheep’s lungs with stuffed intestines, anyone . . . ?’
Cate Woods started her career in television, working on a number of programmes including The Big Breakfast, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, French & Saunders and The Sunday Programme. She held staff positions as a writer and editor on publications including the Saturday Express, New magazine and Closer. Cate left the magazine world in 2009 to pursue a full-time career in ghost-writing. Cate’s novel ‘Just Havent Met You Yet‘ is available to order now.
Peter May picks ‘Windigo Island’ by William Kent Krueger
‘Probably, the book I’ve most enjoyed this year is by an author called William Kent Krueger. What he normally writes is a series about a half Irish half Indian American sheriff called Cork O’Connor. He’s written a ton of books, the series goes back 10 or 12 years. And they have sold hugely in America and I don’t think he’s really known in the UK at all which is a great shame because he’s a really good writer.’
Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an award-winning journalist at the age of 21 and a published novelist at 26. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series, he quit journalism and became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists before deciding to return to his first love, writing novels. Peter’s latest novel ‘The Coffin Road‘ is available to order now.
Sophy Henn picks ‘A Book for Her‘ by Bridget Christie
‘It’s rare I purchase a hardback (they hurt when they drop on my face when I fall asleep reading!), but I was so desperate to read Bridget Christie’s A Book For Her, I braved it. I was well rewarded. Part memoir, part rant, Christie brilliantly and hilariously points out the utter absurdity and nonsensical cruelty of sexism, it left me smiling but furious.’
Sophy Henn lives and works in Sussex, England. She studied Fashion at Central Saint Martins, accidentally had a London based career as an Art Director in advertising, then complete an MA at University of Brighton in Illustration. Now she writes and illustrates children’s books in her studio, with a large cup of tea by her side. She is also the World Book Day Illustrator for 2015. Her most recent book is Pom Pom The Champion.
Abie Longstaff picks ‘All the Light We Cannot See‘ by Anthony Doerr
‘My favourite book of the year has to be ‘All the Light we Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr. It’s a tale set in the Second World War, told from two points of view – those of a blind French girl and a young German soldier. The book is so beautiful and has such a magical, engaging quality to it. I found it utterly absorbing.’
Abie Longstaff began her career as a barrister. She started writing when her children were born. Abie lives in North London with her family and a very pesky cocker spaniel who chews the post. Abie’s latest book The Magic Potions Shop: the River Horse is out now.
Joseph Delaney picks ‘Stone Rider‘ by David Hofmeyr
‘A fast-paced, page-turner, an inventive blending of genres, with gun-slingers riding semi-sentient motor bikes, the plot has a sharp edge of uncertainty that left me wanting more. Any book that features a heroine called ‘Sadie Blood’ deserves to be read! ’
Joseph Delaney is a retired English teacher. His home is in the middle of Boggart territory and his village has a boggart called the Hall Knocker, which was laid to rest under the step of a house near the church. Most of the places in the Spook’s books are based on real places in Lancashire. And the inspiration behind the stories often comes from local ghost stories and legends. Joseph’s latest book Arena 13 is available to order now.