My Top 10 Books of 2016

Gosh, another year has passed, and is almost over with. I say this each and every year, but it's hard to believe how quickly the days seem to have flown by when the year reaches its end, isn't it? I, for one, feel more than ready to welcome 2017 with wide open arms no less. 2016 has been a bumpy one for sure, so I'm more than ready to start afresh with a renewed sense of determination.

Anyhow, this time of the year also brings with it a ton of bloggers' top reads lists. These are always exciting to read, and just as exciting for the authors who find themselves included, I'm sure. I always find it incredibly difficult to pin down my ultimate favourites but this year, it has felt almost impossible to narrow it down to only ten books, simply because so many fantastic novels have been published throughout 2016. This year, I also discovered a new-found love for crime/psychological thrillers that I never knew existed in me, and it's a genre I'm certain I'm only going to enjoy more and more of.

After much consideration, uhming and ahing, and fingernail-biting, I've finally done it. I've picked my top ten of 2016. It was tough. Really tough, but it's done at last. These books were the ones that I devoured whole, that kept me up way past midnight, that held me captive for hours on end, and that remained with me long after I turned the final page. These are the books that had my mind whirring, my vision blurry with tears, and my heart racing. Without further ado, here they are, folks! I hope you enjoy my top ten books of 2016 (in no particular order, of course!).

Summer at the Comfort Food Café
By Debbie Johnson
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review

What a dream this story was! The ultimate escape to Dorset has remained with me since I finished this book, and even now, looking at that cover, I'm reminded of how much I enjoyed my visit alongside Johnson's wonderfully real and down-to-earth characters who brought this story completely to life on the pages. The story of the Walker family and their antics captured my heart completely, and warmed me from the inside out. Couple that with the scrumptious food that was sprinkled liberally throughout this book like chocolate chips atop a cake, well, you really can't say no, can you? It was a gloriously warm, joyful and uplifting novel, focusing on family, love and friendship, three things that I adore reading about in books. As soon as you open the pages of this one, it's like you're blasted in the face with the warm summer sunshine. An absolute MUST-READ, whether rain or shine.

Undertow
By Elizabeth Heathcote
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review

Deliciously dark and chilling, Undertow by Elizabeth Heathcote was a novel that truly crawled beneath my skin and remained there right the way to the very end of this gripping story. Focusing on the character of Carmen, Heathcote unravels, in the most tantalising and unnerving of ways, a scary truth hidden behind a perfect surface. I could not put this book down, and I absolutely raced through the pages, desperate to see how it would all end. Heathcote pushes her characters to their very limits in this one, and it left me reeling as piece by piece, the reality of Carmen's life began to take shape. Unputdownable, with twists and turns aplenty. It has you questioning who you can trust, and if you ever really know the people closest to you at all. This book just had to be included in my top ten, no doubt about it.

I Found You
By Lisa Jewell
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review

I Found You by Lisa Jewell was actually the very first book that I read by this author. Shocking, isn't it? In all honesty though, I'm thrilled that it was, because I was absolutely captivated by the slightly bizarre yet totally believable tale that unfolded within. It was a wonderful surprise when I realised what predicament I'd been handed with the characters, and I was utterly spellbound as Jewell led me on such a powerful and moving journey. I cried when I finished because it was just so damn beautiful. It truly struck a chord with me, and even now, I still find my mind wandering back to the characters and their lives. A really special read that I'd certainly read again, just to feel the emotions it evoked. In fact, it's about time I dipped into another novel by Lisa Jewell. I was sold by this one completely.

Beneath the Surface
By Heidi Perks
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review

Gosh, I couldn't get enough of this novel once I'd got started. It was insanely gripping, telling the tale of Abigail Ryder and the mystery behind the disappearance of her mother Katheryn and her two sisters when she returns home from school one day. From there onwards, Heidi Perks takes readers on a twisting and teasing ride, slipping back and forth between the past and the present, making this novel all the more mysterious and addictive. I was kept guessing right the way through, delighting in each truth that came to the surface, delivered exceptionally by the author. I am highly anticipating the next novel from Heidi Perks. I can't even begin to imagine what she has in store for her readers next. I, for one, cannot wait for all to be revealed.

A Suitable Lie
By Michael J. Malone
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review

To say I was blown away by Malone's A Suitable Lie is an understatement. I couldn't turn the pages quick enough with this terrifyingly dark novel, and it truly struck a chord with me. It's a story capable of changing one's perspective, and really getting beneath your skin as you fall deeper beneath Malone's spell. The characters were fascinatingly complex, and it felt as if my hopes were raised and then dashed repeatedly while reading, rather like Andy Boyd's in the story itself. A Suitable Lie is one of those novels that remains inside of you long after you've turned the final page. It sticks in your mind and heart, and it's impossible to not be affected by the circumstances within while reading. I was in a different place entirely while reading this book, oblivious to the world surrounding me. Malone is a superbly talented writer, that much is true, and I wouldn't hesitate at all to read another novel by this author. The depth he reached with his characters' emotions was a depth I haven't reached in a novel for a very long time. Absolutely exceptional.

Another Love
By Amanda Prowse
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books Review

Amanda Prowse has quickly become a firm favourite author of mine, and that's saying something when, unlike a lot of her thousands of readers, I've actually only read about five of her novels. Prowse's books do something to me. They reach an emotional level within me that truly opens the tear-ducts and allow the feelings to flow. Prowse's Another Love is absolutely phenomenal, and moving in the most powerful of ways. It focuses on alcoholism, and the story of Romilly, David and Celeste, whose world is torn apart by the devastating consequences of this addiction. Prowse captures the emotion felt by each family member so perfectly, it's impossible not to feel as though you're there right beside the characters, living through the experience with them. Prowse's novels are always, without fail, so full of love, warmth and heart, yet still remain raw and real and tremendously heart-breaking. I finished reading Another Love by Amanda Prowse with tears streaming down my face and another character locked within my heart. It's a novel you don't finish and forget about, but rather finish and think of often, wondering how the characters are getting on. Sounds bizarre, I know, but that's how brilliant Prowse's novels are. Memorable, and moving, to say the least.

Between Me and You
By Lisa Hall
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review 

It was impossible not to see the incredible online presence Lisa Hall's debut with Carina UK picked up. Everywhere I turned, raving reviews could be found of what was said to be a novel with a startling twist that would knock your socks off completely. As always, with a towering to-read pile waiting for me, I didn't reach Between You and Me as quickly as I would have liked, but once I had, it was safe to say that the reviews I'd seen were absolutely spot-on. Between You and Me focuses on Sal and Charlie, and the darker side of their marriage that people are never actually witness. As this gripping novel progressed, it was clear to me what situation this couple were in, and I hoped and prayed that it wouldn't reach a point of no return. Hall then, just when I thought I knew what was coming, completely flipped this story on its head and I couldn't believe what was happening. To say I was shocked doesn't even begin to cover the emotions I felt when the twist reared its head. I couldn't believe how easily Hall had pulled the wool over my eyes. It was overwhelmingly tense, so much so at times I had to take a break from reading just to gather my thoughts and feelings. Having said that, Hall's second novel with Carina UK, Tell Me No Lies, was also FANTASTIC, so be sure to check that one out too if you get the chance. Hall is clearly an author on the rise, and I'm awaiting news of her third novel with baited breath.

The Couple Next Door
By Shari Lapena
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review 

I actually stated in my review of Shari Lapena's The Couple Next Door that I thought it was undoubtedly one of the best books I'd ever read. And it's true, I still think that to this very day. Saying I was 'gripped' by this novel doesn't do I felt while reading it any justice at all. In fact, the word gripping doesn't even come close. In all honesty, I was completely obsessed by this novel and the absolutely riveting twists and turns within the plot that took my breath away. I was lost to the story that unravelled, finding every interruption more frustrating than usual. I wanted to read and read and read, to see where Lapena's characters would end up. The tension was high in this one, and my questions and thoughts went round and round in my mind as I tried to figure out the truth. Would I be right or wrong? I won't tell you but I'd highly recommend you reading this because it was absolutely compelling. A definite must-read, in my opinion.

The Woman Next Door
By Cass Green
Available on Amazon UK | Becca's Books' Review

I was absolutely and completely blown away by Cass Green's The Woman Next Door. Dark and dangerous, it was a novel that pushed the boundaries to the absolute limits, and had me right on the edge of my seat. I couldn't quite believe where Green took her characters in this novel. It shocked and fascinated me in equal amounts, and I raced through the pages, desperate to see how the whole story would end. It was thrilling and exciting, grim and gruesome, but wholly consuming and entirely enjoyable. I don't think I've read a book quite like this one before, and I really can't wait for the next novel from Cass Green. I WAS OBSESSED.

Lying in Wait
By Liz Nugent
Available on Amazon UK

I haven't finished writing my official review for Liz Nugent's Lying in Wait just yet, but I'm pleased to tell you that this was an absolute bloody corker. I went into this novel with no expectations whatsoever. Liz Nugent is an entirely new author to me and so, I wasn't quite sure what I was in for when I began reading. Turns out, Liz Nugent is a phenomenal writer with the ability to hold her readers utterly spellbound. As soon as I began, I became fascinated by the characters and circumstances presented to me, and only found myself growing more so as the plot progressed. I fell deeper and deeper into a story full of dark secrets, obsession and greed. It was impossible for me to put it down, and that's the God's honest truth. It was addictive, thrilling, and shocking too. I'm already on my way to ordering to Nugent's Unravelling Oliver, because I just cannot wait to see what else this author has in store for me. Definitely one of the best books I've had the pleasure of reading this year. With an utterly compelling plot, and complex, intriguing characters, it's safe to say I was oblivious to everything and everyone around me while I was lost in this story. Just incredible.

So there we have it, folks. These are my top ten reads of 2016. I do hope you'll perhaps pick one up, just to see if you enjoy it as much as I did. 2016 has been a fantastic year for book releases, and it's only made me more excited for what's to come from the world of books in 2017.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and exciting New Year. I hope you enjoy the celebrations ahead, but stay safe too. To each and every one of you, HAPPY NEW YEAR! And thanks a million for all of the support for Becca's Books. It's been a pleasure chatting to you all this year, and I hope that continues well into 2017.

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