1. Best Book of 2011 – John Lawton’s A Lily of the Field.
2. Worst Book of 2011 – What a horrible question. I won’t name one … but it was probably some or all of these: derivative; derivative serial killer schlock; grasping at gore for some shock factor; having one or more plot holes; as predictable as a tin of Heinz beans; populated with characters of no character; containing no characters with whom to empathise/sympathise; containing unrealistic dialogue; full of so much exposition as to slow the pace; could not decide what genre it was in; exposed a severe lack of research leading to error.
3. Most Disappointing Book – I won’t mention one in particular but the most disappointing for me are novels that could have been so much better if they’d hit the desk of decent editor. These tend to come from 3 sources:
(a) upfront self-published novels
(b) novels purporting to be published by small presses but which are, in essence, self-published (it doesn’t take a detective to work it out)
(c) quite small presses who don’t appear to have the resources.
Seeing unfulfilled potential is extremely annoying.
4. Most surprising (in a good way) book – Craig Smith’s Cold Rain. The cover did not draw me in and the blurb led me to suspect I’d be bored quite quickly. But what lies between the covers is a total gem and very gripping.
5. Book you recommended to people most – John Lawton’s A Lily of the Field, again.
6. Best series you discovered – I’m looking forward to reading more of Adrian Magson’s Lucas Rocco series, set in France in the 1960s.
7. Favourite new authors you discovered – Danny Miller, Elizabeth Haynes, M J McGrath, Lee Vance, Craig Smith, Quentin Bates, David Jackson, Urban Waite, Erin Kelly, James Craig, Adrian Magson.
8. Most hilarious read – All Yours by Claudia Piñeiro.
9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book – Hunted by Emlyn Rees. Requires easily obtainable oxygen for long calming breaths.
10. Book you most anticipated – John Lawton’s A Lily of the Field, again.
11. Favourite cover of a book you read – Or the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster. It’s artistic. So many covers out there are so generic these days; this one stood out. It also has a 1960s feel about it.
12. Most memorable character – Edie Kiglatuk from M J Mc Grath’s White Heat. She’s solid as a rock, but with very fine fissures. I’d want her as a friend.
13. Most beautifully written book – John Lawton’s A Lily of the Field, again. A king of the craft and a truly wonderful wordsmith.
14. Book that had the greatest impact on you – Treblinka: A Survivor’s Memory by Chil Rajchman. It is impossible not to be moved by this memoir.
15. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2011 to finally read? I can’t think of one. Focusing on debuts means I am not putting off my targets.
If you wish to find my thoughts on any of those reads above, please put the relevant name in the search box in the top right of the page.