This year has been absolutely jam-packed with fantastic books — and if you’re anything like me, you’ve got an out-of-control ‘to be read’ pile and a serious case of book-related FOMO.
Whatever you’re planning to do over Christmas — whether it’s a beachside break, an overseas holiday, or you’re just taking it easy at home, life is always better with a good book in hand. So make yourself a cup of tea and settle back, because here’s some great recommendations on titles you might have missed in 2018. They may also prove useful for the last-minute present-buyers out there …
You’d have to have been living under a rock this year if you missed the year’s absolute best-selling blockbuster, the dark, twisty psychological thriller The Woman in the Window — now being made into a feature film starring Amy Adams. If you’re into that kind of breathless suspense and did-not-see-that-coming twists, then you’ll also love The Ones You Trust by Caroline Overington, set in the cutthroat world of breakfast television. A popular television host’s little girl is snatched, and the tension mounts as the kidnap plays out on national media. A nailbiting and page-turning thriller. Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty (yes, she’s Liane’s sister) is also a great read — rivalries between mothers and non-mothers spin out of control in this addictive, entertaining and oh-so relatable read.
If you love Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher, then you’ll love the action-packed, fast moving thriller Forbidden Door, by Dean Koontz. Jane Hawk is an FBI agent gone rogue, a fugitive on the run, and determined to get justice for the death of her husband and protect her young child. A cracking, propulsive thriller, Forbidden Door is the most recent in the Jane Hawk series, but like the Lee Child books, they can be read in any order.
Fans of Kate Morton will definitely fall for Hannah Richell’s The Peacock Summer, a captivating and compelling novel of love, family, and secrets set in a beautiful manor house named Cloudesley. A fading grand Old English estate also features in Kelly Doust’s Dressing the Dearloves, a gorgeously glamorous and romantic story of a family of beautiful, headstrong women, a grand old house, and an attic crammed full of steamer trunks of beautiful vintage clothes and family secrets.
If you’re into unforgettable characters and exotic settings, then you’ll love Belinda Alexandra’s The Invitation, a mesmerising tale of two sisters and the dangers and seductions of excess, set in fabulously wealthy Gilt Age New York. You might also enjoy Lauren Chater’s The Lace Weaver, a compelling novel of love and war set in Estonia and Russia during the tumultuous year of 1941, or Kirsty Manning’s The Jade Lily, a story of female friendship and the price of love set in Shanghai in 1939.
Local crime authors are having a field day right now, with the success of Jane Harper’s The Last Man, Christian White’s The Nowhere Child and Chris Hammer’s Scrublands. If you enjoyed those, you’ll really enjoy Dervla McTiernan’s atmospheric and compelling Galway-set crime novel, The Ruin, featuring the tough but likeable Garda detective, Cormac Reilly, as he reopens a twenty-year old case he’s never been able to forget. And the best news is that Cormac Reilly will be returning in 2019, in a compulsive new novel The Scholar.
If you’re after a moving, feel-good read, Tricia Stringer’s Table for Eight is a warm and uplifting novel of second chances and love old and new in a story of unlikely dining companions thrown together on a glamorous cruise. Or if you’re after something sweeping, powerful, moving and emotional, then you can’t go past The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland, a story of a young girl, who uses the language of native flowers to say the things that are too hard to speak.
Memoirs are always a sure-fire bet for a great read. You might know Celeste Barber (‘The funniest woman on Instagram’) from her hilariously funny #challengeaccepted parodies of celebrity Instagram pics — but you might not know she also has a raucously funny, laugh-out-loud memoir out now called Challenge Accepted! Warning: don’t read this on public transport unless you’re prepared to guffaw loudly in front of everyone. Osher Gunsberg’s memoir Back,
After the Break, is a surprisingly entertaining and unputdownable memoir from one of Australia’s best-loved celebrities about life, love, music, television and living with mental illness, while Rick Morton’s memoir One Hundred Years of Dirt is a powerful, unflinching account of an extraordinary childhood in the remote Queensland outback.
If you’ve not already read them, here’s another two books you should definitely shouldn’t miss — these books have had readers raving about them in 2018: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, is a heart-wrenching and original story of a deeply lonely woman, and what happens when a simple act of kindness breaks through the barriers she’s put up around herself. Very different, but equally appealing is Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton — a glorious, funny and moving story of brotherhood, true love and the most unlikely of friendships.
*Catherine Milne is head of fiction at HarperCollins Australia.