July is already upon us so it is time to put down that page-turner just for a moment, and reflect upon the books we’ve read this year so far…
We read 33 titles, completing all bar one (an unsolicited review copy). While only one title earned 5 Stars, several others were close contenders. Overall it’s been a high quality six months of reading (average rating 3.6).
My Best Books of 2016 so far
A S Patric’s Black Rock White City is a novel that I cannot recommend more highly. Read in a single day, it exceeded my already high expectations of this author.
What particularly struck me about Black Rock White City is that it defies typical genre categorisation, and that perhaps this is the mark of a truly great novel… with the intensity and suspense of a psychological thriller, the lyricism and universality of great literature, and the grittiness and brutality of a crime novel.
Read our 5 Star review and our interview with Alec Patric on what this titles’ recent Miles Franklin Award shortlisting means to him, new print runs, the story behind that stunning cover art, what he is currently working on and more.
Writing 5 Stars, Story 4.5 Stars
Zane Lovitt (Black Teeth) and Christy Collins (The End of Seeing) are two Australian authors who deserve much greater recognition and commercial success. Their writing styles may differ but both exude a particular originality that enthralled me. Both have delivered powerful narrative voices that linger long in the memory.
It’s rare that anything other than fiction appears in one of my best books of the year lists, but the searing honesty of Emily Winslow’s memoir Jane Doe January smashed that glass ceiling.
While the crime is the catalyst, the story is the act of ‘living’ – the myriad of things that influence us and fuel our journey, and the gifts there for the taking should we invest effort into better understanding ourselves and others.
Another rarity is my indulging in the young adult/middle grade genre but Northern Lights, and its plucky heroine Lyra Bevacqua is something special. Philip Pullman’s world building is impressive. Drawn detail by detail, Lyra’s world unfolds to a grand scale with a sense of longevity and magic reminiscent of CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. The narration of this audiobook version was first class.
Lynnette Lounsbury’s We Ate The Road Like Vultures is strikingly original, intelligent and beautiful in its celebration of living. A cult classic in the making.
Lounsbury’s characters are luminous… an addictive mix of farce and philosophy, caring for people but not for their egos.
Writing 4.5 Stars, Story 4.5 Stars
That Devil’s Madness, Dominique Wilson’s venture into the tumultuous history of her birth place Algeria, surpassed my expectations. Both intimate and epic, it is a story about emotional scar tissue – its creation and the devastating effects it can have on generations that follow.
Adrian McKinty’s 2014 Ned Kelly Award winning title In The Morning I’ll Be Gone sat firmly atop my Best Books of 2015 list, so I’d been looking forward to the next title in the series Gun Street Girl. Combine a character of grit, depth and substance like Sean Duffy with the right narrator (Gerard Doyle) and it can take a story to a whole other level. The Gun Street Girl audiobook is another particularly fine example of that.