Best Adult Book
Bernie Rhodenbarr is just trying to make a dishonest living, breaking into museums and apartments in a complicated scheme to get some money. Then a dead body turns up on a carpet, and - not for the first time - Ray Kirschmann, the best cop money can buy, turns to Mrs Rhodenbarr's boy for help cracking the case.
The return of Lawrence Block's wonderful burglar, Bernie Rhodenbarr, 9 years after the tenth novel in the series, was my most-anticipated book release for an awfully long time. It is an absolute pleasure to report that the character has lost none of his charm, Block's writing is as superb as ever, and the plot is as ingenious as in any of the previous 10. I read this in one sitting within 24 hours of it being released - and that was on Christmas Day!
Kendall Bettencourt, at the age of just 19, has become one of Hollywood's hottest properties, but is missing her best friend Payton. Flying the other girl out to keep her company in LA and help teach her music seems like a sensible thing to do. But Payton's realised she thinks of Kendall as more than a friend - does Kendall feel the same way about her, and can their feelings survive the craziness of Hollywood life?
My new favourite New Adult book ever, edging out Tammara Webber's Easy, this is a brilliant romance which benefits from nearly every character in it being really likeable and sympathetic. It also has incredible chemistry between the two narrators.
The Other Typist is set in 1920s New York City, with Prohibition at its height and Rose Baker, an orphaned young woman, working as a police typist. While she has no real friends, she's good at her job and seems to have the respect of the Sergeant, whom she admires and the Lieutenant Detective, whom she's less keen on. Then a perfect storm comes into their lives, in the shape of the enchanting Odalie, and nothing will be the same again.
I'm too petrified of spoiling this absolutely exquisite book to say much about it, but it is AMAZING. From my review "I loved it. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved the climax, and I loved the themes of identity, obsession, truth vs justice, and so many more. Most of all, though, I loved that it wears its literary influences - Gatsby in particular, but also others I won't mention because it's getting into spoiler territory - proudly, paying homage to some classic works."
No plot summary as it would be full of spoilers for books 1 and 2 - read the linked review at your own risk - but the best adult fantasy series for several years just keeps getting better and better. It's a sprawling epic centred on a wonderful quartet of main characters, including one of the most fascinating I've read all year.
Theodora Atwell is torn away from her much-loved brother at the age of 15, to be sent far from her home in Florida to Yonahlossee, where she's to have a fresh start after a mysterious event she blames herself for. Set in the 1930s to the backdrop of the Depression, we follow Thea as she tries to navigate her new surroundings and come to terms with the damage she's caused to her family.
While this is slowly-paced, to say the least, it builds up to a stunning climax and it's also beautifully written. Not necessarily one for everyone, but deserves to be in my top 5 because of just much the ending affected me.
Best Main Character (Female)
Imogen (Bruised by Sarah Skilton)
This is a stunning novel for many reasons, but perhaps the biggest of its strengths is the way that debut author Skilton creates such a compelling portrayal of a girl struggling to come to terms with her disillusionment with something that defined her life. Imogen starts to fall apart when she freezes during an armed robbery, blaming herself for being able to disarm the gunman - and save his life - using tae kwon do. Her problems in the aftermath of the incident make her hugely sympathetic.
Tarzan has always been an enjoyable read, but the Savage Lands is a class above the first two in the series. I think the main reason it's so wonderful is that it firmly establishes Jane as someone who's developed from a plucky girl in book 1 to a resourceful, loyal and generally awesome young woman in this book.
Jess (Firewallers by Simon Packham)
Jess - a tough girl thrown into an awful situation, as she's taken to the remote (and, frankly, weird) community of Dawdlers to escape publicity surrounding her father's suspension from work - is perhaps the incredibly consistent Simon Packham's best character yet. She has a fantastic voice and her struggle to adjust to life in the Dawdlers is a fascinating read.
Meg (Skulk by Rosie Best)
Meg - bullied by a horrendous mother because she's size sixteen and doesn't fit into the woman's idea of the image she's trying to protect - is an amazing character. At the start of Skulk, she's only interested in creating a work of graffiti art, but she ends up seeing a dying fox transform into a man and he passes the power to shapeshift onto her. With a mysterious stranger threatening the shapeshifters, Meg takes the lead role in trying to unite various ragtag groups, and her character development as she does this is absolutely wonderful.
I love talking/writing about You Don't Know Me because it's a breathtakingly brilliant book. I also kinda hate talking/writing about it because I think part of its strength is how unpredictable it is and I definitely don't want to do anything to spoil that. However Sasha's character arc is completely wonderful and I love that she has real flaws that she struggles to overcome. I know that's vague, but if you haven't already read this, GET IT NOW!