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Top 10 Reads of the Year 2021

It’s been quite the year what with the pandemic and all!! Anyway, it’s also been quite the year for reading too with me just completing my 137th read. That’s quite the achievement as i usually only manage about a hundred – i say that as if it’s a small number! So what has been my top ten reads of the year – read on and find out!

10. Deity by Matt Wesolowski

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Online investigative journalist Scott King investigates the death of a pop megastar, the subject of multiple accusations of sexual abuse and murder before his untimely demise in a fire … another episode of the startlingly original, award-winning Six Stories series.

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rakes over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Whose remains – still unidentified – were found in the ashes? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes… 

9. The Balance by Kev Harrison

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When myth becomes nightmare… The price of blood is always blood.

Natalia’s in trouble. She only looked away for a second, and now her brother’s hurt. Her relationship with her mother is fractured, her brother’s condition is deteriorating, and her only hope lays deep in the unforgiving forest. A secret spoken only in whispers offers a way out. But when help comes in occult forms a sacrifice may be the only way to restore the balance.

Humanity and nature collide in The Balance by Kev Harrison, a modern reimagining of the Slavic folk tale of Baba Yaga, set in Cold War Poland. 

8. The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

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Set in a brand-new, Norse-inspired world, and packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance, The Shadow of the Gods begins an epic new fantasy saga from bestselling author John Gwynne.

After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrið.

Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

Now, as whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls under the shadow of the gods . . .

7. The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie

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Chaos. Fury. Destruction.

The Great Change is upon us…

Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies… while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together…

6. A Song of Steel by J.C. Duncan

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Alternate history – 1116 AD. Three hundred years of cruel Viking raids have finally united Christian Europe against the pagan Northlands. A great crusade has been called to pacify the wild Norse kingdoms. The banner of the cross has been raised against the north, and all the power and fury of the west rides under it.
Ordulf, a talented young German swordsmith, is ripped from his comfortable life and cast into the bloody chaos of the crusade. As fate deals him a cruel blow in the lands of his enemies, he will have to forge a new path through the chaos, or be consumed by it.
In the Northlands, three rival kingdoms must unite to survive the onslaught. But can any man, king or commoner, unite the bickering brotherhood of the Norse? Or is the time of the Vikings finally drawing to a violent end. Heroes will fail, kings will fall, and ordinary people will fight for the right to a future.

5. The Diner by J.C. Robinson

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The world is a pit of bile and garbage spewed forth by humankind, and no one knows this better than Babs McDayle.

When unbearable loss enters Babs’ life and leaves her with nothing but a roadside diner in the middle of Southern California’s high desert, Babs realizes something that changes her life, and seriously affects the lives of many around her.

The realization? Rats don’t deserve the good life. Rats deserve to choke on their own blood and feces. Rats make life a living hell for everyone else.

In this tale of loss, terror, kidnapping, and moral dilemmas, Babs defends her diner against the rats of this world, and works each and every day to teach a little lesson to rats who dare to cross her.

But when Babs gets exposed by Sawyer, a customer who is nothing but kind and helpful, and her own employee and good friend, Amanda, chaos ensues. She doesn’t want to hurt them because they are not rats; they are good, caring people. But can she risk letting them go, risk allowing them to turn her in? Her work would come to an end, and there is so much more to accomplish…

Perhaps there is another option that can save Sawyer and Amanda.

Perhaps there isn’t.

Come into ‘The Diner’ and find out.

4. The Goners by L. Stephenson

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On the quiet island of Boatmore, it was believed that there were only two causes of death: either natural or accidental.
That is until a strange phone call, and a bloody handprint, leads Liam and his small team of paramedics to the body of a young man, still clinging to life, by the roadside. As they work to revive him, it becomes clear that whoever is responsible for such butchery does not want his victim to be saved.

As the mysterious killer continues his spree, more chilling discoveries await our rescuers and the island residents find themselves tainted by suspicion and fear.

So, grab the next ferry and witness THE GONERS, the first gripping chapter of ‘The Boatmore Butcher trilogy’

3. Too Near the Dead by Helen Grant

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Sometimes it’s terrifying, loving someone this much…

For Fen Munro and her fiancé James, it is a dream come true: an escape from London to a beautiful house in the stunning Perthshire countryside.

Barr Dubh is modern, a building with no past at all. But someone walks the grounds, always dressed in lavender. Under a lichenous stone in an abandoned graveyard, a hideous secret lies buried. And at night, Fen is tormented by horrifying dreams.

Someone wants Fen’s happiness, and nothing is going to stop them—not even death… 

2. The House on Rectory Lane by Stuart James

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Jake and Kate live in Camden, London and have had enough of the hassle with parking, overbooked restaurants and burglaries.
After an altercation with a stranger who pulls a knife on Jake, they take their son Sean and move to a house in the woods.
It’s their dream home, or so they think.
People in the village warn them they shouldn’t have come.
Neighbours are overly friendly and who was the face at the window Kate saw late at night?
They find a tape hidden in the loft of their new house, a homemade video recording of the previous family, the Prescotts.
What they view, chills them to the bone.
They realise that the family living there before them have disappeared and now, they could be next……………….. 

1. When the Cicadas Stop Singing by Zachary Ashford

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When the poison gas first leaked out of the ground, mankind thought the horror would be over in no time.

When the lizard-men followed, swarming the land, slaughtering indiscriminately, those who survived scattered to the hills and the forests. Most did not last long. But Cora, who found refuge and made a home in the mountains where she lives with the memory of her dead son, still fights. Tenacious, she lives wild and protects that home from the lizards who seek to kill her.

Until now.

Because man has arrived, and he is not friendly.

In this terrifying fight for survival, Zachary Ashford blends the thrills of the creature feature genre with the claustrophobic atmosphere of a home invasion. 

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