Tag Archives: reading

My favourite books for 2018…

2018 is going to be a corker of a year for great stories. My next novel, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, publishes on 14th June, but for this post I’m wearing my reader hat. I’ve been really lucky to read some amazing books that will be published this year, so here are my Top 5 recommendations for 2018…

I’ve only included books I’ve actually read in this list, and will of course squeak about more as I read them, but these are my absolute favourites of what I’ve read so far:


Dark Pines

I loved every minute of this dark, twisty, Scandi-thriller. You’re right there in the bleak, claustrophobic town surrounded by dark forests, so much so that you can almost see clouds of your own breath in the wintry landscape as you read. Will’s writing is compelling and his lead character Tuva Moodyson is a star in waiting. Get in on this awesome series right at the beginning and prepare to be swept away! Published 4th January by Point Blank/Oneworld



Reading a Joanna Cannon book is like being welcomed into the most magical sweet shop and being invited to sample a treat from every jar. Her writing is delightful and evocative, with characters you can picture immediately. This book is warm, heartbreakingly honest but ultimately uplifting. 84-year-old Florence, whose story the book follows, will make you laugh, cry and want to hug her. There’s a mystery and a secret to uncover, too. Wonderful storytelling – a book to savour! Published 11th January by The Borough Press.


The Bonekeeper

As a big fan of Luca’s Murphy and Rossi series, I was chuffed to bits to be able to read his first standalone novel. And my life, what a book! Part horror, part crime-thriller, this story grabs you and won’t let go until the highly-charged, terrifying conclusion. Don’t read just before you go to sleep because this story will give you nightmares! I love Luca’s writing and this is his best book yet. Published 8th March by Simon & Schuster.


The Fear

This book had me gripped from beginning to end and is simply breathtaking. What I love about Cally’s writing is that she makes you side with characters you suspect you maybe shouldn’t be rooting for. I’ve read plenty of psychological thrillers over the last two years, but nothing as dark and multiple-twist-laden as this. It’s shocking, compelling and packed to the bindings with action. Masterful stuff! Published 22nd March by Avon/HarperCollins.


The Man I Think I Know

A sign of a really wonderful book for me is when I want to hug it at the end. With this book, I was pretty much hugging it from the start and rationing pages towards the end because I didn’t want it to finish. Mike’s writing is warm, honest, unflinching in its observation but most of all gloriously uplifting. The story of James and Danny’s friendship – and the redemptive power of trust and love – absolutely had me in its spell. It’s real, compelling, funny and completely stole my heart. This one is very special and my favourite book for 2018 so far. Published 19th April by Hodder & Stoughton.

Thanks so much to the wonderful authors and publishers (Point Blank/Oneworld; The Borough Press; Simon & Schuster; Avon/HarperCollins; and Hodder & Stoughton) for sending me advance copies of the above books.

Read my favourite books of 2017 HERE…

Which books are you looking forward to this year? Let me know by leaving a comment below, or tweet me @wurdsmyth. Thanks for reading! xx

My Books of the Year 2017

Reading has become my salvation and sanctuary in a really testing year as an author – thankfully I’ve been spoiled for choice for awesome books in 2017. There are lots of ‘best books’ lists, so here’s mine. Some books I was lucky to read as advance copies, most I bought myself. Not all of the books in my Top Twelve below were published in 2017, but I read them this year, which is why they are included. So, without further ado, I proudly present my 2017 Books of the Year:

2017 Best Books image

Unconventional – Maggie Harcourt
I read this as a proof at the beginning of 2017 and completely fell in love with it. Maggie Harcourt’s writing is sublime – at turns funny, touching and clutch-at-your-heart-and-sigh romantic. Her book-within-a-book is downright genius, too. On a personal note, Unconventional was the one that made me fall in love with reading again after a very dry spell that followed losing my dad. It’s a gorgeous, uplifting, original and thoroughly unputdownable book and is pretty damn perfect.

The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh
I’m a self-confessed huge fan of Emma Kavanagh and have loved every one of her books. The Killer on the Wall is a twisty, psychologically dark crime thriller that tests your loyalties as a reader to the beautifully drawn characters. I loved how Emma drew me into the story and gradually twisted everything around me. It’s so filmic, too – I could picture every location, every scene and every character. Loved it!

The Last Beginning – Lauren James
I hadn’t read any of Lauren’s books before I was asked to take part in a reader event with her at the beginning of this year, so I read The Last Beginning before I met her and am now a firm fan! Clever, funny, mind-bendingly brilliant, this is an across-the-ages tale of true love and mystery. What I love most is the way Lauren’s characters grab you from the first page – you’re right in there, rooting for them.

Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
This is the first of Leigh Bardugo’s books I’ve read and I completely fell for her storytelling. It’s like a heist movie in a fantasy world – a band of outlaws out to get justice against an evil villain. I hadn’t read much fantasy for a while, so picked up Crooked Kingdom to redress the balance and my life, what a ride! Cool, gorgeously written, pacy and hugely compelling.

Then She Was Gone – Luca Veste
In recent years I’ve become a fan of crime thrillers, first reading Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, then Ann Cleeves’ Vera and Shetland books. I’m a huge fan of the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast (I even have a t-shirt!), which introduced me to the Murphy and Rossi series by Luca Veste. I read Then She Was Gone on holiday in Cornwall in January and it completely hooked me. You know a book is good when you carry it round with you all day, using any opportunity to sneak a read! I adore Murphy and Rossi and love how Luca draws you into their personal lives. Edge-of-your-seat, twisty awesomeness!

The Boy Who Saw – Simon Toyne
I’ve been a fan of Simon Toyne’s books since his debut Sanctus and love his new Solomon Creed series. This is the second book featuring the mysterious protagonist and it’s fantastic. A mystery, a thriller with a touch of the supernatural, The Boy Who Saw is gripping and twisty and so pacy you feel you’re hanging onto the book for dear life. What I love most about Simon’s thrillers is that they are peopled with characters who feel real – not just two-dimensional plot devices. And I really want to hug Solomon, poor lamb. He’s been through a lot

Hold Back the Stars – Katie Khan
Do you remember the scene in Sleepless in Seattle where Sam’s sister cries retelling the story of An Affair to Remember? Well, Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan has that effect on me whenever I talk about it. It’s an achingly gorgeous, utterly original love story set in space and I loved every word. Writing for a living can make it difficult to fully enter into books, so I love it when I’m completely swept away like I was with this story. Absolutely wonderful.

The Summer of Impossible Things – Rowan Coleman
When Rowan Coleman told me she was going to write a time-travel novel, I was so excited. I knew it would be brilliant, but what I wasn’t prepared for was how beguilingly beautiful and affecting The Summer of Impossible Things would be. Luna’s journey to unravel the mystery of her mother’s life – and the huge questions it poses to her own – is utterly compelling, heart-breaking and uplifting. And that ending… Wow!

Together – Julie Cohen
Julie Cohen has long been one of my favourite authors. With every book I think she can’t possibly better it, but every time she does. Together is no exception – in fact, I think it’s her masterpiece. I was very lucky to read an early version and it blew me away. The story of Robbie and Emily is told in reverse, from the day Robbie dies to the first time they meet. What follows is a powerful, brave and heart-breaking story of love against the odds and a terrible secret that both binds them together and threatens to tear them apart.

The Plea – Steve Cavanagh
I don’t often read a book in less than a week, but I devoured The Plea in three days (a personal record for me this year!). It’s a legal thriller with a twist and a lead character who knocks all the others out of the park. Eddie Flynn is brilliantly world-weary, chasing his own demons as much as the bad guys and thrown into so many life-or-death situations I don’t know when he even finds a second to breathe! I loved this book and Steve’s writing is sublime.

The State of Grace – Rachael Lucas
Easily the most original voice of the books I read this year, fifteen-year-old Grace draws you into her world in The State of Grace. Navigating life is challenging enough for a teenager, but when you have Asperger’s and you’re falling in love it can be a rollercoaster. What I loved most about this book is the insight it gives into Grace’s view of the world – and how it makes sense. It’s a celebration of her life and her worldview and is honest, rip-roaringly funny and touching. Loved, loved, loved it!

Calling Major Tom – David M. Barnett
The term ‘UpLit’ was coined this year (yuck!) and while I don’t like it or the way the literary media seem to think they’ve created the genre (they haven’t, some of us have been writing uplifting stories for years!), there are some books published this year that are truly uplifting. Calling Major Tom absolutely fits the bill. I was sent an early proof of this book and it completely stole my heart. Packed with fantastic characters and stuffed to the ginnels with brilliant Northern humour, David’s story of a marooned astronaut and the family who reach out to him is the one I can’t stop thinking about. It’s life-affirming, emotional, laugh-out-loud funny and reduced me to tears with its fantastic conclusion. I’ve loved all the books I’ve read in 2017, but Calling Major Tom is my Book of the Year.

Which books have you enjoyed this year? Which should I add to my reading list for 2018? I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below or tweet me!

Coming soon – the five books I’m recommending for 2018!

#WouldLoveThisBook – spreading book love!

After the success of #LoveThisBook on Twitter, I asked twitterers which books they are most excited to read in 2017. Again, the response was huge – with more conversations, delighted authors and general book excitement…

I’ve really loved talking about books on Twitter this weekend! As with #LoveThisBook, #WouldLoveThisBook brought a wealth of book recommendations, with people tweeting their own wishlists and others discovering titles to add to theirs.

The list is still growing – and you can add your most-wanted books for 2017 by tweeting me @wurdsmyth, using the hashtag #WeLoveThisBook. But I’ve Storified the current selection as nominated by readers and authors today – I’ll keep updating it as more tweets arrive. Get your book wishlists ready and happy reading!

#LoveThisBook – a lovely day on Twitter

One of the things I love most about social media, when it works positively – particularly on Twitter – is that it gives us infinite scope for spontaneous fun. This weekend, annoyed by list after snobby list of ‘2016 Best Books’ in the literary media (blatantly ignoring anything daring to be ‘popular’), I asked people on Twitter to tell me which books they loved reading this year. Any genre, any age, any book.

What followed was a whole day of bookish loveliness.

Using the #LoveThisBook hashtag, people tweeted their favourite books – a really varied mix of well-known and not-so-well-known titles, across the genres from popular fiction to YA, childrens to non-fiction, series to literary, self-published to traditionally published. Famous authors, debut authors, new authors, established authors – all were represented. I was blown away by the response and had so much fun co-ordinating the discussions.

And then, something really lovely happened. Delighted authors began to reply, leading to heartfelt exchanges and thanks flying back and forth. As an author I know how impossibly wonderful it is to hear that someone loved my books – so to see authors meeting their readers in the #LoveThisBook chat was such a treat. Added to this, tweeters began to chat with other readers, discussing books they’d read and recommending others. After so much darkness and anger on Twitter in recent months, it was fantastic to see people united by a love of books, sharing something positive.

I’ve Storified the discussion HERE – so if you’re looking for your next read you might just find it there! You can still join the fun by tweeting your favourites. Just use the hashtag #LoveThisBook and tweet me @wurdsmyth. Happy reading!

I don’t write ‘crap books’, thank you very much…

Last week, my book cover was wrongly featured in a blog post on The Spectator website, along with covers of authors I know and love. The article wasn’t even about our supposed genre, so I can only assume our covers were used as ‘click-bait’. We were accused, by implication, of writing ‘crap books’. So, I feel I have a right to reply…

The header image used in The Spectator blog article, Let me introduce you to ‘sick chick lit’ has now been changed to a stock image. But this is the image originally posted (thank goodness for Google’s image caching):

Spectator blog article header

(Books featured above: Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson; Yours Truly by Kirsty Greenwood; Christmas at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown; Wish Upon a Star by Trisha Ashley; Just for Christmas by Scarlett Bailey; Beyond Grace’s Rainbow by Carmel Harrington; Bridget Jones – Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding; and Step Back in Time by Ali McNamara.)

The article was supposed to be about the author’s dislike for Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep, which, she appeared to be arguing, represented a cynical plot by publishers to extend the chick-lit genre (whatever that actually means) to books with a domestic violence storyline. So why our book covers were used is a mystery. But the inference in the article was that women’s fiction books (into which many varied female authors are lumped together as ‘chick-lit’ by lazy journalists) were crap: “Chick lit has its place,” the author stated. “I’m not being snobby about crap books.”

I don’t write crap books, thank you very much.

Neither do any of the authors featured in the original header image to that article. Had the author of the piece actually bothered to read any of the books, she would have found stories of women empowering themselves, bucking the status quo, refusing to put up with crap jobs and unreliable partners, overcoming fears and growing as individuals. Yes, there might be romantic threads in the books. Yes, the protagonists may be female. But the stories are inspiring, entertaining, thought-provoking and relevant to the lives of thousands of readers. And that seems to be the main crux of the article writer’s problem.

“The basic chick-lit plot centres on getting a man, keeping a man or coping with a man when he leaves you/is being a total bell end,” the article states. Well, in that case, Take a Look at Me Now is not a basic chick-lit plot. It’s about a woman who, when life deals her a blow, refuses to lie down and take it and instead takes control back by doing something just for her. In the course of that experience she reconnects with an ambition to start her own business, which empowers her to make it happen. Yes, there is a romantic sub-plot, but whether she ‘gets a man’ or not is an added extra, rather than the main event (and, crucially, is her choice, adding to the empowerment theme).

What I strongly object to is the idea that only self-appointed literary ‘experts’ can dictate what readers should be reading. That reading should be a joyless slog; and that, by definition, any enjoyment one finds within the pages of a book is instantly unworthy. Great stories are those which meet us where we are and take us somewhere else – they challenge, amuse, terrify along the way but, most importantly, entertain us. And great stories do not fit in genres defined by the media or publishers. Real readers know this already – and the reason books like those featured above are popular is that readers connect with the stories within and recommend to other people. Readers are savvy, intelligent individuals who will seek out great stories, without having to rely on self-important ‘experts’ to help them.

I would hazard a guess that Take a Look at Me Now was used in the header because there is a woman with a handbag on the cover. Let me let you into a little secret here: I hate that handbag! I argued against it, not least because my protagonist Nell never goes shopping in the book, but also because the woman is too thin and at no point in any of my novels do I prescribe body shape (or have my protagonists obsessing about ‘big bums’). The point is, authors rarely have a say in book cover designs, a bi-product of which is that it unfortunately allows literary snobs to make idiotic snap judgements about our books without reading them.

As I said in my comment on The Spectator article, it would seem that the old adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is as pertinent today as it ever was. So, dear ‘literary commentators’, please let readers decide what is worthy of their time – and stop decrying the sheer pleasure of reading!

A BRILLIANT book year…

adore books. I’m pretty sure the reason I am a writer today is because I was introduced to books from an early age – and that passion for great stories has never left me (as my bookshelves will attest). This year has been a great year for reading, not least because having Flo has meant I have pockets of time to read during her naps.

And what a year for books so far!

I’m very fortunate that now I’m a published author I’m often sent proof copies of new books and this year I’ve been blessed with some amazing reads. I’ve also been indulging my love of bookshops, which has led to a book-buying curfew for the next few months while I read all the books in my TBR pile.

I was thinking about this today, particularly how blessed we are as readers with the wealth of brilliant writing in the UK and beyond. So here are some of the stand-out novels for me so far this year, both books I’ve received and books I’ve bought – every one a must-read!



GLAZE is a dark, twisty thriller set in the near future, where everyone is connected to the internet via a chip embedded in their brains. It’s a concept that isn’t so far removed from recent reports of technology being explored by Google, Facebook, Amazon – after all, Google Glass is one step removed from the premise of GLAZE. Kim’s writing is phenomenal – I say this not only as her friend but primarily as her avid fan. Breathlessly exciting, utterly original and if it isn’t adapted into the next big Hollywood smash hit film, it will be a crime!



Falling is the kind of psychological thriller that holds you in its grip until the last page. Emma Kavanagh’s debut novel is fantastic, bringing together the stories of a group of characters united by one, horrific event. What I loved most about it was the human element of the story – each character is so well drawn – and the pace of the novel is amazing. I can’t wait to read more from Emma!


Memory Book

I sobbed my way through The Memory Book earlier this year. Quite simply, it’s a beautiful, heartbreaking story that I found incredibly moving and profound. I love Rowan’s writing and am proud to call her my friend, but this book is a step above anything she’s ever written before. It’s the kind of book you recommend to everyone you know – my mum is now a big fan because I raved about the story!


A Hundred Pieces of Me

A Hundred Pieces of Me is profoundly affecting and gorgeously written. I read this on holiday, just before Flo was born, and was utterly engrossed in the story from the first page. I love stories with a theme of rebirth and redemption and this book was a wonderful study of what life is really all about. I loved Gina’s search for herself after years of living for other people and her decision to redefine her life. It’s a beautiful book, sensitively written and gloriously imagined.


The AccidentWhen my lovely friend Cally told me she was writing a psychological thriller, I couldn’t wait to read it – and boy, was it worth waiting for! It’s been a very long time since I haven’t been able to put a book down but The Accident was one of those books. In fact, I found myself reading it while making a cup of tea, last thing at night and first thing in the morning for two glorious days! It’s the kind of twisting, chilling story that wraps itself around you and pulls you in, with a protagonist I was fascinated by but didn’t really know if I should be trusting. Brilliant, brilliant storytelling!


Dash and Lily's B of DI’ve been following the #bookadayuk challenges on Twitter and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares kept coming up. Being a fan of New York, especially books set there at Christmas, this sounded right up my street, so I treated myself last week for a journey down to London. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a sweet, hipster-y tale of two teenagers who don’t think they fit in, finding each other first through words and then through New York experiences. Think Gilmore Girls-style sass meeting Dawson’s Creek teen self-awareness, wrapped up in a cute story with more than a dash (no pun intended) of New York magic. I read it in a weekend and it was a real treat.


Where Love Lies

Every once in a while, a book comes along that blows you away. For me this year, Where Love Lies has been that story. I’m a huge fan of Julie’s writing and I know personally how much love she invested in writing this book. But even given that I adore every word she writes and love her as a dear friend, I wasn’t prepared for how utterly wonderful her latest book would be. Here I’m going to run out of superlatives and be unashamedly fan-girly, but I truly believe this is Julie’s best book yet. It’s raw, unafraid and intensely challenging. The story constantly surprises and I found my assumptions being called out throughout the book. It’s so different, so affecting and so exquisitely written that I know it’s a book I will return to again and again.

I’m a big believer that you can’t be a great writer without being a great reader first… These books have entertained, challenged, gripped and delighted me this year and I have loved every one. Much has been written about the ‘death of books’, but while stories like these exist in  the world, readers will be blessed. It’s an exciting time to be an author and an even more exciting time to be a reader: I’m looking forward to see what the rest of this year brings!

Miranda Writes 13 – Agents, books and sneaky scenes

All this year I’m documenting the writing, editing and publishing of Take A Look At Me Now – my fifth novel – giving you a unique, behind-the-scenes look at my life as a writer. This week, I answer your questions and reveal how you can read exclusive scenes from Take A Look At Me Now months before it is published…

As Take A Look At Me Now is winging its way to the printers, this week I asked for your questions – and you responded with some real crackers! So this week, I’ll tell you about product placement and name-dropping in novels, discuss whether writers ever really turn off their critical skills to read a book for fun and let you know my views on whether you should approach an agent with a full manuscript or not.

Do you have a burning question about writing, publishing, my books or anything else? Pop a comment in the box below, or email me: mirandawurdy@gmail.com and I’ll answer them for you next time.

Enjoy! xx

p.s. This week’s YouTube-nominated freeze-frame is entitled, ‘What’s that coming over the hill…?’

Happy World Book Day!

Happy World Book Day!

Books have been a part of my life for all of my life. I was lucky to be born into a family of book-lovers (book devourers is a more accurate term) and their love of reading and great stories fostered a life-long love of reading and writing in me. As soon as I could read books for myself, I discovered the wonders of Kingswinford Library (my local palace of book dreams) and started an amazing reading journey.

In celebration of World Book Day, here are Ten Books That Changed My Life when I was growing up:

1. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

2. The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford

3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

4. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Parker

5. Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome

6. The Great Ghost Rescue by Eva Ibbotson

7. The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton

8.The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

9. I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

10. Emma’s Island by Honor Arundel

What are your favourite books from your childhood and teens? Tell me below and one person will win a £20 Waterstones Gift Card!