1) My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. This author is my favourite so she was the obvious first choice and though I love all her books, her best for me is undoubtedly My Sister's Keeper. Her books are subtle, emotional, deeply-felt reads which linger in your mind for a long time after finishing them. She has a new one out and I can't wait to leave on holiday next week because I will buy it at the airport and read it on the plane.
2) Chocolat by Joanne Harris. This book is loved by many and certainly by me. It is a magical, lush, feel-good book with gentle paranormal elements to lift it out of the ordinary. I've had enough of vampires, fairies and werewolves to do me for a lifetime but I love paranormal at this level - ghosts, telepathy, strange going-ons. I recently read the sequel to Chocolat but wasn't as impressed though it was still a good read. It had a pervading sense of malevolence which tipped the balance away from the essence of Chocolat. I have also read nearly all her other books and love them but none more so than Chocolat.3) Moonshine by Victoria Clayton. My sister lent me this book and I was enraptured from the start. She is a wonderful writer who pulled me into the world of an old house in need of restoration and a cast of quirky, lovable characters. An unexpected love story is icing on the cake. I am reading another of hers now and though it hasn't captured me quite as well so far, I love her style of writing.
4) Chloe by Freya North. A friend put me onto this author and I will be forever grateful to her. She has a fresh, easy-to-read style that pulls you through the book at the rate of knots. Again I have read nearly all of her books and loved them all but this, the first, remains my favourite. It takes Chloe on a journey of exploration around the British Isles and we discover with her magical places and people as she searches for a purpose to her life.
1) Deep South by Nevada Barr. I have read many of her books and had great difficulty choosing my favourite because I love them all. But this one has a haunting, powerful feel with a scene near the end that will stay with me forever. Her main character (a woman) is a National Park Ranger and each novel is a mystery story set in a different National Park. So, apart from great writing and a complex main character, the parks come to life in a way that no geographical book could describe.