On the Other Side - Carrie Hope Fletcher


I've probably read worse books but not many - I'd put it on a par qualitywise with The Da Vinci Code and The Casual Vacancy, which some people might think is a good thing. It's a masterclass in how not to write a novel - telling not showing, breathless overuse of adjectives, laughably unsuccessful attempts at magic realism, and a plot, chronology and setting that simply didn't make sense. It was generally grammatical, though, so that's something.

My Name is Leon - Kit de Waal


Heavy-handed story of a deprived kid saved by foster mothers, substitute fathers and, er, the redemptive power of gardening.

Camino Island - John Grisham


If this is by 'the best thriller writer alive', let's hope a few more are born very soon. This was terrible in almost every respect but at least I learned something about the second-hand books market so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Old Baggage - Lissa Evans


Who cares if there's not much plot when there are so many strongly drawn characters, and such a vivid sense of place? It is indeed the 'delight' that the cover promises, at least when it's not bogged down in pathos and foreshadowing.

Wicked Business - Janet Evanovich


I saw this in the library so I picked it up and checked it out and then I read it. And now I will forget it entirely.

The Zig Zag Girl - Elly Griffths


I wondered what Griffiths' 'other' series was like. It was quite different, not just because of its 1950s Brighton setting, and the characters lack the baggage of their Norfolk counterparts in this first book. A pleasant enough read, but not particularly memorable.

An Excellent Mystery - Ellis Peters


A bit of a rubbish mystery, actually, with the 'twist' being obvious literally from the start. But what Peters' writing lacked in suspense was gained in vivid descriptions, not only of 12th-century life and landscape but also of the many different facets of friendship.

Wicked Appetite - Janet Evanovich


Many writers try to emulate Janet Evanovich but few succeed (and I guess they become her ghostwriters). If you're looking for deep and thoughtful, look elsewhere, but for warm, funny, engaging and unpredictable, her books are hard to beat. As much of a gulp-down treat as the cupcakes so lovingly described in the story.

Our House - Louise Candlish


This is so aggressively middle-class that at times I suspected it was a satire. With so many smug, entitled characters, and such an improbable plot, it would have been better if it had been.

Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes


A friend sent me this for Christmas, or I'd never have read it. And I'm glad I did, from an intellectual point of view at least. Despite being nearly 60 years old, it's a strikingly modern look at, well, everything - prejudice, culture, morality, academia, the nature of intelligence, sexual and emotional development, Freudian psychology... the term 'science fiction' seems rather limiting for this classic.

One of Us is Lying - Karen M McManus


This is rather a good novel masquerading as a trashy one. Yes, it's pretty clear whodunnit from the start, and the title gives you an instant Abba earworm, but the characters are unusually engaging and the writing style is surprisingly skillful. Most of all, it's simply entertaining.

Caraval - Stephanie Garber


Fine in its derivative way, but overall as insubstantial as the magical game it describes. Ironically, the story is very similar to the equally underwhelming The Night Circus, itself heavily influenced by earlier works.

The Client - John Grisham


I'd never read any Grisham legal dramas before, due to an unfounded conviction (see what I did there?) that it wasn't my thing. But there it was in the library... and I loved it. Not high literature, and with a confusing cast of characters, but surprisingly exciting for a story that mainly takes place in courtrooms and lawyers' chambers. A fun end to my year's reading.

Whistle in the Dark - Emma Healey


I loved Healey's previous book, Elizabeth is Missing, but this - not so much. It seemed very confused, with unconvincing characters and situations, and a 'so what?' resolution.

Hot Milk - Deborah Levy


The cover says beautiful, clever, powerful, shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. I say badly written, incoherent, pretentious and full of wooden characters it's impossible to care about. But each to their own. I have a couple of other Levy novels I've not yet read, but I don't think I'll bother now.