2021 top 11 books

Ey up! New format this year, gonna do my top eleven (everybody does 10 but I’m that much more awesome than them) instead of the usual award ceremony, nobody ever turned up to collect the awards and handsome cheque so I’ve decided to do what others do and pick my favourite 11 books I’ve read this year and laugh maniacally at those that didn’t make the cut. I managed to read 71 books this year…pretty sure I had double that number arrive in the post 🙂 overall most of them were spectacular, with a couple of lame books I managed to find. So here it is the top 11……..

11: Marram by Leonie Charlton

I loved this journey up the Hebrides on a Highland pony, Ross was a lovely pony and I still keep an eye out for Leonie’s tweets for more photos.

10: OOF by Strobe Witherspoon

Such a clever book, using different styles of writing to weave an absurd plot that seems to be getting closer to reality every day. Laughed loads at this one.

9: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession

A wonderful feel good story with some fabulous characters, the last book of the year and one I left way too long to get around to reading.

8: Your Dark Meaning, Mouse by Stephen Moles

Pure madness was this one, I really enjoyed the journey this book took me on and it is still affecting me today, I find myself getting confused over the title of a certain Beatles song.

7: Transit of Venus by Julian Evans

I read 4 books that were published by Eland and this was the pick of them, I enjoyed reading as Evans explored an area I knew so little about.

6: The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson

One of the books I’ve recommended the most this year, brilliant story, ya really need to check it out.

Things are getting tough now. Some books I loved aren’t gonna make the cut. Gonna make a cup of tea whilst I think….

5: The Lip by Charlie Carroll

I’ve been a fan of Charlie Carroll’s books for a few years now and his first fiction novel was a huge success in my opinion.

4: Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman

Biggest surprise of the year for me, I don’t tend to give this sort of book a chance but am so please I did. Great fun to read with some impeccable research carried out to make it authentic…and if like me you are a fan of maps in books then check this one out for some beautiful additions.

Here we go, the top 3!!!

3: The Heeding by Rob Cowen, Nick Hayes (Illustrator)

This was the book we all needed after a crazy couple of years, wonderful poetry blended with some stunning illustrations. Some heart-breaking moments followed by a poem that truly lifts you up. A book that shall be read again and again.

2: In the Shadow of Time by Kevin Ansbro

If you’ve read this book then you’ll understand why this rates so high. A time travel book full of the nicest people ever, it is so uplifting that you are left with a smile on your face until the next time you watch the news.

1: Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro

I don’t read many books in the horror genre because it feels very samey these days, not easy to shock me or keep me interested, but Queen of the Cicadas was a HUGE success. It was like going back in time to when I first fell in love with reading, I got a real buzz from the tense scenes as they gradually built up to that moment of horror. A wonderful book and my top read of 2021.

Thats it, sorry to those I couldn’t add, next year I’m only going to read 11 books to make this much easier to do.

Thanks to:

Bluemoose books

Storgy books

Elliot & Thompson

Sandstone Press

Eland Publishing

Sagging Meniscus Press

Dead Ink Books

Alternating Current Press

Galley Beggar Press

Flame Tree Press


Horror Sleaze Trash

Haus Publishing

Anne Cater @ Random Things Tours

And all the other authors that sent me copies of their books to read and review, I’ll always find it amazing that an author can be happy with my random babbling. Here’s to the books of 2022


Rocky Vs 2020

Aaaah! 2020 the year of dressing like a bank robber, the year where we all realised our political leaders were a bunch of muppets and we wished we could clone Jacinda Ardern and let her rule the world….it was also the year that Twitter moved into reality and everybody showed just what arseholes they could be. I am reviewing my year from my throne of toilet paper, who’d have guessed that when I grabbed 700 rolls back in March that I’d still have enough left over to make my own furniture, in 2021 I vow to only panic buy 600 rolls. Each year I’ve tried to get somebody famous to hand out the awards to my favourite books of the year and for 2020 I had President Trump lined up, all was going to plan until he dropped out to play his 320th game of golf this year, so you’ve got me instead.

This year I managed to read 85 books, 41 fiction, 38 non-fiction and 6 poetry books. I have been impressed with what I’ve read, publishers like Bluemoose Books, Eland Publishing, Little Toller, Storgy and Elliot & Thompson have produced some amazing books. I do find it quite incredible that small indie publishers can publish so many fantastic books and yet the big publishers can throw out all kinds of garbage and expect everybody to love it. Of course those Indie publishers producing so many good books makes it harder to pick my favourites….gah! they are sooooo evil! There is no winner this year for The Lighthouse Award (Worst book of the year), whilst I may have read a few weak books they are too good to deserve this award. Well here goes!

Best Fiction

The Nominations this year are.

East Coast Road by Anna Chilvers. One of the books published by Bluemoose books, a real gem of a book, an amazing journey and a book that almost made me cry….ALMOST!

Shallow Creek edited by Tomek Dzido. A unique book which is the end result of a competition, the stories in this collection are based around a single town and it’s inhabitants, the writers were given give a person, place and totem to focus their stories on. This book is the end result and a million times better than you’d expect. Everybody involved should be classed as geniuses.

This Ragged, Wastrel Thing by Tomas Marcantonio. The first full length novel released by Storgy and it doesn’t disappoint. Tomas has created a fantastic world here that leaves you wanting more, seriously hoping there will be a sequel one day soon.


Best Non-Fiction

The Nominations this year are.

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty. Dara is a legend, so young to create one of my favourite books of the year, he reminds me of the writing of Roger Deakin and it has been great to see this win so many awards.

Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico by Ronald Wright. An epic book about the Maya and one I’ll be reading again because there is so much info here that I’m bound to have missed out facts. I’ve read 7 books this year by Eland Publishing and this has been the pick of the bunch.

Under the Stars: A Journey Into Light by Matt Gaw. Elliot & Thompson have released a lot of good books this year and for me this was fantastic, reading this brought back so many memories of time spent as a scout, camping under the stars and getting freaked out by noises in the night. This book left me craving a sight of millions of stars…not the 8 I usually see in Basingstoke.


Best Poem

I’ve read far less books of poetry than I did last year, that doesn’t mean I’ve read less, I’ve spent a lot of time reading blogs, one of my favourites is Daydreaming as a profession by D. R. Bogdan and one of the best he has put up this year is sometimes you don’t have to lead the insane to happiness, but to follow Wonderful little poem.

Music award

I only buy a few albums each year as I spend most of my time listening to music from the past, this year the kids and me have been obsessed with Flight of the Conchords and their amazing songs, but in between that always being played I’ve managed to find some awesome music, the best of which is Kitchen Sink by Nadine Shah. My favourite track is Buckfast, well worth checking out, love her voice and those instruments are creating some great sounds.

That’s it, no more awards and no more 2020. As usual the winners can meet me at any Asda carpark at midnight and fight me for a prize….at the correct social distance of course….this years battles will be in the style of that classic TV show Gladiators.

Thanks to everybody who write books and thanks to everybody who has sent me some incredible stuff to review. Here’s to 2021 being mildly better.


Rocky Vs 2019


Well that’s another year over, another year closer to retirement.  2019 was a bit shit….if you have a soul that is….no soul? then yay the Tories won and we are all fucked.  With regards book it has been an epic year, I’ve discovered so many amazing books, new authors and I’ve managed to increase my penguin clothbound collection to 22…a fine collection to read as the apocalypse kicks off.  Usually I try and get a celebrity to hand out awards, but my track record of killing off their careers means I’ve been blacklisted from A to Z, I can’t even get somebody from Geordie Shores, whatever that is.  So I’ll be handing them out as well as picking the winners, an almost impossible task.

Best Fiction

Best fiction

The Nominations this year are.

The Hierophant’s Daughter by M. F. Sullivan.  Book one of probably the greatest trilogy I’ve ever read, I am not a fan of series of books but this was so good I read all three books in one year AND got the t-shirt.

The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas by Daniel James.  Difficult one to categorise as it potentially spans fiction and non-fiction depending on whether you believe the many conspiracy theories out there.  I am 100% certain that I’ve never read anything quite like this and loved how it is sparking reader’s imaginations.

The Fish That Climbed a Tree by Kevin Ansbro.  Kevin is one of the stars of the year for me, a new author and I’ve already consumed 3 of his books, each one has entertained, made me laugh and left me on the edge of my seat at times.  He is the master at creating characters that you care for and like a cat he likes to toy with their lives.  This book gets the nomination though as it was the first one I picked up and started my Ansbro addiction.


Best Non-Fiction

Best non Fiction

The nominations are:

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.  Top notch writing about homelessness and walking the South West Coastal Path.  Opening scenes made me incredibly angry, which only made me care more for Raynor and her husband.  I ended up having to research them after the end of the book to see how they are doing.  I have recommended this book to so many people.

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell.  Yes I know it isn’t a new book but this year was the first time reading it for me.  I’ve no idea why I’ve waited so long because I loved it.  The otter is a wonderful creature and reading about Gavin’s relationship with one was lovely.

Curlew Moon by Mary Colwell. Another one about animals makes the list, this time the Curlew,  an animal I knew very little about.  This book is crammed full of information and Mary’s obsession with the Curlew is contagious.


Best Poem

Best Poem

I read 22 books of poetry this year, I think I might be getting addicted.  After looking through all those books the poem that has stuck with me is:

‘I Slit My Wrists and He Said ‘Yo” from the book, Snail Vixen and The Crystal Garden by Casey Renee Kiser.  You can listen to her reading it HERE.

The Lighthouse Award (Worst book of the year)

Worst Book

WINNER:  Yet again the worst book of 2019 that I read was an “award winner”, the only 1 star book luckily for me.  May we be forgiven by A. M. Holmes is 480 pages of nothing, an opening tragedy, 400 pages of a dark void of words and then an interesting ending, maybe it was interesting because the end was in sight?  This book had nothing going for it, I truly have no idea how it got the award, I always try and find a positive when doing a review of a book but for this one I came up empty handed.

And that’s yer lot, out of the 104 books I read in 2019 those were the cream of the crop…except for the last one of course.  Many thanks to all the lovely people who sent me books this year, it does feel great to come home from work to book post.  Here’s to another fantastic year of reading in 2020.


Book Release: The Minotaur’s Son & other wild tales by Kevin Ansbro

One of my favourite writers, easily top 3450….just joking, top 3…Kevin Ansbro has a new book out, released today:


“Once the evening’s entertainment was over the Minotaur, as naked as Nature intended, clumped into Pablo Zapata’s bar…”

A baby with a passion for theoretical physics…

A winged nymph who exacts terrible revenge…

A stolen coin that releases a wish-granting genie…

And where else would you see Ginger Rogers learning the Ali shuffle, or a humble fisherman making friends with Poseidon?

Charlatans and shapeshifters, lovers and leprechauns, ghosts and office creeps are just some of the characters that Kevin Ansbro brings to life in this volume of short stories. His tales span the globe and range from the wickedly funny to the sad and deeply unnerving. With his perceptive take on human failings, his vivid imagination and his glorious grasp of language, Ansbro’s thought-provoking stories will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

I have read two of his books so far and both easily earn the 5 stars I gave them,



My Review is HERE:

The Fish That Climbed A Tree


My Review is HERE:

I also did a fake interview with Kevin if you want a sample of just how talented and hilarious he can be.  Check it out HERE:

So please give this guy a go, you won’t be disappointed.


B R O K E–New Novel About Life Under Tory Britain– OUT NOW! (Plus an Update on Me) — Rupert Dreyfus

My new novel about inequality in present day, miserable Tory Britain is now available here. Here’s the lowdown: After years of austerity, life for many people in the UK has been reduced to a treadmill of zero-hour contracts, mounting debts and a crippling anxiety as to where the money is going to come from to […]

via B R O K E–New Novel About Life Under Tory Britain– OUT NOW! (Plus an Update on Me) — Rupert Dreyfus


THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER: Check out the cover, pre-order the book, or read a digital ARC available to NetGalley reviewers. — Painted Blind Publishing

Happy Black Friday. We’re pleased to announce that within its first 48 hours on NetGalley, The Hierophant’s Daughter has received 48 requests from potential reviewers, educators, media pros and other NG readers. If you want to see what the fuss is about, click the smaller version of the cover at the bottom of this post. […]

via THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER: Check out the cover, pre-order the book, or read a digital ARC available to NetGalley reviewers. — Painted Blind Publishing


AMERICAN INC — Horror Sleaze Trash

“The Battle Hymn of the Revolution” Music by AMERICAN INC Lyrics/Guitar/Vocals: Scott Laudati Guitar/Trumpet: Myles Vlachos Bass: Brain Weakly Drums: Travis Scelia Starring: Sebastien Giles D’Stair and Carlyle Edwards Director-of-Photography: Paul VanBrocklin Edited by Emanuella Scott Produced by Denver Gregories and Lisette Goines Written and Directed by Pablo D’Stair http://americanincmusic.bandcamp.com http://www.facebook.com/americanincmusic http://www.instagram.com/scottlaudati

via AMERICAN INC — Horror Sleaze Trash


The Anti-Austerity Anthology—Out Now! All Proceeds for Food Bank Charities — Rupert Dreyfus

Hi All, I’ve been involved with piecing together and editing a new project called The Anti-Austerity Anthology; a collection of short stories, poems and other writings from some of the UK’s best indie authors and poets—all themed to austerity. The foreword is by none other than Steve Topple. The collection features a brand spanking new […]

via The Anti-Austerity Anthology—Out Now! All Proceeds for Food Bank Charities — Rupert Dreyfus