Archive for December, 2017

A few years back when I had a whole lot more time on my hands I used to compile a chart of the best short fiction I’d read during the year (as a reviewer, fellow writer, and avid reader). I kept this going for five years consecutively (you can read about all of them in this blog right here). But two young kids put paid to any ideas I’d do very much reading at all, and I thought ‘The Andy’s’ might have ended back in December 2013, when I published my last Top 20.

But all that changed as 2016 rolled into 2017 and I made a new year’s resolution (which wasn’t, as it possibly should have been, to drink less booze). I decided that by hook or by crook I’d read more this year.

Amazingly, I’ve followed through on this resolution throughout the year (whereas if I’d have said that about the booze I’d have fallen off the wagon halfway through the first week of January). And I’ve kept going and kept going…

NEW FOR 2017

This year’s chart is a little different from my previous charts. Back before kids I wanted to really talk up the short story. I had an ulterior motive for this: I wrote a lot of short stories myself and I wanted to see them, and their authors, getting a a little bit more credit than they usually did. But I’m not reviewing any more (yet), nor am I publishing as many short fictions as I used to and as such I don’t feel like I have my finger on the pulse of the short story scene. Therefore in 2017 I decided to concentrate on novels.

This year I’ve a grand total of 75 novels. Long and short. From all kinds of genres. Most of these books have been released in 2016 and 17, but there are some classics I’ve always wanted to read in there too… And here’s where it gets all kinds of anal – I’ve even put together this graph which shows my readingest months (December’s a bit light as you can see, but we’re not yet all the way through the month, are we?)


Anyway – (drumroll) – this is my TOP TWENTY:

  1. The Circle by Dave Eggers
  2. A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
  3. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
  4. The Three by Sarah Lotz
  5. The Long Home by William Gay
  6. His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
  7. I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork
  8. The Cormorant by Stephen Gregory
  9. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
  10. Nod by Adrian Barnes
  11. Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
  12. Moonglow by Michael Chabon
  13. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
  14. Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  15. Sleeping Beauties by Stephen & Owen King
  16. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
  17. Thin Air by Michelle Paver
  18. The Girls by Emma Cline
  19. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
  20. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

Honourable mentions to the other books I read this year: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist; Universal Harvester by John Darnielle; The Troop by Nick Cutter; The North Water by Ian McGuire; Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons; Bonfire by Krysten Ritter; Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre; Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto; Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri; The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena; The Fireman by Joe Hill; Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith; Ice Lake by John A Lenahan; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry; My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal; Day Four by Sarah Lotz; My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni; Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton; The Wonder by Emma Donoghue; Stickleback by Mark Connors; The River at Night by Erica Ferencik; The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker; The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee; Black Water by Louise Doughty; Absolute Friends by John le Carre; Winter Moon by Dean Koontz; How to Stop Time by Matt Haig; The Searcher by Chris Morgan Jones; The Small Hand by Susan Hill; The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh; A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin; Into the Water by Paula Hawkins; Give me the Child by Mel McGrath; Night School by Lee Child; Stone Cold by David Baldacci; Zodiac by Sam Wilson; Baby Doll by Hollie Overton; The Murder Road by Stephen Booth; Shadowfires by Dean Koontz; Under the Knife by Tess Gerritsen; Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey; Find Her by Lisa Gardner; The Collector by Fiona Cummins; The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer; Pendulum by Adam Hamdy; The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz; Run by Mandasue Heller; Others by James Herbert; Under a Watchful Eye by Adam Nevill; Relics by Tim Lebbon; Crisis by Frank Gardner; The Breakdown by B A Paris; Strangers by David Moody; An Honest Deceit by Guy Mankowski.




Lost Boys Cover AJKWell, ladies and gentlemen, it’s almost a year since my most recent novel, The Lost Boys of Prometheus City, was first published (on Christmas Day 2016). As a little birthday present to the book, I thought I’d give it the headline treatment on my blog again, and provide you with a few reasons why you should choose it for that last minute Christmas present for the story-lover in your life.


Well, in this instance I think you should shell out some of your hard-earned on account of the cover. You should definitely judge this book on its cover, with that excellent image of a decaying Leeds city centre so brilliantly portrayed by the graphic artist Jack Hurley (aka Loudribs – look him up online).


“We lived life closer to the sun than most. Sometimes we got blinded by it. We lived the high life. By day, we worked on the top floor of One City Square; by night, the top floors of clubs. Then back to bed at our penthouses.”

Neal Grace, Carl Sharp and Adam Warshawski are A-list. They’re young, handsome and rich. They go to all the best parties. Women want to bed them; men want their phone numbers. They are the face of brash, post-millennium Leeds, a city which is itself on its uppers.

But one false move is all it takes for these three ‘young princes’ of Leeds to tumble off their pedestal. After they instigate an incident of shocking violence against two definite Z-listers, life spins into a terrifying downward spiral for them.

But it ain’t just me saying it. Here’s a few choice reviews from Amazon:

Mr. L, Amazon Reviewer: “I really, really enjoyed this book. Haven’t read any of Mr Kirby’s work before, and this was a highly enjoyable introduction to it. For me, his writing style was right up my street. There’s a kind of Jack Kerouac fluidity to it, and a Hunter S Thompson quirkiness, too. This is the story of a group of friends living an almost celebrity-style high-life as wealthy city accountants, whose own self-created status becomes, ultimately, their downfall. There’s a hint of Bret Easton Ellis’ ‘American Psycho’ – not that the characters are psychotic murderers, but the name-dropping fixations with material possessions, as these characters build a world around themselves that is indulgent and superficial, and how this has affected their moral attitudes. There’s also a hint of “The Wolf of Wall Street” as things effectively spiral out of control. There are insightful and witty observations in Kirby’s stream-of-consciousness style narrative; a tale of morality, too, as the narrator comes to terms with the consequences of his actions. A recommended read, indeed.”

A. Devey, Amazon Reviewer: “This city in the early months of the 21st century is booming, and Neal Grace along with his colleagues Ads and Carl, is one of its ‘Princes’. He has left behind a humble background to earn a fortune in financial services, embracing the possibilities of deregulated capitalism for all he is worth, which soon becomes a pretty penny. As the story opens Neal is waited on by servile service workers, venerated by materialistic groupies and the target of circling drug dealers from the dark side of the dream while thinking of anyone with less than himself as so many extras in the film of his life. But in a bravura first chapter, Neal will discover it only takes one evening, and a single horrific act of violence, for the whole edifice supporting his way of life to come immediately crashing down.

By my reckoning ‘The Lost Boys of Prometheus City’ is AJ Kirby’s thirtieth book; quite an output when you consider Kirby’s only been writing seriously for a decade. While being so prolific can have its downsides, with his stories occasionally reading more like an early draft that lacks the polish and repeated editing the big boys of fiction takes as their right, it also means his prose always has a certain energy, a spontaneity, and, at its best, a tendency to barrel along in a way that’s thoroughly engrossing.

It also means the author has improved by DOING, and this novel is perhaps his most accomplished piece yet. We meet Neal as an over-privileged hedonist within his three-man gang of Northern England Gordon Gekkos, but their story quickly becomes tense then rapidly unspools from there, with Kirby telling his tale in the first person as he draws us into the fraught, dissatisfied, changeable mental landscape of his easily led protagonist. An atmosphere of regret, amorality and emptiness pervades this fast-paced thriller with its tumbling, freewheeling sentences, full of stream of consciousness left-turns, pop culture references from the time (Lee Bowyer anyone?) and bracketed asides.”

Miss S. Bryant, Amazon Reviewer: “This was a great read! AJ Kirby’s narrative style imitates detective work which investigates the inevitable downfall of the ‘lost boys’. As the tension grows, the narrative cleverly skits around from past to present tense, echoing the paranoia and despair of the protagonist, Neal Grace. Kirby uses the stream of consciousness narrative style to capture Neal’s emotions and this also gradually unveils the plot, as you rely on Neal to work out the details.

‘The Lost Boys of Prometheus City’ offers a nostalgia for Leeds and you see this through the characters’ passion for the city, and also the way Kirby weaves Yorkshire dialect and sayings into the text. The precise description of the streets of Leeds draws a parallel to the geographical accuracy of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ in Dublin, where the character’s journey is mapped out by the author. This detail allows Kirby to build on the crime themes of the novel, which effectively stalks his characters around Leeds.

I would definitely recommend this book!”

So GO HERE to buy your copy NOW!