1) LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson - Yvette's Book of the Year. Thinking back over the year and if I had to pick just one book to recommend, this would be it. My review.
2) WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? by Maria Semple - Yvette's Runner-up Book of the Year. The second book I'd recommend most from the past year. Another popular choice that, unexpectedly, lived up to the hype. My review.
3) THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY by J.R.R. Tolkien. An absolutely wonderful reading experience. My favorite of the three - to my surprise - THE TWO TOWERS, the second in the trilogy. (I was beguiled by the walking and talking trees.)
4) THE BONES OF PARIS by Laurie R. King. Paris in the twenties. An eerie tale of dark doings, creepily inclined 'artists' and ex-pats, a missing girl, and a down and out detective. My review.
5) ASSIGNMENT IN BRITTANY by Helen MacInnes. The author's second book - a fabulous WWII spy thriller not to be missed. My review.
6) THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY by Gabrielle Zevin. Absorbing and engaging. A moving novel about spiritual loneliness, the love of books, the workings of a bookstore and the often confounding unexpectedness of life. A.J. Fikry is an emotionally detached, woebegone (and rather cranky) widower who owns a bookstore in a place called Alice Island in which he is fortunate enough to be the only game in town - book-wise. When I read that a book is about 'redemption and reformation' I usually run the other way. Those two words mean 'book club book' to me and that's not my gig. But occasionally one will slip in under my guard. This one did and boy am I glad.
7) FROM LONDON FAR by Michael Innes. A wildly energetic and very odd thriller /farce combo from the erudite Mr. Innes. An Alice in Wonderland story with a middle-aged philologist named Richard Meredith in place of Alice and a tobacconist's shop cellar in place of the hole in the ground. Very strange, but I loved it.
8) SUDDENLY AT HIS RESIDENCE by Christianna Brand. An English country house mystery is always a good thing. An English country house mystery set during the Blitz (WWII) is even better, especially since this impacts the story very satisfactorily in the end. Who killed grandfather as he was about to change his will yet again? The eccentrically inclined Inspector Cockrill is called upon to find a very clever killer. My review.
9) THE SILKWORM by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling (The first book, THE CUCKOO'S CALLING was also excellent, but I think I liked THE SILKWORM just a tad more.) In the second book in the Cormoran Strike series, Rowling takes on the dark asides of the publishing industry with gusto. Owen Quine, a pretentious, pompous, untalented and unloved writer with a taste for Jacobean dramatics, goes missing and his hapless wife asks Strike to find him primarily because she's run out of money. One grisly murder discovery later and said wife quickly falls under suspicion.
I am very eagerly looking forward to the next Cormoran Strike mystery.
10) FLETCHER'S END by D.E. Stevenson. I fell in love with the house first, then the characters. Fletcher's End is an old and decrepit house on the outskirts of a country village. The current owner, a young naval officer away on sea duty is looking for a quick sale. But with only an old caretaker 'in situ' and no real attempt to keep up the property - the garden is a jungle - the years pass and the house continues to sit empty and forlorn.
Enter Bel and Ellis Brownlee, happy newlyweds who are looking to settle in the country. They, with the convenient help of an architect friend, will discover that Fletcher's End has fine bones, beautiful structure and, with a few adjustments, is just the perfect place for them to begin their new life together. I adored this book and plan on re-reading it. In fact, I also mean to get the audio version. My review
I loved these books too. Really, in my view, you can juggle all of these fifteen, pick one or two and not come up with a loser in the bunch. (In fact, I loved most of the books I read this year. That's a problem when compiling this sort of list.)
11) SARAH MORRIS REMEMBERS by D.E. Stevenson. My review
12) QUEEN LUCIA, MAPP AND LUCIA, LUCIA IN LONDON by E.F. Benson. My review (Yes, I know I've listed three books, but it's all of a piece.)
13) THE DOG WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD by Alexander McCall Smith. My review
14) MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY by Winifred Watson.
15) THE VERGE PRACTICE by Barry Maitland. My review
A listing of all the books I read in 2014 (or for that matter all the books I've read in the past five years in which this blog has been 'in business') can be accessed at any time from the link on the left hand side of my blog under 'Pages'. But here's the link again, just in case you missed it.
Since I rarely finish a book I don't like, most of the books on this list are eminently readable and quite a few of them I've reviewed. But this year there is an exception and that would be a rather unpleasant Margery Allingham book, THE FASHION IN SHROUDS which was finished by me only because someone had recommended Allingham highly and I'd heard of her Albert Campion series, of course, through the years. Horrible book. I won't make that mistake again.
One of these days I may decide to 'star' the titles on my list. But not just yet.
Dear Yvette - I will return to this post from time to time to check up on your favourite books. I will start with your first Life after Life, I always enjoy Kate Atkinson.ReplyDelete
Mapp and Lucia began as a TV serial last week. No doubt it will be heading your way soon.
I do hope you enjoy LIFE AFTER LIFE, Rosemary - it takes getting used to, especially at the beginning. But once you're IN, you get caught up. I loved it and plan to read it again. In my view: a brilliant book.Delete
What a treat to be able to read The Lord of the Rings for the first time. I wish I could go back and read them all new like that! There was a period of about ten years in my life when I read it every year.ReplyDelete
I also was surprised by how much I enjoyed Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I read it when it first came out, then a couple of years later I listened to the audio, which I think I liked even better!
I laughed so hard - I'm thinking I might get the audio of WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? too. I have an audible account and once a month I download a favorite. What a wonderful book. Though I disliked the title and the book's cover intensely. Just shows to go you that you can't always tell a book by its cover. :)Delete
I'm thinking of downloading the Tolkien books as audios as well. I loved these books even though I'm not, ordinarily, a 'fantasy' reader. But to my mind, a well written book is a well written book. Know what I mean?
Yvette, I want to read J.R.R. Tolkien but not this year. Alexander McCall Smith is another author I want to read and that will be sooner than Tolkien.ReplyDelete
Why not be daring and read them all this year?? :)Delete
Well, good to see your loving so many books last year. I have only read Bernadette, which I found out about here, very funny, yet poignant.ReplyDelete
And I just finished The Silkworm and have mixed feelings. J.K. Rowling is a brilliant writer, no doubt. However, this crime was so gruesome and the suspects,sucht horrid people in the publishing world
that many sections were hard to take. I'll recover from that, however, I may not recover from the concluding chapter, in which the perpetrator is revealed. I am annoyed at the sexism involved in the revelation, the motives, anger, bitterness attributed to the murderer - and why that character was so full of hostility and psychopathology.
I can't elaborate more to avoid spoilers, but I hope Rowling is less gruesome in the next book and that sexism doesn't rear its ugly head.
That said, I will keep reading her series, and I will read The Casual Vacancy, which just got another nod from a reader/friend.
I don't enter into the world of these sorts of crimes very deeply while I'm reading, Kathy. To me, they remain as creatures in another sort of world. If something is a bit too much, I skip a bit. It's just that I do like the pace of her writing, also I like Cormoran Strike as a character very much. Another thing which I appreciate is that Rowling doesn't stop/start her stories with a hundred different viewpoints which is something lots of writers do, mostly to detrimental effect. She's got a good story to tell and that's exactly what she does.Delete
As for the ending, well, can't say too much either. I didn't mind it as much as you did.
Life after Life is in my 2015 book plan. Although I don't like reading books set in WWII, your recommendation and that of a reader/friend who gave me her book will spur me on to read it.ReplyDelete
Oh, you will love this book, Kathy. I can practically guarantee it. You'll see what I mean...Delete
Yvette, I did get A His Residence on your recommendation but haven't read it yet. I've loved Kate Atkinson's Brody books but stayed away from this one as it seemed different. Maybe I will have to relent since it was your favorite book!ReplyDelete
Oh, definitely my favorite, Peggy Ann. I can't think of a book that's stayed with me as much as this one. I plan on rereading it sometime this year just to see if my own hyperbole was deserved. :) I hope you enjoy it though as I told Rosemary, it takes a bit of getting used to. Stay with it.Delete
Can't wait to dig into some of these titles. Love the Queen Lucia series. I hope it reaches the shores of the USA soon.ReplyDelete
I also loved LUCIA IN LONDON as it showed, really, the depths that she would sink to. HA! I imagine PBS will show the series at some point.Delete
I like many of Allingham's books but not that one. Sorry it was your choice to try her Campion. TRAITOR'S PURSE would have been a much better choice.ReplyDelete
I'm sorry too, Richard. But I don't think I'll try another - at least until the nasty taste of that book wears off. :)Delete
You got to love the Ents.ReplyDelete
I miss the time when you posted more often.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Richard. I kind of do too. I'll be posting now and again just not as regularly. I'm trying to work out a happy medium. I'm not one of those people who can multi-task happily. :)Delete
Multi-tasking becomes more difficult as one ages. I find I have to do one thing at a time, focus my mind on getting that thing done and then go on to the next task or book or newspaper or whatever.ReplyDelete
Also, the memory goes, as you know, too. So, that affects multi-tasking.
You said it, Kathy. Another wonderful part of getting old. Ha.ReplyDelete