Finally able to spend some time on writing a post. I have had a difficult time recently and then Christmas took over and I am currently at home trying to regain some peace of mind and have a rest. I am sorry that Random has had to take a back seat but my brain was so scrambled I needed to leave you on your own for a bit. Anyway, I am now hoping to get back to some kind of normality and to that end have gone through my reading list to choose my books of the year.
They are in no particular order. Where there is a link to a review I have inserted it - hopefully the links will work though in my current state there is no guarantee...
A War of Flowers - Jane Thynne. Set in pre-war Berlin this series about a British actress spy in the heart of the High Command gets better and better
Sophie and the Sibyl - Patricia Duncker. Stunning book about George Eliot. I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by the author at Bloomsbury and to meet her. She was great.
Death of Anton and Quick Curtain - Alan Melville. Two from the wonderful British Library Classic Crime series. Both witty and amusing and great fun.
Crooked House - Agatha Christie. I re-read a lot of Dame A this year and this title is, in my opinion, one of her best. It is stand alone, no Hercule or Miss Marple and it has a chilling ending.
After the Fire - Jane Casey, Latest in the Maeve Kerrigan police series. After a slow start this series gets more and more compulsive. Excellent stuff with a real male chauvinistic pig of a police officer who has a soft heart underneath it all and is totally sexy and gorgeous.
Watchmaker of Filigree Street - Natasha Pulley. A magical book. Another winner from Bloomsbury.
The Last Waltz - the Strauss Dynasty by John Suchet. Loved this book. A big glossy glam book which not only looks good but is beautifully written by one of my favourite Classic FM presenters.
London War Notes - Mollie Panter Downes. Published by Persephone and a must for everyone who has read her One Fine Day. Wonderfully captivating and full of the daily minutiae of life during the war. Full of pathos, bravery and wit.
Road to Little Dribbling - Bill Bryson. Another journey through Great Britain twenty years after Notes from a Small Island. I read this with tears of laughter streaming down my face and had to have regular breaks to allow my ribs to recover and stop aching. Priceless.
Charlotte Bronte - Claire Harman. Do we need another biography of Charlotte was my reaction to this title. Well, as an avid Bronte Maniac I can assure you that this is a simply terrific book to add to the long list of those written about this endlessly fascinating family. I have not had time to review this fully but take it from me, it is wonderful and reinforces my view that Emily was a selfish pain in the butt Anne is still shamefully underrated and Charlotte must have been a very difficult employee indeed.
Mistresses of Cliveden - Natalie Livingstone. I am currently reading this but am adding it to this list as it is hugely enjoyable and totally readable. I will write more in the New Year but this is social history at its most intriguing.
The Carey family novels by Ronald Welch. I read all of these as a teenager and was delighted when Slightly Foxed decided to reprint the entire series. It is ongoing and I have them all and reading my way through them. I am putting them here on my list of Books of the Year as they are a must purchase. The story of the Carey family starting with the Crusades and coming up to the First World War. Go and order the lot. I have spoken.
AND my book of the year for 2015 is a clear winner. The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards. A simply marvellous exploration of the lives of the authors who churned out an endless stream of murder and mystery books in the 1930s. We have all heard of Christie, Sayers, Marsh and those well known names but Martin Edwards in what is obviously a labour of love, brings lesser known and forgotten authors back to our attention. I loved every word of it and am simply delighted to say that Martin will be speaking about this title at the Felixstowe Book Festival in 2016, alongside Rob Davies from the British Library who is responsible for their Classic Crime series of titles. An event not to be missed by all crime aficionados.
Before I close I have to mention the reissue of several adult titles by Richmal Crompton. These are e-books published by Bello, the eprint arm of Pan Macmillan. Engrossing, immensely readable and highly recommended by me. Tracking down books by Richmal Crompton has always been difficult, I have about thirty old battered editions I have found in various second hand bookshops over the years, but they are expensive and some of them have been elusive to say the least. So thrilled to bits that Bello has produced several and will be doing more in the future. Do keep an eye out for them.
In between these books listed I have read loads of other brilliant books and fun books and sloppy books and some downright awful books (yes James Patterson I am referring to you) and have enjoyed them all in varying degrees.
I already have my eye on various titles due to be published next year and pre-orders in and grovelling emails to publishers sent. Lots to look forward to.
Hope to be back before the year ends but as I am hoping to fit in a visit to Star Wars in the next day or so, I am making no promises.
May the Reading Force be with you.