Thursday, 7 January 2016

Best reads of 2015

Last year, I looked back on 2014 and the books I read then. Another year has passed – has anything changed?

Last year, I’d marked 59 books as read in Goodreads; this year the number was 43. 43??? Not that I had any reading targets or set any goals (aimless, directionless drifting seems like a better strategy to me :P) but still, that didn't seem right to me. I had a feeling I might have read more books in 2015 than in 2014, but then, perhaps I didn't. I may have spent more time writing than reading. Besides, I re-read more books in 2015 than I did in 2014; they're not included in that number (because, ahem, I only just now learned that you can actually mark rereads in Goodreads!). In addition, it does not include non-fiction or books I simply did not want to include in Goodreads. Thus, the actual number of books I read is somewhat higher.

Last year, I gave no book a five star rating. There was a handful of those that got four stars.

As it happens, a five star book seems to be hard to find these days. However, rereads count, so I can mention Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Sarantine Mosaic, which includes two novels: “Sailing to Sarantium” and “Lord of Emperors”. I’ve explained before what it is about Kay’s novels that make me a fan of his.


And, I'm very pleased to say, I did find my five-star book this year! It was close, since it was the last book I finished. I'm thinking of writing a review so, for now, I'm not going to say anything... except that the book was Manda Scott's latest, "Into the Fire". It's been a while since I read a book that I did not want to put down... all right, fine, I never really want to put my book down, but this time, it was a very intense feeling. More about the book later.

Now, let's take a look at some of the other highlights of this year, reading-wise.

A Year of Ravens by various authors. Historical fiction set in Roman Britain and Boudica’s rebellion. I even wrote a review!

Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Well, it’s about chocolate... ;) Another one I actually reviewed.

Last year, I talked about how great it is to discover new authors whose work leaves you wanting more. As it happens, I’ve discovered another! Well, I discovered Phil Rickman a while back when I read his first John Dee Papers novel, “The Bones of Avalon” (here's my review). I wasn’t quite so enthusiastic about the second book in the series or the first one in his Merrily Watkins series, but I persisted and read the second Merrily book. And I loved it! Merrily Watkins is a female priest in a time when that is something of a novelty... and she ends up as a Deliverance Consultant or Advisor on the Paranormal. Or an exorcist, but, you know, job titles these days... I don’t know where exactly these novels fall – are they mystery? Crime? Horror? I don’t care. While contemporary mysteries/thrillers normally aren't my cup of chocolate, these have a twist that makes them irresistible to me: those contemporary mysteries intertwine with historical events or figures and ancient myths. And Rickman knows how to use evocative language to create an atmosphere that is oddly, almost hauntingly beautiful.

I'm not going to make any New Year's resolutions (apart from my "Read more books" resolution) but one thing I'd like to do is find more excellent books. Can't be that hard, can it? So, books, listen up and listen carefully, because here's my message to you:

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